Morning Backaches: Is It My Bed?

Dec 07, 2020

If you are one of those people who wake up every morning with back pain and stiffness that wasn’t present when you went to bed… are definitely not alone. This is a subject that has been researched by chiropractors, physical therapists, occupational therapists as well as other physical medicine specialists for years.

Below are some highlights of a recent article written this year by Dr. Brooke Dulka, who is a medical writer and Ph.D. With the help of Dr. Scott Bautch, D.C., and president of the American Chiropractic Association Council on Occupational Health, Dr. Dulka published a review for Mattress Advisor, (an online source for current mattress data from research and survey results of different mattresses) which addresses known causes of poor sleep quality and morning aches and pains.

“A mattress is a healthcare product that is vital for optimum physical health.” We spend roughly one third of every twenty-four hour period on our mattress sleeping. During this time, we take the physical, chemical and emotional stressors of the day and “put them to bed”, in order to give our bodies and mind an opportunity to recover in preparation for the next day. “If we are battling additional physical stresses from an unsupportive or improper mattress while we sleep then our bodies’ recuperative abilities are diminished.” If we are waking up in the morning tired and with a sore back, this could be a sign that (a) we are not sleeping on a mattress suitable for our body type, (b) we are not sleeping in a good “neutral” position for our spine and neck, or (c) there could be a mechanical issue in the back that has developed which needs some attention by a healthcare provider.

General mattress principles include:

  • Age of the mattress: Most authorities say that if your mattress is 5-7 years old, no matter how much you paid for it, it is probably time to think about getting a new one. When the mattress sags a bit and allows your back to “pinch” in the middle, eventually you will be the one that feels uncomfortable in the morning
  • Construction of the mattress and materials: Generally speaking, the more innersprings in the mattress, the more evenly and independently weight will be distributed.
  • Foam mattresses tend to break down fairly rapidly. Dr. Bautch acknowledges that the more recent name brand models of foam mattresses have improved their longevity in terms of good sleep support. However, one won’t get longer life from your foam mattress than from a box springs with an innerspring mattress.
  • Weight is also an important factor in picking the right mattress. It would be nice if you and your sleep partner would have the same body size/weight. Unfortunately that is usually not the case. So, sometimes a compromise must be made in picking the correct mattress in terms of firmness, thickness, weight limits, edge support, pillow-tops….etc.

These are just a few of the considerations for picking the correct mattress. There are many other things that one must pay attention to if morning back pain is an issue. Getting enough exercise, sleeping in the correct position, as well as getting your back examined for mechanical problems and possibly even including imaging of the back that may be warranted in order to assess and address the back concerns.

We are always available at our clinic to answer questions regarding mattresses, exercise, and back/neck pain that may all be related to sleeping habits or one’s bed.

We are anticipating more information in the future regarding good sleep habits, including best sleeping positions and ways to modify them.

* You might find THIS POST helpful as well.