Sleep Accessories

Best Mattress Toppers for Back Pain - Our Top Picks for 2019 and a Buyer’s Guide

A guide to the best mattress toppers, the pros and cons of mattress toppers, who they’re good for, and what to consider when shopping for them.

By Tyler Moyer

A high-quality mattress topper can take your bed from pretty nice to luxury hotel comfortable. While you can try them out, thanks to relatively standardized sleep trials, and read reviews, it’s still tricky to find the best mattress topper, especially if you struggle with back pain.

The best mattress toppers for back pain will close the gap between almost comfortable and just right, conforming closely to your body to correctly align your spine and provide relief to pressure points along the way. In this guide, we’re sharing our top mattress toppers for back pain and a buyer’s guide that includes the pros and cons of mattress toppers, what to consider when buying one, and how to determine if a mattress topper is the best solution for you.

Best Mattress Toppers for Back Pain

Allswell Memory Foam Mattress Topper with Graphite

Best Value

The Allswell mattress topper is three inches thick and made from a single layer of memory foam. The foam is infused with graphite, which helps it sleep cool.

Reason to Buy: Our budget-friendly choice, the Allswell is a simple and affordable option for those who don’t feel that they’re getting enough support from their current setup. Every size of the Allswell Memory Foam Mattress Topper costs less than $150. It’s an especially favorable choice for those who tend to sleep hot, as both the open-cell memory foam construction and graphite infusion improve airflow, wick moisture, and draw heat away from the body. This topper comes with a 30-night trial, free ground shipping, and optional white glove delivery for $99.

Layla Memory Foam Topper

Best Temperature Neutral

The Layla Memory Foam Topper is a 2-inch-thick topper made from copper-infused memory foam. It’s encased in a polyester blend cover and condenses under deep compression points, like the hips and shoulders.

Reason to Buy: Layla is known for its cooling copper-infusion technology, which improves airflow and blood circulation. The copper helps this topper sleep cooler than most memory foam options, and it’s available at a reasonable price for such a high-quality product. All sizes cost less than $400 and come with free shipping and returns in the contiguous U.S., a 120-night trial, and a 5-year warranty.

Snuggle-Pedic Memory Foam Topper

Best Memory Foam

The Snuggle-Pedic topper has a two-layer structure, with softer Snuggle-Flex memory foam on the outer layer and a firmer, channeled base layer for spinal support. The company claims that this topper’s versatile design makes it appropriate for back, side, and stomach sleepers. 

Reason to Buy: Memory foam mattress toppers can often be too soft, providing no support, or uncomfortably firm, but the Snuggle-Pedic strikes a balance. One side features a soft-to-the-touch memory foam, while the other side offers twice the support. This double layer system makes the topper soft yet supportive, helping the company accomplish a memory foam topper that’s appropriate for back, side, stomach, and combination sleepers. The Snuggle-Pedic Memory Foam Mattress Topper is available in all sizes for less than $300 and comes with free shipping, returns, and customizations.

Saatva Latex Mattress Topper

Best Latex

The Saatva contains 1.5 inches of American Talalay latex and is covered in organic cotton. The latex features ventilation spots to aid in breathability and the organic cotton cover adds to the topper’s overall temperature neutrality. 

Reason to Buy: If you prefer all-natural materials, we recommend this latex mattress topper. Talalay latex is naturally breathable and Saatva has further improved upon its capabilities by adding ventilation spots. Talalay is also hypoallergenic, and the entire topper is made from natural and organic materials. If you sleep hot, want a natural option, or have allergies, this could be your topper. The Saatva comes with a 120-night trial period and free shipping and costs less than $350 in all sizes.

Zinus 4in. Memory Foam Topper

Best for Side Sleepers

The Zinus topper features a simple design with 2 inches of gel memory foam that’s certified for durability, performance, and content (CertiPUR-US). Beneath the foam is a 2-inch-thick layer of base support foam for added durability and support.

Reason to Buy: An affordable option from Amazon that comes with free shipping for Prime members, this topper measures four inches thick. The dual-layer design provides cooling comfort and durable support and is designed to fit under any deep-pocket fitted sheet. Side sleepers with hip and shoulder pain will appreciate the top layer’s softness and benefit from the durability of the bottom layer, which prevents cradling and sinking. One reviewer wrote, “I love this topper. I bought it several months ago to try and relieve my terrible hip pain. I’m a side sleeper and had developed bursitis in both hips. I can thankfully say that after sleeping on it for the first few weeks my pain started to subside. Now many months later I have zero hip pain. What a life changer.”

Linenspa Mattress Topper

Fastest Relief

Made with three inches of plush memory foam that conform to your curves while you sleep, this topper is infused with temperature-regulating gel beads that dissipate heat. It’s available in two and three-inch profiles and the memory foam distributes weight evenly. 

Reason to Buy: With every size available for less than $105, this is a comfortable and affordable way to rejuvenate an old mattress or soften a mattress that’s too hard on your back. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can get back relief quickly with free one-day shipping. This topper is currently Amazon’s #1 best seller in “Mattress Toppers” and has more than 5,000 reviews, 69% of which are 5-star. One reviewer wrote, “I was determined to find a solution without having to invest in a whole new mattress…It made such a huge difference. It felt like I was sleeping on a new, good quality, mattress.”


What to Look for in a Mattress Topper for Back Pain?

Mattress toppers can be especially beneficial for providing relief for aches and pains, but finding the best mattress topper for back pain requires a bit of knowledge about the materials, styles, and features that will best aid in relief. Here’s an overview of what to look for as you shop:

  • Materials: Memory foam and latex are ideal for pressure relief, as they conform to your body’s curves without sagging over time. Look for high-quality materials, like American Talalay latex and open-cell memory foam, that are known for durability.
  • Conformity: The ideal amount of conforming will provide pressure relief for painful areas, but the ideal level is dependent upon your weight and sleeping position. When shopping online, look for details about how well the mattress works for certain weights, types, and sleeping styles, which are sometimes available in a graph or table.
  • Sleeping Position: Sleeping on your back naturally aligns the spine, but you’ll need a firm mattress topper that doesn’t sag to provide support. The same goes for stomach sleepers, for whom sagging in the midsection can lead to neck pain. If you’re a side sleeper, you’ll need a topper with a little more give to provide conformity in contoured areas, like the shoulders and hips.
  • Price: Much like mattresses, the prices for mattress toppers vary widely. However, high-quality mattress toppers are available for $150. If you want something luxury, you’ll be looking at prices in the $300s and above.

 

  • Durability: Sagging is the main issue you’ll want to avoid when shopping for a mattress topper as it defeats the purpose of the product. Read reviews from shoppers who’ve owned the product for several years to get a glimpse into how it will hold up over time. 
  • Thickness: Toppers differ in thickness, measuring anywhere from one to seven inches thick. However, thicker doesn’t necessarily mean more comfortable. Thinner toppers tend to be firmer (better for back and stomach sleepers), and thicker toppers tend to be softer. What feels right to you will depend on your sleeping position, weight, and size, but the majority of toppers fall in the two to three inch thickness range.

Benefits of Mattress Toppers for Back Pain

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders notes that 80 percent of adults experience low back pain at some point in their life. The pain can range from a dull ache to a sudden sharp sensation, and it can begin as the result of an accident or develop over time. Sedentary lifestyles can also contribute to low back pain. The following conditions are common sources of back pain in adults:

  • Strains and sprains
  • Intervertebral disc degeneration
  • Herniated or ruptured discs
  • Sciatica
  • Traumatic injury
  • Radiculopathy

Other risk factors, mostly lifestyle-related, can contribute to the risk of developing low back pain, including aging, fitness level, pregnancy, weight gain, occupation, mental health, and genetics. Regardless of the cause or source of your back pain, a mattress topper, which is more supportive and comfortable than a mattress pad or protector, can alleviate back pain as you rest, leading to a minimization of symptoms throughout the day and improved wellness overall.

Cons of Mattress Toppers for Back Pain

It might seem counterintuitive that mattress toppers have potential downsides. After all, aren’t they designed to improve the comfort and supportiveness of your current bedroom setup? This is true, however, there are several potential downsides to be aware of:

  • Temporary solution—If your old mattress is falling apart and no longer supportive, a mattress topper is only a temporary solution. It will provide good sleep and support so long as the mattress underneath it is in relatively good condition, but it can’t completely reverse the effects of a low-quality, unsupportive old mattress.
  • Cost—Toppers can cost anywhere from $30 to $500, with higher-quality, more durable options in the $100 to $200 range. 
  • Exacerbating pain—As is the case when choosing a mattress, choosing a topper that’s too soft or too firm can make your back pain worse, depending on your weight, height, and the area of pain. The best mattress toppers come with 30- to 120-night trials, so you can return the product for free if it’s making matters worse.

Should You Buy a Mattress Topper for Back Pain?

While most back pain doesn’t require medical attention, it can certainly be a distraction and an inconvenience if it’s affecting you on a daily basis. Aching muscles, shooting or stabbing pains, and a reduced range of motion and flexibility are a hindrance to both work and play time, and a mattress topper can provide back pain relief. The great thing about searching for a mattress topper in today’s market is that it’s hardly a one-size-fits-all industry. Mattress toppers are available for a wide variety of aches and pains in many sizes, thicknesses, and materials. Whether you sleep hot, value a longer sleep trial period, have allergies, want all-natural materials, are heavyweight, or want a washable cover, there’s an option out there for you. Here’s an overview of who can benefit from purchasing a mattress topper for back pain:

  • Your current mattress is old or not supportive enough, but you don’t want to invest several thousand dollars into a new mattress.
  • You find your current mattress too firm, but your partner is comfortable on it. Mattress toppers are available in split sizes to soften one side of the bed.
  • You lead a sedentary lifestyle and have noticed an increase in the frequency of dull low-back pain throughout the day. A topper can act as a preventative measure and a supplement to other lifestyle changes, like getting up from your desk every hour to stretch.
  • You want to improve the comfort of a guest bed without spending an arm and a leg. Similar to the first scenario with a primary old mattress, a mattress topper can give guest bedrooms an upgrade for just several hundred dollars.

Conclusion

If you’re shopping for a new mattress topper, keep our buyer’s guide in mind. It’s one of the most affordable sleep innovations available today, but remember that durability, materials, and sleeper-specific factors, like weight, sleeping position, and height, should all impact your purchase. We recommend giving one of our toppers from the best mattress toppers of 2019 list a shot and, if worst comes to worst, you can always take advantage of the free return policies and send it back in order to try another topper.


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