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Mattress Selection – How to Choose a Healthy Mattress

Like proper nutrition and exercise, sleep is essential to feeling your best. Choosing the right mattress is a great start to healthy sleep, but with so many choices, the task of selecting a new mattress can be overwhelming. I offer these tips to help you make the best decision.


Never shop for a mattress when you are in a hurry. Try several different mattresses, taking the time to lie down on them and turn over on them. Spend several minutes lying in your normal sleeping position - 10 to 15 minutes should be the minimum time spent on each bed. If you have a sleep partner, make sure you shop for your new mattress together. Lie on the mattress at the same time. Check for uncomfortable pressure points as well as partner movement. The amount of surface cushioning to have is a matter of personal preference.

Proper Support

The old saying that the firmer the bed, the better for your back, has given way to more correct view that it's comfortable, correct support that’s best for optimum sleep. Firmness and support are often confused, but they are not the same things. In order to keep your spine in correct alignment, you need to choose a mattress that echoes and molds to the natural contours of your body, gently supporting the back muscles. When a mattress is too soft or too firm, it creates pressure points that cause the muscles to strain to keep the spine in a natural position. Your body has to work hard throughout the night, leaving your body feeling tired the next morning. A good mattress supports the back and allows the muscles to rest and rejuvenate during sleep.

Consider Your Sleep Position

Different mattresses will be more comfortable depending on the position you sleep in. Sleeping on your side places increased force on your shoulders and hips, causing pressure points. Side sleepers may prefer a mattress with more surface cushioning.

A back sleeper's weight is usually distributed evenly over the mattress surface. However, without proper support, regions of the back (such as the lumbar area) may undergo excess strain as it works to support the spine's natural curves. Mattress systems with extra cushioning or adjustable support mechanisms may be the most comfortable choice.

Determine Your Needs

For optimum sleep, it is generally recommended to have the largest sleep surface your bedroom will allow. Choose a mattress that is wide enough to accommodate two sleepers comfortably and several inches longer than the tallest sleeper.

Related Reading: Why an Organic Mattress?

Questions about natural and organic beds? Contact the experts at Aviva.

Health Disclaimer. Copyright ©2014. Nathan Zassman is a trained nutrition practitioner and the owner of Aviva Natural Health Solutions.