Back pain is one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor or miss work. It will affect 80 percent of us and is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Back pain is also a primary cause of insomnia, and study after study shows how essential eight hours of sleep is to our health. According to Harvard Medical School, sleep deprivation has links to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and shorter life expectancy. The good news? A lot of back pain is entirely preventable.
The Mayo Clinic says the best way to prevent back pain is to exercise regularly and build core strength. Abdominal and back muscles, as well as flexibility in the hips and upper legs, will help provide the power we need to avoid hunching over. They also suggest maintaining a healthy weight, quitting nicotine use, and avoiding movements that twist or strain your back. This includes standing and sitting without slouching and passing on any heavy lifting. But if you must, bend at the knees!
Of course, a supportive mattress can help, too. Just like the rest of us, as mattresses age, they start to lose their form. When a mattress sags, sinks, or lumps up, it no longer contours to your body and provides the support your spine needs. This part is essential. We need our beds to cushion the natural s-curve of our backs. The optimal mattress will maintain that shape while you sleep without putting undue pressure on your joints.
A few signs it might be time to replace your old mattress: If it is saggy, lumpy, has a you-sized compression in it, or if it's more than 7 years old (and not an Avocado mattress, which has a 25-year warranty).
We don’t have a silver bullet mattress to prevent or solve back pain for everyone. The right mattress for you, whether or not you have back pain, depends on the type of sleeper you are, your typical sleeping position, and your personal preferences. That said, most recommend a medium-firm mattress, which this study showed to relieve back pain more than firm mattresses.
Our mattresses are medium firm. On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the firmest), our standard Avocado Green and Avocado Vegan mattresses rate as a 7, which is gentle, yet firm. They are ideally suited for back and stomach sleepers, as well as lighter individuals and growing children — anyone in need of natural cushioning and medium-firm support.
With the pillow-top option, our mattresses rate as a 6. It is not overly soft, "plushy," or "sinkable." A mattress that is too soft can actually cause back pain and restless sleep. Instead, our pillow-top model offers just the right amount of added luxury and buoyant cushioning, all of which is buttressed by strategically zoned back support. Our pillow-top model also more easily adapts to your body's natural curves, and, as a result, is ideally suited for side sleepers, all-around sleepers, heavier individuals, athletes, and those in search of pain relief, pressure-point relief, and critical back support.
Check out our Leggett Labs mattress performance test results for third-party testimony. In demonstrating their durability and validating our 25-year warranty, the lab found an Avocado Mattress only loses approximately 1% of its height after 10 years of hard usage.
If you’re a side-sleeper in particular, it’s incredibly important to make sure your neck and spine are in alignment when you sleep. For that you need firm, fluffy pillows. Give yours a good shuffling, or, if they’re too far gone, recycle your old ones and invest in some new pillows that are firm enough to support your neck properly.
Memory foam, feather, and polyfill pillows are usually too soft to be effective for very long because of their plushness and tendency to compact very quickly. Latex pillows offer that same cloud-like feeling of memory foam, with a bit more firmness and stability.
Our Avocado Green Pillows combine the best of both worlds, with natural latex rubber ribbons for firmness, and a natural fiber very light and fluffy, similar to down, called Kapok. Even better, you can unzip the organic cotton covers to add or remove more filling to customize the firmness to your preferences. Visit our full pillow guide here.