Best Mattresses for Back Pain of 2023
Sep 28th, 2023 •
Expert Insights from Dr. Navin Ramchandani, MD, a Medical Diagnostician and Owner of R&R Medical Centre in Barbados and from Dr. Sandy Baird, DC, the founder of Riverstone Chiropractic in Oakland, CA.
If you experience back pain, you’ll want a mattress with superior spine alignment that also offers pressure relief and ideally, 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 several top-rated mattresses designed to fill these requirements for different kinds of sleepers. Some of the brands have been endorsed by leading chiropractic associations. We’ll also share advice on how to choose the best mattress for back pain and explain how we rate our featured mattresses on pain relief.
Best Mattresses for Back Pain: Our Top Picks
- Best Budget Mattress – Helix Dusk
- Best Mattress for Hot Sleepers – Brooklyn Sedona Hybrid
- Best Mattress for Spine Alignment – Nolah Original 10″
- Best Luxury Mattress – Saatva Classic
- Best Mattress for Couples – Nectar
- Best Firm Mattress – The WinkBed
- Best Mattress for Heavy People – Loom & Leaf
- Best Mattress for Combination Sleepers – Puffy
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. Ramchandani.
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.
How We Chose the Best Mattresses for Back Pain
People with back pain need a mattress that supplies good pressure relief for aching joints, as well as top-notch spine alignment, which helps the back and neck maintain a neutral resting position that doesn’t create additional tension. To find the best mattresses for back pain, we tested over 100 mattresses at our Mattress Advisor lab in south Austin and looked for those qualities. We also prioritized mattresses that include additional features to support good back health, such as above-average firmness and zoned lumbar support. All the mattresses we tested were scored in 14 categories, so we made sure to only include ones that performed well overall.
Note that we hold ourselves to the highest standards of integrity in our product reviews and other content. Our results and recommendations are never influenced by the commission we may receive from brands, and products we receive are never guaranteed a positive review.
Best Budget Mattress
- Budget shoppers
- Edge support
What makes it great: If your back and your budget can both be described as tight, the Helix Dusk mattress could offer some relief on both fronts. Regular price for a queen size is less than $1,100, which could turn out to be a modest investment for a mattress with exceptional durability and pressure-relieving qualities.
The Dusk ranks at the top of our list because it scores 9/10 in two testing categories that are critical for people with back pain: pressure relief and spine alignment. Spine alignment helps keep you in a healthy, neutral line during sleep, and good pressure relief can alleviate both upper and lower back pain.
In addition to its support for back pain sufferers, the Dusk is a winner for couples: The mattress scores high marks for motion transfer, so you can sleep with your partner without being disrupted by their every toss and turn. It also earns a stellar 9/10 for edge support, which means you can use all of the bed and comfortably spread out to its far reaches without feeling like you’re going to slide off.
The Helix Dusk might not be firm enough for people who weigh more than 230 pounds. Check out our best mattresses for heavy people if you’re looking for something with better support for larger bodies. Also, for a foam-innerspring hybrid, the Dusk’s cooling capabilities are just average—we gave it an 8/10 for cooling, which might not be an issue for all but the hottest sleepers.
Brooklyn Sedona Elite
Best Mattress for Hot Sleepers
- People who overheat during sleep
- Restless sleepers
- Combination sleepers
What makes it great: For help with the uncomfortable combination of back pain and night sweats, consider the Brooklyn Sedona Hybrid. The foam/innerspring hybrid has pressure-relieving qualities and multiple cooling layers that should make it easier for you to keep pain at bay and night-time overheating in check.
In our testing, the Sedona Hybrid scores a 8.75/10 in pressure relief and 8/10 in spine alignment—two promising signs for sleepers with back pain, whether it’s in the lower or upper back. Stomach sleepers in particular will gain excellent pressure relief from this bed, while back and side sleepers will experience above-average relief and alignment.
The Sedona Hybrid earns a cooling score of 9/10, a hallmark of great mattresses for hot sleepers. The bed’s thermo-regulating powers come courtesy of its multi-layered construction—four of its seven layers, in addition to a cooling cover, are designed for better cooling and airflow.
The $2,399 regular price for a queen-size mattress might make budget shoppers hesitate. Brooklyn is generally known for its low prices and high values; however, this mattress is a luxury hybrid, and its price reflects that. Shoppers should also note that the mattress is heavy. Setting up and moving this seven-layer hybrid could be a chore, even for two people.
Best Mattress for Spine Alignment
- Neutral spine alignment
- Combination sleepers
- Edge support
Medium firm: 5 - 6 /10
What makes it great: Keeping your spine in a healthy, neutral alignment during sleep is essential for alleviating back pain, which could make the Nolah Original 10″ an essential part of your bedroom. The all-foam Nolah mattress earns a near-perfect 9.5/10 score for spine alignment in the Mattress Advisor sleep lab—which is one of the highest scores we’ve seen.
People with back pain can also appreciate the 9.25/10 responsiveness score. In responding easily and quickly to your movements, the mattress provides the support you need for all sleep positions.
The Nolah is also an excellent one for couples due to that high responsiveness score, reliable support around the edges of the bed, and 9/10 score for motion transfer. This means your partner can toss, turn, and go buck wild on one side of the bed without those movements disrupting your peaceful slumber on the other side.
The Nolah doesn’t have a great score for pressure relief (7.25/10), which could be problematic for people needing extended bed rest. But this sub-par score mostly extends to lightweight sleepers—the mattress actually provided decent pressure relief for back and side sleepers above 130 pounds. Additionally, the Nolah’s 7/10 durability score isn’t exactly impressive—if you’re looking for a mattress that will maintain its support for longer, you might want to consider a hybrid or innerspring mattress.
Read our full Nolah Original 10″ mattress review.
Best Luxury Mattress
- Luxury shoppers
- Spinal alignment
- Hot sleepers
✅ Saatva is endorsed by the Congress of Chiropractic State Associations.
What makes it great: For an incredibly comfortable and luxurious option for back pain, we highly recommend the Saatva Classic.The mattress has an innerspring-style construction that includes sturdy steel coils for support and a plush Euro top for comfort and pressure relief. Saatva also offers their original model in three firmness options—Plush Soft, Luxury Firm, and Firm—so you can choose what model works best based on your sleeping position and body type.
Long-term back pain sufferers will be glad to hear that the Saatva also boasts an absolutely phenomenal spine alignment score (10/10) and pressure relief score (9/10). In fact, the Congress of Chiropractic State Associations endorsed Saatva for its support for those with joint and back pain.
Hot sleepers, make note: This luxury bed has a near-perfect cooling score of 9/10. This comes courtesy of the bed’s coil construction, which helps promote airflow. And while Saatva’s prices are cheap, its mattresses are a good value, given their durability. We gave the Saatva Classic an unbeatable 10/10 for durability, which means it won’t need to be replaced for a long time.
The Saatva Classic’s 7.5/10 motion transfer score isn’t anything to brag about. Light sleepers who share the bed with a partner or pet might wake up from larger movements at night. As previously mentioned, the mattress is also pricier than some other brands, but with that added cost, you get luxury comfort that will hold up for years to come.
Best Mattress for Couples
- Couples and co-sleepers
- Most sleeping positions
- Lifetime warranty
What makes it great: Couples who share both a bed and a back pain diagnosis can find relief with the Nectar. The gel memory foam mattress scores an 8.5/10 for motion transfer, which indicates that it does well at isolating the ripple effect of movement, whether generated by your sleep partner, your children, or your pet. It also earns an identical 8.5/10 for pressure relief, which is a good sign for pain sufferers, including those with upper back pain around their shoulders and neck.
Edge support is another area where the Nectar excels. In our testing, the mattress maintained good support along its perimeter, which indicates that you can really spread out on the bed without worrying the edges will crumble beneath you. This also suggests that the bed is a durable one that will hold up for years to come.
Another pleasant finding when we tested the Nectar is that it scores well for responsiveness, which comes as a surprise given its memory foam construction. Responsiveness is a measure of how easy it is to move around on the bed—and how quickly the mattress will respond to your movements. The Nectar’s 8.5/10 for responsiveness suggests it will adjust quickly to your changing sleep positions.
A 7.75/10 score for cooling makes the Nectar less than ideal for sleepers prone to overheating. It also scores lower (7.5/10) than our other picks for spine alignment, which suggests that you might want to try it out and see how your back feels in your preferred sleep position before committing to it.
WinkBeds Luxury Firm
Best Firm Mattress
- Stomach sleepers
- Back sleepers
- Those who get hot at night
Medium firm: 6/10
What makes it great: With four firmness levels to choose from, the WinkBed is an outstanding customizable mattress for those with back pain. You can choose the firmness level that matches your sleeping position, but the sturdiest options are Firm (7.5/10) and Plus (8/10).
Also of note: Nested between layers of micro-coils and pocketed coils is a lumbar support pad, a plus for those with back pain. The mattress’s coil layers work together to support the entire body without sacrificing soft pressure relief under the hips and shoulders. We gave the bed a good score (8.75/10) for spine alignment, which suggests it can also alleviate back pain over time by supporting good posture.
Hot sleepers should also appreciate that the bed sleeps decently cool—we gave it an 8/10 for cooling after enjoying a comfortable night on it. The WinkBed is also ultra-durable. Not only did it earn a 10/10 for durability in our in-house testing, but the brand simulated 10 years of use on it during a durability test, and it showed only 2% foam compression.
We did score WinkBeds somewhat lower for motion transfer (6.4/10). Restless couples who move around a lot at night should consider other mattresses—particularly those with more foam layers to keep motion isolated to one area of the bed. This advice goes double for light sleepers. Also of note: The firmer bed only earns a 7.75/10 for pressure relief, which suggests that side sleepers might want to opt for the softer version.
Loom & Leaf
Best Mattress for Heavy People
- Heavier people
- Side sleepers
- Memory foam shoppers
Relaxed firm: 6/10; Firm: 8/10
✅ Saatva is endorsed by the Congress of Chiropractic State Associations.
What makes it great: The Loom & Leaf by Saatva strikes a balance between body-cradling memory foam and the support needed for heavier people. Crucial to preventing back pain is having a mattress that provides proper spine alignment—the Loom & Leaf scored almost perfectly in our testing, which suggests it supports healthy neck and back positioning overnight.
If you want a bed that responds well to your movements, this is a great one—the mattress scores a 9/10 for responsiveness, which makes it easy to move around, get in and out of, and change positions throughout the night.
As a memory foam mattress, the Loom & Leaf construction features high-density foam and cooling gel-infused foam. High-density foam is more durable than traditional foam and can support larger frames. We gave the Loom & Leaf a 9/10 for durability in our testing.
Despite a strong 9/10 score for spine alignment, the Loom & Leaf’s 7/10 pressure relief score could be a red flag if you have upper back pain in the neck or shoulders. This mattress also comes up short in edge support, earning a 6.5/10 in our testing.
Best Mattress for Combination Sleepers
- People who change sleep positions
- Restless sleepers
- Consistent pressure relief
✅ Puffy is endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association.
What makes it great: Changing sleep positions when you suffer from back pain can be a jarring experience, but the Puffy Cloud mattress has qualities that can help. It’s highly responsive to movement (9/10 responsiveness score), which is a big plus for combination sleepers. The mattress also has a ClimateComfort foam layer that’s designed to provide good temperature regulation and consistent pressure relief, no matter your sleep position.
That focus on pressure relief also helps when it comes to addressing back pain—in our testing, the Puffy Cloud earned solid scores for both pressure relief (8/10) and spine alignment (8.75/10).
The mattress’s three foam layers are hypoallergenic and have the cloud-like feel that Puffy is known for. In addition to that emphasis on comfort, Puffy also supplies good motion isolation, which means you can change positions and toss and turn all you like without disrupting your sleeping partner.
If you’re a hot sleeper, the Puffy Cloud’s foam layers may not have enough airflow to keep you cool. Consider a hybrid or innerspring mattress with a coil construction. The mattress’s durability also may not be what you are looking for—we scored it an 8/10, which isn’t bad but could be better.
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:
- How Back Pain Affects Sleep
- Can a Mattress Cause Back Pain?
- What to Look for in a Mattress for Back Pain
- Tips for Sleeping with Back Pain
According to a 2019 survey by the National Center for Health Statistics, 39% of American adults reported experiencing back pain in the past three months. This widespread health issue impacts your day-to-day routine, activity level, and of course, your sleep.
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. Understanding the relationship between back pain, sleep, and your mattress is essential to addressing the problems that are keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep.
Back pain often causes disruptions during your sleep cycle (known as fragmented sleep). This can lead to stress and anxiety surrounding sleep, which further exacerbates the impact of back pain. You can begin by learning about lower back pain, upper back pain, and the difference between acute pain and chronic pain.
Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain manifests itself in the area between the bottom of the ribcage and the top of the legs, sometimes called the lumbar region. The muscles in this area are called upon to do many things, including supporting the weight of the upper body and flexing the hips as you walk. It’s also home to nerves connected to the hips, legs, and feet.
One common source of lower back pain is sciatica, which results from pressure on the sciatic nerve due to things like herniated disks or muscle spasms. Sciatica can lead to inflammation and pain on one side of your lower body, sometimes radiating down to the leg and causing numbness, all of which make sleeping with sciatica a challenge.
Related: Best Mattresses for Sciatica
Upper Back Pain
Pain in the area between the base of the neck and the bottom of the ribcage is classified as upper back pain. Frequent causes include injuries affecting muscles and ligaments, pinched nerves, and herniated disks. Bad posture is also cited as a contributor.
In most cases, treating upper back pain is more straightforward than treating lower back pain. Stretching exercises and anti-inflammatory medications frequently do the trick. However, serious upper back problems can still cause debilitating pain that disrupts normal sleep patterns.
Acute Pain vs. Chronic Pain
Pain in your upper or lower back that lasts less than four weeks is classified as acute back pain. You’ll wake up more refreshed if your muscles and joints in both areas 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 is defined as having back pain that persists for months, often a result of accident or injury. Sleep posture and pressure relief are a little more crucial with this type of back pain, as your back will have to endure longer periods of aches, pains, and soreness than with acute back pain.
Related: Best Mattresses for Hip 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. It can also lead to joint inflammation in the areas that bear the stress of 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
The type of mattress you choose is one of the most important decisions you can make. There are 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 mattresses usually do an excellent job of relieving pressure at the pain points, keeping your spine aligned, and cradling your body for comfort and support. 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. When you compare memory foam to a traditional innerspring mattress, this material will stand the test of time better and hold its shape.
- 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.
- Hybrid mattresses combine different mattress materials in layers. 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.
- Innerspring mattresses typically feature a layer of coil springs as the core of the mattress, surrounded by foam cushioning. You probably want to stay away from all-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.
Is a firm mattress better for back pain? Interestingly enough, the answer is both yes and no. More specifically, you may have heard that sleeping on a rock-hard mattress is best for your back pain. The reality isn’t that simple.
A mattress that’s 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. Too little firmness can be as problematic as too much firmness. Super-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.
While everyone’s preference is going to differ, people who suffer from back pain generally prefer a medium-firm to firm mattress—about 6/10 to 8/10 on the mattress firmness scale.
Spine alignment 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.
A mattress that doesn’t offer adequate pressure relief can lead to soreness and joint inflammation in pressure-sensitive areas, including the hips. Mattresses with pressure-relieving material (such as memory foam) will contour your back like a hug rather than push into it, relieving undue pressure.
A cooling mattress is important for people with back pain, even if you’re not a hot sleeper. 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 to get the most cooling abilities. Temperature regulating or temperature neutral mattresses also work well for keeping you cool.
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.
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 can also see our mattress foundation guide for more information.
Correct Your Sleeping Position (or Make Some Adjustments)
If you have back pain, there are two sleeping positions that might benefit you. Dr. Sandy Baird, DC says, “If you are dealing with back pain, the two safest sleeping positions are on your back (with a cervical support pillow under your neck and a larger pillow underneath your knees) and side-lying (with enough pillow support under your head to keep your head in line with the rest of your spine and a smaller pillow between your knees.”
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 sleepers—Since back sleeping is generally considered the ideal position to address back pain, the good news is that back sleepers don’t have many adjustments to make. 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.
Related: Best Mattresses for Back Sleepers
- Side sleepers—Placing a pillow between your knees can help side sleepers keep their hips level and their spine in a neutral alignment. 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 bowing inward.
Related: Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers
- Stomach sleepers—In addition to being the least healthy position overall, sleeping on your stomach is generally not recommended for people who suffer from back pain. This position provides the least support and can cause your back to curve unnaturally. Placing a pillow under your pelvis can provide a little more support. Use a thin pillow, or no pillow at all, to reduce the incline in your neck.
Related: Best Mattresses for Stomach Sleepers
Use the Right Mattress Accessories
- Mattress toppers—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.
- Pillows—A pillow for back pain can play 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.
In choosing our best mattresses for back pain, we use a scoring system that measures spine alignment, pressure relief, firmness, and features like support zones. Here’s a look at how our top picks stack up:
|Mattress||Average Score (Out of 10) for Spine Alignment, Pressure Relief, Firmness, and Support Features|
|Brooklyn Sedona Hybrid||8.6|
|Nolah Original 10″||8.4|
|Loom & Leaf||8.6|
Note: The testing categories we focus on in this chart don’t reflect overall performance. Depending on your needs and preferences, you might put more or less value on particular qualities.
Is a firm mattress better for your back?
The answer depends on how firm. Harvard Health Publishing cites a survey of people with lower back pain that found that those who slept on what’s known as an orthopedic mattress (which are usually firm or extra-firm) had the poorest sleep quality.
Most people with back pain should sleep comfortably on a mattress with a firmness level in the 5.5/10 to 7.5/10 range. If you’re under a physician’s care for back problems, make sure to ask which firmness is best for you.
What's a good mattress for upper back pain?
Upper back pain typically affects the area around the shoulders and neck. Causes include excess pressure on nerves, which makes a mattress with excellent pressure relief an especially good choice if you have pain in your upper back.
For the purposes of this page, we’ll define “excellent” as a pressure relief score above 8.5. Mattresses in this roundup that make the cut include:
Can an old mattress cause back pain?
Yes. Even the best mattress materials degrade over time and become less supportive, which puts extra strain on your back and other pressure-sensitive areas. The problem can be more pronounced for people who have back pain, since their muscles and joints will have a harder time compensating for a loss of support.
Start keeping a close eye on your mattress once you’ve had it for five years or so. If you notice more pain when you’re in bed and when you first wake up, it could be time to get a new mattress.
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