When we talk about back pain and spine problems, the usual exercise and medicine combination is our top of mind solution. What we fail to consider is that a small change in our mattress makes a lifetime of a difference when it comes to our backs! In fact, it matters so much that sleeping on the wrong mattress can actually worsen the pain one is experiencing. That is why people dealing with problems such as sciatica have a lot to consider next time they have to go mattress shopping.
What is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve is the body's largest nerve that spans from the lower back to the backs of the thighs. When the said nerve is pinched, the nerve endings are irritated and inflamed leading to pain and numbness in the lower back, hip, and thigh region called sciatica. It can range from a mild ache to a more excruciating sensation. In more serious cases, the bowel movement and bladder control of sciatica sufferers are also affected.
Sciatica usually occurs when the person has the following:
Herniated disc: when there is a rupture in the bone exterior of the spine causing the rubbery cushioning to spill out and irritate the sciatic nerve
Bone spur: an overgrowth of the bone that could pinch the nerve endings surrounding it
Normally, the pain brought about by sciatica goes away over time with the right amount of rest and self-care. If the symptoms persist, one should seek medical advice on how to proceed.
What to Look for in the Perfect Mattress for Sciatica
Fear no more. We've done the digging and the hard work for you. Down below, we've listed the most important factors to look for in your search for a new mattress!
For the longest time, many believe that firm mattresses are more ideal for a good night's sleep. However, this theory has now been debunked because firmer mattresses create pressure points concentrating the weight of the body on one’s hips, shoulders, and heels. These pressure points could worsen the sciatic nerve pain that one is experiencing.
Going for an ultra soft mattress is not the solution either because these type of mattresses lack the needed support of the spine.
A healthy middle and therefore the perfect mattress is one that is soft enough to provide pressure relief but firm enough to retain spinal alignment.
A mattress that conforms to the contours of the body helps keep the spine in a neutral position while sleeping. Additionally, a mattress with this feature supports the body evenly so that no pressure points are created.
What the memory foam mattress specialises in is where its innerspring counterpart lacks. Made to be temperature sensitive, memory foam softens upon contact with body heat allowing it to hug each and every curve of the body.
When it comes to mattresses, the bottom layers are as important as the top. Although the top layer is the one in contact with the body, it is the lower layers that bear the body weight in order for the top layers to provide ample support that the body needs. In relation to the mattress' conforming ability, a thicker mattress can allow for more room for the memory foam to live up to its task. An ideal thickness would be around 10 inches or greater.
The lower back pain from sciatica can lead to an uncomfortable sleep with lots of tossing and turning in bed. For worse cases, sciatica sufferers could be having frequent trips to the bathroom at night.
Sharing a bed with someone could be a difficult feat so choosing a mattress that inhibits motion transfer can ensure that the other's sleep is not disturbed. This capability could be typically found in memory foam mattresses and select innerspring beds with covered coils.
The right mattress is definitely an investment so naturally, one wants to get the most out of what he pays for. For the average memory foam mattress, its lifespan can last up to ten years while an innerspring mattress is only good for five.
Aside from practical reasons to want longevity from your mattress, a more durable mattress can maintain its integrity and shape for a longer time. On the other hand, a less sturdy version could easily sag from wear and tear leaving the back and spine unsupported.
The Best Mattress for You
The things that characterize you and your sleeping habits are also important in helping you find the right mattress.
If you are a back sleeper suffering from sciatica, a medium-firm sleeping surface is the most ideal. Side sleepers might want to consider a medium or medium-soft mattress to accommodate for the deeper curves of our body when lying on our sides. Purchasing a mattress with adjustable firmness might be your best bet to guarantee that it fits your taste and needs.
Firmer mattresses are better suited for heavier individuals to ensure that they don't sink in bed when they're fast asleep. On the opposite end of the spectrum, lighter individuals could not make use of a mattress' conforming ability if the surface is too firm. Instead, people of smaller stature could opt for a slightly softer mattress.
What works for one person may not work out for another so purchasing a mattress with a trial period might be a great choice so that you can personally test out if the mattress matches perfectly with your needs.
At the end of the day, our sleeping preferences are unique to each and every one of us. What is important is that we learn to listen to our body so that we can fully give it the love and support that it needs