What you need to know about your mattress and your spine

Notes on buying a mattress that’s good for your health

Good morning, New Day!

I recently had the opportunity to buy a new mattress for the first time in quite a while.  The experience made a big impression on me, and so I couldn’t wait to share it with you!

Sleep, as we know, is so incredibly important for our health as the time when our nervous system directs the body to reset, repair, and restore.  Much like how our computers often need long periods of uninterrupted time to do backups and system updates, so is also the case for our bodies.

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Without the proper comfort and support for our spines, this ability of your nervous system to heal the body over night is compromised.  If you frequently wake up feeling stiff and achey in the spine and limbs, even with the proper chiropractic care for your spine, chances are you need a new mattress!

My partner and I headed to a local Chicago mattress store to test out some new mattresses.  At this particular store, the mattresses were arranged and color coded according to 3 levels, soft, medium, and firm.

As I walked about the store testing out the various mattresses, I noticed something that SHOCKED me!

I found at least 80 percent of the mattresses in the store to be too soft!  This included all of the mattresses labeled as soft and medium.  How I judged them was by laying down on my back on each mattress.  On each of the mattresses I deemed too soft, my lower back immediately began sending pain and discomfort signals.

After years and years of spinal care and healing, my body is a finely tuned instrument when it comes to sending me the signals I need about stress and discomfort.  And if you are getting good chiropractic care for your spine and nervous system, yours should be too!  If you notice your body tensing up in any way when testing out a mattress or laying in your own bed, that’s your body’s way of telling you that the right support isn’t there.

If you aren’t getting the right support from your mattress, your body will attempt to achieve this support through creating muscle tension.  Chronic muscle tension limits the healing ability of your nervous system by draining energy, increasing stress in the system, and creating misalignments in the spine that block your brain and body from properly communicating, thus creating a vicious cycle.

This experience took me by surprise because even though the conventional wisdom on mattresses and spinal health is that firm is best, I was prepared to go with whatever felt the most comfortable regardless of how the mattress was labeled.

To save you time in shopping for a mattress that is healthy for your spine (and hence the rest of you), follow these quick tips:

  • Start by trying the firmest mattresses in the store, and then work your way down
  • Firmness should feel supportive, not “hard” which can create tension as well
  • Pillow top mattresses are great for combining support with just enough comfortable softness
  • I do not recommend tempurpedic, as these can be too soft
  • Make sure you can sleep comfortably on your back and your side on a mattress
  • Laying on your mattress should feel like a “sigh” of relief for your body
  • Your mattress will support keeping your spine healthy, not “fixing” or bringing an unhealthy spine into health
  • To optimize your ability to choose the right mattress, get chiropractic care before mattress shopping




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