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Mattress Support and Back Pain

Monday, 27 February 2012 09:40 Published in Beyond Team Blog

Choosing the right mattress is a very personal matter, especially if you suffer from back pain. Your mattress of choice holds the potential to help, hinder or create back aches and pains and this means a decision on the correct mattress for you is not one to be taken lightly.

Back aches and pains can be linked to a number of different causes, with the most common arising from everyday stresses on the muscles and ligaments that support the spine. Our activities during the day, the way we sit, stand, move and bend, impact our body and spine significantly. As a supportive element itself the spine holds up your head, keeps your body upright, allows you the flexibility to bend, and protects your spinal cord. The potential 8 hours of sleep that we are advised to have each night is intended to allow your body and spine to rejuvenate and relax, soothing tension and allowing our muscles and joints to recover from these daily activities. If during these essential 8 hours your spine is not properly supported, your muscles will be working overtime in order to adapt to the mattress instead of being restored by the correct support of your mattress.

It has been a common misconception that a firm mattress is best if you suffer from any form of back pain with some people going to extraordinary lengths to achieve a firm mattress, even utilising the floor in the hope that it will help in their circumstance. Unless you only sleep on your back, in most cases a firm mattress doesn’t help to relieve your back pain; mixing mattress support with mattress firmness has been a long held misconception.

A mattress must give the greatest support at the heaviest parts of your body where your natural curves are located: head (a good pillow is also very important), shoulders and hips, while being able to distribute the pressure points through the surface, the surface should also be able to contour to your body shape, providing enough support to the areas which connect the curves. If support is not available to maintain these curves you increase the stress on the bones and muscles of your back.

Lack of support from your mattress also emphasises poor sleeping posture and does not allow the spine to align to its correct position, all of which can contribute to back aches and pains, ideally the spine should be kept in its natural alignment, which means when you are sleeping the spine should maintain the same curve as if you are standing.

The ideal amount of support will vary between each person and certain factors will determine how much support you will need. Weight and height is a key dynamic in the support issue, with heavier, taller people requiring more support as they will sink in to the mattress surface further than say a medium sized person of a medium height.

As a general guide (not taking into consideration personal preference or pre-existing conditions) people 90kg or heavier will need more support by a firmer mattress; a smaller person or children (less than 55kg) will be properly supported on a softer mattress, and a medium mattress is generally suitable for people 55-90kg.

Having this general guide in mind when considering a new mattress will help to get you started on the right track, the idea is to find the firmness of the mattress to match your body weight and comfort preferences. Firstly make sure you take the time to test each mattress to determine, most importantly, if it is supportive enough for you and then see if it matches your desired comfort level. It is suggested that you try a firm mattress followed by a soft mattress to give an indication of the support range, and then begin trying the mattresses in between.

How to Choose a Mattress for a Poor Sleeper

Thursday, 23 February 2012 14:00 Published in Beyond Team Blog

This article was contributed by Christopher Fitch, the Site Editor for, a leading mattress review and ratings and sleep-information website.

Poor quality sleep can generally be characterized by several measurable symptoms. The three most obvious -  not getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep per night, waking periodically throughout the night and waking the next morning and still feeling tired – often result from a poor mattress. Since so much time is (or should be) spent on a mattress, exploring the best options to improve sleep quality should be a priority for most people. But for those who are prone to poor sleep for reasons not associated with the mattress itself, there are some things they should consider that can make the eight-hour stretch from dusk until dawn less of a strain.

According to leading mattress reviews and ratings website,, there are twelve key considerations to make before purchasing a new mattress. What these considerations fail to take into account, however, is that not everyone is a regular sleeper. If you are a poor sleeper, the list needs to underline several key areas. The following considerations are an absolute must when it comes to choosing the right mattress product for poor sleepers.

Comfort Above All Else: Many people will opt for a mattress that is not comfortable if they feel the health benefits outweigh their comfort needs. In fact, more and more people are choosing firm mattresses thanks to the reams of literature that point to the chiropractic benefits of firmer sleep surfaces. This seems particularly true for back sleepers. However, a poor sleeper may never get to enjoy those benefits because they are unable to fall asleep. This makes a strong argument in favour of a comfortable mattress above all else; support, for poor sleepers, should be a secondary consideration.

Proper Temperature Control: A mattress that retains heat is bad news for someone who hates to be too warm during the night. Although memory foams, latex, gel beds and luxury coil mattresses that come loaded with foams and gels may feel comfortable, many of these products alter the mattress’s sleep surface temperature as your body temperatures rises during the various sleeping stages. If you are a poor sleeper to begin with, temperature control takes a higher priority for you than for anyone else, so choose a mattress with temperature attributes that will not add fuel to the fire, so to speak.

Motion Isolation: Poor sleepers often toss and turn throughout the night. If they do not sleep alone, their restlessness undoubtedly interrupts their partner’s sleep, which is problematic. Beds with superior motion isolation also provide benefits for poor sleeper because these highly engineered mattresses are less likely to squeak or cause the bed frame and entire mattress to move disruptively. This decreases the chances that a poor sleeper who has finally fallen asleep is not wakened by a sudden leg jerk or a partner who shifts position throughout the night.

Many mattresses known for their motion isolation qualities also offer specialized zoning, which reduces pressure point aggravation. Unfortunately, the mattresses that offer the best motion isolation often come loaded with foams and other materials that can alter the surface temperature of the mattress. Therefore it is important to understand the product, your needs and how the two will interact during the night.

For many chronic poor sleepers, the sleep problems will not get fixed with a new, high-tech and “perfect” mattress. In severe cases, even medical assistance may not help. However, even poor sleepers can enjoy improved night-time rest with a mattress that is not only comfortable, but also conducive to good sleep. The added criteria above will help poor sleepers find that perfect mattress and with some luck, these people may eventually enjoy the sleep they deserve.


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