Firm or Soft Mattress: Which Is Better for Back Pain?
Firm or Soft Mattress: Which Is Better for Back Pain?
You spend a third of your life in your bed on your mattress. Now if that isn’t a depressing fact, I don’t know what is. Spending this much time on your back in the same spot means one thing. It needs to be comfortable. And for it to be comfortable, you need a good mattress. It’s vital you have a mattress that helps promote restful sleep. Unsatisfactory sleep is a leading factor in mental health issues. Lack of sleep affects all aspects of your life and can become a serious danger to your health. If you’ve got back pain, it’s especially important you have a mattress that won’t exacerbate the problem. The age-old debate remains. Is a firm or soft mattress better for your back? This guide will help you decide.
The Debate: Firm or Soft Mattress
These days, there’s a huge range of mattresses on the market. A good mattress is the foundation of a good night’s sleep. So, it’s a pretty big decision. Never before have we seen such a variety of mattress options available. Today, mattress brands promise the world. Complex technology and cutting-edge design offer all kinds of benefits. This makes your final decision trickier than ever. For decades, the debate has been fiercely fought between a firm or soft mattress. Trends have swung either way and both have been backed up by health and sleep experts. This makes this decision pretty confusing for most people. At the end of the day, it’s less about firm or soft and more of a personal choice. Different back pain will respond to different mattresses.
Back Pain Blows
As we’ve said, the firm vs soft mattress debate is ongoing. It makes your decision tricky. But it is an important one. Back pain in the leading cause of mobility loss in middle age. As we get older, it’s important to maintain as much mobility as possible. In order to exercise and lead fulfilling lives, it’s critical to prioritize back, joint and muscle health. Of course, there are pros and cons for both firm and soft. We’ll lay down some of the important factors to not when deciding firm vs soft mattress.
The Firm Team
In the past, doctors recommended very firm mattresses for back issues. These days, it’s not that simple. However, studies done on people with lower back pain still indicate that those who slept on very soft mattresses had the worst back pain. Although, Harvard Health Publications states that very hard mattresses are also not good for most back issues. Today, evidence points away from very hard mattresses and toward relatively firm.
In order to understand the benefits of a firm mattress, it’s important to note the following facts about sleep. When you sleep, your body will always try to compensate for unconventional positions. This means that if you’re sleeping on a soft or sagging surface, your body will struggle to relax and rest during the night. The discomfort of a soft surface will mean that, throughout the night, your body will be attempting to regain alignment. It’s essential that your spine is aligned during sleep. Even if you have bad posture during the day, a firm mattress will ensure your spin is realigned during the night. This allows for better rest and more comfort during the day too.
Body Weight Distribution
Soft mattresses often allow your body weight to be unequally disseminated during the night. This can lead to misalignment of various muscles and joints while you sleep. To avoid this, the decision to buy a firm mattress will ensure your whole body is evenly and adequately supported. It’s critical that your body weight is distributed in a uniform way. This ensures you’re not slumping toward one way or the other while you sleep. Extended time on a mattress that doesn’t promote even weight distribution can lead to ongoing muscle or joint pain. A stiff neck and back pain are common indicators that your mattress is not adequately supporting your body weight. Chronic pain has extremely negative effects on mental health. So, ensure you’re not delaying a mattress change if it’s needed.
Assists Oxygen Intake
Another benefit of a firm mattress is that it prevents your lower back from collapsing into the mattress. What this does is it ensures your airways aren’t constricted, allowing you to take in more oxygen. Better oxygen aids better sleep and has a variety of other health benefits. People with certain medical conditions will especially benefit from increased oxygen intake. Along with this though, firm mattresses may not work for certain conditions. If you have weak capillaries or serious back pain, you may need a mattress that is more gentle on your body.
A Firm Change
So, how do you know if you need to change to a firmer mattress? We’ve got a top tip for helping you answer the question, ‘is it better to sleep on a firm or soft mattress?’. You can try putting a firm plywood board under your mattress to dampen the movement from the bed springs. You can also try placing your mattress on the floor instead. If you find that your back pain improves as a result of the harder surface, it’d probably better for you to have a firmer mattress.
The Soft Team
We’ve heard that for the past few years, doctors were recommending very hard mattresses for bad backs. We know that, with changing times, opinions change too. Contrary to what many people believe, firmer doesn’t necessarily mean better when we’re talking about back pain. Studies show that for some people, sleeping on a very hard mattress worsened their quality of sleep. These outcomes indicate that for some, a very firm mattress exacerbates an already problematic back.
Conform to Curves
Soft mattresses that conform to your body’s natural curves may help your joints align. While a very soft mattress will allow your body to sink so deeply that your joints twist becoming painful. A medium-soft mattress will provide the right amount of support and give, allowing your body to rest peacefully. A plush mattress will, therefore, offer unrivaled comfort. Soft mattresses envelop you and offer you a sleeping in the cloud experience. They don’t push hard on any pressure points, like your hips. For this reason, softer mattresses are often preferred by older people who require that their shoulders and hips aren’t pressured.
Benefit Medical Conditions
The gentleness of soft mattresses is therefore beneficial to older people and those who suffer from certain medical conditions. Scoliosis, arthritis, and rheumatism are some examples of conditions that are comforted by a softer mattress. Fragile joints and bones are often comforted by a mattress that allows a certain level of sinking. Of course, too much sinking means too little support. This is also not beneficial. So, as we can see, it’s not as simple as soft vs firm. Keep in mind that back pain causes a quicker decline in mobility. This has a ripple effect on the quality of your health and lifestyle. It’s clear then that it’s less about soft vs firm. What’s more important is the mattresses ability to support your unique physique correctly.
Medium Makes Sense
At this point, it may be obvious to state that medium-firmness is the new favorite. It’s pretty simple really. Neither very firm not very soft mattresses are the best choice for those with a bad back. Everyone sleeps differently and has different needs. But the general rule applies to all sleepers. You do need a certain level of support and alignment to ensure deep sleep and back health. For this, you wouldn’t want a mattress too stiff or too soft. We know that proper spine alignment is critical to preventing you from tossing and turning all night. So, your mattress should be supportive enough to support your lower back but soft enough to contour to your body. Luckily, these days, these types of medium mattresses exist.
Deep Sleep Goals
Remember, a good night’s sleep is essential for proper rest and general happiness. When you have a proper 8 hours of sleep, your body is able to restore and rejuvenate cells. Your level of insulin is reduced, repairs take place and hormones are activated. These functions only occur if you’re actually sleeping deeply for the majority of the night. Interrupted, uncomfortable sleep doesn’t equal to the same benefits as deep sleep.
What Works for You?
The question ‘is it better to sleep on a firm or soft mattress?’ is perhaps misguided. As we’ve shown, the questions should focus on your specific needs. Your age, unique back issues, and medical conditions will all play a role in which mattress you choose. A mattress should facilitate deep sleep and proper rest. If it doesn’t, it’s the wrong mattress for you. So, rather than firm or soft as a gauge of the quality of the mattress. It may be more beneficial to focus on the mattress’s ability to provide support. Adequate support promotes spine alignment and comfort. Comfort promotes deep sleep. And that’s the goal, really. Please contact us for further information about getting the quality of sleep you deserve. We’ll help you decide if a firm or soft mattress is better for your needs.
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