Can A Mattress Cause Lower Back Pain?

Updated October, 2020
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A mattress can cause acute daily lower back pain. If your mattress is old, worn down, or low-quality, you won't get the proper lumbar support you need, which can exacerbate and create lower back pain. This leads to a lack of sleep, more widespread body pain, and an increased risk of developing physical and emotional conditions.

5 signs your mattress is to blame for your back pain

Maybe you've spent years with back pain, tried everything, and never even considered your mattress as a cause. If you're in pain and still trying to figure out why, here are a few signs your mattress is to blame.

Nightly discomfort

Tossing and turning? Do you have trouble falling asleep? You've tried all the special pillows, you've replaced your bedding, maybe even tried a mattress topper, and still no relief! This could be because of imperfections in your mattress you can't even see, like popped coils or a fractured frame. These may not seem like a huge deal, but they have an enormous impact on whether you can find comfort and stay asleep.

Waking up tired

When you wake up in the morning, are you already tired? This is a sign that you're not sleeping well at night, despite what you may think. Frequent disturbances in your sleep prove that your mattress is either worn out or low-quality, establishing a link between your mattress and daily pain.

Your allergies are bad

Are you sneezing outside allergy season? While your mattress being an allergen-contagion doesn't prove it's bad quality, it does prove you've had it for a long time, meaning it could be worn down and causing you to spend entire nights in pain.

You've had it a while

Were mullets still a thing when you bought your mattress? You should replace your mattress every 8 years or so to avoid sleeping on a bum mattress. But, several factors can age your mattress prematurely, like mistreatment or excess body weight.

The pain is temporary

Does your pain go away on its own throughout the day? Acute pain that starts in the night and peaks in the morning is related to your mattress. If your pain can easily be resolved by stretching, moving around, or just going about your daily life, there's a good chance it's because of a bad mattress.

Other negative health effects of sleeping on a bad bed

There are a few side effects of sleeping on a bad mattress that can significantly impact your day-to-day life.

Lack of sleep

As mentioned above, you may think you're sleeping well. Still, if you wake feeling fatigued, your mattress is preventing you from getting deep sleep, which causes:

  • Cognitive impairments, like inability to focus or problems remembering things
  • Headaches
  • Reduced immune system

Emotional conditions

Both lack of sleep and the fixation on getting proper sleep can lead to several different mental conditions. Studies show that people who don't get enough sleep are at an increased risk of developing:

  • Anxiety (or, more specifically, sleep anxiety)
  • Depression
  • Insomnia

Acute pain in other parts of the body

Sleeping on a bad bed can also contribute to body pains that extend to other parts of your body. The most common areas of your body to develop these are:

  • Hips
  • Shoulders
  • Buttocks/upper legs

How to choose the right mattress for your back

If you have back pain and are in the market for a new mattress, it's imperative you make an informed choice. Here are a few things to keep in mind while you're shopping around:

Choose one with excellent lumbar support

Lumbar support is the single most crucial factor of a mattress when you have back pain. This refers to the bed's ability to maintain the natural curvature of the spine while you sleep. Failure to do so results in increased pain and sleep disruption, which doesn't only worsen your back discomfort, but it's also been known to create the pain.

Choose one with the right firmness for your sleeping position

The right firmness depends on your sleeping position. This is because different positions create different needs to find alignment, and failure to have the appropriate firmness in your mattress can misalign your spine and make it difficult for you to manage your pain.

A general rule of thumb about firmness:

  • Side sleepers need a soft(ish) mattress. This typically means medium or a 5-6 on the firmness scale
  • Back sleepers need a firmer mattress. This means a medium-firm (6.5-7) on the firmness scale.

Choose a type of mattress that's right for you

Since lumbar support should be your top priority as a lower back pain sufferer, an innerspring mattress is right for you. Beds with too much sinkage can actually worsen your back pain. Moreover, a mattress with low sinkage keeps you flat through the night, which is also bad for your back. Innerspring mattresses work with your body, the coils underneath the comfort padding pushing back against you, allowing the appropriate amount of sinkage and still contouring to your shape for comfort.

The #1 Best Mattress For Lower Back Pain

Saatva is our top pick for the #1 best mattress for Sleep Apnea in 2021! They're a luxury hypoallergenic mattress shipped directly to your door (with full-service white-glove delivery). They have over 50,000 reviews and continue to be one of the most reputable, established brands in the industry (founded in 2009). Check their price, here.

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