Are you someone who wakes up in the morning with stiff joints and aches in your lower back, but you didn’t have any the night before? Back pains are really confusing and inconvenient. Things get even more complicated if you can’t pinpoint what’s causing the pain in your lower back in the first place. Unless you have arthritis or an advanced age, your back pain is probably caused by your mattress. In other words, your mattress is causing your back pain.
Can A Bad Mattress Cause Back Pain?
What Causes Back Pain?
For the vast majority of people, the primary cause of back pain in bed is bad posture. Poor posture can be how a person sits on his chair at work or how he or she sleeps at night. The spine consists of vertebrae, and between two vertebras exists the intervertebral discs. The intervertebral discs rehydrate at night, which is why we feel a little taller than usual in the morning. Consequently, these discs are also behind why the elderly lose height as they get older. Having a poor posture prevents the discs from rehydrating.
The vertebra is attached to smaller muscle groups such as erector spinae and relatively larger muscles called the trapezius. A poor posture during sitting and sleeping puts these muscles into compromising positions, and if done for prolonged periods, it can result in aches and pain.
Here is the list of common indicators of poor posture that can cause back pain and stiffness:
- Slouching in a chair.
- Sticking your bottom out during standing.
- Standing with a flat back.
- Leaning on one leg.
- Hunching back while using your phone.
- Pushing your chin forward when using the computer.
- Rounded shoulders (This indicates the back muscles need strengthening).
- Use your phone by cradling it in between the head and shoulder.
How To Tell If Your Mattress Is Causing Back Pain?
There are several reasons for your back pain, and finding the exact reason for your pain is hard, but if you’re having back pain when you wake up in the morning, maybe it’s time you need to replace your mattress. Below are three reasons your bed is the root cause of the pain in your lower back.
1. You Feel Back Pain In The Morning:
If you’re someone who goes to bed without any pain and wakes up in the morning with an aching back when waking up, feeling all tired—it’s a clear sign that your mattress is the culprit. A bed that is extremely soft, or one that’s overly stiff or firm will not keep your spine aligned.
This will exert unnecessary pressure on your hips or hip joints leading to pain in your lower back. You’ll feel the pain the moment you get out of your bed.
2. You’re Tossing And Turning All Night:
You need to be comfortable in your bed to have a restful, good night’s sleep. It’s not possible to have a rejuvenating sleep at night if you aren’t uncomfortable in your bed.
If your spine isn’t in a neutral position while lying on your bed, you’ll be twisting and tossing the whole night to find a comfortable sleeping position. If you’re sleeping in a cheaper or inferior mattress or a mattress with poor ergonomics you’re more likely to experience back pain in the morning.
3. You Have A Mattress That is Over Eight Years Old:
Mattresses lose their shape and firmness as they age. A memory foam mattress will no longer conform to the shapes or curves of your shoulders and hips when it is eight years old or older.
Meanwhile, an innerspring mattress will start to sag or start flattening due to wear and tear. An old mattress is a major reason for your back pain. If you see your mattress in these conditions, replace it, and you’ll see your back pain or stiff joints have reduced significantly.
Other Underlying Reasons For Your Back Pain
1. Your Sleep Position Is Out Of Line:
We all have our own sleep positions and remember this, your sleep position does have an effect on your body. After all, not all sleep positions are created equal, and there are some sleep positions that can cause soreness in your lower back. People who are stomach sleepers (which account for about 16% of all sleepers) are most likely to complain about back and joint pain. The reason is this position leaves the spine out of alignment. Furthermore, stomach sleepers tend to toss and twist more than other sleepers to get comfortable on their beds which puts additional pressure on the jaw, neck, and lower back.
Meanwhile, side sleepers are also prone to back pain as they unintentionally put their spines out of alignment because they’re using the wrong pillow. Yes, using a bad pillow that does not properly support your neck can also cause pain in your lower back. If you’re a stomach or side sleeper with back pain, we recommend you try changing up your sleep position and see whether your back pain subsides in the morning.
2. Your Pillow Is Out of Whack:
Even if your mattress is of the right firmness and you’ve adopted the ideal sleep position, you may still experience pain, especially in the neck the following morning. That’s because your pillow is wrong and doesn’t provide adequate support in your neck region. This proves choosing the right pillow is just as crucial as your mattress when it comes to proper spinal alignment. To resolve this pick a pillow that provides the perfect amount of loft for your sleep position.
If you’re a stomach sleeper, choose a pillow with a low profile, whereas side sleepers should opt for more supportive pillows with a higher loft. For back sleepers, it doesn’t matter whether you choose a high or low-loft pillow. You can have a good night’s sleep—it all depends on your personal preference. We recommend checking out these pillows that will help you sleep better.
3. Your Mattress is Too Firm, or Too Soft:
Most people who experience back pain and stiffness in the morning should focus on their mattresses specifically, the firmness level. People who sleep on their stomachs or backs, they’ll generally rest and have a restful sleep on a firm mattress.
If they’re suffering from stiffness and lower back pain, they’ll recover better by sleeping on a firmer mattress. Said that, regardless of your sleep position, back pain can also be associated with a mattress that is too soft. Mattresses that are too soft cause your spine to fall out of alignment. This forces your back muscles to contract rather than relax.
Meanwhile, if your main problems are joint pain and stiffness in the morning, the problem might be your mattress is too firm. If your mattress is too firm, your joints may be deprived of proper blood flow. Mattresses with soft to medium firmness levels are better suited to relieve pressure from the joints.
Pro Tip: If you’re a heavier person or a taller person, you need a medium to medium-firm mattress. If your weight happens to be around 200 lbs. or more, regardless of your sleeping position, you will sink more into the mattress than normally what is expected if your mattress is too soft. If a mattress can’t support the sleeper properly, he or she could experience back pain. We recommend checking out these mattresses if you’re heavier or a taller person; no shame in that.
Three Things That Makes A Good Mattress?
Obviously, not all mattresses are created equal. Don’t get me wrong here—we aren’t talking about cheap mattresses versus expensive mattresses. There is no way to validate that high-quality, premium mattresses won’t give you back pain. In general, there isn’t any particular brand or type of mattress that is better than another.
The ideal mattress depends on his or her personal preferences and sleeping requirements whether they choose to buy the market’s bean bag mattress or futons mattress. However, there are a few innate properties that every mattress should have that will ensure you’ll have back pain-free and restful sleep.
Here are the top three things you need to consider for analyzing the quality of a mattress:
- The mattress should support your entire body when it is in a neutral position. This means that the bed needs to provide proper spinal alignment.
- The bed should not be overly firm. A mattress that is too firm exerts excessive pressure on the main pressure points of the spine.
- On the other hand, a mattress that is too soft won’t be able to adequately support the pressure points of your spine eventually creating a spinal curvature.
Will Getting An Adjustment From A Chiropractor Reduce Back Pain?
If you think that your back pain can be reduced by getting an adjustment from a chiropractor, go for it. In fact, we suggest you get your back checked by a trained chiropractor before going mattress shopping. An adjustment will definitely help you relieve the back pain and stiffness, and as an added benefit, you’ll also have a better posture and body support while sleeping.
Furthermore, if you’re doubting which sleeping position is beneficial for reducing or eliminating pain and stiffness in your lower back, ask your chiropractor for advice. You can also your chiropractor to recommend the right mattress too. A chiropractor isn’t only a trained expert in relieving pain and improving your posture, he or she can surely provide you plenty of recommendations and insights from his or her patients who suffered or convalescing from mattress-induced back pain.
Is It Possible Sleeping On The Right Mattress Can Relieve Your Back Pain?
Now that we have argued how your ill-suited mattress and poor posture are causing aching and pain in your lower back, we’ll provide some advice on selecting a mattress that will cure and prevent back pain.
Recently, researchers in Spain studied people with long-term back pain and concluded that people who slept on medium-to-firm mattresses or 5.6 on a firmness scale to be precise, had less back pain than those who decided to sleep on a softer or firmer mattress.
Gerard Varlotta, the director of sports rehabilitation at the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine at New York University Medical Center, in an interview with NBC News, said, “There needs to be an equal distribution of pressure. Too firm of a mattress is not good. It doesn’t provide enough contour to our bodies. Too soft is going to bend and cause problems as well.”
Said that there are so many brands and models of medium-to-firm beds out there, it’s super hard to recommend which ones are the best. However, there is a material that has been proven to help back pain sufferers sleep better at night.
Michael Breus, Ph.D., a renowned sleep expert, in his article, “How to Pick Your Perfect Mattress,” says latex is a good choice. In fact, he thinks latex is one of the best materials to be used in mattresses because the material is firm and provides better support compared to memory foam.
Admit it or not, we are all in love with our beds, but that doesn’t mean they love you back or ‘love your back’ per se. There has been plenty of research that indicates that a person’s bed is one of the major reasons for their back pain or soreness in the morning.
If you or your partner are experiencing pain or stiffness in the lower back, pay close attention to how you and your spouse behave throughout the night. If you see the following disturbing signs while sleeping, it’s time to replace your mattress. These signs are:
- You wake up frequently for no apparent reason during the night.
- You toss and turn more than usual.
- You’re finding it hard to get comfortable.
- You feel excess pressure on parts of your body when sleeping or lying down in certain positions.
- You sink ‘too much in your bed.
- Your bed is unusually flat and does not conform to the curves of your body.
- You feel back pain as soon as you wake up, and the back pain goes away after about 20-30 minutes.
Back pain can be associated with several related factors, but if you’re absolutely sure that your bed is to blame, it is easy to resolve it. For most people, a bad mattress, poor posture, and unhealthy sleeping position are behind their back pain and are not associated with something serious.
In fact, various studies show that an estimated 56% of people who sleep on a medium-to-firm mattress have their back pain reduced significantly in the morning as opposed to sleepers who sleep on softer mattresses. Additionally, many sleep experts recommend people replace their mattresses after every 8-10 years.