Shopping for the best mattress for back pain can be a tough process, especially if you’re not quite sure what to look for. With so many options out there, it can be overwhelming and confusing to find the perfect mattress that helps prevent nagging lower or upper back pain.
So what matters most in a mattress? In this guide, I’m going to present my personal top picks for mattresses that could be good fits for users experiencing back pain. I want to note that the information below is comprised of my opinions, reflecting my own preferences and biases, so use it as a starting point. I’ve learned that a good mattress can help reduce pain in some users, but it’s not a medical treatment; if chronic back pain is a problem for you, it’s certainly best to consult with your healthcare professional.
Below that, toward the bottom of this article, I break down the parts of the mattress that are important to provide proper support and comfort for the specific needs of back sleepers and those who experience lower back pain and other back problems.
And make sure to check out our full mattress review series to find the best models for all types of sleepers.
TOP 8 MATTRESSES FOR BACK PAIN
Like any other top picks on this site, these mattress picks are reflective of my own personal preferences – so please just use them as a starting point! I’ve broken down my picks based on criteria and questions I get from readers who experience back pain. Now on my top 10 memory foam mattresses for a variety of sleepers:
- Zoned Support — Casper Mattress
- Spine Alignment — Helix Mattress
- Pressure Relief — Purple Mattress
- Firm Support — Amerisleep AS2 Mattress
- Athletes — Bear Mattress
- Lower Back Pain — Saatva Mattress
- Upper Back Pain — Leesa Mattress
- Memory Foam for Back Pain — Nest Bedding Alexander Signature
Read on for why I chose these models!
BEST MATTRESSES FOR BACK PAIN – TOP CHOICES DETAILED
Below I have listed my favorite mattresses for back pain based on different factors and criteria, as well as my personal experiences and thoughts. I’ll continue to update this list as I test and review new mattresses.
Zoned Support — Casper Mattress
The Casper Mattress features a medium firm feel, which many people prefer for supporting their back while sleeping. Casper’s signature mattress now features Zoned Support Technology. This means its foam is actually firmer in certain parts of the mattress where the body tends to apply more pressure (particularly under the hips, while the mattress is softer under the shoulders). This “zoning” treats the hips and shoulders differently, promoting a more natural spinal alignment for the sleeper.
Read our full review of the Casper Mattress here.
Spine Alignment — Helix Mattress
The Helix Mattress is all about customization, and each mattress is custom-made to the customer’s preference. Factors like Feel, Support, and Point Elasticity are taken into account when you customize a Helix Mattress, and this helps ensure the sleeper gets a firmness level that works well with their body and preferences. This customization, along with Helix’s use of foam layers and micro coils, results in a mattress that can help keep the spine aligned in your preferred sleeping position.
Read our full review of the Helix Mattress here.
Pressure Relief — Purple Mattress
The Purple Mattress features a top layer of hyper elastic polymer, meaning it has a fast response time. The mattress reacts quickly to movement and all sleeping positions. This can be beneficial to those with back pain because they don’t have to wait for the mattress to contour to their body and positioning. Purple is also well known for its pressure relieving abilities. One thing to note is that heavier sleepers will feel the pressure relief of the Purple Mattress easily, while lighter sleepers may experience the polymer layer as firmer.
Read our full review of the Purple Mattress here.
Firm Support — Amerisleep AS2 Mattress
The Amerisleep AS2 Mattress is the second-firmest mattress model from Amerisleep. It’s also their most popular model, and for good reason: It has a medium firmness level that adapts well to multiple types of sleepers, which is useful if back pain dictates a particular position for you. I found it to give excellent spinal support, keeping users aligned throughout the night. It also features several design features — including a Celliant® cover — to help sleepers stay cool all night.
Read our full review of the Amerisleep AS2 Mattress here.
Athletes — Bear Mattress
The Bear Mattress was designed with the needs of athletes in mind, so its construction makes several nods toward muscular comfort and recovery. Our testers found it to be in the medium firmness range, hedging toward the firmer side. And the layers of the Bear get progressively firmer from top to bottom, allowing the mattress to contour to your body without collapsing. This helps keep the sleeper feeling supported and aligned.
Read our full review of the Bear Mattress here.
Lower Back Pain — Saatva Mattress
The Saatva Mattress can support sleepers who suffer from lower back pain where they need it most. A mattress that is too soft can leave sleepers — especially lower back pain sufferers — to far “in” the layers, which can cause stress and discomfort over the course of a night. The hips and lower back especially need support to keep from sinking too far in, and Saatva’s hedge toward the firmer side is a good indicator of its overall solid support. Saatva also features two layers of coils and a European style pillow top, which means a traditional supportive feel with a soft top layer to give a bit of comfort without collapsing on itself.
Read our full review of the Saatva Mattress here.
Upper Back Pain — Leesa Mattress
The Leesa Mattress could be an excellent choice for those who suffer from upper back pain and tightness. The Leesa exhibits incredibly consistent pressure relief, even for side sleepers, which is somewhat rare among mattress models. This consistent level of support throughout can help keep the entire back — and not just the lower back — feeling supported and aligned while sleeping.
Read our full review of the Leesa Mattress here.
Memory Foam for Back Pain — Nest Bedding Alexander Signature
The Nest Bedding Alexander Signature features four layers of foam, including gel memory foam and high density poly foam. While memory foam mattresses might have a reputation for not giving enough support, the Alexander’s layering is squarely in the medium firmness range. It gives a great contouring and initially soft feel that relieves pressure, while the base layer helps ensure the sleeper doesn’t sink too far into the mattress, which could put the spine out of alignment.
Read our full review of the Nest Bedding Alexander Signature here.
Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Mattress for Back Pain
Support for Lower Back Pain
Note: Sleepopolis is not written by doctors or medical professions and cannot provide medical advice. Consult your doctor for specific recommendations on how to best manage your sleep conditions.
Lower back pain is a real part of the nightly routine for many sleepers. Going to sleep shouldn’t mean added pressure to your back, so it’s crucial to find a mattress that has good support. I’m by no means a doctor, but below are some of my thoughts and tips when picking a mattress with back pain relief in mind.
It’s important to note that support and firmness are not the same. You can have a soft mattress that still has great support. By the same token just because a mattress is firm doesn’t mean it is supportive. Adequate support results from a mattress that keeps your spine in alignment, while also remaining comfortable.
Comfort is just as important as spinal alignment. If the mattress creates pressure points on your back or elsewhere, you’re likely to experience pain or discomfort during the night, invalidating the benefits from the mattress support level.
When you lie on a mattress your spine should be aligned and supported, while also providing appropriate comfort.
Ideal Back Pain Firmness & Feel
Firmness is the initial feel of the mattress. Firmer mattresses tend to “float” the sleeper more on top of the sleeping surface. As opposed to softer mattresses that allow the sleeper to sink into the mattress, providing deeper hug and body contouring.
Most back sleepers need and prefer a mattress that is in the medium to slightly firm firmness 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.
That said, some sleepers will find that a softer mattress is better for their back. Depending on your sleeping style, softer mattresses may provide more consistent alignment along your spine, which leads to less pressure and less aches. This is usually the case for lighter sleepers. Lighter sleepers typically try to steer away from the firmer mattresses because firm might mean too much of a floating feeling, exacerbating lower back problems.
Back Pain Pressure Point Prevention
Pressure points created between your body and a mattress is one of the most important areas to pay attention to when suffering from back pain. Typically, pressure points mean there is more push back around one specific area which tends to cause misalignment along your body and spine. As your body moves out of alignment, more pressure is placed on your spine, leading to unwanted back pains.
Therefore, it’s important to make sure you are not sleeping on a mattress that places pressure on any of your major joints. By doing so, your body is able to rest in a relaxed state and the chance of pressure points along the spine and lower back are dramatically diminished.
What Causes Back Pain?
Nearly 80% of sleepers will encounter some sort of lower back pain during their lifetime. While not everyone is affected the same by these pains, we all need to make sure we are paying attention to them, as they may become worse over time if left unaddressed. The renowned Mayo Clinic breaks down back pain into two primary categories:
Back pain can come on suddenly and last less than six weeks (acute), which may be caused by a fall or heavy lifting. Back pain that lasts more than three months (chronic) is less common than acute pain.
Your specific back pain causes, needs, desires, age, and other factors will likely change the mattress types that are best suited to you. Below are a few of the primary causes of back pain and lower back pain.
Stress & Anxiety
Stress is probably the most common cause of back pain. Although it is hard to measure the level of stress an individual is under, several studies have shown that stress causes a lack of sleep. This lack of sleep means more tossing and turning throughout the night. The more you toss and turn, the more susceptible you are to pulling a muscle, or worse yet, falling asleep in a position that your body is not used to.
Additionally, less sleep opens up the door for muscles to strain more easily. If you’re tired and do not receive the proper amount of sleep your body needs, your muscles have to work extra hard during the day, which could lead to lower back issues. Once these lower back issues take place, the stress circles back around and leads to a never ending cycle.
Simple solutions to stress related back pains are as follows; it’s best to consult with your healthcare professional if you experience chronic pain in any way, especially back pain:
- Massages – these will release the built up stress and provide a better night’s sleep
- Eat healthy – a well balanced diet leads to better sleep and less stress. In addition, reducing caffine and sugar intake can help reduce stress as it maintains a clearer thought process
- Exercise – Exercising helps to pump your endorphins (releasing them) which leads to more pep in your step and a reduced level of stress
- Get enough sleep – most importantly, get enough sleep. Sleep is one of the biggest and most influential factors affecting stress levels. Make sure you allocate enough time to fully rest and recover each night.
Back pain, especially lower back pain, can result from a number of different causes. However, the cause is generally related to muscle strain or directly within the lumbar disc itself. This can result from heavy lifting, sudden movements, or other twists and movements. In any case, you’ll want to consult with your doctor before making a decision on your mattress.
Your specific medical needs may make a particular firmness level or material type better suited to directly targeting your back pain problems. However, only your doctor can fully advise you on the specifics therein.
Abnormal Spinal Curvature
Sleeping, sitting, standing, it doesn’t matter. If you’re spine is abnormally aligned due to poor posture, you will more than likely encounter lower back pain.
With three different regions along the spine, each of them should be properly supported to help avoid back pain as a whole. The spinal regions and their importance are broken down below:
- Cervical – this is the top third of your spine. This section works to support your head, which is where pillows and sleeping style come into play.
- Thoracic – the thoracic section makes up the middle third of your spine. The center of your spine works to support the upper body.
- Lumbar – lumbar is known as the bottom third of your spine. As the lower section of your spine, the lumbar supports our lower backs and can be considered the foundation of our back.
Good posture can help to improve most back problems. Just be sure to always remember that the three sections of your spine are trying to work together. If we place pressure on one section, the other two have to work extra hard.
Many back sleepers suffer from snoring, sleep apnea, or other breathing related issues. This is caused by a strained airway, which can result from poor support in a mattress. When your back is properly supported, air can flow freely into your lungs, reducing snoring and potentially minimizing the effects of other breathing related sleep conditions.
Several other sleeping disorders also play a large role on back pain. If you’d like to read up on more of these disorders, they can be found at the Sleepopolis Education center.
Comfort & Cooling
By improving your airflow management you’ll also improve overall oxygenation of the body. Better oxygenated cells result in better internal temperature regulation (which is important if you ever feel you sleep hot during the night). This will help to reduce lower back pain, muscle pain, and other body pain directly by improving blood flow and cell regeneration.
How Adjustable Foundations Can Reduce Back Pain Pressure
Adjustable foundations can be a great option for back sleepers since they can conform to a variety of sleeping positions. Elevating the head and foot of the mattress helps to relieve pressure points along your back. Additionally, elevating parts of your body can increase blood flow and ease breathing (and less snoring), both of which will result in reduced back pain, better internal temperature regulation, and improved restfulness.
The major cons of an adjustable foundation simply come down to the price tag and aesthetics. Needless to say, these types of foundations aren’t cheap. Additionally, some adjustable foundations may have a less-than-ideal aesthetic in the room. They can be quite large.
Despite the negatives of price and aesthetics, an adjustable foundation can be one of the best investments to your sleep and health you can make.
If you’ve been sleeping on an older mattress I would recommend first correcting the mattress. A good mattress on a traditional bed frame will make a significant difference to your sleep and lower back pain. However, if after changing mattresses you are still experiencing back pain you may want to consider investing in an adjustable foundation.
Sleepopolis recommends the following mattresses for back sleepers and those who suffer from lower back pain. The following mattresses:
- Provide great support
- Have a medium to medium firm feel (usually 5-7 out of 10 on the firmness scale)
- Have a slight to moderate body contour and hug; provides comfort and improves support for your back
- Have a good to exceptional level of deep compression support; provides consistent support for both light and heavy sleepers.
- Sleep cool in terms of heat retention
- Will work with an adjustable foundation
|Mattress||Best For||Mattress Brand||Description||Price (Queen)||Coupon||Review|
|Casper||Zoned Support||The Casper uses an all foam construction to provide a mattress with a medium firmness. The mattress combines layers of responsive foam with memory foam for a good mix of support and comfort in multiple positions.||$995||See Current Offer||Read My Review!|
|Helix||Spine Alignment||Helix is a bed in a box that customizes a hybrid construction based on your responses to questions on their website. They take feel preference, support need, temperature regulation and point elasticity into account for the construction and can also build queen size mattresses and above with split constructions if you and your partner have different sleep preferences.||$995||See Current Offer||Read My Review!|
|Purple||Pressure Relief||Uses a combination of foam and a proprietary hyper-elastic polymer comfort layer that is formed into a grid structure. This unique layer provides an even mix of support and pressure relief and has temperature regulating benefits as well.||$999||See Current Offer||Read My Review!|
|Amerisleep AS2||Firm Support||The AS2 is the second firmest in Amerisleep's line and uses a 2 inch layer of memory foam to provide comfort. There is a bit of a contouring feel but minimal sinkage so the sleeper can change positions easily.||$1,299||See Current Offer||Read My Review!|
|Bear||Athletes||The Bear mattress uses a graphite infused gel memory foam comfort layer to provide the classic memory foam feel, while helping to dissipate body heat to help sleep a bit cooler. The mattress uses a celliant blend in its cover, which is a material that some studies suggest can help with recovery.||$840||See Current Offer||Read My Review!|
|Saatva||Lower Back Pain||Coil on coil design creates a bouncy and supportive mattress. The Saatva also includes a euro-style pillowtop for pressure relief, and a high density poly foam edge support layer, which strengthens the side of the mattress allowing you to sleep all the way to the edge of the bed without worrying about collapsing the side.||$999||No Current Offers||Read My Review!|
|Leesa||Upper Back Pain||The Leesa has an avena foam comfort layer over a layer of memory foam. Placing the avena foam over the memory foam gives the mattress some bounce while allowing the sleeper to sink in for pressure relief, so it defends against the feeling of being stuck in the mattress.||$940||See Current Offer||Read My Review!|
|Nest Bedding Alexander Signature||Best Memory Foam||All foam construction uses a thick gel memory foam comfort layer to provide comfort. Available in two firmness levels and will provide a contouring feeling as you sink infor pressure relief.||$899||See Current Offer||Read My Review!|
Back Pain Mattress Shopping & Final Remarks
In some cases, you may find great deals that are “too good to be true”. Be wary of these low prices. Many times, these mattresses are made with inferior materials or practices that will eventually lead to sagging or other deterioration over time. Although slight, even a 0.5″ sag in a mattress can cause lower back pain and more restless nights. This is of critical importance, because most mattress warranties only cover sagging past 1.5″. Better warranties, including many of the mattresses above, cover sag depths of 1.0″ or greater.
There are many great options when looking for the perfect mattress to relieve that stubborn back pain. By focusing your search around mattresses that specifically target the attributes most needed by back sleepers you can find the mattress that best suits your needs. No two sleepers are alike, so be sure to choose a mattress that is right for you.
Sleepopolis is not written by doctors or medical professions and cannot provide medical advice. Consult your doctor for specific recommendations on how to best manage your sleep conditions.