Best Mattress Guides

Best Mattresses for Back Sleepers

In this guide, we’ll discuss the many benefits of sleeping on your back, and help back sleepers find the right mattress for their sleep position.

By Jack Mitcham

Back sleepers are among the rare breed of U.S. adults who sleep in the position considered most ideal by health professionals. When lying on your back, the body rests in a relatively natural posture with the spine, neck, and pelvis aligned. While this position helps minimize aches and pains, its benefits can become negligible if a mattress is too soft, too firm, or has other qualities that throw the spine out of alignment.

If the time has come for you to invest in a new mattress, you are smart to search for one that is tailored specifically to your dominant sleeping position. The sheer number of mattresses available can feel overwhelming, but we are here to help! In this guide, we have narrowed down the best mattress models for back sleepers and included additional specifications, the benefits of sleeping on your back, and other considerations. If you find you want something a bit more general, check out our best mattresses of 2021 roundup. 

Disclosure: By clicking on the product links in this article, Mattress Nerd may receive a commission fee at no cost to you, the reader. Read full disclosure statement.

The Best Mattresses for Back Sleepers of 2021

Layla

Best For Side and Back Sleepers

Best For: Back sleepers who like some contouring, couples & hot sleepers. 

Score
4.7 / 5.0
Firmness

Soft & Firm Side

Trial period

120 days

Warranty

Lifetime Limited Warranty

This memory foam mattress offers the contour and comfort you expect from a foam mattress, with added support for back sleepers at a variety of weights. While other beds make you choose one firmness level, this mattress is double-sided. It has a soft side that’s roughly 4.5 on the firmness scale and a firm side that’s a 7. 

We like this mattress for strict back sleepers or those who switch between sleeping on their back and side. Typically, we would recommend a firmer mattress for back sleepers, so we are partial to the firmest side of the mattress, but it is nice to know you have options. For example, perhaps you prefer a cooling and breathable, surface-level sleep in the summer but like to sink into the mattress in the winter months. With the Layla, you can simply select the sleep experience you desire by flipping it over. 

Read our full Layla Mattress Review for all the details.

 

Leesa Hybrid

Best Hybrid

Best For: Combination sleepers, couples with different preferences & those who want a very durable bed. 

Score
4.5 / 5.0
Firmness

7

Trial period

100 days

Warranty

10-year limited warranty

When building this Hybrid model, Leesa took the foam technology from their original mattress and coupled it with pocketed springs to combine the best of both worlds. This is our favorite hybrid model for back sleeping, because of the balance of support and durability.

We like this option for back sleepers who like a slightly softer feel to their beds, so keep that in mind when shopping. This mattress is also a great option for couples due to the durable, motion-isolating base. Additionally, the memory foam layer relieves back, hip, and shoulder pressure with the body-contouring back sleepers require. The Leesa Hybrid is going to serve lightweight & average weight sleepers best, so if you are a heavier individual, you may not find this mattress supportive enough. See: Best Hybrid Mattresses 

Read our full Leesa Hybrid Mattress Review for all the details.

Cocoon by Sealy

Best Cooling Mattress

Best For: Couples who need motion isolation, sleepers on a limited budget and those who tend to sleep hot

Score
4.4 / 5.0
Firmness

8

Trial period

100 days

Warranty

10 year limited warranty

The Cocoon Chill’s top two selling points are two firmness levels – perfect for several types of sleepers – and a phase-changing material that traps your body heat and releases it when you’re feeling cool. This material moves from a liquid to a solid state and can keep even hot sleepers cool throughout the night.

Though the edge support isn’t top-notch (a problem that’s common in all-foam mattresses), the Cocoon comes delivered straight to your door for free and comes with a 100-day trial period. Its two firmness levels (medium soft and extra firm) can accommodate different types of sleepers, but we recommend that stomach and back sleepers try the extra firm version while side sleepers stick to the medium soft firmness for extra cushioning.

Read our full Cocoon by Sealy Chill Mattress Review for all the details. 

Brooklyn Bedding Signature

Editor's Pick

Best For: Value shoppers, combination sleepers, & those searching for a balance of comfort and support.

Score
4.7 / 5.0
Firmness

5

Trial period

120 days

Warranty

10-year limited warranty

If you’re a back sleeper looking for a mattress with a little bit of everything, look no further than The Brooklyn Signature. This hybrid mattress was awarded our Editor’s Pick because it will appeal to the widest variety of back sleepers and help them get their best night’s sleep. Brooklyn Bedding combines a 6” pocketed spring base layer with a 4” layer of contouring TitanFlex foam to enhance the durability and longevity of the mattress. 

This Brooklyn Signature is offered in three firmness options, and for back sleepers, we recommend the medium-firm or firm option. The heavier you are, you will sleep better on the firm option. Regardless of your body type, body weight, or size, all back sleepers will benefit from the support of the innerspring coils in this mattress, which helps keep the spine aligned. The patented TitanFlex foam should provide just the right amount of contouring in the lumbar area, helping sleepers avoid lower back pain.

Read our full Brooklyn Signature Mattress Review to learn more.

Zenhaven

Best Firm Mattress

Best For: Couples with different sleeping positions, big & tall sleepers & sleepers with back and neck pain. 

Score
4.6 / 5.0
Firmness

Dual-Sided: Plush and Firm

Trial period

120 days

Warranty

20 year limited warranty

The Zenhaven by Saatva is a firm, luxury mattress for back sleepers, made of 100% Talalay latex for the eco-conscious shopper. The mattress has a “5-zone” comfort design, in order to provide firmer support where you need it most. The  ZenHaven is another two-sided mattress, which provides buyers with two levels of firmness. 

This mattress is somewhat unrivaled in its ability to provide a responsive, body-contouring feel while also ensuring that an even surface is maintained. Average weight back sleepers will likely feel supported enough on the Gentle Firm side, while heavier back sleepers may enjoy the firmer Luxury Plush side. One upside to this bed is that it can accommodate a variety of sleeping positions. If you’re a back sleeper with a partner who sleeps on their side or stomach, this is a great choice.

Read our full ZenHaven Review for more details.

WinkBed

Best For Pressure Relief

Best For: Shoppers who like options, those with specific firmness preference & couples who are different sizes.

Score
4.7 / 5.0
Firmness

Offered at 4 firmness levels

Trial period

120 nights

Warranty

Limited lifetime warranty

The Winkbed is a hybrid, innerspring mattress with a plush pillow top and two layers of coils. It’s engineered to provide decompression support for the spine, enhanced ventilation for a cool sleep, and pressure point and pain relief. 

The WinkBed has many properties that make it appealing to back sleepers. From a cool Tencel outer layer to motion isolation technology, anti-sag edge support, and a devoted “Lumbarlayer” for added lumbar support it will prevent sinkage and keep you supported. Additionally, back sleepers should find that this mattress evenly distributes their weight to help relieve pressure. The top layer is soft, but it won’t envelop you quite like an all-foam mattress might. 

Read our full WinkBed Review to learn more.

Purple Hybrid

Best For Back Pain

Best For: Hot sleepers, sleepers who move around a lot & sleepers with lower or upper back pain.

Score
4.8 / 5.0
Firmness

7

Trial period

100 nights

Warranty

10 year warranty

The Purple Hybrid is our top pick for the best mattress for sleepers with lower back pain. This hybrid mattress is constructed with polyfoam, pocketed coils, and a top layer of Purple’s patented Hyper-Elastic Polymer “Purple Grid” that gives the mattress a completely unique feel. People have compared sleeping on the Purple mattress to the feeling of a gel memory foam, but we are sure it will be unlike anything you have ever experienced. 

The Purple company recommended this model for back and side sleepers since the grid system will help evenly distribute weight while providing a balance of support and pressure relief for back sleepers. Because of its cooling properties and supportive properties, it’s also a good mattress for heavy people.

Read our full Purple Hybrid Mattress Review to learn more.

Mattress Buying Guide For Back Sleepers 

If you’re a back sleeper, congratulations! Snoozing in a supine position can have many long-term benefits, such as sinus relief, reduced neck and back pain, less stress on internal organs, and, since your face doesn’t rub against your pillow, less skin irritation. On the flip side, sleeping on your back can result in snoring and even sleep apnea. 

This buyer’s guide will provide you, back sleepers, with a better understanding of what you should look for when shopping for a mattress—which materials work best, firmness level considerations, and other factors that contribute to a restful, healthy night’s sleep.

We’ll also share with you some helpful tips on dealing with the problems that might be caused by back sleeping, and even some suggestions on how to change your sleeping position if it becomes necessary.

What Is the Best Mattress Type for Back Sleepers?

There are four major groups that mattresses generally fall into when it comes to materials: latex, memory foam, innerspring, and hybrid. High-quality, comfortable mattresses can be found within each of these groups, so your ideal material will come down to sleeping situation and preference. 

Since your preference is back sleeping, we’ve provided some insight into how each of these types of beds might be good or bad for that specific position.

Latex

Latex is known for its ability to quickly bounce back to its original shape, which helps it provide the slight contouring and cushioning feeling that back sleepers need. The material tends to conform to the body while alleviating pressure in all the right places. As an added benefit, the best latex mattresses offer motion isolation and sleep cooler than their foam counterparts. On the downside, they tend to be the most expensive options on the market.

Foam

Like latex, foam conforms well to the body, alleviates pressure, and does a good job minimizing motion transfer for couples. Additionally, it’s more widely available and comes in at a friendlier price point than latex. If you opt for foam, take a look at our best memory foam mattresses page. Memory foam is well-known for its body-contouring properties. Traditional foam, while supportive, may give back sleepers the sensation that they’re “stuck” on the mattress.

Innerspring

Innerspring mattresses are constructed with a layer of sturdy coils that provides high levels of breathability—a warm sleeper’s delight! But whether or not an innerspring mattress is a good fit for a side sleeper really depends on what’s on top of the metal coils. Because of the sturdy coils, innerspring mattresses have an inherent firmness that can push a back sleeper’s hips up too high, throwing their body out of alignment and causing back pain. This firmness, however, can be counteracted with a cushy pillow top, like the one on the Saatva mattress, which topped our best innerspring mattress list.

Related: Best Cooling Mattresses

Hybrid

Hybrid mattresses combine a supportive innerspring system with two or more contouring memory foam or latex support layers on top. Back sleepers should look for hybrids with well-designed comfort layers; a thicker comfort layer will mean that the mattress can provide more body-contouring than traditional innerspring mattresses. Many styles also offer a light bounce that may suit some back sleepers’ preferences. You can find many options that meet these criteria on our list of best hybrid mattresses.

Ideal Firmness Level

For most sleepers, firmness is a quality only thought of in terms of preference: you either like a soft surface to sleep on or you like a firmer mattress. However, a mattress’ firmness plays a crucial role in getting high-quality sleep, especially for individuals dedicated to one sleeping position. 

Back sleepers will likely find that a medium-firm mattress is soft enough for their hips to sink into alignment with their shoulders and back, but also has enough firmness to keep their hips from sinking too far. The resulting proper alignment can lead to less stress on sensitive areas like the lower back and pelvic region.

In order to help you identify firmness in mattresses, we rate each one on a scale on 1 to 10. Medium-firm is anything from 5 to 7. Lightweight to average back sleepers should be happiest around 5.5 or 6, while heavier back sleepers may want to consider a mattress closer to a firmness rating of 7. For more information, take a look at our mattress firmness guide.

Other Factors for Back Sleepers to Consider

In addition to the type of mattress you choose, there are various other qualities within a mattress that can either support the natural alignment of the body or indirectly disrupt it as you sleep. Due to a person’s individual preferences, size, height, medical history, etc., the most important aspects of a mattress will vary.

It is important to ensure the mattress will work with your body, allowing it to rest in a natural posture that alleviates pressure points on the neck, spine, and pelvis. There are also some ways for you to optimize your back-sleeping experience by using the ideal sleep accessories and mattress foundations. We have outlined some factors to pay close attention to below. 

Construction of the Support System

The core of the mattress should be stable and resilient, providing a relatively flat surface on which the softer, more comfort-focused layers can rest. The strong core will help balance out the softness provided by the comfort layers, and create the medium-firm feel that works so well for back sleepers. Look for innerspring support systems, pocketed coils, hyper-elastic polymer, and support polyfoam, which work in conjunction to create a supportive mattress core.

Contouring

While too much softness can lead to excessive sagging and exacerbate neck or chronic back pain, the ideal mattress for back sleepers will allow for contour in specific areas, like the hips. Foam and latex mattresses are usually the best at this. 

Pillows & Accessories 

Back sleepers don’t typically require support pillows like stomach sleepers and side sleepers do. However, back sleepers who struggle with sleep apnea may want to choose a thicker pillow to reduce snoring. A contouring memory foam pillow that provides support for the cervical spine can help in these cases by propping the sleeper up. Additionally, placing a pillow under your neck to fill in that space can result in optimal sleep. 

Mattress toppers are also a good option for back sleepers whose current mattress is too firm for comfort, but who don’t want to replace it entirely. A 2” to 3” thick topper can make a world of difference when it comes to your mattress’ softness.

Related: Best Pillows, Best Mattress Toppers

Foundations/Bed Frames

The foundation, or bed frame, is what holds your mattress up from the floor. While all bed frames share similar traits, it’s important that back sleepers select a foundation that offers substantial support for the mattress. If opting for a standard metal frame, for example, you’ll want to ensure you’re using a box spring, since the metal frame has no additional supportive slats. Take a look at this article if you’re still unsure if you need a boxspring.

Is Sleeping on Your Back Good for You?  

If you are a back sleeper, you’re among the few people whose body has chosen the sleeping position with the most health benefits and the least amount of drawbacks. From allowing for even weight distribution and alleviating pressure points, to creating the ideal scenario for cervical spinal alignment and lessening stiffness in the neck, there are many benefits of this sleeping style. 

While the position is a mostly positive one, there are some potential drawbacks. Finding a mattress that’s tailored to this sleep position and your body is crucial to ensure you are reaping the benefits, and not causing unnecessary pain. We explored some pros and cons of sleeping on your back, how you can make sure you are doing so in a safe and effective way, and some tips on switching sleep positions if it becomes necessary. 

Pros

Sleeping on your back naturally encourages proper spinal alignment, so long as your mattress has the right firmness (between 5 and 7 on the firmness scale) to support your shoulders and hips. Speaking of shoulders and hips, when you lie on your back they are not pushing into the surface of the bed as they would on your side. This reduces the risk of excess pressure on these sensitive areas which can also reduce the risk of aches and pains. Last, with the right pillow you likely won’t have to worry about neck pain as much as stomach sleepers might.

Related: Sleep and Neck Pain

Cons

Sleeping on your back can cause your tongue to relax and slip back into a position that obstructs your airways. When air then passes through the now smaller space it causes your soft tissue to vibrate, which leads to snoring. A thick pillow can prop your head up into a position that might lessen the likelihood of this occurring, but for even more useful tips, take a look at our guide on understanding how snoring affects sleep.

A much more serious issue that can be heightened or even caused by back-sleeping is sleep apnea, which is a disorder wherein your breathing pauses for ten or more seconds while you sleep. The obstructed airway described above can be a major culprit in this, and so a thicker pillow may also help in these cases, but if you feel you might suffer from sleep apnea then you should absolutely do more research. A good place to start is with our understanding sleep apnea guide, which details possible symptoms and steps you can take in treating this disorder. But you should know, it may come to the point where you need to consider switching your preferred sleeping position.

Sleeping on Your Side

Switching to a full-time side sleeper may not be as difficult as you think, after all, it’s only a 90 degree turn! Still, it may be challenging to get used to at first. Here are a couple of tricks that can help you train your body to adapt to the new sleeping style.

  • The couch can be a great place to start. The narrow surface area encourages side sleeping and can be a useful tool in adapting to the new position.
  • Try building a wall of pillows on either side of you. These will prevent you from rolling off your side and onto your back as you sleep.
  • If you don’t have enough pillows for the walls, try putting a soft object in the back of your pajama shirt—a small stuffed animal, perhaps. The discomfort of it pushing into your back when you roll over will wake you up, at which point you can put yourself back on your side.

With enough practice, we’re confident you can become a world-class side sleeper in no time. And when you do, take a look at our best mattresses for side sleepers roundup!

Recap: Top Rated Mattresses for Back Sleeping

Model  Award Nerd Score
Layla Best for Side and Back Sleepers  4.7/5
Leesa Hybrid Best Hybrid Mattress for Back Sleepers 4.5/5
Cocoon Chill by Sealy  Best Cooling Mattress 4.8/5
Brooklyn Bedding Signature Best Value 4.7/5
Zenhaven Best Firm Mattress for Back Sleepers 4.8/5
WinkBeds Pressure Point Relief 4.7/5
Purple Hybrid Best for Back Pain  4.8/5

Expert-Reviewed by Dr. Ravi Pandey, MD.

Dr. Ravi Pandey is a Board-Certified Internal Medicine Specialist who has practiced in South Florida since 1997. With diverse experience in private practice, outpatient, and hospital settings, Dr. Pandey is on staff at Palms West Hospital, JFK Medical Center, Select Specialty Hospital, and Wellington Regional Medical Center.


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