Best Mattresses for Back Pain
Feb 25th, 2021 •
Expert Insights from Dr. Navin Ramchandani, MD, a Medical Diagnostician and Owner of R&R Medical Centre in Barbados.
The only thing worse than going to bed with back pain is waking up with it. Are you searching for the best mattress options for when you have those aches and pains? Whether you suffer from acute or chronic pain, we’ll help you find the best mattress for your needs.
If you experience back pain, you’ll want a mattress with superior spinal alignment that also offers pressure relief and ideal firmness. “By sleeping on a mattress that provides excellent spine alignment and pressure relief, you can protect your back and avoid further pain,” says Dr. Navin Ramchandani.
In this guide, you’ll find 8 top-rated mattresses that fulfill these requirements. Along with our top picks, we’ll tell you who each mattress works best for as well as some things to consider as you shop. If you don’t find what you’re looking for here, check out our top picks for the best mattress of 2021.
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Best Mattresses for Back Pain
- Casper Wave Hybrid – Editor’s Choice
- Saatva Solaire – Best Adjustable Bed
- Nectar – Best Value
- Puffy – Best Pressure Relief
- Helix Midnight Luxe – Best for Hot Sleepers
- Bear – Best for Active People
- AS3 – Best for Side Sleepers with Back Pain
- Purple – Most Innovative
It’s time to take a deeper dive into each of our top picks and see how they best tackle back pain relief. Every bed on our list has undergone our 6-point testing method and 8-point evaluation in our Mattress Lab. After testing over 150 mattresses, we’re confident that if there’s anyone who knows what makes a good mattress, it’s us.
Keep in mind that everyone is different, and back pain is personal.
“Back pain can vary from person to person, which is why it’s important to find a mattress that offers the right amount of support and comfort depending on the placement and severity of your pain,” says Dr. Navin Ramchandani.
So, the best mattress for you might not be the best for someone else. That’s why we’ve included how these mattresses help alleviate back pain and the specific type of sleeper they would match with best. It’s also important to consult with your doctor on what he or she recommends for your personal condition.
Please note: While we’re experts when it comes to mattresses, we are not doctors. It’s always recommended that you consult with your doctor when it comes to choosing products meant to address health and pain issues.
Casper Wave Hybrid
- Couples who sleep in different positions
- Hot sleepers
- People with back pain who also have hip or shoulder pain
I sleep soundly, wake pain free and am experiencing a better quality of life.”- Tracey
“The Casper Wave Hybrid is a great choice for relieving back pain thanks to the ergonamic support it offers that pushes back at different points in the mattress to help maintain your natural body shape,” says Dr. Navin Ramchandani.
This helps to keep the heavier parts of your body, like your hips and shoulders, elevated at just the right levels, contouring your body and relieving pressure.
Inside the Casper Wave Hybrid, you’ll find a breathable latex foam layer, pressure relieving memory foam, and a supportive layer of pocket-coil springs to support your body’s weight distribution and isolate motion. With a 9.25 out of 10 in responsiveness, it’s sure to please all types of sleepers.
The Wave Hybrid also received an endorsement from the American Chiropractic Association—which is a pretty big deal!
Read our full Casper Wave Hybrid mattress review
Best Adjustable Bed
- People with back pain who want different firmness options
- Anyone looking for eco-friendly materials
- Couples who want a durable mattress that will last for years
In less than a week with this bed, all hip pain is gone, as well as back pain.”- Kathy G.
Saatva is known for making high-quality, luxury mattresses at affordable prices. The Saatva Solaire is their airbed model that offers a total of 50 firmness options, 1 being the most plush and 10 being the firmest. Because it’s an adjustable airbed, it works perfectly with an adjustable bed frame, a great option for couples who prefer different firmness levels.
Related: Best adjustable bed frames
The Solaire has a cozy organic cotton pillow top for added comfort and support. It also features gel memory foam and latex layers along with air chambers for even more pressure relief to ease your bad back. The moisture barrier keeps out bacteria and mold, allowing your mattress to last as long as possible.
This luxury bed comes with a generous 25-year warranty and a 120-night trial period. The Saatva Solaire also comes with free white glove delivery and mattress removal. Saatva representatives will bring your new bed into your room, set it up, and show you how to use the technology attached—talk about high-quality.
Read our full Saatva Solaire mattress review
- People on a budget
- Those who want a mattress with a generous warranty and trial period
- Combination sleepers who want good support
Highly recommend for anyone who has difficulty falling asleep or for anyone who gets a sore back.”- Deborah C.
One of the best cheap mattresses in the DTC world, Nectar offers solid support all around. This medium-firm mattress is known for being responsive, allowing it to work for all sleep positions. The top layer is made of quilted gel memory foam that is contouring and pressure relieving. The gel foam and the cooling cover provide air circulation through the foam bed to keep you cool.
On top of being extremely wallet-friendly, Nectar offers one of the most generous mattress warranties we’ve ever seen: that’s right, a lifetime warranty.
Moreover, they give you an entire 365-night sleep trial period. If you’re not satisfied after a year, make a hassle-free return. But, not many people do. Only 3% of Nectar’s customers have made a return; that’s a 97% satisfaction rate.
Read our full Nectar mattress review
Best for Pressure Relief
- Pressure relief
- People who often change positions at night
- Back pain sufferers who need proper spinal alignment
Our new mattress helped our pain and keeps your spine in the correct position.”- Amy G.
Puffy is a memory foam mattress that provides optimal pressure relief thanks to its ClimateComfort layer. This comfort layer is made of foam designed to resist changing as the temperature does, keeping its pressure point relief consistent, no matter the time of year. The base layer is made with firmer foam to improve responsiveness and durability.
The top layer of Puffy consists of gel-infused foam that disperses body heat and promotes airflow. The cover is easily removable for easy cleaning in the washing machine; combined with a lifetime warranty, the Puffy mattress is made to last, giving you a pain-free good night’s sleep night after night.
Read our full Puffy mattress review
Helix Midnight LUXE
Best for Hot Sleepers
- Hot sleepers with back pain
- Budget-conscious shoppers
I won’t know just how much back trouble I’ve avoided by having a good Helix mattress.”- Kristin S.
Medium firm: 6/10
The Helix Midnight Luxe won our spot for the best cooling mattress for hot sleepers with back pain thanks to its high-quality mattress materials. It’s pillow top layer contains phase change material that absorbs body heat and adds an extra layer of cushioning. The foam comfort layers provide proper support and pressure point relief.
The amazing alignment comes from the pocket coil system at the mattress’s core. Over 1,000 coils offer zoned support: soft under the shoulders, firmer under the hips, allowing you to wake up with minimal soreness.
Read our full Helix Midnight Luxe mattress review
Best for Active People
- People who need a responsive mattress
- Hot sleepers
- Athletes and active people who need a recovery mattress
Bear was perfect for my low back issues and preference for a firm bed.”- Leah B.
Medium firm: 7.1/10
The Bear mattress is a medium-firm gel memory foam mattress designed with materials that promote blood circulation and muscle recovery (such as the celliant cover and graphite gel). Not only are you getting the pressure relieving properties from Bear’s memory foam construction, but you also get the benefit of an open cell structure, which promotes airflow and responsiveness.
We recommend the Bear mattress for those with active lifestyles who need to maximize their recovery in their sleep. The Bear is designed with athletes in mind to help your body heal while you rest.
In fact, Bear’s happy customer base includes a number of professional athletes who sleep on Bear to help their bodies get the rest and recovery they need to perform their best.
Read our full Bear mattress review
Best for Side Sleepers with Back Pain
- Couples with different schedules
- Anyone looking for good alignment
- Sleepers looking for a durable mattress
It is the perfect combination of soft and supportive."- C.W.
AS3 is one of the best mattresses for side sleepers, and that includes side sleepers with back pain. Its simple three-layer memory foam construction provides superior alignment and durability. Leesa allows you to have proper posture as you sleep, eliminating back pain due to poor alignment, something side sleepers need.
The foam in the AS3 mattress also offers premium motion isolation, making it a great choice for couples who don’t want to disturb each other throughout the night. Additionally, AS3 is cooling and has great edge support—a welcome bonus for any mattress.
Read our full Leesa mattress review
- Those who want a mattress that provides nearly perfect alignment
- Anyone looking for an extremely durable mattress
- Sleepers who need joint and pressure relief
After I invested in Purple my worries and pain were lifted.”- Jacob S.
The Purple mattress is one of the most unique beds out there, but despite the unprecedented mattress materials, it delivers on pressure relief, spinal alignment, and edge support. Their patented Smart Comfort Grid™ is made of hyper-elastic polymer to cushion your hips, shoulders, and other pressure points. This material provides softer support on hips and shoulders but firmer support on the lower back.
The other two layers are made of high-density polyfoam that adds responsiveness and support to the mattress. The grid technology and breathable cover allows for air flow that keeps Purple cool.
Side and back sleepers with back pain will especially love Purple. For side sleepers, it keeps your spine perfectly straight and curves around your body. For back sleepers, Purple allows the natural curve of your spine to be maintained, eliminating pressure and helping with low back pain.
Read our full Purple mattress review
Shopping for a mattress isn’t easy, especially when you have particular needs you have to meet. Here at Mattress Advisor, we’ve spent countless hours researching, testing, and learning about mattresses so that we can make this experience easier on you. In this buying guide, we’ll share:
- Sleep and Back Pain
- How Your Mattress Can Cause Back Pain
- What to Look for in a Mattress for Back Pain
- Tips for Sleeping with Back Pain
Acute Upper and Lower 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 in both your upper back and lower back are appropriately supported and relaxed while you’re sleeping.
Think about it this way:
When you’re standing up, your body is applying pressure to your spinal cord (because of the natural forces of 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.
Chronic Back Pain
Chronic back pain is defined as having back pain that persists for months; it is often a result of accident or injury. Sleep posture and pressure relief is a little more crucial with this type of back pain, as your mattress will have to endure longer periods of aches, pains, and soreness than with acute back pain.
Related: Best mattress for hip pain
On the flip side, sleeping on an old, sagging, unsupportive mattress can turn your acute back pain into chronic back pain.
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.”
Long story short: Sleeping on the wrong mattress leads to pain, discomfort, and can increase your chances of developing a chronic back problem.
There’s a lot of lingo in the mattress world that you may not have a full grasp of. We’ll help you decipher what it all means and what key factors you should be keeping an eye on when looking for a mattress well-suited for someone with back pain.
The type of mattress you choose is one of the most important decisions you can make. There’s traditional innersprings, memory foam, latex, and hybrid mixes of all these materials available. So, where do you start? First, you should know how each material will affect or help soothe your back pain.
Memory Foam Mattress
Most people ask, are memory foam mattresses good for back pain? The answer is: yes!
Memory foam mattresses will do an excellent job at performing in a number of factors including relieving pressure at the pain points, keeping your spine aligned, and cradling your body for comfort and support. When you suffer from back pain, each of these factors are super important.
Memory foam material also helps to evenly distribute your body weight across the surface of the bed, so you won’t have to deal with uneven pressure that exacerbates your back pain. When you compare memory foam to a traditional innerspring mattress, this material will stand the test of time better and hold its shape. This is key for people with back pain since mattress sagging is one of the big issues making your back hurt worse.
All that to say, memory foam mattresses are ideal for sleepers who have back pain.
Traditional innerspring mattresses are the type of bed that most people are used to sleeping on (hence the term “traditional”). They feature a layer of coil springs as the core of the mattress that is surrounded by foam cushioning. Spring mattresses have become more advanced as the years passed, using individually wrapped coils instead of intertwined ones for motion isolation, but they often don’t do much for pain.
You probably want to stay away from innerspring mattresses if you really want to give your back the support it needs. Innerspring beds won’t cradle your body as well as memory foam and won’t have the same pressure relieving properties as foam does.
Latex mattresses offer similar benefits to memory foam when it comes to pressure relief and motion isolation. What latex makes up for that memory foam lacks is that latex foam is naturally cooling and buoyant. A latex mattress would be a good pick for back pain if you are a hot sleeper who prefers to sleep on top of your mattress rather than sink into it.
A hybrid mattress combines different materials in hopes of making a super mattress with each material’s strengths. A hybrid bed could feature any combination of spring, foam, and latex layers. Because there are so many combination options, hybrid mattresses work for nearly every type of sleeper, depending on materials. As long as the hybrid mattress of your choice offers proper spinal alignment, pressure point relief, and medium-firmness it should work for your back pain.
Is a firm mattress better for back pain? Interestingly enough, the answer is both yes and no. More specifically, 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.
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.
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.
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.”
Getting proper airflow in your mattress is important for people with back pain. First off, no one wants to sweat through their sheets. But particularly for those dealing with any type of pain, being able to get decent airflow while you sleep helps improve how much oxygen your body gets, which is key for getting restorative sleep so your muscles and joints can heal and restore.
Hybrid mattresses generally offer the best combination — you get the natural cooling structure from innerspring coils topped with comfortable foam. Look for the foam on these top comfort layers to be infused with gel or copper get the most cooling abilities. Temperature regulating or temperature neutral mattresses also work well for keeping you cool.
We’ve talked a lot about spinal alignment, but it plays a crucial role in whether or not you wake up feeling refreshed or wake up with a sore back. A spine that isn’t aligned correctly can lead to muscle strain, pressure, headaches, and daytime fatigue. Make sure that mattress you choose allows your spine to maintain its natural curve all night for a pain-free sleep and a groggy-free morning.
Your lower back and lumbar region will push into the mattress if you are a back sleeper, creating extra pressure on this area. A mattress that doesn’t offer pressure point relief will continue to push, causing irritation, soreness, and pain. Mattresses with pressure relieving material (such as memory foam) will simply contour your back like a hug rather than push into it, relieving undue pressure.
Sleeping on the right mattress has the biggest impact on alleviating your back pain, but there are other things you can try that may help reduce your pain even more.
The important thing to remember here is to listen to your body—if something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. If your friend with back pain has discovered the perfect sleeping angle/temperature/white-noise/pillow-position combo to reduce back pain, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be the best one for you. (You should give him/her a big high five though.)
The three things that may help further reduce your back pain are your bed’s foundation, your sleeping position, and extra mattress accessories.
Pick the Best Mattress Foundation
People who suffer from back pain have claimed that sleeping on an adjustable bed frame helps them sleep better at night. Keeping your head and feet elevated can relieve certain pressure points better than lying flat on a mattress. Similar to how you elevate your leg after an injury, elevating these parts of your body can help with blood flow circulation and getting more oxygen to your muscles—both of which can have an impact on reducing pain.
You also reference our mattress foundation guide for more information.
Correct Your Sleeping Position
Sometimes you can’t control your sleeping position—you might unknowingly change positions in the middle of the night or find natural comfort in one position over another. But your sleeping position can also have an effect on your back pain and overall quality of sleep. Here are some tips that might help you alleviate back pain in each sleep position.
Back sleeping is generally considered the best position to help with back pain. If it’s not easy for you to convert to sleeping in this position, placing a pillow underneath your knees can help reduce pressure on your lower back and maintain your spine’s natural curve. For added support, you can roll out a towel and place it under the small of your back. The best mattress for sleeping on your back has this support built in.
Placing a pillow between your knees can help keep your hips level and your spine in line. Using a thick body pillow can also help alleviate pressure and keep your back in good posture while you sleep. Hugging a body pillow is especially helpful for people who suffer from mid-back pain because it helps to keep your shoulders from caving in.
Sleeping on your stomach is generally not recommended for people who suffer from back pain. This position provides your back with the least support and can cause your back to cave in unnaturally.
If it’s hard for you to change positions, placing a pillow under your pelvis can offer you a little more support; however, you should be very careful as this can also cause added strain on your back and neck. Sometimes people who try this method actually find it more comfortable to remove the pillow from under their head. Using a body pillow might also make it easier to convert to a side sleeper, which is at least better than sleeping on your stomach.
In general, stomach sleepers tend to prefer a thin pillow or no pillow at all. This will help reduce the incline in your neck.
Use the Right Mattress Accessories
Mattress toppers can provide an added comfort layer, and some are even particularly well-suited for sleepers with back pain. The best mattress toppers for back pain are often made from memory foam or latex thanks to their reputation for pressure relief and contouring. If you need back pain relief, but don’t want to invest in a new mattress, a mattress topper is the next best option.
Your pillow plays a crucial role in your comfort and spine alignment. It’s important that you find one that works for your sleeping position to keep your body in proper alignment. The best pillows for stomach sleepers tend to be flat. Side sleeper pillows have a higher loft to keep your neck in line, and back sleeper pillows have a medium loft for the neck to curve with the spine.
Related: Best pillow for back pain
Back pain is no fun. The last thing you want is to start your day feeling sore and achy (and probably grumpy) because you didn’t sleep well. Getting a good, uninterrupted night’s sleep can have a huge impact on your overall health, energy levels, and productivity. It can also help improve your back pain symptoms.
Even if your back pain won’t be completely eliminated, you deserve a mattress that’s going to help you feel rested and refreshed. If you suffer from back pain, we’d love to hear about what’s worked for you and how you’ve found comfort while sleeping. Share your tips in the comments below. We’ll count it as your good deed for the day.
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