Over the years as a college student, I have lived in many apartments. I can safely say one of the most stressful experiences is moving in/out of college apartments. I remember first stepping into my new room and when I noticed how it is literally just an empty space with a closet for clothes, I am already thinking about the items to get. At the minimum, I would need: a desk, a drawer, a bed, various kitchenware, and bathroom supplies.
For my first apartment, it was as if I brought everything from my actual home with me to the new place. When it came to moving out, it was a HUGE hassle because there were so many things I actually did not need. With time, I began to grow more efficient and wise with what items to bring. It was to the point where I was able to even eliminate a bed. Then, how did I sleep you may wonder? Well before I get into that, here is a history of the beds I used and why I prefer what I use today.
The Bed I Grew Up With
After a very long busy day, the first thing anyone would want to do upon arriving home is to jump onto that nice soft bouncy bed. At the time, soft, bouncy beds were like the thing. (Imagine renting a 5 star hotel and you see a big, soft bed). It feels extremely nice and as if sleeping on a cloud. To own one of those high quality soft beds would seem like a dream come true.
I guess whenever my family decides to go on long trips, we would rent a hotel. We would get to sleep on those really nice beds I had always dreamed of. Those beds feel GREAT compared to my own at home! But something came up after sleeping on those beds for several nights. My back became quite sore…
Perhaps it was from carrying around heavy luggage? I mean I was kind of fit so that shouldn’t be the case. I couldn’t figure out why at the time and my back got better eventually so it just left my mind.
What Happened With Time
As I grew older and reached adulthood, my body size and weight grew too and I was a little overweight as well. I didn’t have the body shape of a teenager anymore but was still exercising so I was still in fairly good shape. But, my back started to ache more and more with time.
I thought it was normal and perhaps from my exercise routines. Plus it was similar to the workout soreness I get so it was no big deal. When I had the opportunity to sleep on super soft hotel beds again (from going on trips), it was then that I realized how much more my back was hurting. After leaving the hotel to return home, my back would improve slightly. It was then that I realize…the possible reason for my back pain could be due to the soft bed!
Why I Developed Back Pain?
When I sleep on extra soft beds, my body has a tendency to sink into the center most likely just from my weight alone. The center of the bed also has a tendency to sink in just because of its infrastructure. The sides of the bed has a lot of structural support so it will not collapse in, but the only thing supporting the center of the bed is just the springs.
Naturally, our body prefers a fairly straight posture as it allows for optimal movement and distribution of body weight. However, since my body is sunk in the way it does on soft beds (a VERY rounded back), it puts a lot of strain on my back muscles. I imagine my body as if it were super slouching for 8 hours straight without moving while working on the computer and then trying to move after that. My back would ache like crazy (and it does!).
How Do Muscles Work?
Like with any muscle groups, when they are stretched beyond its limitation or normal positioning, it will tighten up and prevent normal contraction. It is when we try to perform our “normal” body positioning/movement (no longer normal) when it now can’t, that is when the tightness and pain will start to kick in.
This is pretty much the same as getting a muscle cramp when partaking in sports. Before the injury, the calf (let’s say) can contract and extend normally which is good for running. However, when the calf is injured, the muscle tightens up (the muscle fibers remain locked in place and refuses to let go) so much that it is not able to contract/extend as it normally would.
Normally, muscle fibers would glide past each other smoothly (during contraction). The calf muscle after the cramp injury would be so tight that trying to move in the normal manner is pretty much impossible and pain usually follows. This is why stretching after a muscle cramp is highly recommended to release those locked muscle fibers). You do not want those fibers to remain locked for a long period since it would lead to a longer period of soreness and pain.
What I did Next?
My mom and I have thought about it for a some time, but we’ve always wanted to switch to beds made of wood because of the firmness and health benefits. Health benefits of sleeping on firm beds include:
- Improved back positioning/posture
- Relief of neck and/or back pain
- Improved circulation
- Improved sleep
So when we finally did switch to those firmer beds, guess what? My back pain disappeared for good.
So What “Bed” Do I Use in the Apartments?
So now back to the apartment dilemma. The firmer beds can be a hassle to move just due to the sheer mass and heaviness of it. At home, it is nice to have a bed just out of formality. But as a college student living in the apartments, all we want is what does the job and is cheap. So what did I do?
A firmer, wooden bed is equivalent to sleeping on the floor. Pretty simple right? Unfortunately, the floor can be too hard and dirty so we may need some type of cover/cushion. A yoga mat or blanket can be good but on the thinner side so the hardness of the floor may get to you eventually and be uncomfortable. Some areas of our body have bony prominences (less cushion) so that is no fun either.
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Here is what I use: a futon mattress. It is about 3 inches thick and feels as if you are sleeping on a regular firm bed but…without the bed. When you do not need it anymore, you can just roll it up and tie it into a bundle with the straps attached to the mattress. On move in/out day, that will be the bed you will be bringing to/from your apartment. Otherwise, you would need to rent a truck and bring people to help with moving a heavy mattress, heavy bed frames, various tools, etc. (This was from experience.)
Moving in/out of apartments is not the most enjoyable of all experiences. The weight of various furniture would leave you sore for a couple days and moving can take several days to weeks. But, if you can somehow eliminate one of the heaviest pieces of furniture, that can save a great deal of time, money, and effort! In addition, by replacing your usual soft, cushion beds with a more firm bed (or futon mattress), you can experience many health benefits.
Of course, everyone’s bodies are not the same and may have different needs. If soft, cushioned beds have been working well for you, please continue to use it. This is for those who have back pain from sleeping and soft beds may have been the culprit. Click here if you also have issues with sleeping and NOT related to back pain. By making that change, this was what helped me and I hope this can help you too!
Did you enjoy this life hack to get rid of back pain caused potentially by your bed? Please leave a comment below!