Every adult should get around 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night in order to lead a healthy life. However, if you are battling a chronic illness, you need more sleep-in order to feel well-rested and functional the next day.
During sleep, the body gets an opportunity to repair and heal itself, releasing important hormones and building muscle tissue. But whether you are dealing with chronic pain that’s burning, throbbing, aching, stabbing, etc. it can sometimes be challenging to find a position that enables you to sleep comfortably.
Finding yourself tossing and turning every night rather than getting sufficient sleep can leave you feeling not just uncomfortable and frustrated but in even more pain. Eventually, a base cycle is created! Lack of adequate sleep increases chronic pain, and the pain decreases the ability to get restorative sleep. Some practitioners even believe fibromyalgia may be linked to sleep disorders.
Chronic pain-inadequate sleep is categorized as ‘painsomnia’ especially when it is a pattern. This is the inability to sleep properly because of chronic pain. If you are a victim, there are few things you can do to break this cycle.
The mattress is the most important part of getting a good night’s sleep. As such, you’ll want to start by ensuring you get the right one for you. That being, said here are some essential tips:
Avoid Assuming a Firm Mattress is Better
Most, if not everyone battling chronic pain has been told at one point that they can alleviate pain by sleeping on a firm mattress. There isn’t much research on mattress’s effects on chronic pain, but one study published in 2015 showed that a firm mattress may not always be the best option when looking to reduce pain and improve sleep quality.
During this study, over 300 individuals battling low back pain slept on firm and medium-form mattresses. After 3 months of the study, candidates who slept on medium-firm mattresses claimed to feel less pain while sleeping compared to those who did the same on firm mattresses.
Although most people advise you to sleep on a hard or firm mattress, it may not be the best option for those battling chronic pain. The hardness you pick should be based on your preferences, but you can also use your standard sleeping position as a guide.
How to Pick the Right Mattress Firmness Based on Sleeping Style
1. Back Sleepers- Any firmness can work for you as weight tends to be distributed over a wider surface area.
2. Side Sleepers- A topper or softer mattress does the trick. That’s because it puts less pressure on your arm, shoulder and hip.
3. Stomach Sleepers- A firm or medium mattress works well as the pelvis and hips will not sink below the shoulders, which can strain the spine.
4. Weight- The heavier you are, the firmer the mattress should be
5. Preference- At the end of the day, the right firmness boils down to what feels best when you lie down on a mattress.
Test Out a Firmer Mattress Before Making the Purchase
As mentioned above, a firm mattress can be comfortable for some, while others prefer a medium-firm style. What works for you may differ from what works for others, even if you’re both dealing with chronic pain. However, there are several things to bear in mind:
A mattress that supports the ideal alignment of your joints and spine is way better than one that lets the joints twist and rotate and the spine to sag. If you wake up with increased pain levels, chances are your mattress is responsible and the spine may not have the required support as you sleep.
If you are not sure if you could use a firmer mattress, a publication from Harvard Medical School provides the following advice:
- Try sleeping with the mattress on the floor
- Put a piece of plywood under the bed to reduce the movement of springs in your mattress.
These two options will enable you to realize the effects a firm mattress may have on your body before deciding to invest in a new one.
Try Rotating Your Mattress
Chances are you have heard that you should flip or rotate your mattress from time to time, but just how often? Well, it all boils down to the type of mattress and how long you have been sleeping on it.
Most mattress businesses have specific recommendations when it comes to rotating or flipping their mattresses, and this can range from every 3 to 12 months.
If you have one with a pillow top, chances are you cannot flip it. However, you should rotate it every once in a while to ensure it wears evenly.
Ultimately, the best way to know whether it is time to flip or rotate your mattress is to check the following:
Is it starting to sag?
- How do you feel when sleeping on the mattress?
- How much pain do you feel when you wake up?
If there’s a substantial increase in all these factors, perhaps it’s time to reposition your mattress.
Before spending your hard-earned money on a new mattress, you may want to flip or rotate your current one. In order to test how a firmer mattress feels before buying one, put your current one on the floor or put plywood under it for one night.
Get a Non-Toxic Mattress
According to studies, some individuals with autoimmune conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis tend to experience flares when exposed to some household chemicals.
Some mattresses give off strong chemical odors, also referred to as off-gassing and have some toxic ingredients such as synthetic latex, foam, plastics, etc., all of which are made with potentially toxic flame-retardant and petroleum-based chemicals. Since these chemicals tend to increase pain, most individuals suffering from chronic pain opt to go for non-toxic mattresses.
When shopping for a non-toxic mattress, you’ll realize that most of them are made from materials like organic bamboo, cotton, and natural latex. However, not all mattresses that claim to be organic are created equal.
Mattress manufacturers usually boast an array of certifications and this makes it harder to choose the best brand. According to Consumer Reports, the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) for mattresses made of latex and the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) are the most stringent certifications.
Oeko-Tex Standard 100 is another good one, but it does not guarantee that the product’s materials are organic. However, it sets limits on the number of toxic chemicals as well as volatile organic compounds that can be found in the final product.
Some of the certifications to be on the look for include:
1. Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS)
2. Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
3. Oeko-Tex Standard 100
Ideally, it is important to ensure you get your product from a manufacturer that lists all the materials found in the mattress.
Get a Mattress with a Money-Back Guarantee
New mattresses don’t come cheap and there is no certainty that one you by will have the right firmness for your chronic pain. While you can try out the mattress at the store for several minutes, it is impossible to tell whether it will be the right choice for you in the long haul.
When you decide to pick a mattress, go for a brand or manufacturer that provides a money-back guarantee. This way, you can test it for at least 30-days, knowing that you can return it if it doesn’t give the desired results.
However, ensure you read the fine print as the money-back guarantee may apply to specific brands in the store.
And there you have it, a simple and straightforward guide for picking the right mattress, especially if you are battling chronic pain. We know how tiring tossing and turning at night due to pain instead of getting a good night’s rest can be. Regardless of your pain, getting the right mattress can be the first step towards improved sleep quality.