If you’re thinking about investing in a new mattress, the number of options and amount of conflicting information about choosing the “right” kind can be overwhelming, especially when you are likely spending a significant amount of money. It’s a decision you don’t want to get wrong because you’ll have to live with it for years to come. And if you’re bed-hunting for you and your partner, the choice becomes even more challenging because you’re trying to make two people comfortable.
Many people set out to buy a new mattress because they have a problem to fix: their current mattress is getting old or saggy, they find themselves tossing and turning at night, or they feel aches and pains when they wake up. But no matter what has spurred your new mattress expedition, keep the proper alignment of your back as a priority in your decision-making and you’ll have a much better chance of a good night’s sleep and happier mornings.
Myth vs. Reality
Now if you’re thinking the best mattress for your back is something only slightly softer than a slab of concrete, let’s dispel that myth right now. While specialists used to recommend an extra firm mattress as the ideal choice for proper back support, that guidance is outdated and has pretty much been overruled. In fact, new studies have shown a too-hard mattress may actually create more pain because there isn’t enough “give” near pressure points like your hips and shoulders. Instead, you should look for a mattress that supports the natural curve of your spine when you are lying flat and on your side. Ultimately, an orthopedist will recommend something between very soft and very firm.
The Best Mattress for Your Back
To start your mattress hunt, find a local retailer where you can try out several different brands and both innerspring and memory foam styles. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time. You’ll want to lie on each mattress for a minimum of 15 minutes to get a true idea of what it will be like to sleep on it all night long. If you’re shopping for you and a partner, your partner should absolutely be there because both of you need to find the right support. If you’re going solo, bring along a friend who can ensure you aren’t sinking too much into the mattress – a telltale sign that it’s not supportive enough for your spine.
Is an adjustable bed the better option for back pain? Not necessarily. Sometimes people with various spinal issues find it uncomfortable to lay flat. But before you run out and spend thousands of dollars on an adjustable bed system, try creating the same body position with a few extra pillows. Put one under your knees and another so your upper body is slightly elevated. This will position you in a way to take pressure off your lower back – and you’ve saved yourself a few grand in the process.
In short, there isn’t one “best” mattress for spinal health. Your own body composition (i.e., height, weight, etc.) and any existing back issues will dictate what’s right for you. Just stay focused on finding one with the proper spinal support.
Tips to Follow
Keep these tips in mind to ensure you get the best mattress at the best price:
Ignore names. Different chains call similar beds by different names. “Ultra-plush,” “cushion-firm,” and “super plush” are marketing terms, not a standard indication of a mattresses’ given composition. It’s nearly impossible to find two of the same exact style mattress at different retailers, so don’t focus on that if you are comparison shopping. Just stick to the basic type you are looking for (i.e., innerspring or memory foam, double-sided, firmness, etc.) and find one you like.
Ignore the costs. Don’t assume the more money you spend, the more comfortable you’ll be. The best sleeping surface is the one that feels best to you.
Don’t buy online unless you have thoroughly tested the exact mattress style you’re purchasing, which is pretty unlikely considering different retailers all have their own styles of mattresses, even if the brand name is the same.
Wait for a sale. Don’t pay full retail price for an innerspring mattress; they go on sale all the time. If you find one you like that’s not on sale, wait a few weeks and you’ll very likely get it at a discount. A caveat: some name brands – typically those that make memory foam and adjustable systems – rarely if ever have sales. So if that’s the route you know you want to go, expect to pay full price.
Review the warranty and return policy carefully. There are often fees for returning a mattress, and they grow more expensive the longer you wait. Most policies also have strict rules about the condition the mattress must be in to be covered and/or returned. That’s why the 15-minute trial is so important. Spending the time upfront can save you money – and an achy back – in the long run.