Subjects with high back pain report 63 per cent improvement in back discomfort after switching to new mattress
A new study published in the current issue of the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine has demonstrated that switching to a new mattress can significantly reduce back pain and stiffness. The study by Oklahoma State University found that subjects who suffered from persistent back pain found immediate and significant relief by switching to a new mattress and that the improvements persisted past the initial switch to the new mattress. It also found that subjects who were sleeping on mattresses five years or older were significantly more likely to suffer from back pain and stiffness.
The research is the first study of its kind to attempt to quantify the link between back pain relief and bedding systems. The team at Oklahoma State University studied a control group of 59 healthy participants (30 women and 29 men) who slept on their own five-plus year-old mattresses for four weeks and then slept on a new bedding system for the same time period. The study analyzed the difference in lower back discomfort, spine stiffness, sleep quality, comfort and efficiency.
Subjects reported immediate and sustained benefits in all areas of measurement following their transition to a new mattress, regardless of their age or weight. This was especially true of participants who entered the study with high back pain complaints; they reported a 63 per cent improvement in back discomfort.
"More than 80 per cent of Canadians suffer from back pain at some time in their life(*), said Dr. Stacy Irvine, chiropractor and fitness expert, on behalf of the Better Sleep Council Canada. "There are many ways to treat back pain, but people may not realize that an answer might be right under their noses, literally, in the age and state of their mattress."
"Back pain should be taken seriously - left untreated it will negatively impact people's quality of life and productivity at home and at work," adds Dr. Irvine. "This research shows that a new mattress could hold a key to unlocking some of that pain and discomfort."
According to the article in The Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, while health care professionals are often asked to recommend a bedding system that can reduce sleep disturbances and improve sleep quality, there has been little or no consistent information or benchmark for doctors to reference. According to the study's authors "health professionals may safely recommend a medium-firm sleep surface with a certain degree of confidence for patients experiencing minor musculoskeletal sleep disturbance."
48 Million Lost Hours of Productivity Every Week Due to Poor Sleep
The study also notes that sleep deficiency interferes with daytime activity, social interactions, mood, and even loss of work production further making the case that a new mattress can improve sleep quality and therefore overall quality-of-life for consumers.
Past Better Sleep Council Canada research has found that 30 per cent of adult Canadians admit poor sleep compromises between 3 and 10 hours of productivity at work each week(
) which translates into about 48 million hours of lost productivity every week.
"We've always known intuitively that a new mattress can help with back pain and quality of sleep but now we have been able to measure that impact," said Gary Baskerville of the Better Sleep Council Canada. "On average, Canadians spend more than 2,000 hours each year sleeping. The mattress is one of the hardest working pieces of furniture in our home. And now we have further proof of its very real contribution to our personal health and comfort."
The Better Sleep Council Canada recommends that you perform a bi-annual bed check to evaluate the state of their mattress and foundation. Look for these simple ABC'S:
A - Age: has your mattress had more than eight to 10 years of nightly use?
B - Beauty: would you be embarrassed to show your uncovered mattress in public? Does it have stains, soils or tears? Does it sag?
C - Comfort: over time you become desensitized to the dwindling comfort and support of your mattress - just like you would to an old pair of sneakers. When you lie down and concentrate on the comfort of your mattress, does it feel the same as it did when you first tried it at the store?
S - Support check - when you lie flat on your back, and place your hand under the small of your back, how much space is there? You should be able to move your hand around.
About the Study
"Subjective Rating of Perceived Back Pain, Stiffness and Sleep Quality Following Introduction of Medium-Firm Bedding Systems" is authored by Bert Jacobson, EdD, Tia Wallace, MS, and Hugh Gemmell, DC, EdD of Oklahoma State University and published in the Winter 2006 issue of the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine.
The study was commissioned by the International Sleep Products Association and The Better Sleep Council Canada in order to determine if a scientific link existed between sleep products' age and quality and people's back pain, discomfort and sleep quantity.