Sleep is an integral part of healing and well-being. In fact, our bodies heal while we sleep and there are numerous physiological processes that occur while we are catching our “ZZZZ’s”. The quality of our sleep is affected by many factors, including how we support our body ergonomically. As Chiropractors, we receive the question often of, “what mattress or pillow should I be using?”
There are a LOT of products out in the world, with all sorts of marketing claims. Some are backed by sound science, and others are just trying to tell you what you want to hear to get their products sold. Trying to navigate that world while making a very expensive investment in a mattress or pillow can be frustrating. Ultimately, understanding what our bodies require for the best support and ergonomics will provide valuable insight to help guide your decision. Unfortunately, there is some trial and error involved with the process to find the right fit for you.
The body is not straight and therefore laying on the floor or a rigid surface is not ideal. I get this from time to time, especially martial arts fanatics who say, “So and so martial arts expert sleeps on a flat bamboo floor with no pillow”. If you want to subject yourself to torture, then be my guest! Our body has curves, with some having more than others. That’s why a single mattress will never work for everyone. Having support is crucial, but support must follow our body contours. The hips and shoulders protrude out for side sleepers, whereas the buttocks, mid back and head for those that sleep on their back. As chiropractors, we never recommend sleeping on one’s stomach, as this stresses our cervical spine and forces our neck to turn one way or the other. FIRMER mattresses provide support for our bodies, without giving way and causing excessive bending or bowing while we sleep. For comfort, you can combine a pillow top or mattress topper, which will provide softness and additional support. Also, with a FIRMER mattress, you traditionally get longer life out of your purchase; whereas with a softer bed tending to wear down quicker. As far as what type of FIRMER mattress whether memory foam, spring mattress, space-age gel whatever, that’s up to you to decide what suits you best. For some memory foam is the way to go, but others say they’re too hot sleeping on memory foam. Now there’s fancy gel matrixes and cooling layers to foam mattresses which can eliminate that problem. But this is were trial and error take over. Not one mattress fits all people! Make sure the dealer or online retailer you buy from has a money back guarantee or a return policy. Also make sure to try the mattress for a week or two to “break it in” and get your body used to it. Unfortunately, sometimes soreness or aches are a part of that process, but ultimately if you are continuing to wake up sore, even after the break-in period, then that’s your answer if the mattress you bought is right for you; regardless of what it cost. You should also be calling our office for an appointment if you’re waking up sore every morning, FYI.
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