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Best Mattress for Back Pain

If you’ve wound up on this page, chances are you’re looking for a mattress to help relieve your upper or lower back pain. Trust me when I say I know how difficult this search can be — so often beds that promise deep pressure relief don’t deliver or are too expensive or are so focused on relief they ditch other features you might otherwise enjoy.

So, how can you find the bed that’s going to be 100% right for your needs? Simple! All you have to do is check out my top mattress picks for back pain. They run the gamut from affordable to luxurious, from firm to soft, and are sure to give you plenty of options to mull over while you make your decision.

Eager to see my picks? Then keep reading on below!

Disclaimer: The content on Sleepopolis is meant to be informative in nature, but it shouldn’t take the place of advice or treatment from your physician or medical professional. This review is meant to be an informative guide of options for those looking to maintain healthy posture while they sleep. User experiences and needs will vary. If you experience lasting pain, soreness, or discomfort while sleeping, it’s always a good idea to seek out a healthcare professional in person.

Best for Hip Pain
Casper Mattress
Casper Mattress
Casper Mattress

The Casper has memory foam, latex-like, and heavy-duty poly foam work together to offer sleepers a balanced feel! With zoned support (different firmness on different parts of your body), the Casper aligns your spine, hopefully helping with that nagging back pain!

Best for Side Sleepers
Layla Mattress
Layla Mattress
Layla Mattress

Layla is a very high quality option at a less-than-luxury price. A flippable memory foam option that allows side sleepers to sink deep into bed for great pressure relief.

Best for Athletes
Bear Mattress
Bear Mattress
Bear Mattress

Sometimes that back pain is earned out on the sports pitch! Designed with active recovery in mind, the Bear mattress is especially well-suited for athletes and folks with an active lifestyle. Use code SLEEPOPOLIS to save 20% on your purchase!

Best for Contouring and Spinal Alignment
Helix Mattress
Helix Mattress
Helix Mattress

Available in an array of firmnesses, Helix is great for those in search of pain relief at the lumbar region. The custom nature of Helix makes it a great option for side sleepers really looking for a personalized solution.

Softest Mattress
Nolah Signature Mattress
Nolah Signature Mattress
Nolah Signature Mattress

Double-sided, the Nolah signature could be a good fit for a wide range of sleepers. Get $320 off your purchase by clicking here!

Best Hybrid
WinkBeds Mattress
WinkBeds Mattress
WinkBeds Mattress

A combination of sturdy coils and gentle foams make the WinkBeds a truly supportive innerspring. With a firm model available, the WinkBeds is a good option to align the spine and raise the hips for stomach sleepers while maintaining comfort and support.

Best Organic
Birch Mattress
Birch Mattress
Birch Mattress

The Birch mattress uses natural materials like organic cotton and talalay latex to provide great comfort from an organic product! Use code SLEEPOPOLIS200 for $200 off the mattress.

Doesn't expire

Best for Combo Sleepers
Brooklyn Bedding Signature Mattress
Brooklyn Bedding Signature Mattress
Brooklyn Bedding Signature Mattress

Resilient, latex-like foam offers sleepers of all styles great, pressure-relieving support! Enjoy 20% off your order with code SLEEPOPOLIS20!

Best for Lower Back Pain
Saatva Mattress
Saatva Mattress
Saatva Mattress

The Saatva mattress combines a luxurious pillow-top with two sections of coils for a classic innerspring feel that's especially soothing at the lumbar region. 

Best Budget Option
Nectar Mattress
Nectar Mattress
Nectar Mattress

Sleepers will sink deep into the Nectar mattress for some soothing pressure relief, something that side sleepers will particularly appreciate! Use this link to save $100 and get two premium pillows

Methodology

As with all my “Best Of” round-ups, I like to start things off by acknowledging that these selections are based on my personal preference. While I’m bringing my expert knowledge of materials and bed construction to the table, I’m naturally swayed by my own experiences on each of these models, specifically in concerns to how they relieved discomfort at my upper back and lumbar region.

But I’m not just relying on my own opinions! I also chatted with physical therapist and Sleepopolis Expert Network member Dr. Keith Poorbaugh about his tips for catching quality Zzz’s while dealing with chronic back pain and what kinds of mattresses can aid in this process the most.

You can catch my conversation with Dr. Poorbaugh (as well as some interesting research and further methodology) at the end of this guide.

A Note from Dr. Poorbaugh

Before we dive in, I thought it’d be best to begin with a definition from Dr. Poorbaugh about what chronic back pain actually means.

“Most of the research is geared toward Chronic Low Back Pain,” he explained. “The traditional method of assigning the label of ‘chronic’ was simply time dependent — if someone had LBP for more than three months, their condition was designated as being chronic.”

However, Dr. Poorbaugh says this is no longer the case, as research has begun to use functional brain imaging (as well as detailed assessments of depression and mood) to illustrate that “chronic” is not necessarily a time dependent label.

“The main determinant of CLBP (chronic lower back pain) is a process known as central sensitization,” he clarified. “This means the central nervous system has lost its ability to dampen or control peripheral stimuli i.e. information from muscles, joints, and nerves.”

This, in turn, leads to the irritability of peripheral nerves, which eventually affects the entire nervous system, thereby rendering normal activity painful.

My Picks

Best Mattress for Hip Pain

The Casper Mattress

Casper Mattress

I like the Casper mattress for those with chronic back pain because it features Zoned Support, essentially an all-foam layer divided into different firmnesses to support the body in different ways.

This can be especially good news for those of you with hip pain, as the section of foam at the hips in the Casper is a bit firmer to lift this part of the body up and out of the structure. Not only does this help with spinal alignment (which we’ll be touching on a lot in this guide), but it also provides some much needed pressure relief to the lumbar region.

Check out my full Casper and Casper Wave reviews to see exactly how this Zoned Support works.

Save $75!
Casper Mattress
Casper Mattress

The Casper has memory foam, latex-like, and heavy-duty poly foam work together to offer sleepers a balanced feel! With zoned support (different firmness on different parts of your body), the Casper aligns your spine, hopefully helping with that nagging back pain!

Best Mattress for Side Sleepers

Layla mattress with the soft side up

Layla Mattress

The Layla mattress is an all-foam, flippable bed designed with pressure relief in mind.  I’ve included it on this list because the double-sided construction (labelled “Soft” or “Firm” depending on how you orient it) allows the sleeper to really hone in on the firmness level that’s going to be right for their needs, which can be especially important for those with back pain.

Two options might seem like a lot, but getting to oscillate between these totally different feels can be a boon for side sleepers unsure of how supportive or plush they’d like their mattress (though I should note that both sides do feature memory foam). For reference, I gave the “Soft” side a 5.5/10 rating on the firmness scale and the “Firm” side received a score of 7.5/10.

To see if this mattress is right for you, check out my full review of the Layla.

Save $110 on your order!
Layla Mattress
Layla Mattress

Layla is a very high quality option at a less-than-luxury price. A flippable memory foam option that allows side sleepers to sink deep into bed for great pressure relief.

Best Mattress for Athletes

The Bear Mattress

Bear Mattress

For those active sleepers in the bunch, the Bear mattress might just be the one for you! This all-foam bed has a firm feel to it and is specifically designed with recovery in mind, so could do a lot to alleviate tension across the body.

Aside from the supportive foam construction, a big part of this recovery comes from the celliant fiber woven into the Bear cover. While I can’t speak to the science behind the material, some studies have shown that celliant is able to harness the body’s energy and reflect it back to the sleeper, speeding up healtime post physical activity.

Check out my full Bear mattress review.

Save 20%
Bear Mattress
Bear Mattress

Sometimes that back pain is earned out on the sports pitch! Designed with active recovery in mind, the Bear mattress is especially well-suited for athletes and folks with an active lifestyle. Use code SLEEPOPOLIS to save 20% on your purchase!

Best for Contouring

The Helix Nightfall Mattress

Helix Mattress

Helix is an interesting company in the space because it offers a ton of different mattresses designed to meet a diverse range of sleeper needs. While the softest beds in the collection are great for side sleepers, the firmer ones (like the Dusk or Dawn) could be well-suited for back sleepers in need of spinal support. Why? Because they’re built with gentle foams and taut pocketed coils that actively work to bring the spine into a neutral alignment.

Additionally, all Helix mattresses sleep extremely cool, thanks to the UltraCool cover (available for an extra $60 fee), gel-infused memory foams, and pocketed coils utilized in each bed. Are you into it?

Take a peek at my full review of the Helix line.

Save $75!
Helix Mattress
Helix Mattress

Available in an array of firmnesses, Helix is great for those in search of pain relief at the lumbar region. The custom nature of Helix makes it a great option for side sleepers really looking for a personalized solution.

Softest Mattress

Showing how deep I sink into the Nolah Signature, which is great for side sleepers.

Nolah Signature

Depending on the position you sleep in you may actually need a softer mattress to prevent back pain. The Nolah Signature is a flippable mattress, so there is a firm side for those interested, but I believe most will prefer the plush soft feel available.

In my opinion the Nolah Signature comes in at a 5.5/10, which will definitely allow you to sink deep into the soft layers of foam for pressure relief. This is a huge advantage for the side sleepers out there because if you’re on a firm mattress you can get jammed up at the shoulders and won’t have room to sink in for side sleeping spinal alignment. All in all I would say those whose current beds are too firm for their sleeping positions should take a look at the Nolah Signatures ultra soft feel.

The Nolah Signature normally ranges in price from $1,069 – $1,769 but you can use the code SP320 or click the link in the coupon below to save $320!

Need more information? Click here to read my full review of the Nolah Signature.

Nolah Signature Mattress
Nolah Signature Mattress
Double-sided, the Nolah signature could be a good fit for a wide range of sleepers. Get $320 off your purchase by clicking here!

Best Hybrid Mattress

The WinkBed Mattress

Winbeds Mattress

The WinkBeds is a hybrid mattress built to be buoyant and ultra-supportive. Here, a tufted cover overlays a thin section of microcoils to help keep the sleeper lifted on top of the structure from the moment they jump on the bed.

Moving downward past the microcoils, you’ll encounter more foam and an even taller section of pocketed coils. These materials work together to bring satisfying relief to the lumbar region, alleviating tension at the lower and upper back. All this could be incredibly beneficial for chronic pain sufferers, as the structure is designed to keep the hips in line with the shoulders and provide plenty of pressure relief to sensitive spots.

For more, scope out my full WinkBeds mattress review.

Save $200!
WinkBeds Mattress
WinkBeds Mattress

A combination of sturdy coils and gentle foams make the WinkBeds a truly supportive innerspring. With a firm model available, the WinkBeds is a good option to align the spine and raise the hips for stomach sleepers while maintaining comfort and support.

Best Organic Mattress

Resting on the Birch mattress

Birch

For those looking to stay away from polyurethane foams in their bedroom, a latex mattress may be the answer. The Birch mattress is a latex hybrid that provides great bounce so combo sleepers don’t have to worry about feeling stuck in the mattress. Along with great bounce the Birch has strong support for spinal alignment, helping to avoid aches and pains in the lower back.

The Birch’s natural materials credentials don’t stop at the latex comfort layer as it also has a cotton cover. So with a quality latex comfort layer, organic cotton cover and strong support the Birch is a great choice for anyone looking to ease back pain with a natural mattress.

Learn more in my full Birch mattress review

Birch Mattress
Birch Mattress

The Birch mattress uses natural materials like organic cotton and talalay latex to provide great comfort from an organic product, in fact all Birch products are Greenguard Gold certified! Use code SLEEPOPOLIS200 for $200 off the mattress.

Best for Combo Sleepers

The Brooklyn Signature in the Sleepopolis bedroom

Brooklyn Bedding Signature Mattress

Something that is often overlooked in a mattress that can cause people to wake up with aches and pains is whether or not they’re able to sleep comfortable in multiple positions. The Brooklyn Bedding Signature mattress has a nice medium firmness that provides a nice mix of support and pressure relief in a variety of sleeping positions.

The bounce of the hybrid build means sleepers won’t feel stuck when rolling around during the night. Also, Brooklyn Bedding’s TitanFlex foam does a great job providing comfort and a quick response to pressure, so you will sink in a little, but still be able to move. On top of all that, I find that TitanFlex foam sleeps pretty cool, an added bonus for the sweaty sleepers out there.

Read more about the Brooklyn Signature in my full review.

Take 20% off your order!
Brooklyn Bedding Signature Mattress
Brooklyn Bedding Signature Mattress
Resilient, latex-like foam offers sleepers of all styles great, pressure-relieving support! Enjoy 20% off your order with code SLEEPOPOLIS20!

Best Mattress for Lower Back Pain

Queen size version of the Saatva

Saatva Mattress

The Saatva mattress is built like a classic innerspring with its coil-on-coil construction, so is able to provide excellent pressure relief at the lower back. It’s quite firm (about a 7.5/10), which might feel feel a bit taut for back sleepers, but a plush pillow top helps infuse the structure with some cushiony comfort.

I also really like this mattress because it features high-quality materials and is super durable, so is bound to last for a long time. I’d also note that the buoyant lift of the mattress ensures you won’t feel too stuck in the bed, which could be a big plus for those who like to be positioned more on top of the bed.

For more, read my full Saatva review.

Save $75
Saatva Mattress
Saatva Mattress

The Saatva mattress combines a luxurious pillow-top with two sections of coils for a classic innerspring feel that's especially soothing at the lumbar region. 

Best Budget Mattress

Nectar

Built with a thick top section of memory foam, the Nectar mattress is a great value option for those in search of deep body contouring and pressure relief. Back sleepers in particular could find a lot to love in this mattress as it actively works to alleviate tension at the shoulders, hips, and lower back.

However, it’s Nectar’s affordability that landed it a spot on this list. While it can seem impossible to find a mattress that’ll alleviate pain at a value price point, Nectar more than delivers on both fronts with a Queen size coming in at just $699. Want to learn more?

Read my full review of the Nectar mattress.

Save $100
Nectar Mattress
Nectar Mattress

Sleepers will sink deep into the Nectar mattress for some soothing pressure relief, something that side sleepers will particularly appreciate! Use this link to save $100 and get two premium pillows

Can Sleep Help with Chronic Pain?

Now that we’ve gone over my picks, I want to take a second to talk about the purpose of this guide. While it may seem like the focus is on finding a mattress that’ll allow you to fall asleep with pain, it’s actually about finding the bed that’s going to help you use sleep to actively deal with said pain.

“Sleep is very important for restoring balance to the nervous system and improving coping strategies for pain,” Dr. Poorbaugh told me. “Normally our central nervous system is downplaying or ignoring stimuli from multiple sources simply because the information is not important. A person with chronic pain, however, loses this important dampening ability, so many activities that were once well-tolerated now become pain-provoking.”

Poorbaugh went on to cite a recent study, which showed that poor sleep patterns were directly related to higher rates of pain, poor mood, increased pain catastrophizing, and overall reduced physical function. (1)

So what can be done? In order to get the kind of sleep you need to help deal with your chronic pain, consider three main factors when picking a mattress: support, firmness, and pressure relief.

Support

As you likely noticed throughout the guide, sound support is going to be super important for those who suffer with chronic back pain. I should note that support and firmness are not the same — you can have a soft mattress that’s ultra-supportive and a firm one that doesn’t support the body at all. Adequate support is all about how a mattress works to keep the spine in a neutral alignment, while also remaining comfortable.

Spinal Alignment for Back Pain

When shopping for a mattress, keep an eye out for the following things:

  • Zoned Support – As we briefly discussed up top, mattresses with Zoned Support are designed to target different parts of the body in different ways, with softer foams at the shoulders and firmer ones at the hips. This helps to encourage a healthy body line and promote relief.
  • Balanced Foam – Beds built with several different types of foam (latex, memory foam, and high-density poly foam) are going to offer the best support for back pain sufferers. This balanced approach combines lift with pressure relief for a well-rounded feel.

FAQ

Q: Can a firm mattress cause lower back pain? A: It really depends on one’s preferred sleeping position! Side sleepers will likely find that a firm mattress compounds their lower back pain (these folks tend to go for softer beds) while stomach sleepers are likely to find a firm mattress actually helps with their back pain as the extra support lifts their spine into a neutral alignment.

Firmness

Since we started the firmness conversation above, let’s go ahead and wrap it up here. Firmer mattresses tend to “float” the sleeper more on top of the sleeping surface whereas softer beds allow the sleepers to sink in for deep pressure relief.

Most back sleepers need and prefer a mattress that is in the medium to slightly firm range. This means about a 5-7 out of 10 on the firmness scale (where 10 is the most firm). This medium level of firmness strikes an ideal balance of necessary push-back type support, while still remaining soft enough to offer comfort and remove pressure points on the sleeper.

Ideal Firmness Range

 

“There is some evidence to suggest that a firm mattress is more beneficial to reduce pain among people experiencing CLBP,” said Dr. Poorbaugh. “However, it’s likely that any change in back pain is more related to improved sleep patterns than any actual physical changes to the lumbar spine.”

Poorbaugh’s views line up with a 2010 study, which revealed that replacing mattresses based on sleeping position (i.e. selecting beds for side, back, and stomach sleepers) helped to reduce pain and discomfort in subjects. (2) Long story short, finding the right firmness can do wonders for a sleeper with specific needs.

FAQ

Q: What mattress firmness is best for back pain? A: Typically, back pain sufferers will want to opt for something in the 5-7 range on the firmness scale (with 1 being the softest and 10 the firmest). This medium firm feel is likely to both soothe aches at the lumbar region and provided much needed support at the hips.

Pressure Relief

And finally, let’s take a moment to chat pressure relief. More than other sleepers, those who struggle with chronic pain need to find a mattress that’ll actively alleviate tension at sensitive spots along the body, especially at the lumbar region and shoulders.

Typically, pressure points form when there’s more push back focused on a specific area, which tends to cause misalignment at the spine. As your body moves out of alignment, more pressure is placed on the back, which can lead to frustrating pains throughout the torso.

Hunched Over

Therefore, it’s important to make sure you’re not sleeping on a mattress that places pressure on any of your major joints. By doing so, your body is able to enter a relaxed state and the chance of pressure points forming along the spine and lower back are diminished.

When looking for a mattress with fantastic pressure relief, keep an eye out for the following things:

  • Memory foam – While too much memory foam can lead to spinal misalignment caused by dramatic sinkage, a touch of the material can do a lot to soothe achy joints as the foam gently conforms to these areas.
  • Hip Support – As we discussed in the support section, finding a mattress that features a bit of lift at the hips can be a boon for back pain sufferers who need cozy relief, but also optimized spinal alignment.

FAQ

Q: Is a memory foam mattress good for back pain? A: Memory foam has a slow response to pressure, so allows the sleeper to sink in for some satisfying contouring at the shoulders and hips. This helps to alleviate tension at these sensitive spots and can bring some much needed relief to the upper and lower back.

Tips and Tricks for Sleeping with Pain

To wrap up this guide, I want to share some tips and tricks for sleeping with chronic pain. Unfortunately, there’s no magical solution for alleviating physical suffering, but there are some slight modifications you can make to get the journey started. I should note that not all pain sufferers will be able to implement all these strategies, nor should they — we’re all different, and so our paths toward healing will be different, too.

“I always recommend that my clients see the big picture,” Dr. Poorbaugh stated. “When it comes to pain, we have two options: We can seek a fix or a heal. The path to less pain is quite different depending on your choice, but each option has three pillars of management with very little overlap.”

While the “fix” typically involves medication and surgery, the “heal” focuses on three main tenets: nutrition, sleep, and movement.

Nutrition

A well-balanced diet has been shown to lead to better sleep, which can help to alleviate stress and pain. (3) Reducing caffeine and sugar intake are great first steps to take toward modifying one’s diet for optimized slumber.

Sleep

As we’ve mentioned throughout this guide, it’s tantamount for pain sufferers to get enough sleep. Sleep is one of the biggest and most influential factors affecting stress levels, so it’s vital to allocate enough time to fully rest and recover each night. You can start by choosing a set bedtime and then working toward establishing a consistent nighttime routine.

Movement

Exercise is another crucial piece of the pain-free puzzle. Low-impact workouts can help with mobility, which can then lead to better spinal alignment. Regular exercise has also been regularly linked to improved sleep, so figuring out a consistent workout could do a lot for the quality of your Zzz’s. (4)

In Conclusion

At the end of the day, a new mattress isn’t going to solve your back pain woes anymore than a strict diet will. More than anything, it’s about a lifestyle shift in which you combine these different factors together to create a plan specific to your needs.

Maybe your ideal routine will involve a healthy amount of fatty fish, long morning walks, and a bed featuring Zoned Support at the hips. For another sleeper, it may entail vigorous spin classes, more greens, and a plush memory foam mattress for pressure relief at the upper back.

As always, any major life decisions should be made in consult with a medical professional. The information provided in this guide is just that: Information. We’re not doctors nor claim to be, so highly encourage those with chronic pain to seek professional advice for any and all serious health issues.

References

  1. Gerhart, James I., et al. “Relationships Between Sleep Quality and Pain-Related Factors for People with Chronic Low Back Pain: Tests of Reciprocal and Time of Day Effects.” Annals of Behavioral Medicine, vol. 51, no. 3, 2016, pp. 365–375., doi:10.1007/s12160-016-9860-2.
  2. Jacobson, Bert H., et al. “Effect of Prescribed Sleep Surfaces on Back Pain and Sleep Quality in Patients Diagnosed with Low Back and Shoulder Pain.” Applied Ergonomics, vol. 42, no. 1, 2010, pp. 91–97., doi:10.1016/j.apergo.2010.05.004.
  3. St-Onge, Marie-Pierre, et al. “Effects of Diet on Sleep Quality.” Advances in Nutrition, vol. 7, no. 5, 2016, pp. 938–949., doi:10.3945/an.116.012336.
  4. Kline, Christopher E. “The Bidirectional Relationship Between Exercise and Sleep.” American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, vol. 8, no. 6, 2014, pp. 375–379., doi:10.1177/1559827614544437.
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Logan Block

Logan is the content director of Sleepopolis, which means he not only reviews new mattresses every week, but also curates all the comparisons, best of pages, and video guides on the site. He takes a straightforward, honest approach to his reviews and endeavors to give viewers an objective look at each new product he tries out. Logan has perfected his method by personally testing over 200 different mattresses, so he’s not only able to discern the overall vibe of a specific bed, but to contextualize its feel within the bed-in-a-box market as a whole.

Logan Block

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