The Best Mattress for a Good Night's Sleep (cont.)
Ideally, a mattress that reduces the pressure points on your body should give you a better night's sleep, Decker says. Yet the ideal mattress is different for each person.
Which mattress is right for you?
Finding the right mattress isn't about searching out the highest-tech brand or spending the most money. "A much more expensive mattress doesn't necessarily mean it's better," Decker says. A high price tag is a product of both the materials that go into the mattress, and the marketing that helps sell it.
Instead of focusing on price and brand name, think about what you want in a mattress. "Selecting a mattress is very personal," Decker says. Some people prefer a firmer mattress; others favor a softer style.
Although there isn't a lot of scientific evidence to prove that one type of mattress will help you sleep better than another, people with certain medical conditions do seem to rest easier on a particular mattress style.
Anyone with back or neck pain should take a Goldilocks approach to mattress buying: not too hard, and not too soft.
"If you're on too soft [of] a mattress, you'll start to sink down to the bottom. But on too hard of a mattress you have too much pressure on the sacrum, and on the shoulders, and on the back of the head," says Howard Levy, MD, an Emory University assistant professor of orthopaedics, physical medicine, and rehabilitation.
A medium-firm mattress, or a firm mattress with a softer pillow top, will give your spine that "just-right" balance of support and cushioning.
An adjustable bed can be a good buy if you need to sleep with your head raised. Doctors sometimes recommend elevating the head to help people with COPD breathe easier, or to prevent nighttime heartburn from GERD. These beds can also allow you to adjust your knees and hips to a 90-degree angle, relieving some of the pressure on sore joints, Levy says.
"There are a lot of claims made by mattress manufacturers that their mattresses are hypoallergenic or don't support the growth of dust mites, but I don't know of scientific evidence to support these claims," says Paul V. Williams, MD, a pediatrics professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine and an allergist at Northwest Allergy and Asthma Center in Washington state. Williams says dust mites will live anywhere there's food -- and that food is your dead skin cells.
Instead of investing in an allergy-free mattress, slip on a washable mattress encasing. It will form a barrier that prevents dust mites from getting to you. A mattress encasing cuts allergen growth by robbing dust mites of their food supply, Williams says.