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Using a supportive mattress can evenly distribute body weight, reduce pressure, and offer good spinal support. All of these factors can help improve sleep.
This article will look at how different types of mattress support can affect different types of pain and health conditions. It will also provide an overview of four supportive mattress options that are currently available and look at a few alternatives.
Generally speaking, mattresses fall into four main categories according to their materials and how they are constructed. Each offers different supportive properties.
The following sections will outline these four types in more detail.
Memory foam mattresses
These are made of a high density foam that contours to the body, offering good spinal alignment and support. Some mattresses are made entirely of memory foam, while others contain springs plus a top memory foam layer.
Pocket spring mattresses
These mattresses feature thousands of springs sewn into individual fabric pockets. They tend to have a higher level of support than open coil mattresses, and the increased airflow can be more cooling than memory foam.
A person’s weight is distributed across the mattress, which can help relieve areas of high pressure.
Continuous-coil and open-coil mattresses
Usually the cheapest types of mattress available, these contain either a single looped wire (continuous) or lots of single springs connected by one wire (open).
However, these are often the least supportive mattresses because they can wear out more quickly than other types.
Less common than other types, latex mattresses usually combine a layer of latex foam with springs. These may be beneficial for sleepers with back and joint pain because of their added buoyancy and support.
Latex is also a more environmentally friendly material than memory foam or polyurethane foam.
When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, it is important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Finding a truly supportive mattress can depend on many factors, including:
- any preexisting health conditions, such as sleep apnea or arthritis
- whether one or two people will be using the mattress
- a person’s weight, build, size, and age
- whether comfort is as important, or more important, than support
- preferred sleeping position, such as side sleeping
Physical therapists recommend trying out a mattress for 20 minutes before committing to purchase. People looking for a supportive mattress should try out some mattresses in-store and take plenty of time to decide.
Certain materials may relieve or reduce symptoms in particular health conditions.
However, people with health conditions should seek medical advice from their healthcare provider when considering which mattress may work best for them.
Using mattresses made of memory foam, or those that have a memory foam top layer, makes it easier for a person with sleep apnea to sleep on their stomach with their head facing down.
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Sleeping in an unsupported position can make back pain worse, particularly in the morning. Using a mattress that can support and align the spine may help alleviate back pain.
Memory foam can often help provide contoured support to the body, with many memory foam mattresses offering a “zoned” top layer to provide extra support beneath the heavier parts of the body, such as the hips.
Arthritis pain can make it hard to get a good night’s sleep. As many as 8 in 10 people with arthritis report sleep problems. However, choosing a supportive mattress that eases pressure on the joints may help.
Memory foam’s ability to contour to the body may help provide support. However, it may also make it harder for a person to change position or get out of bed.
Other mattresses may feature gel-filled pods that provide extra support and pressure relief for joints.
A mattress made of hypoallergenic materials will trap allergens such as dust and house mites. This, especially when combined with hypoallergenic bedding, may help reduce irritation and any symptoms associated with allergies during sleep.
People with obesity may tend to sleep hot. However, many mattresses come with thermal cooling features, such as layers of fabric that help wick heat and sweat away from the body. This may help increase comfort, reduce night sweats, and improve sleep quality.
Here are four of the best supportive mattresses available for purchase online.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tested any of these products. All information presented here is purely research-based.
Saatva Classic Mattress
This multilayered mattress features a combination of steel support coils, high density memory foam, and a 3-inch (7.6-centimeter) mattress topper.
Saatva say that the Congress of Chiropractic State Associations have approved this mattress. They claim that it provides optimum spine support as well as pain relief in the back and joints.
It comes with three firmness levels to choose from: Plush Soft, Luxury Firm, and Firm. The popular magazine Good Housekeeping selected this mattress as the best online mattress for 2021.
Tuft & Needle Hybrid Mattress
Tuft & Needle say that this mattress, with its five layers of foam and individually pocketed springs, is their most supportive yet.
It also features graphite and gel beads to draw away heat and water-absorbing foams to wick away moisture, making it a good option for hot sleepers.
Helix Midnight Mattress
This mattress has won several awards. It features hundreds of individually wrapped coils, high grade polyurethane foam, and memory foam.
Helix say that it is ideal for side sleepers and those who toss and turn during sleep. Pressure point relief cushions the shoulders and hips, while a firm core supports the body’s contours.
This hybrid product merges foams and springs for a stable mattress that minimizes motion transfer for sleeping couples.
Voted best mattress for back pain and best mattress for side sleepers in 2020, the WinkBed mattress features targeted support in high pressure zones, as well as a pressure-relieving quilted mattress top.
Not everyone will have the funds to invest in a new mattress, but there are some other ways to achieve extra support at a fraction of the cost.
The following sections will look at some alternatives in more detail.
Investing in a good memory foam or latex mattress topper can be a shortcut to providing improved support, better comfort, or increased air circulation during sleep.
Look for mattress toppers that come with straps to hold them securely to the mattress.
Using extra pillows can also help align the spine while a person is sleeping. There are numerous products and designs available for this purpose. A person can place the pillow between the legs for side sleeping or behind the knees for back sleeping.
Some people may prefer a longer body pillow designed specifically for use between the legs. People with allergies, meanwhile, may prefer a pillow made from hypoallergenic materials.
When using a pillow behind the head, be careful not to prop it too high. This can put the neck at an uncomfortable angle and place further pressure on the spine.
Using a supportive mattress can help address certain health conditions and improve sleep.
There are many different mattress types available. Individuals should take the time to try out a range of mattresses before they commit to purchasing one.
Alternative products, such as pillows and mattress toppers, can also increase support while sleeping.