One of the most frequent inquiries at our practice is mattress selection. This is not surprising as there are so many different types of mattresses the choices can seem confusing. A few important considerations are:
Memory foam mattresses: These mattresses are suitable for sleepers who rarely shift positions during sleep. In other words, if you wake up in the position in which you went to sleep a memory foam mattress is suitable for you. They are particularly comfortable for those who experience shoulder or hip pain when side lying. One drawback however is that they can become quite warm due to their engulfing qualities. This may be undesirable to some sleepers, particularly in the warmer months of the year.
Firm Mattresses: These mattresses are more suited to those who have shallow or flat spinal curves and a narrow pelvis. Most people with Anglo-Saxon and European backgrounds tend to have more prominent spinal curves and wider hips, whereas those with Asian origins tend to have more shallow curves (and a smaller pelvis). For example, the futon mattress, which is very firm, is a very popular mattress in Japan. Of course there is some natural variability within cultures so make sure you have your spine assessed if you are unsure where your spine fits in.
Mattress with Pillow-Top: Pillow-top mattresses are more suited to those with a deeper spinal curve and a wider pelvis as discussed above. For very large hips, a thicker pillow top is desirable as it will offer more support. For those with an increased lower back curve (known as the lumbar lordosis) a pillow top is also a good option especially if back sleeping is a preferred posture. It is important to note that after a period of use a pillow top mattress will attain a ‘body signature’ or an impression in the mattress. This is normal and should not be mistaken for faulty springs or poor mattress support.
How do I know when I need a new mattress?
The first hints are recurrent neck or lower back problems. The symptoms generally begin as morning stiffness and soreness which tends to resolve after moving around for 5-10 minutes. As a mattress becomes less supportive, symptoms may become more persistent and in some cases progress to severe neck or lower back pain attacks.