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Top tips for choosing the right mattress to help with back pain

Did you know that, every year, up to 40% of the population (so, over 16 million of us) suffer from back pain, according to the Sleep Council? If you are one of those 16 million you will know that the first piece of advice you are given is to ensure you have the right mattress.

Here we’ll offer you some useful tips to help you find the right mattress to help with back pain. But what is the ‘right mattress’? Nobody seems to know! Google it, ask your doctor, your friends, or bed shops like ours and you’ll soon discover that there is much conflicting advice. Many believe that a firm bed is best for your back. Others swear by the therapeutic, soporific qualities of a softer option.

We’ve been buying, making and supplying mattresses for more than 40 years. We know there is no ‘one type suits all’ answer, which is why our mattress selection includes a full range of firmness options, all with excellent long term back support.

Here are our top tips on how to select the right mattress to support your back.

  1. Consider what type of mattress would best suit your physical frame. The correct support depends on your weight, height, build and sleeping position. The mattress should mould subtly to the shape of your body – therefore larger framed, heavier people are better suited, generally, to firmer mattresses which will adjust to their weight without allowing them to sink in too far. Smaller, lighter people do not need such firmness to support their spine as here the softer mattress offers the same level of support to their bones and curves.
  2. Consider what type of mattress would best suit your preferred sleeping position. When you lie on your side your spine should be almost horizontal. You should be able to turn easily in your sleep. Side sleepers generally prefer a softer option to accommodate their contours. Back sleepers however tend to prefer a firmer feel, whilst a firmer mattress better supports stomach sleepers’ spines too. And if you fidget, tossing and turning all night trying to get comfortable, so are not sure whether you’re a back, side or stomach sleeper – well it suggests the mattress you have at the moment is not the right one, so try something different.
  3. Try some mattresses out in the shop. Lie on them for 15 minutes in your preferred sleeping position, bring your own pillow if you like, the closer you can simulate your real sleeping position the better.
  4. Test it together. If this mattress is for you and a partner – be sure to bring them along, and to lie on the mattress together in your usual sleeping positions. The mattress needs to suit you both, you may differ greatly in weight/build and therefore require either a half-and-half mattress (some mattress manufacturers will make a mattress firm on one half, and medium or soft on the other) or two singles (placed together on a king-size bed base) of differing firmness. Also you need to find out if the movement of your partner will disturb your sleep – this can be another reason to select two singles rather than one mattress for you both.
  5. The Sleep Council test. The Sleep Council recommend the following to test to find out if the mattress you are lying on is the right firmness for your back: Lie on your back and try to slide your hand under the hollow of your back. If it slides under too easily the bed is probably too hard, if it’s a struggle probably it’s too soft. A little resistance is what you’re looking for. (Their alternative test if to pop a set of keys behind your back – you shouldn’t be able to feel them!)

For more expert advice on choosing the best mattress to help with back pain, take a look at this blog from the Sleep Council. And here’s more information about the mattress range available here at the Natural Bed Company.

We wish you the best of luck in finding the right mattress for you (now, where did I put my keys?)

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