The British Chiropractic Association has reported that their research shows that 8 per cent of the population claims that the act of sleeping on their mattress can trigger neck or back pain.
Tim Hutchful of the British Chiropractic Association commented that “If you suspect that your mattress or sleeping style is causing you back pain or discomfort, it is important to take immediate action. A common mistake that people make is thinking the firmer the bed the better – this is not always true.”
He went on to explain that “To ensure you have a sound night’s sleep, it is important to choose a bed that isn’t too hard or soft. It should be supportive and comfortable according to your weight and build and the best advice is to try before you buy – one bed does not suit all.”
The research by the British Chiropractic Association also found that about one in ten people report that their neck or back pain actually prevents them from sleeping, a clear concern for the sleep deprived.
To help people everywhere, the British Chiropractic Association is offering the following advice aimed at preserving the health of your back while sleeping:
Avoiding back/neck pain in bed
Less stress – try and adopt a sleeping position, which creates less physical stress on the back. Lying on your back or side is likely to be best.
Keep moving – avoid being in any one position for too long. The longer you stay in one position the more this will “load joints”.
Drink water – keep well hydrated (dehydration can make muscle ache).
Softly, softly – if you have a bed that is too hard, try a mattress topper or overlay, which may ’soften‘ it sufficiently to make it more comfy.
Toughen up – if your bed is too soft, try a sheet of plywood under the mattress; the mattress will still be soft but it may feel more supported.
If your mattress is two-sided, turn it regularly as this will increase the life of the mattress and ensure you have the best support from it.
Do not leap out of bed first thing in the morning, take a minute to wake up and try some gentle stretches.
Wake up your body. Once up, avoid bending or doing anything sudden or strenuous until your back ‘wakes up’.
Take your own – if away from your own bed, take your own pillow. Your neck is used to your own pillow and won’t have to adjust as much.
Choosing a bed
Ideally, change your mattress at least every eight years.
A mattress that is supportive and comfortable is key, but remember that your requirement for support will differ depending on your weight and build.
Your bed shouldn’t be too hard or too soft. If you are lying on your side, your spine should be parallel to the mattress and the mattress should not sag (bed too soft) or bow (bed too hard).
If you are a back-pain sufferer, a bigger bed will be of benefit to you as it allows more free movement. Zip and link beds are a good option if mattress firmness preferences differ widely between you and your partner.
Narrow your choice down to two or three and then spend plenty of time lying on these in your normal sleeping positions. The key is to spend as much time as possible making your selection and take your partner with you to make sure the choice suits both of you.
Dr. Jemal Khan is a chiropractor based in the Cayman Islands.