Has your Mattress got your back?

As a Chiropractor, I get asked on a daily basis : 'How do I choose the best mattress for me'?


We spend 20 - 30% of our lives in bed, so this environment is one that we should all pay attention to.

This blog post contains all the information you will need to choose the best mattress for you.

Whether you have been training at the gym, running to and from appointments, sitting at the desk or running the household, your spine can take a pounding. With this in mind, it's vitally important to have a mattress that encourages optimum postural alignment and rejuvenates you while you're sleeping.

With so much marketing hype around the different types of mattress available in the market, how do you determine what’s best for your back and spinal health? How can your mattress ticks all the boxes for durability, value for money and most importantly your overall favourite 'feel'?

Well, not all mattresses are alike. Many companies offer a ‘one size fits all’ solution and few people are mindful of the multiple factors playing a role in optimum spinal health when it comes to your choice of mattress; your body weight, shape and personal preferences are all super important considerations.

Your ideal mattress should be a sensible combination of comfort and support. The ideal things to focus on when choosing a new mattress are:

1. Keeping your spine in alignment, and

2. distributing pressure evenly throughout the body.

Here are some suggestions to help you understand the various options available to you when you reach the stores?

Types of mattress :

Good quality memory foam is thought to be ideal for ergonomic support of the body’s curves while being firm enough to support the back’s muscular and bony structures. High density foam provides the greatest support and optimal spinal alignment.

Latex mattresses are considered beneficial in promoting good spinal health and overall wellbeing as these mattresses maximize natural body contours and provide great pressure point relief with good spinal alignment.

Continuous or open-coil mattresses are generally more affordable than other types of mattress, made from a single piece of wire looped into springs, or made of single springs fixed together by one wire. These mattresses can wear out sooner and tend to make you toss and turn more than other mattresses.

Pocket-sprung mattresses offer good support by distributing your body weight evenly, and because they can be customised to have two sides of different firmness, this will support two people of different body weights well because the springs are tailored to each person.

Mattress firmness and body weight:

Lower Weight Category (45kg to 60Kg) : Individuals in this category tend to be slimmer and are generally side or stomach sleepers. A soft/plush comfort layer is the best for this body type in order to achieve ideal hip and spine alignment. A medium soft mattress can be a good choice for this body type. Lighter weight sleepers don’t need big thick pillow top mattresses because they don't weigh enough to compress the foam to touch the underlying coils/support system and they won't weigh enough to exert enough pressure on a firmer mattress to allow it to conform and contour to their body.

Medium Weight Category (61kg to 75 Kg) : This body type is for thin and medium builds. This category tend to be back or side sleepers. A medium firm mattress is the optimal choice for individuals falling under this category.

Higher Weight Category (76kg plus) : Considered as a heavier/larger body type, an extra layer of support to achieve the perfect hip and spine alignment is required. The heavier a person is, the greater the thickness of foam they need (with medium-firm to firm firmness to support their body). Firmer, thicker mattresses tend to provide the extra support a larger person needs (especially if they are side or stomach sleepers). A pillow top mattress offering a thicker padding on the mattress could be beneficial and more comfortable.

Rule of thumb : the bigger the body, the firmer the mattress. 

Mattress firmness and body shape:

For those with hips wider than the waist, a softer mattress is best. This allows for a healthy spine by maintaining the spine in neutral while the soft mattress provides appropriate support to your pelvis.

If your hips and waist are roughly the same width, a firm surface can offer better spinal support.

For those with 'curves' : a thicker comfort layer providing firmer comfort and support layers in the mattress is important to prevent your spine from becoming twisted or unbalanced due to any gaps created when you lie down. Your hips and shoulders will sink a little deeper into the mattress than a less curvy person, so firmer support helps maintain proper alignment.

For a sleeper with a straight or flat body shape with lighter pressure points, a soft, thin comfort layer will be better suited for your spine.

And for most people : 'average' body shape sleeper, a support core of average firmness paired with an average comfort layer will be entirely suitable.

Mattress type and sleeping position:

Back sleepers: Back sleepers require a medium to medium firm mattress (around 50mm is a good starting point) to prevent the lower region of the back from sinking too far into the mattress. If your pelvis sinks too far down, it will tilt forward and this will make the spine curve at the bottom of the back. This curve can add to morning back pain and a little personal mattress research or talking to the right people can prevent it from happening.  

Side sleepers: Side sleepers need a comfort layer that is both thick and soft enough to allow the shoulders to sink in far enough to both relieve pressure and to help create alignment in the spine. Side sleepers have the largest amount of pressure on their shoulders and hips; therefore they require thicker and softer comfort layers to help distribute the weight around the joints.  Around 75mm of soft, upper foam is a good starting point.  

Front sleepers: This sleeping position requires the least amount of comfort layer. 25mm or less of softer foam is adequate as the front of the body does not have any pressure points.

So with all these technicalities to consider, it's obvious there are many options when it comes to choosing a bed. It's a good idea to try a bed before you buy it. So if you're unsure, talk to someone at the store about the different options and how they might suit your body type. If you're still unsure, run it by your Chiropractor.

And if you have chosen the best possible mattress for you, and you still have pain or problems, that is the ideal time to seek the help of your Chiropractor. 

This blog post has been written by Chiropractor, Dr Euan McMillan of WellWellWell Sydney in association with Ausbeds, a Sydney based mattress retailer with the fastest mattress delivery service that you can find if you buy a mattress online. 

Ausbeds was launched in 2013 with the aim of providing the best quality mattresses to consumers at the best available prices. Their target audience is internet savvy, price conscious consumer looking to buy a mattress online without compromising on price. Finding their audience the best fit mattress is their mission. You can browse their range of mattresses at www.ausbeds.com.au or visit them in-store at Marrickville, Sydney.

Note : this blog post does not offer a definitive diagnosis or replace health advice from a trained professiona;. If you have a problem or concerns, please contact us directly for advice before making any decisions that may affect your health.