How To Choose A Mattress For Neck Pain

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How To Choose a Mattress in 5 Easy Steps – The Definitive Guide

I think you will agree with me when I say that choosing the right mattress is no easy task?

First, you have to dispose of your old one and then go through a tedious process of selecting a new bed that will serve you well for years to come.

And having couple dozen options, manufacturers and handful types and materials doesn’t help, does it?

Luckily for you, you canfind out exactly how to pick a new mattressand most important thing to consider.

Table of contents (use it to jump to a certain section)

If you are in a hurry jump to our conclusion and summary.

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Step 1: Do You Really Need A New Mattress?

Many people change their beds after just a few years, and that’s perfectly fine if you can afford it. The fact is, it’s not a small investment, so take a moment to determine do you really need a new.

Generally, after seven or eight years you will most likely need a new mattress. Of course, it depends on the quality and material (we will cover the types and materials later in this article). And if you feel back or neck pain it might, your bedding is a good place to start.

Here is the average mattress lifespan in years based on material and type:

Step 2: Determine your Budget

A bit of personal backstory here…

Several years back I went to a store and purchased amattress priced at $2500which was not even the most expensive one there. During the first year or so it was perfect, and I felt rejuvenated, and I slept like a baby during that time.

But, something happened.

My new and awesome mattress started sagging and losing support and needless to say my back and neck suffered.

Another two years had passed until I decided to buy a new oneonline at $850and this is the same one I’m using today after three years. Back to reality.

Not anyone will have the budget to walk into a store and buy something for several thousand dollars. Luckily, these days there are manyonline optionsyou can choose from rangingfrom $500 to $1200. There are also Black Friday bed deals (and Cyber Monday) that can result in additional savings as well.

Don’t get confused here. More money does not mean better quality. If you think that some of these online options are somehow worse than in-store ones, you are badly mistaken.Stores tend to inflate the prices as much as 1000%.

Here are some guidelines for you:

  • Don’t always go with the cheapest option you find– This is a rule of thumb for most products you buy online. Spending less than $500 for a queen mattress simply because it means lower durability, more toxins and lower sleep quality in general.
  • Higher Price does not mean Higher Quality– I bet you know this one, but it’s worth mentioning.
  • Go with $1000 range for Queen size– This is usually where you will find the best bang for your buck.
  • King / Cal King will cost slightly more– I would increase the budget for King and California King to $1400-1500 as you will have many more choices in that range.
  • Now that you have your new budget set, I’m guessing you are asking yourself“what type of mattress is best for me?”Let’s dig in.

Step 3: Choose Your Ideal Type and Material

Ok, so this is where most people will go with their personal preference rather than anything else. If someone says “latex is the best,” I would not take this as final until I read other opinions and test it myself. Here are the most common options you will find these days.

Innerspring (Coils)

This is the most traditional form of the mattress, and as of late, it’s received a bad rap. However, it is important to understand the potential benefits you could receive from going the traditional route, as well as the reasons why this option has lost its luster.

An obvious pro to purchasing a bed with springs is that it is one of themost affordable optionson the market, due in part to a decrease in demand and also in part to so many other options that have the potential to be more comfortable andbetter for overall health.

Another consideration is that these mattresses are known to last for decades. Spring beds are exceedingly durable. Being that the springs are typically made from different types of metals, they tend to keep their shape for many years.

Additionally, being that they are the most traditional style, they are also the most familiar. People recognize and understand what they are getting when they purchase a bed with springs. There is no guess work with this option like there may be with memory foam or other newer options.

The last notable advantage to this style of bed is that, because of the amount of space located between the springs, this option allows for the most circulation of air. This flow helps to keep the temperature down, allowing for acooler night’s sleep.

Example of the coil mattresses structure

Ideal for: People who want strong support, durability, cooling and great bounce. It also has an excellent edge support.


These mattresses are known for their fantastic cooling and comfort. Latex has a good bounce, responsiveness too.

Authentic latex foam is made from a tree called Hevea-Brasilenis tree, specifically from the white liquid extracted from it. Latex is harvested, and when the excess water is removed, you end up with raw material fantastic for various products, bedding systems being one of them.

It’s also great because you don’t get off-gassing and odors like with memory foam products.

Example of the latex bed structure

There are two types to choose from:

  • Natural – More healthy option and environment-friendly. But it’s also more expensive so expect to pay around $2000 for a good natural latex mattress
  • Synthetic – Made by mixing synthetic polymers with natural tree sap. Less expensive of course but less healthy in turn.

Latex is best forpeople who want good cooling, responsiveness, and bounce.

Memory Foam

Memory foam was first developed in the 1970’s by NASA as a safety material for seat cushions to protect pilots and passengers during plane crashes. Since then, the material has blossomed into the burgeoning product employed by virtually every mattress maker.

Example of the memory foam bed structure

Why has it become so popular? The answer is that it is said to provide superior comfort and support for the entire body. Anyone who’s pressed their hand into this material immediately understands its appeal.

Memory foam uniquelyconforms to every inch of the bodythat is pressed into it. When you lift your body from the material, it slowly regains its original form, essentially making it perfect for every body type and every sleeper.

Another unique property of memory foam is itsmotion isolationcapabilities. You may have seen those commercials with a lady jumping on a mattress with a glass of wine at the other end. Miraculously, the wine doesn’t spill.

The wine doesn’t spill because the energy from jumping is not transferred to other parts of the mattress. This translates to better sleeping for partners, because the tossing and turning of one does not affect the other, a feature that is not found among any of the other options on the market.

One of the most common issues that people experience is that thematerial retains heat. If you are someone who requires a cool night sleep, the memory foam option may not be the best choice for you. While the manufacturers are coming up with new and better ways to keep the heat down, the jury is still out as to whether or not they’ve succeeded.

Ideal For: People who want body shaping, contour, pressure relief and good support.


The hybrid mattress is an unusual combination of both traditional spring and memory foam. Providing the best of both worlds, this option offers the contouring and lack of motion transfer of foam coupled with the support of springs.

Structure of the hybrid bed- example

The term “hybrid” is very loosely used to describe the combination we just mentioned. However, the amount of foam for these beds varies widely depending on the level of firmness desired. Some options employ less than 1.5 inches of foam, lending to the fact that they more closely resemble that of a traditional spring bed rather than the more modern memory foam option.

To find the most optimal version of a hybrid, it’s best to choose the one that hasclose to 3 inches of foam. Anything above that, and you might as well forego the springs all together.

One negative aspect of these beds is the fact that they are one of the more expensive offerings you’ll find. Purchasing one of these could put you in the multiples of thousands of dollars, a significant investment, but a worthy one if you plan to enjoy it long term.

Good For: People who want best all around product with good support, bounce, cooling and pressure relief.

And now the three less common but still important types:


These beds offer a unique ability tochange the sleeping positionbased on your preference. You can elevate the head or feet giving you more options than traditional products. These beds provide extra comfort for people suffering from chronic lumbar pain or just want to be slightly elevated to prevent snoring. They do look ugly though most of the time.

Perfect for: People with certain medical conditions like snoring, older sleepers and people with lower back pain.


These are usually coil, latex or memory foam beds buthave a layer of soft material sewn into the cover to make it more comfortable. These are also considered more luxurious and usually cost a bit more than standard options.

Good for: People who prefer more padding and softer feel.


A rather weird option, but sometimes very fun especially if you love waterbed sex. Some of the most common reasons for opting in for this type is a backache and arthritis relief. These beds are also great for people with allergies.

Good for: People with back pain, arthritis and allergies and anyone looking for something less conventional.

Step 4. Determine your Ideal Sleeping Position and Firmness

Most of us have a unique way of sleeping every night. No matter if you sleep on your side, stomach or back, or even if you switch throughout the night you will have to consider and choose the ideal type of bed based on your preference. So, take a moment and think, what’s your favorite sleeping position because that determines theideal firmness of your new bed.

The most important factor for back sleepers is firmness and support. If your mattress is too soft, your body will sink and cause back pain. You will need one that’s soft enough to provide pressure relief but still provides enough support. On a scale of 1-10, the perfect range would be 5-7.

According to The Better Sleep Council, only roughly 15% of people are back sleepers. Being that you are unique, it’ll take a special mattress to offer you the night’s rest you are seeking.

It’s the consensus that memory foam mattresses provide the highest level of comfort for people who sleep on their backs. This is because it provides adequate contouring to the spine while maintaining a longevity of proper support and structure.

Many people who often sleep on their sides, endure discomfort and pain in their hip joints and shoulders.It’s usually due to unsuitable bedding.

It’s advised that you go with a bit softer option than for a back sleeper as these they provide for an equal distribution of pressure while you’re sleeping on your side.

Ideally, you want to choose a mattress with firmness level of 3-6 (out of 10) which falls undermedium soft.


This is considered the worst sleeping position. The most important thing for stomach sleepers is to provide equal distribution of weight across your entire body as your torso will apply most pressure. If the mattress is too soft (not enough support) your spine will curve causing back pain.

You will want to look for something in 5-7 range, which falls undermedium to medium-firm. The good thing is that most options are in this range.

Step 5. Consider your Weight as a Factor

On first glance, you might be asking yourself,what does weight have to do with choosing a mattress?

The truth is, support, hug, feel, sinkage and even cooling will depend on your body type and weight. Another harsh truth is that there is no “best” mattress for every one of us.

Let’s take a look at the following guidelines how to choose an ideal firmness level based on your weight:

  • Light (Less than 150 pounds)– You will want a medium firm bed around5-6 firmnessthat doesn’t sink too much. If you are lighter than 150 lbs, you can even go with four since most beds are rated for average sleeper of 180lbs.
    If you want a softer feel or if you are a side sleeper you can opt for 3-4 firmness range. These are soft orplush options.
  • Average (150-200 pounds)– Like with the previous category you can choose industrystandard of 5-7, providing perfect support and comfort.
    Some sleepers will want to opt for more softer beds, and that’s perfectly fine, just go with 3-5 range if you sleep on your side and you are all set.
  • Heavier Person (200+ pounds)– Heavier people can cause more pressure points on their back, and ideally you want to choose a firmer option to adjust for sinkage. If you are having problems with cooling, you ought to consider coil mattresses.
    Ideally, choose a thick (12”) or thicker bed. This will provide good support and soft feel.

How to Select the Right Mattress for You – Summary

Hopefully, you have finished reading the above but even if you haven’t these five steps will ease your task of choosing a mattress for you or your family.

  1. Do you need a new mattress?– If your current bed is over eight years old, I’d consider replacing it no matter what. If you are having trouble sleeping or experiencing back or neck pain I would start searching.
  2. What is your current budget?– Don’t go with the cheapest option you find. Aim for $700-1200 range for a standard queen size bed (see top options). Of course, if you are buying smaller ones for your kid or teenager, the price will be considerably lower. Don’t spend less than $400 though. The quality drop-off is huge.
  3. What are your ideal type and material?– This is hands down the biggest challenge. Memory foam offers good contour and hug but sleeps hot. Traditional coil ones provide good bounce and cooling and are generally more durable. I recommend foam or hybrid to most people except for heavier sleepers who should opt for innerspring.
  4. What’s your preferred sleeping position?– This determines your ideal firmness level. On a scale of 1-10 (one being soft and ten being very firm), back sleepers will want to opt for a medium firm (4-7), side sleepers for more softer option (3-5) and stomach sleepers will need more support to avoid sinking (6-7 range).
  5. What’s your body type and weight?– Lighter sleepers (150lbs or less) will want a 1-2 points softer mattress to get the same feel like an average (180lbs) person. On the other hand, if you are a heavier person you will need more support and thicker mattress to support the weight.

Author: Sleep Advisor

Our team covers as many areas of expertise as we do time zones, but none of us started here as a so-called expert on sleep. What we do share is a willingness to ask questions (lots of them), seek experts, and dig deep into conventional wisdom to see if maybe there might be a better path towards healthy living. We apply what we learn not only to our company culture, but also how we deliver information to our over 12.7M readers.

Sleep research is changing all the time, and we are 100% dedicated to keeping up with breakthroughs and innovations. You live better if you sleep better. Whatever has brought you here, we wish you luck on your journey towards better rest.

Best 6 Mattresses for Back Pain – 2020 Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

Our Research

Mattresses Considered
Hours of Research
Mattress Executives Interviewed
Sleep Experts Consulted

Quick Overview

Chronic back pain affects millions of adults in the U.S. and many experience frequent sleep disruptions due to the constant discomfort. If you’re one of these individuals, we have good news. With the right mattress, you can reduce your aches and pains during the night, helping you to feel more well-rested and alert during the day. What’s the “right” mattress for your back pain? It depends on several factors, including the material construction, thickness, and firmness of the mattress, as well as your weight and preferred sleep position.

Best Mattresses for Back Pain
  • Editor’s Pick – Saatva
  • Best Value – Nectar
  • Best Luxury – Brooklyn Bedding Aurora
  • Best for Lightweight Sleepers – Casper
  • Best for Average Weight Sleepers – Bear Mattress
  • Best for Heavyweight Sleepers – DreamCloud Mattress

Below you will find our list of the best mattresses for back pain. We’ve selected these mattresses based on thousands of hours of testing, as well as intensive product research and verified customer experience data. After our reviews, we invite you to keep reading our buyer’s guide to learn more about how people with back pain can improve their sleep experience with the right mattress. We share all the insider knowledge you need to know when buying a mattress to alleviate back pain.

First Time Buying a Mattress?

Hop down to our Buyer’s Guide for a crash course on finding the best mattress for back pain.

Our Top 6 Picks

  • Multiple firmness options (4, 6, 7.5)
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • 15-year warranty
  • Strong, durable support
  • Good conforming and pressure relief

  • Pressure relief from two memory foam layers
  • Medium-firm (6)
  • Excellent motion isolation
  • 365-night sleep trial
  • Lifetime warranty

  • Three firmness options
  • Hybrid construction provides both conforming and support
  • Sleeps cool
  • 120-night sleep trial and 10-year warranty

  • Thick 12" profile
  • Medium (5)
  • Excellent motion isolation
  • 100-night sleep trial and 10-year warranty

  • Medium firm (6.5)
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 10-year warranty
  • Body-conforming pressure relief
  • Sleeps cooler than other foam beds

  • Medium Firm (6.5)
  • 365-night sleep trial
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Thick, pressure-relieving comfort system
  • Good motion isolation

Best Mattresses for Back Pain – Reviewed

Editor’s Pick – Saatva


  • Multiple firmness options (4, 6, 7.5)
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • 15-year warranty
  • Strong, durable support
  • Good conforming and pressure relief

Tuck readers get $100 off a Saatva Mattress.

Editor’s Choice Overview

The best mattresses for sleepers with back pain offer a balance of body conforming and structural support; the bed contours to the sleeper for targeted pain and pressure relief without sagging too excessively, which can cause the sleep surface to become uneven and lead to more discomfort. Our Editor’s Pick, the Saatva, features an innovative coil-on-coil design that provides exceptional support to sleepers.

The comfort system is built with pocketed coils, along with pressure-relieving memory foam and polyfoam layers. Steel-tempered bonnell coils make up the support core; these durable springs reinforce the entire bed very well and help minimize sinkage along the edges where people tend to sit.

The Saatva is available in three firmness levels – Medium Soft’ (4), ‘Medium Firm’ (6), and ‘Firm’ (7.5) – as well as 11 1/2″ and 14 1/2″ profiles. This product range should accommodate most sleepers with back pain, regardless of their body type or preferred sleep position. Good airflow throughout the coil layers also makes the Saatva suitable for those who usually sleep hot.

Saatva offers free White Glove delivery to customers in the contiguous U.S. and Canada. This service includes in-home assembly and old mattress removal; comparatively, most competing brands charge at least $100 for White Glove delivery. The Saatva is also backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a 15-year warranty, both of which are longer than average.

The Bottom Line.

Thanks to its coil-on-coil design, the Saatva satisfies both the support and comfort needs of sleepers with back pain. The steel-tempered bonnell coils in the support core provide stabilizing support, while the pocketed coils and foam comfort layers provide responsive pressure relief. And with three firmness levels, there’s something for everyone.

Recommended for:

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination).The Saatva accommodates all sleep positions, due to a strong yet responsive design, and three firmness levels to choose from.
  • Sleepers in the average and heavy weight groups.Durable steel-tempered bonnell coils in the support core ensure long-lasting support for heavier body types.
  • People who prefer high-profile beds.The Saatva is available in two profiles, both of which are higher than the traditional 10-inch mattress profile.
  • Those who tend to sleep hot.The coil support core enables good airflow, keeping the mattress temperature cool.

Not Recommended for:

  • Individuals with mobility issues.The higher profiles of the Saata mattress may create challenges for some people getting into and out of bed.
  • Those who move or rotate their mattress frequently.The Saatva is a heavy, dense bed that can be difficult to maneuver.

Best Value – Nectar Mattress


  • Pressure relief from two memory foam layers
  • Medium-firm (6)
  • Excellent motion isolation
  • 365-night sleep trial
  • Lifetime warranty

Tuck readers get the lowest price available on the Nectar Mattress.

Best Value Overview

The Nectar mattress delivers a soothing night’s sleep at a great price, earning it our nod for the best value among the top mattresses for back pain.

In the Nectar, multiple foam layers work together to provide top-notch pressure relief. The top two layers are made with quilted memory foam and gel-infused memory foam that contour to the body and give the necessary support to pressure points. The Hi Core foam transition layer adds resilience and, along with the polyfoam support core, provides a bulwark against too much sink.

The Nectar has a Medium Firm feel — around a 6 on the firmness scale — that gives it broad appeal, including to sleepers in virtually any position. It provides above average motion isolation and despite having a memory foam comfort system, it resists excessive heat retention.

With an accessible price for such a robust mattress, the Nectar doesn’t need any added bonus to make it a top choice. Nevertheless, Nectar sweetens the deal with a sleep trial that lasts an entire year, far outpacing the sleep trials that come with most mattresses. The company provides a lifetime warranty to protect your investment over the long-term.

Standard shipping of the compressed Nectar mattress to your doorstep is free, and you can opt for White Glove delivery for an added charge.

The Bottom Line.

Those who want a supportive mattress and a great deal won’t find a better option than the Nectar mattress. This quality mattress delivers back pain relief for a lower-than-average price point, free standard shipping, and 365-night sleep trial.

Recommended for:

  • Sleepers in any position, especially side and back sleepers.The foam layers contour to the sleeper’s body, ensuring spinal alignment.
  • Sleepers with sharp pressure points.Two comfort layers of memory foam allow sleepers to sink into the mattress while keeping their spine aligned, offering relief for pressure points and back pain.
  • Value seekers.The Nectar mattress boasts excellent support and quality construction, with perks like free shipping and an extensive sleep trial, all for an affordable price.

Not Recommended for:

  • Lightweight sleepers who weigh less than 130 pounds.The Nectar feels more Medium Firm vs. Medium, which may feel too firm for these sleepers.
  • Heavier sleepers who sleep on their stomach.As a foam mattress, these sleepers may sink too deeply into the mattress and pull their lower spine out of alignment.

Best Luxury– Brooklyn Bedding Aurora


  • Three firmness options
  • Hybrid construction provides both conforming and support
  • Sleeps cool
  • 120-night sleep trial and 10-year warranty

Tuck readers get 20% off any Brooklyn Bedding mattress with code: TUCKSLEEP20

Best Luxury Overview

If you’re looking for relief and have some money to spend, the Brooklyn Bedding Aurora is perhaps your best bet. This luxury hybrid mattress is one of the top rated on the market, providing not only pain relief, but a cool, supportive sleeping experience. The Aurora features a thick, 13 ½” profile and is available in three different firmness levels: ‘Soft’ (3), ‘Medium Firm’ (6), and ‘Firm’ (8)—making it suitable for sleepers of nearly any weight or preferred sleeping position.

The Aurora’s viability for those with back pain stems from its construction. Its comfort system consists of 1 1/2” of copper infused phase-change cooling foam, 2” of polyfoam, and a 1” layer of gel memory foam. This provides a closely conforming sleep surface that will reduce pressure on your body during the night, preventing pain when you wake up. Under these layers is an 8” pocketed coil support system, allowing for greater support for sleepers of any weight.

In addition to its pain relieving properties, the Aurora’s phase change material, cotton cover, and hybrid construction cause it to sleep exceptionally cool, making this a great option for those who tend to sleep hot at night.

While the Aurora costs more than the average mattress, its price point is standard for hybrid models. Brooklyn Bedding offers free shipping in the contiguous US and back their mattresses with a 120-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.

The Bottom Line.

If you’re looking for the ultimate relief for your back pain, and are willing to splurge to get it, the Aurora mattress is here to answer the call. This luxury hybrid bed features various foams in the comfort layers to provide responsive, pain-relieving comfort, while resisting heat retention. All this lies atop a strong pocketed coil core that provides additional support and stabilization.

Recommended for:

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination).The Aurora’s construction allows it to give just the right amount of give for any sleep position.
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy).The pocketed coil support core supports sleepers of any weight.
  • Those who sleep hot at night.With a breathable cotton cover, copper-infused phase change cooling foam, and gel memory foam, this hybrid bed stays cool as you sleep.

Not Recommended for:

  • Sleepers on a budget.While the Aurora’s price point is about average for a hybrid mattress, it does cost more than other mattress types.
  • Shoppers who don’t want to buy a new set of sheets with their mattress.The Aurora’s cover has a slippery texture, and with the bed’s 13 ½” profile, fitted sheets may have difficulty staying put.

Best for Lightweight Sleepers – Casper


  • Thick 12" profile
  • Medium (5)
  • Excellent motion isolation
  • 100-night sleep trial and 10-year warranty

Save $100 on the Casper Original with checkout code TUCK

Best for Lightweight Sleepers Overview

The Casper features a mixed-foam construction that serves as an excellent sleep surface for lightweight sleepers with back pain. With a medium firmness and a thick, 12″ profile, this bed provides a balance of contouring and support. Lightweight sleepers will appreciate the Casper’s close-conforming comfort layers, yet the bed provides adequate support for sleepers up to 230 pounds.

The bed’s comfort system features a 1.5-inch layer of polyfoam over a 1.5-inch layer of memory foam, over 1.5-inch layer of zoned polyfoam, which has a firmer feel for targeted support beneath the shoulders and hips. These layers sit on top of a 7.5-inch high-density polyfoam support core. Our tests found this mattress received particularly favorable ratings for motion isolation and lack of noise, which can be largely attributed to the memory foam layer in the bed’s comfort system.

Our lightweight side sleepers found that the bed offered enough cushioning for proper spinal alignment, and stomach and back sleepers in this weight group noted excellent support and did not experience any pressure build-up. Casper offers free shipping within the contiguous U.S., with optional White Glove delivery available at an additional cost. If you’re unsure whether the Casper is for you, they offer a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty to back it up.

The Bottom Line.

With its mixed-foam construction and medium feel, the Casper relieves pressure by conforming closely and provides above average support for lightweight sleepers of all sleep positions.

Recommended for:

  • Those who share a bed.The Casper isolates motion very well and does not produce any noise, making it ideal for light sleepers who share the mattress with a partner.
  • People who prefer a combination of contouring and support.The Casper conforms enough to relieve pressure points, but provides better support than many competing all-foam beds.
  • Those who sleep hot.Though the bed’s comfort layers may trap some body heat, the Casper outperforms many of its all-foam competitors when it comes to sleeping cool.

Not Recommended for:

  • Sleepers over 230 pounds.Heavier individuals are likely to find the Casper lacks the support they need, leading to sagging and pressure build-up.
  • Those who prefer a bouncy feel.The Casper’s all-foam construction absorbs motion well and makes the mattress virtually silent, but does not provide the responsiveness some people prefer in a bed.

Best for Average Weight Sleepers – Bear Mattress


  • Medium firm (6.5)
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 10-year warranty
  • Body-conforming pressure relief
  • Sleeps cooler than other foam beds

Tuck readers save 20% on Bear mattresses.

Best for Average Weight Sleepers Overview

People in the average weight group (130 to 230 pounds) tend to prefer beds with moderate firmness, typically ‘Medium Soft’ to ‘Medium Firm.’ The Bear Mattress is considered ‘Medium Firm’ (6.5) and offers moderate yet consistent conforming for those in this weight group, as well as heavier individuals who don’t like sleeping on ultra-firm mattresses.

The Bear mattress features responsive polyfoam layers in its support core, topped by comfort layers of memory foam infused with graphite gel for cooling temperature regulation. The mixed foam construction allows back pain sufferers of average weight to enjoy pain relief as they sleep. Comfort foams contour to the body, while the dense support foams stabilize the spine.

The Bear Mattress also aids back pain sufferers with its Celliant fabric cover. This material absorbs body heat from sleepers and converts it into infrared energy before transmitting it back into their skin. This process does not cause excessive warmth; rather, sleepers often experience stronger blood circulation, exceptional pain relief, and a speedier physical recovery after runs, long workouts, and other strenuous activities. The Bear Mattress also offers great motion isolation and does not make any noise when bearing weight.

The Bear Mattress has a below-average price-point compared to other memory foam models, making it a top-value pick. Free delivery is available to customers in all 50 states, and the mattress is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.

The Bottom Line.

The Bear Mattress offers a uniquely relaxing sleep experience for back pain sufferers. The Celliant fabric cover uses the sleeper’s body heat to promote blood circulation, keeping the mattress temperature cool while promoting physical recovery and pain relief.

Recommended for:

  • Back and stomach sleepers.This true ‘Medium Firm’ bed is firm enough to keep the spine aligned for both of these sleep positions.
  • Sleepers in the average and heavy weight groups.The Medium Firm feel provides good support for sleepers with these body types.
  • Couples.Memory foam contours to each individual sleeper’s body, allowing couples with different sleep positions or body weights to both enjoy relief from the Bear Mattress.
  • Physically active people.The Celliant fabric cover is specially designed to promote blood circulation and recovery.

Not Recommended for:

  • Shoppers who prefer a flexible return policy.The Bear Mattress sleep trial requires a 30-night break-in period.
  • Those looking for strong edge support.As a foam mattress, individuals may find themselves sinking or slipping when they sit on the edge of the bed.

Best for Heavyweight Sleepers – DreamCloud Mattress


  • Medium Firm (6.5)
  • 365-night sleep trial
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Thick, pressure-relieving comfort system
  • Good motion isolation

Tuck readers get the lowest price available on the DreamCloud.

Best for Heavyweight Sleepers Overview

People who weigh more than 230 pounds typically prefer firmer mattresses that balance close body conforming and robust support. The DreamCloud is a prime example; it is a hybrid mattress with a ‘Medium Firm’ (6.5) feel that is constructed with three layers of memory foam and one layer of latex in the comfort system. Sleepers experience improved spinal alignment and targeted pressure relief without sagging excessively, making the DreamCloud a great option for sleepers in these weight groups.

Edge support is another key strength. The pocketed coil support core is encased in high-density polyfoam to reinforce the bed and minimize sinkage around the edges. Its thick comfort system also minimizes motion transfer to a significant extent and it produces very little noise, making it suitable for couples.

The price-point for the DreamCloud is much lower than that of the average hybrid. Customers in the contiguous U.S. qualify for free shipping, and White Glove delivery – which includes in-home mattress assembly and old mattress removal – is available at an additional charge. The DreamCloud is backed by a 365-night sleep trial and a lifetime warranty.

The Bottom Line.

The smart construction of the DreamCloud mattress prevents sagging, a prime concern for heavier individuals with back pain. This durable hybrid bed provides sufficient contour as well, enabling soothing pain relief.

Recommended for:

  • Back and side sleepers.Foam comfort layers contour to the sleeper’s body, while the pocketed coil core prevents the from sinking too deeply into the mattress.
  • Sleepers in the average and heavy weight groups.The DreamCloud mattress is composed of sturdy foams and materials that can support sleepers of heavier weights.
  • Those who prefer thicker, closely conforming comfort layers.The plush foams feel luxurious to lie on.
  • Value seekers.The DreamCloud is much more affordable than the average hybrid mattress, and comes with a 365-night sleep trial and lifetime warranty to boot.

Not Recommended for:

  • Lightweight sleepers.The DreamCloud may feel too firm for these sleepers.
  • Stomach sleepers.Those of heavier weights may find their midriff area sinks lower and out of alignment with the rest of their body.

Mattress Buying Guide for Back Pain Sufferers

Below, we share everything sleepers with back pain need to consider when buying a new mattress, along with our best tips for buying a mattress.

Mattress Buyer’s Guide for Sleepers with Back Pain

What You Need to Know about Sleeping with Back Pain

Roughly 80% of adults will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives, and for millions this is a chronic, lifelong condition. Back pain is also a leading contributor to poor health and early mortality.

Choosing the right mattress is crucial for individuals with back pain issues. The right mattress can alleviate pressure and aches in the most sensitive areas, such as the neck, shoulders, hips, and lumbar region of the lower back. The wrong mattress often exacerbates the issue, and may cause pressure to develop in new areas of the back.

This guide will look at mattress qualities that benefit sleepers with back pain, such as body contouring and support, as well as the importance of using body weight and preferred sleep position to determine which mattress is best for you and your sleep partner. First, let’s look at some common types of back pain and how they impact sleep quality and duration.

How Does Back Pain Affect Sleep?

A healthy spine serves three primary functions:

  • Protecting the spinal cord, which is considered the body’s communication systems, as well as nerve roots and internal organs.
  • Providing structural support needed for upright posture.
  • Facilitating tactile movement.

Unhealthy spines are often unable to perform some or all of these functions, and back pain is a common result. The term ‘back pain’ may refer to anything from minor aches and pains to debilitating conditions that affect other parts of the body. Back pain generally falls into two categories:

  • Acute back pain, which lasts less than three months (12 weeks) and typically occurs in conjunction with an injury or accident, such as a fall or over-lifting. The acute pain often subsides as the underlying cause of the pain is treated.
  • Chronic back pain, which lasts at least three months; this may occur due to an injury or accident, or due to a physiological issue like scoliosis. In either case, chronic back pain often continues after the underlying cause of the pain has been treated.

Common causes of acute and/or chronic back pain include the following:

Muscle or ligament strain:Lifting objects that are too heavy or moving awkwardly are two common causes of strain in the back muscles and spinal ligaments. The spasms that accompany this type of strain are often exacerbated by poor physical health.

Bulging or ruptured discs:Intervertebral discs are found between the vertebrae that form the spinal column, and form fibrocartilaginous joints that support and cushion the spinal structure much like shock absorbers. They have thick, durable exteriors and a soft, jelly-like filling. Bulging and ruptured discs create painful sensations when they come into contact with nerves, although some people with disc problems do not experience serious — if any — back pain.

Arthritis:Arthritis refers to inflammation of at least one joint in the body that leads to joint pain and stiffness. The most common forms of arthritis include:

  • Osteoarthritis, or degenerative arthritis, which causes bone cartilage to deteriorate prematurely.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, which affects the synovium material that lines the joints.
  • Psoriatic arthritis, which refers to joint inflammation caused by the painful skin condition known as psoriasis.
  • Gout, which refers to joint inflammation in the knees, ankles, and/or feet.

Because arthritis is associated with chronic and widespread pain, people with this condition often have a difficult time falling and staying asleep.

Skeletal irregularities:Irregularities of the back and spine that can lead to pain and pressure include:

  • Lordosis, a curvature of the lower spine that is abnormally pronounced.
  • Scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine that usually forms a C or S shape.
  • Kyphosis, an abnormal curvature of the upper spine.

Most people with skeletal irregularities consider back-sleeping to be the most comfortable sleeping position, while some find additional relief by sleeping on their side with towels or pillows beneath the knees and ribs. Regardless of their most comfortable sleep position, people with these irregularities may experience frequent sleep disruption due to back pain and other symptoms of their condition.

Osteoporosis:Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by skeletal degeneration that causes bones to become porous and brittle. Osteoporosis fractures often occur in areas like the hips, wrists, and spine. This condition can lead to severe back pain if any of the vertebrae fracture or collapse.

In addition to these medical conditions, doctors have identified the following risk factors for acute or chronic back pain:

  • Age:Back pain affects people of all ages, but the condition is much more common in people who are 30 years or older.
  • Lack of exercise:People with weak, unconditioned muscles are considered at risk for back pain symptoms.
  • Obesity:Carrying extra weight — especially around the midsection — can put undue strain on the back muscles.
  • Diseases:Certain medical ailments, such as cancer, have been linked to back pain symptoms.
  • Excessive or incorrect lifting:Back pain is often tied to lifting-related injuries, which can occur if the individual lifts too much weight and/or lifts with their back instead of their legs.
  • Mental health issues:People with depression and anxiety are more susceptible to back pain and other physical manifestations of their condition.
  • Smoking:Habitually smoking cigarettes deprives the body of nutrients that are needed to nourish the disks and other areas of the back.

Sleeping on a mattress that does not provide proper spinal support can also lead to back pain. The table below lists five regions of the spine that one should consider when trying out a new mattress.

RegionCervical SpineThoracic SpineLumbar SpineSacrumCoccyx (Tailbone)LocationNeckUpper to mid-backLower backBase of spineBottom tip of spinal columnNumber of Vertebrae7 individual vertebrae12 individual vertebrae5 individual vertebraeTriangular bone with 5 fused segmentsRounded bone with 3 to 5 fused vertebraeVertebrae NamesC1 to C7T1 to T12L1 to L5S1 to S5Coccygeal vertebraeFunctionFacilitates head movements, such as nodding, shaking, and neck rotationProtects vital organs and stabilizes the spine for proper balanceSupports body weight and facilitates movement around the midsectionFacilitates pelvic movement, as well as leaningUnknown for humans, though it connects to vital muscles, tendons, and ligaments

Depending on which area of the spine is in pain, certain sleep positions are more supportive than others. Paired with the right mattress, these sleep positions can provide additional relief. We review these below.

Best Sleeping Positions for Upper Back Pain

Sleep PositionHow It WorksAdditional Tips
Sleep on yoursidewith a foam pillow.The foam allows your head to sink deeper while filling the space between the neck and the mattress, ensuring a straight spine.Match the loft of the foam to the span between your neck and your shoulder.
Sleep on yoursidewith a thin pillow between your knees.The knee pillow relieves pressure between the hips.This pillow should be thin enough to not create additional strain in the pelvic area.
Sleep on yourbackwith a cervical pillow for your head and neck.The dip in the cervical pillow supports a straight spine through your neck, cradling the head and relieving pain in the upper back.A neck roll is another alternative.

Best Sleeping Positions for Lower Back Pain

Sleep PositionHow It WorksAdditional Tips
Sleep on yoursidewith a pillow between your knees.The knee pillow helps ensure spinal alignment through the hips and pelvis.Switch sides every few nights to prevent shoulder pain or muscle soreness.
Sleep on yoursidein the fetal position, with your torso curled slightly toward your knees.Curling your torso increases space between the vertebrae, relieving pain caused by a herniated disc.Switch sides every few nights to prevent shoulder pain or muscle soreness.
Sleep on yourbackwith a pillow beneath the knees.The knee pillow supports the natural curvature of the spine. Overall this position helps relieve strain or arching in the lower back.Add a thinner pillow or small rolled towel beneath the lower back if needed.
Sleep on yourstomachwith a pillow beneath your pelvis. Add a low-loft pillow for your head if needed.Reduces stress in between the discs, relieving pain from degenerative disc disease.Only recommended if you can’t get comfortable sleeping on your side or back. Stomach sleeping is not recommended for back pain.

Choosing the Best Mattress for Back Pain

A mattress should reduce back pain by providing an even, stable surface that helps the sleeper maintain proper spinal alignment, regardless of their sleep position. However, each sleep position affects spinal alignment in different ways, and the sleeper’s body weight is also an important factor to consider.

In terms of sleep position, most adults qualify as side-, back-, or stomach-sleepers. We review each of these three positions in greater detail below.

Side Sleeping with Back Pain

Generally, side sleeping supports good spinal alignment, although an uneven sleep surface can cause the spine to curve and pressure to build up. The best mattress for side sleepers with back pain should be firm enough to support the body without allowing it to sink too deeply. Additionally, pillows can be placed in certain areas (such as below the knees or ribs) to achieve optimal comfort and support.

Pros of side sleeping for back pain sufferers:

  • Better air circulation through the breathing passages
  • Relieves pressure on the heart to help prevent heartburn
  • Minimal pressure option for people with hip pain and scoliosis

Cons of side sleeping for back pain sufferers:

  • May restrict blood flow in the shoulders and arms
  • Extra pressure on stomach and lungs
  • Placing face directly onto the pillow can cause wrinkles to form

Back Sleeping with Back Pain

Sleeping on your back is perhaps the easiest way to ensure proper spinal alignment while you sleep. The spine stays straight and aligned as long as you maintain a back-sleeping position. The best mattress for back sleepers with back pain should provide even support from the neck to the tailbone. Mattresses that are too firm can create gaps between the lumbar and the sleep surface, while mattresses that are too soft may allow the sleeper to sink too deeply and lead to poor alignment.

Pros of back sleeping for back pain sufferers:

  • Prevents acid reflux
  • No extra pillows are needed for comfort and support
  • Sleepers are less prone to facial wrinkles

Cons of back sleeping for back pain sufferers:

  • Sleepers are at higher risk of sleep apnea because airflow is somewhat restricted
  • High snoring potential

Stomach Sleeping with Back Pain

Sleeping on your stomach is not recommended for back pain sufferers. Due to the large concentration of weight in the stomach, this position usually causes people to sink too deeply into the mattress, pulling their spine out of alignment and increasing back pain. The best mattress for stomach sleepers with back pain is one firm enough to prevent the stomach from sinking too deeply. Again, stomach-sleeping is considered the least healthy sleep position, so alternative positions are recommended.

Pros of stomach sleeping for back pain sufferers:

  • Reduces risk or snoring and sleep apnea
  • Fewer facial wrinkles than side-sleepers

Cons of stomach sleeping for back pain sufferers:

  • Discouraged by physicians and sleep experts due to high pressure and discomfort potential
  • Sleepers are prone to tossing and turning, which can disrupt sleep

Selecting Your Firmness Level

Sleepers with back pain should take special care when choosing their mattress firmness. The firmness level affects how well your mattress can relieve your back pain and support spinal alignment for your particular sleep position.

The best mattress firmness for you usually depends on your body weight. Generally speaking, people who weigh less than 130 pounds require softer mattresses in order to enjoy body-contouring and pressure relief, while those who weigh more than 230 pounds feel more comfortable on firmer mattresses that don’t cause them to sink too deeply.

Mattress firmness is illustrated using a 1-10 scale, with 1 being the least firm and 10 being the firmest; the vast majority of mattresses sold today fall between a 3 (Soft) and an 8 (Firm), and the most common firmness is a 6 to 6.5 (or Medium Firm).

The next table lists the ideal firmness levels for different weight groups in each of the three most common sleep positions. Please note that sleep experience is highly subjective, and that individual sleepers may find their comfort preferences do not correspond to the information listed in this table.

Weight GroupBelow-average (less than 130 lbs.)Average (130 to 230 lbs.)Above-average (more than 230 lbs.)
Ideal Firmness for Side Sleeping3 (Soft) to 4.5 (Medium Soft)5 (Medium) to 6.5 (Medium Firm)6.5 (Medium Firm) to 8 (Firm)
Ideal Firmness for Back Sleeping4 (Medium Soft) to 5.5 (Medium)5 (Medium) to 6.5 (Medium Firm)6 (Medium Firm) to 8 (Firm)
Ideal Firmness for Stomach Sleeping3 (Soft) to 4.5 (Medium Soft)4 (Medium Soft) to 5.5 (Medium)6 (Medium Firm) to 7.5 (Firm)

Next, let’s look at the top-rated mattresses according to side-, back-, and stomach-sleepers in different weight groups.

Selecting Your Mattress Type

Mattress type is another important consideration for people with back pain. The five most common mattress types provide varying experiences for sleepers, depending on their body weight and preferred sleep position. Below we review each mattress type, along with the pros and cons of each for sleepers with back pain. Mattress types are listed in order of their suitability for individuals with back pain.

Foam Mattresses

Best Foam Mattresses for Sleepers with Back Pain:

Mattress Brands
Mattress Brands

Foam mattresses feature comfort layers of memory foam and/or polyfoam, above a support core of high-density polyfoam. Foam mattresses are popular for their superior contouring and pressure point relief. For sleepers with back pain, these mattresses can contour to their body to support spinal alignment and relief while they sleep.

Average price:$800 to $1,200

Expected lifespan:5 to 6 years

Benefits for sleepers with back pain:

  • Excellent conforming and pain relief
  • Motion isolation reduces disruptions during sleep
  • Widely available

Drawbacks for sleepers with back pain:

  • Mattresses made from lower-quality foams may cause sagging for heavier sleepers
  • Minimal edge support
  • Can trap heat

Latex Mattresses

Latex mattresses are made from synthetic or natural latex, with a high-density support core of polyfoam or latex, and latex comfort layers. These contour to the body, but to a lesser extent than foam mattresses. However, the responsiveness of the latex can almost feel too “bouncy” for some back pain sufferers. Because latex mattresses are so durable, especially those made from organic materials, they can be particularly supportive for heavier sleepers or anyone worried about sagging.

Average price:$1,800 and higher

Expected lifespan:7 to 8 years

Benefits for sleepers with back pain:

  • Very durable and supportive
  • Above-average contouring and pain relief for back pain
  • Motion isolation reduces disruptions during sleep
  • All-organic latex sleeps very cool, even for hot sleepers

Drawbacks for sleepers with back pain:

Hybrid Mattresses

Best Hybrid Mattresses for Sleepers with Back Pain:

Mattress Brands
Mattress Brands
Mattress Brands

Hybrid mattresses have a support core of pocket coils surrounded by base polyfoam, topped with several inches of latex and/or memory foam comfort layers. These comfort layers give back pain sufferers the pressure point relief they need, while the individual pocket coils enhance the mattress’s overall contour and provide additional, dense support.

Average price:$1,200 to $1,800

Expected lifespan:6 to 7 years

Benefits for sleepers with back pain:

  • Perfect combination of contour plus support for back pain sufferers
  • Varying firmness options can be suitable for different body weights
  • Typically sleep cool

Drawbacks for sleepers with back pain:

  • Less durable than other mattress types
  • Heavy and difficult to move
  • More expensive

Airbed Mattresses

Airbed use air in the support core, with comfort layers of foam. The support core can be filled or deflated according to the sleeper’s desired firmness level, allowing back pain sufferers to zero in on the precise amount of supportiveness they need. However, airbeds require more maintenance than any other mattress, which can be a dealbreaker for some sleepers.

Average price:$2,000 and higher

Expected lifespan:7 to 9 years

Benefits for sleepers with back pain:

  • Adjustable firmness settings
  • Good pressure point relief for back pain sufferers
  • Can be less supportive for sleepers of light or heavy weight

Drawbacks for sleepers with back pain:

  • Less available
  • Parts need replacing over time
  • More expensive

Innerspring Mattresses

Top Innerspring Mattress for Side Sleepers:

Mattress Brands

Innerspring mattresses describe the traditional bed most people are familiar with. They feature a support core of innerspring coils, topped with comfort layers of foam. These mattresses are not known for their contour ability, so they’re often not preferred by sleepers with back pain. However, with sufficient comfort foam layers, they can provide adequate pressure relief while still providing a base of solid, evenly distributed support — as demonstrated by our Editor’s Pick, the Saatva.

Average price:$700 to $1,100

Expected lifespan:4 to 6 years

Benefits for sleepers with back pain:

  • Strong edge support
  • Excellent airflow keeps mattress temperature cool for hot sleepers
  • Widely available

Drawbacks for sleepers with back pain:

  • Lack of conforming and pressure point relief for back pain
  • Can be prone to sagging, which may worsen back pain
  • Coil support core can create noise

Mattress Shopping FAQ for People with Back Pain

What firmness should you look for in a mattress if you have back pain?

The ideal firmness for those with back pain will depend on both weight and sleeping position. Individuals under 130 pounds generally prefer softer sleep surfaces ranging from soft to medium firmness, depending on sleep position. Meanwhile sleepers between 130 and 230 pounds should generally look for a medium-soft to medium-firm mattress, and those above 230 pounds fare better with beds in the medium-firm to firm range.

What types of mattresses are best for those with back pain?

People with back pain tend to benefit most from all-foam or latex mattresses, due to their ability to relieve pressure and contour closely to the body.

What sleeping position is best for lower back pain?

The best sleeping position for those who experience lower back pain is on the side or back. Side sleepers should consider placing a pillow between the knees to maintain proper alignment through the pelvis and hips, and should switch sides each night to prevent shoulder pain. Some find the most relief in the fetal position, as this increases the space between the vertebrae. Back sleepers should consider placing a pillow beneath the knees to support the natural curvature of the spine.

What sleeping position is best for upper back pain?

Sleepers experiencing upper back pain can find comfort and proper alignment by sleeping on their side with a foam pillow to support the head and a thin pillow between the knees to relieve pressure on the hips. Another good option is sleeping on the back with a cervical pillow to support the head and neck.

What type of mattress should you avoid if you have back pain?

Those with back pain tend to prefer more contouring and pressure relief than most innerspring mattresses can offer. That said, there are exceptions in this category that contain thick enough comfort layers to provide adequate pressure relief.

Mattress Shopping Considerations for Sleepers with Back Pain

As you compare different brands and models, here are a few questions to ask yourself and factors to keep in mind when shopping for a new mattress if you have back pain.

How Much Do You Weigh?

Body weight can be used to determine the ideal firmness for a new mattress. People who weigh less than 130 pounds — particularly those who sleep on their sides — tend to feel most comfortable on mattresses that are ‘Medium’ (5) or softer. Less firm surfaces allow them to experience close conforming and better pressure relief. People who weigh more than 230 pounds, on the other hand, often prefer firmer mattresses (‘Medium Firm’ or firmer) because they don’t sink too far.

What Is Your Preferred Sleep Position?

People who sleep on their sides may require softer mattresses that conform to their figures and help align their spine, while stomach-sleepers often prefer firmer mattresses that don’t sink too deeply below their stomachs. Back sleepers can find comfort with something in the middle.

Do You Share Your Bed With Another Person?

Sleep partners may not agree on the ideal firmness level. In these cases, a mattress that offers dual firmness — different firmness levels on each side of the bed — may be the best option. Alternately, a mattress with high conforming, like a memory foam bed, can adapt to keep both sleepers comfortable at night.

What Is Your Mattress Budget?

Airbeds and latex mattresses are often effective for sleepers with back pain, but these models can easily cost $2,000 or more in a Queen size. Memory foam and hybrid models tend to be somewhat cheaper, and online-only brands typically have lower price-points compared to brands with a brick-and-mortar presence.

Does the Mattress Come With a Sleep Trial?

Most mattress manufacturers offer a sleep trial, allowing customers to test out their new mattress for a certain length of time (typically 90 nights or longer); if the customer is dissatisfied with the mattress before the trial period expires, then they may return it for a refund or, in some cases, exchange it for a new model.

Because experiences vary, and the quality of your sleep plays an important role in your ability to cope with back pain, we strongly recommend purchasing mattresses with generous sleep trials. All of the mattresses we recommend for sleepers with back pain offer sleep trials of 100 nights or more, but the Nectar mattress (our Best Value pick) and the DreamCloud mattress (our favorite for Heavyweight Sleepers) both stand out for their 365-night sleep trials.

Some sleep trials include ‘mandatory break-in periods,’ which require the purchaser to test out their mattress for at least 30 nights before returning it. Both our Luxury pick, the Brooklyn Bedding Aurora, and our Average Weight pick, the Bear Mattress, have this requirement. However, sleep trials can save customers a substantial amount of money in the long run if they decide they are unhappy with their new purchase.

What Are the Warranty Terms?

The vast majority of mattresses sold today come with product warranties that span at least 10 years in length, but these warranties tend to vary in terms of the following two factors:

1. Nonprorated coverage length:During the nonprorated phase of a warranty, mattress owners do not need to pay to have a defective mattress repaired or replaced (aside from shipping and handling costs, in some cases). During the prorated phase, customers must pay a certain percentage of the original mattress price to have their current model replaced, and charges may also apply to mattress repairs. Prorated charges can lead to major costs down the road.

Purchasers should always read the fine print: some warranties spanning 15 to 20 years only offer two to three years of nonprorated coverage before prorated charges kick in.

2. Indentation depth:Over time, mattress surfaces develop indentations where owners tend to sleep, usually in the middle of the bed. These issues may compromise the supportiveness of the mattress, which can in turn exacerbate back problems. Most warranties list a ‘depth’ used to differentiate between normal wear and tear and severe indentations that are considered a warrantable defect. Some warranties will cover indentations deeper than half an inch (1/2″) to three-quarters of an inch (3/4″), while others will only cover indentations that measure deeper than one and a half inches (1 1/2″).

Indentations that measure one inch (1″) or deeper are considered most problematic for people with back pain, so these individuals are urged to seek out mattress warranties that cover one-inch indentations

Match Your Pillows & Bedding

In addition to choosing the right mattress, people who live with back pain can further optimize their sleep environment with the right pillow and bedding accessories.

Select the Right Pillow

Pillow loft, or thickness, is crucial for sleepers with back pain. The proper amount of loft can alleviate pain and pressure in the neck, shoulders, lumbar region, and other sensitive areas, while the incorrect amount of loft can make these issues much worse. In order to determine the best loft for you, it’s important to consider your body weight, and shoulder width, as well as the firmness of the mattress you use.

The table below features a detailed breakdown of the three general loft categories.

Loft CategoryThicknessOptimal WeightOptimal Shoulder WidthOptimal Mattress Firmness
LowLess than 3″More than 230 lbs.NarrowSoft to Medium Soft
Medium3″ to 5″130 to 230 lbs.AverageMedium
HighMore than 5″Less than 130 lbs.BroadMedium Firm to Firm

Pillow composition is also important because some materials provide more support and comfort than others. Materials like buckwheat, memory foam, and latex conform closely to the sleeper’s head and alleviate a fair amount of pressure, but these pillow types tend to be fairly expensive. Cheaper models, such as polyester and down alternative, do not conform and support as much.

If you experience chronic back pain, then supplemental pillows can be used in addition to the one beneath your head. People who sleep on their back may find relief by placing a pillow beneath their knees, while side-sleepers often feel more comfortable with a pillow between their knees and beneath their ribs.

Use a Mattress Topper

A topper is an individual layer of cushioning that rests on top of the mattress cover. Mattress toppers are designed to adjust the firmness of the sleep surface; most toppers make the mattress feel less firm, although some topper models may increase the firmness. Toppers can be ideal for people who are dissatisfied with their mattress firmness but are unable to return their mattress, as well as couples with differing firmness preferences.

Toppers may be made from a wide range of materials, including feathers, memory foam, convoluted polyfoam, latex, or wool; price-points vary by material composition and brand, but most cost less than $150.

Topper firmness, thickness, and density are all important considerations, and the ideal settings often depends on the sleeper’s weight and preferred position. The table below features more information.

Sleep PositionWeight GroupIdeal FirmnessIdeal Topper ThicknessIdeal Topper Density
SideLess than 130 lbsSoft to Medium Soft1″ to 2″2.5 PCF and lower
130 to 230 lbsMedium Soft to Medium2″ to 2 1/2″3 to 4 PCF
More than 230 lbsMedium Firm to Firm2″ to 3″4 PCF and higher
BackLess than 130 lbsMedium Soft to Medium Firm1 1/2″ to 2 1/2″2.5 to 3 PCF
130 to 230 lbsMedium to Firm2″ to 3″3.5 to 5 PCF
More than 230 lbsMedium Firm to Firm2″ to 3″4.5 PCF and higher
StomachLess than 130 lbsMedium Soft to Medium Firm1″ to 1 1/2″3 PCF and lower
130 to 230 lbsMedium Firm to Firm1″ to 2″2.5 to 4 PCF
More than 230 lbsFirm to Extra Firm2″ to 3″3.5 to 4.5 PCF

To learn more about toppers, check out our Best Mattress Toppers for Back Pain guide.

Invest in an Adjustable Bed

Adjustable beds are designed for customization. Most models can be elevated or lowered at both the head and foot of the bed to create different sleeping positions; angled surfaces can ease back pain for many sleepers. Additionally, many newer adjustable bed models offer a ‘silent massage’ function, which generates small vibrations in the sleep surface that can alleviate aches and pains. Most adjustable beds sold today have remote controls, including those can be adjusted using smartphones or tablets.

Adjustable beds can be quite expensive. The baseline cost is roughly $1,000, but most models cost at least $2,000 — and some reach $3,500 or higher. However, many sleepers with back pain find that adjustable beds are a worthwhile investment that greatly improves their sleep quality. To learn more, visit our Adjustable Bed Reviews guide.

Top 12 Tips for Buying a New Mattress

With so many mattress options to choose from, buying a new one can be overwhelming. This is especially true if you have back or neck pain—the right or wrong mattress can make the difference between spending the day feeling good or in pain.

It’s important to have a supportive mattress to ease chronic low back pain.
Choosing the Best Mattress for Lower Back Pain

While choosing a mattress is ultimately a matter of personal preference, here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Learn about different mattress materials.

Before you buy, familiarize yourself with the most common mattress types and how they are constructed.

  • Innerspringmattresses use coils, which often provide a traditional bounce feel and strong support.
  • Latex mattressestypically offer more bounce and responsiveness than innerspring mattresses, and they tend to sleep cooler.
  • Memory foammattresses are designed to contour to the body, which may lead to pressure relief. Some users of memory foam report that the material sleeps warm.
  • Hybridmattresses combine memory foam or latex layers atop an innerspring mattress, often with the goal of providing a mix of softness and support.
  • Air mattressesuse an air pump to inflate the mattress to the desired firmness level. Typically, each side of the bed uses a separate chamber of air to accommodate two sleepers with differing preferences.

Mattresses are also rated based on firmness. In general, a mattress that is too old or too soft may not support the spine well enough.

2. See what your health care provider thinks.

If you have a back or neck condition, talk to your doctor or physical therapist about what he or she recommends. You should aim for the neck and low back to be in a neutral position while lying on the mattress. This promotes good spinal alignment. While doctors are not mattress experts, they know your medical history and may have good advice from that point of view.

3. Visit stores to test out mattresses.

Go to a mattress store and give yourself plenty of time to browse. Take off your shoes and lie down on a few different mattresses for at least 10 minutes each. Don’t worry about feeling self-conscious—this is an important purchase, so take your time.

4. Watch out for gimmicks.

While sellers will label mattresses as "orthopedic" or "medically-approved," there is no medical organization that officially certifies mattresses to carry these labels. Mattresses may have orthopedic-friendly features, but no medical group verifies these claims.

5. Be aware that firm mattresses aren’t always best.

Think twice before buying a hard or firm mattress. Some research has shown that the best mattress for low back pain is a medium firm mattress rather than a firm mattress. 1 There is a difference between firm support and firm feel. You want firm support with a comfortable feel. Comfort will be determined by your personal preference.

6. Read reviews from real customers.

Pay little attention to what mattress companies say about themselves, as they have to market their own products in a positive light. Seek out unbiased reviews from people who have purchased the mattress you are interested in. Read a mix of positive, negative, and middle-of-the-road reviews.

7. Ask for recommendations online.

Announce on your social media accounts that you are looking for a new mattress, and ask friends and family members to post their suggestions. Consider including details about your health condition, as some people might have a similar experience and can give more specific recommendations. You could also visit Spine-health’s Sleep Problems Forum and ask people who are in a similar situation as you.

8. Think about adjustable beds.

If you find you are more comfortable sitting in a recliner than lying down, try an adjustable bed. This option allows you to elevate your head and knees slightly, which may relieve lower back pressure.

9. Look for generous trial periods and return policies.

Many mattress companies have a trial period, guaranteeing free returns within a certain time frame if you are unsatisfied with their product. Make sure you read the fine print and understand all the details.

10. Check the warranty.

Before you buy, verify that there is a warranty for the mattress, in case it breaks down or is defective. Often a good mattress will have a minimum of a 10-year full replacement or non-prorated warranty.

11. Protect your investment.

Don’t forget some kind of waterproof mattress protector. Mattress stains will void your warranty, even if they have nothing to do with a future defect.

12. Remember: higher price does not always equal higher quality.

It is tempting to assume that the more you pay, the better the mattress. But a high price tag does not always guarantee high quality—and it certainly does not guarantee you will personally find the mattress comfortable. Research the materials, and let personal preference be your guide.

A mattress is an important investment that can affect the health of your spine and the quality of your sleep, so take the time to find the mattress that is right for you.

Choosing the Best Mattress for Lower Back Pain

Sleeping on the wrong mattress can cause or worsen lower back pain. Lack of support from a mattress reinforces poor sleeping posture, strains muscles and does not help keep the spine in alignment, all of which contribute to low back pain.

Sleep comfort is also sacrificed if a mattress does not match one’s individual preferences. A mattress that provides both comfort and back support helps reduce low back pain, allowing the structures in the spine to really rest and rejuvenate during the night.

With the vast variety of mattresses on the market, choosing the right mattress can be difficult. The following practical guidelines are designed to help patients with low back pain choose the best mattress for both back support and sleep comfort:

    Personal preference should ultimately determine what mattress is best.There is no single mattress style or type that works for all people with low back pain.Any mattress that helps someone sleep without pain and stiffness is the best mattress for that individual. Patients with low back pain should choose the mattress that meets their standards for comfort and support and allows them to get a good night’s sleep.

  1. Understand and inquire about the physical components of the mattress.The coils or inner springs of a mattress provide the support. Different mattresses vary in their number and arrangement of coils. Padding on top of the mattress comes in many different thicknesses. Mattress depths typically range anywhere from 7 to 18 inches deep. Choosing the number of coils, type of padding and mattress depth should be determined by individual preferences.

Find a mattress with back support.A good mattress should provide support for the natural curves and alignment of the spine. The right amount of back support also helps the patient avoid muscle soreness in the morning. While there is not much clinical data about mattresses, one study found that medium-firm mattresses usually provide more back pain relief than firm mattresses.

How to Pick Your Perfect Mattress

Ready for a new mattress? Here’s how to find the one that suits you best.

Getting a good night’s sleep depends on a lot of different factors — comfort, stress level, room temperature – but to get it right, you’ve got to start with the basics and your mattress is the first building block to a restful slumber.

If you’re in the market for a new mattress and have recently taken a stroll down the aisle of a bedding store, you know that there is a dizzying array from which to choose. How do you know which mattress is best for you?

To start, says Arya Nick Shamie, MD, associate professor of orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center, the mattress needs to support your body in a neutral position, one in which your spine has a nice curvature and your buttocks, heels, shoulders, and head are supported in proper alignment

"If the mattress is too firm, it will push on those main pressure points and take you out of alignment," Shamie tells WebMD. "If it’s too soft, those pressure points won’t be properly supported, so your whole body flops back." Both of these scenarios can lead to an achy morning.

Generally speaking, one type or brand of bed isn’t better than another, says Michael Breus, PhD, a WebMD sleep expert and author ofBeauty Sleep: Look Younger, Lose Weight, and Feel Great Through Better Sleep.But he does find that a firmer bed seems to be better for people with lower back pain.

In fact, researchers in Spain studied people with long-term back pain and found that on a 10-point hard-to-soft scale people who slept on a medium-to-firm mattress (5.6 on the scale) had less back pain than those who slept on a softer mattress.

Is It Time for a New Mattress?

How do you know if the bed you’re sleeping on is the right one?

"If you wake up in the morning and have some low back pain and can stretch and get rid of it in 15 or 30 minutes, that means you’re on an inappropriate mattress for you," Breus says.

The right mattress, on the other hand, is one on which you feel no pressure, almost like you’re floating in air, Breus says.

If you’re looking for a new mattress, experts suggest testing it in the store and laying down on each mattress in the position in which you normally sleep. Breus suggests spending at least 10 to 15 minutes on the bed. And, bring your own pillow! The more you can replicate the way you’ll be sleeping on the mattress once you get it home, the better your chances of picking the right one.


Innerspring Mattresses

Innerspring mattresses are still by far the most widely used. They support you with coil springs, and in most built today, each coil is individually enclosed. This helps the bed weather years of use and prevents the coils from popping out of the mattress. On top of the coils are a wide variety of materials added for comfort, from pillow to latex to memory foam. It’s all a matter of preference.

Salespeople may try to sell you on the idea that more coils mean more comfort, but that’s not necessarily true, Breus and Shamie say.

"You don’t really need a coil count above 390," Breus says. Beyond that, the difference in feel is so small it would be difficult to notice.

Pros:There are plenty of innerspring mattresses on the market from which to choose. They range in firmness, the fluffiness of the pillow top, and in price to fit nearly every preference and pocket book.

Cons:There’s no direct relationship in most cases between price and comfort, but Shamie suggests steering clear of the cheapest innerspring mattress. If there aren’t enough springs and cushion to offer you proper support, he says, you’ll likely wake up with an aching back.

Conditions:For someone who is very overweight, spring mattresses may offer a firmer support, making them easier to get in and out of, Breus says. Firmer versions are good for people with back pain. But spring-based mattresses can be comfortable for almost anyone.

Memory Foam Mattresses

Memory foam mattresses are growing in popularity. They are made of layers of different densities of foam that respond to weight and temperature, and are known for comfort because they contour to the specific shape of your body. Memory foam toppers are also available.

Pros:By molding to the shape of your body as your weight shifts through the night, memory foam reduces pressure points, and relieves pain. Memory foam also absorbs movement, so if you sleep with a partner, you’re not likely to be disturbed by his tossing and turning.

Cons:One of the biggest complaints with memory foam mattresses is that because these mattresses are temperature sensitive, softening and molding with your body heat, they can make you feel extremely hot during the night. Breus also says memory foam mattresses have been known to emit an unpleasant chemical smell.

Conditions:"If you have a hard time getting comfortable, if you have chronic fatigue, or some type of muscle pain, then a memory foam mattress would work well for you, assuming you don’t have temperature issues," Breus says.


Latex Mattresses

Latex mattresses are made from either natural or synthetic rubber, and are known for providing a very firm, bouncy support that is uniform throughout the bed.

Pros:"Quite frankly, I think one of the best materials is latex," Breus says. He likes it for being very firm and supportive, but also for providing comfort similar to memory foam. Unlike the memory foam mattresses, however, Breus says latex pushes back, ultimately providing more support.

Cons:If you don’t like the feel of a firm mattress, latex is probably not the right choice for you.

Conditions: Either a latex mattress or latex mattress topper is great for relieving back pain because they offer the best combination of comfort and support, Breus says.

Air Mattresses

We’re not talking about the blow-up mattresses you put your holiday guests on for a few days. Higher-end air beds look like a standard innerspring mattress, but use air-filled chambers instead of coils, and are covered by a foam layer on top.

Shamie notes that air beds have long been used for patients with spinal cord injuries who are lying in bed for a long time. They can be adjusted so they don’t continue to press on the same areas of the body, which helps to avoid skin breakdown in patients who can’t move.

Pros:"Couples who have dramatic differences in their individual preference for comfort and firmness levels might do very well with an air mattress," Breus says. The reason is that the firmness of each side of the bed can be altered. If you like it firmer than your partner, these beds can be adjusted for that.

Like latex and memory foam, you can also find air toppers for your mattress.

Cons:Shamie says people sometimes fail to make their air bed firm enough and wake up with back aches. Less sophisticated air mattresses also pop up on one side when you sit on the opposite end. For that reason Breus says, you want multiple chambers so that doesn’t occur.

Conditions:These beds are particularly useful when sleeping partners have different needs. If one of you has a bad back, one side can be made firmer than the other to provide greater support.


Adjustable Beds

These beds are able to bend and elevate at varying angles. As a result, the mattress has to be flexible. Different types of mattresses can be used on an adjustable bed – memory foam, latex, or air, for example. Spring mattresses are more difficult to use, however, because the springs don’t handle the bending well.

Pros:For people who have difficulty getting in and out of bed or who like to watch television in bed, Shamie says, adjustables can make life easier by moving you closer to where you need to be.

Conditions:If you suffer from sleep apnea, sleeping flat can make the condition worse by cutting off airways and causing the tongue to fall into the back of the throat, Shamie says. People who experience acid reflux can also benefit by sleeping in a bed that elevates their upper body.

Shamie also suggests adjustable beds for people with hip or back pain who have a hard time moving from a lying position to sitting up or standing.

Sofa Beds

When you have guests staying for a night or two, sofa beds come in handy. The mattresses in these beds tend to be very thin so they are flexible enough to fold and collapse into the couch. It’s a great convenience to have a sofa bed, but you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who raves about their comfort.

Pros:Sofa beds are convenient, especially if you have limited space. But from a health perspective, Shamie and Breus don’t see any advantages.

Cons:A night or two on a sofa bed is OK. But "this is probably the worst kind of bed you can sleep on long-term," Shamie says. The mattresses used in most sofa beds are very thin and the springs quite weak. "It really leads to an uncomfortable situation," Shamie says.

If you’re really tight for space and need a bed that folds up, Shamie says that futons, while not the most supportive, are better for your back than the typical sofa bed.

Conditions:There are no conditions for which a sofa bed will be helpful, according to the experts. But if you have a bad back or hips, these beds will be especially uncomfortable.


When to Part With Your Old Mattress

Today’s mattresses are made to last a lifetime. But you probably shouldn’t plan on keeping yours for that long. Our bodies change over time, Breus says, so the mattress that was once a joy to sleep on may no longer feel comfortable a few years down the road.

In addition, mattresses collect dust mites, fungus, and other germs that can exacerbate allergies and impact your sleep patterns. After 10 to 15 years, it’s time to think about buying a new bed.

Ultimately, the experts say that the best bed for you is the one that feels most comfortable. And remember, Shamie says, "There’s no mattress that’s going to save your body when you get only five hours of sleep." In order to feel your best, you need to get enough rest… no matter what type of mattress you’re sleeping on.


Arya Nick Shamie, MD, associate professor of orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery, Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center.

Breus, Michael, PhD, WebMD sleep expert and author ofBeauty Sleep: Look Younger, Lose Weight, and Feel Great Through Better Sleep

Kovacs, FM.The Lancet, November 2003; vol 362: pp 1599-1604.

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