What Is The Best Mattress for Arthritis in 2022?

Arthritis is a very common ailment that causes pain and inflammation in the joints. Affecting more than 10 million people in the UK, the painful symptoms of arthritis can make it very difficult for sufferers to get good quality sleep.

What Is The Best Mattress for Arthritis in 2022?

An old or uncomfortable mattress can add to this problem, making life more difficult for those who have chronic pain.

The Sleep Foundation recommends that mattresses should be replaced every 6 - 8 years, or it is is negatively impacting your sleep, noticeably sagging, or leading to muscle and joint stiffness.

Arthritis tends to affect the joints, so a mattress that is lacking in the proper support can exacerbate pain and lead to more inflammation and swelling on pressure points. A good quality, supportive mattress can help to relieve pressure points and minimise chronic joint pain.

Whether you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or chronic pain conditions such as lupus or fibromyalgia, the right mattress can make all the difference when it comes to getting a good night's sleep.

Arthritis and sleep

Arthritis and other chronic pain conditions affect sufferers around the clock, so finding the right mattress is an essential step in enhancing sleep quality and ensuring that arthritic pain is minimised during the night.

The most common sites of pain are the hips, back, neck, and shoulders, which can make it very difficult to find a comfortable way to lie in bed. Sleep disturbances from pain spasms add to this difficulty, leading to exhaustion from lack of sleep and sleep disorders such as insomnia.

A study conducted in 2021 found that 54.1% of people with arthritis reported poor sleep quality, citing issues such as difficulty falling asleep, short periods of sleep, poor sleep quality, and exhaustion relating to lack of sleep.

A further study conducted in 2018 found similar results, with insomnia affecting more than 71% of people with arthritis while only 33% of the control group reported sleep deprivation issues.

While it is not known exactly why chronic pain seems to get worse at night, there is a theory that the body's circadian rhythm may have a role. As the body enters into rest mode, it releases less of the hormone cortisol, which has anti-inflammatory effects for people with arthritis.

At the same time, the body releases more melatonin and prolactin, both of which trigger the release of inflammatory cytokines, which can aggravate pain in rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.

While many people with arthritis may attribute their restless nights to their chronic pain, it actually works both ways. Poor quality sleep can lead to increased joint pain, so those with chronic conditions end up in a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation and increased pain.

It can be very difficult to break this cycle if your mattress isn't giving you the support you need to get the best rest possible.

Why is sleep important?

Getting the right amount of good quality sleep is just as important as exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet. A good night's sleep can:

  • Improve concentration
  • Help the body to manage pain levels
  • Allow the body time to repair and restore itself
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Improve mental well being

Studies show that disturbed sleep can result in increased pain and can also contribute to changes in mood, while persistent pain can play a role in disturbed sleep as well as mood changes. Therefore, sleep plays a vital role in pain management and overall wellbeing.

Sleep is also important for helping the body to recover and repair itself. Restoration theory suggests that the entire function of sleep is to allow the brain and body time to restore itself and that without adequate sleep, the body is not able to function properly.

Though scientists don't know exactly why we sleep, it is believed that the different stages of sleep allow different parts of the brain and body to recover. If the body is sleep-deprived for a long period of time, it can cause deficits in psychological functioning and have a detrimental effect on the body.

Are you getting enough?

The Sleep Foundation recommends getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night for good cognitive function and optimum physical health. This can be difficult for people with arthritis to achieve.

Many people with arthritis report difficulties falling asleep, waking during the night, or feeling groggy the next day. These symptoms can be exacerbated when sleeping on the wrong mattress, so it is important to find one that provides you with the support you need without reducing your sleep quality.

Which type of mattress is best for arthritis?

Which type of mattress is best for arthritis?

The best mattress for arthritis is always going to be one that provides pressure relief and the right support. For some people, this might be a firm orthopaedic mattress, for others, it might be a softer mattress with a combination of memory foam and pocket springs.

The key to finding the perfect mattress for you is to identify which benefits will work with your arthritis symptoms.

Which mattress type is your mattress type?

Mattress firmness and support are important factors when considering which mattress is right for you. Whether you need a softer mattress, a medium-firm mattress, or a firmer mattress, it is important to know their benefits and the technology they use. When looking for your new mattress, there are a few key mattress types to remember.

Memory foam mattress

Memory foam mattresses tend to be softer mattresses that can provide more comfort to arthritis sufferers than a traditional sprung mattress.

Most memory foam mattresses are able to provide adequate support and pressure relief, though pure memory foam does retain heat so it can get quite warm. Generally speaking, a memory foam mattress is a good mattress for arthritis, particularly for those who require a softer mattress.

Hybrid mattress

Hybrid mattresses are one of the best mattresses for arthritis as they have all of the benefits of memory foam mattresses with the added benefit of pocket springs. The pocket springs support the body weight, enabling proper spinal alignment, while multiple layers of memory foam provide pressure relief on the joints for optimal sleep comfort on a medium-firm sleeping surface.

Hybrid mattresses are one of the best mattresses for arthritis as they have all of the benefits of memory foam mattresses with the added benefit of pocket springs. The pocket springs support the body weight, enabling proper spinal alignment, while multiple layers of memory foam provide pressure relief on the joints for optimal sleep comfort on a medium-firm sleeping surface.

The pocket springs in hybrid mattresses help to distribute movement during the night so that you and your partner are not disturbed and the mattress supports pressure points through the foam layers.

This medium firmness mattress is the ideal sleep surface for those looking for a supportive surface with plenty of memory foam layers for a great night's sleep.

Orthopaedic mattress

Orthopaedic mattresses also have the benefits of pocket springs and memory foam mattress technology, with a luxury firm sleeping surface that provides a comfortable mattress for arthritis sufferers.

An orthopaedic mattress is designed to promote the correct spinal alignment and reduce back pain, while also providing pressure relief to the joints.

This mattress type is ideal for those who are looking to improve their posture and alleviate back pain while also supporting the joints and can be used in conjunction with mattress toppers for extra comfort.

Is a soft or a firm mattress better for joint pain?

Is a soft or a firm mattress better for joint pain?

When looking for the best mattress for arthritis, it is important to remember one thing - it will always come down to your own personal preference. Everyone has different requirements when it comes to supporting joints, so the only person who can decide which one will help you to fall asleep is you!

The firmness of a mattress is also known as the tension of the sleep surface. It is not necessarily the case that the firmer the mattress, the better the support. In fact, a good quality hybrid mattress can provide a soft but supportive surface to sleep on.

A mattress for arthritis and joint pain will ensure that no stress is placed on vulnerable areas, such as the hips, neck, back, and shoulders. Other areas such as ankles, elbows, and knees can also be sensitive to pressure, so finding the right mattress for arthritis is a very personal journey.

Which tension is right for you?

Soft mattress

A soft mattress cradles body weight while still providing support where needed. While most memory foam mattresses tend to be softer, it is possible to get soft hybrid mattresses that utilise the comfort and softness of memory foam mattress technology while still providing all of the support of a quality mattress.

A soft hybrid mattress can be beneficial for those who have joint pain, as the memory foam gently cradles the joints and provides pressure relief. Pure foam mattresses may be too soft for those who need extra support.

Medium-firm mattress

Medium-firm mattresses provide a firmer sleep surface to promote spinal alignment while also providing pressure relief for joint pain. This type of tension is usually found in a hybrid mattress.

Medium-firm mattresses also use the benefits of memory foam mattress technology while the pocket springs inside distribute body weight and support the joints.

Many people with arthritis prefer the tension of medium-firm mattresses as they are the best of both worlds.

Firm mattress

Firmer mattresses are ideal for those who are also looking for more spinal support as well as pressure relief.

These mattresses use memory foam and pocket springs to provide a supportive sleep surface and can be used with a memory foam topper to provide extra relief to pressure points.

Which tension is right for you?

Whichever tension you decide to choose, always look for memory foam in the construction of the mattress, as this will help to alleviate joint pain.

Memory foam moulds itself to the body, adjusting to your movements as you shift position in the night. This provides support throughout the night and avoids placing additional stress on the joints.

The best mattresses will use both memory foam and pocket springs to create a hybrid mattress that will provide the support you need.

What is the best sleeping position for arthritis sufferers?

Everyone has a preferred sleeping position, but is your sleeping position making your arthritis symptoms worse? It all depends on where the pain occurs.

  • Neck

    Even if you do not suffer from arthritis, the neck should always be kept in a neutral position. Depending on your preferred sleep position, you may need to adjust your sleep habits to accommodate this.

    Side sleepers can use a pillow that supports the neck, while back sleepers can use a thin pillow to keep the spine aligned while you sleep.

    You should avoid sleeping on your stomach if you have neck pain as this can aggravate symptoms and make the pain worse.

  • Shoulders

    Shoulder pain can make life very difficult for side sleepers, but it is possible. Lie on the side that is not painful, then place a soft pillow underneath the sore arm to elevate it and alleviate joint pain.

    Back sleepers can benefit from placing a wedge underneath the upper back to keep the upper body at a 45° angle and then placing a pillow under the knees.

    Stomach sleepers should try to avoid sleeping in this position as it can create stress on the shoulders.

  • Hips

    Side sleepers can sleep on the side that isn't painful and add a pillow between the knees for extra support, while back sleepers can add a pillow underneath the knees for support.

    Stomach sleepers should also avoid sleeping in this position. If you are unable to train yourself out of sleeping on your front, ensure that your mattress has memory foam or a mattress topper to reduce strain on the joints.

  • Knees

    Back sleepers can place a pillow underneath the knees for added support, while side sleepers can place a pillow in between the knees to alleviate joint pain. Memory foam can help to provide support for the knee joints when sleeping on your side.

    It is recommended that stomach sleeping is avoided as this can create stress on the knees.

  • Back

    Back sleepers can place a pillow underneath the small of the back and behind the knees for extra support. Side sleepers can add a pillow underneath the curve of the waist and between the knees. Sleeping on the front can cause stress on the spine, so try to avoid sleeping in this position if you can.

    The right tension hybrid mattress with adequate memory foam support will provide the support you need, whichever position you prefer to sleep in.

Tips for a better night's sleep with arthritis

Physical therapy

Good quality sleep is important for maintaining a healthy mind and body as well as managing pain and inflammation associated with chronic joint conditions.

Pain from arthritis and joint conditions can make it harder to fall asleep and get the quality sleep you need, so it's important to find ways to ease the pressure on your joints at night.

Ensuring that you have one of the best mattresses to support your joints is the first step, but what else can you do to get a better night's sleep when you have arthritis?

  • Physical therapy

    Physical therapy is a great way to keep the joints mobile and restore their use. Regular physical therapy sessions can also strengthen the support around the joint which will mean that daily activities are much easier to perform.

    Search for a local Physical Therapist who specialises in arthritis or ask your doctor for a recommendation.

  • Speak to a doctor

    Many arthritis sufferers believe that their pain is keeping them awake, but it is worth speaking to a doctor to determine whether there are any other underlying causes.

    Regular trips to the bathroom, difficulty breathing, and stress can also impact your ability to get a good night's rest, so speak to a doctor to find out what is causing your sleep problems.

  • Keep a regular sleep-wake cycle

    Keep a regular sleep-wake cycle

    Our bodies are ruled by a natural circadian rhythm that responds to light cues. These light cues trigger the release of sleep hormones at night which help you to have a restful night's sleep.

    Train your circadian rhythm by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even at the weekends and aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Avoid naps and lie-ins as they can disrupt your sleep cycle and make it much harder to sleep at night.

  • Keep a sleep diary

    It helps to track your sleep patterns to see if there are any other issues that can be impacting your sleep.

    Track the times you go to bed and wake up, when you take naps, how you feel in the morning, whether you exercised, drank coffee or alcohol, or any stressful events that occurred. This will provide your doctor with a complete look at your sleep cycle.

  • Exercise regularly

    Exercise regularly

    Studies show that exercise has a positive impact on sleep. People who take more than 150 minutes of vigorous exercise per week are 65% less likely to feel tired during the day, which means they are more likely to get a better night's sleep.

    Aim to get your heart rate up 3-4 times a week and try to get outside for at least 30 minutes of walking every day.

  • Limit screen time

    The blue light emitted from screens on tablets, mobiles, and laptops can interrupt the circadian rhythm and make it much harder for our bodies to wind down for sleep.

    Keep your electronic devices out of the bedroom and instead read a book before bed to help you drift off to sleep.

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol

    Avoid caffeine and alcohol

    Studies show that caffeine can affect you for up to 8 hours after consuming it, so limit your caffeine intake to the morning time if you want to avoid it impacting your sleep.

    Alcohol reduces the quality of sleep so avoid having that nightcap before bed if you want to get a good night's rest!

  • Meditate

    Meditation has been proven to help the body and mind relax and promotes a better night's sleep. Download a free meditation app like Insight Timer or Headspace and play a sleep soundscape before bed, or try to follow a guided meditation for sleep to help you nod off.

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