Is your mattress causing your neck and back pain?
Thousands of people in the United Kingdom suffer from back and neck pain each year. In fact, according to the Office for National Statistics, back and neck discomfort accounts for 31 million lost workdays. There are lots of things that can cause back and neck pain, but one of them is a poor sleep surface. The wrong bed can lead to throbbing, soreness, stiffness, and widespread aches. If one of the following is true, the problem may be a bad mattress.
Back Pain Occurs in the Morning and Dissipates Quickly
One of the telltale signs that a person's back pain is at least partially related to a bad sleeping surface is the timing of his or her pain. If back pain occurs most often in the morning and goes away after being up and active for 15 to 30 minutes, it's likely the mattress is to blame. Another sign a bad bed may be contributing to pain is mild stiffness; if stretching for a few minutes in the morning is effective in relieving the symptoms, it may be time to consider a new bed.
The Mattress Was Cheaply Made
The major economic slump of 2008 is mostly over, but many people are still being careful with their spending. A mattress is one thing that's worth spending money on. Inexpensive mattresses are often cheaply made. Manufactures commonly skimp on the number of springs, and without enough springs to evenly distribute the sleeper's body weight. This pulls his or her body weight out of alignment, putting strain on the spine and all connecting body structures.
The Mattress Is Old
All sleep surfaces break down over time, but traditional inner-spring mattresses are especially prone to age-related loss of function. A mattress should offer uniform support. When used over the course of years, the pressure of the sleeper's body gradually deforms the springs in some areas, while the springs in other areas are less affected. Thus, the mattress can't support the body as evenly as it should. Any inner-spring mattress over 10 years old is probably to old to be a good sleep surface.
The Bed is Just Plain Uncomfortable
Finally, a good bed should be comfortable. A surface the sleeper enjoys falling into at night, and which just feels good, is going to promote the best, most relaxing sleep, which allows muscles to repair themselves. Experts also recommend that a good mattress (and for that matter, pillow) hold the body in a neutral position, with the spine in a similar position to the one it would be in while the person was standing. Most people find this type of spine alignment most comfortable, regardless of sleep position. Foam mattresses and innerspring mattresses can both be good choices, as long as they provide this kind of comfortable support.
Final Thoughts: Buying Tips
For those who are considering a new mattress, there are some buying tips that can ensure the best return on investment. WebMD recommends bringing one's own pillows and lying on a prospective bed for at least 15 minutes in the position in which one normally sleeps. It's also a good idea to consider the money-back guarantees offered by major mattress manufacturers; if the bed doesn't provide the right surface, it's nice to be able to return it and try something else. Buyers should remember that the choice ultimately comes down to comfort; the best bed is the most comfortable one.