Ever wonder why you sometimes go to sleep without spine pain and wake up with an achy back? Chances are you’re not sleeping on a mattress with proper spine support. Because we spend about eight hours out of every 24 in bed, it’s extremely important that we practice correct spinal alignment as we sleep, just as we would try to have good posture while sitting or standing.
Tips for mattress buying
If you’re one of the millions of people who experience neck or back pain due to a ruptured disc, disc protrusion, spinal stenosis or arthritis of the spine, you should remember that spending eight hours in a position that puts added stress on any component of your neck or back will only exacerbate these conditions. Below are a few tips for selecting a mattress that can help you get a good night’s sleep.
- Get a medium-firm mattress. While many people say you should get an extra firm mattress, these can actually be too firm and might not allow your spine to settle into a neutral position.
- Look for a mattress with lumbar support. The lower back is the area of the back that is most prone to degenerative conditions, so a mattress should “cradle” this section of your back, thereby encouraging proper posture even while sleeping.
- Consider an adjustable bed. This type of mattress will allow you to get support from your head to your toes, including under-the-knee support, pelvic support and upper back support.
- Buy a pillow with cervical (neck) support. This will allow your neck to reach a neutral position and will mitigate stress on the other regions of the spine.
- Try it out. You could do hours of research on the best types of orthopedic mattresses, but nothing can compare to your first instinct when you lie down on a mattress and feel completely comfortable.
Other lifestyle changes that can help mitigate back pain
There are a variety of other lifestyle changes that can help reduce discomfort in your back. Consider ergonomic seating at the office. Avoid recreational sports that might cause or aggravate neck or back pain, but remember to stay active with low-impact exercises like walking or swimming. Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. If your back pain persists, work with your physician to design a regimen of pain medication, hot-cold therapy and other conservative treatments.