Research suggests that most of us don’t sleep well. Whether it’s tossing and turning, back or neck pain, we rarely seem to be getting that kind of deep sleep we need to feel refreshed in the morning.
In order to get the best sleep possible, our body needs to be able to regenerate from the stresses it experiences during the day. To do that, the muscles need to be able to relax and the spine needs to be able to remain in its natural, curved position. This is harder than it sounds, because we don’t sleep in a zero gravity environment where we could float weightlessly. Instead, we are subjected to gravity, which means your body weight pushes against the mattress.
If a mattress is too hard your body won’t be able to sink into it far enough and most of your weight is transferred to the mattress through your shoulder and hip areas, creating pressure points (see the top of the illustration on the right). On top of that, your spine is forced into an awkward position and your back muscles are either stretched or get compressed, likely to cause back pain.
The same problems occurs when the mattress is too soft (middle of illustration on the right). Here, your hips will have to take most of the weight, and the spine and back muscles are pulled out of shape.
Ideally, the mattress is neither too soft nor too hard and will mold around your body, allowing your hips and shoulder to sink into the mattress just far enough so that your spine is naturally aligned and your muscles in a fully relaxed position. As a result, your weight is distributed evenly, your spine is aligned as it should, allowing your muscles to relax, and there are no pressure points.
The best mattress
Selecting a mattress that provides just the right amount of support can be tricky, particularly if you and your partner’s weight is significantly different. This has been a well known problem for traditional spring based mattresses, where you may get the right support, but the mattress is either too soft or too hard for your partner.
Waterbeds provide good support, but they are heavy, need to be heated, can leak and cause motion disturbance issues if you or your partner move in your sleep.
Enter the memory foam mattress.
Memory foam has a unique ability to mold to your body shape. Body heat causes the foam to soften and compresses under your weight, yet it will revert back to its original shape after you get up.
Memory foam mattresses have been used for decades in hospitals for these weight distribution and support properties, to prevent patients from getting pressure sores.
A good memory foam mattress, such as the ones from Sleep Innovation, will cater to different weight and body shapes and provide that even weight distribution we’re after.