Relieving Pain with a Memory Foam Mattress
If you do more agonizing over aches and pains than sleeping at night, you may find yourself wondering which is the best mattress for pain reduction. And if you have an old, sagging mattress, it can be a real problem when it comes to sleep quality and pain.
It might seem like simply a matter of personal preference, but evidence shows memory foam mattresses can reduce joint, muscle, back and inflammation-related pain for the majority of owners.
In our fast-paced society, we like to have quick, simple solutions. Medications, acupuncture and chiropractic appointments are typical temporary pain-relief quick-fixes. But, you may have overlooked one simple solution. Sleeping well has been shown to help with pain management, and a big part of sleeping great is getting comfortable. Sleeping on a memory foam mattress can reduce pain, with some other positive side effects, such as:
- A better quality sleep
- More energy throughout the day
- Less inflammation caused by pressure
Memory foam mattresses can provide all that without a single pill or needle piercing your skin. All you have to do is relax and find a position that is comfortable and conducive to healing.
Memory Foam Mattresses and Back Pain
Does a memory foam mattress help back pain? The short answer is “yes,” but some are better than others. Having a good sleep surface is paramount when trying to alleviate back pain.
Memory foam mattresses can offer the support, conformability and firmness necessary for proper spine alignment. Most other mattresses do not perform as well as memory foam in regards to back pain relief.
One of the main functions of sleep systems is to provide support, allowing muscles and intervertebral discs to recover from a continuous daily load. Recovery is best when the spine is naturally aligned. Memory foam mattresses conform to the body, allowing the spine to rest in healthy alignment.
Insomnia and back pain are bidirectionally related, also. In other words, simply losing sleep could contribute to your pain. Users of memory foam mattresses overwhelmingly report better sleep quality and pain relief in reviews.
The Best Mattress for Pain
If you’re thinking about changing your mattress in order to reduce your back pain, there are some things you should know. Not all memory foam mattresses are the same; they vary in many ways. In order to maximize your pain relief, you need to consider a few factors.
The firmness of a mattress is very closely related to its pain relieving capacity. A recent study demonstrated that medium-firm memory foam mattresses can relieve pain during the day, while lying down and while getting up.
Firmness in memory foam mattresses is force measured in pounds indicated by its Indentation Load Deflection (ILD). This is how much weight is needed to compress a four-inch thick piece of foam by 25%. A higher ILD indicates a firmer memory foam. A good range for pain relief is a comfort (or top) layer of 10-25 ILD for pressure relief and a core (or bottom) layer between 30-40 ILD for support.
Medium-firm mattress foams are recommended for pain relief, but if you sleep on your side, you may want something a little softer. Side-sleepers need a little more give so their bodies can sink to the point of healthy spine alignment.
A supportive mattress will keep your body on a level plane without allowing any part of the body to lie higher or lower than the rest. Consistent support in a mattress will help the spine stay aligned. Sagging mattresses lack support and cause the spine to be misaligned.
Not to be confused with firmness, memory foam density is simply the mass of a cubic foot of foam. Lower-density foams, counterintuitively, tend to receive more complaints of excessive firmness. Often, people claim memory foam density and firmness are directly proportional, but they are mistaken. The opposite seems to be true.
Referring to the ability of a mattress to mold to the contours of the body, conformability is a key aspect for pain relief. A conformable mattress will support the body evenly everywhere. This helps to eliminate areas of pressure. When some portions of a mattress are lacking, other areas must hold up more weight, resulting in increased pressure.
These pressure points are very troublesome, especially for people who have to spend much time in bed. Pressure ulcers, or bedsores are caused by this increase in pressure, often memory foam is used to help treat this condition.
Pressure can decrease blood flow and increase inflammation. Joint and muscle health is directly related to these two factors. By limiting pressure, a conforming mattress can help alleviate joint pain and inflammation.
Choosing a Mattress for Pain Relief
Memory foam mattresses in general are one of the best mattresses for pain relief. However, some perform better than others in regards to pain. Here are some mattresses we have found to relieve pain fairly consistently. We created two groups for different sleeping positions. Back and stomach sleepers should use a firmer mattress than those who sleep on their sides.
Pain Relieving Mattresses for Back and Stomach Sleepers
Comforpedic Relaxed Nights ($2,799) rates well in back pain and pressure relief, but may lack in support for heavier sleepers because it isn’t very thick. Durability and unpredictable firmness are mentioned by some reviewers with this line.
Amerisleep Revere Bed ($1,299) does very well for pain relief with a medium-firm comfort layer. This plant-based memory foam mattress provides good support and conformability with a thicker profile.
Serta iComfort Prodigy Everfeel ($1,774) receives solid customer satisfaction rates. With a medium-firm comfort layer, it conforms well, but it lacks the thickness that heavier sleepers may require for full support.
BedInABox PacBed Original ($699) is a medium-firm memory foam that does okay for pain and pressure relief for it’s price. Consumers report some difficulty moving on the bed.
Sealy Optimum Inspiration ($1,599) is medium-firm and receives above-average reports of pain and pressure relief. They may have inadequate support for larger people or those who prefer very supportive mattresses.
Pain Relieving Mattresses for Side Sleepers
Amerisleep Liberty Bed ($1,299) is a softer memory foam mattress that provides good support and conforms to the body well. The thickness of this mattress make it a good choice for people of different sizes.
Comforpedic Restored Spirits ($2,299) is a soft mattress with a thicker profile that receives above-average ratings for back pain, pressure relief and conformability.
Sealy Optimum Desire ($3,499) offers above average relief of pain and pressure, though it could be lacking slightly in support.
Serta iComfort Visionary EFX Plush ($1,774) has a softer foam that rates well for pressure relief and conformability, but not as well on back pain relief and supportiveness.
Walmart Spa Sensations 12” ($389) is a soft memory foam mattress that is average in pain and pressure relief. These beds are not very durable and have longevity issues, but are very inexpensive.
What is the Best Mattress for Pain Relief?
If you have already settled on memory foam, you’re likely going to experience some relief regardless of your choice in mattress. Finding the right mattress for you could take some careful consideration. There are many options, but in the end firmness, density, support and conformability are the characteristics most related to pain relief. Select the right levels for your body, sleeping position and preferences. Be mindful of your budget constraints; you can spend a lot on a bed.
A good bed is an investment in your health. Your quality of life can improve with better sleep, bringing wellness into your waking hours. Take your time and find the best mattress for your pain.