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Selecting the Best Mattress for Sleep Comfort

Mattress choice is a very personal matter. When people are looking to buy a new mattress or are even looking at their current mattress as a cause of back pain they often wonder what makes a good mattress.  You can imagine that lack of support can contribute to poor sleeping posture and put strain on muscles and joints, which can lead to low back pain.  If a mattress is to hard, a person may not sleep comfortably, leading to lost sleep.  

Choosing the right mattress for you can be difficult as they are many options including firmness, height, pillow top, and materials are all choices that you have to make when contemplating your mattress choice.  This is due to several factors

First, there are many causes of back pain, from muscle to joints, discs, nerves etc. and one persons back can respond differently than another to the sam mattress

Second, mattresses are a very personal selection.  What feels comfortable well for one person may be uncomfortable for another.

Third, the scientific literature is limited on mattresses and back pain.  Many of the research findings are inconclusive or require further investigation.

The only time that a persons muscle, ligaments, joints and other structures can relax completely is when they are sleeping.  If you suffer from a back injury, it’s especially important to get a good night sleep, to help the healing process. 

Considerations when buying a new mattress

The following are some guidelines when purchasing a new mattress to give you both the most support and comfort when sleeping.

  1. Personal preference should be the most important.  There is no single mattress that is the best for everyone.  If this were true, all other mattress brand and types would no longer exist.  Try the mattress in the store before you purchase it.  I don’t mean sleep there overnight, but lye on it.  You should know almost immediately if it’s too hard or soft for you.  There is no substitute for going into the store and trying out their mattress selection.

  1. Shop at a store that specializes in mattresses.  The salesperson at a specialist store usually has more knowledge, training and experience regarding mattresses that a one stop shop.  

  1. Understand the specifications of the mattress.  What is the mattress made of?  Are there coils or springs?  Where does the support come from?  Is there padding on top?  These are all questions that you should consider when purchasing a new mattress as they all contribute to the end product that you may or may not be looking for.  Your mattress should have enough coils to provide adequate support and allow for the natural curves of your spine to be supported.  The padding on top of the mattress should provide you with a comfortable sleep.  This is a matter of personal preference.

  1. Look for a mattress that provides sufficient back support.  A good mattress should give you enough support to maintain the nature curves of your spine while you are sleeping.  Sleeping on a mattress that is too hard can cause you to wake up with aches and pains.  Most people prefers a firmer mattress, that gives their spine more support.  While there is no research that conclusively supports this it appears that the trend of the literature is towards a medium-firm to firm mattress.  It is thought that a mattress should provide support for the spine alone the entire spine while maintain your natural curves.  Essentially, you want to be in the same position as when you are in good standing posture.

  1. Know when it’s time to get a new mattress.  If your current mattress sags in the middle or isn’t comfortable, it might be time to look into investing into a new mattress. 

While a firm mattress is usually a good choice, if the mattress is too hard it can cause aches and pains in pressure points, such as the hips and shoulders.  

How to evaluate a mattress

Have you ever gone into a mattress store only to be overwhelmed by the latest and greatest special features, promotions, and rock bottom prices, only to confuse you even more than when you got to the store.

By understanding how a mattress works, what it’s made of and how it affects your sleep, you can ask the right questions to find the best mattress for you.  Some stores have mattress samples, along with the full size mattress for you to see the components and construction of your mattress.  This is a good aid to understand and gauge mattress quality.

The following components are the important feature of most high quality mattresses.

Mattress springs and coils:  As we saw earlier, springs and coils are what gives a mattress support.  The coil wire comes in different thicknesses (called gauge), where a lower gauge is a thicker, stiffer wire and firmer mattress.  A higher concentration or number of coils generally means a higher quality mattress.  Imagine sleeping on 1 coil to support your entire body.  Sounds uncomfortable.  Compare that to sleeping on 20 or even 30 coils to evenly support and distribute your weight.  Now this doesn't necessarily mean that the highest number of coils is the best.  Again, try the mattress out and see which one is the most comfortable.

Mattress padding and cover:  The padding on top of the mattress can indicate quality.  This padding is usually made of polyurethane foam, polyester or cotton batting.  More padding is generally more comfortable and more expensive.  A more recent trend is the pillow top mattress.  This makes the mattress extra deep and adds more cushioning.

Insulation padding: This padding lies inside the mattress, on top of the coils so you don’t feel them when you are lying in bed.  It also protects the coils from damaging the top layer of the mattress.

Mattress quilting:  The outer layer of the side of the mattress is called the ticking and is a cotton or cotton-polyester blend.  The quilting attaches the ticking to the top of the mattress.  Check the quilting for consistent, unbroken stitches.

Mattress foundation:  The foundation or box spring adds support to the mattress.  The foundation is made of a wooden or metal frame with or without springs.  A wood frame without springs can make the mattress feel more firm than a foundation with springs.  When purchasing a wood mattress foundation or box spring, it should not have any cracks and the wood should be straight.

Foam mattresses: Foam mattresses are an alternative to traditional spring or coil mattresses.  Some mattresses are made of memory foam or latex foam.  They can consist of different proportions of foam and different densities.  Some are made of multiple layers of foam layers together and others are made of a foam core in the centre.  Because they come in various degrees of firmness, this gives you a selection for back support and comfort.  Choosing between a foam mattress and a traditional mattress is a personal preference.

When you are shopping for a new mattress, ask questions, request written product information and examine each mattress.  By following theses guidelines and looking for a mattress that provides the perfect balance of support and comfort, you will be well equipped to find the best mattress to get a good night rest. 

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