Best Mattress for Back Pain (2018 Update)
Find the best mattress for your back pain
Side sleeping is one of the most common sleep positions, with nearly 40% of people preferring to sleep in a fetal position and another 15% preferring to sleep on their sides in a more elongated and straight position. Side sleeping is also the recommended sleeping position for women who are pregnant (more on that later).
If you’re able to keep your legs and torso fairly straight while sleeping on your side, this position can minimize neck and back pain, while also decreasing the likelihood of snoring. In fact, side sleeping is one of the best choices for people with neck pain.
However, when sleeping on your side, your body weight may not be as evenly distributed as in other positions, leading to pain at high-pressure points such as the hips, shoulders and knees. Of course, a good mattress will play a huge role in making this sleep position one that’s kind to your body, helping you wake up feeling well rested and pain-free. Fortunately, with so many people preferring to sleep this way, many mattresses are specifically designed with side sleepers in mind.
In this guide, we’ll help you understand what you should look for in a mattress when you sleep on your side and reveal our top-rated mattresses for side sleepers. We’ll even share some other tips for getting your best night’s sleep in the side position.
If you’re a side sleeper, you’ll want a mattress that contours your body and relieves joint pressure and pain at the hips and shoulders. These are the parts of your body that are most vulnerable to pain and soreness when you sleep on your side. Here are a few things to consider when looking for the perfect mattress.
Side sleepers tend to prefer a mattress that falls on the medium-soft to medium end of the firmness spectrum. If the mattress is too firm, you’re likely to feel joint pain and tension. But a mattress that’s too soft won’t provide enough support. Look for a mattress that’s supportive but also soft enough to minimize stress on the hips and shoulders.
It’s important for side sleepers to select a mattress that will hug your body in the right places, but not cause you to sink into the mattress too far. A mattress that pushes back just enough when you lay down will support your body’s natural curves and keep your spine aligned.
The right amount of pushback will also help distribute your body weight more evenly, meaning your hips, thighs and shoulders won’t sink in more than the rest of your body. This helps to prevent aches and soreness in those high-pressure areas.
For every mattress we test at Mattress Advisor, we measure how well a mattress performs at relieving pressure using a pressure mapping device. Below you will see an example of a mattress that performed well in our pressure relief test and one that did not, for the side position. The cooler the color, the lower the pressure. Look out for these diagrams on our mattress review detail pages.
Most mattresses designed for side sleepers are made with some blend of memory foam: standard, latex, or gel memory foam. Memory foam is known to be an excellent material for evenly distributing weight and minimizing pain at pressure points, while also supporting the natural curve of your spine. Latex memory foam and gel memory foam are known to quickly bounce back to shape when users change position throughout the night, more so than with standard memory foam.
Overall, you’ll want to choose a mattress that’s both supportive and soft and is responsive as you move around throughout the night.
Below we’ve highlighted our top-rated mattresses for side sleepers. If you want to read more about a particular mattress brand, we’ve got you covered in the next section.
Take a look at things like the firmness, materials and price to help you decide which mattress might be best for you. All of the mattresses we’ve reviewed here have at least a 100-night trial period and free returns. So even though you can buy them online, you can try them out in the comfort of your own home, risk-free, to see if it’s the right mattress for you.
By clicking on the products below, we may receive a commission at no cost to you, the reader. It’s how we fund our Mattress Lab and bring you better mattress reviews and comparisons.
My only regret is not buying this bed earlier."Erin S.
Medium firm: 6/10
If you’re a side sleeper, it’s important you have a mattress that will evenly distribute your body weight and support your pressure points – particularly in high-pressure areas like your hips, shoulders and knees. The Leesa mattress is our top pick for side sleepers because of its excellent contouring properties that help relieve this type of pressure.
The Leesa also scored very well in our spine alignment test – meaning this mattress will help keep your spine in a straight line while sleeping on your side.
Another area that Leesa scored highly in during our testing is responsiveness. This means that no matter what position you sleep in, Leesa will provide the support you need. Since side sleepers tend to change positions throughout the night more than other positions, this is a favorable trait when looking for the best mattress for side sleepers.
The standard price for a queen Leesa mattress is $995, but you can click the link below to get an exclusive Mattress Advisor discount.
I don’t wake up with my sides hurting anymore."Bikramjeet V.
Medium firm: 5 - 6 /10
The Nolah mattress is made with a special type of AirFoam that help to absorb pressure, particularly in your hips and shoulders when you sleep on your side. Nolah was just shy of a perfect score for spine alignment in our lab testing as well.
Another thing that sets Nolah apart is its superior responsiveness. Its top layers will fill in the gaps around your body, so there’s no empty support.
When you buy a Nolah mattress, you can also adopt one wildlife animal through their animal adoption program (at no extra cost to you). Before you complete the checkout process, you can choose which animal you would like to be adopted.
The standard price for a queen Nolah mattress is $969, but you can click the link below to get an exclusive Mattress Advisor discount.
A bed made for your weight, height, and position...how could it be better?"Benjamin M.
Customizable: Varies based on selection
The Helix Mightnight is one of many mattress models offered by Helix. The Midnight model is a popular option for side sleepers because of its pressure relieving properties and ergonomic support. This mattress will cradle your body and support the heavier parts of your body that need it most.
The hybrid design also helps to provide freedom of movement, so you won’t feel trapped in the mattress, but will still get the contouring properties that side sleepers need in a mattress.
The standard price for a queen Helix Midnight mattress is $995, but you can click the link below to get an exclusive Mattress Advisor discount.
Waking up in the morning is an overall soothing experience."Courtney
Medium-soft to medium: 5.5 - 7
The recently launched Puffy Lux is Puffy’s “one-step up” mattress model. Made complete with Puffy’s patent-pending Cooling Cloud Foam™, this mattress not only sleeps comfortable, but cool.
The Puffy Lux was designed with pressure relief in mind, and boy did Puffy hit the nail on the head. This mattress received a Mattress Advisor all-time high score for pressure relief. The three layers of memory foam that make up this mattress complement one another to cradle the body’s pressure points while still providing excellent support that promotes spine alignment.
The standard price for a queen-size Puffy Lux mattress is $1,595 but if you click the link below, we can save you $75 bucks!
This mattress has made a difference in the way I sleep."Paul H.
Medium firm: 5.5-6/10
Nectar’s gel memory foam surface provides great pressure relief and motion isolation. It will give you more of a “hugging” feel, which is ideal for people who don’t tend to move around a lot throughout the night.
If you’re on the fence about the Nectar, there’s no harm in trying it out – you can sleep on the mattress for a full year in the comfort of your own home before deciding if you’d like to keep the mattress.
The standard price for a queen Nectar mattress is $699, but you can click the link below to get an exclusive Mattress Advisor discount.
I've been falling asleep faster on this mattress and waking up with no back discomfort at all."Vicky
The AS3 mattress is Amerisleeps most popular model – and to no surprise, since it has a lot going for it. The AS3 has a special affinity transition layer that reacts to your body position to evenly support your weight and help relieve pressure points. For side and combination sleepers, this will make you feel like you’re sleeping on a cloud.
In addition, the cover on the AS3 contains Celliant, which is known to reduce pain, regulate body temperature, and promote healthy blood circulation.
The standard price for a queen AS3 mattress is $1,399. Click the link below to see the best price.
The plushness of the mattress is perfect and still gives enough support to make me feel comfortable."Jeanne
Available in soft (3/10), medium (5/10) or firm (7/10)
The Brooklyn Aurora mattress is one of our overall favorites at Mattress Advisor. The soft option is ideal for side sleepers because it will contour your body and provide pressure relief for your hips and shoulders.
The top layer of patented Copper Gel Energex™ foam provides targeted pressure point relief with the antimicrobial properties of copper. Its surface is infused with TitanCool™, a patented phase change molecule that maintains body temperature at an ideal 88 degrees. The surface of this mattress is literally cool to the touch!
The standard price for a queen Brooklyn Aurora mattress is $1,699, but you can click the link below to get an exclusive Mattress Advisor discount.
While sleeping on the right mattress is one of the most important factors in getting quality sleep, there are other things you can do as a side sleeper to make sure you wake up feeling well-rested and pain-free.
Dr. Nate Vogan, DPT at Stewart Physical Therapy tells us:
“If you are a side sleeper, it’s important to make sure your neck is square to your shoulders and not sagging to one side. The implications of this is a muscular issue. It can create impingements of the joints in your neck. These impingements cause pain and tightness in the neck and under the arms.”
Sleeping on your side – particularly your left side – is the recommended sleeping position for women who are pregnant. Dr. Angela Jones, Astroglide’s resident sexual health advisor offers some tips for sleeping during pregnancy:
And don’t forget to carefully consider your pillow choice, too. A good rule of thumb when selecting a pillow for side sleeping is to look for one that is thicker or higher under the neck than the head in order to keep your spine aligned.