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Back Pain and Mattresses

Memorial Day Edition!

If you suffer from back pain, you know how much it can impact your daily life. What you might not know is that sleeping on the right mattress can help alleviate your back pain and help you feel well-rested when you wake up.

The experts at Mattress Advisor have tested over 100 different mattresses using a 14-point methodology to determine the best mattresses for back pain. Take a look at the mattresses that stood out above the rest below.

Level Sleep

Editor's Pick for Back Pain
  • The patented TriSupport™ technology in the top layer of this mattress marries lumbar support with soft shoulder and hip zones making this mattress supportive yet, comfortable.
  • The regions on the mattress where the shoulders and hips fall have a softer firmness than the torso region, which is firmer to help keep your spine aligned.

This bed should out sell all others. Great warranty, and no more back aches."

Daniel C.
Customer Rating
4.5 / 5
MA Score
8.5 / 10
Firmness

TriZone Firmness

Trial Period

365 days

Nectar

Best Value
  • The Nectar mattress sleeps cool, has great pressure relief and distributes body weight evenly.
  • Nectar has the industry’s best return policy and a “Forever Warranty.”
  • Our rating of customer sentiment shows overwhelmingly positive reviews.

Read our full review 

It's the best purchase I've made for my back."

Paul H.
Customer Rating
4.8 / 5
MA Score
8.7 / 10
Firmness

Medium firm: 5.5-6/10

Trial Period

365 days

Casper

Best Memory Foam Mattress
  • Casper is one of the early market leaders in the foam mattress space and offers a great universal mattress for the average sleeper.
  • This memory foam mattress promotes airflow, so you won’t get that hot, sinking feeling that you would with traditional memory foams.
  • Casper received a perfect score on responsiveness – meaning it does a great job of adjusting to your body positions as you move throughout the night.

Read our full review

I absolutely did not believe I would be sleeping this great."

Wayne T.
Customer Rating
4.5 / 5
MA Score
9.1 / 10
Firmness

Medium firm: 6/10

Trial Period

100 days

Saatva

Best Affordable Luxury
  • The Saatva mattress is customizable, made with quality materials and eco-friendly.
  • This mattress is known for great edge support, lumbar support and pressure relief.
  • Customers rate Saatva web experience, customer support, and the mattress highly.

Read our full review

Believe me, this mattress is as good or better than they advertise it to be."

N Malenke
Customer Rating
4.8 / 5
MA Score
8.7 / 10
Firmness

Available in plush soft: 3/10; luxury firm: 5.5-6.5/10; and firm: 8/10

Trial Period

120 days

Leesa

Best Rated
  • Leesa has mastered the perfect mattress for the “average sleeper” – it’s a great balance between soft and firm.
  • Our expert review panel put it in the top 10% of 100+ mattresses tested in our Mattress Lab.
  • Leesa customers rate the mattress a 4.8/5 and value the company’s product quality and social mission.

Read our full review

My only regret is not buying this bed earlier."

Erin S.
Customer Rating
4.8 / 5
MA Score
9.3 / 10
Firmness

Medium firm: 6/10

Trial Period

100 days

DreamCloud

Best Spine Support
  • The Dreamcloud mattress is an 8-layer luxury hybrid mattress made with memory foam and coils.
  • Its patent-pending technology is designed to cradle your body on a plush surface while providing support and spine alignment.
  • If you would like your Dreamcloud unboxed and set-up on your bed frame, you can select optional White Glove service. Dreamcloud can also remove and dispose of or donate your existing mattress. This service costs an additional $149.

Read our full review

Dreamcloud is a must-have for anyone who thinks their back pain is insurmountable."

Del R.
Customer Rating
4.8 / 5
MA Score
8.8 / 10
Firmness

Medium-firm: 6.5/10

Trial Period

365 days

What does your mattress have to do with back pain?

Whether your back pain is caused by an injury, a physically demanding job or even stress, the way your body is supported while you sleep will have a big impact on how you feel when you wake up. In fact, your sleeping posture is just as important as your standing/sitting posture. You’ll wake up more refreshed if your muscles and joints are appropriately supported and relaxed while you’re sleeping.

Here’s a good way to think about it:

When you’re standing up, your body is applying pressure to your spinal cord (because…gravity), which keeps it aligned in its natural curve. But when you’re lying down, pressure is released from the vertebrae. So, sleeping on a mattress that evenly supports your body weight and allows your spine to stay in its natural alignment will help you get that relaxed, refreshed feeling that might just seem like a far-off dream right now.

If your mattress does a poor job of cradling your body, it might be forcing your body to rest at an unnatural angle – meaning your spinal cord is not aligned, you’ll have added, uneven pressure on your back, and you won’t allow your muscles to fully relax and recharge. Dr. Dominique, a licensed chiropractor, explains it like this:

“Sleeping on a mattress of poor quality will continue to cause joint breakdown and irritation long term. Prolonged inflammation of the joints speeds up the degenerative process. Other long-term effects include muscle tightness, uneven hips and spine misalignment.”

Translation: Sleeping on the wrong mattress leads to pain, discomfort, and can increase your chances of developing a chronic back problem.

Now that you understand how your mattress and your back pain are related, let’s review the things you should look for in a mattress when you suffer from back pain.

What to look for in a mattress when you suffer from back pain

Everyone’s body is different, meaning everyone’s back pain condition is going to be different too. So when it comes to choosing the best mattress, it’s really a personal decision. But there are two primary factors you should pay attention to while shopping for a mattress to help alleviate your back pain:

  1. The materials that your mattress is made from
  2. The firmness of the mattress
WHAT MATERIALS SHOULD YOUR MATTRESS BE MADE OF TO HELP WITH BACK PAIN?

Memory foam tends to be the best type of mattress to help cradle your body, relieve pressure points and keep your spine in proper alignment – all important qualities in a mattress, especially when you suffer from back pain. Memory foam (and other foam blends) do a good job of evenly distributing your body weight – meaning you won’t get as much of that uneven pressure or discomfort that tends to stir up your back pain even more.

Compared to traditional spring or coil mattresses, memory foam tends to hold its shape longer, which means a) your mattress will last longer and b) it won’t sag or lose its support as quickly as other mattresses can. While there are some latex and hybrid mattresses that can offer similar qualities, you probably want to stay away from innerspring mattresses if you really want to give your back the support it needs. Innerspring mattresses won’t cradle your body as well as memory foam and won’t have the same pressure relieving properties as foam does.

When deciding on the best mattress for your back pain, airflow and cooling properties are also important to look for. First of all, you’ll probably sleep better if you’re not sweating throughout the night. But having decent airflow also helps improve the amount of oxygen your body gets. If your body’s temperature is regulated and it’s getting the oxygen it needs, it has a better chance of recharging and relaxing problem muscles and joints.

HOW FIRM SHOULD YOUR MATTRESS BE TO HELP WITH BACK PAIN?

You may have heard a rumor that sleeping on a rock-hard mattress is best for your back pain. To be honest, that sounds kind of miserable. And it’s also not true. While everyone’s preference is going to differ slightly, people who suffer from back pain generally prefer a medium-firm to firm mattress. (This is usually a 5.5 – 7.5 out of 10 on the firmness scale.)

If you don’t believe us, here’s a little proof:

  • In a survey of 268 people with lower back pain, results showed that those who slept on what’s known as an orthopedic mattress (aka very hard) had the poorest sleep quality.
  • Another study showed that medium-firm mattresses reduced back pain by 57.2%, shoulder pain by 60.8%, and back stiffness by 59.1%. Overall, this helped improve the sleep quality of the study participants by 60.7%.

If you suffer from back pain, you probably want to stay away from super soft mattresses as well. Soft mattresses can conform to your body too much, which means you’ll sink into the mattress and lose the good posture that a firmer mattress will give you.

So, in summary:

  • The best mattress for your back pain will be medium-firm to firm (5.5-7.5 on the firmness scale).
  • A mattress that is too firm or too soft will not support your pressure points or distribute your body weight appropriately, causing your spine to fall out of its natural alignment and make your back pain even worse.
  • Ultimately, the best mattress for your back pain should make you feel like you are floating on air. (Doesn’t that sound dreamy?)