Best Mattresses for People with Fibromyalgia

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The musculoskeletal condition known as ‘fibromyalgia’ is one of the most common chronic pain disorders in the country. Current research suggests that fibromyalgia affects the way the brain processes painful sensations, causing people with the disorder to feel pain more intensely than others. In addition to musculoskeletal aches and pains, those with fibromyalgia may also experience fatigue, sleep problems, cognitive difficulties, and mood swings. According to the latest estimates, roughly 5 million Americans are currently living with fibromyalgia; the disorder is much more common in women than in men.

Mattress selection is important for people with fibromyalgia. The right mattress can ease some of the chronic pain and pressure these individuals experience in sensitive areas of the body, allowing them to sleep better and feel well-rested in the morning. On the other hand, choosing the wrong mattress can exacerbate the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

This page will look at some important mattress considerations for people with fibromyalgia, as well as our picks for the best mattress brands and models. First, let’s discuss the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for fibromyalgia.

 

What Is Fibromyalgia?

Although fibromyalgia has been documented for centuries, the disorder was not officially studied until the early 1980s. It is commonly misdiagnosed to this day.

Recent studies suggest that the routine nerve stimulation associated with fibromyalgia can increase the number of neurotransmitters in the patient’s brain that signal painful sensations. These neurotransmitters can develop pain memories over time, causing them to exaggerate how painful a sensation actually is. As a result, the condition can alter the way a patient’s brain functions.  

Common symptoms of fibromyalgia

  • Pain: People with fibromyalgia often feel musculoskeletal pain throughout their bodies. Some patients describe dull aches that persist for months. In most cases, the pain is widespread, meaning it occurs on both sides of the body, as well as above and below the waistline. Burning sensations and muscle twitching have also been reported.
  • Fatigue: Fibromyalgia can cause people to feel tired when they wake up, despite getting a normal night’s sleep of eight hours or more. This is because they often experience sleep disruption, which can reduce the overall quality of sleep.
  • Cognitive difficulty: The term ‘fibro fog’ refers to cognitive issues that patients often experience as a result of living with fibromyalgia, including memory problems and difficulty focusing.
  • Additional physical symptoms include dry nose and mouth, temperature and noise sensitivity, frequent urination, and numbness in the face and/or limbs.

The three leading causes of fibromyalgia

  • Genetic factors: Fibromyalgia often runs in families, and researchers believe there are genetic mutations that make people more vulnerable to the disorder.
  • Illnesses and infections: Scientists have identified certain illnesses and infections that can trigger fibromyalgia, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus. Additionally, fibromyalgia may coexist with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, migraines and other chronic headaches, interstitial cystitis, painful bladder syndrome, or temporomandibular joint disorders.
  • Trauma: Certain types of trauma can trigger fibromyalgia. These include physical trauma from an accident, as well as emotional trauma brought on by psychological stress or mental health disorders like anxiety or depression. Some cases of fibromyalgia have also been noted after the patient completes a surgical procedure.

It’s also important to note that some people develop fibromyalgia over the course of their lives with no significant triggering event.

Primary risk factors for fibromyalgia

  • Sex: Women are far more likely to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia than men. The latest estimates suggest that women make up roughly 80% of fibromyalgia patients.
  • Genetic history: People with a history of fibromyalgia in their family are more likely to develop symptoms of the condition.
  • Other disorders: As described above, there are several conditions that may trigger fibromyalgia symptoms, as well as conditions that often coexist with fibromyalgia.

The diagnostic process for fibromyalgia has evolved in recent years. Physicians previous relied on a comprehensive evaluation known as a ‘tender point exam,’ during which 18 different parts of the body were pressed firmly to check for pain.

Today’s physicians diagnose fibromyalgia if the patient has experienced widespread pain for at least three months. There is no official lab test for fibromyalgia, but doctors typically conduct other blood tests to confirm that patients are not experiencing other conditions. In addition to a complete blood count, these may include tests for erythrocyte sedimentation rate, rheumatoid factor, and thyroid function.

How to mitigate the symptoms of fibromyalgia

There is also no cure for fibromyalgia. Instead, physicians will typically prescribe medications and/or self-care routines to help patients curb the painful symptoms. Medications that can aid people with fibromyalgia include:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen (such as Tylenol), ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin IB) naproxen sodium (such as Aleve) and tramadol (Ultram).
  • Prescription anti-depressants like Duloxetine (Cymbalta) and milnacipran (Savella) that can help with fatigue-related symptoms.
  • Prescription muscle relaxants like cyclobenzaprine to help patients sleep better.
  • Prescription anti-seizure drugs that can reduce pain symptoms like pregabalin (Lyrica), which was the first drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for fibromyalgia treatment. Gabapentin (Neurontin) may also be effective.

Self-care practices that can be used to address fibromyalgia and reduce pain symptoms include:

  • Stress reduction: Patients are encouraged to formulate a ‘stress reduction’ plan that enables them to limit physical and emotional stress, and relax on a daily basis. Breathing exercises and meditation may also be helpful.
  • Adequate sleep: A sufficient amount of sleep each night will help fibromyalgia patients reduce symptoms of fatigue. Improved sleep hygiene practices can also decrease fatigue. These practices include going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, and refraining from daytime naps.
  • Regular exercise: Although exercise can actually exacerbate the pain symptoms of fibromyalgia, routine workouts will help reduce them over time in most cases. Physicians often recommend walking, cycling, swimming, and water aerobics.
  • Moderation: Fibromyalgia patients are encouraged to pace themselves by neither overexerting themselves when they don’t experience symptoms nor limiting themselves too much when their symptoms appear.
  • Healthy lifestyle: A balanced diet, limited caffeine consumption, and productive daily activities are a few ways to improve one’s day-to-day lifestyle.  

In addition to medications and self-care regimens, fibromyalgia patients may benefit from the following types of standard and alternative therapy:

  • Physical therapy, during which patients learn daily exercises that can boost their strength, flexibility, and stamina.
  • Occupational therapy, which teaches patients how to adjust their daily routines in different ways in order to remain healthier and less stressed.
  • Counseling, during which patients discuss their stress triggers and tendencies with therapists and learn about strategies to reduce them.
  • Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, massage therapy, yoga, and tai chi.
 

How Does Fibromyalgia Affect Sleep?

Fibromyalgia can affect sleep in several ways. Because the condition is associated with widespread pain, patients frequently wake up during the night. This can lead to fatigue and nonrestorative sleep, which leaves people feeling poorly rested the next day. Researchers have noted that, while the average adult experiences roughly five hours of deep sleep per night, fibromyalgia patients do not generally experience any deep sleep for a significant period of time.

Additionally, fibromyalgia can cause sensitivity to hot and/or cold surfaces, which may lead to sleeping hot or cold. Fibromyalgia can also trigger noise sensitivity. People with the condition may wake up more easily during the night whenever people move or adjust positions in bed, or if the mattress contains parts that produce squeaking or squishing sounds.

Fibromyalgia is associated with the following sleep disorders, as well:

  • Insomnia: There are two main types of insomnia: sleep-onset insomnia, which causes people to struggle when trying to fall asleep; and sleep-maintenance insomnia, which makes it difficult to remain asleep. There are many causes of insomnia, including conditions like fibromyalgia that can disrupt sleep due to widespread pain.
  • Sleep apnea: A significant percentage of people with fibromyalgia live with sleep apnea, a condition characterized by a temporary loss of breathing while asleep. People with sleep apnea may stop breathing hundreds of times during one given night, and treatment often requires use of a CPAP machine. The most common form of this condition is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is caused by a physical obstruction in the breathing passage. Although the connection between OSA and fibromyalgia has not been pinned down, researchers note that men and women with the latter are 10 times more likely to also experience apnea symptoms.
  • Restless leg syndrome: Restless leg syndrome, or RLS, is characterized by painful itching or tingling sensations in one or both legs when the individual is lying in bed. Roughly 10% of the U.S. population lives with RLS. Because fibromyalgia magnifies painful sensations, RLS symptoms can lead to significant sleep loss. Roughly half of people with fibromyalgia also have RLS.
 

Mattress Considerations for People with Fibromyalgia

People with fibromyalgia may want to take the following factors into account when shopping for a new mattress and comparing different brands and models.

Conforming ability and pressure relief: Some mattresses are designed to conform closely to the sleeper’s body and alleviate pain and pressure points throughout the body. These models can be very beneficial for people with fibromyalgia that experience widespread pain.

Firmness: Every sleeper has different firmness preferences, and these often come down to two factors: body weight and sleep position. For example, individuals who weigh less than 130 pounds and prefer to sleep on their side tend to feel most comfortable, while those who weigh more than 230 pounds and sleep on their back may prefer a firmer surface. There is no wrong firmness, per se, but sleeping on a mattress that is too soft or too firm can add to the pain symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Support: In the mattress industry, ‘support’ refers to how effectively a mattress provides a flat, even sleep surface. Mattresses that are too soft or too firm may not be supportive enough for sleepers in certain weight groups. Another factor that affects support is wear and tear — namely sagging in the mattress, which can create an uneven sleep surface that causes sleepers to experience more pain and pressure. According to most mattress owners, sagging that measures one inch or deeper is much more likely to create added pain.

Durability: Durable mattresses will perform for at least six years without excessive sagging or indentations in the sleep surface. Mattresses with below-average durability may begin to deteriorate in as few as two to three years, and the saggy, uneven sleep surface can exacerbate the painful symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Noise: Noise sensitivity is a common symptom among fibromyalgia patients. Mattresses made of certain materials, such as foam or latex, produce little to no noise when bearing weight. These mattresses may be more suitable than other models, such as innersprings, hybrids, and airbeds, which are associated with above-average noise.

Motion isolation: Motion isolation refers to a bed’s ability to absorb motion when someone gets up or shifts position, and isolate this motion to one side of the mattress. Motion isolation is important to people with fibromyalgia because they often experience noise sensitivity, and may awaken easily on a bed that does not minimize motion.

Temperature neutrality: Heat and cold sensitivity is another common symptom of fibromyalgia, and people with this condition may sleep excessively hot or cold as a result. Mattresses with springs tend to have better airflow than those with solid base layers (such as foam and latex models), allowing sleepers to remain cooler throughout the night.

Sleep trial: Many mattress brands and retailers offer sleep trials that last anywhere from 60 to 365 nights in length. In most cases, customers can test out the mattress for the entire duration and return or exchange their bed if they are not satisfied by the end of the sleep trial. People with fibromyalgia can take advantage of sleep trial offers to determine if the mattress they have chosen will work in the long-term.

Warranty: Most mattress warranties include a ‘minimum sagging depth’ to determine whether or not the bed is defective. Some warranties will replace or repair mattresses that sag deeper than one inch, while others adhere to a higher benchmark. People with fibromyalgia may want to prioritize mattresses with warranties that include a minimum sagging depth of one inch or less. Otherwise they may pay a significant amount to repair or replace their mattress for excessive sagging.

 

What Mattress Types Are Best/Worst for People with Fibromyalgia?

Now, let’s look at the five most common mattress types in terms of their suitability for people with fibromyalgia. The comparison table below evaluates each type for support, firmness, conforming, and other performance factors that matter to fibromyalgia patients.

Mattress TypeInnerspringFoamLatexHybridAirbed
ConstructionFoam comfort layers
Steel coils in the support core
Polyfoam and/or memory foam layers in the comfort layer
Polyfoam layer(s) in the support core
Latex layer(s) in the comfort layer
Latex or polyfoam layers in the support core
At least 2″ of memory foam or latex in the comfort layer, as well as other components (such as polyfoam or minicoils)
Pocketed coils in the support core
Foam comfort layers or no comfort layer
Individualized adjustable air chambers in the support core
ConformingPoor to FairGood to Very GoodFair to GoodFair to GoodFair to Good
Firmness OptionsFair to GoodGood to Very GoodGood to Very GoodGood to Very GoodGood to Very Good
SupportFair to GoodFair to GoodGood to Very GoodGood to Very GoodGood to Very Good
DurabilityPoor to FairFair to GoodGood to Very GoodFair to GoodPoor to Fair
Light Sleeper Rating (Less than 130 lbs)Fair to GoodFair to GoodGood to Very GoodPoor to FairFair to Good
Heavy Sleeper Rating (More than 230 lbs)Poor to FairGood to Very GoodGood to Very GoodGood to Very GoodPoor to Fair
NoisePoor to FairGood to Very GoodGood to Very GoodFair to GoodPoor to Fair
Motion IsolationPoor to FairGood to Very GoodGood to Very GoodFair to GoodFair to Good
Temperature NeutralityGood to Very GoodPoor to FairFair to GoodGood to Very GoodFair to Good
Rating for Sleepers with Fibromyalgia Poor to FairGood to Very GoodGood to Very GoodFair to GoodFair to Good
ExplanationMost start to sag within two to three years
Minimal support in the neck, waist, and hips
Little to no conforming
Limited firmness options
Typically sleeps cool
Above-average conforming and pressure relief
Many firmness options
Good motion isolation and little to no noise
Average durability with sagging potential
Tends to sleep hot
Exceptional support and durability with little to no sagging
Above-average motion isolation and very little noise
Sleeps fairly cool
Many firmness options
Conform closer than innersprings, but minimal pain and pressure relief
Sleep fairly cool
Below-average motion isolation and strong noise potential
Many firmness options
Customizable firmness settings
May not be suitable for certain weight groups
Some are excessively firm
Average temperature neutrality
High noise potential
 

Best Mattresses for People with Fibromyalgia: Models and Brands

Now let’s look at five of the top-rated mattress models for people with fibromyalgia. The comparison table below lists specs, performance ratings, and other data for the five leading mattress models.

Mattress BrandLeesaLoom & LeafSpindleTuft & NeedleZenhaven
Mattress ModelLeesa Foam MattressLoom & Leaf by SaatvaNatural Latex MattressTuft & Needle MattressZenhaven Mattress
Mattress TypeMixed foamMemory FoamLatexFoamReversible latex
Comfort Layer2″ Avena foam
2″ Memory foam
2 1/2″ Gel memory foam
2″ Memory foam
3 3″ Latex layers
Layer firmness varies by selected firmness level
No traditional support core
3″ Polyfoam1 1/2″ Latex
Mattress is flippable with two comfort layers of differing thickness
Support Core6″ Polyfoam7 1/2″ Polyfoam7″ Polyfoam6″ Latex
Both sides share one support core
Firmness OptionsMedium FirmMedium
Firm
Medium Soft
Medium
Medium Firm
Firm
Medium FirmSide 1: Medium Soft
Side 2: Medium Firm
Support RatingVery GoodGoodGoodVery GoodGood
Conforming RatingVery GoodVery GoodVery GoodGoodGood
Motion Isolation RatingVery GoodExcellentVery GoodExcellentVery Good
Noise RatingExcellentExcellentExcellentExcellentExcellent
Sleep Trial100 nights120 nights365-night comfort adjustment (replace one latex layer)
25-year comfort life (replace unlimited latex layers)
100 nights120 nights
Warranty Indentation Depth1″1″3/4″3/4″3/4″
Price (Queen)$940.00$1,099.00$1,349.99$575.00$1,899.00
Customer Satisfaction Rating76% (74 customer reviews)72% (113 customer reviews)75% (98 customer reviews)80% (84 customer reviews)80% (924 customer reviews)
 

Additional Strategies for People with Fibromyalgia

People who experience widespread pain as a result of fibromyalgia can further optimize their sleep conditions by carefully choosing their pillows and using an effective mattress topper.

Pillow Selection: For people with fibromyalgia, the most important factor when choosing a pillow is ‘loft,’ or thickness. Using the correct loft can help alleviate pain and pressure in the neck, shoulders, and head, while the incorrect loft can make these issues worse. To determine the best pillow loft, sleepers should take their weight, sleep position, and mattress firmness into account.

Pillows that are popular among people with fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions include buckwheat, latex, and memory foam models. Other pillows types, such as down alternative and polyfoam, may increase the amount of pain and pressure that these individuals feel. For more information about pillow soft and selection, please check out Best Pillows: Buying Guide and Information page.

Mattress Topper Usage: The term ‘mattress topper’ refers to a cushioning layer that can be placed in top of a mattress for added softness, comfort, and support. Most toppers are designed to decrease the firmness of a sleep surface, although some toppers can increase the firmness.

A latex or memory foam topper will be most suitable for someone with fibromyalgia because these products conform closely to target pain and pressure points. Convoluted polyfoam toppers are considered the worst option, since they are associated with increased pain and pressure. To learn more, please visit our Best Mattress Toppers guide.

 

Additional Resources

For more information on mattresses and bedding accessory options for people with fibromyalgia and other painful conditions that impact sleep, please visit the following Tuck pages:

 
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