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The Best Bed for Back Pain & Great Sleep


Best bed - Dr. Axe

Throughout the day, you probably pay attention to how your back feels, what positions support your back and help to align your spine properly. But are you sure that your bed allows for that same back support and comfort?

We spend one-third of our lives in bed, so choosing the right bed for lower back pain relief is extremely important. In fact, neglecting your back at night can lead to pain and stiffness, and over time it can contribute to more serious issues like aggravated disc issues and even an increased risk of cardiovascular disease from a lack of proper sleep.

The problem with most mattresses on the market today is that you have to choose whether you want support, which doesn’t allow the heaviest parts of your body to sag and create misalignment, or comfort, which allows you to sleep through the night and get the rest you need. Most beds don’t offer both comfort and support at the same time, so you are waking up with back pain or you’re completely drained and groggy.

I was recently introduced to a bed that’s three times firmer than a typical foam mattress, yet soft enough to relieve pressure and adapt to your body so that you’re getting the support you need. The Intellibed is the best bed for back pain because it has this unique combination of support and comfort, and it works for every body type, no matter how you sleep.

How the Wrong Bed Contributes to Back Pain

1. It Causes A Misalignment of the Lower Back

In the 1960s, the hot mattress was the waterbed. Hardly anybody sleeps on waterbeds anymore because most people who used them started to develop back pain. Although waterbeds did a great job equalizing pressure, the problem was that they allowed the heaviest part of your body, your hips, to sag into the bed. This creates a misalignment of the lower back, which is when your body creates a banana shape. Because your hips are heavier than the rest of your body, they naturally sag further into the bed.

The innerspring-based mattress, which became popular after the fall of waterbeds, is also an issue because the further you push into it, the harder it pushes back. Although this prevents misalignment from occurring, these mattresses are uncomfortable to sleep on because of the springs inside of them.

The key is to have some resiliency in the center of the bed to support your hips. Foam core beds were then created for this purpose, but industry testing showed that these beds breakdown fairly quickly. Even the best foam beds can break down 20 to 40 percent, which means that over time, the foam beds can’t continue to push back with the same force that’s needed to support your hips. This goes back to the original problem (like the waterbeds) of misalignment of the lower back.

If your body spends 7–10 hours every night in the shape of a banana, with your hips sinking into the bed and lacking support, what do you think that does to your back over time? It causes discomfort and lower back pain. (1)

2. Interrupts Sleep 

It takes about 90 minutes to complete a full sleep cycle, but many people aren’t getting to the bottom of this cycle, which is stages 3 and 4 of sleep. When a bed is uncomfortable or causing pressure points and pain, you are constantly tossing and turning, which obviously interrupts the sleep cycle. This is why you may be waking up groggy and tired — you’re not getting the critical sleep that you need. (2)

In addition to the immediate symptoms of sleep deprivation, many of the disease stages that we see today, like heart disease, diabetes and autoimmune disease, are linked to the fact that people are not getting the amount of stage 3 and 4 sleep that they need. Only getting into the shallower stages of sleep because your bed isn’t working with your body is a significant problem.

A 2010 scientific review published in Current Cardiology Reviews found that there is a relationship between sleep deprivation and hypertension, coronary heart disease and diabetes. (3) And a study conducted at Harvard Medical School indicates that insufficient sleep is associated with performance deficits, poor attention, hormone imbalances and inflammation. (4) Clearly, getting good quality sleep plays a major role in your health, affecting many body systems and organs.

3. Aggravates Disc Issues

Your spinal discs, which provide stability for your lower back and neck, can be injured when the lower back is constantly sustaining pressure in bed. The more your discs break down from this lack of support and pressure, the more lower back pain — maybe even sciatic nerve pain — you will experience.

A 2011 study published in BioMedical Engineering Online found that a certain amount of stiffness in a mattress can significantly affect the health of your spine. When the hips and back are able to form a C or banana shape overnight, this puts a lot of pressure on your spinal discs and can certainly aggravate any issues that you may already be dealing with. (5)

What Is the Best Bed for Back Pain?

After years of working with patients who are suffering from back pain, and experiencing back pain myself, I have come to truly believe that the bed you choose to sleep on can make all the difference. I have found that the Intellibed is by far the best bed for back pain because of its cushioning technology that provides equal parts support and comfort. It’s the bed I personally use and recommend.

The efficacy of the Intellibed comes from its gel-matrix material, which was originally made 20 years ago for critical-care hospitals. Not only did this revolutionary material prevent lower back pain for the hospital patients, but it also proved to erase stage-4 bed sores because of its pressure-relieving technology. Today, the founder of Intellibed, Robert Rasmussen, works with chiropractors around the country, like myself, to improve the health of their patients.

At the base of the Intellibed mattress is a tempered steel innerspring with a pocket coil. Years of testing this material shows that it doesn’t break down like the foam core mattresses, so it continues to provide the resiliency that’s needed to prevent your hips from sagging into a pain-causing misalignment.

The gel matrix material, which is a two-and-a-half-inch layer that covers the innerspring, is formed into a grid pattern, or matrix. When you lie down on this material, the walls of the grid pattern are engineered to collapse right at the point where it would be uncomfortable for the human body. This is where support meets comfort.

According to Rasmussen, there are three reasons why the Intellibed and its layer of gel matrix material is the most effective for back pain:

1. Provides Support

Rasmussen explains that the gel matrix material “allows the innerspring to do its job — to prevent your hips from sagging into a misalignment.” This material doesn’t break down like other mattresses, so, unlike a foam layer that begins to break down by 20–40 percent after only 2–3 years of use, the gel matrix material has been tested to lose only about 4 percent of its resiliency after 20–30 years. That means that night after night, your back is getting the support it needs and your bed isn’t allowing your body to create a C-shape that affects your spinal discs and lower back.

2. Relieves Pressure

According to Rasmussen, “the gel matrix works on a different engineering principle than foam or springs do.” The material is designed to allow the support members under the hips to gently collapse when you lie down. When the hips sink deeply into the mattress without pressure points, this transfers the support to the broad surfaces of the body under your side and back. So not only do you get alignment support from this material, but you get the best pressure relief. (6)

This equal distribution of pressure over the whole body doesn’t allow for big pressure spikes on your hips and shoulders. Without these pressure points, you won’t be tossing and turning all night, so you can get restful sleep while also supporting your back. The gel matrix material allows the bed to be simultaneously firm and soft at the same time.

3. Provides Durability

Rasmussen, and the Intellibed team, is really excited about the durability of their products because they provide a consistent level of comfort and support for many, many years. “I’ve been sleeping on one of the first Intellibeds ever built for nearly 15 years and that bed feels as good as the day I brought it home,” he explained.

The intellibed is also completely non-toxic and among the safest beds to sleep on. In fact, all of the materials have been carefully vetted for non-toxicity, so you can be sure that this bed won’t cause any respiratory, allergy or hormone imbalance issues that can arise when sleeping on a bed made with chemicals. This bed is also naturally cool. Unlike foam beds that become insulators that trap the heat against your body, the gel matrix material conducts heat away from your body, so the bed is naturally much cooler and more comfortable.

Read Next: Master Your Sleep Positions for Better Sleep

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