If you or someone close to you is experiencing back pain, you’re not alone. Back pain is so common that the National Institute of Health estimates 80% of adults in the United States suffer from either acute or chronic back pain. While this pain can be caused by a number of variables, your mattress is a fundamental one—it can cause back pain or make it worse if you’re not sleeping on the right mattress.
To find that ideal fit, the primary areas to assess are firmness, sleep position, and mattress type and materials. It’s also crucial to know how your bed affects spinal alignment and supports pressure relief. In this guide, we’ve selected five of the best mattresses for back pain based on customer reviews and extensive testing.
These are the 10 best mattresses for back pain.
Keep reading to learn more about how your mattress is linked to back pain and what each of these mattresses has to offer.
Buying a new mattress is a very personal decision, but there are a few factors that anyone who suffers from back pain should look for when choosing a bed.
It was once believed that a firmer mattress offered the best support for your back, but that is no longer the current wisdom. "While it's a commonly held belief that a firm mattress is best for sleepers suffering from back pain, that is not always the case,” said Dr. Luis Peña-Hernández, MD, FCCP, at the Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Disorders Institute of South Florida. “A firm mattress doesn't always provide adequate contouring for the spine, which can cause additional problems. A better approach is to select a mattress aligned to your unique sleep preferences and needs instead of a one-size-fits-all option."
Depending on whether you're a side sleeper, a back sleeper, or a stomach sleeper, mattresses are designed to accommodate different sleeping positions. Authorities like Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic emphasize the correlation between sleep position and back pain and offer tips on how to reduce pain in each position. On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the firmest), here's what to look for depending on your regular sleeping position.
Mattresses can be made of many different materials, natural and synthetic. The most popular types are made with memory foam, latex, air chambers, innerspring, or a combination, also known as hybrids. All of these can be great mattresses, but for back pain, when extra support is warranted, some are better than others.
The most commonly recommended beds for back pain are memory foam and latex. Memory foam mattresses and their natural alternative, latex mattresses, both offer amazing support and contouring. They hug the body and cradle all your natural curves, supporting pressure points like shoulders and hips, and relieving pressure for reduced pain. Looking for less shoulder pain, hip pain, or back pain? Memory foam and latex also help keep your spine aligned while sleeping, which further reduces stress on the back and lowers pain in all areas.
An innerspring mattress, sometimes referred to as a traditional mattress, is a bed of coils with a foam layer on top. These mattresses were the standard for around a century and, although they have improved with pocketed coils and better motion isolation, a regular innerspring with a foam top generally doesn’t offer enough support for substantial back pain relief.
Airbeds have gained in popularity over the last several decades, and there are now more elaborate versions on the market. Basic ones don’t offer the kind of contouring that memory foam or latex does. However, there are beds with air components that can be mechanically adjusted for more or less fill, and more or less firmness. The ability to customize your bed can be a great asset when trying to get good support to alleviate upper back or low back pain.
Common hybrids have a coil or air base with a plush memory foam or latex top. The combination of two elements can work well to lessen back pain, reduce soreness, and help with a good night’s sleep. Look for a hybrid that has a good size layer of memory foam and preferably multiple layers of foam, not just a topper.
Of the many mattresses on the market today, the ones that rise to the top of our list for best back support are detailed below. Prices listed are for queen mattresses, but other sizes are available at different price points.
Nectar, considered one of the best buys and most comfortable mattresses on the market, is great for back support and reducing lower back pain. In addition to its price, which is cheaper than most mattresses on the market, Nectar has a host of things in its favor. It’s consistently rated highly for comfort and pressure relief. In Nectar mattress reviews, superlatives like “best sleep” and “best mattress” are common.
Nectar is a layered memory foam mattress with contouring and pressure point relief, which makes it an excellent choice for back support. It has gel memory foam for temperature neutrality, which means you don’t get hot while sleeping on it. Plus, it comes with an allergen and dust mite-repelling cover, a full year sleep trial (the best in the industry), and a generous return policy to make life easy.
Hybrid beds are often dubbed “the best mattress for side sleepers,” and the Helix Midnight Luxe is no exception. This popular model from Helix features both firm coils and soft foam, which is ideal for side sleepers who need support but don’t want to compromise on comfort. The pocket-wrapped coils in particular are uniquely designed for excellent lumbar support. In fact, the Helix Midnight Luxe scored impressively high in spine alignment testing.
In addition to being a great choice for those who favor the side sleeping position, the durable construction of the Helix Midnight Luxe is also well-suited for couples. Plus, its cooling pillow top will also keep even the hottest sleepers happy all night long.
The Saatva Classic uses a dual innerspring system to provide both relief and support, so you can wake up feeling restored without an achy back. Strong steel coils at the base reinforce individually pocketed coils at the core to keep your posture in near-perfect alignment. The Saatva is also covered in a plush pillow top that lets you sink into luxurious comfort. Plus, you don’t have to worry about straining your back while assembling this mattress—the brand offers complimentary white glove delivery, which includes discarding your old bed and setting up your new one.
If you suffer from back pain, trying to switch positions on an unsupportive mattress can cause more discomfort. The WinkBed uses a hybrid design of sturdy coils and contouring foam to keep you supported as you move on the mattress. In addition, soft memory foam fills in the crevice at your lower back for added pressure relief. While the WinkBed is offered in four different firmness levels, the luxury firm and firmer models work best for easing back pain.
DreamCloud’s hybrid mattress uses a supportive base of pocketed coils to keep your spine aligned, limiting the amount of pressure on your lower back. And at a 6.5 out of 10 on the firmness scale, it falls right in that firmness sweet spot of not too soft and not too firm. Topped with a cashmere and quilted foam cover, the DreamCloud provides plenty of comfort to sleepers who need a little extra relief.
Some memory foam mattresses don’t provide enough support for those with back pain, but the Leesa earns high marks in key categories like spine alignment and pressure relief. The bed uses three medium-firm foam layers to keep you resting in a healthy posture. Its memory foam recovery layer contours to your back, hips, and shoulders for a comfortable night’s sleep. With a six-inch supportive foam base, this bed should last you for at least seven to 10 years.
If you’re an active person, you need a mattress that works as hard as you do. The Bear Hybrid is uniquely designed to support the needs of athletes and people who lead an active lifestyle. Made of memory foam, support foam, and pocketed coils, the Bear Hybrid features a special cooling cover and gel memory foam, which is designed to promote air flow and keep sleepers from getting too warm—it actually feels cool to the touch.
Back pain sufferers also typically need a mattress that provides excellent pressure relief to prevent them from waking up sore and aching each morning. That’s the Nolah Evolution.
This medium-firm hybrid mattress is made from a special type of proprietary foam called “AirFoam” that sleeps much cooler than traditional memory foam. The combination of soft foam and supportive coils are easier on the parts of the body that typically require pressure relief, like the hips and shoulders. Sleepers report that the Nolah Evolution cradles and responds to their movements in a comfortable way, while still keeping the spine aligned.
Different sleepers have different mattress preferences, particularly when it comes to firmness level. That’s why the Layla is such an appealing choice. With two sides that offer different firmness levels, it’s the perfect option for people who aren’t sure what type of mattress is best suited for their needs. Simply flip the mattress over and try out which feel is right for you.
If your back hurts and you also sleep hot, the Casper Wave Hybrid is a solution for both. It has an innerspring base layer with two layers of memory foam: The top layer is a highly breathable foam to disperse body heat and keep you cool; the bottom layer of support foam relieves back pain.
The Casper Wave Hybrid offers everything someone with back pain could want and more—it’s the brand’s most luxurious mattress. It cools, supports, and aligns, plus it’s extremely durable. At a solid 5 out of 10 on the firmness scale, this model is especially supportive for side sleepers. And restless sleepers will appreciate its great bounce back, which makes turning from side to side a frictionless experience.
Casper scored high in a number of other areas as well. The company earns high marks for its nearly flawless shipping and stellar return policy.
Sheryl is an academic writer and researcher for Mattress Advisor with a long-time interest in sleep and how it affects health and weight. She writes on topics related to nutrition, diet and lifestyle, and of course good sleep.
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