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What are the key factors to consider when choosing a mattress and pillow for optimal sleep quality?


picking a mattress for a better nights rest

This is a question, as a chiropractor we get asked all the time. If you are waking up sore, or waking up because body parts are falling asleep you probably need to replace your mattress. We all know that sleep is important to our overall health and well-being so what are the key factors to consider when choosing a mattress and pillow for optimal sleep quality?


Before we talk mattress talk, first things first. We must talk about sleeping positions.  


woman laying in the worst sleeping position, stomach

Sleeping positions: 

The best position to sleep in is on your back with your neck supported by a good pillow, if you need you can place a pillow under your knees which helps support your lower back. 


The second best position is side lying. In this position, it is crucial to find a pillow that supports your C-spine and properly fills the void created by your shoulder. Think about your posture when you are standing, your head is centered over your sternum, so when you are side-lying it is important to find a pillow that maintains this posture. 


The worst position to sleep in is… ( drum roll please…….) Stomach sleeping or any combination of stomach sleeping. This is a NO go. Going back to posture, do you see people walking down the street all twisted and contorted? Um no! If you are a stomach sleeper, stop. Easier said than done, trust me I know, but like most things practice makes perfect. Try starting on your back and using other pillows and blankets to stuff yourself into position so you're less likely to roll/flip onto your stomach.  


Now that we have positions covered let's get back on topic, mattresses and pillows.  


a mattress with blankets and pillows stacked on it

Mattresses:

The first thing to consider when buying a mattress is your sleeping position and body type. Typically side sleepers prefer a softer mattress to cushion pressure points, while back sleepers do better with a firmer mattress. If you're a combination of back and side sleeping I typically recommend a firmer mattress, then adding a mattress topper. Another thing to consider is body type. A heavier individual may require a firmer mattress to prevent sinking, whereas a lighter individual might need a softer mattress to avoid pressure points. 


Another thing to consider is mattress material. There are various mattress materials available, each offering unique benefits. There is an innerspring, known for its bounce and breathability. Memory foam is known for its ability to contour and isolate motion. Hybrid types combine different materials to make a coil support system layered with foam or latex. 


The next thing when considering what mattress is right for you is your budget. Mattresses come in a wide price range. Remember investing in a good quality mattress is an investment in your health and well-being. While it's tempting to go for the cheapest option, compromising on quality may lead to discomfort and restless nights. It is something you know you will use, it’s a necessity and you’ll spend hours using it. 


With that all being said, I love the memory foam mattress. I sleep on a Tempurpedic mattress, yes it was more on the expensive side however I do not wake up with aches and pains or body parts falling asleep. Also, the longevity of this mattress is 20-25 years! There are other  “Tempurpedic mattresses'' out there that are amazing and a fraction of the price, however, their longevity is shorter. The Tempurpedic brand has been around for a long time, that says something. A lot of these other brands are hot for a few years but don't make it because they compromise on quality so they have to rebrand and start over under another name. 


When I was a college student I couldn't spend a lot on a mattress so I got mine at Costco (I love Costco!). They have different memory foam and hybrid types ranging in price from $300-$700, this mattress did not last 20 years however it did get me through school. Costco also has nice mattress toppers. Toppers are a good option if you have a decent mattress but you do not love it. Toppers are also nice because you can take them on and off. This is especially beneficial for patients having surgery and spending extended time in bed. It is nice to have the flexibility to change things in and out for comfort.


a side sleeping pillow recommendation

Pillows:

As far as pillows, there are lots more options and very different price points from mattresses. As mentioned before, pillow selection is dependent upon sleeping positions, posture, and body size. If you are a side sleeper, like myself I love this pillow. It comes in 3 sizes, which is determined by looking at the space between your ear and your shoulder.


For my back sleepers, you want to make sure you are supporting your neck and not pushing it up. You need to make sure you have enough room from the chin to the chest. If that space is closed down, the chin is too close to the chest you are shutting down the airway aka snoring. The opposite is true, if you have too much support under your neck, that prolonged extension position can cause the spine to collapse and lead to muscle shortening.


So like Goldilocks and the three bears, you must find the pillow that is just right! When you lay on the pillow you want your ears to be over your shoulders and your neck should feel like it's supported.


Finding a mattress and a pillow can be overwhelming however if you take into consideration some of the tips I shared with you, finding the perfect match might be easier.


Top tip: Make sure they have a good return policy!




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