search
search
Home / Best Mattress / Best Mattress for Back Pain

Best Mattress for Back Pain

Keith Cushner

Written by

Keith Cushner, Sleep Product Expert

Jenny Iyo

Medically Reviewed by

Jenny Iyo, Physical Therapist

Methodology Icon
Methodology

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

Recency Statement Icon

We recently updated this list to include the Birch Luxe as our top luxury pick. The DreamCloud remains our best overall pick.

We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Products or services advertised on this page may be offered by an entity that is affiliated with us. Learn more about our process here

Sleep is a key time for the body to recover at the end of the day. Unfortunately, upper and lower back pain can negatively impact your sleep quality. Sleeping on a mattress that lacks the support for proper sleep posture and spinal alignment can exacerbate existing upper or lower back pain. Our testing has shown the best mattress for any given sleeper supports the spine and promotes even alignment. This alleviates back pain and helps ensure deeper, more restorative sleep.

Our testing team has personally evaluated hundreds of mattresses using a comprehensive methodology that incorporates several performance categories. We rely on a diverse group of testers with varying body types and sleep positions to gauge how comfortable or uncomfortable each mattress feels to different people. For this guide, our testers focused on mattress performance categories related to back pain, such as pressure relief, support, and ease of movement.

Best Mattress for Back Pain Video

Watch our video below to learn more about our lab’s top mattress picks for sleepers with back pain.

Below are the mattresses that we’ve awarded the highest ratings for sleepers with back pain, and each one has received an accolade showcasing its strongest points. Scroll down for detailed information about each mattress, including how and where to buy them. We’ve also included a buyer’s guide further below that covers why people experience back pain in bed, which types of mattresses are best for back pain, and how to pick out the right mattress based on its materials and construction. If you’re looking for more bedding solutions to help with your back pain, check out our list of Best Mattress Toppers for Back Pain.

Black Friday Sales Are Here!

Black Friday is a great time to buy a mattress, with many companies offering some of their biggest discounts of the year. Head to our complete list of Black Friday discounts to learn about the most up-to-date deals. You can also check out our list of Cyber Monday mattress and bedding sales to learn about deals happening after Black Friday ends.

Product Details

Best Overall

DreamCloud Mattress

DreamCloud Mattress
Price Range: $799 - $1,499
Mattress Type: Hybrid
Firmness: Medium Firm (6)
Trial length: 365 nights (30-night requirement)
Warranty: Lifetime, limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Who it's best for:
  • People with back pain
  • Hot sleepers
  • Couples seeking strong motion isolation
Highlights:
  • Medium firm balance of contouring and support
  • Breathable cashmere blend cover
  • Lifetime warranty and 365-night sleep trial
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

DreamCloud flash sale starting November 8: Get 25% off all products + $599 in free accessories

Bottom Line

The DreamCloud’s luxurious design features plush foam layers over a robust pocketed coil system. The result is an exceptionally balanced mattress that cushions the body without sacrificing support or stability.

The DreamCloud Mattress is a luxury hybrid that combines adaptive comfort layers with a strong support system. A true medium firm (6) feel ensures cushioning for the shoulders, lower back, and hips, but our testers found the thick pocketed coils maintained an even surface for their bodies and minimized sinkage around the midsection — a common source of aches and pains. Approachable pricing and a generous sleep trial sweeten the deal even further if you’re shopping on a budget.

How It Performed

While the DreamCloud’s strongest ratings came from our side sleepers between 130 and 230 pounds, the mattress was well received by testers across a wide range of body types and sleep positions. Ample cushioning prevented our side sleepers from feeling sharp pressure points in their shoulders and hips, which often occur for people who use this position. The back and stomach sleepers on our team didn’t sink too much despite the thick, adaptive foam layers.

Temperature control was another performance area where the DreamCloud excelled during our tests. We’ve attributed the mattress’ above-average cooling to several design elements, including a moisture-wicking cashmere-blend cover, a gel infusion in the top foam layer, and steady air circulation through the coil system. Thanks to the thick foam layers, the DreamCloud also performed better than most competing hybrids in categories like motion isolation and pressure relief.

What It’s Made of

The DreamCloud begins with adaptive polyfoam quilted into the cover, followed by memory foam and polyfoam layers. These materials give the mattress an invitingly plush feel when you get into bed, but each layer is progressively denser and you shouldn’t sink too deeply as your body settles into the surface. The support core contains pocketed coils over a high-density foam base.

The cover is composed of a breathable, moisture-wicking cashmere-blend fabric. At 14 inches thick, the DreamCloud is considered a high-profile mattress.

The DreamCloud carries a below-average price-point compared to most hybrid models we’ve tested and shipping is free for customers within the contiguous U.S. Each order comes with a sleep trial that spans an entire year, giving you plenty of time to test the mattress and decide whether it’s right for you. Should you decide to keep the DreamCloud, you’ll also receive a lifetime warranty against structural defects.

Best Value

Nectar Mattress

Nectar Mattress
Price Range: $399 - $1,138
Mattress Type: Foam
Firmness: Medium Firm (6)
Trial length: 365 nights
Warranty: Lifetime, Limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King, Split King
Who it's best for:
  • People who want the contouring of memory foam without too much sink or softness
  • Back and stomach sleepers who weigh below 230 pounds
  • Shoppers needing a wallet-friendly option without sacrificing quality
Highlights:
  • Three layers of memory foam offer excellent contouring
  • Medium Firm feel prevents sagging into the bed
  • Budget-friendly price point
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

33% off all Nectar products

Bottom Line

The Nectar carries an affordable sticker price, but strong overall performance puts the mattress at the same level as many of its more expensive competitors. An all-foam design with a firm, supportive feel allows you to enjoy even cushioning without sinking too deeply into your sleep surface.

Memory foam mattresses can alleviate back pain by cushioning the spine and promoting even alignment, but you may find the foam layers too soft and prone to deep sinkage — especially if you weigh 130 pounds or more. The Nectar is a medium firm (6) all-foam model with an adaptive comfort layer reinforced with dense polyfoam layers. As we found during our hands-on tests, the result is a memory foam mattress that contours evenly while maintaining even support.

How It Performed

The Nectar earned solid ratings across the board during our sleeper tests. Side, back, and stomach sleepers weighing 130 to 230 pounds were particularly impressed by the firm, supportive feel. When testing the mattress for pressure relief, our body sensors detected minimal buildup in the upper and lower back.

Motion isolation proved to be one of the Nectar’s main strengths. Our testers noticed little to no motion transfer when lying beside each other and feeling for movement, even when the other person changed positions or got out of bed. We also found the mattress regulated temperature well for an all-foam model. A breathable cover and phase change material infused in the comfort layer both help maintain a cool, comfortable surface.

What It’s Made of

The Nectar’s three-layer design consists of adaptive memory foam over transitional and support layers of dense polyfoam. The topmost layer measures 2 inches thick, so you’ll notice close contouring — especially around the midsection — but the underlying foam layers should prevent you from sinking excessively. A cover made from a breathable blend of polyester and polyethylene encases the entire mattress.

In addition to its affordable price-point, the Nectar qualifies for free ground shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S. Nectar Sleep’s 365-night sleep trial is one of the longest in the online mattress industry, and those who keep their bed also receive a lifetime warranty covering deep surface impressions and other structural defects.

Most Comfortable

WinkBed

WinkBed
Price Range: $1,149 - $2,049
Mattress Type: Innerspring
Firmness: Medium Soft (4), Medium Firm (6), Firm (7), Firm (8)
Trial length: 120 nights (30 night requirement)
Warranty: Lifetime, Limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Who it's best for:
  • People who value robust edge support
  • Hot sleepers
  • Sleepers who want moderate contouring with bounce
Highlights:
  • Four firmness options cater to a wide array of sleepers
  • Zoned pocketed coils in support core
  • Foam Euro-top promotes cushioning and pressure relief
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Get $300 off all mattresses

Bottom Line

The WinkBed is available in four firmness levels, all of which feature a zoned coil system to push back against the extra weight in your lower back and hips. This thoughtful design helps ensure even support for your entire body, and less back pain in the process.

If you carry extra weight around the midsection, a mattress with zoned layers might be a solid investment. The WinkBed is a luxury hybrid available in four firmness options, so most people should find at least one design that feels comfortable and supportive. The company’s generous return policy also allows you to exchange your initial selection if you aren’t satisfied with how soft or firm it feels.

How It Performed

Our team tested each version of the WinkBed. Those weighing less than 130 pounds found the medium soft (4) feel most comfortable, particularly the side sleepers on our team. The medium firm (6) feel received favorable ratings from testers weighing 130 to 230 pounds across all three position groups. Our back and stomach sleepers weighing 130 pounds or more also found the firm (7) design comfortable, and those weighing more than 230 pounds were impressed by the robust support of the WinkBed Plus (8).

Thanks to the zoned coils, the WinkBed performed well during our tests for edge support and ease of movement. Most of our testers were able to move across the surface of the mattress with little resistance, and the perimeter felt stable as we mimicked movements associated with getting in and out of bed, tying our shoes, and changing positions near the edges. Temperature control was another strength of the WinkBed during our tests. This can be attributed to steady airflow throughout the coil system and the breathable, moisture-wicking Tencel cover.

What It’s Made of

The medium soft, medium firm, and firm WinkBed models feature adaptive polyfoam quilted into the surface, followed by a layer of denser foam for added cushioning and reinforcement for your body. WinkBed Plus models swap out the second foam layer for zoned latex, which feels highly responsive and shouldn’t buckle too much beneath your body — even if you weigh more than 230 pounds.

All WinkBeds feature zoned pocketed coils in their support cores. Thicker coils line the perimeter to protect the edges from deep sinkage, and also rest beneath your chest and hips to push back against the extra weight of these areas. A cover made of eucalyptus-derived Tencel fabric encases the entire mattress.

Customers in the contiguous U.S. receive free ground shipping with their WinkBed purchase, and each mattress comes with a 120-night trial period. As part of WinkBeds’ return policy, you may exchange your initial mattress for a softer or firmer model if you aren’t satisfied with how it feels. The replacement mattress comes with its own 60-night trial. All WinkBed mattresses are additionally backed by lifetime warranties.

Best Lumbar Support

Saatva Classic

Saatva Classic
Price Range: $935 - $2,450
Mattress Type: Innerspring
Firmness: Soft (3), Medium Firm (6), Firm (8)
Trial length: 365 Nights ($99 Return Fee)
Warranty: Lifetime, Limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Split King, California King, Split California King
Who it's best for:
  • People who like the bounce of an innerspring but need extra support
  • Anyone who wants a choice of firmness to suit their sleeping position
  • Those seeking hassle-free setup and removal of their old mattress
Highlights:
  • Choice of two height profiles and three firmness levels
  • Coil-on-Coil construction with extra pillow-top support
  • Free White Glove delivery
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Buy more, save more. Get up to $500 off.

Bottom Line

The Saatva Classic is an innovative coil-on-coil innerspring that offers excellent overall stability. A memory foam pad beneath the lumbar region provides extra cushioning to reduce lower back pain, while zoned coils help maintain even support for heavier areas of your body.

Saatva’s mattress line has greatly expanded over the past decade, but the flagship Saatva Classic is still among the company’s most popular models. One of the first major innersprings to incorporate a coil-on-coil design, the Classic is available in three firmness levels and two profiles to accommodate a wide swath of sleepers.

How It Performed

Our testers found each of the Saatva Classic’s firmness levels distinct from the other two. The soft (3) design provides deep contouring, and was popular among our side sleepers weighing up to 230 pounds. Back and stomach sleepers on our team who weigh less than 130 pounds also found this design comfortable. At the other end of the spectrum, the firm (8) feel cushions very little and feels exceptionally supportive. Our back and stomach sleepers weighing at least 130 pounds preferred this model. Those seeking a balance of conforming and stability should consider the medium firm (6), which earned favorable ratings from our testers across different weight and position groups.

All three Saatva Classic models performed well during our edge support and ease of movement tests. The dual-coil construction ensures a responsive surface that shouldn’t sink or make you feel stuck when getting in and out of bed, and perimeter reinforcement pushes back against your weight when sitting or sleeping along the edges. Both coil layers promote steady air circulation, so the mattress also scored well when we tested it for temperature control.

What It’s Made of

The Saatva Classic features a Euro-top cover cushioned with foam and plush fibers. A memory foam pad located beneath the lower back is intended to support the lumbar region and minimize pain in this area of the body, while transitional minicoils offer extra reinforcement without generating too much motion transfer.

The support core contains sturdy, low-gauge hourglass coils made of recycled steel. You can opt for an 11.5-inch mattress with 4-inch support coils, or a 14.5-inch model with 7-inch coils. We recommend the latter if you need exceptional support to sleep comfortably. A cover made of breathable, GOTS-certified organic cotton encases the entire mattress.

The Classic’s sticker price is reasonable compared to other high-end innersprings and hybrids. Saatva is one of the only online mattress brands to offer free White Glove delivery to all customers in the contiguous U.S. This service includes full setup in a room of your choice, and removal of your old mattress and box spring upon request. All purchases are backed by year-long sleep trials and lifetime warranties.

Birch Luxe

Best Luxury

Birch Luxe

Birch Luxe
Price Range: $1,849 - $3,249
Mattress Type: Hybrid
Firmness: Medium Firm (6)
Trial length: 100 nights (30-night requirement)
Warranty: 25 Year, Limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers who need a mix of pressure relief and support
  • Hot sleepers
  • Shoppers who prioritize organic sourcing
Highlights:
  • Wool and cashmere layers conform moderately to your body
  • Latex, wool, and coils promote natural cooling
  • Certification from GOTS, GREENGUARD Gold, and eco-INSTITUT
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

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

Bottom Line

The Birch Luxe is made with premium materials that offer a comfortable mix of plushness and support. Constructed with organic cashmere to premium latex, this bed epitomizes what a luxury mattress should feel like.

The Birch Luxe is a hybrid mattress made with luxury and comfort in mind. The high-end materials and thoughtful construction cater to shoppers who are willing to spend a bit more money for a comfortable night’s sleep.

How It Performed

The mattress has a medium firm (6) feel, with thick latex and wool layers that conform to your body without excessive “hugging.” This means you’ll feel a nice even mix of cushioning and support. While we found the balanced design well suited to an impressively wide range of sleepers, it was especially comfortable for side sleepers who weigh above 130 pounds as well as back and stomach sleepers between 130 and 230 pounds.

One of the bed’s biggest strengths during our testing was its temperature neutrality. Wool and latex both have natural cooling properties and the coil system enables plenty of airflow, so you can expect excellent cooling from the Birch Luxe. Our testers also found the surface easy to move on, making it ideal for sleepers who don’t enjoy feeling “hugged” by their bed. The certified organic materials ensure this mattress is a great option for shoppers who are looking for eco-friendly models.

What It’s Made of

The Birch Luxe begins with a quilted cotton Euro-top followed by several layers of organic wool, one of which is blended with cashmere. Beneath is a thick latex layer that provides contouring but also generates some bounce. The support core contains a layer of steel coils that is zoned to enhance support to the lumbar region. The perimeter is also reinforced for sturdiness along the edges. The cotton and cashmere hold GOTS certification to guarantee organic sourcing, and the latex has GREENGUARD Gold and eco-INSTITUT certifications to indicate it has been tested for harmful substances.

Birch offers a 100-night sleep trial if you’d like to try out the bed before committing. The mattress also comes with a 25-year warranty. Shipping is free to all 50 states.

Layla Hybrid

Best for Side Sleepers

Layla Hybrid

Layla Hybrid
Price Range: $1,299 - $1,899
Mattress Type: Hybrid
Firmness: Reversible: Medium Soft (4), Firm (7)
Trial length: 120 nights
Warranty: 10 year, Limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers who are unsure of their ideal firmness
  • People who tend to sleep hot
  • Couples
Highlights:
  • Flippable design offers two different firmness options
  • Balance of pressure-relieving memory foam and supportive pocketed coils
  • Airflow through the coils promotes cooling
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Get $220 off + two free pillows!

Bottom Line

The Layla Hybrid is a standout memory foam hybrid with strong supportive coils and excellent contouring. The flippable design is a nice touch, since most people will be able to find a firmness level that feels comfortable.

The Layla Hybrid pairs copper-infused memory foam and high-density polyfoam with a support core of pocketed coils. The mattress is flippable, with different firmness levels on each side. We found this design excelled at relieving pressure for side sleepers, while also sleeping cool and providing adequate support.

How It Performed

The dual-sided construction offers two different mattress firmnesses, so the Layla Hybrid was a great option for most of the testers on our team. We noticed the medium soft (4) side was best suited to sleepers who weigh less than 130 pounds while the firm (7) side was a better option for sleepers who weigh at least 130 pounds. The coil springs reinforced the edges and made it relatively easy for our testers to move around on the firm side of the mattress. Although memory foam tends to trap heat, air flows through the coils to help the mattress sleep cool.

What It’s Made of

The medium soft side has a 2.5-inch comfort layer of copper-infused memory foam. The memory foam contours to the body to a moderate extent to provide strong pressure relief, while the copper infusion is meant to combat heat retention. This layer rests on 2 inches of zoned transitional polyfoam that provides varying amounts of support to different areas of the body. In contrast, the firm side has a thinner layer of memory foam over 1.5 inches of zoned polyfoam. The mattress is encased in a breathable cover made of polyester, viscose, and spandex with vinyl handles on the sides for easier flippability. The support core consists of 6-inch pocketed coils between the foam layers.

The Layla Hybrid comes with a 120-night sleep trial and is backed by a 10-year warranty. Shipping is free to the contiguous U.S.

Bear Hybrid

Best for Couples

Bear Hybrid

Bear Hybrid
Price Range: $1,248 - $1,998
Mattress Type: Hybrid
Firmness: Medium Firm (6)
Trial length: 120 nights (30-night break-in period)
Warranty: Lifetime warranty
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Who it's best for:
  • People who weigh up to 230 pounds
  • Hot sleepers
  • Couples
Highlights:
  • Responsive polyfoam layers and reinforced perimeter coils help sleepers move across the surface with ease
  • Celliant-blend cover designed to wick away moisture
  • All orders include a 120-night sleep trial and lifetime warranty
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

30% off sitewide, plus 2 free Cloud Pillows with mattress purchase

Bottom Line

The Bear Hybrid’s Celliant cover is the real deal when it comes to regulating temperature. The temperature control and balanced design make this an ideal “middle ground” bed for couples with different sleep preferences.

Most hybrid models sleep fairly cool, but the Bear Hybrid offers better temperature control than many competitors. The foam and coil design also does a nice job of mixing cushioning and support. The well-rounded construction makes this model an excellent choice for couples looking for a bed that satisfies divergent sleep needs.

How It Performed

During our sleep tests, the Bear Hybrid’s best ratings came from people who weigh up to 230 pounds. In particular, side sleepers weighing 130 to 230 pounds and back and stomach sleepers under 130 pounds found the mattress comfortable and supportive in equal measure. The deep foam layers alleviate pressure and isolate motion well.

The Celliant-blend cover effectively keeps the surface cool by offsetting heat retention from the foam layers. Steady airflow through the coil layer provides additional thermoregulation. Our testers also found the Bear Hybrid easy to move across without sinking or feeling stuck. This can be attributed to a coil system that makes the surface feel responsive and reinforces the perimeter.

What It’s Made of

The Bear Hybrid begins with a layer of adaptive polyfoam quilted into the cover, followed by layers of memory foam and polyfoam. The mattress is medium firm (6), but the foam adapts to the body, creating a plush feel when you get into bed. The memory foam is infused with copper intended to dissipate heat from the surface.

Pocketed coils with reinforced edges and a polyfoam base layer comprise the support core. The cover is made of a proprietary fabric blend that integrates Celliant, a material engineered to wick away moisture to keep you dry at night. The Bear Hybrid measures 14 inches thick, making it a high-profile mattress.

Bear’s 120-night sleep trial gives you ample time to test the Bear Hybrid and decide whether it meets your needs. Should you decide to keep the mattress, you’ll also qualify for a lifetime manufacturer’s warranty. Shipping is free for all orders in the contiguous U.S.

Nolah Evolution 15

Best for Spinal Alignment

Nolah Evolution 15

Nolah Evolution 15
Price Range: $999 - $1,699
Mattress Type: Hybrid
Firmness: Medium (5), Medium Firm (6), Firm (8)
Trial length: 120 nights (30-night requirement)
Warranty: Lifetime, Limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers who have a hard time getting in and out of bed
  • Couples
  • Hot sleepers
Highlights:
  • Three firmness levels suit sleepers across weight and sleeping position groups
  • Polyfoam-quilted Euro-top contours to the body to alleviate pressure buildup in the joints
  • Zoned pocketed coils provide targeted support to the midsection and the mattress perimeter
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Get an additional $30 off the Nolah Evolution Mattress for total savings of $730 with code: SF730OFF

Bottom Line

The Nolah Evolution 15’s deep foam layers and zoned support system help ensure even alignment and fewer aches and pains along the spine. Three firmness levels ranging from medium to firm are available, so you should be able to find at least one design that meets your needs and preferences.

A mattress that promotes spinal alignment can be helpful for anyone who wakes up with pains or sore spots in their shoulders, back, and hips. The Nolah Evolution 15 contains four foam layers to cushion and contour to the body, evenly distributing your weight to improve your alignment, while a zoned coil system pushes back against extra weight from your midsection and significantly reduces sinkage.

How It Performed

We tested all three of the Evolution 15’s firmness levels. The medium (5) design conforms closely, and we found it best suited to side sleepers — especially those weighing up to 230 pounds. Our back and stomach sleepers under 130 pounds felt comfortable on this design, but also gave favorable ratings to the medium firm (6) feel. For the firm (8) model, our testers weighing more than 230 pounds received adequate support and didn’t sink too much.

The Evolution 15 utilizes open-cell foam layers engineered to promote circulation and breathability. As a result, our temperature control tests showed very little heat buildup. The zoned coils also allowed the mattress to perform well during our tests for edge support and ease of movement. The two firmest models were particularly strong in these categories.

What It’s Made of

Four foam layers make up the Evolution 15’s comfort system, the topmost of which is encased in a Euro-top cover. These layers are progressively denser from top to bottom, so you’ll feel plush cushioning when you get into bed while the underlying foams keep your body on an even plane.

The zoned support core features thicker coils along the perimeter and beneath your chest and hips. This facilitates movement across the surface, and also helps ensure you’ll feel extra pushback around heavier areas of the body. The entire mattress is encased in a cover made of proprietary ArcticTex fabric that feels cool to the touch.

Nolah offers free ground shipping within the contiguous U.S. Each Evolution 15 purchase includes a 120-night sleep trial, but you can opt out of the trial period and reduce your up-front costs by as much as $150. A lifetime warranty against structural defects backs each mattress. For additional coverage, you can purchase an accident protection plan that covers stains and other types of physical damage not included in the standard warranty.

Plank Firm Luxe

Best for Back & Stomach Sleepers

Plank Firm Luxe

Plank Firm Luxe
Price Range: $974 - $1,874
Mattress Type: Hybrid
Firmness: Firm (7), Extra Firm (9)
Trial length: 120 nights (30-night requirement)
Warranty: 10 Year, Limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, Short Queen, Olympic Queen, King, Short King, RV King, California King, Split California King
Who it's best for:
  • People who weigh more than 230 pounds
  • Hot sleepers
  • Value seekers
Highlights:
  • Flippable design features firm and extra-firm surfaces
  • Optional phase change panel provides exceptional cooling
  • Excellent edge support
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

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

Bottom Line

The flippable Plank Luxe Hybrid specifically caters to people who need firm surfaces to sleep comfortably, including back and stomach sleepers. Two highly supportive surfaces and a robust coil system make the mattress particularly well-suited to sleepers who weigh more than 230 pounds.

Many mattress brands advertise their beds as “soft” or “plush,” but the fact is some back and stomach sleepers benefit from less cushioning and a firmer feel from their sleep surface. These individuals are great candidates for the reversible Plank Luxe Hybrid, which features a firm (7) feel on one side and an extra firm (9) feel on the other. The latter is one of the firmest surfaces we’ve tested in our lab, and should be suitable for anyone who has found other foam hybrids too soft.

How It Performed

Due to the Plank Luxe Hybrid’s exceptionally firm design, the mattress earned its most favorable ratings from back and stomach sleepers weighing 130 to 230 pounds. The majority of our testers preferred the firm side, but some of our back and stomach sleepers found the extra firm surface provided better overall support.

As is often the case with firmer mattresses, the Plank Luxe Hybrid performed exceptionally well during our edge support and ease of movement tests. The mattress also sleeps quite cool thanks to consistent airflow through the coil layer. You can opt for a phase change panel on each side if you tend to overheat in bed or sweat in your sleep.

What It’s Made of

The Plank Luxe Hybrid’s firm side features a layer of quilting material, followed by latex-like TitanFlex foam and high-density polyfoam. These materials provide a small measure of cushioning without sacrificing firmness or support. The extra firm side does not contain any TitanFlex and the polyfoam layer is thinner, creating a surface that cushions very little. A shared support core of pocketed coils rests between the comfort systems.

In addition to the standard model, you can order phase change panels to be sewn into both sleep surfaces of the mattress. Phase change material is engineered to dissipate body heat on contact and maintain a cool, comfortable surface at all times. Note that adding these panels will increase the sticker price by up to $200.

The Plank Luxe Hybrid is reasonably priced compared to other hybrid models and ground shipping is free within the contiguous U.S. The mattress is available in 12 different sizes. These include standard mattress dimensions, as well as a split California king for couples with adjustable beds and several RV-friendly options. You’ll receive a 120-night sleep trial with your purchase, and a 10-year warranty against structural defects should you decide to keep the mattress.

Level Sleep Mattress

Best Pressure Relief

Level Sleep Mattress

Level Sleep Mattress
Price Range: $799 - $1399
Mattress Type: Foam
Firmness: Soft (3), Medium (5), Firm (7)
Trial length: 365 nights
Warranty: Lifetime, Limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Who it's best for:
  • Side and back sleepers
  • Couples
  • People who experience sharp pains or pressure points along their spines
Highlights:
  • Zoned transitional layer provides targeted support
  • Great motion isolation for couples
  • 365-night sleep trial
Sleep Foundation Exclusive Offer!

Take 20% off any order over $100. Use Code: SF20

Bottom Line

The Level Sleep Mattress targets upper and lower back pain with a zoned design that delivers extra support to the midsection. The mattress is also a good choice for people who feel sharp pressure points anywhere along their spine.

Many mattresses provide back pain relief, but the Level Sleep Mattress is one of the only available models that is specifically created with this purpose in mind. A three-zone design provides enhanced support for the torso and lumbar region while gently cradling the head and reinforcing the hips. The result is a mattress that maintains an even sleep surface from head to toe, reducing pressure in the process.

How It Performed

The mattress’ “Tri-Support” construction features a soft (3) feel for the head and shoulders, a firm (7) feel for the midsection, and a medium (5) feel for the hips and legs. As such, Level Sleep earned favorable ratings from our side and back sleepers weighing up to 230 pounds. Stomach sleepers under 130 pounds also felt comfortable during our tests. We detected very little buildup when testing the mattress for pressure relief, as well.

Other strong performance areas for Level Sleep include motion isolation for couples, consistent cooling, and above-average edge support. The all-polyfoam design creates more responsiveness compared to beds with memory foam layers, so our testers encountered minimal resistance when moving across the surface.

What It’s Made of

The Level Sleep Mattress consists of three polyfoam layers. The topmost layer is fairly adaptive, while the underlying layers are denser and more supportive. Since the transitional layer is divided into three firmness zones, your upper and lower back shouldn’t sink too deeply into the mattress. A breathable poly-rayon cover encases the foam layers.

The Level Sleep Mattress is competitively priced and customers in the contiguous U.S. enjoy complimentary ground shipping. Your order includes a generous sleep trial that runs for an entire year, and the mattress is backed by a lifetime warranty for added peace of mind.

Why You Can Trust Us

At Sleep Foundation, we’ve personally tested hundreds of mattress models to bring you the top picks listed above. Our expert team includes product testers that represent a wide range of body types, sleep positions, and comfort preferences. After thorough hands-on testing, we consider these selections to be the best of the bunch.

How We Evaluated These Mattresses

To evaluate mattresses for back pain relief, we ask our testers to lie down on each mattress. Ideally, a mattress should contour to the body while maintaining even support, so we measure how deeply the mattress sinks beneath the tester’s weight. We also use body-mapping sensors to pinpoint locations where painful pressure points are likely to occur. Although we relied on feedback from all of our testers, we focused on those who have a history of upper and/or lower back pain.

To learn more about our mattress evaluation process, check out our product research methodology below:

  • Motion Isolation: This criteria alludes to the amount of motion a mattress absorbs when a sleeper moves on the surface. We use two testers lying side by side to evaluate motion isolation, who each feel for transfer while the other person moves on the mattress.
  • Temperature Control: To determine how well a mattress regulates temperature, we perform temperature tests and look closely at its materials and construction. Many mattresses are designed with cooling components meant to reduce heat retention.
  • Pressure Relief: A bed with strong pressure relief excels at preventing pressure from building up in areas like your shoulders and hips. Beds with even contouring and weight distribution are top performers when it comes to pressure relief.
  • Off-Gassing: A mattress in a box may release unpleasant off-gassing odors for a short period after you’ve unboxed it. The initial smell may be strong but typically fades within 2 or 3 days.
  • Ease of Movement: This criteria reflects how easily you can move across a bed’s surface. Responsive surfaces made of latex typically perform better than foam surfaces, which can inhibit movement.
  • Edge Support: We perform sit tests along a bed’s perimeter to measure how well the edges push back against weight. Mattresses with strong edge support have minimal sagging when sleepers sit on or lie close to the perimeter.
  • Sex: For this criteria, we evaluate the suitability of a mattress for sex. While this is a matter of personal preference, responsive surfaces are typically more conducive to sexual activity than mattresses that inhibit movement.
  • Body Weight: Individual body weight is a factor in every mattress evaluation our testers perform. We routinely assess how comfortable a given mattress will feel for many different body types.

How Back Pain Affects Sleep

Back pain is a widespread problem that affects an estimated 80% of adults at one time or another. It can make all types of daily activities difficult including walking, working, sitting, and lifting even lightweight items. Unfortunately, we know that back pain complicates sleep as well, making it hard to find a comfortable position to fall asleep and keep sleeping soundly through the night.

Research studies have found that over half of people with lower back pain report sleeping problems. These negative impacts on sleep arise in people who have both sudden and short-term (acute) back pain and those who have long-term, persistent (chronic) back pain.

People with pain tend to have fragmented sleep that occurs from waking up during the night. Upon waking up, getting back to sleep can be difficult because of ongoing aches and discomfort. Pain can also contribute to stress, depression, and anxiety, all of which can be detrimental to quality sleep.

People with back pain can take a number of steps to try to feel and sleep better. Getting medical help for serious back problems can help reduce pain. Treatments depend on the cause and nature of your symptoms, and can range from surgery to physical therapy to pain-relieving medications.

Smaller changes can contribute to pain reduction as well. Taking care when lifting, sitting with proper posture, and avoiding unnatural movements can reduce aggravation of back pain. Based on our product research, we’ve found that having a mattress that keeps the body aligned can reduce stress on the spine and facilitate better sleep.

Types of Back Pain

Back pain can present in many different ways and for a wide variety of reasons. To help classify back pain, it is normally described as either acute or chronic.

Acute back pain comes on rapidly and is often a sharp, intense pain. In many cases, acute back pain is directly tied to a specific event such as a fall, an awkward twist of the body, or lifting a heavy object. It is pain that normally comes from an injury to your muscles and/or ligaments.

Chronic back pain lasts for three months or longer and persists despite your attempts to remedy it. It can involve sharp pain but may occur as stiffness or a dull soreness. Sometimes it can be connected to a prior injury, but often has no clear or immediate cause.

Another way you can distinguish between types of back pain is focusing on which part of the back is affected.

  • Lower back pain

    Lower back pain is by far the most common type of back pain. It affects the lumbar region, which includes the lowest five vertebrae (L1-L5) of the spine. Pain in this area is the second most common reason — after only cold- and flu-like symptoms — why people visit their doctor.

    Lower back pain can be tied to basic muscle strain or more complicated issues affecting the nerves, organs, and vertebrae. Examples of possible causes include compression fractures, ruptured or herniated disks, and narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis).

    The lower back has more curvature and range of motion than other parts of the back, and this makes it more susceptible to injury related to movement and posture, including positioning during sleep. If a mattress offers insufficient support, the lower back may twist or bend in an unnatural way. For example, we’ve found that if the bed is too soft or is worn out, the hips, which carry more weight, may sink deeply into the mattress and out of alignment with your lumbar area. A misaligned position held for an extended period during the night can directly contribute to back pain.

    Our research and hands-on testing has shown medium firm mattresses reduce lower back pain for most people because they provide more cushioning than firm mattresses without feeling too soft. A medium firm memory foam mattress provides extra contouring to alleviate pain in your lower back and hips.

  • Mid back pain

    Middle back pain is much less common than lower back pain. The middle back is generally identified as above the lumbar spine but below the rib cage. The anatomy in this area is designed to promote stability over flexibility, reducing the propensity for movement-based injury compared to your lower back.

    Even though mid-back pain is less common, it can still occur as a result of numerous conditions. Nerve compression, damage to discs, fractures, and muscle or ligament injury can occur in this region. Middle back pain can also be caused by serious underlying problems, like tumors or organ problems, making it important to get it reviewed by a doctor, especially if it occurs alongside other unexplained symptoms.

    Stiffness and aching in your mid-back can arise because of poor posture and lack of spinal support. Because of the amount of time spent in the lying position during sleep, these alignment issues can often be connected to a mattress that does not adequately support your body and cushion your pressure points.

  • Upper back pain

    Upper back pain is less common than lower back pain but occurs more frequently than middle back pain. It affects the thoracic region, which runs from the bottom of your rib cage up to the lower neck and involves the 12 vertebrae that connect to the ribs. As with middle back pain, the reduced flexibility of your bones and muscles in this region make movement-based strains less common than in the lower back.

    Upper back pain can occur for similar reasons as the mid-back — nerve, disc, muscle, ligament, or vertebrae problems — but there is a greater likelihood that this pain is connected to a potentially serious health issue. Pain in the upper back and shoulders can also come about because of awkward or unsupportive body positioning. If a pillow is not the right height or if a mattress doesn’t properly accommodate the shoulders, it may place undue pressure on the anatomy of the thoracic region, heightening the risk of upper back pain.

  • Neck pain

    Neck pain can occur due to different reasons. Many people develop strains and sore spots due to less-than-optimal posture, which can be especially problematic for people who sit at a desk for their jobs. As with back pain, issues with your vertebrae – such as disc issues – can also lead to neck pain. Another important consideration is the pillow you use. Our product tests reveal time and time again that, in order to reduce aches and pains, a pillow should provide enough support and loft to keep your neck aligned with the spine and hips. Other factors at play include age, physical activity level, and previous injuries with lingering effects.

Regardless of whether back pain has started suddenly or has been a long-term issue, people experiencing it should make sure to get checked out by a doctor. Not only can a physician help try to relieve pain, they can conduct a full diagnostic process to determine if back pain is being caused by a more serious underlying health issue.

Can Sleeping Position Affect Back Pain?

Sleeping position can have a direct effect on back pain. Each sleeping position creates a unique set of pressure points and areas that need cushioning, and this is why our testers believe having the right mattress to suit your sleeping position is an important part of preventing and reducing back pain.

Back sleepers tend to have their most serious pressure points around the lumbar area. Our pressure tests on various mattresses have shown that if a mattress is too soft, the weight of the abdomen will cause this region to sink out of alignment with the rest of the back and hips. If the mattress is too hard, it won’t accommodate the natural curvature of the spine in the lumbar area. For this reason, a medium-firm to firm mattress usually works best for back sleepers.

Side sleepers have high-impact areas where the body is the widest, notably at the shoulders and hips. A mattress needs to be contouring enough to cushion those pressure points but not so soft as to let you sink too deeply into the bed and out of line with the rest of the body. Most side sleepers on our test team get the best results from a medium soft to medium firm mattress.

Stomach sleepers have pronounced pressure points in the lumbar area and around the neck. If their pillow is too tall, it can put excess bend in the neck and upper back. If the mattress is soft, the pelvic area can dip too far, putting the body in a U shape that stresses the spine as well as the muscles and ligaments in the lower back. As a result, stomach sleepers on our team tend to have less back pain if they use a thin pillow and have a firm mattress.

Body weight is an important factor to consider along with sleeping position. As we’ve learned firsthand from our hands-on sleep lab research, people who weigh more will sink further into a mattress, exacerbating the risks in all sleeping positions of the heavier parts of the body becoming misaligned. Sleepers of above-average body weight (over 230 pounds) typically need a firmer mattress than someone of average weight who sleeps in the same position.

Similarly, people who weigh under 130 pounds are less prone to sinking into the bed, and can sleep on a softer, more contouring mattress without the same risks of the body sagging out of alignment. In fact, to get the support that they need, lighter-weight sleepers generally need a softer mattress than an average-weight sleeper in the same sleeping position.

Sleeping Position Video

For more information about how side sleeping and other positions affect your sleep, check out the video below.

Can a Mattress Cause Back Pain?

A mattress can definitely cause back pain because it plays such an important role in how your body is positioned through the night. Most people know that posture is important but only think about their posture in the context of standing and sitting. This can cause you to overlook the importance of having a mattress that is the proper fit for them based on their body shape, weight, and sleeping position.

If your spine and joints aren’t aligned and cushioned during sleep, they won’t be able to relax. Instead of recovering, the body will be strained, exacerbating pre-existing back issues and sowing the seeds for new ones. The easiest way to know whether a mattress is a contributing factor to back pain is if the pain tends to be the most pronounced in the morning when you wake up. If the pain is the worst when you get out of bed and subsides during the day, we recommend taking a close look at whether your mattress is playing a part in your aches and pains.

Which Type of Mattress is Best for Back Pain?

A key step in choosing a mattress is deciding which mattress type is most likely to work for you. Virtually all mattresses on the market today can be broken into five types based on their construction and materials.

Within each category, you can find consistent features; however, we know there can be notable variation from one brand or model to the next. Some types allow for a greater diversity of designs, which leads to a wider variation in the expected feel and performance of any specific mattress.

Hybrid

Definition: Hybrids are constructed with a support core supplemented by a significant comfort system that may include layers of foam, latex, microcoils, cotton or fiber fill, down, and/or wool. The comfort layers on a hybrid are much more robust than those of an innerspring mattress.

Highlight: Balanced Features. Hybrids try to capture the best of multiple bed types without suffering from their downsides. For example, we’ve found that hybrids tend to offer moderate to significant contouring that aids in pressure point relief, while their coils permit excellent ventilation, making temperature regulation a plus on most hybrid beds.

Innerspring

Definition: An innerspring mattress is composed almost entirely of metal coils. There may be a thin layer of cotton, polyester, or foam above the coils, but we generally find that this layer does not significantly change the mattress performance. Historically, innersprings were the most common mattresses, but their popularity has declined considerably as foam, latex, and hybrid models have gained steam.

Highlight: Inexpensive and Customizable. A benefit to innersprings is that they are among the most inexpensive options that you can find. One option we recommend is to use the money saved to customize the bed’s feel with a mattress topper.

Latex

Definition: Latex mattresses have an interior construction made completely with latex, which is a type of rubber. Most mattresses use natural latex from trees, but synthetic or blended latex is used occasionally. The comfort layers and support core may employ different types of formulations of latex.

Highlight: Supportive Contouring. We’ve tested numerous latex beds, and most of them have moderate contouring effects. This allows the bed to cushion the body without an excessive amount of sink.

Airbed

Definition: Airbeds feature a support core of inflatable chambers. Sleepers can use a remote or smartphone app to control a pump that can add or remove air from the chambers, adjusting firmness in real time. There may be other materials, including foam, latex, cotton, polyester, or wool, layered as a comfort system above the support core.

Highlight: Adjustable Firmness. Our test team believes the primary benefit of airbeds is their adjustability. Being able to quickly modify the firmness of the bed can be a huge plus for people with back pain because it lets them get “dialed in” depending on the nature of their pain and posture at that exact point in time.

Foam

Definition: Foam is layered to create both the support core and comfort system of an all-foam mattress. Memory foam is a popular material in foam mattresses as is polyurethane foam (polyfoam), which can be manufactured to have a range of distinct characteristics. Latex may be included among the layers, but no coils are used in a foam mattress.

Highlight: Deep Contouring. Memory foam tends to offer the highest degree of hug. This allows these mattresses to deliver proportional cushioning to the areas of the body that need it most. Side sleepers on our test team can attest that foam is especially useful for cushioning sharp impact points like shoulders and hips.

How to Get Relief on a Budget

When you’re struggling with back pain, you may feel like you’re willing to give anything to get relief, but the realities of your budget can mean that you have to think about the impact of any mattress purchase on your bottom line. The good news is that there are multiple wallet-friendly ways to improve your bed, enhance your sleep, and give your back a rest.

Consider Buying a Mattress Online

infographic of reasons why people buy new mattresses

infographic of reasons why people buy new mattresses

A great way to score a deal on a new mattress is to buy online. While it might seem like a strange concept if you’re used to going to a brick-and-mortar store, we’ve found that buying online offers some huge advantages.

Most online mattresses are sold directly by the manufacturer. Eliminating the middle-man and the need for showroom space means lower prices, and the growing competition between retail and online storefronts has only generated more deals for shoppers.

But the benefits go beyond just price. Shopping online is convenient, allowing you to browse options from the comfort of your own home and without any salespeople eagerly pushing a sale to earn a commission. Having the time to research each mattress and compare it to others is a major contrast to the brick-and-mortar experience where you’re limited to just what’s available in that store.

When buying online you don’t have the ability to feel out a mattress before purchasing, but almost every mattress we test offers a sleep trial with no-hassle returns, including a full refund if you try out the mattress and don’t like it. This gives you a no-risk opportunity to try out a mattress for weeks or months in your own bedroom as opposed to for just a few minutes in a store. Over the longer-term, virtually all online mattresses come with a warranty of at least 10 years to protect against future problems, which are rare in mattresses sold both online and in-store.

Most beds we evaluate come with free shipping within the contiguous U.S., with the mattress being delivered as a “mattress in a box.” To do this, the mattress is compressed and sealed in plastic. When you remove it from its packaging, it regains its full size within a matter of hours. This serves as a convenient way of getting the mattress set up in your bedroom without having to coordinate with a delivery team.

Our test team comes across a wide range of styles and price-points, allowing every customer to find the right fit for their preferences and budget. These mattresses are typically reliable and made with the same quality of materials as mattresses sold in stores. Many of the big, well-known mattress brands have even come into the fold and launched products to be sold online.

Another benefit is that customers have a wealth of useful resources to help guide their decision. In the past, getting details about the performance of mattresses sold in retail stores was a challenge. Online, though, you will find helpful sites, including ours, offering reviews and detailed explanations of what you can expect from any specific brand or model. Many sites also have coupons to help you get the best price.

While it can seem like a leap to buy a mattress online for the first time, thousands of customers have already been won over to this exciting approach to finding a high-quality mattress at a great price.

Mattress Toppers

If you’re looking for a way to change up the feel of your bed without breaking the bank, we recommend a mattress topper. Instead of replacing your whole mattress, a topper lets you place a fresh layer above your existing mattress.

Most mattress toppers we’ve tested measure 1 to 3 inches thick. They can be made of memory foam, polyfoam, latex, cotton, polyester, down, or a mix of materials. We’ve found that memory foam is one of the most popular types of toppers, providing an opportunity to try out this material without committing to a completely new bed.

A major benefit of a topper is that you can take advantage of a new comfort system that fits your needs. This may include a change in the firmness and/or the contouring to cushion your pressure points. For people with back pain, the difference can be notable and serve as a meaningful step toward better sleep.

At the same time, it’s important to remember that any topper comes with potential downsides. Every material has pros and cons, and those will be reflected in a topper. Our sleep lab has tested a fair amount of toppers, and we’ve noticed that most sleepers above 130 pounds need a topper that is at least 2 inches thick, and higher-quality versions can cost a few hundred dollars.

Toppers also won’t offer the same level of overall performance as a full mattress. Remember that a mattress is built with multiple layers designed to work together. With a topper, that element of coordinated design doesn’t apply, so they may not capture the full benefit of a material such as memory foam.

A topper may wear out over a shorter period of time, especially if it’s thinner, made with lower quality materials, or if you weigh over 230 pounds.

Last, a topper can’t make a deteriorating mattress feel “like new.” If your existing mattress is already sagging, a topper will end up sagging, too. For this reason, a topper is the best bet when you need to adjust the feel or support of your existing mattress, not when your existing mattress has started to give out.

Try Changing Up Your Sleeping Position

Changing your sleeping position is one way to try to get back pain relief.

If you are a back or stomach sleeper with a soft mattress and you don’t have the budget for a new bed, you can try switching to a side sleeping position that will receive more support from your existing mattress. In general, experts recommend that stomach sleepers try to adjust to side or back sleeping because it’s easier to get appropriate support in those positions.

For people with acute pain, temporary changes to your sleeping position may help to reduce stress on already sore or achy parts of your back. For example, people with lumbar pain might try a period of side sleeping to avoid the excess bending of that area that can happen on your stomach or back.

While changing sleeping positions is worth a shot, it’s often not a long-term solution because the change can be hard to stick with. Some people just can’t get comfortable in a different position or they may quickly revert back to their old sleeping position during the night. In these cases, other approaches are more likely to be beneficial over the medium- to long-term.

Additional Sleeping Accessories for Sleepers With Back Pain

Besides a mattress, our product research has turned up other accessories that can play a part in making your bed conducive to quality, pain-free sleep. Upgrading your pillows and your bed base can be done as a lower-cost way of improving your sleeping surface, or you can purchase these along with a new mattress as part of a complete overhaul.

Pillows

Pillows play an important role in preventing and reducing back and neck pain. We’ve evaluated hundreds of pillows and found that models that provide proper support to the neck can improve spinal alignment because the spine extends into the neck (known as the cervical spine). In addition to supporting the head, pillows can be strategically placed to provide cushioning and comfort to other parts of the body.

Numerous factors affect which is the best pillow to best help an individual fight neck and back pain. The amount of loft of your pillow should fit your personal preference and body shape. The right loft level is also largely determined by the firmness of your mattress and your sleeping position, as outlined in the following tables.

Sleeping Position Pillow Loft Recommended
Back Medium
Side Medium or High
Stomach Low

Mattress Firmness Pillow Loft Recommended
Soft – Medium Soft Low
Medium Medium
Medium Firm – Firm High

To reduce back pain, pillows can be used to support other parts of the body besides just the head and neck.

  • Side sleepers may find it helpful to put a pillow between their knees, especially if they draw their legs up toward their chest. Our testers have noticed that using a pillow in this way can reduce pressure on the hips and lumbar area. A full-length body pillow can be used to prevent twisting through the lower back.
  • Back sleepers can benefit from a low-to-medium loft pillow placed beneath the knees, which can aid in maintaining a more natural bend in the lower back.
  • Stomach sleepers may get pain relief by placing a thin pillow below the pelvis to hedge against excess pressure or sinking of the lumbar area. Some stomach sleepers on our team use no pillow at all for their head or may rest only their forehead on a very thin pillow.

Bed Platforms and Bases

The base of the bed can contribute to a supportive overall sleeping surface for people with back pain.

Some people opt for an adjustable bed, which allows for the upper and lower body to be raised at various angles. Many adjustable bed frames we’ve tested also include a heat or massage feature that can be a nice bonus for people with back pain.

The optimal position for any sleeper on an adjustable base will depend on the type of back pain that they have and their sleeping position. Back sleepers, for example, frequently find that a slight elevation of the torso and legs helps take pressure off of the lower back. It is essential to ensure that your mattress is compatible with an adjustable bed before purchasing and setting one up.

Even customers who don’t want an adjustable bed should take care in choosing the foundation, platform, or base for their mattress. Most manufacturers list recommended characteristics of the base, including distance between any slats of a bed frame. Following these guidelines keeps the mattress in good condition and avoids premature sagging. Using an approved base may be necessary to maintain the validity of the mattress warranty as well.

Mattress Features To Look For to Relieve Back Pain

When shopping for a mattress to help relieve back pain, some features are more important than others. With so many products and a bevy of marketing hype, it can be tough to parse out what really matters. Based on our extensive experience testing mattresses, we believe that you’re most likely to get the most satisfaction out of your purchase by focusing on certain key considerations:

  • Mattress Type: The materials and design will play a huge role in the performance of a mattress. The contouring, bounce, firmness, temperature regulation, and motion isolation of a mattress will be different for each mattress type, so it is critical for shoppers to think about their priorities and choose a mattress with components that will best meet their needs.
  • Zoned Support: Weight from the body is not distributed evenly; instead, certain areas tend to require more cushioning. A zoned mattress takes that into account and offers reinforced support in those areas.
  • Quality Materials: We’ve found that a mattress made with excellent materials is much more likely to provide the performance, reliability, and durability that people with back pain need.
  • Firmness Level: Firmness is a key driver of mattress comfort and is largely a matter of personal preference. At the same time, the right firmness level can play a big part in whether a mattress offers sufficient support, and that will depend significantly on your body weight and sleeping position. We recommend softer mattresses to most people with back problems because they compress more and cushion the body more closely. This is especially true for those experiencing back pain who weigh less than 130 pounds. Heavier individuals may prefer a firmer mattress that provides more support.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What mattress types are best for sleepers with back pain?

    We believe that the best bed for someone with back pain is one that is suited to their body type and preferred sleeping position. Back pain-friendly models are available in all mattress types, but most of our testers agree that hybrid mattresses offer the best combination of support and pressure relief.

    Pocketed coils tend to allow for better spinal alignment than innerspring or foam support cores, particularly if the coils are ergonomically zoned. Meanwhile, a hybrid’s comfort system — usually made from synthetic foam or latex — provides the pressure relief and contouring required to release tension and avoid pressure points. Individual mattresses, of course, can be better or worse for back pain regardless of their construction type.

  • Is a firm or soft mattress better for back pain?

    Many people believe that a firm mattress is best for back pain, but our testers have found that people with back pain should — like all sleepers — choose a mattress firmness that suits their weight and is neither too soft nor too firm. We found that people who weigh under 130 pounds tend to require medium soft or even soft mattresses, while firm or medium firm mattresses typically alleviate back pain for those who weigh above 230 pounds.

    Despite the difference in objective firmness, the subjective feel should be quite similar thanks to the way mattresses compress beneath weight. The right mattress will feel firm enough to offer support while soft enough to prevent aches or pains. We recommend a softer mattress if you routinely wake up with back pain on a firm mattress — the sleep surface may be too firm to cushion sensitive areas of your back.

  • What sleeping position is best for lower back pain?

    People with lower back pain often find the most relief when sleeping on their side with their knees partially bent. Placing a pillow between your knees can also make this position more comfortable so long as the pillow is the right size to promote correct spinal and hip alignment. Pillows placed beneath the knees or at the small of the back can also help people who prefer to sleep on their back. Stomach sleepers on our team find relief by using a thin pillow for their head and a more supportive pillow beneath their stomach and hips.

    You may have to experiment with different pillows before finding what works for you, as the wrong size or shape of pillow can sometimes worsen the situation. For many people, particularly those who sleep on their stomach, switching sleeping positions offers better results than any combination of pillows.

  • What sleeping position is best for upper back pain?

    If you live with upper back pain, it is best to sleep on your side or back since sleeping on your stomach causes significant tension in the shoulders and neck. Side sleepers may also experience upper back and shoulder pain if their mattress has inadequate pressure relief, since the position can cramp these areas and create pressure points and tension where your shoulder presses into the bed.

    Regardless of your sleep position, we’ve found that choosing the best pillow is also an essential factor in relieving upper back and shoulder pain.

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.

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.