It’s likely that most of us will have experienced back pain at some point. And, often it can be really hard to pinpoint the exact cause of the pain or where it’s coming from. For those with persistent back pain, things can be really uncomfortable, and can get in the way of performing usual daytime activities.
Among other things, your sleep environment can significantly affect the health of your back. As the majority of us spend between 7-9 hours lying down in bed each night, it’s natural that this is a big factor. An unsuitable mattress or a poor sleeping posture can both affect your back, shoulders and neck, and this might be something that you haven’t even considered as a cause of your pain.
Signs of Back Pain Caused by Your Mattress
If you are trying to investigate whether your mattress may be causing you back pain, the first thing is to note down when exactly your pain occurs each day. If the aches and pains are present when you first wake up, but then wear off an hour or so after getting up and moving around, then this could be a major sign that your bed is doing you more harm than good.
Another sign could be waking frequently in the night and struggling to get comfortable. Tossing and turning in the sheets could be a signal that your body is craving a new mattress for support.
How Does a Mattress Cause Back Pain?
If your mattress is old or too soft to support the weight of your body, then it can begin to sag in the middle. The lack of support you are then receiving from your mattress causes strain to your muscles. This in turn prevents the muscles from keeping your spine in alignment as you sleep, contributing to back issues, especially in the lower back region.
Between the vertebrae in your spine are intervertebral discs. These rehydrate at night causing us to stand taller each morning. However, a poor sleep posture can prevent the discs rehydrating, causing a poor posture during the day too.
Choosing a Supportive Mattress For Your Back
Even if you are not prone to suffering from back pain, it is generally recommended that you should replace your mattress approximately every 6-8 years.
Choosing the right mattress is important to get the correct support for your spine. A mattress that is too hard could put too much pressure on the areas where you feel discomfort. However, a mattress that is too soft may not provide the support you need for the areas that need it.
People who tend to suffer from lower back pain generally benefit more from a mattress which is firmer than average. Because of the shape of your spine, the lower back often needs more support, which a firmer mattress will offer. However, a mattress that is too firm may put added pressure on certain pressure points, which can also cause misalignment.
Memory foam-type mattresses are a good all-round option and are suitable for most people. The memory foam function provides support where it is required in the body and allows for adjustments as you sleep and move.
It’s always best to contact a GP if you are suffering with persistent back problems. They may want to take a closer look via an X-ray or refer you to a physiotherapist for a plan of exercises and stretches.