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Which Mattress Is Best For You?

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By: Dr. Stephen O’Neil

Proper posture is an extremely important part of spinal health and overall health. Chiropractors assess the spine for proper posture and biomechanics. When proper biomechanics are lacking, restrictions build up in the joints of the spine. These restrictions, known as subluxations, cause inflammation to build up around the joints and nerves. The inflammation alone plays a role in several degenerative changes in the joints, such as osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease and degenerative disc disease. More importantly, this inflammation interferes with spinal nerve function. It can cause signals from the brain to be misinterpreted or interrupted completely. Subluxations are the cause of or play a role in many specific health problems. Correction of subluxation is the chiropractor's focus. Regular spinal adjustments are required to counter the amount of stress we place on our bodies on a daily basis.

Proper posture is important throughout the day and also at night. Because our chiropractors cannot be with us all day and night, it is important to have a quality mattress to sleep on for continued support. A study was conducted among 22 subjects between the ages of 25 and 75 with documented disturbed sleep, shoulder pain, low back pain and chronic spinal stiffness. Prescribed bedding systems reduced back pain by 57%, shoulder pain by 61% and back stiffness by 59%. Quality of sleep improved by 61%.

So what type of mattress should we be sleeping on? Comfort is the obvious main concern for the consumer. Proper support should be our focus from a health standpoint. How firm should your mattress be? Some recent studies show that the old thought of ‘the firmer, the better' may not be as accurate as we once thought. A Spanish research study assessed the effect of mattress firmness on 313 adults who suffered from backache while lying in bed. All were assigned firm or medium firm mattresses. After 90 days, 95% of those with medium firm mattresses had less pain in bed, less pain upon rising and less disability than those with firm mattresses. Soft beds should be avoided as they offer less support and can amplify several spinal symptoms. Pillow top beds may also negate some of the support offered by a firm or medium firm mattress.

What type of bed should I buy? There is an extremely vast array of beds on the market. Adjustable beds, featured on numerous television and magazine ads have benefits if you and your spouse have different spinal issues which need to be addressed. However, sleeping with the spine in any other position than neutral can spawn vertebral subluxations among other health issues. Some still swear by waterbeds. These provide a near pressure-less sleeping surface, but can offer little in the way of support. Airbeds offer the consumer the option to alter the firmness of the mattress to his / her own distinct needs. Temper-pedic mattresses are made from a revolutionary new material created by NASA. This open celled breathable material is temperature sensitive and able to distribute pressure or bodyweight over the entire surface area.

How long do mattresses last? This time can vary according to quality of the mattress purchased, size and sleep habits of the purchaser. According to the Better Sleep Council, mattresses give maximum support for a period of eight to ten years. Baby mattresses should be cleaned often and never handed down. Saliva, urine and milk can soak into mattresses without an impermeable cover and lead to the growth of bacteria and contribute to childhood illnesses.

After consulting with your doctor of chiropractic for specific needs of your spine, remember to always buy new, never used. Shop only at reputable stores and make sure the mattress arrives from the manufacturer in plastic. Always lie on the bed prior to making a purchase. Seek stores that offer a 30 or 60-day trial period. See your Chiropractor for regular spinal adjustments and maintain proper alignment with the right mattress.