We live in an age of poor posture: after sitting in chairs, hunched over desks all day, we sit down in our cars to navigate traffic for hours, only to reach home too tired to exercise.
Our modern lifestyle might be convenient in many ways, but it is not kind on our backs. From random backaches to poor posture, most of us are plagued with these issues.
Since we spend almost one third of our lives asleep, how we spend our nights can either contribute to, or help fight, these back and joint problems. And that is how the Orthopaedic Mattress was created.
What is an Orthopaedic Mattress?
The orthopaedic mattress (from the Greek root “orthos” meaning “straight”) was first designed in the 1950s to combat the increasing number of back, spine and joint issues people started complaining of after World War II ended and people moved to a more sedentary lifestyle.
Mattress manufacturers were aware people were unhappy with the choices available to them at the time, and experimented with different materials and technologies to try and create a product that aligned with the recommendations of the new medical studies at the time.
They gained popularity with time, especially once NASA created the product we now know as memory foam, in the 1960s.
The idea behind an orthopaedic mattress is to create a solid and firm sleeping surface that would provide support to the bones and joints without sacrificing comfort.
With better weight distribution, the sleeper can enjoy more restful sleep, with fewer interruptions, and wake up more comfortable with a lower chance of pain or joint sprains.
They are designed to have a top, pliable layer that is comfortable to lie on, and an inner, firmer layer that would maintain support.
How is an Orthopaedic Mattress Made?
The three most common types of orthopaedic mattresses are the coil sprung, the pocket springs, and the memory foam mattress.
- The coil sprung mattress works by having multiple springs tightly placed together and interconnected with each other, spread out all over the mattress. This provides firm support for people suffering from back pain.
- Pocket springs use different, separate coils to create different support zones for each occupant of the bed.
- Memory foam mattresses rely on a layer of foam that changes shape to accommodate the contours of the sleeper, and then returns to its original form when the bed is unoccupied.
What all of these designs have in common is that the mattress is firm enough to support and redistribute body weight, while being comfortable enough for a good night’s sleep.
If you’re considering buying a Silentnight mattress, check the pros and cons of Silentnight’s Miracoil and Mirapocket spring systems.
Would my sleeping position cause back pain?
All sleeping positions have the potential to cause back pain if not managed properly. People who sleep on their back are least likely to suffer from back pain due to the neutral alignment of their spines, but a good mattress would accommodate the natural arching of the back.
Those who sleep on their side might be better protected against heartburn while they sleep, but they risk a numb arm or hip, or pain in their arched back, when they wake up.
Frontal sleepers are most at risk of back pain and neck strains, mostly due to the intense arching of the back in this position.
What are the benefits of an orthopaedic mattress?
Regardless of how you sleep, an orthopaedic mattress can offer comfort and support.
- Feel better rested
The firm surface supports your body, giving you maximum push-back regardless of your preferred position, helping you enjoy deeper sleep with less tossing and turning.
- Even weight distribution
The better support your mattress provides, the more evenly it distributes your weight all over your body and avoids concentrating it in pressure points in the neck, hips and back.
- Correct spine alignment
This helps maintain correct spine alignment, reducing back stress and improving the blood supply, leading to more comfortable sleep and better posture throughout.
Is an orthopaedic mattress for me?
Identifying your needs and what works for you is an important first step. Orthopaedic mattresses are firm, and while this helps them provide their benefits, some can be too firm for your body weight and feel “hard” on your back. Choosing a mattress with the right level of firmness is therefore important.
For people with disabilities, lifestyle modifications can cause their fair share of pain and aches, and many could benefit from using an orthopaedic mattress to help ease pain and improve posture.
It is worth noting, however, that not all people have the same needs, so understanding your own sleeping issues and discussing them with a professional is a good first step towards getting the comfortable night’s sleep you deserve.
Shopping Tip: check our guide on the best extra firm mattresses.
What is the best orthopaedic mattress?
You can find a wide range of orthopaedic mattresses, from pocket sprung to memory foam, at prices as low as £260 for a double size. Here are two of the most popular mattress you should check out:
1. Silentnight Ortho Dream Star Miracoil Mattress
There is a zoned Miracoil spring support system, which is designed to relieve pressure points and support your hips. It is made in the UK and comes with 5 year guarantee. It starts from just £199.95 for single size.
2. Slumberland Amari Ortho Mattress
The Slumberland Amari Ortho Mattress is rated as an orthopaedic mattress, which provides added support. It is 26cm deep and is available as firm or medium.
There are a total of 1,000 individual pocket springs, which provide tailored body support.
Since the pocket springs move independently from each other, you’ll feel almost no motion transfer between your sleeping partner and there won’t be a roll together effect. The mattress is hand-tufted and has a soft Belgian damask cover. It’s start from £749.99 for a single size.