A good night’s sleep is critical to a good life. Sleep re-nourishes and rejuvenates our bodies and minds. Poor sleep leads to a cascade of health problems. Depending on the type of mattress you have, manufacturers recommend you flip your mattress every three months, and flip and rotate it every six months, so that you sleep on different areas of the mattress. This evens out pressure on the mattress, avoids sagging, improves comfort and extends the mattress’s useful life.
Okay, that’s all I want to say about flipping your mattress. May 15 is Flip Your Mattress Day, so there you go.
The correct mattress for you
More important to me as a doctor of chiropractic medicine is that you sleep on the correct mattress in the first place. Spinal health depends on a variety of things like whether you stretch, keep your weight at recommended levels, use good form while lifting, exercise the muscles of the back and legs, and so on.
Sleeping on the right mattress also affects spinal health. It can cause back issues or exacerbate existing ones by causing misalignment in the spine while you spend a third of each day in bed. You need a mattress that supports the curvature of your back properly. The upper, middle and lower parts of your spine all curve in different directions and must be able to maintain that curvature during repose.
A good rule of thumb when assessing the mattress you have is this: if you wake up stiff and in pain that is alleviated by a few minutes of stretching, your mattress is the culprit. You need a new one.
There are three characteristics that have to be taken into consideration when choosing a mattress: firmness, support and temperature.
The firmness of a mattress is measured by how hard it feels when you lie down on it. Support describes how well the mattress holds that form throughout the night. Temperature is important because a mattress that retains the heat from your body can reduce comfort and interrupt sleep.
Mattress firmness is easy to determine
Firmness is the most obvious and important element in choosing the right mattress. Choose one that is too firm and it will ignite your pressure points and cause misalignment. Choose one that is too soft and your body will sink into the bed with the same result. You will know the mattress with the right level of firmness for you if you can’t really feel it beneath you.
People who sleep on their side generally prefer softer mattresses that allow better compression in the hips and shoulder areas. People who sleep on their backs may tolerate firmer mattresses. Sleeping on your stomach is not recommended with any mattress.
Studies have shown that very firm and very soft mattresses are inappropriate for most people with back pain. Medium-firm mattresses – rated 5 or 6 on a 10-point scale – reduce back pain in bed, immediately after rising from bed and throughout the day.
Mattress support is more elusive
Support is more difficult to measure because it requires that you sleep on the mattress for an entire night. Many bed retailers will allow you to try out a mattress for a week before committing to it. That may be helpful, but most lower-quality mattresses lose their ability to maintain their firmness over time, not in a week.
The best way to ensure that a mattress can support your body for proper spinal alignment is by purchasing a high-quality mattress manufactured using the latest technology. In other words, don’t buy the cheapest mattress.
Temperature is not a significant issue unless you’re considering a memory foam mattress, which are notorious for retaining heat. If you’re inclined that way, make sure the type of foam they’ve used is designed to help remove heat.