December 8, 2009 — A good night’s sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle; however, an estimated 70 million Americans complain of sleeplessness.
A 2006 study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine showed that sleeping on a new mattress can significantly reduce stiffness and back pain. Researchers found that study participants reported immediate and sustained benefits after sleeping on a new mattress. This was especially true of participants who entered the study with back pain complaints, as they reported a 63 percent improvement in back discomfort with a new mattress.
When it comes time to purchase a new mattress, the ACA recommends the following:
Shop for Support
Look for a mattress that provides uniform support from head to toe; if there are gaps between your body and the mattress (such as at the waist), you’re not getting the full support you need. Mattresses can be too firm; pay close attention to uncomfortable pressure on prominent body features such as the shoulders, hips, and low back.
Shop for Comfort
When mattress shopping, give each option a good trial run before you buy; lie down on a mattress for a minimum of five minutes to 10 minutes to get a good idea of its comfort level. If you cannot find a comfortable position, you probably have the wrong mattress.
Shop for Size
Does the bed provide enough room for both you — and your sleeping partner if you have one — to stretch and roll over? The ideal mattress will also minimize the transfer of movement from one sleeping partner to the other, which means one person shouldn’t feel motion as the other leaves the bed.
Generally, a mattress should be replaced every five years to eight years to ensure proper support and comfort. Be aware that life’s changes can signal the need for a new mattress as well.
After investing in a quality mattress, don’t forget to choose an equally supportive pillow, advises ACA spokesperson Steven Conway, DC, DACBOH, Esq.
When selecting a new pillow, ACA recommends selecting one with ergonomically-designed features, which will enhance comfort and limit pain.
Look for pillows that are:
• Designed to keep the spine in natural alignment. When lying on your side, your head and neck should remain level with your mid and lower spine. When lying on your back, your head and neck should remain level with your upper back and spine. Avoid pillows that are so thick or thin that they angle your head and neck away from your body.
• Designed to support different sleep positions, including side sleeper or back sleeper. (It’s best never to sleep on your stomach, as it’s the most back unfriendly sleeping position.)
Source: American Chiropractic Association, www.acatoday.org