Rebecca Nicholas, chiropractor and owner of Back 2 Balance in Brighton and Hove, describes the ‘ideal’ mattress choice, and it may not be what you thought. She is passionate about natural health and being vibrant.


Choosing the right mattress and pillow is one of the most popular questions I get asked at Back 2 Balance as a chiropractor. The usual questions include:

“will buying a new mattress sort out my back?”

“should I get a memory foam mattress?”

“should I get an orthopaedic pillow?”

and “should my mattress be firm or soft?”


This topic is hugely controversial and so varied. Generally, we advise a medium towards firm mattress. Why? Our spines have developed whilst we have been cavemen sleeping on the floor of a cave. Our back has not changed or adapted for the comfortable soft mattresses that now adorn our bedrooms. The spinal curves that we call kyphosis and lordosis need to be maintained at night- something too soft and squishy will not keep these patent. So, choose a firm mattress, potentially from a company that gives you a guarantee for exchange of mattress if it’s not the right one for you.

I always tell clients, that a good mattress is not going to suddenly correct any spinal/joint problems. Much like an expensive office chair is not going to necessarily make you sit up straight and give you good posture- you can still sit in it slumped with poor posture! My advice is to  make sure your spine is working and functioning well before spending thousands of pounds on a new bed. Call us on 01273 206868 to book your consultation at Back 2 Balance.

Some people find a layer of latex or memory foam is good for them, whilst others get too hot (as the material retains heat very nicely), or get gassed out by the chemical fumes they emit as new. Some, like sleeping on springs, whilst others enjoy sleeping on a futon. Everybody is different. I love my memory foam mattress, in fact I now find it difficult to sleep on anything else as I’m so in love with it- I even dream about it when I’m on holiday and can’t wait for my first night back home! However, I am starting to re think my love affair after several conversations with other chiropractors! Click here to read more about this.

“they say memory foam is the best! There’s studies!” Research done on broken people (those who are not properly aligned musculoskeletally aka through chiropractic care) yields broken results.
The reason memory foam feels good (at first) is because it alleviates pressure points created when you are sleeping twisted up. The problem is that those pressure points are making you uncomfortable because they are trying to tell you that your body position is not right. If you use memory foam, you are able to ignore your body’s message and sleep twisted up all night (not to mention that it will sink and compress, further twisting you up). That is why you wake up sore in the morning despite spending several thousand dollars on a bed.
A firm mattress will not sink or compress, so it will keep your body in the same position all night. You need this kind of support to keep your body aligned all night so you do not wake up with aches and pain (and so you can fall asleep in the first place!). You do not want a mattress to contour to your curves – in the end, you will end up contouring to it instead.”


Pillows are similar- some prefer a hard one and some prefer a soft one. Pillows can come in all shapes and sizes, and can be made from different materials. In the clinic we sell a ‘water pillow’ which is very versatile. You can put more or less water in, depending on your preference. Plus, it has the added bonus of moving to adapt to the contours of your own neck, depending on the position you are sleeping in. Long gone are the days of plumping your pillow up half way through the night!

Feel free to see some our other blogs and our YouTube videos on sleep, including sleep environment, sleep position and the importance of sleep for health and healing.

Let us know what mattresses you enjoy? Have you had problems with your back from a mattress choice?