The mattress market is filled with promises of restful nights and luxurious comfort. But after you purchase your mattress and get it home, reality can be a little less dreamy.
For patients with back pain, choosing the right mattress is particularly important. We have a checklist of the key mattress components to look for when you are evaluating and comparing your options.
- Mattress coils and springs. These are the components that provide back support. The coil wires come in different thicknesses; the lower the gauge number, the stiffer the wire and the more firm your mattress will be. A higher concentration of steel coils may indicate better quality. However, you should use your own judgment to decide how much firmness is comfortable to provide the support you need.
- Mattress padding. The padding on top of the mattress may be made of polyurethane foam, puffed-up polyester, or cotton batting. Extensive padding tends to increase the comfort of the mattress, and often comes with a higher price tag—which you may decide is worth the extra cost.
- Mattress foundations. The foundation or box spring provides another level of support, and is usually constructed of a wood or metal frame with springs. A wood frame may feel harder, and should be inspected for cracks and warping. The Better Sleep Council recommends purchasing your mattress and foundation as a set to preserve the mattress and maximize your comfort.
- Foam mattresses. Unlike traditional mattresses, foam mattresses are constructed entirely of memory or latex foam, and come in various degrees of firmness. Both traditional and foam mattresses can give you the back support and comfort you need.
Although firmer generally is better, the mattress that’s best for you is the one that you feel supports you comfortably. The opportunity to sleep on the mattress you want before you buy (in a hotel or the home of someone you know) is ideal—but at least stretch out on the mattress models in the store. When you research your options, ask questions, carefully examine each mattress, and test several styles to determine which feels most comfortable for you. Then you’ll be better informed to select the option with the comfort and back support tailored to your needs.