Is Your Bed Hurting Your Back?

“My back is worst first thing, and easier when I’ve been up and about.” This is a common pattern that raises a couple of suspicions.

Firstly, is the pain due to the tissue swelling caused by inflammation? Swelling increases with heat, like in a nice warm bed; and also with stillness, when there is not enough movement going on to pump the fluid away.

Secondly, is the bed doing a good job of supporting the back?

“But I’ve got a good hard bed” is a common response to this line of questioning, “It’s orthopaedic.” It seems to me that the more money you spend, the harder the bed. If you ever spent enough, you would get to sleep on your own floorboards.

But hard is not necessarily good. Which is why a whole new market has sprung up, in “mattress overlays.” These layers of foam lie on armour-plated mattresses, providing some much needed softness.

People often ask my advice on bed choice. This is where things get very complicated, what with pocket springing, differential spring strengths and firmer edge zones!

As you may have realised by now, I’m a simple soul, not up to all this high tech. jargon. My approach to bed choice is based on a simple job description.

The job of the base is to hold you up off the floor, and something that can do this without sagging fits the bill well. I like wooden bases, good old-fashioned low tech. solutions.

Wooden bases aren’t the only good one’s, but I can’t see the need for really whiz bang sophistication, just to keep you off the floor. The simpler the base, the less there is to go wrong, and therefore the less often they need replacing (cue gnashing of teeth from bed base manufacturers.)

Mattresses are a different matter; here we do get more complicated. You see the mattress’s job is to let your sticky out bits, stick in. If it’s too hard, you end up like a pea on a drum. If it’s too soft, we get the quicksand effect, with your poorly supported heaviest bits sinking the lowest.

Good support is a happy medium. To find it, spend a long time in the bed shop, lying in the way you do at home. The last time we chose a new mattress, I was on the bed for so long that two people came and asked me if I was all right, and they weren’t shop assistants!

Finally, don’t forget pillows and neck support. Your head is wider than your neck, and so two different thicknesses of support are ideal. You can get this from fillings such as feathers and the newer grain based fillings like millet husks, because you can mould them to fit into your neck. Feather fillings may not be the best choice for anyone with dust allergies though.