Can my mattress sagging cause back pain?

This is part of our complete mattress buying guide – check out the full guide here.

Back pain can be a issue not only from a physical health point of view but it also affects your sleep which can then have an affect on your mental health.

The NHS (here) and Mayo clinic (here) have laid out causes, cures and preventions of the symptoms of back pain. Both agree that it is vitally important to visit a doctor in case the pain occurs for more than a few weeks without getting better or is severe in nature. However, if your back pain isn’t a medical issue, can a mattress cause back pain?

Is my mattress causing back pain? How do I know?

The main reason your mattress will cause back pain is because your mattress is sagging. Without the ability to support your spine sufficiently, a sagging mattress will cause you back pain.

Where there is a dip in the mattress your body will follow its shape. Your spine will be curved while you sleep and your muscles will have to work harder to keep your body supported. This eventually leads to your bed causing you back pain. Over time this pain increases and can become a chronic problem despite following all the other prevention suggestions.

So, can a mattress cause back pain? Absolutely. You can identify when it is a problem by finding out if your mattress is sagging.

How do I check for sagging?

It’s important to be able to identify when your mattress starts sagging and starts causing you back pain. Use the method outlined below to figure out if your mattress is sagging.

  1. Take off all bedding.
  2. Get down to eye level and run your hand across the mattress. Do you feel a dip?
  3. If you do, apply slightly pressure with the flat of your hand around the area that you think is dipping and just around it. It could simply be the filling and not the springs, which is why it’s important to provide a more concerted amount of pressure.
  4. If you feel an obvious dip, the next thing to check is the base that the mattress is on. It may be that this is not supporting the mattress properly.
  5. Should the base be bowed, it is this that will need replacing and not the mattress. You can explore our range of bedsteads with heavy duty bases by clicking on the following categories: iron beds, upholstered beds, wooden beds.
  6. Should the base or bedstead be in good solid order, your mattress will be the issue.

How to fix mattress sagging?

  • In case of sagging the best way to move forward is to replace the mattress.
  • A cheaper solution that may help, but would only do so for slight sagging, is a mattress topper. This would also be more of a quick fix than a long term solution.
  • Consider the below when purchasing a new mattress, and remember that a good night’s sleep is an important investment.

What causes mattress sagging in the middle?

Do springs cause sagging?

An uneven mattress, or sagging mattress can occur when an open coil spring unit is present. This is a spring unit whereby all springs are interconnected and don’t work independently. Because of this all springs compress under the weight of your body all of the time, and lose their ‘spring reflex’ more quickly than a pocket sprung unit.

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In a pocket spring mattress, each spring sits in its own pocket, and works independently from all other springs. Because of this, as you move into different positions through the night less springs are compressed less often. Allowing each spring to keep its ‘spring reflex’ and support your body fully, for longer, when its turn to do so arises. It’s unusual for a pocket spring mattress to cause you back pain because of failure in the springs.

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Can fillings also settle to cause mattress sagging?

Yes, fillings will settle, and they will settle faster than springs. However, the main support in any mattress comes from the spring unit. There are countless fillings used in the mattress industry including natural materials (wool, cotton, silk, cashmere, alpaca, horse hair etc.) and man made fillings, mainly in the form of polyester fibre and foams. Natural fibres are best if you wish your mattress to avoid sagging over time. This is because they are more resilient and absorb moisture better than polyester for example.

Polyester pads are not necessarily a bad thing in a mattress, but they tend to break down easier when subjected to moisture that we all perspire whilst our body repairs itself through sleep.

Do foam mattresses sag?

Foams are a more recent filling, and are certainly good at easing pressure points. Foam mattresses will also eventually sag, just like any other filling. Once a foam mattress sags you have to trash the mattress whereas natural mattresses can be recycled. It is important to note that due to their dense nature they have poor breathability and can become very hot at night, as the heat from your body struggles to escape. It is for this reason that we tend to prefer to manufacture more traditional mattresses with good breathability in our workshop.

Does it matter if it’s a turn or non-turn mattress?

The main cause of sagging is simple wear and repetitive pressure being placed on both the springs and fillings. The great thing about a turnable mattress is that every few months, you can simply flip your mattress to sleep on the other side, thus spreading the wear and allowing your mattress to keep its shape for longer.

Recommended fixes for mattress sagging didn’t work. Now what?

Unfortunately, in the case of extreme sagging the only way forward would be to replace your mattress. It’s important to know how to choose your mattress. A cheaper stop gap which may help extend the life of your mattress would be to user a mattress topper.

Our Juno range includes quality pocket spring units at their core. We then combine these with a variety of filling combinations to suit different budgets. All mattresses can be turned too; offering great support, comfort, and longevity at a fair price. You may view our range of pocket spring mattresses for more information about our range.

How to stop mattress sagging?

While there is no way to completely stop mattress sagging you can do a few things to extend the life of your mattress. It is important to do all you can to alleviate back pain from your mattress.

  • Using a topper can make a sagging mattress more comfortable but can also extend the life of a new mattress.
  • Turning your mattress as often as you can, if you have a turn mattress, can even out the wear and tear over years and delay your mattress from sagging.
  • Rotating your mattress does likewise and can be done on both turn and non turn mattresses. This may not be possible on certain zoned mattresses.
  • Buy a good quality mattress with a reputable supplier is always recommended. Check out their reviews and make sure their warranty covers every part of the mattress.

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