Choosing the best mattress: Supporting mattresses
As an Osteopath, many people ask me for help when choosing the best mattress. Ironically, when I travel back to Kerala, India, it always amazes me that so many people are able to roll a mat onto the floor and sleep in relative comfort. This in part is of necessity, part familiarity, but also due to the increased muscle resting tone from a sedentary lifestyle.
Here in the West, where most of us are physically weaker than previous generations in the same family, support during our hours of slumber is more of an issue for our lumbar spine. We have reduced resting muscle tone when relaxing either seated or lying down, potentially causing ligamentous strain.
Choosing the best mattress: Buying a good mattress
A lot comes down to personal choice when looking to buy a bed but beware of products too soft or too hard. Ideally, the top layer should have enough given to support you, and the layer underneath should be much firmer. It’s important to think about the positions you sleep in. If there are two of you, don’t forget to ask your partner it might be that the zip and link approach for two mattresses is the best for you both.
Most of us at some point during the night lie on our sides and when in this position, the side-line contours of your body should all be in contact with the mattress, not just the side of your pelvis and side of your shoulders. It’s when the waist isn’t supported in this position that ligamentous strain can occur. If you sleep on your tummy, watch out for over-rotation in the neck or over-extension in the lumbar spine. Achiness in the lower back lying on your front could be due to an increased weight you might have put on or decreases in muscle tone as you’ve got older, causing mechanical problems. Although a good mattress will help your muscles, it won’t cure a painful back and you should still seek out a good osteopath.
If you like to lie on your back, is your neck overly flexed or overly extended? In any of these scenarios, strategically placed pillows would complement a good mattress. Again, feel free to ask your osteopath about this.
Choosing the best mattress: The best mattress?
Be careful of so-called orthopedic beds as they can often be too firm. Personally, in order of preference, the Tempur Memory Foam Mattress, followed by the pocket sprung mattresses and then the coil-sprung mattresses are how I would rate them. A mattress topper is a good idea but only as long as the mattress beneath is in good condition. You’d do well to think of the height of the bed too as the higher the bed is from the ground, the easier it is to get out from.
The high end of mattress providers might seem like a lot of money but when you think about your usage across the lifetime of the mattress, it’s no false economy. A third of your day is spent on one! This equates to 121 days in a year!
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