Your back is gonna thank you.
Let's not mince words: Back pain is a b*tch. And more often than not, your mattress is the culprit.
The clear choice (you know, along with seeing a doc if the pain gets too out-of-hand) is to upgrade your mattress—but how?
First and foremost, comfort is key—along with finding something that minimizes the pressure on points like your back, butt, and shoulders, says Santhosh A. Thomas, DO, associate medical director of the Center for Spine Health at the Cleveland Clinic Richard E. Jacobs Medical Center. “We spend almost a third of our life in bed, so it is important to have something that is comfortable and meets your needs of good sleep,” he says.
Sounds simple enough, right? Eh...not so much. "Unfortunately, there [are] no set algorithms or scales with which everyone can choose the perfect mattress," says Leigh Hanke, MD, MS, assistant professor of Clinical Orthopaedics at Yale School of Medicine. And that's because what might be comfortable for you isn't necessarily a smooth sleeping experience for someone else (and thus, can negate any benefit from possible back support)—plus, every brand rates the firmness of its mattresses by its own terms.
That being said, there are a few basics that not only apply for all types of sleepers (stomach, back, side, or a combo of all three) but also can help make your mattress shopping experience a little less stressful. "The general concept when thinking about buying a mattress is that low back pain can be alleviated by supporting your back with a mattress that is on the firmer end of the spectrum rather than softer or squishier," Dr. Hanke explains.
So, comfort? Check. Firmness? Also check. But that's not all you have to consider: There are a few other expert-approved criteria you need to consider for your back issues. To get you started, here are nine mattresses picked with tips suggested by sleep docs themselves. Just something to keep in mind the next time you go shopping for a new mattress.