I get asked the same question at least 3-4 times per week- “Is that your real hair or is that a hair piece?” Ok, maybe that is not that important to you. The actual question most people ask is, “What’s the best mattress?” The answer is surprisingly not that simple…

The history of the mattress goes back to the Egyptian pharohs who discovered that true luxury was a raised bed off of the ground. Unfortunately, even today many people around the world still sleep on the ground. We are fortunate that we can afford to not only sleep on a mattress but a high-quality, manufactured one. One problem is that across the world and especially in America, human beings are not using them enough.

We should be spending at least one third of our lives in bed…about 8-9 hours per day. As a country, China sleeps the most which is fascinating because Chinese rice farmers work an astounding 3,000 hours per year in their fields. Japanese people, with all their technology and neon lights sleep the least. Close behind them are Americans…we sleep only 6.7 hours per night on average. In fact, 65% of us sleep less than 6 hours and 27 minutes per night and only 11% get 8 hours or more. The obvious effects of sleep deprivation (memory loss, weight gain, irritability, etc…) are well documented but long-term sleep deprivation also leads to osteoporosis. Research showed lack of sleep lead to decreases in mineral density and bone marrow.

Sleep deprivation also is linked to chronic pain. Over 70 million Americans suffer from chronic pain which accounts for over $100 billion dollars in health costs. Old, low quality, uncomfortable mattresses have been associated with chronic pain. The opposite is also true – improving your bed has shown to decrease pain and discomfort…especially in women.

Before you choose a mattress, it is very important to know whether your current one qualifies as an excellent sleep aid or just a non stop, 24/7 dust mite trampoline and dance party! First, replace your mattress every 8 years. That includes the box springs, as well. Long-term compression of the coils change their supportive structure rendering them useless.

Second, choose a mattress that fits your body type. The American Chiropractic Association advocates a mattress that conforms to your particular spinal curvature. The best way to do this is to lie on top of the bed you wish to purchase. Have someone take a picture of you while lying on your side. Your spine should be completely supported meaning your head, shoulders, and hips should be completely in alignment. This is what we call neutral spine position.

Third, when it comes to firmness should it be extra firm, soft, or in between? Dr. Ayra Shamie, associate professor of orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery at UCLA says, “If the mattress is too firm, it will push on those main pressure points and take you out of alignment. If it’s too soft, those pressure points won’t be properly supported so your whole body flops.” The British Medical Journal called The Lancet actually supports his theory. In a randomized, double-blind, controlled study of 313 adults with chronic lower back pain, MEDIUM FIRM mattresses (5.6 on a 1.0 to 10.0 scale) relieved their lower back pain and actually improved their condition.

Fourth, make sure the mattress you choose has at least a 30 day, money back guarantee. You are now going to spend a third of your life on this new sleeping surface. Make sure it is right for you even though it felt great in the store. A longer term return policy will make sure your purchase is justified. Also, get a prescription from me and I will save you the tax. Since mattresses can be expensive, I can alleviate some of that pain with a simple note even if you have already purchased it within the last year. Make sure to set aside some of that money for my Christmas present, however!

Lastly, what mattress brand is the best? Temper-Pedic has the best customer satifaction of all brands but my experience is that it may be too firm for some people. They also retain body heat so if you are warm-natured you might want to stay away from that brand. I personally recommend the four S’s- Sealy, Serta, Simmons, and Stearns and Foster. Any of those brands with a MEDIUM FIRM type and a pillow top for comfort is what I recommend. One of our patient’s has a family member who owns a mattress chain of over 20 stores and conveyed to me what he found over the years is the number one bed. To find out which brand of these four I think is the best, email me at … doctork@wellnessdallas.com

Dr. K.