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Best Mattress for Back Pain

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Best Flippable Mattress 2022
Best Memory Foam
Best Luxury Mattress for Combo Sleepers 2024
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Best Flippable Mattress 2022
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Best Memory Foam
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Best Luxury Mattress for Combo Sleepers 2024
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The Best Mattress for Back Pain

This guide will help you select a mattress that will help alleviate your back pain without creating other problems. Often people find a mattress that addresses lower or upper back pain only to find that they then get shoulder soreness. Below are some mattresses that should make your bed a more welcoming and relaxing place. While the right mattress will go a long way to alleviating back pain, it’s not a silver bullet. There are other health factors to consider that go beyond the limits of a good mattress. Keeping a healthy weight and stretching your body so that you are in alignment before getting to bed will help dramatically.

This guide provides useful tips on how to optimize your bedroom for the best sleeping experience with the least amount of pain.

What Causes Back Pain while Sleeping?

Back pain is caused by your spine being out of alignment while you sleep. No matter what your sleep position your are vulnerable to back pain.

According to Web MD, 80 percent of the population experiences some form of lower back pain at some time in thier lives. This is also known as nocturnal back pain.

There are 3 major causes of back pain that could be contributing to poor sleep at night.

  1. Mechanical problems with the spine, the most common of which is disc degenerations. Discs act like a shock absorber between your vertebrae and can break down with age.
  2.  Injuries such as a fall or car accident can sprain or fracture your spine causing your discomfort.
  3. A disease such as scoliosis or spinal stenosis which is a narrowing of the spinal column can lead to back pain. Even kidney stones, pregnancy or arthritis could cause lower back pain.

Despite these common causes, sometimes the cause of your back pain cannot be determined.

Best Stretched for Back Pain Before Bed

Before you even get into bed you should work on loosening your muscles and get into alignment. Because our lives are mostly sedentary we are usually contorting our bodies in unnatural positions as we sit at our desks. When it comes time to lay down, our body needs to adust. Stretching out before you go to sleep will allow you to get the full benefit from your mattress.

Check out these recommendations from Seasoned that you can do before bed. While you may not have time to do them every night, try and get some stretches in at least 3 nights a week and start reaping the benefits of better flexibility and longer and more productive sleep.

Back Pain and Side Sleepers

back pain for side sleepers

Back pain for side sleepers can best be addressed in 2 ways. First, make sure you have a pillow that is giving you proper support. This goes for all types of sleepers but is especially applicable to side sleepers. I have noticed that most side sleepers sleep on pillows that do not have enough loft. This means their neck is out of alignment causing other issues.

Secondly, make sure that the middle of the mattress is giving your hips proper support. 

I have found that side sleepers need to pay extra attention to spinal alignment.

In the picture below you can see that this sleeper is using a body pillow to keep from falling forward and her knees separated this keeps her from moving onto her stomach and with alignment.

Spinal Alignment Sleeping

Back and stomach sleepers should look for firmer mattresses that don’t allow their lower back to sink too much. Conversely, if you have upper back problems it could be that your mattress is too firm. It’s a delicate balance so you need to listen to your body.

There are now new coil systems on the market that can be found in many of the online brands that ensure you are getting optimal support around your hips. The quantum coil system from Legget and Platt is a perfect example. It is a zoned coils system that has firmer coils in the middle of the mattress and softer coils on the top and bottom that help balance you out over the entire mattress.

The Brentwood Home Oceano mattress has this system and is one of my top picks for side sleepers with back pain because it is still a relatively soft mattress but also offers great support where it needs to. This is probably your best bet overall if you want quality, craftsmanship, value and comfort all in one.

How to Shop for A Mattress for Back Pain

Usually, every new mattress is going to feel better than your existing mattress. Chances are your existing mattress has worn down from years of use. I find that mattresses now start to break down after 7 years. Anything beyond that seems like bonus time.

If you are searching online for a mattress or heading out to the mattress store, make sure that you understand a bit about construction. In my opinion, a dense memory foam mattress is one of the best types of mattresses to alleviate back pain. That’s because they conform so well to your body that there isn’t any part that is not supported.

If you prefer a spring mattress, ask if the coil system is zoned. A zoned coil system will offer more support near your hips and lower back and allow your shoulders to sink towards the top of the mattress to keep you in alignment.

While shopping in stores, take your time. There’s no pressure to buy right away. The longer you lay on the mattress the better sense you will have of how it feels in your home during the night. I also advise people to shop when they aren’t too tired. If you shop for a mattress after a long day, just about anything will feel great and it will be harder to distinguish between mattresses.

Don’t Forget Your Pillow

While mattresses bear the majority of the blame for back pain, pillows play a part too. Often people sleep on pillows with the wrong amount of loft. If you have broad shoulders and sleep on your side, you need a pillow with a lot of loft so that your head won’t sink to far down. An adequately sized pillow will also prevent you from wanting to sleep with your arm under the pillow which causes shoulder pain.

Stomach sleepers need a thinner pillow. A thick pillow for a stomach sleeper often leads to lower back pain. The same is true for back sleepers although they can get by with a bit more loft, especially if they snore.

Below are my top picks for best mattress for back pain…

Best Memory Foam Mattress for Back Pain

Nectar Premier Mattress

Nectar Premier

The Nectar mattress is a dense memory foam mattress that really cradles you in every position. I highly recommend this to sleepers with lower back pain. No matter what position you sleep, the Nectar will conform and support you. It is also a very affordable mattress with a great 365 night free trial period.

Get the Full Nectar Mattress Review

Best Spring Mattress for Back Pain

Helix Dusk Elite

dusk elite

Best Performance Mattress for Back Pain

Layla Hybrid

layla hybrid

The Layla Hybrid is a flippable mattress with a firm and soft side. It incorporates next generations foams that are cooler and more responsive along with a quality spring system for superior support. Even sleeping on the soft side, you will still feel supported along our lower back while getting excellent pressure relief. Chances are this mattress will be your favorite.

Read the Full Layla Hybrid Review


Best Natural Mattress for Back Pain


Avocado Mattress

No other mattress that I know of has received more certifications and awards in the natural mattress category than the Avocado. It is truly in a class all its own. The quality of materials and craftsmanship is on a level all its own.  In regards to back pain, they have two options, the regular and pillow-top option. The Avocado is a firmer mattress so go with the pillow top if you want to get good pressure relief.

Read the full Avocado Mattress Review

With all of the mattresses listed above, you get a generous trial period, so if by chance they don’t address your back pain properly, definitely return them and try another. Eventually, you will land on the right mattress to get you back to a sound sleep and refreshed mornings.

Best Flippable Mattress 2022
Best Memory Foam
Best Luxury Mattress for Combo Sleepers 2024
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Best Flippable Mattress 2022
Primary Rating:
Best Memory Foam
Primary Rating:
Best Luxury Mattress for Combo Sleepers 2024
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The Science Behind Mattresses and Back Pain

Even your favorite plush mattress could be the hidden culprit behind your back pain. Several noteworthy studies, published in esteemed peer-reviewed journals, have shed light on the link between mattresses and back discomfort. These studies consider a variety of factors including mattress firmness, age, and type, in relation to triggering or exacerbating back pain.

A pivotal study, published in “The Lancet” in 2003, examined this very issue. Researchers Jacobson, Boolani, and Dunklee compared “firm” and “medium-firm” mattresses and their influence on chronic, non-specific lower back pain. They found that medium-firm mattresses reduced clinical symptoms of pain and disability among the participants, challenging the long-held belief that firmer mattresses were universally better for back health (Jacobson, Boolani, & Dunklee, 2003).

In 2015, “Applied Ergonomics” published an intriguing study by Radwan, Fess, James, Murphy, and Myers. Their research revealed that individuals sleeping on older mattresses, aged 9.5 years or more, experienced more back pain and spinal stiffness compared to those using newer models. This highlights the importance of both the mattress’s type and age (Radwan, Fess, James, Murphy, & Myers, 2015).

And we certainly can’t ignore the significance of mattress type. A systematic review published in “Sleep Health” in 2016 by Kovacs, Abraira, Peña, et al. concluded that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all “best” mattress for everyone suffering from low back pain. However, the review stressed that each person might have a specific type of mattress that provides the optimum comfort and support, depending on their unique body shape, weight, and preferred sleeping position (Kovacs, Abraira, Peña, et al., 2016).

The findings from these scientific studies underscore the importance of our choice of mattress on our spinal health and comfort. Therefore, it is paramount to select a mattress that is not overly aged, offers an optimal level of firmness tailored to personal comfort, and matches our unique physical characteristics and sleeping preferences. With this knowledge, we can make more informed decisions to mitigate back pain and promote healthier sleep.


The Correlation Between Back Pain and Sleeping Position

When it comes to managing back pain, your sleeping position can have a significant impact. Some positions can help keep your back aligned, reducing the chance of waking up with aches and pains, while others can exacerbate the problem. Let’s take a look at each sleeping position – side, back, and stomach – and discuss their implications for both lower and upper back pain, citing relevant scientific studies.

Side sleeping: Side sleeping, particularly on the left side, is often recommended for overall health, but there are mixed opinions when it comes to back pain. Research conducted by De Koninck et al., published in the journal “Sleep” in 1992, showed that side sleepers had less nighttime wakefulness and reported better sleep quality. However, without proper support, this position can lead to misalignment and exacerbate back pain. A pillow between the knees can help keep the hips, pelvis, and spine aligned (De Koninck et al., 1992).

Back sleeping: Lying on your back with a pillow to support the natural curvature of your spine can be beneficial. This position evenly distributes your weight and minimizes pressure points. A study published in “Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation” by Gordon, Grimmer-Somers, and Trott in 2007 found that sleeping in a neutral position, which is often best achieved on the back, may significantly improve both upper and lower back pain (Gordon, Grimmer-Somers, & Trott, 2007).

Stomach sleeping: Sleeping on your stomach is generally not recommended for people with back pain, as it can strain the neck and lower back. This conclusion is supported by a study published in the “Journal of Physical Therapy Science” in 2012, which found that stomach sleeping often leads to discomfort and disturbance due to an unnatural twist or tilt of the spine (Kubo, Kaneoka, & Maeda, 2012).

It’s important to note that individual comfort varies and what works best for you might be different from what works for others. If you suffer from chronic back pain, it is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional to get personalized advice.

Best Sleep Position for Back Pain

The best sleep position for back pain can vary depending on the individual and the specific cause of their pain. However, here are some general recommendations that may help:

Sleeping on your back: This can be a good option for people with lower back pain, as it helps keep the spine in a neutral position. Try placing a pillow under your knees for added support.

Sleeping on your side: This can also be a good option for back pain, especially if you use a pillow between your knees to help keep your hips and spine aligned. Choose a pillow that fills the gap between your ear and shoulder comfortably.

Avoid sleeping on your stomach: This position can put strain on your back and neck, so it’s generally not recommended for people with back pain.

Additional tips:

    • Use a firm but comfortable mattress that provides good support.
    • Avoid sleeping on a soft or sagging mattress, as this can worsen back pain.
    • Use pillows to support your head, neck, and back.
    • Get regular exercise, but avoid activities that aggravate your back pain.
    • Maintain a healthy weight.
    • See a doctor or physical therapist for personalized advice on the best sleep position for your back pain.

Remember, it’s important to listen to your body and find the sleep position that feels most comfortable for you. If your back pain persists or worsens, it’s always a good idea to consult a healthcare professional.

Adjustable Beds for Back Pain

Adjustable beds can be a great option for people with back pain, offering increased comfort and support through various positioning options. However, they’re not a magic bullet and should be considered alongside other pain management strategies. Here’s what to know:

Potential benefits:

    • Reduced pressure: Elevating the head and legs can help take pressure off your lower back, promoting better alignment and reducing strain.
    • Improved circulation: Elevated legs can improve blood flow, which can aid in healing and muscle relaxation.
    • Customized positions: Adjustable beds allow you to find the position that feels most comfortable for you, whether it’s sleeping on your back, side, or even slightly reclined. This can be especially helpful for people with specific pain points or conditions.
    • Reduced snoring: Elevating the head can open up airways and reduce snoring, leading to better sleep quality for both you and your partner.

Things to consider:

    • Cost: Adjustable beds can be significantly more expensive than traditional beds. Choose wisely based on your budget and needs.
    • Features: Consider what features are important to you, such as massage options, pre-programmed positions, or under-bed lighting.
    • Trial period: Some retailers offer trial periods for adjustable beds. This can be a good way to see if it’s a good fit for you before committing to the purchase.

Additional tips:

    • Choose a firm but comfortable mattress: The mattress you choose will also play a role in your comfort level and back support.
    • Talk to your doctor: If you have chronic back pain, discuss adjustable beds with your doctor to see if they recommend it as part of your overall treatment plan.

Remember, everyone’s back pain is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. Consulting with a healthcare professional can help you determine if an adjustable bed is a suitable option for your specific needs and preferences.

Best Adjustable Bed for Heavy People
Best Adjustable Bed for Seniors
Best Adjustable Bed 2023
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Top Pick!
Best Value
Best Adjustable Bed for Heavy People
Best Adjustable Bed for Seniors
Best Adjustable Bed 2023
$1,699 (Queen)

3 thoughts on “Best Mattress for Back Pain”

  1. Do you think memory foam mattresses are the best in general, or just for back pain specifically? I really want to get a new mattress eventually, and I always thought memory foam ones were the best, but then I’ve seen commercials for other kinds of mattresses that say memory foam is bad or has problems, and I don’t know what to believe.

  2. It also depends on the source of your back pain. I have Ankylosing Spondylitis, and have a difficult time sleeping in beds at all. I typically sleep in a chair, otherwise I can wake up in considerable pain, sometimes with my back muscles spasming until I get into a hot shower (which is the only thing I’ve found to alleviate the spasms, and it works quite well).

    Now, for me, soft memory foam is a major no-go. I’ll wake up stiff as a board every time. Sleeping on very dense memory foam, on the other hand, is really hit and miss (probably depending on my daily activities). Sleeping in my computer chair? I can usually spring right up. But it comes with one major side-effect: the girlfriend. And so sometimes it’s just worth sleeping in the bed. Haha.


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