A question we often get asked is “What type of mattress do you recommend.” And the answer can be different for each individual. If you are sleeping on a 20 year old mattress then it is most likely time to look for a new one. There are a lot of different types of beds to choose from today and sometimes it can be overwhelming. There are coils, memory foam and even beds with air chambers (stay away from water beds). They can also range pretty significantly in price.
So here is how I feel. There are studies that show this and studies that show that, but it comes down to can you sleep comfortably with proper support and without pain. Ideally you want a mattress that gives your spine support and is not too soft. If it is too soft, this can be bad on the curvatures, discs, and ligamentous structure of the spine. If it is too hard, it may be too uncomfortable to sleep on. For most back sleepers I would recommend a medium firm mattress without a pillow top or very small pillow top. It is also worthwhile to compare the number of coils from mattress to mattress and the gauge (thickness) of the coils for durability. For most side sleepers, I would again recommend a firm mattress, but with a slightly thicker pillow top than that of back sleepers. The reasoning is that if a mattress is too firm for side sleepers it may irritate the shoulders and hips, thus aggravating and even causing a bursitis (which really hurts). The other types of mattresses like memory foam (ex. Tempurpedic) and air chambers (ex. Sleep Number) can be good also, but are usually much more expensive. Not all memory foam mattresses are built the same, so make sure to do your research on the brand and its durability. Most of the patients I know that have foam mattresses really like them. The only complaints I usually hear is that they can tend to be a little warm. The air chamber beds are good in theory because you can adjust the firmness on each side for each individual, since husband and wife tend to be different sizes. However, the problem is that what may feel like the most comfortable setting may not be best for that person’s spine and can make it worse. I have heard mixed reviews from patients with this type of bed.
When buying a mattress, it is a good idea to buy from someone that has at least a 30 day trial guarantee since a mattress will feel great in the store, but after sleeping on it a whole night may not feel so good. All mattresses are going to wear over time (no matter what the cost) and need to be replaced. So to make a long story short, I recommend a firm, but comfortable mattress. If you have any other questions on mattresses or want to know how each type of mattress may affect you individually, feel free to give me a call!