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Posted on 04-14-2016

One of the most common questions I am asked is “What is the best mattress?  A few things I know for sure.   1.  Most people do not get enough sleep consistently 2. Sleep position and surface can lead to pain, specifically neck and back pain. 3.  Waking with pain in the morning can be a signal of an underlying problem.  4.  Every “body” is different.  5.  You can add to a bed to make it softer but you can’t make it more firm.  If you are suffering from neck pain or back pain it could be related to a lack of sleep, poor sleeping surface or poor sleep position.  Make an appointment with Tri-County Chiropractic of Pottstown to discuss ways to help manage your sleeping problems. Regardless if you have pain or not, it is important to have the ideal sleep setup to help minimize and prevent future problems.

What’s the Best Mattress?

Mechanically, a more supportive or firm mattress is better regardless of what sleep position you prefer.  But a mattress that is too firm for your body type can put excess pressure on your hips and shoulders.  The best mattress is the one that helps you sleep well and wake up without any added pain and stiffness.  Generally, a moderately firm mattress is best.  It gives the spine the support it needs while alleviating pressure at the heaviest and widest parts of your body, the shoulder and hips.  Whether you choose a memory foam, air, innerspring or multizone inner spring mattress is really up to your personal preference.  The most firm mattress you can sleep on comfortably and without waking discomfort is best.  Buy a mattress with a good return policy.  We spend far too much time in our beds to be stuck with one that contributes to discomfort.  The few minutes we get to test out a mattress at the store is not enough to know for sure.  Personally, I prefer a firm mattress with a pillow or foam topper.  Its supports my alignment while taking the pressure off of my hips and shoulders.  If you are waking with hip or shoulder discomfort your mattress may be too firm.  Try adding a good quality thick topper.

What’s the Best Position to Sleep In?

The position you sleep in is based on your personal preference, physical limitations based on pain or restrictions from underlying problems. I recommend our patients sleep on their backs. Back sleeping is the most stable position for your spine and the least irritating to your nerves, joints and muscles. If you sleep on your back, place a pillow under your knees to help maintain the normal curve of your lower back.  Support your neck with a pillow that is meant to fit your neck. This position is recommended for those who suffer with neck, upper back, and low back problems.

If you can’t maintain sleeping on your back, side sleeping is the next best option. However, because this position leaves your upper leg unsupported, the top knee and thigh tend to slide forward and rest on the mattress, rotating the lower spine. This slight rotation may contribute to back or hip pain. To prevent that problem I recommend, placing a pillow between your knees and thighs.

Stomach sleeping is not recommended.  Sleeping on your stomach does not allow your body to maintain a neutral position of your spine. It puts too much pressure on joints and muscles in your back, which can lead to pain or numbness, and tingling.  We spend approximately one third of our days in bed.  Imagine keeping your head turned or back arched for hours at a time while awake.  Our bodies could not tolerate that strain.  So train yourself not to sleep in that position.  Use a body pillow while laying on your side to prevent you from rolling over onto your stomach.   


  1.  Make sure you are getting enough sleep. 
  2. Chose the most firm mattress you can sleep on comfortably.
  3. Buy a mattress with a good return policy.
  4. Sleep on your back with a pillow beneath your knees or on your side with a pillow between your knees.
  5. Replace your mattress if it is sagging.
  6. Try a good quality topper if your mattress is in good shape but too firm.   

Dr.  Christine Treacy

Tri-County Chiropractic of Pottstown



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