Best Mattresses for Back Pain

Updated September 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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Buying guide for best mattresses for back pain

Last Updated September 2019

Would you be surprised to learn that nearly 80 percent of Americans have reported experiencing an episode of low back pain at least once in their lives? Probably not, because with a statistic that overwhelming you likely fall in the bunch.

Whether it’s a brief stint or a long-term affliction, back pain can be a major source of frustration (discomfort, inability to do everything you want, even missing work or social events). Part of healing your pain has to do with taking advantage of those precious hours of restorative sleep each night, but it’s nearly impossible to comfortably rest when you’re suffering from muscle soreness.

It’s time for this vicious cycle to end. Your sleep is a serious matter, and so is ending your pain. That’s why we reviewed more than 100 different mattresses and compared each on qualities that are favorable for sleepers with back pain. This guide will make it easy for you to find the best mattress to alleviate your pain and help you get the quality sleep you deserve.

Maintaining proper spinal alignment is critical for sleepers with back pain. Be sure you choose a mattress that keeps your spine in its natural position, tracing a straight line from the nape of your neck down to your tailbone, for protection against pain.

How can your mattress help your back pain?

When it comes to preventing back pain, maintaining proper posture is critical. You probably have that covered during the day while you’re sitting or standing, but fixing your posture is not something you can make a conscious effort to do while you’re sleeping.

During the night, you will have to rely on your mattress to do the hard work for you. If you aren’t sleeping on the right mattress, you will be at risk of improper spinal alignment. In the long term, this can lead to serious irritation, inflammation of your joints, and speed up the degenerative process.

So what qualities should you seek in a proper mattress? Let’s look at the major factors you should be considering when you start shopping for a mattress suited to help ease your back pain.

Customized comfort

The Level Sleep is made with patented TriSupport™ technology to provide top-notch lumbar support while still offering the plush comfort you need to drift into sleep. This design is especially well-suited for sleepers with back pain as it allows your shoulders and hips to sink in while supporting your lower back.

Key considerations

Materials

Sleepers with back pain will be most comfortable on a memory foam mattress. Of all the options available, this material provides the contour your body needs for restorative sleep. Another key benefit memory foam brings is evenly distributing your body weight on the mattress, helping to relieve pain in your pressure points while you sleep.

As opposed to a traditional innerspring mattress, memory foam tends to be more durable and has a longer lifespan. Mattresses made with memory foam retain their supportive qualities for a longer period, helping you maintain your restorative sleep for years to come.

While you may find latex and hybrid mattresses touting similar qualities, you should always remain wary of innerspring mattresses when shopping for an option to alleviate back pain, as they will not have the same support and pressure-relieving properties of foam materials.

Spinal alignment

An important factor in preventing back pain is your spinal alignment. Keeping your spine in its natural position throughout the night is critical. If your mattress is not properly equipped to do so, you will likely wake up with pain throughout your back and neck. For natural spinal alignment, you should imagine a straight horizontal line tracing from the nape of your neck down to your tailbone.

Firmness

You may have heard the old wives’ tale that sleeping on the floor is good for your back, but before you ditch your mattress entirely know that this story is not necessarily true. And honestly, who wants to sleep on the floor?

If you’ve been sinking into a mattress that’s too soft for you, then sleeping on the floor could be the kickstart to getting your spine back into alignment, but by no means is it a long-term solution.

Sleepers with back pain will want to find a mattress in the medium-firm to firm range. On a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 being the most firm, the ideal scale for sleepers with back pain ranges between a 5.5. to a 7.5. For your best bet at a great night of rest, avoid a mattress that is too far on the soft or firm end.

Temperature control

Finding a mattress that allows for proper airflow and cooling is critical. Not only will you generally sleep better when you aren’t sweating through your sheets, but on a deeper level, a mattress that allows for air to circulate to your body helps you receive more oxygen. When your body temperature is regulated and you can get the oxygen you need, it is easier to relax your muscles and ensure you receive restoration through your sleep.

Size

To understand which mattress size is best for you, ask yourself these three questions:

  • How much bedroom space do I want to save? A king-sized mattress sounds great until you pull it into your room and realize you’re bumping the walls on each side. Make sure you choose a size that leaves plenty of space around your bed on all sides.

  • Who is sleeping on my bed? If you sleep solo, a full-sized bed may be all the space you need, but if you share your bed with someone else you probably don’t want to go smaller than a queen. King-sized mattresses will provide extra space for those who like to stretch out or share space with a pet. California kings offer more length, which is ideal for taller people.

  • How much do you want to spend? If you’re ready to splurge on your bed, choosing a larger size won’t be a problem. For those who are tight on their budget, a full or twin-sized bed may be more suitable. Remember that when you change your bed size, you will have to invest in new bedding and a frame as well to accommodate the new size.
     

Here are the standard sizes for mattresses measured by width and length. Mattresses tend to differ most in height, but they usually range from 9 to 12 inches.

  • Twin: 38” x 75”

  • Twin XL: 38” x 80”

  • Full: 53” x 75”

  • Queen: 60” x 80”

  • King: 76” x 80”

  • California king: 72” x 84”
EXPERT TIP

Some mattresses may seem less appealing due to their high price, but investing in the right mattress will be worth it. A high-quality mattress can last up to 15 years if cared for properly.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Different types of sleepers prefer different types of mattresses. Identify your needs and find a mattress to match your specific preferences. For sleepers with back pain, this means memory foam mattresses offering exceptional comfort, support, and airflow.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

If you don’t like your mattress right away, don’t be discouraged. It takes about 30 days to break in a mattress and become accustomed to the feel.


Staff  | BestReviews

Trial period and return policy for mattresses

Purchasing a mattress online may seem too risky since you never get to lie down on it before buying. Fortunately, most online mattress retailers offer a generous risk-free trial period of around 100 days. This gives you plenty of time to test out how well you can sleep on the bed — and return it for a refund if it doesn’t work out.

Each of the mattresses included in this guide offer a full refund if you opt to return your mattress. If your mattress is delivered rolled up and shipped in a box, don’t worry. You won’t have to try to shove it back in. A representative will work with you to schedule a pick-up of your mattress in its fully opened size.

Although there is a generous trial and return policy, most companies ask that you try your mattress for at least 30 nights before deciding to return. It can take a few weeks to fully break in your mattress and get used to the new feeling of your bed, so you shouldn’t rush to return it after only the first few nights.

FOR YOUR SAFETY

Sleepers with back pain should pay attention to the airflow they receive in while under the covers. Proper airflow is critical for helping your body heal.

Mattresses for back pain prices

The price of a mattress can have a pretty wide range depending on the materials used in the mattress and where you buy it from. Buying a mattress online from a retailer who ships directly to the consumer is going to be significantly less expensive than buying a mattress from a bricks and mortar store. The price ranges listed below reflect online, direct-to-consumer mattresses.

Keep in mind that many mattress retailers offer discounts or promotions around holidays like New Years, Black Friday/Cyber Monday, Memorial Day, Labor Day, President’s Day and Independence Day.

Inexpensive

You can pay as low as $500 to $700 for an inexpensive queen mattress. Typically, these will be memory foam mattresses. Mattresses that cost less than $500 for a queen might feel comfortable at first, but they usually won’t last long.

Mid-range

A majority of online mattresses cost between $800 to $1,200 for a queen. These are great quality mattresses offered in different firmness levels and materials.  

Expensive

Luxury mattresses can cost as much as $1,500 to $2,000 for a queen. These are usually mattresses that come with all the bells and whistles to provide a comfortable night’s sleep with added benefits, like high-end organic materials or superior cooling technology.

Tips

  • Avoid a mattress that is extremely firm or soft. Sleepers with back pain will sleep best on a medium to medium-firm level of firmness.

  • If a queen mattress costs less than $500, it probably isn’t worth your time. Anything below this price range will not be very durable or high-quality, which is vital for sleepers with back pain.

  • Keep in mind that cooling is an important factor for sleepers with back pain. If you’re sleeping hot on your new mattress, consider changing your sheets to a more breathable material before blaming your bed.

  • If you continue experiencing back pain on a new mattress, consider changing your pillow to better compliment your new mattress and help keep your spine in proper alignment.

  • Your sleeping position could also be exacerbating your pain. To protect your spine, sleep on your back for the most comfort.

To reduce back pain, choose a mattress in the medium to medium-firm range. This will provide you enough plush comfort for bodily contour while still offering support.

FAQ

Q. Which type of mattress is best for sleepers with back pain?

A. If you want your mattress to alleviate your pain, not worsen it, then you should look for a memory foam or foam blend option. Memory foam performs great for evenly distributing your body weight. This will allow your body to contour into the bed in all the right places while keeping your spine aligned for protection against back pain. Hybrid mattresses with at least one layer of memory foam can accomplish this as well.

Q. What else can I do to alleviate my back pain when I sleep?

A. While your mattress plays a key role in preventing your back pain, there are also other factors that come into play. You can use pillows to help support your body in the needed areas. For example, if you’re a stomach sleeper, placing a pillow under the lower part of your stomach will help support the lower region of your spine to prevent pain.

Q. What’s the best sleeping position to prevent back pain?

Doctors recommend sleeping on your back to keep your spine in its most neutral position. Avoid sleeping on your stomach as it puts your spine in the worst position. If you’re a side sleeper, you will be better off in an elongated position rather than the fetal, as stretching out avoids the pains that accompany curving your spine in the fetal.

Q. Why do I only wake up with back pain some days?

If you only wake up with back pain some days, your mattress may not be the only culprit. It’s likely that something else is the cause, such as sleeping in an improper position. It could also be the result of strenuous physical activity. Consult with your doctor if you have concerns about your pain.

Q. How long will a memory foam mattress last?

With proper care and handling, your memory foam mattress has an average lifespan of seven to 10 years. To make the most of your mattress, you should rotate it every 3 to 12 months. If you use a box spring, you should rotate it as well.

Q. How will I know if my mattress is right for me?

A. After a 30-day adjustment period, you should have a pretty good read on if your mattress is working for or against you. If you wake up feeling refreshed and experienced a great night of sleep, your mattress is working for you. If you wake up sore, toss and turn throughout the night and still feel tired when you wake up, your mattress may not be the right fit. Keep in mind there are other factors you should take into account such as your sleeping position, potential nighttime disturbances keeping you awake, or harmful daily habits that steal your sleep.

The team that worked on this review
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jacob
    Jacob
    Editorial Manager
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Steph
    Steph
    Web Producer

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