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author

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Jenny Iyo

Written by

Lauren Fountain

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Sleep is a key time for the body to recover and refresh, but for too many people, time spent in bed is plagued by back pain. People with serious back pain may find it hard to get quality sleep, and sleeping in an unsupported position can lead to morning back aches.

Having the right mattress can help on both counts. For people who already suffer from back problems, a quality mattress can often bring meaningful relief and allow them to get deeper, more restorative sleep. For everyone else, a mattress that promotes spinal alignment can help prevent back pain from starting in the first place.

Often, though, finding that ideal mattress in a sea of top-rated mattresses seems easier said than done. With hundreds of products on the market, choosing a new mattress can feel overwhelming. Our guide to the best mattresses for back pain makes the process simple. We list our top picks for supportive mattresses and explain the science behind back pain, sleep, and how your mattress can help with both.

The Best Mattresses For Upper and Lower Back Pain

Product Details

Helix Luxe Mattress

Helix Luxe Mattress
Mattress Type:
Hybrid
Firmness:
Soft (3), Medium Firm (6), Firm (7)
Helix Luxe Mattress
Highlights:
  • Wide range of hybrid mattresses to suit a wide range of sleepers
  • Breathable Tencel cover and cushioning pillow top
  • Pocketed coils offer airflow, bounce, and edge support
Who it's best for:
  • Those who are unsure what firmness is best for them
  • Sleepers of all sizes and sleeping positions
  • Those who tend to sleep hot

Helix Sleep offers a range of hybrid mattresses in different firmness to suit sleepers of all weights and sleeping preferences. For those who are unsure what firmness would provide the best combination of pressure relief and support, the company offers an interactive quiz on their website that can help narrow down your options based on personal factors.

Helix has developed a line of upgraded versions of their base models, known as the Luxe mattresses. These Luxe beds have several improvements and add-ons compared to the original lineup.

Each Luxe bed has a cover made from Tencel, which is a durable, moisture-wicking fabric known for its temperature regulating capabilities and silky smooth feel. The cover encases an added pillow top as well as 2 extra inches of a comfort material that varies depending on the model. Lastly, the Luxe mattresses all feature zoned lumbar support to provide added contouring and reinforcement to the areas that need it most.

The Sunset (soft), Midnight (medium), and Twilight (firm) models all feature memory foam comfort layers, polyfoam transitional layers, and pocketed coil support cores. This construction provides close contouring and pressure relief and helps improve spinal alignment for side sleepers.

The Moonlight (soft), Dusk (medium), and Dawn (firm) models instead feature comfort layers made of Helix Dynamic Foam, which is a proprietary polyfoam with a more responsive feel. Otherwise, their construction mimics that of the other models, with polyfoam transitional layers over pocketed coil support cores, lending the mattresses bounce, airflow, and sturdy edge support.

Helix Luxe mattresses ship for free to all 50 states. They are backed by a 100-night sleep trial as well as a 15-year warranty.

Read Our Full Helix Luxe Mattress Review

WinkBed

WinkBed
Mattress Type:
Innerspring
Firmness:
Soft (4), Medium (6), Firm (7), Plus (8)
WinkBed
Highlights:
  • Standout edge support
  • Coil-on-Coil design
  • Zoned pocketed coils in support core
  • Foam pillow top for added cushioning
Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers who value robust edge support
  • People who want a choice of firmness options
  • Sleepers in any position who want moderate contouring with bounce

The WinkBed is an impressive hybrid mattress that serves the needs of back pain sufferers thanks to its coil-on-coil design supplemented by gel-infused polyfoam in its euro-style pillow top.

The support core of the WinkBed is made up of pocketed coils that are arranged in zones to deliver extra support to the heavier parts of the body. Reinforcements around the perimeter give the WinkBed a standout level of edge support that keeps you stable when sleeping or sitting near the edge.

Above this core is a thinner layer of coils that are also individually-wrapped to tailor their compression to the body’s weight. The combination of both sets of coils allows the mattress to cushion pressure points to help with spinal alignment without sacrificing bounce or permitting excessive sink. Added contouring from polyfoam in the pillow top gives an extra touch of support that’s needed for people with back problems.

The WinkBed is available in three firmness options (Medium Soft, Medium Firm, and Firm) plus a separate model, the WinkBed Plus, built for people of above-average body weight. This range of options caters to people in all sleeping positions.

Motion isolation and temperature regulation are both above average, and WinkBeds backs their product with a 120-night sleep trial and a lifetime warranty.

Read Our Full WinkBed Mattress Review

DreamCloud

DreamCloud
Mattress Type:
Hybrid
Firmness:
Medium Firm (6)
DreamCloud
Highlights:

The DreamCloud Mattress is a luxury hybrid with a tall profile, a plush quilted top and tons of support.

Who it's best for:
  • People with back pain
  • Hot sleepers
  • Heavy sleepers
  • People of any sleeping position (back, side, stomach, combination

The DreamCloud Mattress is a luxury hybrid mattress with a plush quilted surface and a medium firm (6) feel. The DreamCloud combines pressure relief and great support to keep the sleeper’s spine aligned and midsection supported, making it a great option for those with back pain.

The quilted top of the DreamCloud consists of a foam fill with a breathable cashmere blend cover. Under this is a comfort layer of gel-infused memory foam, which doesn’t trap as much body heat as conventional foams. Below this is a polyfoam transition layer followed by a support core of individually-wrapped coils.

The DreamCloud is distinguished by its thick profile, which allows it to have both substantial comfort layers and support core. Consequently, the DreamCloud is able to provide a significant amount of pressure relief while being capable of supporting most sleepers regardless of sleeping position or body weight. We also rated the bed well, in temperature control, and ease of movement, making it a great all-around mattress.

Dreamcloud offers an excellent 365-night sleep trial and lifetime limited warranty, and for a luxury hybrid mattress, it comes at a relatively affordable price point.

Read Our Full DreamCloud Mattress Review

Nectar

Nectar
Mattress Type:
Foam
Firmness:
Medium Firm (6)
Nectar
Highlights:
  • Three layers of memory foam offer excellent contouring
  • Medium Firm feel prevents sagging into the bed
  • Budget-friendly price point
Who it's best for:
  • People who want the contouring of memory foam without too much sink or softness
  • Side sleepers of average or above-average weight
  • Back and stomach sleepers who weigh below 230 pounds
  • Shoppers needing a wallet-friendly option without sacrificing quality

The Nectar mattress can help relieve back pain thanks to its robust comfort system made up of three separate layers of memory foam. While this material compresses to hug the body, Nectar has constructed the foam to avoid concerns that can arise from memory foam being too soft or sleeping too hot.

The top layer of memory foam is one-inch thick and gel-infused to resist heat buildup. It is quilted into a Tencel cover that also promotes breathability.

A second memory foam layer is three inches and made to be slightly firmer and more stable, avoiding the sag found with some memory foam beds. A third layer of memory foam is one-inch thick and gel-infused, adding up to a total of five inches of memory foam for noticeable pressure relief.

With a Medium Firm feel, the the Nectar works well for side sleepers who weigh over 130 pounds as well as back and stomach sleepers who weigh under 230. Nectar has a generous 365-night sleep trial and a customer-friendly lifetime warranty. With a price point that is far below many other mattresses with memory foam comfort layers, it’s a top pick for people with back pain who are shopping on a budget.

Read Our Full Nectar Mattress Review

Idle Hybrid

Idle Hybrid
Mattress Type:
Hybrid
Firmness:
Medium Firm (6), Firm (8)
Idle Hybrid
Highlights:
  • Reversible construction with sleep surfaces on each side
  • Steady airflow to help sleepers stay cool
  • Sturdy pocketed coils offer support and responsiveness
Who it's best for:
  • People with firmness preferences that change from night to night
  • Hot sleepers
  • Shoppers looking for a mattress with an extensive sleep trial

The flippable Idle Hybrid is constructed with a sleep surface on the top and bottom sides. You can choose a medium firm (6) or firm (8) feel for both sides. Customizing the mattress with a different firmness level on each side allows you to flip between two distinct surfaces whenever you want to change the feel, while selecting the same feel for both surfaces can extend the bed’s lifespan if you rotate it regularly.

Both surfaces of this mattress are constructed with comfort layers of adaptive polyfoam that contours to the body without hugging too closely. Denser polyfoam layers reinforce the top layer to prevent excessive sinkage, and a shared support core of pocketed coils provides excellent overall stability for the mattress.

The Idle Hybrid is also well suited to hot sleepers because the coils promote steady airflow throughout the mattress core and maintain a comfortable sleeping temperature. For maximum cooling, we recommend the firm feel because you won’t sink as deeply beneath the surface. The coils also make the surface feel quite responsive, which most couples prefer for sex.

Side sleepers will probably find the medium firm feel more comfortable because it offers more cushioning for the shoulders and hips. Ample padding is crucial for even alignment and less pressure for this position. Back and stomach sleepers may prefer the firm feel instead, especially if they weigh more than 230 pounds.

The Idle Hybrid has a price-point that is slightly below average for a hybrid and Idle ships the mattress for free to all customers in the contiguous U.S. The company’s 18-month sleep trial is one of the longest in the mattress business, and the Idle Hybrid also comes with a lifetime warranty.

Read Our Full Idle Hybrid Mattress Review

Birch Mattress

Birch Mattress
Mattress Type:
Hybrid
Firmness:
Medium Firm (6)
Birch Mattress
Highlights:
  • Eco-friendly design features several natural and organic materials
  • Longer-than-average expected lifespan
  • Sleeps cool and comfortable for most
Who it's best for:
  • Side and back sleepers
  • Sleepers in the average and heavy weight groups
  • Hot sleepers
  • Eco-conscious shoppers

Our best latex hybrid pick is the Birch by Helix, also known as the Birch Mattress. This eco-friendly hybrid is constructed with comfort layers of natural/organic wool and natural Talalay latex, which provide consistent body conforming. These materials also allow the bed to sleep exceptionally cool, since they are highly breathable and can help regulate the sleeper’s body temperature. The pocketed coil support core is reinforced with a layer of organic wool batting, which also helps air circulate through the bed.

The Birch Mattress is medium firm, making it ideal for side and back sleepers who weigh 130 to 230 pounds; it may also be suitable for lighter or heavier individuals who prefer moderate firmness and conforming. The components are sustainably sourced, as well. And because it is built with pocketed coils, the Birch Mattress is less prone to squeaking than innersprings and hybrids made with other coil types.

The Birch Mattress has a below-average price-point compared to other latex hybrids constructed with natural and organic materials. Birch also offers free shipping to all 50 states. The mattress is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a 25-year warranty.

Read Our Full Birch Mattress Review

Saatva

Saatva
Mattress Type:
Innerspring
Firmness:
Soft (2-3), Medium Firm (6), Firm (7-8)
Saatva
Highlights:
  • Choice of two height profiles & three firmness levels
  • Coil-on-Coil construction with extra pillow top support
  • Free white-glove delivery
Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers who want a durable mattress made of high-quality materials
  • 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 who want hassle-free setup and removal of their old mattress

Saatva has established a strong reputation in the online mattress industry for their line of products made with thoughtful designs and quality materials. People struggling with back pain find the Saatva mattress to offer a compelling mix of contouring and springiness because of the double-layer of coils and a foam-filled pillow-top.

The Saatva’s support core is made with thick (13 gauge) Bonnell coils that have a perimeter of high-density foam. This combination forms a solid, stable foundation that works well for higher-weight sleepers and enhances overall edge support.

To offer more conforming, the Saatva has a four-inch layer of individually-wrapped micro-coils. This layer allows the mattress to relieve pressure while upholding the stable feel of the support core. A euro-style pillow top is stuffed with extra foam and a memory foam lumbar pad, a key feature for people with lower back pain.

Saatva offers this mattress in three firmness levels, so people in any position and body weight can find an option that will work for them. The mattress resists excess heat buildup, especially with its breathable organic cotton cover. Customers can also choose between an 11.5” and 14.5” model.

White-glove delivery is included, which means Saatva installs the mattress in your bedroom and will haul-away your old mattress. Customers have 180 nights to test it out, but if you opt to return it, a $99 return shipping fee is deducted from the refund. A 15-year warranty provides protection against defects over the longer-term.

Read Our Full Saatva Mattress Review

Cocoon Chill

Cocoon Chill
Mattress Type:
Foam
Firmness:
Medium Soft (4), Medium Firm (6)
Cocoon Chill
Highlights:

The Cocoon Chill is a pressure relieving memory foam mattress that comes in two firmness options.

Who it's best for:
  • Side and back sleepers
  • Couples
  • People with back or shoulder pain

Sealy has been around since 1881, so they’ve had some time to engineer a bed that relieves pressure in the back to alleviate pain. The Cocoon Chill, an all-foam mattress with two firmness options, is just that bed. Conforming closely to the sleepers body and coming in both medium soft (4 out of 10) and medium firm (6) options, the Chill is great for relieving back pain among sleepers of most positions and weights.

The cover of the Chill is made from a polyester-cotton blend infused with phase-change material (PCM). This innovative fabric is designed to absorb body heat from the sleeper and release it away from the mattress. Since memory foam tends to trap a lot of body heat throughout the night, this is an especially useful feature of the all-foam Cocoon Chill.

The comfort layer is made of memory foam, which conforms around the shoulders and back to ease pressure points, preventing and alleviating back pain. Under this is a polyfoam transition layer followed by a high-density polyfoam support core.

The Cocoon Chill performs extremely well in both pressure relief and motion isolation, making it a top pick among people with chronic pain as well as couples. We recommend the medium soft option for side and back sleepers under 130 pounds, and the medium firm option for everyone else.

The price of the Chill is pretty standard relative to other memory foam beds. Sealy offers a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty, and ships free to the contiguous US.

Read Our Full Cocoon Chill Mattress Review

PlushBeds Natural Bliss

PlushBeds Natural Bliss
Mattress Type:
Latex
Firmness:
Soft (3), Medium (5), Medium Firm (6), Firm (7-8)
PlushBeds Natural Bliss
Highlights:
  • Available in three thickness options and four firmnesses
  • Made with eco-friendly materials
  • Exceptional durability backed by a 25 year warranty
Who it's best for:
  • Those who want a choice of firmness levels and thicknesses
  • Eco-conscious shoppers
  • Those who value durability

The PlushBeds Natural Bliss is a very versatile mattress option for those with back pain. It comes in three thicknesses (6 inches, 8 inches, and 10 inches) as well as four firmnesses (soft, medium, medium firm, and firm), which allows the mattress to suit a wide range of sleepers regardless of their weight or preferred sleep position.

The soft and medium options conform closely to alleviate pressure, while the medium firm and firm versions provide less contouring but more support, making them more ideal for heavier sleepers. All versions contain a sturdy Dunlop latex support core and an organic cotton cover. The comfort layer materials vary based on which thickness you select, with Talaylay latex in the comfort layers of all versions other than the 6-inch model, which uses Dunlop latex for both the support core and the comfort layer.

Beyond its versatility, a highlight of the Natural Bliss Mattress is its durability. Latex mattresses tend to last much longer than their foam counterparts, and this model in particular should have a lengthy lifespan due to its high-quality materials. It also produces no noise when bearing weight, which is beneficial for those who share a bed with an easily awakened partner.

PlushBeds offers free delivery within the contiguous United States. Customers have 100 nights to test out the mattress with the option to initiate a return. PlushBeds backs the mattress with a 25-year limited warranty.

Read Our Full PlushBeds Natural Bliss Mattress Review

Parachute Mattress

Parachute Mattress
Mattress Type:
Hybrid
Firmness:
Firm (7)
Parachute Mattress
Highlights:

The Parachute mattress is a luxury innerspring bed with comfort layers consisting of wool batting and three layers of micro-coils.

Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers over 130 pounds
  • Hot sleepers
  • Those who like a form bed that doesn’t conform closely

The Parachute Mattress is an innerspring mattress with a luxurious feel and excellent support. Rather than utilizing foams or latex like most modern mattresses, the Parachute features a modern take on a classic luxury mattress construction.

The Parachute mattress is topped with a cover of organic cotton, which is breathable and soft. The comfort layers consist of a top batting layer of New Zealand wool on top of three tiers of stacked microcoils. This wool batting not only provides cushioning to the surface of the mattress, but wicks away moisture to make the bed sleep cooler. The tiered micro coils are designed to support different parts of the body optimally, and result in a supportive and firm surface that will keep sleepers from sinking too far into the mattress. The support core consists of a zoned pocketed coil system, which also provides targeted support.

Due to its luxury innerspring construction, the Parachute Mattress performs significantly well in temperature control, ease of movement, and edge support. Its firm feel and high degree of support cater particularly well to sleepers over 130 pounds, especially back and stomach sleepers. Lighter side sleepers or those who like close-conforming foam mattresses may not feel as comfortable on the Parachute.

As a luxury mattress, the Parachute is sold at a slightly higher price then most innersprings, but is slightly less expensive than the average luxury mattress. Parachute offers a 100-night sleep trial and a 10 year warranty on their mattress. They also ship for free to the contiguous US.

Read Our Full Parachute Mattress Review

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, 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.

Back pain sufferers can take a number of steps to try to feel and sleep better. Getting medical help for serious back problems may help reduce pain. Treatments depend on the cause and nature of a person’s 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. 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 injury to muscles and/or ligaments.

Chronic back pain lasts for three months or longer and persists despite 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 to distinguish between types of back pain is based upon 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 as well as to 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, 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 the lumbar area. When that or any other misaligned position is held for an extended period during the night, it can be a direct contributor to back pain.

  • Upper and 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 the 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 the 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 the body and cushion a person’s pressure points.

  • 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 the 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 bones and muscles in this region make movement-based strains less common than in the lower back. Pain in this area 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 in the 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.

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 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. 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 them sink too deeply into the bed and out of line with the rest of the body. Most side sleepers get the best results from a Medium 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 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. 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.

Can a Mattress Cause Back Pain?

A mattress can definitely be a cause of back pain because it plays such an important role in how the 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 them 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 the spine and joints aren’t aligned and well-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, there’s a good chance that 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, 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 an innerspring support core that is supplemented by a significant comfort system that may include layers of foam, latex, micro-coils, cotton or fiber fill, down, and/or wool. The comfort layers on a hybrid are much more robust than on an innerspring mattress.

Highlight: Balanced Features. Hybrids try to capture the best of multiple bed types without suffering from their downsides. For example, 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 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. You can use the extra money saved to customize the feel to suit your needs with a mattress topper.

Latex

Definition: In 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. Latex has moderate contouring effects, allowing it 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. 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, which can be especially useful for side sleepers who have sharp impact points.

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

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, the truth is 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 all online retailers provide a sleep trial with no-hassle returns, offering you 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.

Shipping is usually free within the contiguous U.S. with the mattress being delivered as a “bed-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.

Online mattresses come in 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, there are 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

A mattress topper provides another way to change up the feel of your bed without breaking the bank. Instead of replacing your whole mattress, a topper lets you place a fresh layer above your existing mattress.

Most mattress toppers are 1 to 3 inches tall and can be made of memory foam, polyfoam, latex, cotton, polyester, down, or a mix of materials. 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. Most sleepers above 130 pounds need a topper that is at least two 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 the material (like 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 to switch 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, other accessories 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. Pillows 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 pillow can best help any 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. 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 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 also include a heat or massage feature that can be a nice bonus for back pain sufferers.

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. 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: 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 a person’s body weight and sleeping position.