Can a Mattress Cause Lower Back Pain?

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Mattresses are essential to great sleep and health. In fact, studies show that the average human spends 229,961 hours of their life sleeping.  That’s one-third of the average human lifespan!

Studies show that one-third of the citizens living in the UK experience lower back pain, but only one in 15 of these will visit their general practitioner about the issue. Because we spend much of our life sleeping on our mattress, we need to know what about sleep and the mattress that we choose can contribute to this growing issue.

In this article, you will learn more information about lower back pain, how sleep and sleeping positions can contribute to lower back pain, and some of the best mattresses on the market to help tackle issues related to lower back pain.

Lower Back Pain and Its Causes
Unsurprisingly, lower back pain can be caused by a number of medical conditions. Here are just a few:

  • Sprains and Strains: The lower back is susceptible to a number of sprains and strains that can occur in a number of ways. These injuries can come from lifting heavy objects or even stretching in an improper way.
  • Sciatica: This is a medical condition that is caused by compression of the sciatic nerve, which runs from below the buttocks through the back of the legs. Issues with this nerve can certainly cause strain and pain in the lower back region.
  • Menstrual Pain: For women, menstrual pain can be a common cause of lower back pain. Cramps can cause pain in a number of areas, including the lower back.
  • Disc Issues: The back is comprised of a number of discs that, when damaged or degenerating, can cause pain in the lower back. About 10 percent of lower back pain sufferers who complain about their pain for two to four weeks may have degenerative disc disease, which is usually due to aging discs.
  • Bad Posture: Poor posture over time can cause significant lower back pain.
  • Kidney Stones: A common cause of lower back pain on one side, kidney stones are fairly common. One in every 20 people will develop kidney stones, which are buildup of calcium oxalate, in their lifetimes.

No need to start self-diagnosing! You may be surprised to learn that a lot of lower back pain issues come from poor sleeping habits and old mattresses. You’ll learn more about how a good mattress can aid in your lower back pain later. Next, let’s talk about sleep positions and how they can impact your lower back.

How Sleep Contributes to Lower Back Pain

How many times have you woken up sore and heard the phrase, “maybe you slept wrong?” This is often the answer friends and family give to say that perhaps poor sleeping positions or habits are to blame for your soreness.

Certain sleeping positions are bad for your back and can put pressure on your spine. If you sleep on your stomach, you’ll be sad to learn that this position puts the most pressure on your spine because it causes your spine to flatten. Spines have a natural curve, and sleeping in this position not only forces it to flatten but also forces the sleeper to turn their head to one side. This can cause upper back pain, which can be a nightmare when combined with lower back pain!

Luckily those who have back pain after sleeping in a poor position can try amending their sleeping positions to one of the following:

  • Supporting the Knees While Laying on Your Back: Laying flat on your back is a good way to help the spine keep its natural curvature. However, adding a small pillow under your knees will further that curve, and provide support, taking pressure off of your legs. This position helps to distribute weight evenly, taking pressure off of the back.
  • Laying on Your Stomach with a Pillow: Stomach sleepers rejoice! While this is still the least favoured position by experts, research shows that using a thin pillow under your stomach and hips while sleeping on your stomach can take the pressure off of your spine and restore it to its natural curve.
  • Sleeping on One Side with a Pillow Between Your Knees: Instead of laying on your back, try sleeping on your left or right side. Are you starting to see a pattern with the extra pillow? Make sure the pillow is firm and place it between the legs at the knee. This will take weight off of the side you’re sleeping on, and alleviate lower back pain.
  • Trying the Fetal Position: The fetal position, named for the way a baby lays inside its mother’s womb, is a popular sleeping method for those who suffer from herniated discs. Laying on one side, you should pull both of your knees towards your chest.
  • Sleeping in a Reclined Position: While sleeping in a reclining chair may not be best for your overall back health, sleeping in a reclined position can reduce lower back pain. This may involve the use of several pillows to prop up the body so that the upper body is higher than the lower body.

While these are some ways to improve your quality of sleep, sometimes the way you sleep isn’t to blame. Your problem may lie in the mattress you lie your head on! In this next section, you’ll learn more about how your mattress can impact your lower back health.

How Mattresses Can Help (or Hurt)

A good mattress is essential to a good night’s sleep. A bad or unsupportive mattress can cause or contribute to lower back pain! That’s why it is important to invest in a mattress that will relieve back pain and provide proper support to help you sleep well and wake up ready to conquer the day!

There are a number of ways your mattress can be contribute to your lower back pain.

To begin, an older mattress is usually less supportive. Experts believe that mattresses should be replaced every 8 years. This is because the spring, memory foam, and/or supportive layers start to degrade over years of “wear and tear.” If your mattress is well-loved, it is probably time to get a new one!

The firmness or softness of the mattress can also cause lower back pain. Different body types need different levels of firmness in order to be properly supported during sleep. A mattress that is too firm can cause pressure in your hips. However, a mattress that is too soft provides little to no support for your spine, which can cause issues leading to lower back pain as well.

If you find that you or your partner are often waking up a number of times a night for no apparent reason, or you find it takes you hours just to get comfortable enough to fall asleep, you may need to invest in a new mattress. Back pain that is associated with a bad mattress will usually go away within an hour of waking up and starting a physical activity.

How to Choose a Good Mattress

Choosing a good mattress takes time and research, and there are a number of factors you should consider when picking a new one. While we can’t cover every single factor in this list, here are the top five things you should consider:

  • Balance of Support Types: Make sure that your mattress is not too firm, but also not too soft. You need to find the perfect balance for you in order to assure that your body will be properly supportive while you sleep.
  • Take your Body Type into Account: Different body types will need different types of support. Be sure to do your research into best mattresses for your body type.
  • Breathability: A number of lower back pain sufferers swear by memory foam mattresses, but they can raise your body temperature, sense the memory foam is so compact. There are a number of hybrid options, so make sure you take time to research layer types before making the final decision on your new mattress.
  • Size: Make sure that your mattress will fit in your room and fit the needs of both you and your partner.
  • Price: Make sure that the price falls within your budget. Some mattresses can be pricy, but remember that a mattress is an investment into better health for you and your lower back!

Make sure you also invest in pillows that are supportive to your sleeping experience. You want to make sure that your neck and knees are properly supported during sleep, so ditch the cheaper pillows for more supportive options.

If you find that you’re unsure of what mattresses to look into for lower back pain, you can check out to see a collection of mattresses as well as a list of pros and cons for each. There is also a link to the mattresses on Amazon where you can view the product specs and price!