Buying a mattress for most of us is a significant investment. The reason is not just the financial outlay but also the realization that this purchase needs to last a long time so make the correct choice. This can be stressful. Do I just rely on the sales person at the store? Is the price reflective of quality? It comes with a 10 year guarantee but how long should it last? Do I need a firm/hard mattress? And many more questions.
Firstly I am not an expert in mattresses. However I do know what is best for your spine. Sleep is a reparative time for the body especially the spine and I believe we all need to be fully informed when considering the implications that a poor mattress choice has on our spine and health. Remember we spend on average 8 hours a night on a mattress.
The 3 things to consider are:
How long should a mattress last?
I think that the true life expectancy of any mattress regardless of the price is around the 10 year mark. The cheaper the product the cheaper the materials used in production so usually they fade earlier. While the mattress may appear OK at this age the likelihood is the comfort layer has collapsed and that will mean it is no longer giving the best sleep. I will touch on this next.
Do I need a firm mattress?
This is slightly complicated. Firm/hard and supportive are not the same terms. All mattresses need to be supportive. End of story. The aim in support is to keep the spine as close to neutral as possible. However soft or hard [firm] is a different story. If a it is too hard the curves of the body are not ‘absorbed’ into the mattress so they create high points between which the spine will ‘sag’. The example is usually women who by design have narrow waists which express their hips and men who often have broader shoulders than waists. For the purpose of mattress selection we must start with the usual sleeping position. This will help to guide the soft vs firm issue. This is often referred to as comfort.
If you more regularly are a back sleeper then medium to firm is appropriate because there are less distinct curves in this plane. Side sleepers can be broken down into basically curvy vs ‘square’ [no curves]. The aim is to provide more capacity in the mattress to support the curves of a light weight body and less is required for the heavy or square body shape. There is still a requirement for comfort. Any hard point on the body needs some comfort in the mattress to avoid pressure points which cause tossing and turning during sleep.
You must try before you buy.
The store assistant can sometimes give good advice. But you are still better off being informed about what you are looking for. A mattress that supports your spine in whatever position you sleep that is comfortable for long periods. Lay on the mattress for a good length of time and understand that you will need to wear it in so to speak, like a new pair of shoes. Wouldn’t it be good if you could exchange the mattress if you thought after a while it seemed not to suits you. Well, you can when you purchase from some retailers. But what if you could adjust the mattress when you had it at home, for yourself. There is a particular manufacturer that does have an adjustable comfort layer. Sleeping Duck are an Australian company out of Victoria who have totally addressed this last consideration.
So just to recap.
Mattresses have about a 10 year lifespan max. The cheaper they are the earlier they give up. It should be supportive and comfortable. Soft enough to not create pressure points but also keep the spine in neutral. Side sleepers vs back sleepers require different comfort levels. And lastly try before you buy for as long as possible or get one you can return or exchange or adjust.
If you are not getting good sleep even after you have changed mattresses and you believe your mattress choice was correct then you may need your spine checked. Spinal joint alignment is important and while pain may not be evident the result may be an over stimulated nervous system keeping you from deep quality sleep. This is where chiropractors can help.
If you have any more questions please give us a call.
How to select a good pillow will be your next step after selecting your new mattress. So keep an eye out for ‘pillow talk’.