Musculoskeletal Problems from Bad Mattresses

Having a good night’s sleep is important for many reasons; it regulates your mood and boosts productivity. Not getting enough sleep at night leaves you in a miserable position the next day. Approximately 35% of Americans don’t get enough sleep. In fact, poor quality of sleep is costing us $411 billion a year!

Some of you may be suffering from aches and pain as you get up too. While some aches and pain are acute or chronic, some are just caused by bad mattresses.

Musculoskeletal Problems from Bad Mattresses

How Do You Know you’re Sleeping on the Wrong Mattress?

If you’re regularly waking up in the morning with an aching body, it’s highly likely that your mattress is the culprit. In addition to providing consistent firmness across all areas, a good mattress will support will provide the perfect support and pressure relief all across the body, regardless of whether you sleep on your side, back or stomach.

In addition to early morning body aches, other symptoms of a bad mattress include:

  • It’s sinking down the middle, or has developed dips in certain places.
  • It’s triggering your allergies.
  • You’re tossing and turning all night long, struggling to find a comfortable position.
  • It’s causing skin problems.
  • It’s emitting a bad odor.
  • You’re waking up tired, even after a full night’s sleep.
Man holds head in pain after bad nights sleep

How does a Bad Mattress cause Body Aches?

A bad mattress can cause body aches due to a variety of reasons. Firstly, it won’t offer the support and body contouring capabilities you need for a good night’s sleep, leaving you waking up with an aching body. Secondly, old worn out mattresses are prone to developing lumps and dips, which are really bad for your body’s natural alignment. This results in pain in different parts of the body like the knees, back, foot, hip, arm, neck, and joints.

Another point worth mentioning here is that a mattress doesn’t have to be old to be bad. Even new mattresses that don’t provide pressure relief in the right areas can lead to body aches and musculoskeletal problems.

Which Musculoskeletal Problems are Commonly associated With Bad Mattresses?

Generally, the problems caused by sleeping on the wrong mattress vary from one sleeper to another. In most cases, musculoskeletal problems are caused by the mattress being too firm, which prevents the body from properly aligning when you sleep.

A mattress that’s too soft can also cause problems. When you sleep on a mattress that’s too soft, your body tends to sink in. This causes pressure on your neck region and spine, which over the long term can lead to chronic pain.

Related: How to Make Your Mattress Firmer (9 Tips & Tricks)

Back Pain

Stiffness in your back and neck every morning when you wake up is the most common symptom that your mattress may be the issue. Back ache caused by sleeping on a bad mattress are typically muscular in nature. If you feel pain immediately after waking up, but it gets better as the day progresses or by stretching and practicing yoga, it’s highly probable that your mattress is the underlying cause.

Sleeping on a bad mattress generally affects your middle back area first. However, over the long term, it can cause degenerative changes in the vertebrae, which cause the pain to shift to the lower back. Mattresses that are too stiff prevent the spine from aligning to its natural position. Soft mattresses, on the other hand, cause excessive sinking, which continuously exerts extreme pressure on the spine.

Mattresses that have excellent body contouring abilities, such as Nectar work well in providing the right type of spine support, thus preventing pain.

Those prone to back aches should also change their mattress every 8 years to avoid getting into a painful situation.

Woman holds back in pain demonstrating musculoskeletal problems

Hip Pain

Not as prevalent as back and neck pain, hip pain is generally caused by conditions such as osteoarthritis, bursitis, sciatic-piriformis syndrome and tendonitis. However, a bad mattress or sleeping position can also be potential culprits.

A mattress that is too hard or soft can trigger or exacerbate hip pain. Similar to back pain, a stiff mattress exerts constant pressure on the hip joints, which leads to aches and pain. If this remains unchecked, neck and back stiffness can develop into acute or chronic pain. If you’re constantly experiencing hip pain after waking up, perhaps the level of firmness and support your mattress offers isn’t suited to your body style and/or sleeping style. Our comprehensive reviews can help you figure out just which mattress is right for your unique sleeping needs.

Neck Pain

Upper body or neck pain can be caused by sleeping on a mattress that doesn’t offer proper neck support. If the balance of weight between the head and neck isn’t right, it can lead to irritation in the joints. Furthermore, if the mattress doesn’t provide sufficient support to the neck region, it can lead to twisting which can be quite painful. A high-quality pillow-top mattress that has a multi-positional design can help prevent neck and upper body pain. 

What’s the Right Type of Mattress for You?

Manufacturers offer mattresses with different firmness levels as sleep preferences vary from one sleeper to another. While some like sleeping on the mattress, others prefer sleeping in it. Mattress firmness ratings are normally broken down into categories as follows: 

  • Soft
  • Medium soft
  • Medium
  • Medium firm
  • Firm

Related: What Type Of Mattress Is Best For Your Body Type?

Soft Mattresses

Soft mattresses are great for people who prefer to sleep in their mattresses. Being very soft with a high degree of sinkage, these are generally not a great choice if support is high on your priority list. These are ideal for people who sleep on their sides.

Medium Soft Mattresses

These are slightly soft but offer a more balanced feel. Medium soft is the ideal choice if you’re a combo sleeper and prefer to sleep in your mattress without really getting stuck.

Medium Mattresses

This is the most common firmness by far. Medium firmness mattress provides an all-round balanced feel, which is why they’re preferred by most sleepers. They provide great support with a moderate contour, hug and sinkage.

Medium Firm

These have less sinkage than medium firmness mattresses and have a slightly firmer feel which floats sleepers on top of the surface. While they provide great support, their body-contouring capabilities are not great generally.


These mattresses are firm, with minimal hug/contour. Typically, firm mattresses are only appropriate for sleepers who prefer to sleep on their stomach or back.

How to pick a mattress that won’t cause any musculoskeletal problems?

Everyone’s personal preferences when it comes to mattresses are different, which makes it tough to generalize what the perfect mattress should be. When looking for a mattress, look for one that’s not too firm or too soft. A hard mattress will put pressure on the pressure points in the body and cause misalignment. If the mattress is too soft, your body doesn’t receive any support and sinks into the foam, causing bad posture and body aches in the morning.

If you’re worried about spending your hard earned money on the wrong mattress, look up our reviews for the best mattresses.