Mattress Nerd consulted Vivian Eisenstadt, MAPT, CPT, MASP to ensure that this article met our editorial standards
If you’re getting the recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, you’ll spend one-third of your life in bed. That makes the mattress you choose one of the most important factors in the quality of your life. If your sleep quality is suffering, and not providing you pain relief, the importance of investing in the right mattress increases drastically.
In this guide, I will review the most important factors to consider when purchasing a new mattress for back pain relief. I will also dive into the specifics of each of our top picks, and help you decide which might be the best choice for you. So, if you have a bad back, explore our top picks for the best mattress for back pain in 2021, and discover which may aid in your pain relief!
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Soft Side & Firm Side
Lifetime Limited Warranty
If at first, you don’t succeed…flip it over. That’s definitely not Layla’s official slogan, but it’s what I like most about a flippable mattress.
Stomach sleeping is finicky. It’s often touted as the worst sleeping position. But…it’s comfortable. So how can we make it as harmless as possible? Find a mattress that supports the proper way and doesn’t put undue stress on your back. That typically means a firmer mattress.
Layla has a firmer and softer side, to appeal to many, but the reality is, this is all relative depending on the person. I’m confident that between the two sides, you’ll find one that is a good fit for a stomach sleeper. Layla is also one of our picks for the best bed in a box!
See our full Layla Mattress Review to learn more!
Often times if you suffer from back pain, you may suffer from neck or hip pain as well. Many mattresses have cracked the code to remedy back pain, but the Bear Hybrid was constructed to also accommodate those with neck pains. This mattress is especially good for sleepers who live an active lifestyle since it combines support, pressure relief, and comfort all in one bed.
The Bear Hybrid is good for heavy sleepers, couples, and every sleeping position. It is a thicker than average mattress, so if you like a taller bed you will be a big fan of the hybrid version of the Bear.
See out full Bear Hybrid Mattress Review to learn more.
Helix does an incredible job of being inclusive with their products. They have a variety of customized options so shoppers can find what’s just right. So it’s no surprise they have a model that fits the bill for back and hip pain. We recommend the firmer options for individuals with back pain, but if you prefer a more cradling feeling, one of the medium-firm options may work well for you. Helix also comes with a 10-15 year warranty.
Read our full Helix Midnight Mattress Review to learn more!
Available in soft, luxury firm and firm
If you’re a fan of a more classic-style mattress, but still want relief from low back pain, the Saatva mattress might just be the right fit for you. The Saatva mattress has the innerspring base of a traditional mattress but with the newer, hybrid technology of wrapped coils, a plush pillow top, and memory foam.
The Saatva mattress is designed to provide additional support to the middle third of the mattress where your lumbar region (i.e. lower back) would be. Additionally, an added foam layer of “visco-elastic” memory foam supports the areas most commonly associated with pressure points. It comes in a plush soft, luxury firm, and firm option.
Whether you require extra support to relieve your chronic lower back pain, or simply prefer the firmness of a traditional-style mattress and the added benefits of pain-free sleep, the Saatva mattress is a great option.
See our full Saatva Mattress Review to learn more!
Limited lifetime warranty
The WinkBeds Original Mattress is an excellent choice for stomach sleepers with back pain. This mattress is available in four firmness levels; softer, luxury firm, firmer, and plus. We recommend the firm option for stomach sleepers with back pain, so the hips will not sink too much. The mattress is complete with a proprietary lumbar layer; this mattress is engineered to keep the spine aligned in every sleeping position, the WinkBed will ease all your aches and pains. What’s more, the WinkBed mattress includes a Triple Layer Heat Disperse technology system that includes a cooling Tencel cover and breathable coils.
The mattress is also equipped with a 3-step back relief system, meaning it has zoned support throughout the length of the mattress. It will fill in areas of the back that need more support and give comfort to the areas which need more cushioning.
See our full WinkBeds Mattress Review to learn more.
10-year limited warranty
You’ve probably read it elsewhere on the site…I like Brooklyn products a lot. They also offer quality goods thanks to their rigorous quality assurance process.
Brooklyn offers its Signature in soft, medium, and firm options. While they’re not the only brand to do this, it’s still somewhat rare. The beauty of this is that if you like the mattress materials, but it’s not quite the right feel, you can opt for a different firmness that fits your body type. This is a fantastic option if you’re looking to relieve some pressure.
Combine the power of choice with Brooklyn’s 1024 premium wrapped coils and you have one supportive mattress. Enjoy!
See our full Brooklyn Signature Mattress Review!
Ranging from the A1 to the A5 model, these mattresses increase in price as you ascend. They are very transparent about the differences between each model, and which model is best suited for each type of sleeper. They have thought of everything from overheating, to pain relief, to overall comfort and have designed each of their mattresses with these concerns in mind. With free shipping in the U.S. and helpful customer support, Amerisleep is a great choice for a hybrid mattress!
The AS2 is their best model for back and stomach sleepers, and is one of their best selling models. Pain is not universal, so the ability to choose the firmness level you prefer all while still receiving the pain relief and support that you need is an amazing feature of Amerisleep mattresses. The AS2 is the perfect balance of firm and soft to keep you supported and comfortable.
Check out our full Amerisleep Mattress Review to see which one may be best for you!
If you have any experience with back pain, then you likely know the struggle of trying to fall asleep with that sort of discomfort. The smallest movement can cause a jolt of pain that yanks you right out of a deep rest.
Unfortunately, we cannot claim that a better mattress will fix your back pain. If possible, we recommend you visit a doctor who can provide a treatment tailored to your specific situation. That said, your mattress may be one of many factors contributing to your condition, and replacing it may not just make falling asleep easier, but may also lead to less pain throughout your days.
We’ll start off by briefly discussing different kinds of back pain before going into ways in which changing your mattress and your sleep preferences can lead to better health and better sleep.
While it can be difficult to determine the primary cause of your back pain, your mattress should definitely be considered a culprit. This doesn’t mean that we recommend kicking your mattress to the curb if you suffer from back aches, but some investigation might be in order.
First, how old is your current mattress? The older they get, the less support they provide. If your mattress does not offer that magical blend of comfort and support, then it can cause your spine to go out of alignment as you rest, which can certainly lead to morning back pain.
It’s also important to ensure that the firmness of your mattress is ideal for your body type, sleeping position, and personal preference. If, for example, you’re a lightweight side sleeper, you probably shouldn’t be sleeping on a very firm mattress. Doing so can not only cause lower back pain, but also hip and shoulder pain. Take a look at our mattress firmness guide for a more detailed breakdown on this subject.
It’s important to note that back pain comes in different forms. Once you are able to better classify your back pain, it may become easier to find a solution for it.
If you have noticed a recent onset of back pain that immediately followed a determinable event, such as lifting something heavy, overexerting yourself playing sports, or falling down, then it is likely acute back pain. Acute pain, as the name would suggest, is quite sharp and may not last as long as chronic pain, if properly treated.
Chronic pain can occur when acute back pain is not properly managed. Though the symptoms are similar, chronic back pain can cause persistent discomfort in addition to the unexpected jolts of pain that are associated with acute back pain. Though it is not necessarily time dependent, if you have been experiencing back pain for several months then it has likely developed from acute pain into chronic pain.
If you’d like to learn more, head over to our full article on chronic vs. acute back pain.
Lower back pain, the most common type of back pain reported in the U.S., can be caused by a variety of factors and can range greatly in severity. This affects the region of the back that naturally curves in, also known as the “lumbar region.” This condition is made most manageable by a mattress or pillow that fills in the lower back and allows it to be aligned with the rest of the spine.
For more on this, take a look at our article on sleeping with lower back pain.
Middle back pain is caused by many of the same triggers for lower and upper back pain, it just manifests itself differently depending largely on a person’s body weight and lifestyle. People with this condition often have more feelings of “overall” back pain, and can benefit from using techniques for both lower and upper back pain together.
Upper back pain is the second most common type of back pain. Upper back pain can be caused by several things, such as poor posture, muscle overuse, injury, herniated discs, and much more. This type of pain can also impact the shoulders, and cause overall pain in the top parts of the body. If you are sleeping with this condition, make sure your neck and spine are aligned, and that your body is properly supported.
It cannot be stressed enough how important proper spinal support is in keeping your back pain-free. A mattress that excels in this will contour to your body in such a way that keeps your spine resting in its naturally curved position. If your spine gets thrown out of whack as you sleep, then you will likely wake up with aches as a result.
Vivian Eisenstadt, CPT, explains, “…many times low back pain originates in the tight muscles of the low back, so full spinal support is imperative to a good night sleep where all the muscles in your back can rest and rejuvenate and heal you for the day ahead.”
There are a number of reasons why your spine might not be properly aligned as you sleep, it isn’t just a result of the quality of your mattress. Rather, your sleeping position, preferred mattress material, and your body type should all be taken into consideration when looking for the perfect mattress to keep your spine healthy.
For more information, check out our article on spine alignment and sleep.
Mattress firmness should always be at top of mind when you are shopping for a new bed, regardless of whether or not you have back pain. How firmness works is, companies will grade each of their mattresses on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being extremely soft and 10 being extremely firm.
No firmness is inherently better than another one, but your personal preference as well as your particular situation will play a part in which firmness is most compatible with you. You might prefer a firm mattress or a medium-firm mattress. You may want a combination of both. Perhaps a firm, supportive mattress with an added top comfort layer would be the perfect solution for you. For back pain, there isn’t one ideal firmness level. However, there are firmness levels that work better with different sleeping positions.
Read our mattress firmness guide for more information.
While it is not the end-all-be-all, sleeping position can absolutely have an effect on your back pain. The good news is that there are ways in which each sleeping position can improve your sleep, and hopefully help your back pain.
Side sleepers put a lot of pressure on their shoulders and hips when they lie down, as these are the heaviest areas of their body that make contact with the bed. If you sleep on your side, you should look for a mattress that is on the softer end of medium-firm.
At this firmness level, your shoulders and hips will sink just far enough into the mattress, but not so far that your spine gets thrown out of alignment. Not only can this help prevent or reduce back soreness, it can also help with shoulder pain. Take a look at our best mattresses for side sleepers article for more great options.
Back sleepers need something a bit firmer than side sleepers. Somewhere between 5 and 7 on the firmness scale tends to be right for them. It allows their shoulders to remain supported and their lower back to sink just far enough to maintain the natural curve of the spine. Also, it is still soft enough to help relieve pressure.
If you sleep on your back, a tip from Vivian Eisenstadt, CPT, is, “For Low back pain, you can sleep supine with a pillow half way under your buttocks to tilt your pelvis so your low back is more in connection with the mattress.”
Related: Best Mattresses for Back Sleepers
Stomach sleepers tend to need a mattress with a very firm feel, around the 7.5 or 8 range. That is because sinking into the mattress even slightly too much can lead to improper spinal support.
Another problem that stomach sleepers might contend with is that they usually have to twist their head at an awkward angle in order to make comfortable contact with their pillow. Though it is far up on the body, this twisting can still have a negative impact. Vivian Eisenstadt, CPT, suggests, “For stomach sleepers, you can use a body pillow to hug so your neck isn’t rotated too much.”
Related: Best Mattresses for Stomach Sleepers
Hybrid mattresses are made of all-foam or latex layers on top of a coil base. This construction performs well for those with back pain because it provides a good amount of contouring to the body along with adequate support. Depending on what these mattresses are topped with, they also have a decent amount of bounce and responsiveness. Our list of best hybrid mattresses has some of our favorite of this type of bed
Memory foam mattresses range in how they feel more than just about any other mattress type. They have a great amount of give, and closely contour to the body in many spots. As long as these mattresses are not too soft, they are usually good options for those with back pain, especially lower back pain since the moldable foam can fill in the lumbar region. Take a look at our best memory foam mattresses page for more info.
Innerspring mattresses are often referred to as “traditional” mattresses. They are made up of a coil base and have a comfort top layer that is thinner than that of a hybrid mattress. These mattresses can be very supportive and provide a lot of back pain relief. See our best innerspring mattress list if you’re interested.
Latex mattresses have gained popularity for their “all-natural” qualities and their pressure point relief. Latex is naturally breathable and offers very sturdy support, making it good for those with all types of back pain. Head over to our best latex mattresses roundup for a more comprehensive look.
While relief from chronic back pain may be your primary concern, there are other factors you’ll want to consider before you make your final decision. Here are some other components you may want to look for in a mattress when you’re narrowing down your options.
Make sure you keep your body type in mind when looking for a mattress to help with your back pain. As mentioned above, the firmness of your bed can affect the quality of your sleep depending on your preferred position. Well, your weight plays a part in how firm a mattress feels to you. What feels soft to a larger person may feel uncomfortably firm to a petite person. Our heavy sleepers guide has more information that may prove useful in your buying journey.
As is the case for any mattress shopper, you’ll want to make sure you are investing in a quality product. The higher the quality, the likelier it is that your mattress will have high durability and be able to hold up under your weight for many years. If you get a mattress that begins to sag prematurely, this could contribute to worsened back pain.
Since you will spend a third of your life in bed, your mattress should be a good investment, particularly if you suffer from back pain. The right mattress can provide good support, relieve chronic back pain, and provide the restful sleep you need to be productive and energetic.
Choose a mattress that is specifically designed to treat your type of pain whether it is upper back, lower back, or hip pain. And while that may be the most important factor, it isn’t the only factor. You’ll also want to take into account your preferred sleep position and mattress type.
I’ve recommended mattresses that I feel could help with back problems, but your experience may be different from mine. The good news is that most mattress companies now offer sleep trial periods so you can be sure it’s the best match for you. If you are not ready to buy a new mattress yet, but still want to relieve some stubborn back pain, check out our picks for the best mattress toppers for back pain.
If you want to learn more about how and when to purchase a mattress, check out our Best Mattress Buying Guide.
|Bear Hybrid||Best for Back and Neck Pain||4.7/5|
|Helix Midnight Luxe||Best for Side Sleepers||4.8/5|
|Saatva||Best for Lower Back Pain||4.7/5|
|WinkBeds||Best Cooling Mattress for Back Pain||4.7/5|
|Brooklyn Bedding||Best for Upper Back Pain||4.7/5|
|Amerisleep AS2||Best Medium-Firm Mattress||4.8/5|
Vivian Eisenstadt is part of our panel of medical expert contributors on the subject of sleep health. They provide important perspectives on the topics we discuss to help make our content as accurate and dependable as possible. They do not personally endorse any products, nor are they associated with any brands featured in our review content.
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