Relieving and Preventing Lower Back Pain as it Relates to your Bed
There are a variety of causes of lower back pain. Most commonly one thinks about lower back pain arising as a result of an accident or from an injury. If not that, then we are quick to point the finger towards time a.k.a. old age.
If we consider that the average North American spends about 27 years of their lives (i.e. 1/3 of every day) in their bed, then it should not come as a surprise that the type of bed and mattress you are sleeping on, has a huge effect on the health of your back. Compared to other everyday necessities, a bed is enormously important. As far as our health is concerned, the bed we sleep on is practically as important as the food we eat.
The bottom line is this:
If you wake up with lower back pain, the day ahead will be less productive. If you wake up well rested and without lower back pain and aches, then that provides the best conditions to take on the day and accomplish great things, whether that is in your family, community or your career.
Did you know?
80% of North Americans will suffer from lower back pain
The unfortunate reality is that about 80% of North Americans will suffer from lower back pain at some time in their lives, which will hold them back from the things they are called to do. Yet, how many of them have thought about that one thing that they spent so much time on (their bed), doing what we all take for granted (our sleep) until pains creep in that keeps us from getting a good night’s rest? The Better Sleep Council recommends that a person evaluates their bed every 5-7 years and if necessary replaces it.
If you notice sagging in your mattress, it is a good indication that your bed needs to be replaced. It signals that the foundation of your bed (in North America often box springs) is getting worn out and consequently your bed is not properly supporting you anymore. Usually this happens in the middle of the mattress first because most of our body weight is concentrated in our hip area.
Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that people start suffering from lower back pain. The lower back starts to sink further and further into the mattress causing you to sleep in an unnatural position. Consequently, the intervertebral discs cannot relax and therefore cannot completely recover from the stress which they have been put under during the day. Instead of being fully rested, you now start your day at maybe only 95% recovered. After another night or two, you only recovered up to 90%, then 85%, the 80% and so on and so for. Then after a decade or two, you find yourself sitting at the doctor’s office and being diagnosed with chronic back pain. To make a point, my percentages are a bit exaggerating but it is very common for people to end up with a case of chronic back pain in their late 30’s and 40′, especially people who work a physically demanding job.
A Well Designed Bed – Flexible and Supportive
Having established that the bed you are sleeping on is vital to the overall health of your back, let us look at some of the characteristics that a well designed bed should have.
The lower section of the bed must be rigid to keep any part of your body from lying too high or too low. This is important because it will allow your discs to recover during your sleep. A properly designed bed must do that regardless of your body weight. The foundation of your bed must support your body effectively in all sleeping positions.
The mattress must be well chosen in order to prevent pressure points as well as it should not interfere with the blood circulation or the nervous system. Michael Breus, PhD, a WebMD sleep expert and author of Beauty Sleep: Look Younger, Lose Weight, and Feel Great Through Better Sleep suggests: “Quite frankly, I think one of the best materials is latex,”. He likes it for being firm and supportive, but also for providing comfort similar to memory foam. Unlike the memory foam mattresses, latex is very elastic which means you don’t just sink in but latex actually pushes back, ultimately providing more support. Once all the right materials for the bed are selected, they need to be combined correctly in order to properly support a person regardless of body weight, size or shape. The challenge is to construct a bed so that a child of 20lbs and an adult of more than 250lbs can lie on it and keep their spine level.
I bet you didn’t know:
During the day our body weight squeezes out the fluid in our spinal discs which leaves us about 2 cm (1 inch) shorter in the evening. Our nightly rest should ensure that this fluid can return into our discs. But if the pressure on the discs becomes uneven, this process becomes irregular and consequently, more sensitive people will suffer painful disc deformations.
For this reason it is vital that the bed you sleep on, allows as much as possible for our spine to assume its natural position: A bed designed like a flexible board that fits around your body contours when you lie on it. This is particularly important for children during their major development stages (up to 15 years of age).
This is crazy:
A large number of back problems are pre-programmed during the early years because many parents either buy cheap beds for their children which are designed for adults that are generally too hard or due to financial restrictions parents will hand down an old, sagging bed to their children. In either case children end up lying in a position that is basically wrong.
This is so important for couples:
The last point that I want to make, is one that only very few couples consider when selecting their new bed/mattress. A bed that sleeps two people must be designed to have two people sleeping on it:
Imagine this scenario: Two people sleep together on an average bed, consisting of a box spring, a mattress and a memory foam topper. One person is 6’2″ weighing 250lbs, the other 5’4″ weighing only 110lbs. The heavier person of the two will inevitably compress most of the coils in the box spring unit. This will leave the lighter person sleep in a position that is anything but ideal to have a healthy sleep in because the coils in the box spring are compressed far too much for his/her body weight.
Now imagine this scenario: Two people sleep together in the same average bed as described above but this time the weight difference is fairly small. Both people are 5’8″ and weight around 150lbs. You go to bed and your partner frequently gets up at night to use the washroom, waking you up in the process every single time. Or maybe your partner is a very active sleeper that tosses and turns a lot during their sleep and wakes you up that way.
Here is the kicker:
In all three scenarios it is apparent that the beds these people sleep in, are not really designed for two people because it does not take into account that every human being is build differently and sleeps differently. A bed must be designed with this in mind if it is to provide a healthy sleep for either person during the same night.
In conclusion to few people do sufficient research when buying something as important as their bed. We spent hours thinking about the latest fitness programs, the best restaurants or the trendiest clothes. Yet none of them has a great of an impact on our health as a well designed bed. It is an investment into your long-term health and will determine how you start every day of your life. See the BENEFITS of our bed system here.