Kenneth Wingrove's Articles

Welcome to better sleep.

Welcome to better sleep.


Thank you so much for requesting my "All Things Mattress" report; it should be extremely helpful for pointing you in the right direction.


I wanted to share this you because your back is very important to me. Let me share a little story about a good friend of mine, Jeff.


Jeff began coming into the clinic because of low back pain. He is a very active late 70s sort of fellow, and the back pain he had been having for the last several weeks was putting a kink in his golf game. Jeff had been making good progress for the last few treatments, and then his progress came to a sudden halt. He would feel great all day after treatment but wake every morning in pain.


Often, when I'm taking care of a low back pain patient, we hit a wall. We get to a point in the case where they feel fantastic for the whole day after treatment, but every morning they wake up with a relapse.


That is always a trigger for me to ask about their mattress.


A mattress is supposed to be an awesome friend on the side of good, not some evil enemy. If there's a problem with the mattress, you go to bed feeling great, and you wake up in pain. I'm going to teach you everything you need to know to check your own mattress and how to choose a new one.


The first thing about checking your mattress is to make sure that the boxspring and bed frame are supporting the mattress. Here's how to check.  Have a couple of family members climb on the bed so that there's plenty of weight on the mattress.  Then site down the side of the bed rail and see if the bed rail is sagging. Check to see if the bed rail sags an inch or more, or if the bed slats sag an inch from left to right. If they are sagging, even an inch, it's causing early wear and tear on your mattress. A bed with a frame or bed slats that sag while you're sleeping will wear out a high-quality mattress out in 2 to 3 years. With sagging bed rails and slats, you end up sleeping in a cereal bowl or a bird's nest. Your back isn't supported correctly, so you wake up in pain.  And, if you are unfortunate enough to have some kind of injury, it will continue to aggravate your injury.


Sagging bed frames and slats are one of the most common reasons patients get stuck on the road to recovery. They are also an easy fix. Add some support legs to the frame like these: Bed Claw, from Amazon.


If you have checked the bed frame and the boxspring and everything checks out OK, then your mattress is the next suspect. If your mattress sags in the middle, it's time to look for a new mattress. You can easily check this with a yardstick, or a string.


Patients often tell me that the mattress is pretty new, reasoning that it shouldn't have a problem. Mattresses are supposed to last 10 to 30 years, right? So, if the mattress is only five years old, it's still supposed to be new.


But... If I buy a brand new car and crash it into a tree, it's still a brand new car. But, it's also a wreck. If it's worn out, it's worn out. A new mattress can get worn out by a sagging bed frame and box spring leading to an uncomfortable situation.  Yes, it can be expensive to replace a mattress, but it can be even more expensive to replace your back. There are a few things to consider at this point. You could try and fix your mattress. There are some pretty cool products that can help like Mattress Helper. Or... you can go shopping.


Here are a few tips for mattress shopping. Consider the kinds of mattresses. There are foam mattresses, latex foam mattresses, traditional innerspring coil mattresses, and European coil spring mattresses. I'll go through each of them and list the pros and cons. This will make you a virtual mattress expert.


Latex foam: These are excellent mattresses and extremely durable. They are very supportive, not nearly as hot as a memory foam, and can be very very expensive. This is the top-of-the-line mattress. I have never heard any negative feedback about a latex foam mattress. Their cost is in the very high range.


Memory foam: This mattress has evolved over time. In the beginning, they were very supportive but extremely hot. The number one complaint, a complaint I often heard about this mattress, was that it was so hot to sleep on, people got rid of it. At first, these mattresses were closed cell. The foam was a kind of foam that did not breathe and was too insulating. But now they are manufactured mostly as open cell mattresses, which breathe well and are not nearly as hot. They are supportive and last a long time, but not as long as the latex foam. They are a step down from the latex foam mattress. Their cost is in the mid to high range.


European-style mattresses, or pillow top mattresses, are the kinds of mattress that you do not flip over. They are designed to be right side up for their entire life. They are built from the bottom up. They start with the spring system and move up to a layer of foam or several layers of foam as the pillow topper. These mattresses are in the medium to high price range and have a very good life lifespan with excellent breathability and coolness at night. This is an excellent choice for most people. There are some things to be aware of when you're shopping for any mattress that has springs. The size of the spring counts, as in the size of the wire the spring is made of. Spring wire size is sized in "gauge". The higher the number of the gauge, the thinner the wire. For example, a 22 gauge wire is thinner than a 12 gauge wire. I would steer clear from any mattresses that are made of 16 gauge wire or thinner. Also, the springs in the mattress can be made of one continuous wire or they can be made into separate coils. If all of the springs are one continuous wire, a machine makes one coil and then continues the wire right onto the next coil, and so on and so on. This creates a mattress that transfers motion more easily from your sleeping partner to you. These tend to be less comfortable if you are sharing your bed. You want the coils to be made individually, where one coil is not connected to another coil. You can also get the mattress with or without coils in pockets. The pocketed coil is an individual coil that is wrapped in fabric, which creates a very quiet and motion dampening spring. There are also graduated springs and non-graduated springs. In a non-graduated spring, the spring is wound the same from top to bottom. If you put pressure at the top of the spring it pushes back with the same resistance as any other place along the spring would push back. In a graduated spring, the spring is very stiff at the bottom of the mattress but very soft or softer at the top of the mattress. This creates softer spots where your hips and shoulders press into the mattress. The springs compress more easily for the 1st inch or two and then become more supportive with more weight.


In summary, for the innerspring coil, look for 14 gauge or thicker wire. The spring coils should be individual and pocketed and you want the springs to be graduated. You also want a lot of springs. Around 600 to 800 for a queen-size mattress. The more springs the mattress has, the more comfortable it will be and the longer it will last.


There are also air bladder type mattresses. These can be very supportive and have great longevity, but they are also the most complained about and the most returned by patients I see in the clinic. There seems to be no middle ground on how much people like this kind of mattress. Patients absolutely love them or dislike them so much they return them. In my opinion, approach with caution.


There are a couple of new players to the foam mattress market. They are the companies Casper and Purple. They are both producing an excellent quality low-cost foam mattress. I have heard good feedback from every patient who has purchased one, and would consider them myself the next time I need to replace a mattress.


The last mattress I purchased was an inner coil spring pillow top European style mattress. It has worn excellently, is very comfortable, and shows no signs of wear after four years of use.


Here's the bottom line on the numbers. You don't need to pay 10 or $15,000 for a great mattress. A good quality foam mattress like Casper or Purple, or a high-quality innerspring coil European-style mattress, will run between $1000 and $2000.





Dr. Kenneth Wingrove DC


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Dr. Kenneth Wingrove D.C.

U.S. 491 & NM Hwy 64, Ste.6&7

Shiprock, NM 87420


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