It’s a common misconception that firmer mattresses are automatically better. Firmer is better for proper support in some instances. However, some degree of softness, particularly in the top part of a mattress, is necessary for pressure relief.
Finding a balance
Support and pressure relief seem like contradictory needs, but the right materials can cushion joints and distribute body weight without compromising back support. Just don’t overdo it in either direction. Too much softness may provide terrific comfort at first, but you’ll soon find that if your spine isn’t well aligned, new back or hip pain may develop. And vice versa. A super-firm, supportive mattress, while it may stabilize a tricky back, can be too hard to relieve pressure points. It may even cause new ones. The goal is to the balance that works best for your body.
Back pain is commonly caused by a mattress that sags or is too soft. A person with morning back pain or who has a history of back injury should seek out a mattress that offers adequate support. “Cloud-like” surfaces may feel lovely in a showroom but after a few nights or weeks, may cause discomfort. Look for a model that is made with denser latex, high-density foam, or higher-gauge coils.
On an overly-firm surface, your shoulders and hips may become prone to aching and soreness. Bear in mind that for people who sleep most of the night on their sides, these areas are supporting most of the torso’s weight. (For back sleepers, the tailbone is a common pressure point.) Adequate cushioning or softer layers at or near the surface of the mattress will help ease pressure. Consider a soft latex layer or soft memory foam. You might also add a mattress topper for supreme pressure relief.
When you try out a mattress, be sure to listen to your body more than to descriptive terms or exciting presentations. It’s important to relax in stillness as much as you can, to discover what will be truly comfortable for you. Your body knows best.
Finding a mattress that meets your body’s unique needs is essential to a good night’s sleep. Your perfect mattress should provide your body with a balance of support and pressure relief in whatever ratio adds up to comfort. It can take some serious looking, but good rest is worth it.