LIFESTYLE

One In Three People Experience Back Pain After They Wake Up - Here Are Some Top Mattress Buying Tips

25/10/2013 11:32 BST | Updated 06/11/2013 10:56 GMT

Waking up with a creaky back is more common than you'd think - recent research reveals that nearly one in three people experience back and neck pain after a night's sleep, while most feel stiff or ache.

A poll of more than 2,400 people for the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) found 30% believe sleep triggers back and neck pain and 42% had been kept awake by the pain.

Some 83% said they feel stiff or ache when they get up in the morning.

back pain bed

The BCA is urging people to check their mattress is still supportive enough but also says they should try out pillows before they buy.

The survey found 33% of people change their mattress only once a decade despite recommendations to buy a new one every seven years.

A fifth (21%) admit changing their mattress less than once a decade and 10% had never changed it at all.

Some 64% of people also confessed they had not tested a pillow before buying it.

BCA chiropractor Tim Hutchful said: "How often you should change a mattress depends on lots of factors including your weight and how well you have cared for your mattress.

"But as soon as a mattress stops supporting your back it's vital you get a new one.

"A mistake that people often make when choosing a new mattress is thinking the firmer the better. This is not always true - one bed does not fit all.

"We spend a third of our lives in bed so it's important to spend time choosing your new mattress and, remember; if you're planning on sharing your bed with your partner, take them with you to test it."

The BCA says people should change their mattress if they regularly wake up stiff or aching, have a better night's sleep somewhere else, the mattress is misshapen or sagging, it creaks when people move, or if individual springs can be felt.

People are advised to lie on their back or side rather than their front to avoid back pain.

SEE BELOW FOR TOP TIPS ON BUYING A MATTRESS FROM OCTASPRING:

What size should you buy if you're a couple?

This depends on the size of your living space. In terms of mattress types, metal spring or pocket spring mattresses tend to suffer from motion transfer, meaning that the couple is likely to disturb the depth of sleep of the other, even waking the other up in the process. Obviously, the smaller your mattress the greater chance you have of interrupted sleep. Double or king size are the most popular sizes for couples though.

What does the jargon used to describe the firmness of a mattress really mean - what should we be looking for?

Firmness is quite a subjective issue, and can often be quite misleading. Firmness is not necessarily the best thing for a bad back – that's a bit of an old wives tale. What’s important is that the right areas of your body are cushioned and lifted with the right amount of support.

Look for a mattress that is body-zoned, with different levels of support for your middle, head and feet. Remember that your size and weight can also have a bearing. This is where memory foam technologies can have an effect, to give you greater cushioned support.

How firm should the mattress be and how should people test it?

Some companies offer in-home trials – Octaspring offer 60 nights – so this will really help you decide if it's for you or not, without the pressure of a sales person standing over you.

Otherwise, if you're in the shop don't just make a snap decision based on firmness, you need to replicate your sleeping position – really try to imagine what it will feel like spending 8hours on it. You should feel like your body is amply supported, but that the key contact points where your body meets the mattress are gently and comfortably cushioned.

How can you protect your mattress?

Look at the core components and materials in your mattress, for protection against fungi, dust-mites and allergens.

Make sure your bedroom is airy, at the right temperature and without dampness. Also, make sure you get a good guarantee, so your investment is protected for the life span of the mattress.

How often should you replace a mattress?

Around every 8-10 years. Pillows much more frequently, 2-3 years.

How can you tell when it's time to replace a mattress?

People actually replace their cars more frequently than they replace their mattresses; yet people spend about a third of their lives in bed, and only a fraction of that in our cars. Surprising when regular good sleep can have a greater impact on your physical and mental wellbeing than your car!

Don't underestimate the importance of taking time to research and choose the right mattress for you. It might be a boring process researching a mattress, but it's so worth it! You'll know when it's time to change a metal spring mattress, because it gets that bit more creaky and the springs feel that bit closer to your skin, creating pressure points, which can be very bad for your sleep patterns.

How badly can a bad mattress affect your sleep?

Massively. The traditional mainstream mattress types do different things to you. Metal spring mattresses, as mentioned earlier can create pressure points; they creak; they create motion transfer.

Traditional memory foam mattresses are mainly variations around a solid lump of foam, and many people complain that the lack of airflow leads to excessive heat at night. Sleep is disrupted in different ways, with the result that your body is more tired during the day, and your brain is less alert and alive as a result.

One pillow or two?

Entirely to your own preference. If you think about traditional feather or down pillows they very often can get crumpled up into a tiny ball, meaning you have to wake and reset or reorganise them – to puff them up.