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Air, Etc.

Popular hign-end air mattresses like rely on inflatable air chambers to provide support. The dual-chamber models that allow two people to adjust each side of the bed to their own preferences can be a bonus if one partner likes a firmer mattress while the other prefers a softer one, Kushida says.

Herr says that the smaller the chamber size, the more flexible the surface. “Larger-sized chambers would decrease the adaptability of the surface,” he says.

Many experts add that they also like pillow-top mattresses, which can add a layer of cushioning to a mattress. The softness of the top lets you to tolerate a firmer mattress.

The Best Mattress for Back Problems

Hilibrand says people with back problems in general should look for a firmer mattress that offers support and allows them to lie straighter.

Adjustable hospital-type beds are not going to help you get a better night’s sleep. In fact, they may hinder you as most people prefer to lie flat, Hilibrand says.

But they can help some people with certain spinal conditions, he adds. Consulting your doctor for advice can help in making a smart decision.

The Bed Frame Matters, Too

The frame does matter, Herr says. “Some of the new mattresses have different heights, so when you stack them on top of a box spring, maybe adding a pillow-top as well, it can be hard for people who are older or who have balance problems to get in and out of bed,” he explains.

The solution may be a sunken frame, Herr says, adding that your goal should be an 18-inch span between the floor and the top of the mattress.

Also, periodically check your frame to ensure there is adequate support at the edges and in the middle, he says. Slats often bow in the middle, he notes.

Extending the Life of Your Mattress

If you take care of your mattress, rotating and flipping every six months or according to the manufacturer’s instructions (foam and pillow-top mattresses generally just need rotating, no flipping), it should last at least a decade, the experts say.

If your old mattress starts to sag with age and you can’t afford a new mattress, consider putting a piece of plywood between the mattress and box spring for extra support, Cefalu says.

If you feel like springs are coming through a worn mattress and poking you in your sleep, soft foam egg crate mattress pads are an inexpensive way to extend the life span of your mattress, Hilibrand says.

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