The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) recommends your mattress should support your body weight evenly, without gaps between your mattress and your body. However, there is no "one size fits all" type of bed, and choosing the best bed for your back depends on your preferences and condition. You may need to change beds if you gain or lose a lot of weight, become pregnant or change sleeping partners.
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If you sleep with a partner, an adjustable mattress may be best for your back because you can each select a firmness level. A bed that is too firm can increase pressure on parts of your body, decreasing your quality of sleep and making you wake up sore. Too-soft beds don't support your back properly, and your spine won't be aligned and rested as you sleep, cautions J. Talbot Sellers, D.O., of the spine-health website. A 2008 study performed by Harvard researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital found that people who could customise their mattress firmness to suit them slept better and experienced less back pain and soreness.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders states that people with back pain should sleep on their sides on a firm surface. Sellers stresses that since choosing the best bed for your back is a matter of personal preference, you should test a mattress in the store. Buy from a store that has a return policy if you're not comfortable sleeping on it after two or three weeks.
Ron Miller, PT, writing on the spine-health website, suggests that adjustable beds—also called semi-Fowler beds—can be very comfortable for people with back problems such as spinal stenosis or osteoarthritis in the spine, or after back surgery. Similar to some hospital beds, you can raise or lower an adjustable bed so your upper body is raised to 30 to 45 degrees. Put a pillow under the backs of your knees to keep them slightly bent and your spine at a natural curve and take pressure off your lower back.
Other Bed Choices
The Better Sleep Council suggests other options to a traditional box spring mattress. Futons are often quite firm, as well as being affordable and versatile since they can function as both a sofa and a bed. Inflatable air mattresses can be filled to your comfort level, as soft or as firm as you like. Foam mattresses come in a variety of styles, from memory foam which molds itself to your body as you sleep, to layered or textured foam. Water beds are now designed to look and feel more like a traditional mattress, providing better support and insulation compared to the sloshing waterbeds of the 1970s.