Scoliosis affects 3 million newly diagnosed patients every year— most often teenagers, but it can appear in older adults as well. While not life-threatening, it does cause some discomfort and pain that can interrupt sleep.
The link between sleep disorders and scoliosis is not conclusive, and there are many different factors that could be linked to the incidence of scoliosis. Some studies even hypothesize that a decrease of melatonin is a precursor of scoliosis in some adolescents since data shows lower melatonin levels in patients with scoliosis.
No matter the cause of scoliosis, those who have it need a mattress with excellent pressure relief, responsiveness, and back support. The key for scoliosis-sufferers to get a full night of rest lies in healthy sleep hygiene habits, an ideal sleep environment, and of course, the best mattress and sleep accessories.
Best Mattresses for Scoliosis
The Amerisleep AS2 was called “The Best Mattress for Back Pain” by Business Insider. This medium-firm mattress has 2 inches of Bio-Pur®, a 3-inch Affinity layer with HIVE® technology, and 7 inches of Bio-Core®.
The Amerisleep AS3 is Amerisleep’s best-selling mattress; it appeals to side sleepers, combo sleepers, and couples with different sleep preferences. This medium mattress has 3 inches of Bio-Pur®, a 2-inch Affinity layer with HIVE®, and 7 inches of Bio-Core®.
The Amerisleep AS4 is Amerisleep’s medium-soft model, perfect for dedicated side or combo sleepers who need a little more cushioning than the AS3 offers. It contains 4 inches of Bio-Pur®, a 1-inch Affinity layer with HIVE® technology, and 7 inches of Bio-Core®.
Amerisleep Mattress Materials
The comfort layer in each Amerisleep mattress is made using partially plant-based foam. During manufacturing, Amerisleep replaces a percentage of petroleum with castor oil, and the result is breathable and responsive Bio-Pur®. Opting to use plant-based foams instead of traditional memory foam reduces the off-gassing odor associated with most memory foams.
Affinity Layer with HIVE® Technology
The Affinity layer with HIVE® acts as a transition layer between the soft Bio-Pur® and the firmer Bio-Core® layers. HIVE® stands for Harnessing Intelligent Ventilation & Energy. This layer contains hundreds of hexagonal-shaped cutouts that are more heavily concentrated where the body needs more support (in the hips, shoulders, and feet), and spaced further apart in areas where you need softer cushioning. This layer also helps to wick away heat and moisture.
Amerisleep’s Bio-Core® base layer supports all of their mattresses. Like the Bio-Pur®, Bio-Core® is made using low VPF manufacturing, exceeding the Clean Air Act standards. Bio-Pur® is the reason Amerisleep feels we can offer a 20-year warranty with all our beds— that’s 10 years longer than the industry standard.
What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis refers to an abnormal curvature of the spine. It has no known cause, affects more females than males, and is usually diagnosed during childhood or adolescence. Mild scoliosis only requires a regular check-up with a doctor, but more severe cases might need more focused treatment.
Scoliosis has been linked to birth defects, connective tissue disorders, and even poor sleep, but so far there is still no known cause. Regardless of why it occurs, scoliosis patients’ pain and discomfort can be somewhat alleviated by a good night’s sleep.
Since sleeping in any position can make scoliosis worse, those with scoliosis should look for a mattress that has at least some (if not all) of the following characteristics and features:
- Pressure relief
- Lumbar (lower back) support
- A durable support layer (also known as the foundation layer)
- A medium, medium-firm, or firm feel
Your spine is naturally straight when you’re standing up, but the spine of someone with scoliosis is shaped more like an S or a C. This essentially shifts the hips and shoulders into an uneven position. Scoliosis curves cannot be corrected by training yourself to have good posture, although that can help with the pain.
Even though scoliosis most often appears in adolescents, as they age, the spinal discs begin to degenerate, leading to inflammation, spinal stenosis, lower back pain, or pinched nerves. This pain and discomfort can cause daytime fatigue and disrupt sleep. Since many of these symptoms overlap with chronic back pain, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases, scoliosis sufferers can look for mattresses targeted to those with these similar issues.
Approximately 2-3 percent of the population, or 6-9 million people, have scoliosis. The average age of diagnosis is 10-15 years old. Many scoliosis patients wear a brace, and more severe cases even need spinal fusion surgery. While there is no known cause for most scoliosis cases, the diagnosis usually falls under the umbrella of three different types: idiopathic, congenital, or neuromuscular.
- Idiopathic: There is no known cause; 80 percent of all scoliosis cases are idiopathic.
- Congenital: Malformation of the spine during pregnancy; the child is born with scoliosis.
- Neuromuscular: Accompanies other diseases, such as cerebral palsy, spinal cord trauma, spina bifida, and muscular dystrophy. This type often requires surgical intervention.
Besides the obvious aches and pains caused by a crooked spine, scoliosis comes with other varied symptoms (some of these are dependent on the type of scoliosis someone has):
- Uneven shoulders
- Uneven hips
- Rib cages at different heights
- Body leans to one side
- Lower back pain
- Shoulder pain
A new mattress cannot fix your posture, but it can alleviate back pain as long as you choose the right firmness. Before any real research was conducted about mattress firmness and back pain, most people assumed a soft, cushioned surface was best for back pain sufferers.
In 2015, an article published in the journal of Sleep Health conducted a review of any studies done after the year 2000 which sought to find the best mattress for back pain or spinal misalignment. They learned that the overall best firmness is a medium-firm mattress. This discovery did away with the old myth that a soft mattress can help with back pain.
The problem with too-soft mattresses is that they sink down under pressure— they have more, thicker comfort layers than medium, medium-firm, or firm beds, and so they come with the risk of misalignment if too much pressure is applied to them (heavier sleepers, couples, or back sleepers could experience too much sinkage on a soft bed). Those with scoliosis need to pay special attention to mattress firmness so they can avoid misaligning their spines any further.
Best Mattress Types for Scoliosis
Most of us know the most comfortable mattress for our needs, but sometimes we end up sleeping on a mattress for so long we get used to being in an uncomfortable or unsupportive position. The average lifespan for a high-quality mattress is around 7-10 years, but this varies depending on the mattress type. Most of us put off buying a new mattress well after its lifespan has passed, which leads to back pain, shoulder pain, poor sleep, and daytime sleepiness.
Those with scoliosis need to pay special attention to the durability of their mattresses since sagging can make their pain or inflammation worse. Additionally, no matter the mattress type, the best mattress for scoliosis patients needs to relieve sensitive pressure points and keep the spine in a neutral position. Note that different mattress types may or may not offer these benefits.
Innerspring mattresses all have the same basic construction: steel coils in the base, a thin layer of plywood, wool, or other material on top of the coils, and then some kind of cushioning sewn on top.
This cushioning is often referred to as the pillow top or Euro top (a Euro top is made of more expensive, high-quality materials, but both act as a cushion). The pillow top is usually made of poly-foam, latex foam, memory foam, or a foam blend.
Innerspring mattresses should be used with box springs, which are meant to add extra support and deter sagging; because innersprings are made with coils, the chance of sagging and an uneven surface is higher. Despite their popularity and ubiquity, innersprings are not very durable and they’ve been known to sag as soon as 3 years after being purchased.
Should scoliosis patients use innerspring mattresses?
No, we do not recommend innersprings for those with scoliosis because their cons outweigh their pros. Even though innersprings are relatively cheap and naturally breathable thanks to their coils, they do not isolate motion, have very little pressure relief, and begin to sag after only a few years.
Hybrid mattresses are similar to innersprings but they come with a few extra materials to mitigate the issues of pressure relief and motion transfer. Hybrids are named as such because they are a “hybrid” of both innersprings and memory foam; a true hybrid mattress needs to contain a coil support system and 2-3 inches of foam.
Most hybrids have 2 or 3 layers of foam on top— these are the comfort and transition layers. The addition of memory or latex foam to hybrid mattresses aids in pressure relief, something the pillow top of an innerspring doesn’t do as well.
Another interesting feature of hybrids is the fabric wrapped around the coils (although not all hybrids use wrapped coils). Wrapped coils, also known as Marshall coils, are meant to respond to pressure with little to no motion transfer; this means if you share your bed with a restless partner or if you yourself are a restless sleeper, you won’t feel constant movements ripple across the surface and your sleep will remain undisturbed.
Should scoliosis patients use hybrid mattresses?
Yes, with some caveats— while hybrids solve the problems of motion transfer and pressure relief present in innersprings, they are still prone to sagging because of their coil base. Additionally, hybrids made with cheaper foams in the top layers can make the user feel stuck or trapped in the bed, leading to shifting, twisting, and possible back pain.
If you’re interested in a hybrid, make sure the top layers are made with either memory foam or latex foam. Keep in mind that even the highest quality hybrid bed only lasts for around 7 years.
Memory Foam Mattresses
Memory foam is one of the best materials for those with chronic pain— it relieves pressure thanks to its contouring structure, its softness relieves pressure points, and it isolates motion better than any other mattress type.
A basic memory foam mattress has a 1-3 inch comfort layer and a 6-8 inch thick firmer base layer. Some memory foam beds also have a transition layer between the top foam layers and the bottom support core. Typically, the more comfort layers a memory foam mattress has, the softer it is (and vice versa).
While memory foam is the best type for scoliosis patients, there are other variations you might find in your search:
- Polyurethane foam, or poly-foam: Polyurethane foam feels similar to memory foam, but it’s missing some added materials that give memory foam its soft, responsive feel. Poly-foam is cheaper to produce than memory foam and it also breaks down a lot faster.
- Viscoelastic foam, or memory foam: The manufacturing process of memory foam starts with polyurethane foam; then, other materials are added to make it “viscoelastic” or responsive to heat and pressure. Viscoelastic foam contours to individual shapes and springs back to its original shape after pressure is removed.
- Cooling foams: Cooling foams are made using either poly-foam or viscoelastic memory foam. The key difference here is that cooling foams contain materials meant to draw heat away from the sleeper: gel, charcoal, graphite, or copper are the most common.
Memory foam is the most popular type for bed in a box mattress brands because it’s easy to compress and ships straight to the customer’s door. It’s also our choice for scoliosis patients because of its durability and excellent contouring.
Should scoliosis patients use memory foam mattresses?
Yes, we believe memory foam is one of the best mattress types for those with scoliosis. Its structure responds quickly to pressure, ensuring the sleeper doesn’t wake up feeling stuck or trapped. Additionally, it has very little motion transfer and makes virtually no noise.
To avoid overheating on memory foam, we recommend choosing a mattress with cooling properties, such as gel memory foam or advanced open-cell foam like that in all of Amerisleep’s mattresses.
Latex is another good choice for anyone with scoliosis because it’s incredibly durable, soft but responsive, and it maintains an even surface for excellent spinal support. Latex feels slightly firmer than memory foam, but this can be a benefit to those with back pain since research has shown medium-firm or firm beds are best for back pain.
The comfort layer of a latex mattress can be soft or firm, depending on how the foam was processed. Softer latex foam is known as Talalay— it’s harvested from rubber tree sap and then combined with petrochemicals to give it a soft, viscoelastic feel. Dunlop latex, on the other hand, is 100 percent natural— no other materials are added to it after harvesting, and its manufacturing process is slightly different. As a result, Dunlop feels firmer than Talalay latex.
Should scoliosis patients use latex mattresses?
Yes, we think latex mattresses are a great option for those with scoliosis. They offer pressure relief, an even, supportive surface, and different firmness options depending on the type of latex mattress you buy.
Latex has a couple of drawbacks: one, it’s the most expensive mattress material because of its longevity, and two, it’s quite heavy to move. If you suffer from severe scoliosis pain, this might be an issue.
Essential Mattress Features for Scoliosis Patients
As you prepare to make a new mattress purchase, you should keep in mind certain mattress characteristics; scoliosis sufferers who choose a mattress with all of these things will ensure they get a good night’s sleep.
To describe pressure relief, it helps to know what a mattress feels like when it doesn’t have this feature. When we lie down on any surface, the parts of our body touching that surface take the impact. On a mattress, this impact is almost unnoticeable, but if the mattress is too firm or too soft, it can cause pressure to build up at these contact points (known as “pressure points”).
Your precise pressure points depend on how you sleep (your sleeping position), but most of us deal with pressure build-up in our backs, shoulders, heads, legs, and feet while we sleep.
Even Back Support
A mattress that can maintain an even, supportive surface, especially when someone is laying on it, is crucial for those with scoliosis. After all, their spines are already misaligned— the last thing they need is a mattress that makes it worse.
Back support depends on firmness and mattress materials. Innersprings and hybrids have steel coil bases. These coil bases are supportive, but they can also cause the bed to develop sags prematurely. Latex mattresses are very supportive if they are made from all-natural Dunlop latex. However, some latex beds are actually made of latex-blends, making them less durable and unable to handle prolonged pressure.
Memory foam mattresses aren’t known for their even support since they contour closely to the body; however, memory foam mattresses with sturdy support foams, like the Bio-Core® in all Amerisleep beds, can hold up against pressure and deter sag for years.
Mattress firmness is pretty subjective, but most customers shopping for a new bed can get a pretty good idea of their preferred firmness without having to try dozens of different models.
The easiest way to determine firmness is the firmness scale, used by most bed in a box mattress brands and some in-store only brands. The scale runs from 1-10, with 1 being plush and 10 being extremely firm. Most mattresses are between a 3-8 on this scale, but there is some variation across brands.
|Firmness Level||Feel||Good for scoliosis?|
|Medium-soft||4||For some, yes|
|Firm||8-9||For some, yes|
Earlier we mentioned that the best mattress firmness for those with back pain is a medium-firm mattress. However, because different mattress types have a slightly different “feel,” it’s best to keep both firmness and mattress type in mind as you shop— a soft innerspring might feel similar to a medium-firm memory foam mattress.
Some mattresses bounce quite a bit when anything moves on their surface— innersprings are especially known for this quality. Someone with scoliosis will need an even, supportive surface that doesn’t move or shake every time they shift positions. And if they sleep with an equally restless partner, they could be in for many sleepless nights.
The best mattress types for motion isolation are memory foam and latex; hybrids can work, too, but because they do have coils in their base, they are a little more responsive than memory foam or latex. Innersprings are the worst mattress type for motion isolation.
The mattress industry has established a 10-year warranty as the standard length— this time period is also about the average lifespan of most mattresses. Most warranties cover sagging, bunching or torn foam, broken coils, and tears in the cover.
Those with scoliosis need to pay special attention to the sagging depth covered by their warranty. The typical sag depth covered in a mattress warranty is 1 inch— however, if a mattress has a sag 1-inch deep, it’s probably already causing pain and discomfort. Look instead for brands that offer repairs or replacements for sags less than 1 inch. Amerisleep’s warranty covers sagging .75 inch or deeper.
Best and Worst Sleeping Positions for Scoliosis
The final thing to consider before you buy a mattress is your sleep position. Those with scoliosis probably already know which sleep position is most comfortable for them, but certain positions are riskier than others when it comes to pain or injury.
Side sleepers are in the best sleeping position for overall health. Their spines are in a relatively neutral position, their vital organs are not under much pressure (especially if they sleep on their right side), and they are less likely to snore.
If side sleepers choose a medium or medium-soft mattress, they shouldn’t experience too much sinkage, which can misalign the hips and spine. Additionally, a medium-feel mattress will ensure their pressure points aren’t inflamed or irritated (a common issue with side sleepers, also known as “pins and needles”).
Sleeping on the back is one of the healthiest positions for the spine; it allows the sleeper to lie flat and straight on the mattress surface. Back sleepers are usually most comfortable on a firm, medium-firm, or medium mattress. Keep in mind that sleeping on the back also presents the highest risk for snoring or sleep apnea; if you suffer from this condition, use a wedge pillow or an adjustable bed to keep your head elevated.
Stomach sleepers have the least healthy posture while sleeping; because most of our weight is carried in the midsection, sleeping on the stomach leads to poor spinal alignment. In fact, some stomach sleepers might experience new back pain after sleeping on their stomachs for prolonged periods.
Remember, your natural spinal curvature is neutral, or straight. Stomach sleeping can cause the hips to sink down and throw the spine out of alignment. We do not recommend those with scoliosis sleep on their stomachs. If you do sleep this way and you want to get out of the habit, practice using body pillows between your legs to sleep comfortably on your side.
What is the right mattress for scoliosis?
The “right” or best mattress is an individual matter— your comfort will depend on how you sleep, your medical conditions (including scoliosis), and even your budget. A good quality queen-size mattress costs between $500-$1200 and should come with at least a 10-year warranty. Additionally, the warranty should cover sags of 1 inch or less. If the warranty only covers sagging above 1 inch, you might be stuck with an uncomfortable mattress for longer than you can handle.
Can using a topper help with scoliosis?
Yes, a mattress topper can either add support or extra comfort layers to your mattress if it feels too firm or soft. Most mattress toppers are made with memory foam, but some use egg-crate (convoluted) foam which is typically more supportive.
Is an adjustable bed good for scoliosis?
An adjustable bed can improve your sleep quality and offer pain relief because it allows you to customize your sleeping position beyond what a few pillows or a topper can do. Some adjustable beds come with built-in massage, another plus for scoliosis patients.
Those with scoliosis need a supportive mattress with excellent pressure relief and good motion isolation. Our recommendation for scoliosis patients is the AS2 (for back sleepers, heavyweight sleepers, and some couples), the AS3 (for couples or side sleepers), or the AS4 (for side sleepers and lightweight sleepers). Before you decide on the best bed, read mattress reviews, go over company policies, and make sure a sleep trial is offered with the mattress so you can try it out at home.
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.