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!
What’s the Best Mattress for Back Pain?
- Editor’s Pick – Saatva
- Best Mattress for Lower Back Pain – Helix Dusk
- Best Firm Mattress for Back Pain – WinkBed
- Best Mattress for Combination Sleepers with Back Pain – GhostBed Flex
- Best Memory Foam Mattress for Back Pain – Nectar
- Best Mattress for Side Sleepers with Back Pain – Layla
- Best Hybrid Mattress for Back Pain – DreamCloud
- Best Mattress for Back Sleepers with Back Pain – Casper
- Best Cooling Mattress for Back Pain – Cocoon Chill Hybrid
- Best Mattress for Shoulder and Back Pain – Puffy Lux
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.
How I Picked These Mattresses
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.
If you like the solid build of a traditional innerspring bed, give the Saatva look. It utilizes a coil-on-coil structure to provide impressive bounce and support. That support could be just the ticket for folks who are looking to avoid back pain by maintaining neutral spine alignment. It also helps to keep sleepers positioned on top of the structure to avoid any sort of stuck-in-the-bed feeling.
The innerspring Saatva comes in three firmness levels: Plush Soft, Luxury Firm, and Firm. The Soft version will probably work best for side sleepers, who need plenty of pressure relief at the shoulders and hips. The Luxury Firm is likely most ideal for combo sleepers, who need a balance of support and pressure relief in multiple positions. And the Firm version should work wonders for back and stomach sleepers, who need higher levels of support.
Saatva also offers a model specifically designed to support heavier folks, the Saatva HD. Its versatility is the reason this highly supportive mattress is my favorite mattress for sleepers with back pain this year!
Will this mattress help you sleep like a baby? Find out in our full Saatva mattress review.
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 Mattress for Lower Back Pain
If you wake up with lower back pain in the mornings, the Helix Dusk is a great option for you. This medium-soft mattress does a great job helping side sleepers keep their spine in a neutral position, which can really help them combat back pain. Plus, it’s responsive and easy to change positions on, which is a perk for combination sleepers.
Regardless of your preferred sleeping position, the Dusk’s coil support layer does a great job keeping your hips lifted up in line with your shoulders, which is one of the keys to avoiding back pain. Meanwhile, its softer top foams fill in your lumbar region for some extra pressure relief. If you’re someone who struggles with back pain, I’d highly recommend checking out the Helix Dusk.
Hungry to learn more about the Dusk? Read our Helix Dusk mattress review.
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.
Best Firm Mattress for Back Pain
Those who want both an online mattress and a firm, bouncy bed might want to consider the WinkBed. This hybrid bed-in-a-box mattress features a sturdy feel that’s great for anyone on the hunt for a firm mattress. Plus, it offers plenty of support to help you maintain your sleep posture.
The WinkBed comes in three different support levels: Soft, Medium Firm, and Firm. The brand also makes a Plus version specifically designed to support heavier folks. No matter the firmness level, each WinkBed model features zoned support to help promote healthy spinal alignment. This support system is firmer around the hips (to ensure they stay elevated and aligned with the spine), and softer around the shoulders (to allow for some body-contouring and pressure relief). If you’re looking for a firm mattress, I’d specifically recommend the Firm WinkBed model.
Will the WinkBed ease your back pain? Learn more in our full WinkBeds mattress review.
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 Mattress for Combination Sleepers with Back Pain
Combination sleepers often like bouncy beds that make it easy to move around and switch positions at night. I’d highly recommend they check out the GhostBed Flex , which combines latex alternative foam, memory foam, and pocketed coils to create a bouncy feel that offers just enough pressure relief to help with back pain.
The Flex has a responsive and cooling feel that combo sleepers and hot sleepers should appreciate, but its top layer of memory foam will fill in your lumbar region to offer some additional help combating back pain, especially if you sleep on your back. Meanwhile, its latex and coil layers will keep your spine aligned to help prevent any new pain. I’d highly recommend this bed to anyone looking to combine a bouncy, responsive feel with the pressure-relief they need to relieve lower back pain.
Learn more in our full GhostBed Flex mattress review.
And, if you’re on the hunt for an adjustable base that’s compatible with this mattress, check out GhostBed’s adjustable base bundles! They’ll help you save on your mattress and your base. Plus, GhostBed’s adjustable bases come with great extra features like device charging stations.
The combination of bouncy coils and body-hugging memory foam offer sleepers a nice, balanced feel.
Best Memory Foam Mattress
If you think serious pressure relief could be the answer to your back issues, then consider the Nectar mattress. This all-foam, bed-in-a-box mattress features a whopping 5” of memory foam in its comfort layer. All that foam provides plenty of body-contouring and pressure relief and lets sleepers sink deeply into the mattress. This could be great for side sleepers who need plenty of cushion around the shoulder and hip.
Lest you be concerned that all that pressure relief won’t provide enough support, I personally found that the Nectar helped maintain proper side sleeping spinal alignment. Meanwhile, the thick memory foam layers do a great job of cutting down on motion isolation — so this could be a nice choice for partners who don’t want to disturb each other during the night.
Do you need the Nectar in your life? Learn more in our Nectar mattress review.
Sleepers will sink deep into the Nectar mattress for some soothing pressure relief, something that side sleepers will particularly appreciate! Use this link to check their current offer!
Best Mattress for Side Sleepers with Back Pain
Finding the right mattress for your sleep preferences can be the first step in avoiding back pain. The Layla could help because it’s built with memory foam, which is great at relieving pressure at trouble spots for side sleepers like the shoulders and the hips. Because it allows you to sink into bed a bit more, the Layla really helps with side sleeping spinal alignment.
The Layla is a flippable mattress, so you get two firmnesses in one. The firmer side is around a 6.5 out of 10 on the firmness scale, or right around medium firm. This firmness could be ideal for combo or back sleepers, because it should provide enough support to keep the spine aligned in multiple positions. The softer side is more like a 5 or 5.5 out of 10. This should appeal to side sleepers, who need more pressure relief at their shoulders and hips. And while memory foam beds are sometimes known for trapping heat, the copper infusion in the memory foam helps draw heat away from sleepers’ bodies. So if you love memory foam, share a bed, and want to avoid back pain, consider the Layla.
Love the look of the Layla? Learn more in our full Layla mattress review.
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 Hybrid Mattress for Back Pain
If you see a mattress described as a “hybrid mattress” it means that it uses a combination of foam comfort layers and coil support. Hybrids come in a lot of different feels and firmnesses but they generally have a more traditional mattress feel, with a bit more bounce, than their all-foam counterparts.
The DreamCloud is a hybrid with a nice blended feel and medium firm support. It has great support to keep your spine aligned to avoid back pain and a great breathable cover to help you sleep cool through the night.
Read our DreamCloud mattress review for more on this great hybrid bed!
This tall hybrid mattress combines foams with pocketed coils for a luxuriously supportive sleeping experience. Get $200 off a DreamCloud mattress plus free pillows, a mattress protector and a set of luxury sheets ($399 value) with your purchase!
Best Mattress for Back Sleepers
The Casper features a zoned support system that could be especially helpful for back sleepers with back pain. The Casper’s zoned construction means it’s softer at the shoulders and firmer at the hips, so it should simultaneously ease shoulder pain and maintain proper spinal alignment, especially while you’re on your back.
In addition to this zoned support system, Casper features a medium feel that should appeal to back and side sleepers or combo sleepers who switch between their back and side. (That’s because all of these sleepers tend to feel best on a mattress that balances support and pressure relief.) It also uses open-celled foam in the comfort layer to help promote air flow and defend against heat trapping. If you’re looking for extra bounce, consider checking out our Casper Hybrid mattress review.
Curious? Read up in our Casper mattress review!
The memory foam, latex, and heavy-duty poly foam work together to offer sleepers a beautifully balanced feel!
Best Cooling Mattress for Back Pain
Cocoon Chill Hybrid
If you struggle with back pain and night sweating, the Cocoon Chill Hybrid could be just the bed for you! This ultra-cooling mattress from Sealy combines a heat-reducing Phase Change cover with breathable pocketed coils to ensure you’re sleeping cool and comfortable all night long.
In addition to helping this bed sleep cool, the pocketed coils in the Chill Hybrid help keep your spine in a healthy, neutral alignment. This is great news for sleepers with back pain, who really need to maintain proper sleep posture to stay comfortable at night. I’d highly recommend hot sleepers looking for a pain-relieving bed check this mattress out.
Learn more at my full Cocoon Chill Hybrid mattress review.
This cooling, responsive mattress is a great fit for combination sleepers.
Best Mattress for Shoulder and Back Pain
Waking up with shoulder pain is a super common reason for people to start searching for a new mattress. And oftentimes, shoulder and back pain go hand in hand. They key to combating shoulder pain is finding a soft mattress that offers pressure relief in the shoulder area, but keeps your hips lifted in line with your shoulders to combat back pain.
The Puffy Lux fits this bill. It has a soft feel that should offer folks with shoulder pain some nice pressure relief, especially if they sleep on their sides. But, it still offers enough support to prevent and relieve back pain. It also sleeps cool, which is a great perk for most sleepers out there!
Intrigued by the Puffy Lux? Read our comprehensive Puffy Lux mattress review.
The Puffy Lux has a soft feel side sleepers will love!
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. If you’ve been experiencing lower back pain, you may find your perfect mattress over on our Best Mattress for Sciatica page.
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.
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.
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.
FAQQ: 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.
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.
The best mattress for back sleepers is in the medium to slightly firm range, meaning 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.
“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.
FAQQ: 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.
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.
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.
FAQQ: 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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
Recap: The Best Mattresses for Back Pain
|Mattress||Best For||Price (Queen)||Coupon||Review|
|Saatva||Editor's Pick||$1,499||Saatva Coupon||Read My Review!|
|Helix Dusk||Lower Back Pain||$1,099||Helix Coupon||Read Our Review!|
|WinkBeds||Firm||$1,599||WinkBed Coupon||Read My Review!|
|GhostBed Flex||Latex||$2,145||Ghostbed Coupon||Read Our Review!|
|Nectar||Memory Foam||$1,198||Nectar Coupon||Read Our Review!|
|Layla||Side Sleepers||$1,099||Layla Coupon||Read My Review!|
|DreamCloud||Hybrid||$1,598||DreamCloud Coupon||Read Our Review!|
|Casper||Back Sleepers||$1,095||Casper Coupon||Read Our Review!|
|Cocoon Chill Hybrid||Cooling||$1,499||Cocoon Coupon||Read Our Review!|
|Puffy Lux||Shoulder Pain||$1,799||Puffy Coupon||Read Our Review!|
- 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.
- 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.