All beds are not created equal!

Dr. Stephanie,

My husband frequently has issues with his neck. While getting adjusted regularly is always helpful for him, I was wondering what else we can do at home to prevent this. Could our bed have anything to do with it? If so, how do we choose a new one? There are so many out there it is overwhelming. Please help!

Thanks! You’re the best!

-Liz K.
Gates, NY

Liz! Thanks for the question! We are ALWAYS being asked about mattresses! Probably the most frequent question we get. First, I would recommend you check out my article on sleeping position. You could have the best mattress in the world but if you are not maintaining proper posture while you are asleep it won’t make much of a difference.

Age ain’t nothin’ but a number
Not quite! At least not when it comes to mattresses. If it is over ten years old, frankly, it is likely time to get another one no matter what. Even if it isn’t ten years old, it might still need to be replaced. Next time you wash your sheets take a look at your mattress. If there is sagging or an imprint from where you lay, it is time for it to go.

The more firm the better
We advise choosing the firmest possible mattress you find comfortable. We really do not recommend pillow top mattresses for at least two reasons: #1 They can not be flipped, #2 They might be too soft…in which case there isn’t much you can do since there is no removing that cushion. Don’t forget, you can always ADD a topper – whether it be down, hypo-allergenic down alternative or memory foam. Likewise, it is nearly impossible to add firmness to a mattress so you’re better off going for more firm and adding a cushion if need be later on.

When you go out to shop, set aside a good chunk of time. Go out in comfortable clothes…sweatpants even (if you’re OK with doing that in public)! Have a few stores in mind. It might be helpful to check out their return/guarantee policy. If you can find a store to shop at that allows you to return the bed in a given period of time if you are unhappy with it that would be optimal. When you arrive, go inside and ask the salesperson to point out their firmest, non-pillow top beds. Start with these and lay on them in your regular (proper) sleeping position. Make sure you bring your significant other, and lay next to each other at the same time. If you have to lay there for an hour to decide that is the right mattress for you then do it.

But now my neck hurts…
Love your new mattress but having neck issues now? Keep in mind that you may need to switch pillows also. When you buy a new car, you don’t keep the tires from your old car right?! Likewise changing the surface you are sleeping on will change the way your body/head/neck need to be supported, and new pillows might be in order. Keep in mind, pillow usable life is about 18 months.

How much a mattress costs does not speak to how good it is. We’ve heard from patients who have $3,000 mattresses at home and $600 mattresses at their cottage. Guess which bed some of them prefer? The $600 one. That is why it is very important to take your time and lay on them…not just check the price tags.

You spend about one third of your life in bed so make sure you make the most of it! Happy sleeping!

Thanks to Audra Brown of Release Photography for capturing little Colby in the photo above!

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