Choosing the best firmness for you depends on mainly two factors: the preferred sleeping position and the shape of the individual. Sleeping on your back will lend itself to a firmer mattress being more comfortable (this doesn't mean back sleepers want a rock hard mattress). Side sleepers should have a mattress that allows the hip to sink into the bed enough that the spinal alignment remains neutral (adding a pillow between the knees can further help this). Additionally, the shoulder should sink into the mattress enough so that the neck and mid back are in the same line while the bottom shoulder is not rolled forward too far.
We recommend that you try laying on any potential mattress for a minimum of 20 minutes before making a decision. This will allow your body to relax fully into the support each mattress offers, and much like Goldilocks, will enable you to rule out the "too hard" or "too soft" options before you commit to purchasing. When shopping for a mattress you should also bring along someone to verify that your spinal alignment looks like the "just right" picture below.
Side Sleepers - The "Goldilocks Guide" to Mattresses
Materials and Composition
In North America mattresses are required to be fire retardant. For the majority of mattresses this means spraying them in a chemical soap to help "save" us in the case of a fire. While this might seem like a good idea we, unfortunately have to breath in the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) that are emitted from the mattress as a result of this. Additionally, many of the mattresses and pillows out there have glues that hold the mattress together, and these release VOCs as well.
The third respiratory concern is from dust mites, mildew, mold, and fungi. Dust mite feces, rather than the actual dust mites, are the main culprit. Common allergic reactions to these are sneezing, itching, watery eyes, wheezing, headaches, and fatigue.
The inner cavity of coil mattresses creates an incubator for dust mites and dead skin cells accumulate. You'll often find mold and mildew within the cavity of a coil/spring mattress due to humidity caused by the transfer of body heat. This is why spring mattresses will typically weigh 10 times its original weight after 10 years of use. Pillow Tops or Quilted Tops attract dust mites as well. With light, loose padding, these soft tops provide an ideal environment for dust mites to thrive in. Therefore, memory foam mattress and latex mattress without coils or springs are the way to go if you have allergies.
If you have any further questions on mattress shopping, please do not hesitate to contact us! Click here to ask one of our physiotherapists your questions, or click here to book an appointment today!
- Granville Physio