According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the average human will spend many years of his or her life sleeping. We each generally require 8 hours of sleep per night; this is one third of our total time alive. If you lived to be 90 years old, approximately 30 years of your life will be spent sleeping in bed. And just like how Goldilocks found out, beds can be too hard, too soft or just right…for your back.
“Approximately 80% of all Americans will have lower back pain at least once in their lives; and most people have experienced back pain after sleeping,” says Dr. Michael A. Gleiber, a South Florida Board-Certified Orthopedic Spine Surgeon and Affiliate Assistant Professor of Clinical Biomedical Sciences at The Charles E. Schmidt Florida Atlantic University College of Medicine for Spine Surgery.
Dr. Gleiber has offices in Boca Raton and Jupiter practicing Concierge Spine Surgery and Spinal Medicine. He is also on staff at The University of Miami Hospital. “If you have back pain only after sleeping that is relieved after you get out of bed, you may have problems with your bed or your sleeping posture.”
According to Dr. Gleiber, a mattress should give you uniform support, so there shouldn’t be air between your body and the mattress when you lie down. If you wake up with symptoms such as a headache; dizziness; tingling in the arms, hands or fingers or other feelings of numbness, these could be signs that your posture could be problematic while sleeping. “A mattress that is extremely firm can put pressure on a persons back, while a mattress that is soft is unable to support an individuals spine in the natural position, preventing the muscles in the back to relax during the night. I recommend going with a mattress that has medium firmness to avoid back pain symptoms.”
However, Dr. Gleiber stresses that probably the most important factor is the age of your mattress. Over time, mattresses break down and become less supportive and comfortable. They often develop lumps and broken springs that put stress on your body. “If you’re sinking in when you lie down, it’s probably time to get a new one to help keep back pain away. Replace a mattress that is more than ten years old,” advises Dr. Gleiber.