One of the first questions that may come to your mind when you start considering a new mattress is “What is the best mattress?” And that’s a good question — without a good answer because it’s too vague and doesn’t address enough of the options.
The question, “What is the best mattress?” is one of those simple questions that has no simple answer because it is incomplete. “What is the best mattress for what?” is as good an answer as any because it will lead you to consider what is important to you, and that process will help you decide what is the best mattress for you.
What is the best mattress for a good night’s sleep? Chiropractor John Reggars answers, “One that gives your spine adequate support and minimizes biomechanical stress”. That’s not as clear-cut as it seems.
The word “support” triggers thoughts of “firmness” in most minds; 76 percent of orthopedic surgeons recommend a firm mattress for patients with lower-back pain. But electromyographic studies of persons resting on mattresses of different firmness found that extra firmness helped relieve muscle spasms in patients with osteoporosis, while softer mattresses were more relaxing for patients with muscle disorders. The stresses of a firm mattress pressing against sensitive muscles caused them to contract and relax more vigorously in the latter group, contributing to biomechanical stress.
What is the best mattress for lightweight or heavyweight sleepers? A person who weighs relatively little needs less support and may well benefit from a softer, more relaxing mattress. But an overweight person may need an extra firm mattress just to avoid sinking into an uncomfortable and unhealthy U-shape.
What is the best mattress for people who don’t just sleep in bed? If you like to read, watch TV, eat, or use your bed for other wakeful activities, you may want an adjustable bed. Modeled after hospital beds, adjustable beds for the home flex in several places at the touch of a button to assume a variety of positions that are more comfortable than the standard right angle formed by propping a pillow against the head of a bed. An adjustable bed that bends in the right places can better conform to the curves of one’s body, providing better support and a good night’s sleep. But notice that all adjustable bed advertisements show a person sleeping on his or her back! Most people sleep on their sides. Test ride an adjustable bed and buy only one that adjusts to you, not one that requires you to adjust to it.
What is the best mattress construction? Mattresses may be filled with traditional coil springs, air, water, fiber, or polymer foam. Some use a combination of these materials. The goal of mattress construction is to provide adequate support at every point of the body. Hips and shoulders should sink deeper into a mattress than the narrower parts of the body, so that the mattress touches and supports those narrow parts too. A person’s body shape plays a large role in how well a given mattress fits. Try out several mattress construction types.
“What is the best mattress?” is a question that cannot be answered definitively except through the personal experience of the questioner. Pay attention to how you use a mattress, the positions that you assume on a mattress, and the needs of your own unique body. Then try out mattresses until find what is the best mattress for you.