Home / Best Mattress Toppers of 2021 / Best Mattress Topper for Back Pain

Best Mattress Topper for Back Pain

Sleepfoundation.org is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here

Written by

Lauren Fountain

author

Medically Reviewed by:

Dr. Jenny Iyo

author

A topper is an extra layer that rests on top of your mattress and is intended to make the surface feel softer or firmer than it normally does. Most toppers are constructed with foam, latex, feathers, and other materials that cushion and contour to the body. Toppers can be particularly useful for people with older, sagging mattresses who experience back pain or pressure buildup while they sleep. These layers can help to evenly distribute weight and remove strain from sensitive areas along the spine like the shoulders, lumbar region, and hips.

Our team’s expertise isn’t limited to just mattresses. We’ve also personally tested more than a dozen toppers. Although toppers sold today vary by thickness, firmness, and material composition, we conduct the same rigorous tests on each one to determine its strengths and weaknesses. To choose the toppers below, we primarily relied on body-mapping sensors that detect pressure points while the body is at rest.

The Best Mattress Toppers for Back Pain

Check out the product profiles below to learn about our top picks. We’ve awarded each mattress an accolade that highlights one of its key strengths. For more information about finding a mattress that can reduce back pain, scroll down to our detailed buyer’s guide. We’ll cover different mattress types, important considerations for sleepers with back pain, average price-points, and what you can expect from a new mattress in terms of shipping options and sleep trials.

Product Details

Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Topper Supreme

Best Overall

Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Topper Supreme

Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Topper Supreme
Price: $399
Firmness: Medium (5)
Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers who weigh under 230 pounds
  • Those who wake easily when their partner moves
  • People who enjoy a close-conforming hug
Highlights:
  • Built of proprietary TEMPUR material for exceptional pressure relief and durability
  • Comes with a removable, washable cover designed to resist mold, allergens, and dust mites
  • 3-inch profile
Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Topper Supreme

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Tempur-Pedic mattress toppers

Its balanced contouring and support allow the Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Topper Supreme to provide standout pressure relief.

The core of the topper consists of 3 inches of proprietary TEMPUR material. This unique formulation of memory foam originally developed by NASA adapts to the shape of the sleeper, gently hugging their curves to redistribute their weight and limit pressure buildup. A removable, washable quilted polyester cover encases the topper for easy cleaning.

With a medium feel that rates around 5 on the 10-point firmness scale, the Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Topper Supreme can provide a strong combination of support and cradling for back sleepers who weigh less than 230 pounds. While it might also be comfortable for larger individuals, they may be more likely to notice a bit of sagging around their hips.

In addition to its notable support and conforming, the Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Topper Supreme also excels in terms of durability, motion isolation, and noise. The TEMPUR material should resist sagging, absorb vibrations so they don’t transfer across the surface of the bed, and remain whisper-quiet throughout the night. However, it may trap heat and lack the responsiveness couples often prefer for sex.

The Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Topper Supreme is available in the six standard mattress sizes. It comes with a 10-year limited warranty.

ViscoSoft Select High Density Mattress Topper

Best Value

ViscoSoft Select High Density Mattress Topper

ViscoSoft Select High Density Mattress Topper
Price: $270
Firmness: Medium (5)
Who it's best for:
  • People who weigh over 130 pounds
  • Sleepers who like the close conforming of memory foam
  • Those who tend to sleep hot
Highlights:
  • Close-conforming memory foam redistributes weight to ease pressure points
  • Infused with gel intended to reduce heat buildup
  • Encased in a removable, washable cover designed to resist slipping
ViscoSoft Select High Density Mattress Topper

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on ViscoSoft mattress toppers

Thanks to its memory foam construction, the ViscoSoft Select High Density Mattress Topper hugs closely to the sleeper’s body for notable pressure relief that may appeal to back pain sufferers.

The cover is constructed of a soft-to-the-touch, breathable bamboo-rayon material. It has four elastic straps to help secure it in place, and the cover can be removed and machine-washed. The topper uses a 3-inch slab of 3.5 pounds per cubic foot (PCF) memory foam, which can be considered low density. Lower-density memory foam like this tends to trap less heat and respond more quickly to changes in pressure than higher-density foam. A gel infusion in the memory foam helps to further cool the surface.

Its medium feel may make the topper a better match for sleepers who weigh over 130 pounds. Most individuals in this weight group should enjoy a strong fusion of contouring and support. Those who weigh less than 130 pounds won’t sink in as much, so they may not experience the same degree of pressure relief as heavier individuals.

Because memory foam absorbs motion well, the topper can help reduce the spread of motion. This can be beneficial for sleepers who tend to wake up when their partner stirs. Memory foam is often prone to trapping heat, but the topper has several adaptations that help it stay cool enough to satisfy many hot sleepers.

However, couples who enjoy a bouncy surface for sex may prefer a more responsive mattress topper. The ViscoSoft Select High Density Mattress Topper can provide some traction but not a lot in the way of springiness.

ViscoSoft offers two special editions of this topper. One is infused with activated charcoal, a naturally antimicrobial material that also has cooling properties. The other is infused with a lavender scent designed to relax you before falling asleep. All versions of the topper come with 60-day money-back guarantees and 3-year limited warranties.

GhostBed Memory Foam Topper

Most Comfortable

GhostBed Memory Foam Topper

GhostBed Memory Foam Topper
Price: $319
Firmness: Varies (5-zone)
Who it's best for:
  • Hot sleepers seeking a foam topper with less heat retention
  • Side sleepers
  • Young children who are prone to bedwetting
Highlights:
  • Infused with cooling gel
  • Excellent pressure relief
  • Waterproof cover
GhostBed Memory Foam Topper

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on GhostBed mattress toppers

The GhostBed Memory Foam Topper has cooling features and a contouring design that should appeal to shoppers who value a soft, comfortable sleep surface.

The 3-inch topper is made of memory foam that conforms closely to your body, creating a hugging sensation that fans of memory foam find comfortable. The topper is designed with different zones that vary in firmness and support. This means that the surface provides more cushioning for common pressure areas, such as the shoulders, while delivering more support to areas of the body that need it, such as the back and hips.

Though memory foam is known for trapping body heat, this topper is specifically designed to reduce heat retention. The foam is infused with a cooling gel that helps regulate temperature and the cover is made with a proprietary Ghost Ice fabric that feels cool to the touch. Channels in the topper also enable air to flow more freely than conventional memory foam.

The cover is waterproof and designed to fit entirely over both the mattress and topper. A 2-inch elastic band helps keep the cover in place over the bed. The band has a pocket depth of 18 inches. Shoppers can pick from seven standard sizes for the topper, including split king.

GhostBed ships free within the contiguous U.S. While the topper comes with a 5-year warranty, it is not returnable.

Birch Plush Organic Mattress Topper

Best Organic

Birch Plush Organic Mattress Topper

Birch Plush Organic Mattress Topper
Price: $400
Firmness: Medium (5)
Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers who like a plusher feel
  • People who prefer natural materials
  • Those who tend to sleep hot
Highlights:
  • Uses natural materials, including wool, cotton, and latex
  • Breathable design helps prevent heat accumulation
  • Combines plushness, support, and responsiveness
Birch Plush Organic Mattress Topper

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Birch mattress toppers

Constructed of natural materials, the Birch Mattress Topper adds softness and contouring without skimping on the support. This may give back pain sufferers a nice balance of pressure relief and support.

The cover of the Birch Mattress Topper uses organic cotton. This material is soft-to-the-touch, breathable, and slightly stretchy. A layer of organic wool serves as a fire retardant. Wool also has strong temperature-regulating properties, pulling away heat and moisture to help keep the sleeper cool and dry. Finally, a layer of natural Talalay latex gives plushness and pressure relief with a bouncy, responsive feel. Talalay latex is also very breathable to help the topper maintain a more neutral temperature. In total, the Birch Mattress Topper measures 3 inches thick.

Due to its medium firmness, the Birch Mattress Topper feels a bit plush. This may make it especially well-suited for sleepers who weigh under 230 pounds or who are looking for a softer sleep surface.

Latex has low point elasticity, which means that it compresses over a wider area rather than directly under the sleeper’s body. This lends to pressure relief without as much sinkage or hug as most synthetic foams, so the Birch Mattress Topper may also be a good choice for individuals who want pressure relief but prefer the sensation of sleeping “on” the bed to sleeping “in” the bed.

The Birch Mattress Topper comes with a 100-night trial period to try the topper at home. It also has a 10-year limited warranty.

Brooklyn Bedding Bamboo Talalay Latex Topper

Best Cooling

Brooklyn Bedding Bamboo Talalay Latex Topper

Brooklyn Bedding Bamboo Talalay Latex Topper
Price: $354
Firmness: Soft (3), Medium (5), Firm (7)
Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers who run hot
  • Side sleepers
  • People who experience back pain
Highlights:
  • Breathable construction
  • Strong balance of pressure relief and support
  • Three firmness options
Brooklyn Bedding Bamboo Talalay Latex Topper

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Brooklyn Bedding mattress toppers

Brooklyn Bedding’s Bamboo Talalay Latex Topper is an excellent choice for hot sleepers looking for a topper with good pressure relief and temperature neutrality.

The Brooklyn Bedding latex topper is 3 inches thick and made of Talalay latex, which has naturally breathable properties compared to other common topper materials such as memory foam. The topper is encased in a breathable cover made of rayon from bamboo, which further enhances its cooling properties.

The latex construction creates a bouncy surface that moderately conforms with the body, resulting in an even balance of support and contouring. The topper is available in three firmness levels – soft (3), medium (5), and firm (7). Because of the different firmness options, this topper is compatible with a variety of body types and sleep positions. Side sleepers and those who experience back pain during sleep may especially benefit from the balance of pressure relief and support.

Brooklyn Bedding offers free shipping within the contiguous U.S. Customers may return their topper for a full refund within 30 days of delivery, with complimentary return shipping. The topper is backed by a 3-year warranty.

Brooklinen Down Mattress Topper

Best Down

Brooklinen Down Mattress Topper

Brooklinen Down Mattress Topper
Price: $349
Firmness: Soft (3)
Who it's best for:
  • People who prefer exceptionally soft sleep surfaces
  • Hot sleepers
  • Shoppers looking for a topper with a lengthy trial/return period
Highlights:
  • Dual-layer construction ensures a plush feel with good support
  • Baffle-box design keeps fill evenly distributed
  • Topper’s sleep trial spans an entire year
Brooklinen Down Mattress Topper

SF readers get the best price at Brooklinen

While many sleepers enjoy the cloud-like feel of down toppers, many of these toppers are too soft and lack adequate support for people with back pain. The Brooklinen Down Mattress Topper stands out thanks to its layered design. The top layer is padded with 600 fill power white duck down, creating a luxuriously plush surface feel. The bottom layer contains duck feathers, which feel firmer than down and provide a sturdy base for the topper. The result is a topper that cushions the body but shouldn’t sink excessively.

The baffle-box construction evenly distributes the fill to maximize the loft and reduce clumping and shifting, so you shouldn’t need to fluff the topper very often. A breathable cotton shell encases the fill to promote airflow and offset the down’s heat-retaining properties. Full, queen, and king sizes are available.

Brooklinen advises against machine-washing the topper. This may damage its structural integrity and cause the fabric to rip or tear, allowing the fill to escape. Dry-cleaning is recommended instead, so you should factor cleaning costs into your shopping budget. Small stains or marks can be spot-cleaned with warm water and soap.

Brooklinen’s 365-night sleep trial is exceptionally long compared to trial periods for competing toppers. The company also covers return shipping fees for U.S. customers.

Saatva Mattress Topper

Best Pressure Relief

Saatva Mattress Topper

Saatva Mattress Topper
Price: $330
Firmness: Medium Soft (4) or Medium (5)
Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers whose topper firmness preferences fall between medium soft and medium
  • People who find their current mattress too firm
  • Those who toss and turn or frequently change positions while sleeping
Highlights:
  • Choose from three distinct designs that cater to different sleeper types and preferences
  • Each topper is encased in a breathable, GOTS-certified organic cotton cover
  • 45-night sleep trial and 1-year warranty
Saatva Mattress Topper

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Saatva mattress toppers

Every person with back pain has different needs from their sleep surface based on factors like body type and preferred sleep position. The Saatva Mattress Topper caters to a wide range of sleepers because it is available in three distinct designs.

The Foam topper is the least expensive of three. The feel is considered medium (5), which also makes this topper the firmest option. The topper consists of a single layer of high-density polyfoam measuring 1.5 inches thick. Stomach sleepers may feel comfortable thanks to the low profile, but the foam contours evenly to promote even alignment and reduce pressure points for side and back sleepers – especially those who weigh 230 pounds or less.

The Graphite topper is the thickest model with a 3-inch profile, and its feel is medium soft (4). The top layer is composed of memory foam infused with graphite, which has cooling properties to help regulate the surface temperature, while the base layer is a high-density polyfoam. Side sleepers who weigh up to 230 pounds should feel comfortable on the topper, and the same is true for back and stomach sleepers who weigh less than 130 pounds.

Lastly, the Latex topper has a 1.5-inch profile and a medium soft (4) feel. Latex conforms to the body without hugging too closely, so this topper may be a good fit for sleepers who find the contouring of memory foam too intrusive. The material is also perforated with small holes to circulate air, so hot sleepers will likely prefer this topper over the other two – though it is the most expensive option.

All three toppers include covers made of breathable organic cotton. The fabric has earned certification from the Global Organic Textile Standard, a leading global authority for this type of material. Each topper is also equipped with thick corner straps to prevent shifting and bunching during the night. This ensures the topper will stay in place for people who toss and turn or change positions while they sleep.

Saatva provides free ground shipping for all customers in the contiguous U.S. Each purchase comes with a 45-night sleep trial for testing out the topper, along with a one-year warranty against structural defects that kicks in once the trial period ends.

How to Choose a Mattress Topper for Back Pain


As mattress toppers adjust the feel of the sleep surface, many of the same factors that you should take into account when choosing a mattress will also play a role in your decision on a mattress topper.

What to Consider When Purchasing a Mattress Topper for Back Pain

There is a wide variety of different mattress toppers on the market that claim to do a number of different things. Rather than getting caught up in jargon and marketing claims, we encourage shoppers to look at the specific factors that contribute to whether or not a mattress topper will feel comfortable for them. Below, we’ll share some of the most important things to take into consideration as you select a mattress topper.

  • Conforming Ability: Most mattress toppers are built to provide some added conforming. A mattress topper that conforms to the sleeper’s shape allows wider, heavier body parts to sink in more, which can help relieve pressure buildup on these areas while supporting the spine’s natural alignment. Thinner and firmer mattress toppers may conform less, while thicker and softer options are likely to conform more.
  • Price: Mattress toppers vary in price based on their materials and construction. Low-priced options frequently use materials that may break down more quickly, but they can provide a budget-friendly, short-term fix for an uncomfortable mattress. More expensive models typically use more durable materials that resist sagging and deterioration.
  • Sleeping Position: A sleeper’s preferred position influences which body parts put force on the mattress, where pressure may build up, and how well-aligned their spine is. Because sleep position is so impactful, shoppers should take how they prefer to sleep into account when selecting a mattress topper. We’ll discuss sleep position in more detail in the section below.
  • Quality Materials: A topper’s materials contribute to its performance and durability. High-end materials may have special characteristics, like temperature regulation or bounce, that could support a more comfortable night’s sleep. Many quality materials also last longer, extending the topper’s usable lifespan. Lower-quality topper components can also be comfortable, though they may not have the same potential benefits as higher-quality options.
  • Firmness Level: The firmness of the mattress topper can affect the level of conforming and support that you experience. As mattress toppers are a quick and easy way to adjust the feel of your bed, people who find their existing mattress too soft may like a firmer topper, while those who feel their mattress is too firm may prefer a softer topper. Body weight is also a significant factor when it comes to what firmness feels right. Sleepers who weigh over 230 pounds may sink too deeply into a soft mattress topper and feel the underlying mattress more, so they may prefer a firmer option. Those who weigh under 130 pounds may not put enough pressure on a firm topper to sink in and feel comfortably cradled, so they’d likely want to go for a softer topper.
  • Thickness: Mattress toppers usually range from 1 to 4 inches thick. The mattress topper’s thickness impacts how significantly it alters the sleep surface. A thin topper may add a bit of cushioning, while a thicker topper is likely to give more significant contouring and pressure relief.
  • Pressure Relief: A mattress topper can help alleviate pressure points by redistributing the sleeper’s weight more evenly over the surface. This can reduce pressure buildup near heavier body parts, like the hips and shoulders. Thicker toppers with more conforming are also likely to have more pressure relief.

How Does Sleeping Position Affect Back Pain?

Back pain can occur as a result of an underlying condition or sleep-related factors. The right mattress topper can help relieve pressure points and support natural spinal alignment, which could also help contribute to reduced back pain. However, each sleep position can affect the spine differently, so those suffering from back pain may want to consider the role of their preferred sleep position.

Side sleepers frequently prefer a slightly softer sleep surface that balances conforming and support. Too firm of a topper may not allow their hips and shoulders to sink in enough, while too soft of a mattress topper may let their hips and shoulders sink in too much. Either of these situations could put a strain on their spines and contribute to back pain. A thicker topper could be ideal for a bed that is too firm, as it can provide ample room for a side sleeper’s hips and shoulders to sink in. A firmer topper that helps prevent sinkage will be better for a bed that is too soft.

Back sleepers usually like a slightly firmer sleep surface that gives them the support they need to maintain their natural spinal alignment, so they may prefer firmer and/or thinner mattress toppers. A topper that is too soft could allow their hips to sink in excessively and make it difficult to keep their spine well-aligned. Too firm of a topper could also be problematic, leaving a gap between the bed and the sleeper’s lumbar region.

Stomach sleepers are often prone to sinking into their beds near their hips and stomachs since most people carry more weight near their midsections. This frequently puts a strain on the sleeper’s spine, which could contribute to back pain. A firmer, thinner mattress topper may be more supportive for stomach sleepers and reduce the likelihood of excessive sinkage.

Combination sleepers can experience the potential benefits and drawbacks of multiple sleep positions. Those who tend to change positions during the night should consider which position they sleep in most often as they select a mattress topper. If they divide their time relatively evenly between positions, a mattress topper with a mid-range thickness may be the best bet for a combination sleeper.

Which Type of Mattress Topper is Best for Back Pain?

Any type of mattress topper may have potential pros and cons. Depending on their personal preferences, back pain sufferers may enjoy different toppers.

As memory foam toppers conform closely to the sleeper’s body, many back pain sufferers find they give a good balance of pressure relief and support. These toppers also usually isolate motion well, so sleepers might not notice when their partner changes position. One potential drawback is that memory foam tends to retain heat, but some models are made with special features for added breathability and cooling. Memory foam is also usually slow to respond to changes in pressure, which can make it harder for sleepers to move around and change position.

Polyfoam toppers conform to the sleeper’s body without the close hug of memory foam. Additionally, this material tends to be more breathable and regain its shape more quickly than memory foam. Polyfoam toppers are also frequently budget-friendly options. While many sleepers find polyfoam mattress toppers comfortable, they’re often less durable than other types of toppers on the market. This is particularly true of toppers that make use of low-density polyfoam.

Latex is prized for its pressure relief, breathability, and durability. Mattress toppers constructed of latex usually cradle the sleeper’s body without much sinkage. Instead, its low point elasticity leads to the compression spreading over a wider area, creating more of a floating sensation. Natural latex also tends to be breathable and highly durable, so it can be a good option for back pain sufferers who sleep hot or want to enjoy their mattress topper for years to come. However, latex mattress toppers are often more expensive than other types of toppers.

Pillow top mattress toppers often use feather and/or fiber fill. These toppers typically provide a plush sleep surface. However, since they do not usually provide much in the way of support or pressure relief, they may not be ideal for back pain sufferers.

Since some individuals are prone to sleeping hot, many mattress toppers have special features designed for cooling. Memory foam can be infused with gel and/or copper to help wick away heat. Many polyfoam toppers use breathable open-cell foam. Memory foam, polyfoam, and latex mattress toppers can also be ventilated using hole punches to allow more air circulation.

Frequently Asked Questions About Mattress Toppers

Which type of mattress topper is best for lower back pain?

Memory foam, polyfoam, and latex toppers tend to be most popular with those who suffer from lower back pain. These types of topper mold to the sleeper’s body, relieving pressure while also supporting spinal alignment. Those with lower back pain should select the firmness and thickness of their topper carefully to ensure it has the right feel for their weight and preferred way of sleeping.

Can mattress toppers help with back pain?

In some circumstances, a mattress topper could help with back pain. A topper won’t make up for a sagging or unsupportive mattress, in which case a new bed may be the better option. That being said, if the firmness of your current mattress isn’t a good match, a mattress topper can adjust the feeling of the bed enough to help relieve back pain.

What’s the difference between a mattress pad and a mattress topper?

Mattress toppers and mattress pads are not the same thing. Mattress pads are thin layers designed to help protect the mattress, though some models provide a little cushioning. Pads can provide some added features like waterproofing or cooling. Mattress toppers are much more substantial. Rather than protecting the mattress, toppers are meant to modify the feel and firmness of the mattress.