Choosing the right mattress and pillow for back and neck pain
Back and neck pain can be frustrating and may affect your ability to live comfortably. An old or uncomfortable mattress and pillow can potentially exacerbate your symptoms, making it hard to get the rest you need.
The good news is that you can choose a mattress and pillow to relieve discomfort and night for a more restful sleep. Following these guidelines can help you to select the best mattress and pillow for a sore back or neck.
What causes back and neck pain?
The most common cause of neck pain is a muscle strain, which is typically caused by poor posture or poor support, such as sleeping with the neck in an awkward position.
Neck pain is also caused by staring down at a phone screen, laptop, computer or other devices for long periods of time.
Back pain has many causes, including improperly lifting something heavy, poor posture, sports injury, an accident and other adverse events.
How can I reduce back and neck pain?
Acute back or neck pain will usually heal by itself. Taking an anti-inflammatory, using ice and heat packs, and seeing a chiropractor or physiotherapist can help to alleviate the pain.
Once the initial inflammation has subsided, stretches and gentle activity can help your back to return to normal.
Back pain is chronic when it has been present for more than three months. Consulting with your physician and replacing an old or poor quality mattress and pillow may help on your road to recovery.
Poor sleep can exacerbate both acute and chronic back pain while getting a good night of sleep can help your back or neck pain to heal sooner. During the deepest stages of sleep, your muscles relax and your body releases human growth hormone, an important factor in the healing process.
This means that making sure your spine is supported and comfortable at night is an important part of reducing back and neck pain.
What is the best mattress and pillow for back pain?
There is a common misconception that a firmer mattress is better for back pain sufferers. However, studies have shown that a medium-firm mattress gives a better outcome for back pain than a firm mattress.
If your mattress is more than ten years old, there is evidence that replacing it can help to reduce the symptoms of back and neck pain, resulting in lower levels of stress and better sleep.
The best mattress will be soft enough to prevent compression of your joints, while firm enough to support your natural posture during sleep. The level of firmness you need will depend on your physique and your sleeping style.
Selecting a supportive pillow to keep your neck and spine aligned at night can also help to alleviate neck pain and keep you more comfortable while you sleep.
Here's how to choose the right mattress and pillow for back pain, based on your sleeping style:
- If you sleep on your back, a medium to firm mattress will provide the most comfortable support for your spine.
- The best pillow for back sleepers with a sore neck or back is a medium to firm, classic or contour shape pillow.
- Try a few different pillows to find one that suits you, as the right pillow will be different depending on your physique.
- Sleeping on your side is the healthiest way to look after your spine, especially if you have a sore back or neck.
- A medium mattress will provide the best support for a side sleeper, with enough give to accommodate your hips.
- The best pillow for side sleepers is a firm pillow that provides support for your neck between your shoulder and head.
- If you sleep on your front, a firm mattress will provide the best support
- When you lie on your front, you have to twist your head, which brings your spine out of alignment. To minimise any discomfort, choose a low profile pillow that can mould to the angle of your neck and head.
How to make your mattress and pillow last longer
A good pillow and mattress is a significant investment. Here are a few things you can do to make your pillow last longer:
- Fluff it up daily — this helps to kill dust mites and keep it fresh.
- Some pillows can be washed, check the label first. If the pillow isn't machine-washable, sit it in the sun or put it into the dryer weekly or fortnightly.
- Use a pillow protector — wash it regularly to keep oils and moisturiser from staining the pillow.
- Test your pillow by folding it in half. If it springs back to its original shape, it's still in good condition.
These tips can help to prolong the life of your mattress:
- Use a mattress protector to prevent stains and moisture from getting onto the mattress.
- A sturdy bed frame will help your mattress last longer.
- Rotate the mattress every six months to ensure that pressure is applied across the whole mattress.
- Use a slatted bed base and ventilate the room regularly to allow airflow around the mattress.
When you experience back and neck pain, it's so important to get the rest you need for your body to heal.
If your mattress and pillow have been contributing to the pain or preventing you from getting a comfortable night of sleep, it's worth considering if replacing them will make a difference.
You can try a range of mattresses and pillows at one of our 9 Chiropedic showrooms, and get advice from our staff on the right bedding combination to alleviate your pain and allow you to get a comfortable sleep.