The Best Mattress for a Stomach Sleeper
Most of us have a dominant sleep position that we use most often; even those who change positions frequently during the night. Knowing your dominant position is paramount to helping you find the best mattress for you. For the person who sleeps on his stomach, there are certain conditions that mean his ideal mattress will be different from those who sleep on their sides or their backs. Furthermore, what is comfortable for one stomach sleeper may be uncomfortable for the next. Ultimately, each individual must try out a selection of mattresses to find out what's best.
Considerations for Stomach Sleepers
It's a given that human beings carry most of their weight between their waist and shoulders. This dictates that a stomach sleeper finds his spine being pulled down towards the mattress, while the back sleeper has the firmness of that mattress to push up on the spine. Just this one fact alone explains why so many stomach sleepers have lower back pain. There is so much stress being put on the arched spine by the forces pulling down, that it stresses both the muscles in the lower back and the discs.
Exacerbating that stress can be pillows that are too large and too thick. In such a case the shoulders and head are lifted up while the force of the user’s weight pulls on the spine. The combination of the two only puts additional stress on the lower back. Therefore, when stomach sleepers are looking for a new mattress they need to take all of these things into consideration. When you're choosing a new mattress it's a good idea to consider your pillows as well.
Firmness Is Key
If you've read enough articles about mattresses, you know firmness is talked about regardless of the sleep position of individual users. But with the stomach sleeper firmness is much more difficult to deal with because the line between too soft and too firm is so very thin. As a general rule, the stomach sleeper is looking for a medium firmness mattress; a mattress soft enough to accommodate the bulk of his weight, yet firm enough to prevent his spine from arching. Finding such a mattress is a task easier said than done.
If a mattress is too soft, the spine will arch in direct proportion to it, adding more stress to the vulnerable muscles and discs. If you throw a pillow top or some other type of mattress pad on top of the soft mattress, things only get worse. On the other hand, a mattress that's too firm doesn't have enough to give and will therefore encourage the individual to adopt a "hybrid" sleep position where he is kind of balancing between his side and his front. This position tends to cause a neck strain, shoulder pain, and hip pain as well.
Shopping for a Mattress
Like anyone else, the front sleeper needs to spend some time testing out various mattresses before making a purchase. You should lie on the mattress for 10 to 15 minutes in order to truly get a feel of what it will be like. Also, your best option is to test out the mattresses without the use of pillows. Using a pillow will distort your perception of softness or firmness as well as raise the potential for back pain. You can always add pillows later on, when you've narrowed down your choices.
When you lay on your stomach you should feel very little, if any, arching in your back. If you do, that means the mattress is too soft. By the same token, you also shouldn't feel as though you are lying on a slab of granite. That feeling indicates your mattress is too hard. As you go through this process, relate to the salesperson exactly what you're feeling so that he or she knows which mattresses to take you to next. When you find the right one you'll notice you can lie on it without being overly aware of the position of your back.
As far as the type of mattress you should be looking for, there's nothing specific that is better for front sleepers. Traditional inner spring mattresses still dominate the market, but you also have access to foam, air, and water.
With inner spring mattresses you should look for a model with a larger number of smaller springs rather than one with a fewer number of larger springs. Stomach sleepers need to disperse their weight across as many springs as possible in order to get maximum comfort. The only exception to this would be excessive weight. If you are more than 30 or 40 pounds overweight you're probably going to need the larger springs to provide adequate support.
When it comes to foam, some stomach sleepers find it to be a comfortable option in terms of support, but have a difficult time nonetheless because the foam sleeps hot and has a distinct odor. The issue of sleeping hot can be mitigated through the use of specially made mattress toppers and linens. As for the odor, it is what it is. Stomach sleepers who are annoyed by the odor should consider a different option.
Adjustable air and waterbeds are tricky for stomach sleepers if firmness is not carefully controlled. That's easier done with an adjustable air mattress than with a waterbed mattress. The nice thing about these two options is the fact that they can be purchased with dual chambers. This enables two partners to sleep on the same bed with different firmness levels. It also enables firmness to be adjusted according to temperature, weight, and any other physical conditions that might be causing pain and discomfort.
The Pillow Issue
Lastly, pillows play an extremely important role in the sleep of the stomach sleeper. So much so that there are quite a number of people who believe they need a new mattress, only to find that getting rid of their pillows made all the difference in the world. If you are experiencing back arching issues, and no amount of testing new mattresses seems to be helping, suspend your shopping for a time and try a few nights without pillows. You may be pleasantly surprised to find out that most of your back arching has been solved. At that point you can then determine whether your new mattress should be softer or firmer based on how your back feels without pillows.