Latex Mattresses Can Help Alleviate Fibromyalgia Pain
Latex may have medical benefits for a range of pain sufferers, especially fibromyalgia patients. With the right mix of softness, support, and body alignment, fibromyalgia sufferers may be able to get the sleep that so often eludes them.
The Medical Advantages of Latex Mattresses
Latex mattresses fall into the category of "orthopedic mattresses," first produced in the 1950s. These mattresses were designed based on the idea that a mattress could actually have medical benefit for the sleeper – just as with orthopedic shoes or braces.
The body-contouring support and inherent softness of foam latex, combined with the ability to create softer or firmer foam mattresses using carefully perfected techniques, has made latex foam an excellent choice for orthopedic purposes.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia Syndrome, or FMS, is characterized by widespread, long-lasting pain all over the body that tends to migrate unpredictably. In people suffering from fibromyalgia, a series of pressure points, or "tender points" throughout the body are painful when pressed, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Fibromyalgia is a syndrome rather than a disease, since its origins are poorly understood – which makes it particularly difficult to treat successfully. There is no cure for FMS sufferers, so pain management is the key to living life with fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia and Sleep
Fibromyalgia is almost always associated with a sleep disorder, like restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea. The problem lies in sorting out the complex relationship between bodily pain and sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, "pain makes sleep more difficult and sleep deprivation exacerbates pain." Happily, a reduction in poor sleep usually leads to a reduction in pain for people with FMS. Along with stress relief, relaxation techniques, and exercise, a good mattress is an excellent drug-free method to help FMS patients manage pain.
Mattress Firmness and Fibromyalgia
Natural latex has a springy support that in firmer mattresses almost pushes back against your body. This action is even more pronounced in traditional inner-spring mattresses. But while innerspring mattresses may make for excellent support, it's not what the tender points of a fibromyalgic body need for a pain-free night's sleep.
Additionally, though firmness can be ideal for back or stomach sleepers, it can create pain-causing pressure points in anyone – where the weight of the body pushing down meets the action of the mattress pushing up, skin and small blood vessels can be compressed, causing nerve pain and circulatory problems. A too-firm mattress can create misalignment of the spine and body, resulting in more pain.
Finding the Right Latex Mattress to Help Your FMS
To get the springy support of latex, along with the pressure-point-free sleep and spine-aligning properties of body-countouring support, you'll need a softer latex against your skin, combined with a firmer latex core. The best mix for you could be a Dunlop core, which tends to be more supportive, under several inches of medium to soft Talalay latex.
The softer latex on top will contour to the pressure of your body, giving as it needs to then adjusting instantly as you move – aligning your spine continuously without exacerbating pressure points. The firmer latex core will support your body and the inherent weight of the mattress for years to come, giving you a product that can last 20 or more years.
Always choose natural latex over blended or synthetic options when your budget allows. Synthetic latex just doesn't have the soft-but-springy feel of the real thing. Blended latex usually only contains about 30% natural latex – the rest is synthetic.
Other Latex Bedding Options
If a full latex mattress is out of your price range, the next best options are:
- A blended latex mattress – though blended latex is only about 30% real latex, it's the closest you'll get to a full-fledged natural latex mattress without the high price.
- A hybrid latex mattress – these are typically made using several inches of latex over core made from other materials – either polyurethane or traditional inner springs. You won't get the full support of an all-the-way-through latex mattress, but you'll have a latex comfort layer against your skin.
- An all-natural latex topper – these allow you to add the comfort of latex to any mattress.
If you choose a hybrid mattress or a topper, make sure you have a thick comfort layer of latex foam between you and the interior layers. Otherwise, you're likely to "bottom out," compressing the latex so that you're basically lying on the firmer inner materials. This may still help with alignment, but you'll find the pain caused by pressure points returning.
The Right BeddingIt may take a little experimentation to find the bed that helps you sleep your best. Talk with a customer service specialist to decide which combination of softness and support is right for you, and order un-glued layers so that you can ‘mix and match' without having to return the whole bed. Within a week or two, you'll have a mattress with the potential to make you feel better than you have in years.