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Home / Best Mattress Toppers of 2022 / Best Mattress Topper for Back Pain

Best Mattress Topper for Back Pain

Keith Cushner

Written by

Keith Cushner, Sleep Product Expert

Jenny Iyo

Medically Reviewed by

Jenny Iyo, Physical Therapist

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Methodology

We personally test every mattress topper featured in our reviews and guides to provide accurate, data-driven recommendations. Learn More

Recency Statement Icon

Following a recent round of product tests, we've updated this page to include the Turmerry Organic Latex Mattress Topper as our top pick for side sleepers. The Saatva Mattress Topper remains our best overall pick for people with 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

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, or 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

Saatva Mattress Topper

Best Overall

Saatva Mattress Topper

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Puffy Mattress Topper - Firm

Best Value

Puffy Mattress Topper - Firm

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Birch Organic Mattress Topper

Best Luxury

Birch Organic Mattress Topper

SHOP NOW
Silk & Snow Organic Mattress Topper

Most Comfortable

Silk & Snow Organic Mattress Topper

SHOP NOW
ViscoSoft Select High Density Mattress Topper

Best for Spinal Alignment

ViscoSoft Select High Density Mattress Topper

SHOP NOW
Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Adapt Topper

Best Pressure Relief

Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Adapt Topper

SHOP NOW
PlushBeds Natural Latex Topper

Best Firmness Options

PlushBeds Natural Latex Topper

SHOP NOW
Brooklyn Bedding TitanFlex Topper

Best Cooling

Brooklyn Bedding TitanFlex Topper

SHOP NOW
Turmerry Organic Latex Mattress Topper

Best for Side Sleepers

Turmerry Organic Latex Mattress Topper

SHOP NOW

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

Saatva Mattress Topper

Best Overall

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
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Buy more, save more. Get up to $450 off!

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 is a high-end option that caters to a wide range of sleepers because it is available in three distinct designs.

The Foam topper is the least expensive of Saatva’s three models. The topper consists of a single layer of high-density polyfoam measuring 1.5 inches thick. The foam contours evenly to promote even alignment and reduce pressure points for side and back sleepers – especially those who weigh up to 230 pounds.

The Graphite topper is the thickest model with a 3-inch profile. 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.

Lastly, the Latex topper has a 1.5-inch profile. Latex conforms to the body without hugging too closely, so this topper may be a good fit for  hot sleepers or sleepers who find the contouring of memory foam too intrusive. The material is also perforated with small holes to circulate air.

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 1-year warranty against structural defects that kicks in once the trial period ends.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“Our testers found that the three designs of the Saatva Mattress Topper suit a range of sleepers. Combination sleepers found the corner straps secured the topper to the mattress despite their tossing and turning.”

Puffy Mattress Topper - Firm

Best Value

Puffy Mattress Topper - Firm

Puffy Mattress Topper - Firm
Price: $229
Firmness: Firm (7)
Who it's best for:
  • Side and back sleepers who weigh at least 130 pounds
  • Anyone whose mattress has moderate wear and tear
  • Those who tend to toss and turn or frequently change sleep positions
Highlights:
  • Memory foam contours evenly without sinking or sagging too much
  • Breathable rayon-polyester cover is removable and machine-washable
  • Anti-slip bottom helps prevent shifting during the night
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

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

Excessive softness that leads to uncomfortable sinkage is a common complaint about memory foam toppers. Anyone who has encountered this issue in the past should consider the Puffy Mattress Topper – Firm, which offers the even contouring of solid memory foam without sacrificing stability. Thanks to its firm (7) feel, our testing team’s side and back sleepers who weigh at least 130 pounds found this topper comfortable and supportive. The 2.5-inch profile also helps ensure a noticeable comfort adjustment for mattresses with moderate wear and tear, as well as those with surfaces that feel a bit too soft.

The topper is also exceptionally breathable. This can be attributed to its firmer feel, since less sinkage typically means more surface-level airflow, and the cover made from a blend of polyester and rayon derived from bamboo. The cover has elasticated edges, allowing you to secure it to your mattress much like a fitted sheet. An anti-slip bottom prevents shifting when you toss and turn or change sleep positions during the night. The pocket depth of 15 inches makes the cover compatible with most mattresses made today, and you can launder it in your household machines whenever cleaning is needed.

An approachable price-point makes the Puffy Mattress Topper – Firm a good option for shoppers on a budget, and ground shipping is free of charge for all customers in the contiguous U.S. Each order is backed by a 101-night sleep trial, ensuring ample time to test the topper. Those who decide to keep it also receive a lifetime warranty against structural defects.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“The Puffy Mattress Topper’s firm feel sets it apart from other memory foam models we’ve evaluated. Most of our testers noticed little to no sinkage, even when moving across the surface or changing positions.”

Birch Organic Mattress Topper

Best Luxury

Birch Organic Mattress Topper

Birch Organic Mattress Topper
Price: $400
Firmness: Medium (5)
Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers who like a plusher feel
  • Side sleepers
  • Those who tend to sleep hot
Highlights:
  • Uses natural materials, including wool, cotton, and latex
  • Breathable cotton, wool, and latex enhance cooling
  • Wool and latex layers balance plushness and support
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

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 to provide pressure relief for those who experience back pain. Shoppers willing to spend a bit more on a topper made with organic and high-quality materials may want to consider this pick.

The cover of the Birch Mattress Topper is made with 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 provides 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.

The topper has a medium (5) feel that makes it especially well-suited for sleepers who weigh up to 230 pounds or who are looking for a softer sleep surface. Latex compresses over a wide area, rather than directly under the sleeper’s body. This leads to pressure relief without excessive sinkage or hug. The latex composition makes this topper 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.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“Our eco-minded testers appreciated the Birch Organic Mattress Topper’s use of natural materials. The breathable cotton cover and less conforming latex also keep the topper cool.”

Silk & Snow Organic Mattress Topper

Most Comfortable

Silk & Snow Organic Mattress Topper

Silk & Snow Organic Mattress Topper
Price: $270
Firmness: Medium (5), Firm (7)
Who it's best for:
  • Hot sleepers
  • People who have mattresses with minor wear
  • Eco-conscious shoppers
Highlights:
  • Breathable organic cotton cover helps regulate temperature
  • Dunlop latex offers moderate contouring for pressure points
  • Two firmness levels
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Silk & Snow mattress toppers

The Silk & Snow Organic Mattress Topper features a Dunlop latex core that creates a comfortable balance of gentle contouring and support. Latex traps less heat than adaptive materials like foam, making it a great choice for hot sleepers. The latex and the cover are made with organic materials that hold Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) certifications.

The topper measures 2 inches thick and comes in two firmness levels: medium (5) and firm (7).  The thin profile moderately alters the feel of the bed, which is excellent for sleepers with slightly indented mattresses. Our tests found the medium feel gently cradled the body to relieve pressure without sinking excessively. Side sleepers over 230 pounds and back sleepers weighing up to 230 pounds appreciated this balance. Back sleepers over 230 pounds and stomach sleepers enjoyed the even sleep surface from the firmer model.

The cover is made from organic cotton, which has natural cooling and moisture-wicking properties. You should only spot clean the latex core, but the cover is fully removable and machine-washable.

Silk & Snow offers free shipping to customers living in the contiguous U.S. and provincial Canada. Topper purchases come with a 100-night sleep trial, during which you can return it for a full refund. The latex core is backed by a 3-year warranty, and the cotton cover has a 1-year warranty.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“I enjoyed how comfortable and cool the Silk & Snow Organic Mattress Topper feels. The latex provided cushioning for my pressure points without uncomfortable sagging.”

ViscoSoft Select High Density Mattress Topper

Best for Spinal Alignment

ViscoSoft Select High Density Mattress Topper

ViscoSoft Select High Density Mattress Topper
Price: $230
Firmness: Medium (5)
Who it's best for:
  • Those who want to invest in a long-lasting memory foam topper
  • Side sleepers
  • People who toss and turn or frequently change sleep positions
Highlights:
  • Composed of dense memory foam that’s resistant to wear and tear
  • Corner straps and anti-slip bottom prevent shifting during the night
  • Optional cooling charcoal or relaxing lavender infusions
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

SF customers receive 25% off + free shipping

ViscoSoft’s Select High Density Mattress Topper is a great option for sleepers who enjoy the precise contouring of memory foam. Unlike many competing models, this topper uses high-density foam that holds up well over time and shouldn’t develop indentations or impressions too quickly. The denser foam also evenly distributes weight across the surface to promote spinal alignment.

The topper has a medium (5) feel that toes the line between close conforming and even support. A 3-inch profile also ensures a significant comfort adjustment for most mattresses, including those with moderate to heavy wear and tear. Side sleepers with back pain can benefit from the foam’s cushioning abilities, especially around the shoulders and hips – two areas prone to pressure points for people who prefer this position. The topper can improve motion isolation for an overly responsive mattress, so you and your sleep partner won’t need to worry about nighttime disruptions if your bed feels excessively springy. Corner straps and an anti-slip bottom provide great stability for people who toss and turn or frequently change their sleep position.

Customers can choose from six sizes that correspond to typical mattress dimensions, as well as a short queen that may be suitable for RV owners. In addition to the standard model, you may also select a special infusion for the topper’s foam. The charcoal infusion is intended to increase breathability and help you sleep cool, while the lavender infusion creates a pleasant aroma many sleepers find relaxing. The topper’s cover is made of rayon derived from bamboo, a fabric that regulates temperature well and wicks moisture away from the body. The cover is removable and machine-washable.

The Select High Density Mattress Topper is priced competitively and shipping is free of charge throughout the contiguous U.S. ViscoSoft backs each purchase with a 90-night sleep trial and a 5-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“ViscoSoft’s Select High Density is a quintessential memory foam topper. Deep contouring, even weight distribution, and great cushioning for the midsection. Heat retention wasn’t too much of an issue, either.”

Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Adapt Topper

Best Pressure Relief

Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Adapt Topper

Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Adapt Topper
Price: $419
Firmness: Medium (5)
Who it's best for:
  • Side and back sleepers
  • People who weigh up to 230 pounds
  • Those who experience painful pressure buildup at night
Highlights:
  • All-foam construction provides excellent pressure relief
  • Thick foam layer reduces motion transfer
  • 10-year warranty
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

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

If your mattress is not providing enough pressure relief to promote proper spinal alignment at night, the Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Adapt Topper has a memory foam design that cradles the body to help promote healthy sleep posture.

The topper contains 3 inches of high-density TEMPUR memory foam, a proprietary material that provides excellent contouring across the surface. With a medium (5) feel, the topper relieves pressure buildup but also won’t sink as excessively as plusher foams. If you sleep on your back or side, the topper should excel at keeping extra pressure off sensitive areas like the shoulders, hips, and spine.

Sleepers who weigh up to 230 pounds should receive ample support to keep the lumbar region from sagging, but those who weigh over 230 pounds may not receive enough support to keep the spine properly aligned. Those who share the bed with restless sleepers may also appreciate the strong motion isolation provided by the all-foam design. The polyester cover is removable and machine-washable for easy care.

Tempur-Pedic provides free shipping to the contiguous U.S. The topper does not include a sleep trial, but Tempur-Pedic backs the product with a 10-year warranty.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“The TEMPUR-Topper is a solid pick if you’re looking for a topper with first-rate pressure relief. Even with the contouring, it also felt supportive enough for many testers on our team.”

PlushBeds Natural Latex Topper

Best Firmness Options

PlushBeds Natural Latex Topper

PlushBeds Natural Latex Topper
Price: $429
Firmness: Soft (3), Medium Soft (4), Medium (5), Medium Firm (6), Extra Firm (8)
Who it's best for:
  • Hot sleepers
  • Anyone whose mattress has experienced moderate to severe wear and tear
  • People who dislike the feel of memory foam
Highlights:
  • Choose from two profiles and five firmness levels
  • Ventilated Talalay latex provides excellent breathability
  • Optional organic cotton cover available
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

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

The key to alleviating back pain is to sleep on a surface that provides the right balance of cushioning and support for your body. The PlushBeds Latex Mattress Topper can accommodate most people thanks to its versatile design. Customers choose from five different firmness levels: soft (3), medium soft (4), medium (5), medium firm (6), and extra firm (8). This selection should suit a wide range of sleepers regardless of their body type or sleep position.

The topper is available in profiles of 2 or 3 inches. The latter significantly alters the feel of your sleep surface, making it the best option if your mattress has become very uneven or indented over time. The 2-inch profile changes the surface to a lesser extent and should provide an adequate comfort adjustment for any mattress with moderate wear and tear.

All versions of the topper are composed of natural Talalay latex, a material renowned for its durability and temperature regulation. The latex cushions and conforms to the body without the tight “hug” many people dislike about memory foam. Latex is also responsive, so you can expect a light bounce when you get in and out of bed as opposed to the sinking sensation of foam.

The latex is ventilated with holes to ensure plenty of airflow. PlushBeds offers an optional cover made of breathable, moisture-wicking organic cotton if you’d like to protect the topper without sacrificing breathability. This cover can be washed and dried in household machines for quick and easy care.

PlushBeds provides free ground shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S. Although the company does not allow returns for the topper, your purchase will be backed by a 5-year warranty against structural defects.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“The Latex Mattress Topper from PlushBeds comes in five firmness options that can suit most sleepers. I also appreciate the ventilated latex, keeping me and my partner cool.”

Brooklyn Bedding TitanFlex Topper

Best Cooling

Brooklyn Bedding TitanFlex Topper

Brooklyn Bedding TitanFlex Topper
Price: $224
Firmness: Soft (3), Medium (5), Firm (7)
Who it's best for:
  • Anyone who owns a mattress with moderate to severe wear and tear
  • People with sharp pressure points along their spines
  • Those who normally find foam surfaces excessively warm
Highlights:
  • TitanFlex polyfoam is both adaptive and responsive
  • Multiple firmness and cover material options
  • Thick profile ensures a significant comfort adjustment
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

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

If you tend to experience pressure buildup in the shoulders, lower back, or hips, then your mattress may be partially to blame – especially if its surface has become firmer and less adaptive over time. The Brooklyn Bedding TitanFlex Topper contains a proprietary polyfoam material that contours evenly to the body, but without the close body-hug or sinkage of memory foam. TitanFlex has a slightly responsive feel, resulting in a light bounce when you get into bed, followed by deep cushioning as you settle into the topper.

The topper has a 3-inch profile, making it relatively thick. This ensures your mattress will feel much different with the topper in place, and the foam should compensate for any indentations or impressions that have formed on the surface after years of use. We also noticed above-average temperature control when testing the topper. This can be largely attributed to the topper’s cover. You can choose between two cover materials, breathable organic cotton or a smooth circular-knit fabric that feels cool to the touch.

Brooklyn Bedding offers three firmness levels for the topper. We found the soft (3) best suited to the side and back sleepers on our testing team under 130 pounds. Our back and stomach sleepers weighing at least 130 pounds preferred the extra support of the firm (7) feel. If you’re looking for a balance between soft and firm, the medium (5) feel should provide adequate conforming without too much sink.

The topper is available in seven sizes, which include the six standard mattress dimensions as well as a short queen for RV owners. Brooklyn Bedding offers free shipping within the contiguous U.S., and each order comes with a 30-night sleep trial. If you decide to keep the topper, you’ll also receive a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“The Brooklyn Bedding TitanFlex Topper finds a comfortable balance between cushioning and bounce. The foam contours evenly to reduce soreness and pressure points in sensitive areas, but sleepers won’t experience excessive hugging or sinking like they would on a memory foam topper.”

Turmerry Organic Latex Mattress Topper

Best for Side Sleepers

Turmerry Organic Latex Mattress Topper

Turmerry Organic Latex Mattress Topper
Price: $249
Firmness: Soft (3), Medium (5), Medium firm (6)
Who it's best for:
  • Hot sleepers
  • Those who prefer a responsive sleep surface
  • Shoppers who want to invest in a long-lasting topper
Highlights:
  • Solid Dunlop latex offers gentle cushioning and considerable bounce
  • Wide range of profile and firmness options
  • Ventilated core ensures minimal heat retention and excellent breathability
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

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

If you sleep on your side and wake up feeling sore or stiff, you may need a topper to provide additional cushioning for your shoulders and hips — two common areas of pressure buildup for people who use this position. The Turmerry Organic Latex Topper contours lightly without the “hug” of memory foam. Available in two profiles and several firmness levels, the topper should accommodate most side sleepers regardless of how much they weigh.

Solid latex is a naturally durable and responsive material. You should expect a light bounce when you get into bed, which can help you move across the topper without feeling stuck. The latex is also less susceptible to impressions or indentations over time than foam. Hot sleepers should also find the topper comfortable. The latex is ventilated to promote airflow, trapping less heat in the process. You can add a breathable cotton cover to your order for an additional fee. Turmerry recommends using the cover to keep your topper hygienic, as it can be removed and machine washed.

The 2-inch profile is suitable if your mattress has moderate wear and tear or if it feels slightly too stiff. If your mattress is heavily indented and on its last leg, the 3-inch profile should provide enough padding to help you sleep comfortably until you find a replacement. You can also select from three firmness levels. The soft (3) feel contours very closely, the medium firm (6) offers the most support, and the medium falls in the middle with a balance of cushioning and reinforcement.

Additionally, customers choose from zoned designs made of natural latex or non-zoned designs made of organic latex. The former are divided into different firmness levels to push back against the extra weight of your midsection and gently cradle the lighter areas of your body. The non-zoned design has a fixed firmness level.

Turmerry offers free ground shipping throughout the contiguous U.S. The company’s trial period runs for 60 nights. If you decide to keep your Organic Latex Mattress Topper, it’s also backed by a 10-year warranty against structural defects.

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Why You Can Trust Us

Our team of industry experts has personally tested dozens of mattress toppers, and during that time we’ve noticed a direct link between the surface you sleep on at night and the amount of back pain you wake up with in the morning. Our testers represent a wide spectrum of sleepers in terms of body type and preferred position to ensure our results are inclusive of everyone.

How We Evaluated These Mattress Toppers

To create our list of the best toppers for back pain, we evaluated each topper based on factors like pain and pressure relief, support, contouring level, and ease of movement. We also took cost into account to best serve shoppers on a budget. To learn more about how a mattress topper can reduce back pain, check out our detailed buyer’s guide below.

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: People who sleep on their side 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: This sleep position typically requires 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: Sleepers who use this position 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.

Memory foam: As memory foam toppers conform closely to the sleeper’s body, many people who experience back pain 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: 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: Latex is prized for its pressure relief, breathability, and durability. Latex mattress toppers 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 people 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.

Feathers: Feather mattress 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 sleepers who experience back pain.

Cooling: 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

  • 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 experience 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.

Still have questions?

Our product experts have extensive experience testing just about every sleep product on the market. Send an email to [email protected] or call us at (877) 672-8966 with your questions and we’ll help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

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About Our Editorial Team

author
Keith Cushner

Sleep Product Expert

Keith is a sleep product expert with nearly a decade of experience researching, developing, and testing sleep products.

author
Jenny Iyo

Physical Therapist

DPT

Dr. Iyo is a Doctor of Physical Therapy at an orthopedic clinic in Seattle. She specializes in hands-on therapy and tailored exercise programs.