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One of the questions I get asked ALL THE TIME is, “Do you think a new mattress would help my insomnia/neck pain/back pain/energy levels?”  If you have wondered this question at some point in your life, you will want to read on.

Before I started writing this blog post, I thought I would just write a blog about the top 5 mattresses on the market.  However, after speaking to a local mattress salesman, Justin, I learned that I was asking the wrong question.  He informed me,

“It’s not about our best 5 mattresses.  In fact, if I were to give you that list, you would probably make most of your patients mad because they are going to see the price tag and scram.”

You see, it isn’t about owning the best mattress.  Rather it is more like your favorite jeans. Your favorite jeans seem to be made just for you – they are cut in just the right way and have just the right amount of give in all the right places in order to make you look and feel the way you want.  The same is true with a mattress – it needs to be the right mattress for the right body type. In order to determine if a new mattress would help you, you need to read the next 5 questions in order to determine if you really would benefit from a new mattress.  That is only the first step.  If you do determine you need a new mattress, you still need to go try them out.  But at least you will know definitively whether a new mattress would be of benefit to you.

 Is your mattress too old?

Mattresses, just like most things in life, don’t last forever.  In fact, they don’t even come close to lasting forever despite popular opinion.  Your favorite sleep station typically stops offering its maximum sleep inducing powers after 8 years.  That’s it – 8.  You may have already known this and repeated the catchy little jingle in your head, “Replace every 8.”  This is true and, for reasons I am about to explain, should not be ignored.  If you have a mattress that is older than 8 years old, it is time to think about getting a new one.

Is your mattress broken down or have a hole in it?

When you look at your freshly made bed, do you see an actual impression in the shape of your own body under the sheets?  If you answered, “YES!” then it is time to consider a new bed.  And, no, flipping it over isn’t going to fix the problem.  If your mattress resembles a valley more than a plateau, that means all the support your spine is screaming for is GONE. Your spine needs support, period. And if your spine isn’t relatively “straight” while you are sleeping, be it on your side, back or stomach, you will be putting unwanted stress on your back.  Sleeping should not be stressful to your back it should be…restful.  In short, that trench you’ve been sleeping in for the last few years isn’t doing your spine any favors.

 Are you waking up with pins and needles or soreness?

Whether you wake up with pins and needles or a stiff sore back, the fact remains – that is not a normal part of life.  If you are waking up with these types of symptoms, especially if you are a side sleeper, it may be that your mattress is too hard.  Firm mattresses don’t jive well with side sleepers.  The firmness can place too much pressure on your body which in turn causes those unpleasant symptoms.  A softer mattress may solve this problem for you.

Do you sleep hot?

One of the biggest problems with having a warm environment when you sleep is it will wake you up and keep you up.  Most of us have experienced a bad night’s sleep due to unfavorably warm bedroom conditions.  For others, their body’s thermostat cranks up to simmer when they go to sleep.  That is their biology and there is nothing they can do about that.  However, you can change your environment.  I’ve heard of people keeping windows open, turning the AC down to bone chilling temperatures or even sleeping in the buff.  These are all viable solutions to preventing yourself from overheating while sleeping.  If you still wake up hot, you may benefit from a mattress that cools.  Some mattresses are specifically built for this by putting silver inside the mattress which draws the heat away from your body.  This built in air conditioning unit will keep you cool and in return stop you from waking up due to overheating.

 Are you constantly tossing and turning?

If tossing and turning is keeping you from a good night’s rest it may be that your mattress is too firm.  A poor night’s rest has several negative consequences.  First, you are going to wake up feeling more tired than when you went to bed 8 hours ago.  The caffeine industry THRIVES  off of the fact that so few us gets the sleep we need.  Second, if you are currently recovering from an injury, say back or neck pain, don’t expect it to be a speedy recovery if your mattress isn’t giving you the sleep you need.  You see, sleep is the time during our lives when our bodies repair themselves.  If we don’t get enough sleep, we don’t get enough repairs and the cycle continues.  If your car needs regular tune ups, your body DEFINITELY needs them.  Stop tossing and turning and get a new mattress.

What you should do next…

If you found yourself identifying one or more of the problems listed above as one of your own, you may need to consider purchasing a new mattress.  Remember finding the right mattress is like when Harry Potter gets his wand at Ollivander’s… when it’s right, it’s right and when it is wrong – it’s way wrong.  There is a proper mattress out there for you, you just need to find it.  A reputable and trustworthy mattress salesman will be able to lead you to the holy land of better sleep using his expertise and knowledge about mattresses.  If you answered, “no,” to all of those questions, you might not have a mattress problem, you might just have a muscle problem.  In that case, give your local physical therapist a call so he or she can help you with the crick in your neck or the stiff back you wake up with in the morning.
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Dr. Christian Robertozzi

Author Dr. Christian Robertozzi

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