Typically, doctors will tell you that you need 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. People who experience chronic pain & illness oftentimes require more sleep to feel fully functional and restored the next day. To experience a better night of sleep you must find the best mattress for you!
Our clients have described a variety of pain symptoms such as stabbing, jabbing, aching, throbbing, burning, or something else entirely, but one thing remains consistent. Almost always they have a harder time sleeping.
Struggling to sleep throughout the night no matter how tired you are instead of getting quality sleep can leave you feeling discomfort, wide-eyed, restless and experiencing worsened pain the next day.
This can be a vicious cycle that seems to never end. The inability to sleep makes pain worse, and the pain makes it more difficult to sleep. Doctors have found a connection between sleep disorders and certain conditions like fibromyalgia.
The inability to sleep because the pain is too excruciating unfortunately, is common. People in chronic illness communities and health professionals refer to this phenomenon as “painsomnia”. The cycle seems never ending, but there are things we can do to break it.
A good place to start is by buying a high-quality mattress. High-quality, meaning purchasing the best mattress for you, your body and pain levels.
1. Firm isn’t always better
It is common for people with chronic pain to be told they need a firm mattress to reduce pain levels. Hard mattresses may not always be optimal when trying to limit pain and increase quality of sleep.
Even though someone suggested that you sleep on a firmer bed, this may not be optimal for all types of chronic pain. The firmness you choose is ultimately based on your preference, and how they make you feel. You know yourself better than anyone else.
The Best Mattress For You Depends On Your Style of Sleep!
Best for Side Sleepers: Selecting a softer mattress or topper could play to your benefit. A soft mattress allows your body to sink in which puts less pressure on your shoulder, hip, and arm.
Best Mattress for Stomach Sleepers: Medium or firm works well. In this case, you do not want to allow your body to sink. When your body sinks, your hips and pelvis sink below your shoulders, which can strain your spine.
Best for Back Sleepers: There’s a little more flexibility when it comes to back sleepers. This totally depends on your personal preference. The firmness does not matter as much because your weight is more equally distributed.
2. Make Changes to Your Mattress Before Purchasing One
In reality, a firm mattress might be the preference for some people, while a mattress with medium firmness may be better suited or the preference for others. Your body is unique to you. Options that work best for you might not work for someone else who experiences similar chronic pain. But keep a few things in mind.
A mattress that helps your spine and joints stay properly aligned while you sleep is preferable vs one that lets your spine sag or your joints to rotate and twist throughout the night. If you wake up after a night of sleep and your pain is worse, this is an indication that your mattress is hurting you. It could mean that your spine is lacking the support it needs as you sleep.
If you don’t sleep comfortable on a firmer mattress or don’t know if it would actually help. An article I stumbled across from Harvard Medical School offers two pieces of advice:
- Find a piece of plywood and place it under your bed to minimize the movement you’ll encounter from the springs of your current mattress.
- Try sleeping with your mattress on the floor.
Both of these options will allow you to see the effects a firmer mattress may have on your body before you invest the money.
3. Flipping over your mattress can make a HUGE difference
People say that every so often you should rotate or flip your mattress. How soon and how often?
The answer depends on how new the mattress is and how long you have had it.
There are no official rules on how frequently you should maneuver your mattress. The mattress you bought may list their specific recommendations for flipping it once every few months to once every few years.
If your mattress includes a topper, it wouldn’t be practical to flip it. Fortunately you can still rotate it, so that it wears evenly over time. Everyone has their own set of rules and recommendations but there are a few other ways we can gauge if it’s time to flip or rotate your mattress:
- how sleeping on it makes you feel
- Your pain levels when you wake up
- if it starts to sag
Have you noticed any differences in any of these factors recently?
Before you spend a bunch of money on a new mattress, try making your current mattress work by flipping or rotating it. On top of that, there’s another little hack to change the overall comfortability of your current bed. To see if you would actually like a firmer mattress, you can either put your mattress on the floor or place a piece of plywood under the mattress while it’s in the bed frame.
4. Consider a nontoxic mattress
Studies suggest that people with autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, at times, experience flare ups when they’re exposed to certain chemicals such as household cleaners.
Mattresses sometimes start to produce a strong chemical odor that may contain several toxic ingredients including:
- plastics, foam, and latex, which are usually made with chemicals that are potentially harmful to the body
- flame-retardant chemicals
Since the above materials may increase pain levels, people with chronic illnesses report positively to nontoxic mattresses.
When browsing non toxic mattresses, you’ll see that most of them are made of materials like natural latex, and organic bamboo. That being said, not all mattresses labeled as organic are made the same.
Mattress companies often promote and list their several certifications, which makes them all look legitimate. This makes it hard to know which brand is truly best.
Similarly to non toxic mattresses, not all certifications are created equal. According to Consumer Reports, the two certifications that are hardest to obtain are the Global Organic Textile Standard and, for mattresses with latex materials, the Global Organic Latex Standard.
A third certification that gives a mattress company organic legitimacy is the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 according to Consumer Reports. This label doesn’t guarantee the mattress’ materials are organic, but at the very least it has rules and regulations on the amount of chemicals and volatile organic compounds that are allowed to be contained in the final product.
The three certifications to look for:
- Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
- Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS)
- Oeko-Tex Standard 100Also, buy from a brand that is transparent and isn’t afraid to list what is contained in their product.
5. Look for a mattress who will give you a refund if it’s not for you
Brand new mattresses tend to be expensive. Plus, there’s no guarantee that the one you pick will ease your chronic pain the next day or be the right firmness in the long run.
While you may be able to give the mattress a test run nap in the furniture store for ten minutes, and yes it may feel nice. But you really don’t know how that firmness will affect your body in the coming months and/or years.
When you decide to buy a new mattress, look to buy from a company that offers a full money-back refund. That way, you can get a real trial period in your bed for 30 days or more, knowing that you don’t have to settle if it’s not for you.
But be sure to read the fine print in its entirety the return policy often only applies to specific mattress brands in the store.
Best mattresses for chronic pain
Nearly every mattress brand has a model that will work for you! These are just a list of mattresses that we have been recommended by our patients!
- The Purple: Purple has led the charge in innovation with its polymer cushion that aims for comfort, airflow, and great motion isolation. The feel is likely different than you’re used to and doesn’t suit everyone, but it soothes chronic pain for some.
- Casper Hybrid: Casper prides themselves on proper spinal alignment. They include three zones for this support. A hybrid gives additional support with their wrapped coils.
- The Nectar: This mattress is a great value. They include two different layers of memory foam that has allows your weight to distribute evenly and conforms to the shape of your body.
- Tuft & Needle Mint: The Adaptive foam gives extra support to hips and shoulders where there is the most pressure. They also got the stamp of approval from the Greenguard Gold and Certi-PUR certified for lower off-gassing.
Still don’t know where to find the right mattress?
As you begin looking for a new mattress to bring home, think about how you have felt after sleeping on a bed other than your own, when you have stayed in a hotel or stayed at a grandparents house. If you have ever experienced a time where you slept in another bed and felt better the next day, either look for that exact model or look for something that feels similar.
Find the best mattress for your back pain, knee pain, etc. that will make you feel better and not worse. The information in this post will help your odds of finding a mattress that will improve your pain and quality of sleep.