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Best Mattresses for Back Pain – 2022 Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Jenny Iyo

Written by Tuck Staff

Quick Overview

Millions of adults in the U.S. live with chronic or frequent back pain. A mattress that provides the right balance of cushioning and support can alleviate soreness and discomfort in the shoulders, upper back, and lumbar region. By the same token, a mattress that feels too soft or too firm can exacerbate back pain and disrupt sleep.

The Tuck team has personally tested hundreds of mattresses and evaluated each one based on different performance criteria. Our picks for the best mattresses for upper and lower back pain are listed below, followed by in-depth profiles about each model. Scroll down further for a detailed buyer’s guide, where we’ll cover important mattress qualities for people with back pain, pros and cons of different mattress types, and frequently asked questions from first-time mattress shoppers.

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

Best OverallSaatva Classic

Best Overall – Saatva Classic

Highlights

  • Multiple firmness options (4,6,7.5)
  • 365-night sleep trial
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Sturdy and responsive coil-on-coil design
  • Consistent breathability and cooling
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Best OverallSaatva Classic

saatva.com

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The Saatva Classic checks several boxes for sleepers with back pain. The mattress is quite supportive thanks to its innovative innerspring construction, which features a Euro-top padded with polyfoam and memory foam over a transitional layer of pocketed minicoils and an hourglass coil support core. This coil-on-coil design makes the mattress very sturdy and responsive without feeling overly stiff.

The Saatva Classic’s versatile design is another strong point. Customers can choose between three firmness levels: medium soft (4), medium firm (6), or firm (7.5). The mattress is also available in two profiles – 11.5 or 14.5 inches – to sleepers based on their preferred thickness.

Since the Saatva Classic is so springy, most people won’t have too much trouble moving across the surface. The mattress is also well suited to couples who prefer responsive beds for sex. Both coil layers promote steady airflow to help the mattress stay cool, which also makes it a good option for hot sleepers and those who reside in warm climates.

The sticker price for this mattress is quite reasonable given its luxurious construction. Additionally, Saatva provides free White Glove delivery – including full in-home assembly and old mattress removal – for all orders in the contiguous U.S. Customers also receive a 365-night sleep trial and a lifetime warranty with their purchase.

The Bottom Line.

The Saatva Classic stands out thanks to its innovative construction, which fuses traditional innerspring qualities with modern construction. A wide range of design options makes the mattress suitable for most people across different body type and sleep position groups.

  • Sleepers who prefer bouncy beds. The Saatva Classic’s coil-on-coil construction produces a very responsive feel along the surface reminiscent of traditional innerspring models.
  • Hot sleepers. Both coil layers circulate air to help the mattress core maintain a comfortable temperature, making the Saatva Classic a solid choice for hot sleepers.
  • Shoppers looking for a mattress with strong edge support. The coil layers reinforce the perimeter to minimize sinkage and make getting in and out of bed easier.
  • Those who would rather not set up a new mattress themselves. Saatva provides free White Glove delivery for all orders, which includes full assembly in a room of the customer’s choice and removal of their old mattress at no extra cost.

Not Recommended for:

  • Sleepers who prefer deep body-contouring. Even with a medium soft feel, the Saatva Classic does not conform very closely. Those who enjoy the “body hug” of memory foam may find the mattress too stiff.
  • Couples. Motion isolation is minimal for the Saatva Classic due to its responsive coil-on-coil design. Sleepers may also notice squeaks and creaks from the hourglass coils when their partner moves in bed.

Most ComfortableNest Bedding Sparrow

Most Comfortable – Nest Bedding Sparrow

Highlights

  • Multiple firmness options (3,5.5,7.5)
  • 365-night sleep trial
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Luxurious pillow-top design
  • Replaceable comfort system allows owners to customize the feel
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Most ComfortableNest Bedding Sparrow

nestbedding.com

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The Sparrow from Nest Bedding is another mattress available in multiple firmness levels. The soft (3) feel offers very close contouring and is best suited to lighter people and side sleepers, the medium (5.5) feel provides a good balance of cushioning and support for back sleepers, and the firm (7.5) feel is best suited to heavier individuals who need more reinforcement.

The hybrid is designed with memory foam and polyfoam comfort layers contained within a luxe pillow-top layer. Regardless of which firmness a customer chooses, the pillow-top delivers extra padding to prevent the mattress from feeling excessively stiff. The support core consists of pocketed coils arranged in a zoned configuration to provide extra push-back along the perimeter and prevent people from sinking too much when they sleep near or sit along the edges.

Like other hybrids, the Sparrow is a good option for hot sleepers thanks to consistent airflow throughout the coil chamber, as well as a cover made from cooling phase change material. The pillow-top layers can also be removed and replaced if customers are not satisfied with their initial firmness selection.

The Sparrow is competitively priced, but Nest Bedding will deliver it for free anywhere in the contiguous U.S. Customers may test out the mattress for up to 365 nights and exchange the comfort layers as needed. A lifetime warranty is also included with purchase.

The Bottom Line.

Thanks to its pillow-top design, the Sparrow is ideal for sleepers looking for a balance of plush body-cushioning and strong overall support. Nest Bedding also offers three firmness options and allows buyers to exchange the model during their sleep trial for added customization.

  • Sleepers who prefer a combination of contouring and support. A pillow-top padded with conforming foam layers and a pocketed coil system give the Sparrow a very balanced feel.
  • Hot sleepers. The coils promote steady airflow throughout the mattress interior to regulate its core temperature and keep sleepers comfortable. The cover is quilted with phase-change material for added cooling.
  • Couples who normally find coil mattresses too disruptive. Motion isolation is above-average for the Sparrow, and the coils produce a relatively low amount of noise.
  • People who are unsure of their optimal firmness level. Nest Bedding offers three firmness options for this mattress. Customers can exchange for different comfort materials if they find their initial firmness too soft or too firm.

Not Recommended for:

  • People who feel most comfortable on highly responsive mattresses. While the coils provide some noticeable springiness, the Sparrow lacks the bounciness of traditional innersprings and more responsive hybrids.
  • Couples who like bouncy beds for sex. The foam layers may sink a bit during amorous activities, which can hinder movements for couples.

Best OrganicEco Terra

Best Organic – Eco Terra

Highlights

  • Multiple firmness options (5,6.5)
  • 90-night sleep trial
  • 15-year warranty
  • Excellent cooling for hot sleepers
  • Durable latex hybrid construction
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Best OrganicEco Terra

ecoterrabeds.com

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The Eco Terra is a latex hybrid with an exceptionally resilient design. The comfort layer is composed of durable Talalay latex that contours to the body and alleviates pressure, but won’t develop permanent indentations as quickly as foam. A support core of thick pocketed coils provides great overall stability, especially along the edges. As a result, the Eco Terra’s expected lifespan far exceeds that of the average mattress model.

The mattress is also well suited to hot sleepers. The latex is ventilated and cut with cooling channels, which prevents the material from absorbing too much warmth, and the coils circulate air throughout the mattress core. The cover is made of organic cotton for added breathability.

Customers choose from two firmness levels. The medium (5) models deliver closer contouring and cushioning along the spine, making this option suitable for side sleepers, while the medium firm (6.5) feel provides more reinforcement for back and stomach sleepers.

The Eco Terra is very reasonably priced compared to the average latex hybrid. The company also offers free shipping and returns for all U.S. orders. Customers receive a 90-night sleep trial for testing out the mattress and a 15-year warranty that covers structural defects.

The Bottom Line.

The budget-friendly Eco Terra is a durable, responsive mattress that provides strong support and noticeable responsiveness. The layers also offer consistent breathability and temperature control.

  • Those who prefer very responsive mattresses. As is often the case with latex hybrids, the Eco Terra feels quite springy on the surface. Most people will have little difficulty moving across the mattress.
  • Hot sleepers. The Eco Terra excels at temperature neutrality thanks to its ventilated Talalay latex, air-circulating coil system, and breathable organic cotton cover.
  • People who struggle getting in and out of bed. Ultra-sturdy edge support ensures most people will be able to get on and off the Eco Terra with relative ease.
  • Value seekers. Compared to other latex hybrids, the Eco Terra is exceptionally low-priced.

Not Recommended for:

  • Sleepers who want or need a mattress that contours closely. The latex comfort layer will conform gently, but this material won’t hug and cradle the body to the same extent as memory foam.
  • Couples. The above-average responsiveness of this mattress means co-sleepers will feel more transfer across the surface when their partner moves in bed and may experience more disruptions as a result.

Best ValueDreamCloud Premier

Best Value – DreamCloud Premier

Highlights

  • Medium Firm (6.5)
  • 365-night sleep trial
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Thick, pressure-relieving comfort system
  • Good motion isolation
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Best ValueDreamCloud Premier

dreamcloudsleep.com

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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 Premier is a prime example. It is a pillow-top hybrid with a medium firm (6.5) feel constructed with layers of memory foam and polyfoam in the comfort system. Sleepers experience improved spinal alignment and targeted pressure relief without sagging excessively, making the DreamCloud Premier a good option for heavier individuals.

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 Premier 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 Premier is backed by a 365-night sleep trial and a lifetime warranty.

The Bottom Line.

The smart construction of the DreamCloud Premier 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 Premier is composed of sturdy foams and materials that can support sleepers of heavier weights.
  • Those who prefer thicker, closely conforming comfort layers. A pillow-top cushioned with foam gives the DreamCloud Premier a luxuriously plush surface feel.
  • Value seekers. The DreamCloud Premier 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 Premier may feel too firm for these sleepers.
  • Stomach sleepers. Stomach sleepers may find their midriff area sinks lower and out of alignment with the rest of their body.

Best CoolingWinkBeds EcoCloud

Best Cooling – WinkBeds EcoCloud

Highlights

  • Medium Firm (6)
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Durable latex hybrid construction
  • Sleeps exceptionally cool
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Best CoolingWinkBeds EcoCloud

winkbeds.com

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Not all sleepers with back pain want a softer feel and deep conforming. Some prefer more responsiveness and a gentle body contour that cushions the body without the “hug” of adaptive foam. These sleepers are prime candidates for a latex hybrid, and the EcoCloud by WinkBeds is an excellent choice for this mattress category.

The EcoCloud is constructed with two layers of Talalay latex over thick pocketed coils. The mattress has a medium firm feel, so it should provide adequate support for most people while minimizing pain and pressure points along the spine. Back sleepers in particular should find the mattress comfortable, but it also provides enough conforming and support for side and stomach sleepers who weigh up to 230 pounds.

Latex is an exceptionally durable mattress material that resists indentations and wear and tear better than foam, so owners can expect a long lifespan from their EcoCloud. Another advantage of latex is above-average temperature control, especially compared to memory foam. The EcoCloud features open-cell latex that is very breathable, allowing the mattress and its sleepers to remain cool throughout the night. The coils also promote airflow for added temperature regulation, and the cover is made of organic cotton and moisture-wicking wool.

The EcoCloud is competitively priced, but still costs less than many competing latex hybrids – a notoriously expensive mattress type. WinkBeds also ships the bed for free to all customers in the contiguous U.S. The mattress comes with a 120-night sleep trial and a full-replacement lifetime warranty.

The Bottom Line.

The EcoCloud is a latex hybrid that delivers gentle contouring and back pain relief much like memory foam, but without hugging the body too closely or sleeping excessively hot. The natural durability of latex also ensures long-lasting comfort and support.

  • Back sleepers. While the EcoCloud has received favorable ratings across different sleep position groups, the mattress is especially well suited to back sleepers thanks to its supportive design.
  • Hot sleepers. Latex hybrids tend to sleep quite cool and the EcoCloud is no exception. This can be attributed to its breathable cover and comfort layer, as well as a coil system that promotes steady air circulation.
  • Those who enjoy the feel of a springy mattress. The latex and coils combine to create a very responsive surface for the EcoCloud.
  • People who struggle getting on and off of their mattress. A stabilizing coil system provides excellent edge support and reduces sinkage when people sit along the perimeter of the mattress.

Not Recommended for:

  • Sleepers who prefer the body-hug of foam beds. People who enjoy the feel of memory foam or adaptive polyfoam may not receive enough contouring from the EcoCloud.
  • People who awaken easily from their sleep partner’s movements. The EcoCloud is quite responsive, resulting in a fair amount of motion transfer when someone moves in bed.

Best for Lightweight SleepersNectar Mattress

Best for Lightweight Sleepers – Nectar Mattress

Highlights

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

nectarsleep.com

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The Nectar Mattress delivers a soothing night’s sleep at a great price, making it a budget-friendly option for people with 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 for Average Weight SleepersLeesa Sapira Hybrid

Best for Average Weight Sleepers – Leesa Sapira Hybrid

Highlights

  • Medium Firm (6.5)
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 10-year warranty
  • Breathable design provides good temperature control
  • Strong coils stabilize the edges without generating too much transfer
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Best for Average Weight SleepersLeesa Sapira Hybrid

leesa.com

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People who weigh between 130 and 230 pounds typically require a balanced feel from their mattress. The comfort layers should contour closely enough to reduce pain and pressure points, but the mattress should also provide an adequate amount of support to prevent deep, uncomfortable sinkage. The Leesa Sapira Hybrid, which is medium firm (6.5), is one model that fits this description perfectly. Three foam layers cushion the body and provide noticeable conforming, while a sturdy support core of pocketed coils stabilizes the mattress and keeps sleepers on an even plane.

In our testing, we found the Leesa Sapira Hybrid was a popular model across different position groups. Average weight side sleepers receive enough padding for their shoulders and hips to ensure even alignment and less discomfort along the spine, while back and stomach sleepers can rest comfortably without their midsections and hips dipping beneath the surface too much.

Temperature neutrality is another major strength of the Leesa Sapira Hybrid. The top foam layer is aerated to allow extra airflow near the surface and keep sleepers cool, while the coils generate circulate air throughout the mattress core. Thanks to its thick coil system, the Leesa Sapira Hybrid also excels at edge support and should feel perfectly secure when owners sleep near or sit along the perimeter.

For a hybrid model, the Leesa Sapira Hybrid’s price-point is very reasonable. Shipping is also free for customers in all 50 states and most of Canada. A 100-night sleep trial and 10-year warranty is included with each purchase.

The Bottom Line.

The Leesa Sapira Hybrid’s medium firm feel and adaptive foam layers make it popular with sleepers in the average weight group. The mattress is also a great option for hot sleepers and people seeking a bed with strong edge support.

  • Back sleepers. The Leesa Sapira Hybrid fared well with our testers across all position groups, but those who prefer back sleeping awarded it the highest ratings.
  • People who prefer the feel of a responsive mattress. While not as bouncy as some competing coil mattresses, the Leesa Sapira Hybrid provides a springy surface and shouldn’t hug the body too closely.
  • Hot sleepers. A ventilated upper foam layer and steady airflow through the coil system allow the Leesa Sapira Hybrid to sleep very cool.
  • Those who have a hard time getting in and out of bed. Sturdy edge support allows most people to get on and off of the Leesa Sapira Hybrid with relative ease.

Not Recommended for...

  • Lightweight side sleepers. While the mattress has proven popular with most people regardless of body type or preferred position, side sleepers weighing less than 130 pounds will probably find the mattress too firm.
  • Couples. The coils create some surface-level responsiveness that can produce more motion transfer, potentially leading to sleep disturbances for co-sleepers.

Best OverallHelix Midnight

Best Overall – Helix Midnight

Highlights

  • Medium (5.5)
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 10-year warranty
  • Comfortable balance of contouring and support
  • Consistent breathability and temperature control
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Best OverallHelix Midnight

helixsleep.com

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Helix Sleep offers an extensive line of hybrid mattresses that vary in terms of firmness and contouring level. We’ve selected the Helix Midnight for its balanced medium feel. A comfort layer of contouring memory foam cushions the body and alleviates pressure in the lower back and other areas along the spine, while thick pocketed coils reinforce and stabilize the bed to prevent excessive sinkage and added aches and pains.

The Midnight is particularly well suited to side sleepers, a group that often experiences back pain due to uneven alignment. Back and stomach sleepers who weigh up to 230 pounds should also find the mattress sufficiently supportive. The Midnight is a good choice for hot sleepers too. The coils promote steady airflow to help keep the mattress core cool, while the memory foam is infused with gel intended to draw heat away from the body.

For sleepers with back pain who require a little more padding, the Helix Midnight LUXE is an upgrade model constructed with a foam-cushioned pillow-top layer and an additional foam comfort layer.

The Helix Midnight’s price-point is very approachable, especially compared to other hybrid models, and Helix Sleep offers free ground shipping for all U.S. orders. The mattress comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.

The Bottom Line.

For many sleepers who live with back pain, the medium-feel Helix Midnight will be the best of both worlds: a mattress that conforms to the body and alleviates pressure along the spine while also supporting the body with a strong coil system. The Midnight also sleeps quite cool, and its sticker price is very reasonable.

Good for:

  • Side and back sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
  • Those who like the close conforming of memory foam
  • Couples
  • Back pain sufferers
  • Side sleepers. The memory foam cushions the spine and improves alignment to reduce pain and pressure points for side sleepers.
  • People who weigh 230 pounds or less. Due to its medium feel, the Midnight should provide enough support for most people in the lightweight and average weight groups.
  • Hot sleepers. The coils circulate air throughout the mattress core to maintain a comfortable temperature, and the foam is infused with gel to dissipate body heat.
  • Value seekers. Compared to other hybrids, the Helix Midnight is relatively inexpensive, and shipping is free for all orders.

Not Recommended for...

  • People who weigh more than 230 pounds. Heavyweight sleepers are likely to find the mattress too soft and sink excessively.
  • Sleepers who prefer ultra-responsive coil mattresses. The Midnight contours closely and lacks the signature bounciness of traditional innersprings.

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.

Back Pain and Sleep

Roughly 80% of adults experience back pain at some point in their lives – and for 10% of adults, back pain is a chronic issue. Persistent pain in the upper or lower back can affect your sleep, leaving you tired and inattentive the next day. Likewise, how you sleep and the mattress you use may aggravate existing back pain or create new discomfort.

A mattress cannot cure or treat back pain. However, choosing the right mattress can help you sleep more soundly and comfortably by alleviating aches and pressure points in the shoulders, upper back, lumbar region, and hips. In this buyer’s guide, we’ll discuss how to pick out a good mattress for back pain based on its materials and design, your body weight, and the sleep position you normally use.

Types of Back Pain

If you live with back pain, your sleep needs largely depend on the area of your back where pain is concentrated. The most common types of back pain include:

Upper to Mid Back Pain

Upper and mid back pain affect the T1 to T12 vertebrae that run along the thoracic region of the spine and connect to the ribs. These vertebrae help form the rib cage to protect vital organs, and also play a role in stabilizing the spine and promoting proper balance.

These types of back pain can occur due to strain on nerves, ligaments, and muscles in the thoracic region. Bulging or rupturing in the discs that separate vertebrae and cushion the spine may also be to blame. However, some people experience upper to mid back pain because of inconsistencies with their sleep surface. These issues can arise from a mattress that feels too soft or too firm, or a pillow that does not provide enough support to keep the head and neck aligned with the rest of the spine.

People with upper to mid back pain can benefit from sleeping on their side with a foam pillow to support the head and neck. Side sleepers generally need loftier pillows than back or stomach sleepers, so the pillow should be thick enough to promote even alignment from the head down. A thin pillow between the knees can also reduce pressure around the hips for side sleepers with back pain. Alternatively, sleepers with back pain who prefer sleeping on their backs may find relief using a cervical pillow that elevates the neck and cradles the head.

Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is the most common type of back pain. The affected area consists of five individual vertebrae in the lumbar region of the spine, the sacrum that forms the base of the spine, and the coccyx – or tailbone – at the bottom tip of the spinal column. Since the lower spine has a more pronounced curvature and wider range of motion, it is more susceptible to aches and pains.

Muscle strain is a common cause of lower back pain. Other contributing factors may include ruptured or herniated discs, compression fractures, or conditions affecting the shape of the spine such as stenosis or scoliosis. A mattress that lacks sufficient support can cause or worsen back pain. People tend to carry a disproportionate amount of weight in their lower torso and hips. If a mattress feels too soft, these areas can sink excessively and create pressure in the lower back.

For side sleepers with lower back pain, lying in the fetal position with a pillow between the knees may provide relief – provided they switch sides every few nights to minimize soreness in the shoulders. Back sleepers may find a pillow beneath their knees more comfortable, whereas a pillow positioned under the pelvis can alleviate lower back pain for stomach sleepers.

Neck Pain

Neck pain affects the C1 to C7 vertebrae that make up the cervical region of the spine. These vertebrae facilitate head movements such as nodding and neck rotation. Neck pain often occurs in tandem with back pain. Many people who primarily work while sitting at a desk feel stiffness or soreness in their neck at the end of the day. Issues that cause upper or lower back pain such as ruptured discs can also cause neck pain.

If you live with persistent neck pain, the pillow you use merits serious consideration. A cervical pillow that raises the neck to promote even alignment without lifting the head too much can help reduce aches and pains. Pillows with standard shapes can also be effective as long as they provide enough loft to keep the head and neck aligned with the spine. The mattress you use is important for alleviating pain in other areas of the back, but without the right pillow you may still feel aches or soreness in your neck.

Does Sleep Position Affect Back Pain?

The side, back, and stomach position each put pressure on different areas of the body. Understanding where and how this pressure occurs can help you choose a mattress based on your sleep position.

  • Side Sleepers: Side sleepers are likely to feel the most pressure in the shoulders and hips because they are wider than other areas of the body. A mattress should provide extra cushioning for these pressure-sensitive areas without sinking or buckling too much beneath their weight. For this reason, side sleepers generally prefer softer mattresses compared to back or stomach sleepers.
  • Back Sleepers: Back sleeping can place undue pressure on the lumbar region. If a mattress feels too soft, then the lower back may sink too deeply. This can compromise spinal alignment. Back sleepers tend to prefer a slightly firmer feel than side sleepers. Many benefit from using a mattress with zoned layers, which feel more supportive around the midsection and softer elsewhere.
  • Stomach Sleepers: Since people tend to carry more weight in their stomach than other areas of the body, sleeping face down may cause you to sink excessively into your mattress. This can put pressure on both the neck and lumbar region. Stomach sleepers typically need a firm mattress to mitigate this issue. A thin pillow – or even no pillow at all – may also be preferable, as thick pillows can put the neck and shoulders out of alignment with the rest of the body.
  • Combination Sleepers: Combination sleepers switch between different sleep positions on a regular basis, meaning they may feel pressure in a certain area one night and another area the next. Airbed mattresses with adjustable firmness levels are ideal for many combination sleepers with back pain, but these models tend to be expensive. A cheaper workaround may be to use a supplemental pillow between the knees or beneath the legs or pelvis, depending on which position you’re using.

Which Mattresses Are Best for Back Pain?

The best mattress for back pain depends entirely on you, the sleeper. Your body weight and sleep position play a major role in determining which mattresses feel comfortable. Whether your back pain is chronic or sporadic, choosing the right mattress can help ensure you sleep comfortably without added soreness or stiffness when you get up in the morning.

Important qualities to look for in a mattress for back pain and pressure relief include:

  • Contouring: A mattress that contours evenly to the body distributes weight and relieves pressure in areas along the spine. Beds that contour too closely will likely sink to an excessive degree, so your weight is a factor for pinpointing the optimal contouring level.
  • Support: Just as a mattress should contour closely enough to improve alignment and reduce pain along the spine, it also needs to maintain an even plane for the body without sinking beneath heavier areas. Some mattresses offer zoned support, meaning areas of the mattress that bear more weight feel firmer and won’t sink as much.
  • Durability: As mattress materials deteriorate, the sleep surface becomes less stable and is more likely to sink beneath heavier areas of the body. Mattresses with long-lasting materials like high-density foam, latex, or steel coils tend to perform longer than those with less durable components.
  • Ease of Movement: If a mattress is too soft, you may sink too much when getting in and out of bed or changing sleep positions. Those with back pain may experience added discomfort as they struggle to move on their mattress.
  • Edge Support: A mattress with a stable perimeter allows you to utilize the entire surface and prevents sinkage if you sleep close to the edges. Mattresses with coils generally excel at edge support.

Every mattress model sold today has a unique design, but most fall into one of five general categories based on their construction.

Foam Mattresses

Foam mattresses are constructed with top layers of memory foam or adaptive polyfoam. Both of these materials are designed to contour evenly and distribute your weight, resulting in a cradling sensation many people liken to sleeping “in” – rather than sleeping “on” – the mattress. The transitional and support layers are composed of denser foam to stabilize the mattress.

Many people with back pain find foam mattresses most comfortable because they hug the body and cushion high-pressure areas. This is especially true for side sleepers, as foam mattresses tend to be gentler on the shoulders and hips without sacrificing support. However, these mattresses won’t provide the same level of stability as a mattress with sturdier support materials such as coils or latex, so sinkage may be an issue for some people – especially back or stomach sleepers who weigh more than 230 pounds.

Average Price (Queen): $800 to $1,100

Hybrid Mattresses

Hybrid mattresses are constructed with thick comfort systems containing layers of foam, latex, or minicoils, followed by pocketed coils and dense base layers. These mattresses combine the robust coil support of a traditional innerspring with the close contouring and pressure relief of a foam or latex mattress. As a result, many people with back pain consider hybrids the best of both worlds.

The strengths of a hybrid model depend on its design. Foam hybrids tend to offer deeper conforming to cushion the body, promote even alignment, and reduce back pain for side sleepers. Most latex hybrids feel firmer and more supportive, so these models may be the best choice for back and stomach sleepers with back pain.

Average Price (Queen): $1,500 to $2,200

Latex Mattresses

Latex is produced using the sappy extract of rubber trees. Most all-latex mattresses feature at least one layer of softer, more adaptive latex near the surface and denser latex layers in the support core. Some latex models are designed with layers that can be swapped out to change the firmness and overall support level.

Compared to foam, latex does not contour as closely and feels bouncier on the surface. These qualities make latex mattresses a good alternative for people who sink too much and feel added back pain when using a foam bed. That said, latex may not provide enough cushioning for certain people with back pain, such as side sleepers.

Average Price (Queen): $1,600 to $2,200

Innerspring Mattresses

The oldest type of mattress still made today, a traditional innerspring is defined by thin layers of foam or fiber padding over a support core of steel coils. Innersprings don’t provide as much contouring or pressure relief as hybrids, which feature thicker comfort layers, but both mattress types are comparable in terms of overall support.

Since extra cushioning is often needed to alleviate aches and pains along the spine, innersprings are less than ideal for many people with back pain. Even softer models tend to have relatively thin comfort layers. However, those with back pain who weigh more than 230 pounds can benefit from enhanced coil support that minimizes sinkage around the midsection.

Average Price (Queen): $700 to $1,000

Airbed Mattresses

The most advanced of the five major mattress types, airbeds are outfitted with adjustable air chambers located throughout their support cores. Adding or releasing air from each chamber changes the firmness for different areas of the sleep surface. Many modern airbeds also feature comfort layers of cushioning materials like memory foam, adaptive polyfoam, or latex.

The ability to change the firmness on your side of the bed at the push of a button is a clear advantage for anyone with back pain, especially combination sleepers who frequently change positions. On airbeds with zoned chambers, you can customize the firmness level for different areas of the body. The only major downside to airbeds is the sticker price – on average, this is by far the most expensive mattress type.

Average Price (Queen): $2,400 to $3,000

What Is the Best Mattress Firmness for Back Pain?

Firmness refers to how closely a mattress contours to your body, as well as its overall support level. We measure firmness using a 10-point scale with 1 being as soft as possible and 10 being the firmest. Most mattresses sold today fall between 3, or “soft,” and 8, or “firm.” Those with back pain need a mattress that cushions sensitive areas without sinking too deeply, so finding the right firmness may take some trial and error.

The optimal firmness for any person with back pain largely depends on two factors, their body weight and preferred sleep position. The more you weigh, the deeper your body will sink into a mattress. It’s also important to note that back and stomach sleepers may need added support around the midsection, whereas side sleepers often require gentle cushioning for the shoulders and hips.

The following firmness recommendations are based on feedback from our in-house testing team. Keep in mind these recommendations are based on a general consensus, and may not apply to you.

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)

Sleep Accessories for People with Back Pain

Your mattress isn’t the only component to consider when creating a sleep space that reduces back pain. Important sleep accessories for people with back pain include pillows, mattress toppers, and adjustable beds.

Pillows for Sleepers with Back Pain

Using the right pillow to support your head and neck can help ensure even alignment and less pressure along the spine. Side sleepers typically need thick pillows to promote good alignment – otherwise their heads tilt downward and they can experience shoulder pressure. Back sleepers can usually get by with mid-loft pillows that maintain an even surface. A thinner, lower-profile pillow is often best for stomach sleepers since too much elevation around the neck can compromise alignment, but some sleep comfortably without any pillow support.

You can also use the firmness of your mattress to find the right pillow. If your mattress is on the softer side, then you’ll likely sink more and a thick pillow may elevate the head too much. This is why low-loft pillows generally work better with softer mattresses. The firmer the mattress, the more loft you’ll need to promote good alignment. Your shoulder width may play a role in preferred pillow loft, as well.

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

Supplemental pillows are also effective for many people with back pain. Whether tucked between the knees or beneath the legs, the added cushioning can alleviate pressure in the lower back and hips. Side sleepers – pregnant people, in particular – can also reduce upper and lower back pain by snuggling with a body pillow.

Mattress Toppers for Sleepers with Back Pain

A mattress topper is a layer of cushioning material that rests between your body and the mattress surface. Most toppers measure between 1 and 4 inches thick. Common materials for toppers include memory foam, convoluted “egg crate” foam, latex, wool, and feathers.

The goal of using a topper is to make a mattress feel different. If your mattress feels too firm but you aren’t ready to buy a new model, then a softer topper can deliver extra cushioning and relief for back pain. Likewise, a firmer topper can stabilize a sleep surface that feels too soft.

Many mattresses become softer and less supportive as they age, which can cause or worsen back pain. A topper should be seen as a temporary fix for a mattress on its last leg. As the mattress nears the end of its lifespan, even a thick topper won’t provide adequate comfort. So while a topper can be useful in these situations, investing in a new mattress should be your ultimate goal.

Adjustable Beds Bases for Back Pain

Bed bases come in many different designs. Bare-bones metal frames and slatted platform beds are perfectly serviceable for most people, but those with back pain can benefit from using an adjustable bed base that elevates and lowers the head and feet. The “zero gravity” position, in which the head and legs are both elevated to simulate floating, has proven particularly popular among those with back pain. Some modern bases are also equipped with vibrating massage functions to reduce pain in the back and other areas of the body.

There are a few considerations to make when deciding whether to purchase an adjustable bed. One factor is cost, as adjustable beds can be fairly expensive. If you and your partner both live with back pain but have different sleep needs, then you may want to consider buying a mattress with a split size to use on the adjustable base. Split mattresses are divided down the middle, allowing each of you to adjust the head and feet angle without affecting the other person’s side of the bed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below, we’ll answer some common mattress questions from sleepers 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 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.

  • How do mattress sleep trials and warranties work?

    Most online mattress brands offer sleep trials that give customers the opportunity to test out their new mattress. Sleep trials typically last at least 90 nights, but some extend to a full calendar year. If you aren’t satisfied with the mattress and decide to return it before the trial ends, the company will issue a full product refund minus any applicable return fees.

    Mattresses take a while to break in properly. For this reason, some mattress brands require you to test out the mattress for up to 30 nights before you’ll be eligible for a full refund and free returns. Other brands allow you to return the mattress during any point of the trial. Be sure to read the fine print before purchasing a mattress online.

    All online mattresses come with a manufacturer’s warranty, and the vast majority are covered under this warranty for at least 10 years. The warranty is a guarantee from the manufacturer that the mattress you’ve purchased isn’t defective in any way. If you notice a defect such as deep sagging, protruding wires, or a faulty cover zipper, the company will either repair your mattress or send you a replacement model.

    Keep in mind that certain issues with the mattress are not covered under warranty. These include minor indentations from normal wear and tear, pet stains, and physical damage that occurs after the mattress arrives at your residence.

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