Why Pressure Relief is so Important When Choosing the Right Mattress

Are you on the market for a new mattress? When you go shopping, be sure to look for optimal pressure relief in a mattress to reduce aches and pains.

By Nicole Gleichmann

Most people understand the need for adequate support from their mattress. When you aren’t properly supported, your spine will be out of alignment, resulting in a poor night’s sleep and pain throughout the day. Fewer realize the importance of pressure relief in a mattress.

Without a bit of give in the right places, you will not be able to maintain a neutral spine alignment while you sleep. This too can lead to tossing and turning as well as aches and pains the following day.

What’s more, people who spend much of their time confined to their bed, such as those who are on bedrest, can develop painful sores if their mattress doesn’t offer adequate pressure point relief.

Why Does Pressure Relief in a Mattress Matter?

We all share one thing in common, no matter our body shape or sleep position: certain parts of our body come into contact with our mattress before other parts. In order to have the correct alignment and not wake up with sore hips or shoulders, we need a mattress that allows these parts to sink in until the rest of our body is supported.

When this happens, the weight of our bodies is distributed. When it doesn’t, certain points will be left to support an excess of our body weight. These points that carry excess pressure are known as pressure points.

For those of us who spend the typical 8 or so hours in bed each night, too much pressure on pressure points can lead to improper support of our spine. By morning, and sometimes earlier, you are likely to notice pain. It might be a neck kink, shoulder pain, or lower back pain. This pain signals that your mattress is not providing the correct support and pressure relief.

Pressure Relief Mattresses: Critical for Bedridden Patients

While pressure point relief in a mattress matters for everyone, it is of particular importance for people that have to spend extended periods of time in bed. This could be patients in a hospital bed or those confined to their bed for long periods of time to recover from an injury or illness.

Patients who spend many hours on a mattress can experience restricted blood flow at pressure points on the mattress. Over time, this can lead to sores and pressure ulcers. To prevent pressure sores, the best thing to do is to use a mattress designed to distribute pressure.

How to Find a Good Pressure Relief Mattress

There is no one mattress that is perfect for everyone. Your body shape, your sleep position, how long you spend in bed, and your general comfort preferences all come into play when selecting the right mattress. That said, there are certain types of mattresses that are better than others at distributing pressure evenly throughout your body, no matter your body shape.

The Best and Worst Types of Mattresses for Pressure Reduction

Let’s start off with the one type of mattress that we do not recommend for optimal pressure point relief: a traditional innerspring mattress. This type of mattress uses coils that are depressed most at the heaviest parts of your body, and they end up returning that pressure throughout the night.

Memory foam mattresses are our top choice when it comes to reducing pressure. Because memory foam contours to your unique body shape, it provides a cushion for your hips, shoulders, heels, knees, and other areas that need relief.

Latex mattresses are our runner-up. Latex contours to the body more than an innerspring mattress but less than a memory foam mattress. Rather than providing compete contouring, it provides a bit more bounce-back.

What to Look for Based on Sleep Position

Do you sleep on your back, stomach, or side?

Side sleepers need the greatest pressure relief. The shoulders and hips stick out from the core of the body, creating curves that need to be adequately hugged and supported. For side sleepers, memory foam is usually the best option. It allows those parts of the body to sink in, keeping the natural curvature of the spine intact.

Stomach sleepers do not need much pressure relief, but rather they need a firm, extra supportive mattress to allow them to keep a somewhat neutral spine alignment. Keep in mind that sleeping on your stomach makes correct alignment impossible, but a firm mattress is your best bet to avoid further aches and pains. Because stomach sleepers should prioritize support over contouring, most firm mattresses will do, including innerspring, latex, or memory foam mattresses.

Back sleepers fall between side and stomach sleepers on the spectrum of pressure point relief requirements. The booty and heels need a bit of give, but not nearly as much as the hips and shoulders. Back sleepers tend to do best with medium-firm mattresses, making latex and memory foam both good options.

What to Look for if You’re Bedridden

For those who need to spend more than eight hours per day in their bed, particularly for those who will be bedridden for weeks or more at a time, a typical mattress may not provide the level of pressure relief that they need.

There are many varieties of mattresses and frames designed for those who spend much of their time in a bed. To find the right pressure relief mattress system, consider the following options:

  • Alternating Pressure Mattresses: You can find mattresses and top layers that are able to be inflated and deflated either manually or automatically at timed intervals. This allows for pressure relief and enhanced blood flow.
  • Water Mattress Top Layers: For those who need an option that can be used on top of a hospital bed mattress, there are water mattress toppers that can be placed on an existing mattress.
  • Pad Systems: There are a variety of different mattress pad system toppers that allow for pressure to be distributed. This is another good option for on top of hospital bed mattresses.
  • Adjustable Frames: Adjustable mattress bases allow for different angles throughout the day and night, changing up the pressure points and reducing the risk of pressure sores.

Closing Thoughts

Finding the right pressure relief in a mattress is helpful for everyone as it allows for a restful night’s sleep free of unnecessary aches and pains. It is particularly important for anyone who is bedridden as too much pressure for too long can lead to painful sores and bodies.

Memory foam mattresses offer the greatest pressure relief, closely followed by latex mattresses. For those who are confined to their beds, extra measures, such as adjustable frames, may be necessary to further reduce pressure.


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