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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.
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.
It’s also important to note that some people develop fibromyalgia over the course of their lives with no significant triggering event.
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.
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:
Self-care practices that can be used to address fibromyalgia and reduce pain symptoms include:
In addition to medications and self-care regimens, fibromyalgia patients may benefit from the following types of standard and alternative therapy:
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:
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.
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.
|Construction||Foam 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
|Conforming||Poor to Fair||Good to Very Good||Fair to Good||Fair to Good||Fair to Good|
|Firmness Options||Fair to Good||Good to Very Good||Good to Very Good||Good to Very Good||Good to Very Good|
|Support||Fair to Good||Fair to Good||Good to Very Good||Good to Very Good||Good to Very Good|
|Durability||Poor to Fair||Fair to Good||Good to Very Good||Fair to Good||Poor to Fair|
|Light Sleeper Rating (Less than 130 lbs)||Fair to Good||Fair to Good||Good to Very Good||Poor to Fair||Fair to Good|
|Heavy Sleeper Rating (More than 230 lbs)||Poor to Fair||Good to Very Good||Good to Very Good||Good to Very Good||Poor to Fair|
|Noise||Poor to Fair||Good to Very Good||Good to Very Good||Fair to Good||Poor to Fair|
|Motion Isolation||Poor to Fair||Good to Very Good||Good to Very Good||Fair to Good||Fair to Good|
|Temperature Neutrality||Good to Very Good||Poor to Fair||Fair to Good||Good to Very Good||Fair to Good|
|Rating for Sleepers with Fibromyalgia||Poor to Fair||Good to Very Good||Good to Very Good||Fair to Good||Fair to Good|
|Explanation||Most 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
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 Brand||Leesa||Loom & Leaf||Spindle||Tuft & Needle||Zenhaven|
|Mattress Model||Leesa Foam Mattress||Loom & Leaf by Saatva||Natural Latex Mattress||Tuft & Needle Mattress||Zenhaven Mattress|
|Mattress Type||Mixed foam||Memory Foam||Latex||Foam||Reversible latex|
|Comfort Layer||2″ 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″ Polyfoam||1 1/2″ Latex|
Mattress is flippable with two comfort layers of differing thickness
|Support Core||6″ Polyfoam||7 1/2″ Polyfoam||7″ Polyfoam||6″ Latex|
Both sides share one support core
|Firmness Options||Medium Firm||Medium|
|Medium Firm||Side 1: Medium Soft|
Side 2: Medium Firm
|Support Rating||Very Good||Good||Good||Very Good||Good|
|Conforming Rating||Very Good||Very Good||Very Good||Good||Good|
|Motion Isolation Rating||Very Good||Excellent||Very Good||Excellent||Very Good|
|Sleep Trial||100 nights||120 nights||365-night comfort adjustment (replace one latex layer)|
25-year comfort life (replace unlimited latex layers)
|100 nights||120 nights|
|Warranty Indentation Depth||1″||1″||3/4″||3/4″||3/4″|
|Customer Satisfaction Rating||76% (74 customer reviews)||72% (113 customer reviews)||75% (98 customer reviews)||80% (84 customer reviews)||80% (924 customer reviews)|
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.
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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