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Best 6 Mattresses for Back Pain – 2020 Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Jenny Iyo

Written by Keith Cushner

Quick Overview

Chronic back pain affects millions of adults in the U.S. and many experience frequent sleep disruptions due to the constant discomfort. If you’re one of these individuals, we have good news. With the right mattress, you can reduce your aches and pains during the night, helping you to feel more well-rested and alert during the day. What’s the “right” mattress for your back pain? It depends on several factors, including the material construction, thickness, and firmness of the mattress, as well as your weight and preferred sleep position.

Below you will find our list of the best mattresses for back pain. We’ve selected these mattresses based on thousands of hours of testing, as well as intensive product research and verified customer experience data. After our reviews, we invite you to keep reading our buyer’s guide to learn more about how people with back pain can improve their sleep experience with the right mattress. We share all the insider knowledge you need to know when buying a mattress to alleviate back pain.

Best Mattresses for Back Pain
First Time Buying a Mattress?

Hop down to our Buyer’s Guide for a crash course on finding the best mattress for back pain.


Best Mattresses for Back Pain - Reviewed

Editor's PickSaatva

Editor's Pick – Saatva


  • Multiple firmness options (4, 6, 7.5)
  • 180-night sleep trial
  • 15-year warranty
  • Strong, durable support
  • Good conforming and pressure relief
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Editor's PickSaatva


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The best mattresses for sleepers with back pain offer a balance of body conforming and structural support; the bed contours to the sleeper for targeted pain and pressure relief without sagging too excessively, which can cause the sleep surface to become uneven and lead to more discomfort. Our Editor’s Pick, the Saatva, features an innovative coil-on-coil design that provides exceptional support to sleepers.

The comfort system is built with pocketed coils, along with pressure-relieving memory foam and polyfoam layers. Steel-tempered bonnell coils make up the support core; these durable springs reinforce the entire bed very well and help minimize sinkage along the edges where people tend to sit.

The Saatva is available in three firmness levels – Medium Soft’ (4), ‘Medium Firm’ (6), and ‘Firm’ (7.5) – as well as 11 1/2″ and 14 1/2″ profiles. This product range should accommodate most sleepers with back pain, regardless of their body type or preferred sleep position. Good airflow throughout the coil layers also makes the Saatva suitable for those who usually sleep hot.

Saatva offers free White Glove delivery to customers in the contiguous U.S. and Canada. This service includes in-home assembly and old mattress removal; comparatively, most competing brands charge at least $100 for White Glove delivery. The Saatva is also backed by a 180-night sleep trial and a 15-year warranty, both of which are longer than average.

The Bottom Line.

Thanks to its coil-on-coil design, the Saatva satisfies both the support and comfort needs of sleepers with back pain. The steel-tempered bonnell coils in the support core provide stabilizing support, while the pocketed coils and foam comfort layers provide responsive pressure relief. And with three firmness levels, there’s something for everyone.

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination). The Saatva accommodates all sleep positions, due to a strong yet responsive design, and three firmness levels to choose from.
  • Sleepers in the average and heavy weight groups. Durable steel-tempered bonnell coils in the support core ensure long-lasting support for heavier body types.
  • People who prefer high-profile beds. The Saatva is available in two profiles, both of which are higher than the traditional 10-inch mattress profile.
  • Those who tend to sleep hot. The coil support core enables good airflow, keeping the mattress temperature cool.

Not Recommended for:

  • Individuals with mobility issues. The higher profiles of the Saata mattress may create challenges for some people getting into and out of bed.
  • Those who move or rotate their mattress frequently. The Saatva is a heavy, dense bed that can be difficult to maneuver.

Best ValueNectar Mattress

Best Value – Nectar Mattress


  • Pressure relief from two memory foam layers
  • Medium-firm (6)
  • Excellent motion isolation
  • 365-night sleep trial
  • Lifetime warranty
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Best ValueNectar Mattress


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The Nectar mattress delivers a soothing night’s sleep at a great price, earning it our nod for the best value among the top mattresses for back pain.

In the Nectar, multiple foam layers work together to provide top-notch pressure relief. The top two layers are made with quilted memory foam and gel-infused memory foam that contour to the body and give the necessary support to pressure points. The Hi Core foam transition layer adds resilience and, along with the polyfoam support core, provides a bulwark against too much sink.

The Nectar has a Medium Firm feel — around a 6 on the firmness scale — that gives it broad appeal, including to sleepers in virtually any position. It provides above average motion isolation and despite having a memory foam comfort system, it resists excessive heat retention.

With an accessible price for such a robust mattress, the Nectar doesn’t need any added bonus to make it a top choice. Nevertheless, Nectar sweetens the deal with a sleep trial that lasts an entire year, far outpacing the sleep trials that come with most mattresses. The company provides a lifetime warranty to protect your investment over the long-term.

Standard shipping of the compressed Nectar mattress to your doorstep is free, and you can opt for White Glove delivery for an added charge.

The Bottom Line.

Those who want a supportive mattress and a great deal won’t find a better option than the Nectar mattress. This quality mattress delivers back pain relief for a lower-than-average price point, free standard shipping, and 365-night sleep trial.

  • Sleepers in any position, especially side and back sleepers. The foam layers contour to the sleeper’s body, ensuring spinal alignment.
  • Sleepers with sharp pressure points. Two comfort layers of memory foam allow sleepers to sink into the mattress while keeping their spine aligned, offering relief for pressure points and back pain.
  • Value seekers. The Nectar mattress boasts excellent support and quality construction, with perks like free shipping and an extensive sleep trial, all for an affordable price.

Not Recommended for:

  • Lightweight sleepers who weigh less than 130 pounds. The Nectar feels more Medium Firm vs. Medium, which may feel too firm for these sleepers.
  • Heavier sleepers who sleep on their stomach. As a foam mattress, these sleepers may sink too deeply into the mattress and pull their lower spine out of alignment.

Best LuxuryBrooklyn Bedding Aurora

Best Luxury– Brooklyn Bedding Aurora


  • Three firmness options
  • Hybrid construction provides both conforming and support
  • Sleeps cool
  • 120-night sleep trial and 10-year warranty
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Best LuxuryBrooklyn Bedding Aurora


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If you’re looking for relief and have some money to spend, the Brooklyn Bedding Aurora is perhaps your best bet. This luxury hybrid mattress is one of the top rated on the market, providing not only pain relief, but a cool, supportive sleeping experience. The Aurora features a thick, 13 ½” profile and is available in three different firmness levels: ‘Soft’ (3), ‘Medium Firm’ (6), and ‘Firm’ (8)—making it suitable for sleepers of nearly any weight or preferred sleeping position.

The Aurora’s viability for those with back pain stems from its construction. Its comfort system consists of 1 1/2” of copper infused phase-change cooling foam, 2” of polyfoam, and a 1” layer of gel memory foam. This provides a closely conforming sleep surface that will reduce pressure on your body during the night, preventing pain when you wake up. Under these layers is an 8” pocketed coil support system, allowing for greater support for sleepers of any weight.

In addition to its pain relieving properties, the Aurora’s phase change material, cotton cover, and hybrid construction cause it to sleep exceptionally cool, making this a great option for those who tend to sleep hot at night.

While the Aurora costs more than the average mattress, its price point is standard for hybrid models. Brooklyn Bedding offers free shipping in the contiguous US and back their mattresses with a 120-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.

The Bottom Line.

If you’re looking for the ultimate relief for your back pain, and are willing to splurge to get it, the Aurora mattress is here to answer the call. This luxury hybrid bed features various foams in the comfort layers to provide responsive, pain-relieving comfort, while resisting heat retention. All this lies atop a strong pocketed coil core that provides additional support and stabilization.

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination). The Aurora’s construction allows it to give just the right amount of give for any sleep position.
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy). The pocketed coil support core supports sleepers of any weight.
  • Those who sleep hot at night. With a breathable cotton cover, copper-infused phase change cooling foam, and gel memory foam, this hybrid bed stays cool as you sleep.

Not Recommended for:

  • Sleepers on a budget. While the Aurora’s price point is about average for a hybrid mattress, it does cost more than other mattress types.
  • Shoppers who don’t want to buy a new set of sheets with their mattress. The Aurora’s cover has a slippery texture, and with the bed’s 13 ½” profile, fitted sheets may have difficulty staying put.

Best for Lightweight SleepersCasper

Best for Lightweight Sleepers – Casper


  • 11" profile
  • Medium (5)
  • Excellent motion isolation
  • 100-night sleep trial and 10-year warranty
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Best for Lightweight SleepersCasper


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The Casper features a mixed-foam construction that serves as an excellent sleep surface for lightweight sleepers with back pain. With a medium firmness and an 11” profile, this bed provides a balance of contouring and support. Lightweight sleepers will appreciate the Casper’s close-conforming comfort layers, yet the bed provides adequate support for sleepers up to 230 pounds.

The bed’s comfort system features a 1.5-inch layer of perforated polyfoam over a 2-inch layer of tri-zoned memory foam, which has a firmer feel around the center for targeted support beneath the shoulders and hips. These layers sit on top of a base of 7 inches of a durable, high-density polyfoam. Our tests found this mattress received particularly favorable ratings for motion isolation and lack of noise, which can be largely attributed to the memory foam layer in the bed’s comfort system.

Our lightweight side sleepers found that the bed offered enough cushioning for proper spinal alignment, and stomach and back sleepers in this weight group noted excellent support and did not experience any pressure build-up. Casper offers free shipping within the contiguous U.S., with optional White Glove delivery available at an additional cost. If you’re unsure whether the Casper is for you, they offer a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty to back it up.

The Bottom Line.

With its mixed-foam construction and medium feel, the Casper relieves pressure by conforming closely and provides above average support for lightweight sleepers of all sleep positions.

  • Those who share a bed. The Casper isolates motion very well and does not produce any noise, making it ideal for light sleepers who share the mattress with a partner.
  • People who prefer a combination of contouring and support. The Casper conforms enough to relieve pressure points, but provides better support than many competing all-foam beds.
  • Those who sleep hot. Though the bed’s comfort layers may trap some body heat, the Casper outperforms many of its all-foam competitors when it comes to sleeping cool.

Not Recommended for:

  • Sleepers over 230 pounds. Heavier individuals are likely to find the Casper lacks the support they need, leading to sagging and pressure build-up.
  • Those who prefer a bouncy feel. The Casper’s all-foam construction absorbs motion well and makes the mattress virtually silent, but does not provide the responsiveness some people prefer in a bed.

Best for Average Weight SleepersBear Mattress

Best for Average Weight Sleepers – Bear Mattress


  • Firm (7)
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 10-year warranty
  • Body-conforming pressure relief
  • Sleeps cooler than other foam beds
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Best for Average Weight SleepersBear Mattress


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The Bear Mattress is considered ‘Firm’ (7) and offers moderate yet consistent conforming for those in this weight group, as well as heavier individuals who don’t like sleeping on ultra-firm mattresses.

The Bear mattress features responsive polyfoam layers in its support core, topped by comfort layers of memory foam infused with graphite gel for cooling temperature regulation. The mixed foam construction allows back pain sufferers of average weight to enjoy pain relief as they sleep. Comfort foams contour to the body, while the dense support foams stabilize the spine.

The Bear Mattress also aids back pain sufferers with its Celliant fabric cover. This material absorbs body heat from sleepers and converts it into infrared energy before transmitting it back into their skin. This process does not cause excessive warmth; rather, sleepers often experience stronger blood circulation, exceptional pain relief, and a speedier physical recovery after runs, long workouts, and other strenuous activities. The Bear Mattress also offers great motion isolation and does not make any noise when bearing weight.

The Bear Mattress has a below-average price-point compared to other memory foam models, making it a top-value pick. Free delivery is available to customers in all 50 states, and the mattress is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.

The Bottom Line.

The Bear Mattress offers a uniquely relaxing sleep experience for back pain sufferers. The Celliant fabric cover uses the sleeper’s body heat to promote blood circulation, keeping the mattress temperature cool while promoting physical recovery and pain relief.

  • Back and stomach sleepers. This true ‘Medium Firm’ bed is firm enough to keep the spine aligned for both of these sleep positions.
  • Sleepers in the lightweight and average weight groups. The Medium Firm feel provides good support for sleepers with these body types.
  • Couples. Memory foam contours to each individual sleeper’s body, allowing couples with different sleep positions or body weights to both enjoy relief from the Bear Mattress.
  • Physically active people. The Celliant fabric cover is specially designed to promote blood circulation and recovery.

Not Recommended for:

  • Shoppers who prefer a flexible return policy. The Bear Mattress sleep trial requires a 30-night break-in period.
  • Those looking for strong edge support. As a foam mattress, individuals may find themselves sinking or slipping when they sit on the edge of the bed.

Best for Heavyweight SleepersDreamCloud Mattress

Best for Heavyweight Sleepers – DreamCloud Mattress


  • Medium Firm (6.5)
  • 365-night sleep trial
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Thick, pressure-relieving comfort system
  • Good motion isolation
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Best for Heavyweight SleepersDreamCloud Mattress


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People who weigh more than 230 pounds typically prefer firmer mattresses that balance close body conforming and robust support. The DreamCloud is a prime example; it is a hybrid mattress with a ‘Medium Firm’ (6.5) feel that is constructed with three layers of memory foam and one layer of latex in the comfort system. Sleepers experience improved spinal alignment and targeted pressure relief without sagging excessively, making the DreamCloud a great option for sleepers in these weight groups.

Edge support is another key strength. The pocketed coil support core is encased in high-density polyfoam to reinforce the bed and minimize sinkage around the edges. Its thick comfort system also minimizes motion transfer to a significant extent and it produces very little noise, making it suitable for couples.

The price-point for the DreamCloud is much lower than that of the average hybrid. Customers in the contiguous U.S. qualify for free shipping, and White Glove delivery – which includes in-home mattress assembly and old mattress removal – is available at an additional charge. The DreamCloud is backed by a 365-night sleep trial and a lifetime warranty.

The Bottom Line.

The smart construction of the DreamCloud mattress prevents sagging, a prime concern for heavier individuals with back pain. This durable hybrid bed provides sufficient contour as well, enabling soothing pain relief.

  • Back and side sleepers. Foam comfort layers contour to the sleeper’s body, while the pocketed coil core prevents the from sinking too deeply into the mattress.
  • Sleepers in the average and heavy weight groups. The DreamCloud mattress is composed of sturdy foams and materials that can support sleepers of heavier weights.
  • Those who prefer thicker, closely conforming comfort layers. The plush foams feel luxurious to lie on.
  • Value seekers. The DreamCloud is much more affordable than the average hybrid mattress, and comes with a 365-night sleep trial and lifetime warranty to boot.

Not Recommended for:

  • Lightweight sleepers. The DreamCloud may feel too firm for these sleepers.
  • Stomach sleepers. Those of heavier weights may find their midriff area sinks lower and out of alignment with the rest of their body.

Mattress Buying Guide for Back Pain Sufferers

Below, we share everything sleepers with back pain need to consider when buying a new mattress, along with our best tips for buying a mattress.

What You Need to Know about Sleeping with Back Pain

Roughly 80% of adults will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives, and for millions this is a chronic, lifelong condition. Back pain is also a leading contributor to poor health and early mortality.

Choosing the right mattress is crucial for individuals with back pain issues. The right mattress can alleviate pressure and aches in the most sensitive areas, such as the neck, shoulders, hips, and lumbar region of the lower back. The wrong mattress often exacerbates the issue, and may cause pressure to develop in new areas of the back.

This guide will look at mattress qualities that benefit sleepers with back pain, such as body contouring and support, as well as the importance of using body weight and preferred sleep position to determine which mattress is best for you and your sleep partner. First, let’s look at some common types of back pain and how they impact sleep quality and duration.

How Does Back Pain Affect Sleep?

A healthy spine serves three primary functions:

  • Protecting the spinal cord, which is considered the body’s communication systems, as well as nerve roots and internal organs.
  • Providing structural support needed for upright posture.
  • Facilitating tactile movement.

Unhealthy spines are often unable to perform some or all of these functions, and back pain is a common result. The term ‘back pain’ may refer to anything from minor aches and pains to debilitating conditions that affect other parts of the body. Back pain generally falls into two categories:

  • Acute back pain, which lasts less than three months (12 weeks) and typically occurs in conjunction with an injury or accident, such as a fall or over-lifting. The acute pain often subsides as the underlying cause of the pain is treated.
  • Chronic back pain, which lasts at least three months; this may occur due to an injury or accident, or due to a physiological issue like scoliosis. In either case, chronic back pain often continues after the underlying cause of the pain has been treated.

Common causes of acute and/or chronic back pain include the following:

Muscle or ligament strain: Lifting objects that are too heavy or moving awkwardly are two common causes of strain in the back muscles and spinal ligaments. The spasms that accompany this type of strain are often exacerbated by poor physical health.

Bulging or ruptured discs: Intervertebral discs are found between the vertebrae that form the spinal column, and form fibrocartilaginous joints that support and cushion the spinal structure much like shock absorbers. They have thick, durable exteriors and a soft, jelly-like filling. Bulging and ruptured discs create painful sensations when they come into contact with nerves, although some people with disc problems do not experience serious — if any — back pain.

Arthritis: Arthritis refers to inflammation of at least one joint in the body that leads to joint pain and stiffness. The most common forms of arthritis include:

  • Osteoarthritis, or degenerative arthritis, which causes bone cartilage to deteriorate prematurely.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, which affects the synovium material that lines the joints.
  • Psoriatic arthritis, which refers to joint inflammation caused by the painful skin condition known as psoriasis.
  • Gout, which refers to joint inflammation in the knees, ankles, and/or feet.

Because arthritis is associated with chronic and widespread pain, people with this condition often have a difficult time falling and staying asleep.

Skeletal irregularities: Irregularities of the back and spine that can lead to pain and pressure include:

  • Lordosis, a curvature of the lower spine that is abnormally pronounced.
  • Scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine that usually forms a C or S shape.
  • Kyphosis, an abnormal curvature of the upper spine.

spinal curvature disordersMost people with skeletal irregularities consider back-sleeping to be the most comfortable sleeping position, while some find additional relief by sleeping on their side with towels or pillows beneath the knees and ribs. Regardless of their most comfortable sleep position, people with these irregularities may experience frequent sleep disruption due to back pain and other symptoms of their condition.

Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by skeletal degeneration that causes bones to become porous and brittle. Osteoporosis fractures often occur in areas like the hips, wrists, and spine. This condition can lead to severe back pain if any of the vertebrae fracture or collapse.

In addition to these medical conditions, doctors have identified the following risk factors for acute or chronic back pain:

  • Age: Back pain affects people of all ages, but the condition is much more common in people who are 30 years or older.
  • Lack of exercise: People with weak, unconditioned muscles are considered at risk for back pain symptoms.
  • Obesity: Carrying extra weight — especially around the midsection — can put undue strain on the back muscles.
  • Diseases: Certain medical ailments, such as cancer, have been linked to back pain symptoms.
  • Excessive or incorrect lifting: Back pain is often tied to lifting-related injuries, which can occur if the individual lifts too much weight and/or lifts with their back instead of their legs.
  • Mental health issues: People with depression and anxiety are more susceptible to back pain and other physical manifestations of their condition.
  • Smoking: Habitually smoking cigarettes deprives the body of nutrients that are needed to nourish the disks and other areas of the back.

Sleeping on a mattress that does not provide proper spinal support can also lead to back pain. The table below lists five regions of the spine that one should consider when trying out a new mattress.

Region Cervical Spine Thoracic Spine Lumbar Spine Sacrum Coccyx (Tailbone)
Location Neck Upper to mid-back Lower back Base of spine Bottom tip of spinal column
Number of Vertebrae 7 individual vertebrae 12 individual vertebrae 5 individual vertebrae Triangular bone with 5 fused segments Rounded bone with 3 to 5 fused vertebrae
Vertebrae Names C1 to C7 T1 to T12 L1 to L5 S1 to S5 Coccygeal vertebrae
Function Facilitates head movements, such as nodding, shaking, and neck rotation Protects vital organs and stabilizes the spine for proper balance Supports body weight and facilitates movement around the midsection Facilitates pelvic movement, as well as leaning Unknown for humans, though it connects to vital muscles, tendons, and ligaments

Depending on which area of the spine is in pain, certain sleep positions are more supportive than others. Paired with the right mattress, these sleep positions can provide additional relief. We review these below.

Best Sleeping Positions for Upper Back Pain

Sleep Position How It Works Additional Tips
Sleep on your side with a foam pillow. The foam allows your head to sink deeper while filling the space between the neck and the mattress, ensuring a straight spine. Match the loft of the foam to the span between your neck and your shoulder.
Sleep on your side with a thin pillow between your knees. The knee pillow relieves pressure between the hips. This pillow should be thin enough to not create additional strain in the pelvic area.
Sleep on your back with a cervical pillow for your head and neck. The dip in the cervical pillow supports a straight spine through your neck, cradling the head and relieving pain in the upper back. A neck roll is another alternative.

Best Sleeping Positions for Lower Back Pain 

Sleep Position How It Works Additional Tips
Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees. The knee pillow helps ensure spinal alignment through the hips and pelvis. Switch sides every few nights to prevent shoulder pain or muscle soreness.
Sleep on your side in the fetal position, with your torso curled slightly toward your knees. Curling your torso increases space between the vertebrae, relieving pain caused by a herniated disc. Switch sides every few nights to prevent shoulder pain or muscle soreness.
Sleep on your back with a pillow beneath the knees. The knee pillow supports the natural curvature of the spine. Overall this position helps relieve strain or arching in the lower back. Add a thinner pillow or small rolled towel beneath the lower back if needed.
Sleep on your stomach with a pillow beneath your pelvis. Add a low-loft pillow for your head if needed. Reduces stress in between the discs, relieving pain from degenerative disc disease. Only recommended if you can’t get comfortable sleeping on your side or back. Stomach sleeping is not recommended for back pain.

Choosing the Best Mattress for Back Pain

A mattress should reduce back pain by providing an even, stable surface that helps the sleeper maintain proper spinal alignment, regardless of their sleep position. However, each sleep position affects spinal alignment in different ways, and the sleeper’s body weight is also an important factor to consider.

In terms of sleep position, most adults qualify as side-, back-, or stomach-sleepers. We review each of these three positions in greater detail below.

Side Sleeping with Back Pain

Generally, side sleeping supports good spinal alignment, although an uneven sleep surface can cause the spine to curve and pressure to build up. The best mattress for side sleepers with back pain should be firm enough to support the body without allowing it to sink too deeply. Additionally, pillows can be placed in certain areas (such as below the knees or ribs) to achieve optimal comfort and support.

Pros of side sleeping for back pain sufferers:

  • Better air circulation through the breathing passages
  • Relieves pressure on the heart to help prevent heartburn
  • Minimal pressure option for people with hip pain and scoliosis

Cons of side sleeping for back pain sufferers:

  • May restrict blood flow in the shoulders and arms
  • Extra pressure on stomach and lungs
  • Placing face directly onto the pillow can cause wrinkles to form

Back Sleeping with Back Pain

Sleeping on your back is perhaps the easiest way to ensure proper spinal alignment while you sleep. The spine stays straight and aligned as long as you maintain a back-sleeping position. The best mattress for back sleepers with back pain should provide even support from the neck to the tailbone. Mattresses that are too firm can create gaps between the lumbar and the sleep surface, while mattresses that are too soft may allow the sleeper to sink too deeply and lead to poor alignment.

Pros of back sleeping for back pain sufferers:

  • Prevents acid reflux
  • No extra pillows are needed for comfort and support
  • Sleepers are less prone to facial wrinkles

Cons of back sleeping for back pain sufferers:

  • Sleepers are at higher risk of sleep apnea because airflow is somewhat restricted
  • High snoring potential

Stomach Sleeping with Back Pain

Sleeping on your stomach is not recommended for back pain sufferers. Due to the large concentration of weight in the stomach, this position usually causes people to sink too deeply into the mattress, pulling their spine out of alignment and increasing back pain. The best mattress for stomach sleepers with back pain is one firm enough to prevent the stomach from sinking too deeply. Again, stomach-sleeping is considered the least healthy sleep position, so alternative positions are recommended.

Pros of stomach sleeping for back pain sufferers:

  • Reduces risk or snoring and sleep apnea
  • Fewer facial wrinkles than side-sleepers

Cons of stomach sleeping for back pain sufferers:

  • Discouraged by physicians and sleep experts due to high pressure and discomfort potential
  • Sleepers are prone to tossing and turning, which can disrupt sleep

Selecting Your Firmness Level

Sleepers with back pain should take special care when choosing their mattress firmness. The firmness level affects how well your mattress can relieve your back pain and support spinal alignment for your particular sleep position.

The best mattress firmness for you usually depends on your body weight. Generally speaking, people who weigh less than 130 pounds require softer mattresses in order to enjoy body-contouring and pressure relief, while those who weigh more than 230 pounds feel more comfortable on firmer mattresses that don’t cause them to sink too deeply.

Mattress firmness is illustrated using a 1-10 scale, with 1 being the least firm and 10 being the firmest; the vast majority of mattresses sold today fall between a 3 (Soft) and an 8 (Firm), and the most common firmness is a 6 to 6.5 (or Medium Firm).

The next table lists the ideal firmness levels for different weight groups in each of the three most common sleep positions. Please note that sleep experience is highly subjective, and that individual sleepers may find their comfort preferences do not correspond to the information listed in this table.

Weight Group Below-average (less than 130 lbs.) Average (130 to 230 lbs.) Above-average (more than 230 lbs.)
Ideal Firmness for Side Sleeping 3 (Soft) to 4.5 (Medium Soft) 5 (Medium) to 6.5 (Medium Firm) 6.5 (Medium Firm) to 8 (Firm)
Ideal Firmness for Back Sleeping 4 (Medium Soft) to 5.5 (Medium) 5 (Medium) to 6.5 (Medium Firm) 6 (Medium Firm) to 8 (Firm)
Ideal Firmness for Stomach Sleeping 3 (Soft) to 4.5 (Medium Soft) 4 (Medium Soft) to 5.5 (Medium) 6 (Medium Firm) to 7.5 (Firm)

Next, let’s look at the top-rated mattresses according to side-, back-, and stomach-sleepers in different weight groups.

Selecting Your Mattress Type

Mattress type is another important consideration for people with back pain. The five most common mattress types provide varying experiences for sleepers, depending on their body weight and preferred sleep position. Below we review each mattress type, along with the pros and cons of each for sleepers with back pain. Mattress types are listed in order of their suitability for individuals with back pain.

Foam Mattresses

Best Foam Mattresses for Sleepers with Back Pain:

Mattress Reviews
Nectar Mattress Review
Mattress Reviews
Bear Mattress Review

Foam mattresses feature comfort layers of memory foam and/or polyfoam, above a support core of high-density polyfoam. Foam mattresses are popular for their superior contouring and pressure point relief. For sleepers with back pain, these mattresses can contour to their body to support spinal alignment and relief while they sleep.

Average price: $800 to $1,200

Expected lifespan: 5 to 6 years

Benefits for sleepers with back pain:

  • Excellent conforming and pain relief
  • Motion isolation reduces disruptions during sleep
  • Widely available

Drawbacks for sleepers with back pain:

  • Mattresses made from lower-quality foams may cause sagging for heavier sleepers
  • Minimal edge support
  • Can trap heat

Latex Mattresses

Latex mattresses are made from synthetic or natural latex, with a high-density support core of polyfoam or latex, and latex comfort layers. These contour to the body, but to a lesser extent than foam mattresses. However, the responsiveness of the latex can almost feel too “bouncy” for some back pain sufferers. Because latex mattresses are so durable, especially those made from organic materials, they can be particularly supportive for heavier sleepers or anyone worried about sagging.

Average price: $1,800 and higher

Expected lifespan: 7 to 8 years

Benefits for sleepers with back pain:

  • Very durable and supportive
  • Above-average contouring and pain relief for back pain
  • Motion isolation reduces disruptions during sleep
  • All-organic latex sleeps very cool, even for hot sleepers

Drawbacks for sleepers with back pain:

  • Less available
  • Expensive

Hybrid Mattresses

Best Hybrid Mattresses for Sleepers with Back Pain:

Mattress Reviews
Brooklyn Bedding Aurora Mattress Review
Mattress Reviews
Allswell Luxe Hybrid Review
Mattress Reviews
DreamCloud Mattress Review

Hybrid mattresses have a support core of pocket coils surrounded by base polyfoam, topped with several inches of latex and/or memory foam comfort layers. These comfort layers give back pain sufferers the pressure point relief they need, while the individual pocket coils enhance the mattress’s overall contour and provide additional, dense support.

Average price: $1,200 to $1,800

Expected lifespan: 6 to 7 years

Benefits for sleepers with back pain:

  • Perfect combination of contour plus support for back pain sufferers
  • Varying firmness options can be suitable for different body weights
  • Typically sleep cool

Drawbacks for sleepers with back pain:

  • Less durable than other mattress types
  • Heavy and difficult to move
  • More expensive

Airbed Mattresses

Airbed use air in the support core, with comfort layers of foam. The support core can be filled or deflated according to the sleeper’s desired firmness level, allowing back pain sufferers to zero in on the precise amount of supportiveness they need. However, airbeds require more maintenance than any other mattress, which can be a dealbreaker for some sleepers.

Average price: $2,000 and higher

Expected lifespan: 7 to 9 years

Benefits for sleepers with back pain:

  • Adjustable firmness settings
  • Good pressure point relief for back pain sufferers
  • Can be less supportive for sleepers of light or heavy weight

Drawbacks for sleepers with back pain:

  • Less available
  • Parts need replacing over time
  • More expensive

Innerspring Mattresses

Top Innerspring Mattress for Side Sleepers:

Mattress Reviews
Saatva Mattress Review

Innerspring mattresses describe the traditional bed most people are familiar with. They feature a support core of innerspring coils, topped with comfort layers of foam. These mattresses are not known for their contour ability, so they’re often not preferred by sleepers with back pain. However, with sufficient comfort foam layers, they can provide adequate pressure relief while still providing a base of solid, evenly distributed support — as demonstrated by our Editor’s Pick, the Saatva.

Average price: $700 to $1,100

Expected lifespan: 4 to 6 years

Benefits for sleepers with back pain:

  • Strong edge support
  • Excellent airflow keeps mattress temperature cool for hot sleepers
  • Widely available

Drawbacks for sleepers with back pain:

  • Lack of conforming and pressure point relief for back pain
  • Can be prone to sagging, which may worsen back pain
  • Coil support core can create noise

Mattress Shopping FAQ for People with Back Pain

  • What firmness should you look for in a mattress if you have back pain?

    The ideal firmness for those with back pain will depend on both weight and sleeping position. Individuals under 130 pounds generally prefer softer sleep surfaces ranging from soft to medium firmness, depending on sleep position. Meanwhile sleepers between 130 and 230 pounds should generally look for a medium-soft to medium-firm mattress, and those above 230 pounds fare better with beds in the medium-firm to firm range.

  • What types of mattresses are best for those with back pain?

    People with back pain tend to benefit most from all-foam or latex mattresses, due to their ability to relieve pressure and contour closely to the body.

  • What sleeping position is best for lower back pain?

    The best sleeping position for those who experience lower back pain is on the side or back. Side sleepers should consider placing a pillow between the knees to maintain proper alignment through the pelvis and hips, and should switch sides each night to prevent shoulder pain. Some find the most relief in the fetal position, as this increases the space between the vertebrae. Back sleepers should consider placing a pillow beneath the knees to support the natural curvature of the spine.

  • What sleeping position is best for upper back pain?

    Sleepers experiencing upper back pain can find comfort and proper alignment by sleeping on their side with a foam pillow to support the head and a thin pillow between the knees to relieve pressure on the hips. Another good option is sleeping on the back with a cervical pillow to support the head and neck.

  • What type of mattress should you avoid if you have back pain?

    Those with back pain tend to prefer more contouring and pressure relief than most innerspring mattresses can offer. That said, there are exceptions in this category that contain thick enough comfort layers to provide adequate pressure relief.

Mattress Shopping Considerations for Sleepers with Back Pain

As you compare different brands and models, here are a few questions to ask yourself and factors to keep in mind when shopping for a new mattress if you have back pain.

  • How Much Do You Weigh?

    Body weight can be used to determine the ideal firmness for a new mattress. People who weigh less than 130 pounds — particularly those who sleep on their sides — tend to feel most comfortable on mattresses that are ‘Medium’ (5) or softer. Less firm surfaces allow them to experience close conforming and better pressure relief. People who weigh more than 230 pounds, on the other hand, often prefer firmer mattresses (‘Medium Firm’ or firmer) because they don’t sink too far.

  • What Is Your Preferred Sleep Position?

    People who sleep on their sides may require softer mattresses that conform to their figures and help align their spine, while stomach-sleepers often prefer firmer mattresses that don’t sink too deeply below their stomachs. Back sleepers can find comfort with something in the middle.

  • Do You Share Your Bed With Another Person?

    Sleep partners may not agree on the ideal firmness level. In these cases, a mattress that offers dual firmness — different firmness levels on each side of the bed — may be the best option. Alternately, a mattress with high conforming, like a memory foam bed, can adapt to keep both sleepers comfortable at night.

  • What Is Your Mattress Budget?

    Airbeds and latex mattresses are often effective for sleepers with back pain, but these models can easily cost $2,000 or more in a Queen size. Memory foam and hybrid models tend to be somewhat cheaper, and online-only brands typically have lower price-points compared to brands with a brick-and-mortar presence.

  • Does the Mattress Come With a Sleep Trial?

    Most mattress manufacturers offer a sleep trial, allowing customers to test out their new mattress for a certain length of time (typically 90 nights or longer); if the customer is dissatisfied with the mattress before the trial period expires, then they may return it for a refund or, in some cases, exchange it for a new model.

    Because experiences vary, and the quality of your sleep plays an important role in your ability to cope with back pain, we strongly recommend purchasing mattresses with generous sleep trials. All of the mattresses we recommend for sleepers with back pain offer sleep trials of 100 nights or more, but the Nectar mattress (our Best Value pick) and the DreamCloud mattress (our favorite for Heavyweight Sleepers) both stand out for their 365-night sleep trials.

    Some sleep trials include ‘mandatory break-in periods,’ which require the purchaser to test out their mattress for at least 30 nights before returning it. Both our Luxury pick, the Brooklyn Bedding Aurora, and our Average Weight pick, the Bear Mattress, have this requirement. However, sleep trials can save customers a substantial amount of money in the long run if they decide they are unhappy with their new purchase.

  • What Are the Warranty Terms?

    The vast majority of mattresses sold today come with product warranties that span at least 10 years in length, but these warranties tend to vary in terms of the following two factors:

    1. Nonprorated coverage length: During the nonprorated phase of a warranty, mattress owners do not need to pay to have a defective mattress repaired or replaced (aside from shipping and handling costs, in some cases). During the prorated phase, customers must pay a certain percentage of the original mattress price to have their current model replaced, and charges may also apply to mattress repairs. Prorated charges can lead to major costs down the road.

    Purchasers should always read the fine print: some warranties spanning 15 to 20 years only offer two to three years of nonprorated coverage before prorated charges kick in.

    2. Indentation depth: Over time, mattress surfaces develop indentations where owners tend to sleep, usually in the middle of the bed. These issues may compromise the supportiveness of the mattress, which can in turn exacerbate back problems. Most warranties list a ‘depth’ used to differentiate between normal wear and tear and severe indentations that are considered a warrantable defect. Some warranties will cover indentations deeper than half an inch (1/2″) to three-quarters of an inch (3/4″), while others will only cover indentations that measure deeper than one and a half inches (1 1/2″).

    Indentations that measure one inch (1″) or deeper are considered most problematic for people with back pain, so these individuals are urged to seek out mattress warranties that cover one-inch indentations

Match Your Pillows & Bedding

In addition to choosing the right mattress, people who live with back pain can further optimize their sleep environment with the right pillow and bedding accessories.

Select the Right Pillow

Pillow loft, or thickness, is crucial for sleepers with back pain. The proper amount of loft can alleviate pain and pressure in the neck, shoulders, lumbar region, and other sensitive areas, while the incorrect amount of loft can make these issues much worse. In order to determine the best loft for you, it’s important to consider your body weight, and shoulder width, as well as the firmness of the mattress you use.

The table below features a detailed breakdown of the three general loft categories.

Loft Category Thickness Optimal Weight Optimal Shoulder Width Optimal Mattress Firmness
Low Less than 3″ More than 230 lbs. Narrow Soft to Medium Soft
Medium 3″ to 5″ 130 to 230 lbs. Average Medium
High More than 5″ Less than 130 lbs. Broad Medium Firm to Firm

Pillow composition is also important because some materials provide more support and comfort than others. Materials like buckwheat, memory foam, and latex conform closely to the sleeper’s head and alleviate a fair amount of pressure, but these pillow types tend to be fairly expensive. Cheaper models, such as polyester and down alternative, do not conform and support as much.

If you experience chronic back pain, then supplemental pillows can be used in addition to the one beneath your head. People who sleep on their back may find relief by placing a pillow beneath their knees, while side-sleepers often feel more comfortable with a pillow between their knees and beneath their ribs.

For more information about pillows, please visit our Best Pillows for Back Pain — Buying Guide and Information page.

Use a Mattress Topper

A topper is an individual layer of cushioning that rests on top of the mattress cover. Mattress toppers are designed to adjust the firmness of the sleep surface; most toppers make the mattress feel less firm, although some topper models may increase the firmness. Toppers can be ideal for people who are dissatisfied with their mattress firmness but are unable to return their mattress, as well as couples with differing firmness preferences.

Toppers may be made from a wide range of materials, including feathers, memory foam, convoluted polyfoam, latex, or wool; price-points vary by material composition and brand, but most cost less than $150.

Topper firmness, thickness, and density are all important considerations, and the ideal settings often depends on the sleeper’s weight and preferred position. The table below features more information.

Sleep Position Weight Group Ideal Firmness Ideal Topper Thickness Ideal Topper Density
Side Less than 130 lbs Soft to Medium Soft 1″ to 2″ 2.5 PCF and lower
130 to 230 lbs Medium Soft to Medium 2″ to 2 1/2″ 3 to 4 PCF
More than 230 lbs Medium Firm to Firm 2″ to 3″ 4 PCF and higher
Back Less than 130 lbs Medium Soft to Medium Firm 1 1/2″ to 2 1/2″ 2.5 to 3 PCF
130 to 230 lbs Medium to Firm 2″ to 3″ 3.5 to 5 PCF
More than 230 lbs Medium Firm to Firm 2″ to 3″ 4.5 PCF and higher
Stomach Less than 130 lbs Medium Soft to Medium Firm 1″ to 1 1/2″ 3 PCF and lower
130 to 230 lbs Medium Firm to Firm 1″ to 2″ 2.5 to 4 PCF
More than 230 lbs Firm to Extra Firm 2″ to 3″ 3.5 to 4.5 PCF

To learn more about toppers, check out our Best Mattress Toppers for Back Pain guide.

Invest in an Adjustable Bed

Adjustable beds are designed for customization. Most models can be elevated or lowered at both the head and foot of the bed to create different sleeping positions; angled surfaces can ease back pain for many sleepers. Additionally, many newer adjustable bed models offer a ‘silent massage’ function, which generates small vibrations in the sleep surface that can alleviate aches and pains. Most adjustable beds sold today have remote controls, including those can be adjusted using smartphones or tablets.

Adjustable beds can be quite expensive. The baseline cost is roughly $1,000, but most models cost at least $2,000 — and some reach $3,500 or higher. However, many sleepers with back pain find that adjustable beds are a worthwhile investment that greatly improves their sleep quality. To learn more, visit our Adjustable Bed Reviews guide.

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