Best Mattress for Back Pain

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Finding the best mattress for back pain can be a challenge. Sleepers come in all shapes and sizes, and if you struggle with upper or lower back pain, beds that promise deep pressure relief often don’t deliver. That’s why, when putting together my list of the best mattresses for back pain, I made sure I chose a wide variety. These beds 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.

The Best Mattresses for Back Pain

Best Mattress for Back Pain 2022 – Our Video Review

 

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 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.

Our Methodology

We’ve reviewed more than 220 products in our mattress lab, running each one through tests such as pressure-mapping and measuring motion transfer with a seismometer. From there, we give every bed an overall score based on materials, comfort, support, cooling, and edge support. We also factor in brand performance with categories such as value and warranty.

Any mattress that’s going to combat back pain will need to have a substantial amount of support, so we aimed to pick beds that scored high in that category. Out of the 10 products included here, nine of them scored a 4 out of 5 or higher on support. Click here to learn more about our methodology.

Of course, for a topic like back pain, we don’t want to rely solely on our own opinions and tests. I also chatted with physical therapist and Sleepopolis Expert Network member Dr. Keith Poorbaugh to get his tips for catching quality Zzz’s while dealing with chronic back pain and to learn what kinds of mattresses can aid in this process the most. You can find our conversation (as well as some additional research) at the end of this guide.

Nectar – Editor’s Pick


This all-foam, bed-in-a-box mattress features a whopping 6″ of memory foam in its top layers. All of that cushy material provides plenty of body-contouring and pressure relief, and lets sleepers sink deeply into the bed. That makes the Nectar great for side sleepers who need plenty of cushion around the shoulders and hips.

Pros

  • The thick memory foam layers do a great job of cutting down on motion isolation, so the Nectar could be a nice choice for partners who don’t want to disturb each other during the night.
  • If you’re a back sleeper who enjoys the slow-sinking feel of memory foam, this mattress could be the right match for you.
  • It’s a great quality product at an affordable price point. 

Cons

  • Some folks have a hard time switching positions on the Nectar, so it may not be the best option for combination sleepers.

Interested in learning more about the Nectar? Read our full Nectar mattress review.

Helix Dusk – Best Mattress for Combination Sleepers with Back Pain

Best Mattress for Combination Sleepers with Back Pain

Helix Dusk Mattress

The Helix Dusk mattress has a medium firm feel that's great for back sleepers! This mattress offers great contouring that doesn't make you feel like you’re “stuck in” bed making it a great choice for back sleepers as well as combination sleepers.

Sleepopolis Score 4.0/5
Read Helix Dusk Mattress Review

Material

Hybrid

Trial Period

100 nights

Shipping Method

Free shipping

Firmness

Soft: 6/10

Warranty

10-year warranty

Price Range

$$$$$

We recommend this mattress for the following sleeper types:

Back Sleeping
Ideal for lightweight, average weight, and heavyweight back sleepers.

Financing Options

Financing options are available for this mattress.

Average Customer Rating
4.6/5
Best Mattress for Combination Sleepers with Back Pain

Helix Dusk Mattress

The Helix Dusk mattress has a medium firm feel that's great for back sleepers! This mattress offers great contouring that doesn't make you feel like you’re “stuck in” bed making it a great choice for back sleepers as well as combination sleepers.

Sleepopolis Score 4.0/5
Read Helix Dusk Mattress Review

Material

Hybrid

Warranty

10-year warranty

Firmness

Soft: 6/10

Shipping Method

Free shipping

Trial Period

100 nights

Price Range

$$$$$

We recommend this mattress for the following sleeper types:

Back Sleeping
Ideal for lightweight, average weight, and heavyweight back sleepers.

Financing Options

Financing options are available for this mattress.

Average Customer Rating
4.6/5
Best Mattress for Combination Sleepers with Back Pain

Helix Dusk Mattress

The Helix Dusk mattress has a medium firm feel that's great for back sleepers! This mattress offers great contouring that doesn't make you feel like you’re “stuck in” bed making it a great choice for back sleepers as well as combination sleepers.

Sleepopolis Score 4.0/5
Read Helix Dusk Mattress Review

Material

Hybrid

Firmness

Soft: 6/10

Trial Period

100 nights

Warranty

10-year warranty

Shipping Method

Free shipping

Price Range

$$$$$

We recommend this mattress for the following sleeper types:

Back Sleeping
Ideal for lightweight, average weight, and heavyweight back sleepers.

Financing Options

Financing options are available for this mattress.

Average Customer Rating
4.6/5

This medium-soft mattress is quite responsive, so it’s easy to change positions on its sleep surface. This is a huge perk for combination sleepers. The Helix Dusk also does a great job helping side sleepers keep their spine in a neutral position, which can really assist with combatting back pain.

Pros

  • The Dusk’s coil support layer should keep your hips lifted up in line with your shoulders — one of the keys to avoiding back pain.
  • Its softer top foams are designed to fill in the lumbar region for some extra pressure relief.
  • The mattress is also available in a Luxe model, for anyone who wants some added luxurious touches.

Cons

  • Stomach sleepers will probably need a firmer mattress than the Helix Dusk.

Hungry to learn more about the Dusk? Read our full Helix Dusk mattress review.

DreamCloud – Best Hybrid Mattress for Back Pain

Best Hybrid Mattress

DreamCloud Original Mattress

The DreamCloud Mattress is a luxury hybrid mattress made with layers of memory foam and pocketed coils. It offers a great combination of support and pressure relief that back sleepers will really enjoy.

Sleepopolis Score 4.3/5
Read DreamCloud Original Mattress Review

Material

Hybrid

Trial Period

365 nights

Shipping Method

Free shipping

Firmness

Medium-firm: 7/10

Warranty

Lifetime warranty

Price Range

$$$$$

We recommend this mattress for the following sleeper types:

Hot Sleepers
If you often overheat while you sleep, this mattress should help you stay cool.
Seniors
This bed is perfect for senior sleepers.
Back Sleeping
Ideal for average weight back sleepers.

Financing Options

Financing options are available for this mattress.

Average Customer Rating
4.6/5
Watch Our Video Review
Best Hybrid Mattress

DreamCloud Original Mattress

The DreamCloud Mattress is a luxury hybrid mattress made with layers of memory foam and pocketed coils. It offers a great combination of support and pressure relief that back sleepers will really enjoy.

Sleepopolis Score 4.3/5
Read DreamCloud Original Mattress Review

Material

Hybrid

Warranty

Lifetime warranty

Firmness

Medium-firm: 7/10

Shipping Method

Free shipping

Trial Period

365 nights

Price Range

$$$$$

We recommend this mattress for the following sleeper types:

Hot Sleepers
If you often overheat while you sleep, this mattress should help you stay cool.
Seniors
This bed is perfect for senior sleepers.
Back Sleeping
Ideal for average weight back sleepers.

Financing Options

Financing options are available for this mattress.

Average Customer Rating
4.6/5
Watch Our Video Review
Best Hybrid Mattress

DreamCloud Original Mattress

The DreamCloud Mattress is a luxury hybrid mattress made with layers of memory foam and pocketed coils. It offers a great combination of support and pressure relief that back sleepers will really enjoy.

Sleepopolis Score 4.3/5
Read DreamCloud Original Mattress Review

Material

Hybrid

Firmness

Medium-firm: 7/10

Trial Period

365 nights

Warranty

Lifetime warranty

Shipping Method

Free shipping

Price Range

$$$$$

We recommend this mattress for the following sleeper types:

Hot Sleepers
If you often overheat while you sleep, this mattress should help you stay cool.
Seniors
This bed is perfect for senior sleepers.
Back Sleeping
Ideal for average weight back sleepers.

Financing Options

Financing options are available for this mattress.

Average Customer Rating
4.6/5
Watch Our Video Review

The DreamCloud is a hybrid mattress with medium-firm support. A layer of pocketed coils at the bottom helps keep your spine aligned to avoid back pain. Meanwhile, a comfort layer of gel memory foam lets you sink in for some pressure relief, especially in the shoulder and hip area.

Pros

  • The mattress has a breathable cover to help you sleep cool through the night.
  • Overall, the bed has an “on-top-of-the-bed” feel that should appeal to back sleepers, especially ones looking to maintain a healthy posture.
  • The pocketed coils give the DreamCloud solid edge support, which should fare well for couples and anyone who likes to stretch out on their mattress.

Cons

  • This is a heavier bed-in-a-box, so you may need some help moving it into your home.

Read our DreamCloud mattress review for more on this great hybrid bed!

WinkBeds – Best Cooling Mattress

This luxury hybrid mattress boasts a Tencel cover, a Euro top infused with gel foam, and a nice tall layer of pocketed coil support, making this bad boy not only one of today’s sturdiest mattresses, but also a cooling one that will help you beat the heat on even the hottest summer nights. 

Pros 

  • The WinkBed comes in three different firmness levels: Soft, Medium Firm, and Firm. The Firm model should be the most adept at preventing back pain.
  • The brand also makes a Plus version specifically designed to support heavier sleepers.
  • Back and stomach sleepers alike should be very comfortable on the WinkBed.

Cons

  • Hybrid beds tend to not isolate motion as well as all-foam mattresses, and the WinkBed is no different. It’s something to keep in mind if you share the bed with someone and one or both of you wake up easily.

Could the WinkBed ease your back pain? Learn more in our full WinkBeds mattress review.

Nolah Evolution – Best Luxury Mattress

This ultra-cooling hybrid mattress combines an organic cotton cooling cover, as well as Nolah’s signature AirFoamICE, to ensure you’re sleeping cool and comfortable all night long. The addition of coils within this hybrid mattress also helps keep your spine in a healthy, neutral alignment. This is great news for sleepers with back pain, who need to maintain proper sleep posture to stay comfortable. Overall, its five layers work together to create a cloud-like top while also reinforcing its durability.  

Pros

  • Back sleepers who enjoy memory foam, but still need extra cooling and support from coils, should find the Nolah Evolution to be a good fit.
  • This is another mattress that isolates motion well, so it could be comfortable for couples or anyone who sleeps with a pet.
  • Because the sides of this mattress are reinforced with stronger coils, there’s a lot of edge support here.

Cons

  • Stomach sleepers may want to opt for a firmer bed that provides additional support.

Learn more in our full Nolah Evolution mattress review.

Saatva – Best Mattress for Stomach Sleepers

Best for Stomach Sleepers

Saatva Mattress

The Saatva’s coil-on-coil construction provides a classic innerspring feel. It comes in three different firmness levels, and stomach sleepers should be most comfortable on the Firm.

Sleepopolis Score 4.4/5
Read Saatva Mattress Review

Material

Innerspring

Trial Period

365 nights

Shipping Method

Free white glove delivery

Firmness

Multiple firmness options

Warranty

Lifetime warranty

Price Range

$$$$$

We recommend this mattress for the following sleeper types:

Financing Options

Financing options are available for this mattress.

Average Customer Rating
4.9/5
Watch Our Video Review
Best for Stomach Sleepers

Saatva Mattress

The Saatva’s coil-on-coil construction provides a classic innerspring feel. It comes in three different firmness levels, and stomach sleepers should be most comfortable on the Firm.

Sleepopolis Score 4.4/5
Read Saatva Mattress Review

Material

Innerspring

Warranty

Lifetime warranty

Firmness

Multiple firmness options

Shipping Method

Free white glove delivery

Trial Period

365 nights

Price Range

$$$$$

We recommend this mattress for the following sleeper types:

Financing Options

Financing options are available for this mattress.

Average Customer Rating
4.9/5
Watch Our Video Review
Best for Stomach Sleepers

Saatva Mattress

The Saatva’s coil-on-coil construction provides a classic innerspring feel. It comes in three different firmness levels, and stomach sleepers should be most comfortable on the Firm.

Sleepopolis Score 4.4/5
Read Saatva Mattress Review

Material

Innerspring

Firmness

Multiple firmness options

Trial Period

365 nights

Warranty

Lifetime warranty

Shipping Method

Free white glove delivery

Price Range

$$$$$

We recommend this mattress for the following sleeper types:

Financing Options

Financing options are available for this mattress.

Average Customer Rating
4.9/5
Watch Our Video Review

If you’re a stomach sleeper who likes the solid build of a traditional innerspring bed, give the Saatva a look. It utilizes a coil-on-coil construction to provide impressive bounce and support. That support could be just the ticket for anyone looking to avoid back pain by maintaining neutral spine alignment. The mattress also comes in three firmness levels, and stomach sleepers (as well as back sleepers) should be the most comfortable on the Firm version since it offers a higher level of support.

Pros

  • The Saatva helps keep sleepers positioned on top of the structure to avoid feeling stuck in the bed.
  • The Soft version of the bed will work for a lot of side sleepers, who need plenty of pressure relief at the shoulders and hips. Saatva also offers a model specifically designed for heavier folks — the Saatva HD.
  • The Luxury Firm is likely the most ideal choice for combo sleepers, who need a balance of support and pressure relief in multiple positions.

Cons

  • The Saatva has high motion transfer, which means you’re likely to feel the movements of a partner or a pet if you’re easily disturbed at night.

Will this mattress lead you to restful nights? Find out in our full Saatva mattress review.

Leesa LegendBest Mattress for Shoulder and Back Pain

Best Mattress for Shoulder and Back Pain

Leesa Legend Mattress

I love the soft zoned support the Leesa Legend offers. It should provide side sleepers just the right amount of pressure relief at the shoulders and hips. I think this soft feel might also work well for lighter back sleepers.

Sleepopolis Score 3.9/5
Read Leesa Legend Mattress Review

Material

Hybrid

Trial Period

100 nights

Shipping Method

Free shipping

Firmness

Soft: 6/10

Warranty

10-year warranty

Price Range

$$$$$

We recommend this mattress for the following sleeper types:

Back Sleeping
Ideal for lightweight, average weight, and heavyweight back sleepers.
Side Sleeping
Ideal for lightweight, average weight, and heavyweight side sleepers.

Financing Options

Financing options are available for this mattress.

Average Customer Rating
4.5/5
Watch Our Video Review
Best Mattress for Shoulder and Back Pain

Leesa Legend Mattress

I love the soft zoned support the Leesa Legend offers. It should provide side sleepers just the right amount of pressure relief at the shoulders and hips. I think this soft feel might also work well for lighter back sleepers.

Sleepopolis Score 3.9/5
Read Leesa Legend Mattress Review

Material

Hybrid

Warranty

10-year warranty

Firmness

Soft: 6/10

Shipping Method

Free shipping

Trial Period

100 nights

Price Range

$$$$$

We recommend this mattress for the following sleeper types:

Back Sleeping
Ideal for lightweight, average weight, and heavyweight back sleepers.
Side Sleeping
Ideal for lightweight, average weight, and heavyweight side sleepers.

Financing Options

Financing options are available for this mattress.

Average Customer Rating
4.5/5
Watch Our Video Review
Best Mattress for Shoulder and Back Pain

Leesa Legend Mattress

I love the soft zoned support the Leesa Legend offers. It should provide side sleepers just the right amount of pressure relief at the shoulders and hips. I think this soft feel might also work well for lighter back sleepers.

Sleepopolis Score 3.9/5
Read Leesa Legend Mattress Review

Material

Hybrid

Firmness

Soft: 6/10

Trial Period

100 nights

Warranty

10-year warranty

Shipping Method

Free shipping

Price Range

$$$$$

We recommend this mattress for the following sleeper types:

Back Sleeping
Ideal for lightweight, average weight, and heavyweight back sleepers.
Side Sleeping
Ideal for lightweight, average weight, and heavyweight side sleepers.

Financing Options

Financing options are available for this mattress.

Average Customer Rating
4.5/5
Watch Our Video Review

Leesa makes a lot of quality beds, but the Leesa Legend is particularly good for shoulder and back pain because it’s softer and uses a zoned support system. This hybrid mattress uses aerated poly foam, pressure-relieving memory foam, zoned microcoils, and pocketed coils to create a comfy but supportive mattress.

Pros

  • Side sleepers should definitely experience pressure relief while sleeping on the Leesa Legend. The zoned support ensures you get pressure relief around the shoulders while still getting support for your back and hips.
  • The softer feel and zoned support should also work well for back sleepers who are looking for relief around the shoulder area and support to keep their back aligned.
  • Despite being so soft, the Leesa Legend is still bouncy and responsive, making it a good choice for combination sleepers.

Cons

  • The softness of the Leesa Legend works to the disadvantage of stomach sleepers, who need a firm and supportive mattress to prevent back pain.

Think you and the Leesa Legend make a good pair? Learn more about it in our full review.

Brooklyn Bedding Signature Hybrid – Best Affordable Mattress

The Brooklyn Bedding Signature Hybrid is Brooklyn Bedding’s…well, signature model! This hybrid mattress comes in three different firmness options: Soft, Medium, and Firm. The Signature Hybrid is made with foam and coils, as well as a quilted top that offers a cozy feel and additional pressure relief.

Pros

  • The Brooklyn Bedding Signature Hybrid sleeps cool, isolates motion well, and has sturdy edge support. Altogether, that makes it a great mattress for couples.
  • This mattress also has an “on-top-of-the-bed” feeling that makes it a great choice for combination sleepers who change between sleeping positions.
  • The Brooklyn Bedding Signature Hybrid offers a nice mix of support and pressure relief that should help those struggling with back pain. Plus, you can choose your firmness level to fit your sleeping position.

Cons

  • While the Brooklyn Bedding Signature Hybrid is fairly versatile, it may not be firm or supportive enough for heavy stomach sleepers who weigh 250 pounds or more.

Sold on the Brooklyn Bedding Signature Hybrid? Fall in love with it even more in our full review.

Layla – Best Mattress for Side Sleepers with Back Pain

Best for Side Sleepers

Layla Mattress

The Layla is an all-foam, flippable bed featuring both a “Soft” and “Firm” side. The Soft side should be especially comfortable for side sleepers.

Sleepopolis Score 4.5/5
Read Layla Mattress Review

Material

Foam

Trial Period

120 nights

Shipping Method

Free shipping

Firmness

Multiple firmness options

Warranty

Lifetime warranty

Price Range

$$$$$

We recommend this mattress for the following sleeper types:

Hot Sleepers
If you often overheat while you sleep, this mattress should help you stay cool.
Couples
This bed has great motion isolation so you will not feel your partner tossing and turning at night.
Back Sleeping
Ideal for lightweight, average weight, and heavyweight back sleepers.
Side Sleeping
Ideal for lightweight, average weight, and heavyweight side sleepers.
Stomach Sleeping
Ideal for lightweight and average weight stomach sleepers.

Financing Options

Financing options are available for this mattress.

Average Customer Rating
4.5/5
Watch Our Video Review
Best for Side Sleepers

Layla Mattress

The Layla is an all-foam, flippable bed featuring both a “Soft” and “Firm” side. The Soft side should be especially comfortable for side sleepers.

Sleepopolis Score 4.5/5
Read Layla Mattress Review

Material

Foam

Warranty

Lifetime warranty

Firmness

Multiple firmness options

Shipping Method

Free shipping

Trial Period

120 nights

Price Range

$$$$$

We recommend this mattress for the following sleeper types:

Hot Sleepers
If you often overheat while you sleep, this mattress should help you stay cool.
Couples
This bed has great motion isolation so you will not feel your partner tossing and turning at night.
Back Sleeping
Ideal for lightweight, average weight, and heavyweight back sleepers.
Side Sleeping
Ideal for lightweight, average weight, and heavyweight side sleepers.
Stomach Sleeping
Ideal for lightweight and average weight stomach sleepers.

Financing Options

Financing options are available for this mattress.

Average Customer Rating
4.5/5
Watch Our Video Review
Best for Side Sleepers

Layla Mattress

The Layla is an all-foam, flippable bed featuring both a “Soft” and “Firm” side. The Soft side should be especially comfortable for side sleepers.

Sleepopolis Score 4.5/5
Read Layla Mattress Review

Material

Foam

Firmness

Multiple firmness options

Trial Period

120 nights

Warranty

Lifetime warranty

Shipping Method

Free shipping

Price Range

$$$$$

We recommend this mattress for the following sleeper types:

Hot Sleepers
If you often overheat while you sleep, this mattress should help you stay cool.
Couples
This bed has great motion isolation so you will not feel your partner tossing and turning at night.
Back Sleeping
Ideal for lightweight, average weight, and heavyweight back sleepers.
Side Sleeping
Ideal for lightweight, average weight, and heavyweight side sleepers.
Stomach Sleeping
Ideal for lightweight and average weight stomach sleepers.

Financing Options

Financing options are available for this mattress.

Average Customer Rating
4.5/5
Watch Our Video Review

Finding the right mattress for your sleep preferences can be the first step in avoiding back pain. And if you’re a side sleeper, the Layla is definitely worth your consideration. It’s built with memory foam, which is great at relieving pressure at trouble spots like the shoulders and the hips. Plus, it helps with spinal alignment because it allows side sleepers to sink in a bit. The Layla is also unique in that it’s a flippable mattress, so you get two firmnesses in one. The softer side is a 5.5/10 and is the better fit for side sleepers, who need more pressure relief at their shoulders and hips.

Pros

  • The firm side is a 7.5 out of 10 and could be ideal for combo, stomach, or back sleepers, because it should provide enough support to keep the spine aligned in multiple positions.
  • While memory foam beds are sometimes known for trapping heat, the Layla’s copper infusion helps draw heat away from sleepers’ bodies.
  • The Layla has great motion isolation, so couples shouldn’t feel each other’s movements at night.

Cons

  • There’s not a lot of bounce on the Layla, even on the firm side. So if you want a more responsive bed, you may want to look elsewhere.

Love the look of the Layla? Learn more in our full Layla mattress review.

Bear Original – Best Mattress for Athletes with Back Pain 

Bear has managed to carve out a niche in the mattress industry by catering specifically to athletes and active folks, so it’s no wonder the Bear Original is a great pick for athletes who may also suffer from back pain. The Original came in at a 7 out of 10 on our firmness scale, meaning it’ll do a good job of keeping your spine in alignment. As a bonus, it also comes with a 2-inch layer of graphite gel-infused foam, which will cool you down and fill in the space in your lumbar region while you’re lying down, providing support to alleviate pain. 

Pros 

  • Thanks to its CertiPUR-US® Certified foams, there’s not as strong an off-gassing smell as you might expect. 
  • The top layer of memory foam helps to dampen movement across the mattress – so even if you sleep with a restless partner or pet, you shouldn’t be too bothered throughout the night. 
  • The above-average firmness means that you get the feel of a memory foam without the sinkage – if you like feeling “on” your bed instead of “in” it, this could be a win. 

Cons 

  • Like many memory foam mattresses, the Bear Original doesn’t provide especially good edge support. 

Intrigued? Read more about the Bear Original in our full review

How Can Sleep Help 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 make falling asleep with pain easier, 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 during our chat (which you can see more of below). “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.”

Dr. 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 the following when choosing the right mattress to deal with pain.

What to Look for in a Mattress for Back Pain

When looking for a mattress to combat back pain, it’s important to consider support, firmness level, and pressure relief. Different types of mattresses will offer varying degrees of these factors. Take a look at how they stack up below.

Types of Mattresses For Back Pain

There are several different types of mattresses, and I recommend some over others for combatting back pain. Take a look below to learn more about the main mattress types.

  • Foam Mattresses: All-foam mattresses rely on high-density poly foams to support the sleeper. If you struggle with back problems, I often recommend avoiding all-foam mattresses in favor of slightly more supportive innerspring or hybrid mattresses.
  • Innerspring Mattresses: Innerspring mattresses combine steel coil support with top layers made of thin comfort foam. They’re often firm and bouncy, which can work well for back pain (as long as they also provide enough pressure relief).
  • Hybrid Mattresses: Hybrid mattresses use coil and foam layers to create a supportive, yet comfortable sleeping environment. These beds can vary widely in feel and materials, but are often the type of bed I recommend for sleepers looking for back pain relief.
  • Latex Mattresses: Latex mattresses are taut, bouncy, and naturally cooling. These beds are very durable and supportive, but are not my first choice for sleepers with bad backs. These folks often need a material that offers more body-contouring. Latex mattresses don’t usually offer the right sort of cradling to ease tension, especially at the lower back.

Support

In my opinion, what’s more important than choosing the right mattress material is choosing a mattress that offers the right amount of support. Sound support is 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.

Sleep Alignment

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

  • Zoned support: 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 encourage a proper spinal alignment, which is a key to relieving back pain.
  • 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 folks who suffer from back pain. This balanced approach combines lift with pressure relief for a well-rounded feel.
  • Contouring: A mattress that offers some body-contouring at the lower back can also help keep your spine in a neutral alignment. By filling in the spaces your body creates as it sinks into a bed slightly, contouring foams can ensure that you’re receiving evenly distributed support throughout the night.

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.

You need to ensure your mattress offers the right firmness level for your sleep position, which is what determines how your spine should be lined up. While Dr. Poorbaugh says that “there is some evidence to suggest that a firm mattress is more beneficial to reduce pain among people experiencing CLBP (chronic lower back pain),” it’s actually more likely that “any change in back pain is more related to improved sleep patterns than any actual physical changes to the lumbar spine.”

Dr. 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. Below, I’ll go over back pain in different sleeping positions to help you find the right firmness level for your needs.

Back Sleepers with Back Pain

The best mattress for back sleepers is in the medium-firm to firm range, meaning about a 6.5 to 7 out of 10 on the firmness scale (where 10 is the most firm). This medium firmness level 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.

Side Sleepers with Back Pain

On the other hand, the best mattress for side sleepers is in the soft to medium-soft range, meaning about a 5 to 6 on the mattress firmness scale. When you’re side-sleeping, you need a bed that allows a bit of sinkage around the shoulders and hips to ensure your spine falls into a neutral alignment (rather than twists at the lower back). Personally, I’d suggest side sleepers with back pain stick to more medium-soft than truly soft beds to ensure they’re also getting proper support.

Stomach Sleepers with Back Pain

The best mattress for stomach sleepers is firm to ultra-firm, a 7 to 8 on the mattress firmness scale. These sleepers need tons of support (and very little pressure relief) to ensure their hips stay lifted up in line with their shoulders. Stomach sleepers can struggle with back pain when their hips sink into cushioning comfort layers, creating a bend in the spine.

Combination Sleepers with Back Pain

I’d recommend combination sleepers stick to a medium-firm mattress. They need to feel supported and comfortable in several different sleeping positions, and a medium-firm feel can often deliver enough pressure relief and support in several positions throughout the night.

Pressure Relief

Finally, let’s take a moment to talk 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.

Back Pain Mattress Graphic

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 is 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 dramatic sinkage and spinal misalignment, a touch of the material can do a lot to soothe achy joints as the foam gently conforms to these areas. If you’re worried about memory foam’s reputation for sleeping hot, look for a gel memory foam mattress that encourages airflow.
  • 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.

Can Your Mattress Cause Back Pain?

If you’ve started waking up with back pain and you didn’t have pain before, your mattress could be the culprit. If you’ve recently purchased a new bed, it could be a bit too soft (or too firm) for your needs, which can cause back pain, especially if it’s throwing your spine out of alignment. If this is the case, I’d recommend sleeping on your new bed for 30 days to see if your body adjusts. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to return your mattress or purchase a topper to help.

Mattress sagging can also be a significant cause of back pain. If your mattress is 7–10 years old and sagging in certain places, it could be negatively affecting your sleep health. Plus, you could be unconsciously contorting your body to compensate for the sagging. If you notice your mattress is sagging, it’s time to replace it, or add a topper until you’re ready to find a new bed.

Simple Sleep Tricks to Reduce Back Pain

A new mattress is a big investment, and sometimes it’s too expensive to fit into your budget. If you want to reduce back pain in a cost-effective way, there are a few other options you can test out.

  • Pillow: A new pillow that works with your sleeping position and provides good neck support can be a great way to quickly improve your sleep posture and reduce some back pain. Our best pillows for back pain roundup includes a few options, and explains how pillows can help fight back pain in more detail.
  • Mattress Topper: Adding a firm mattress topper to a sagging or unsupportive mattress can be a nice quick fix for back pain. It also gives some much-needed support and can extend the life of your mattress by a few months. Check out some of our best mattress toppers to see some options.
  • Change your sleeping position: Your sleeping position could be creating some back pain. Back sleepers have the easiest time achieving a neutral spinal alignment, which can really reduce pain. Stomach sleepers, on the other hand, are particularly prone to waking up with back pain. Side sleepers can also have some issues with pain if they aren’t careful about not twisting their back into odd positions as they sleep. If you’re struggling with back pain, training yourself to sleep on your back could be a big help. Check out our How to Train to Sleep on Your Back article for some tips.

What Is Back Pain? A Note from Dr. Poorbaugh

Before we wrap up, I wanted to include some basic information on back pain that I learned from Dr. Poorbaugh.

According to Dr. Poorbaugh, most medical research is focused on “Chronic Lower Back Pain (CLBP).” Traditionally, to be defined as “chronic” someone’s lower back pain needed to continue for “more than three months.” But recently, doctors have started using functional brain imaging (as well as detailed assessments of depression and mood) to illustrate that “chronic” is not necessarily a time dependent label.

Dr Poorbaugh says that “the main determinant” of chronic back pain today is central sensitization. According to Dr. Poorbaugh, central sensitization occurs when “the central nervous system has lost its ability to dampen or control peripheral stimuli i.e. information from muscles, joints, and nerves.”

When your nervous system can’t control those stimuli, your peripheral nerves get irritated. This eventually affects your entire nervous system and makes normal activity feel painful (aka, causes back pain).

How is Back Pain Caused?

As Dr. Poorbaugh mentioned above, CLBP is often caused by central sensitization. But back pain can also be a result of injuries like a fall or pulled muscle. Pinched nerves or degenerating discs can also be a cause of back pain.

Types of Back Pain

There are a few different types of back pain. As Dr. Poorbaugh says, a common type is chronic lower back pain caused by central sensitization. But take a look at a few more common types of back pain below:

  • Non-specific muscle pain: Muscle pain can occur in any area of the back, and is often a result of an injury or a strain. This type of pain often dissipates over time.
  • Muscle spasms: Muscle spasms most commonly occur in the lower back and are often the result of an injury. This type of pain occurs when your back muscles contract involuntarily.
  • Radicular pain: If you feel sharp shooting pain in your back that extends to your legs, you could be experiencing radicular pain. This pain is a result of disc degeneration or a pinched nerve.
  • Sciatica: If you feel pain in your lower spine that extends to your legs, you might be suffering from sciatica. This type of pain is caused by the sciatic nerve, and is very common (and uncomfortable). If you’ve been experiencing sciatica, you may find your perfect mattress over on our Best Mattress for Sciatica page. (3)

Lifestyle Tips for Sleeping with Pain

To wrap up this guide, I want to share some tips and tricks for sleeping with chronic pain. Note that these have more to do with lifestyle adjustments than anything you add to your mattress.

“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. (4) 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. For more tips, check out our 30-Day Sleep Hygiene plan.

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. (5)

Final Word From Sleepopolis

At the end of the day, a new mattress isn’t going to solve your back pain woes any more than a strict diet will. More than anything, it’s about a lifestyle shift in which you combine these different factors 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 consultation with a medical professional. The information provided in this guide is just that: Information. We’re not doctors, nor do we claim to be, so I highly encourage those with chronic pain to seek professional advice for any and all serious health issues.

Recap: Best Mattresses for Back Pain

MattressBest ForPrice (Queen)CouponReview
NectarEditor’s Pick$899Nectar CouponRead Our Review!
Helix DuskCombo Sleepers$1,199Helix CouponRead Our Review!
DreamCloudHybrid$1,798DreamCloud CouponRead Our Review!
WinkBedsCooling$1,799WinkBeds CouponRead Our Review!
Nolah EvolutionLuxury$2,299Nolah CouponRead Our Review!
SaatvaStomach Sleepers$1,770Saatva CouponRead Our Review!
Leesa Legend Shoulder and Back Pain$2,399Leesa CouponRead Our Review! 
Brooklyn Signature HybridAffordable$1,249Brooklyn Bedding CouponRead Our Review!
LaylaSide Sleepers $1,099Layla CouponRead Our Review!
Bear Athletes$998Bear CouponRead Our Review! 

FAQs

Can a firm mattress cause lower back pain?

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 helps with their back pain as the extra support lifts their spine into a neutral alignment.

What mattress firmness is best for back pain?

Typically, back pain sufferers will want to opt for something in the 5 to 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 provide much needed support at the hips.

Is a memory foam mattress good for back pain?

Memory foam has a slow response to pressure, so it 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.

References

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ashburn, Michael. (2017, November 15). 3 Common Forms of Lower Back Pain. Penn Medicine Musculoskeletal and Rheumatology Blog.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Logan Block
Logan is the former content director of Sleepopolis. As content director, he reviewed new mattresses every week and curated the comparisons, best of pages, and video guides on the site. Logan 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.