One day you wake up and your body is firing on all cylinders. You spring out of bed, ready to tackle the world and start your morning routine with a positive mental attitude. The day continues with small tasks being accomplished, productive meetings and having a healthy and filling lunch. You stop at the market to pick up a few extra things and as you prepare the dinner meal you reach high in the cabinet for that special serving plate. Everything comes out like you’re dining at a 5 Star restaurant and the family raves about the food. The kids help out with cleaning the dishes and you reflect on a perfect day!
As you slip into your comfy bed that you’ve loved for years, you slow your mind and take deep breaths to start the sleep journey. You curl in your favorite blanket and fade to dark. The night was normal till you woke up at 4:00 AM with inexplicable pain in your back. Everything was fine before you went to bed, the day prior was great and you didn’t do anything to hurt your back. What gives? Why can’t you get out of bed? Chances are good you tweaked your back and have acute low back pain (lower back pain). According to the CDC, 25% of adults reported they had lower back pain and is the most common type of pain. Causes of back pain are accidents, lifting heavy objects, sudden movements, and sometimes back pain can develop over time with age. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to lower back pain especially if you have a burst of activity your body isn’t prepared for.
If you’re waking up with back pain, that means you’re tossing and turning and not getting the deep and REM sleep cycles you need at night. Most lower back pain last just a few days to a few weeks. Often, it resolves on its own or with a treatment of the underlying cause. However, chronic back pain persists for 12 weeks or longer and can require medical or surgical procedure to relieve the pain, but sometimes, pain persists despite treatment.
WHAT CAUSES LOWER BACK PAIN
There are many potential sources of lower back pain, how you’re sleeping is a huge factor. We are not just talking about the mattress, posture or length of time in bed, it’s about getting into your repairing, healing and growth sleep cycles sooner and longer. This is when your mind and body are allowed to detoxify, repair injuries and grow mentally and physically. In theory, when you are sleep-deprived, your pain tolerance is lower than it would be if you slept well and the resulting sleep loss increases painful inflammation, so getting enough sleep may reduce inflammation.
It’s difficult to identify the causes of back pain, however, there are some clues to look out for to see if your mattress is to blame. If your back pain exists the moment you wake up and open your eyes, but you can do light stretching for 10-20 minutes and alleviate the pain, then your mattress is doing more harm than good. Also, if you’re waking up more frequently or are tossing and turning, that's another sign you should be looking into a new mattress. Even if you are not prone to back pain, you should ideally replace your mattress every eight years.
Signs your mattress needs to be replaced:
- - Saggy, lumpy, uneven surface
- - Wake up and feeling tired all day
- - It takes a long time to get comfortable and fall asleep
- - Frequently wake up at night
- - Mattress has innerspring
- - Mattress is 7yrs old or older
- - Not the right size, too small or short
A good mattress will address your posture needs and help to align your spine for lower back pain stimulant free sleep. People who suffer from lower back pain should look for a mattress that eliminates pressure points and evenly distributes the body weight to provide the necessary support, particularly the shoulders and hips. The proper support and alignment can alleviate aches and pains commonly associated with lower back pain. It’s also important to choose a mattress that meets your requirements for firmness and comfort. Herein lies the biggest challenge for consumers and brands. Comfort is subjective and personal and that’s why you typically only have 3 variations: Soft, Medium and Firm
FINDING A MATTRESS TO ELIMINATE LOWER BACK PAIN
When you’re shopping for a mattress for lower back pain, consider these points:
Dial-in firmness and support. Like GoldiLocks and the three bears, it’s important to choose a mattress that is neither too soft nor too firm. You hear conflicting advice given to many back pain sufferers as to what is the best mattress for back pain. Many think an extra firm mattress is the way to go, however this is a myth that developed over time in earlier days when water beds were trending and resulted in a generation of back pain. They all reverted to extra-firm mattresses and the myth is often still believed today. a medium-firm mattress typically offers universal comfort however it truly comes down to density. What we do know is that pillow tops don’t work. Pillow tops primarily consist of low density fibers and foams. These offer the discretion of plush comfort but the lack of density equals lack of support. A bed that is too soft will not provide enough support and can end up worse for your back. Lots of options but not 100% sure, that’s what makes Essentia different and the leader in latex foam mattress technology. We factor in skeletal posture, weight, density, height, sleep position and other metrics to create the perfect mattress for you. Essentia is the only company that achieves a pillow top feel and comfort by formulating a high density and high elasticity latex foam.
- Eliminate Sleep Stimulants. Heat, tossing and turning, itchiness, sneezing, pain, EMF and a list of others can be defined as sleep stimulants. Many online mattress companies offer solutions that use gel infused technology or introduce electrical devices to create comfort features. Look for mattresses that offer organic solutions and do not require adding chemicals or plugging into an outlet for a desired result.
Change the way you sleep. Your sleeping position can make your back pain better or worse. It’s not recommended to sleep on your stomach. It’s best for people with back pain to sleep on their back or side. Also changing positions throughout the night to ease the pressure from sleeping in a single position all night is a sleep stimulant. Stimulants delay or interrupt sleep cycles resulting in lower quality of sleep. Keep in mind that you may be sleeping in the wrong position to counter the lack of comfort or support of your mattress.
Align your spine with a pillow. Ideally, your spine will maintain alignment all night as you sleep. Proper alignment isn’t always possible to achieve with a mattress alone, use a pillow to improve spinal alignment. If you’re sleeping on your back, place a pillow under your knees to help your spine maintain its natural curve. Side sleepers should squeeze a pillow between their knees. If you’re sleeping on your stomach, you can relieve some pressure by placing a pillow under your lower abdomen and pelvis.
Get help from a chiropractor. If you’re sleeping fine but still have back pain, talk to a chiropractor. A chiropractor can help you identify the cause of your back pain and adjust your back so that you can get some relief.
- Don’t buy a new mattress. It’s true; you may need a new mattress. But if you are overall happy with the bed you have and just want to make a slight adjustment, you don’t need to get a brand new model. Instead, consider your needs and try out a mattress topper instead. A soft mattress topper can make a firm mattress more comfortable. Just be sure that the topper is not just fluff.
The best mattress for back pain promotes spinal alignment, weight distribution and pressure relief for your preferred sleeping position. For instance, if you’re a side sleeper or you’re recovering from a recent injury, a model with responsive foam layers that cradle your joints may be right for you. Dedicated back sleepers, on the other hand, may want a slightly firmer feel while combination sleepers should aim for something in between.