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How To Find The Best Mattress For Back Pain

Why Saatva Wins As The Best Firm Mattress For Back Pain

Best mattress for back pain, how I found my perfect bed

Theres no way around it. Saatva is one of the top mattress brands for back pain sufferersthat is, regardless of where your pain shows up. Interestingly, Saatva has a medium-firm and firm mattress and a softer option that could compete for the best mattress for side sleepers with lower back pain.

But its not just about the back support that Saatva offers its also a highly comfortable mattress. The bed has two layers of coilsincluding traditional innerspring at the bottomand a luxurious fluffy cover made, in part, of organic cotton. Additionally, they offer two height options, 11.5 and 14.5, so you can choose how thick and supportive you want it to be.

What Type Of Mattress Is Best For Upper Back Pain

A mattress with zoned layers can be very helpful for those with regular pain around the neck, shoulders, and upper back. Zoned layers are designed with distinct firmness levels for different areas of the body. Typically, these components provide soft cradling for the head, neck, and shoulders, and feel firmer beneath the lower back and hips for added spinal support. Some mattresses have zoned comfort and transitional layers made of foam, latex, or minicoils. Other beds feature zoned coil systems in the support core with different coil gauges, or thicknesses, for enhanced sleeper and edge support.

Pillow choice is another important factor for people with upper back pain. Those who sleep on their sides can use a foam pillow to alleviate their symptoms. Their head and neck sink into the foam, and this helps to ensure even spinal alignment. Back sleepers, on the other hand, should consider an orthopedic pillow with a contoured shape that cradles the head and reduces discomfort around the neck and shoulders.

Lastly, mattress shoppers should take durability into account. Beds made with low-grade foam, synthetic latex, and other materials of questionable quality begin to wear out more quickly than those with denser and more resilient layers. This can cause the comfort layers to lose shape over time, resulting in less support for the upper back.

Mattress Type And Materials

So what is the best mattress for a bad back? Mattresses can be made of many different natural and synthetic materials but some materials are better than others when it comes to providing the extra support needed to alleviate back pain.

Memory foam and latex

The most commonly recommended beds for back pain are memory foam and latex. Memory foam mattresses and their natural alternative, latex mattresses, both offer amazing support and contouring. They hug the body and cradle all your natural curves, supporting pressure points like shoulders and hips while relieving pressure for reduced pain. Memory foam and latex also help keep your spine aligned while sleeping, which further reduces stress on the back and lowers pain in all areas.


An innerspring mattress, sometimes referred to as a traditional mattress, is a bed of coils with a foam layer on top. These mattresses were the standard for around a century, but, despite improvements like pocketed coils and better motion isolation, a regular innerspring with a foam top generally doesn’t offer enough support for substantial back pain relief.


Airbeds don’t offer the kind of contouring that memory foam or latex does. However, there are beds with air components that can be mechanically adjusted for more or less fill and firmness. The ability to customize your bed can be a great asset when trying to get good support for alleviating upper or lower back pain.


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When In Doubt Go Medium

Research is limited, but in one study, researchers assigned new mattresses to more than 300 people with low back pain. They used either “medium-firm” or “firm” mattresses for 90 days. Those in the medium group reported the least amount of discomfort.

You might consider getting a memory foam mattress . The foam molds to your body. The downside: Some memory foam mattresses keep in heat and the material might have more chemicals.

Support And Pressure Relief

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Support If you are reading this article its likely you suffer from back pain, and this is why support is the most important criteria when searching for a mattress. Support = pushing up into you.

It means giving those areas of your body the assistance they need to relax and de-stress throughout the night.

The area of your body that needs this the most is the lumbar spine . If you are a back sleeper then a mattress that is comfy, plush or soft will cause you to sink in, and will not give your body the support it needs, leaving your muscles tired from working all night to support your mid and low back.

So, If you are a back sleeper or suffer from middle orlow back pain then a supportive mattress is what your body needs.

Pressure Relief Pressure relief is another important criteria when searching for a mattress that helps relieve your pain. Pressure relief = you pushing into the mattress. This is not to be confused with sinking in.

A quality mattress that relieves pressure points should gently but firmly support your body in a comfortable position. What parts of the body need pressure relief? Parts that stick out, particularly the shoulders and hips.

Without pressure relief, these areas are being compressed and are forced to constant stress throughout the night. So, if you are a side sleeper or suffer from hip and shoulder pain then a mattress that gives you pressure relief is whats best for your body.

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Optimal Sleep Position For Every Age Stage And Body Type To Combat Back Pain

If you have kids, you will have had it drilled into you that babies need to sleep on their backs. This dramatically reduces the risk of SIDS and is generally considered to be better for their overall development. The longer you can encourage your child to sleep on their back, the better it is for their full body alignment.

Back sleeping is also recommended for big kids , as it minimizes pressure on joints like hips by distributing your weight more evenly. This also helps you to keep your spine and internal organs in alignment.

For heavier people, with hips that are wider than their waists, its best to make sure that your mattress isnt too firm so that your hips and waist remain aligned, particularly if you sleep on your side. That said, you dont want it to be too soft either because the additional weight will cause you to sink too far into the mattress, ruining that all important spinal alignment. A mattress that curves and conforms to your bodys shape is ideal.

What Is The Best Type Of Mattress For Back Pain

When it comes to back pain, mattress type is less important than mattress firmness. Likewise, the number of foam layers or support coils wont matter as much as how the mattress feels. And if you have back pain, studies show that a mattress that feels medium-firm is the best type of mattress for you. According to one expert we spoke with, thats because a bed labeled medium-firm is likely to support your spines natural curves whether youre a side-sleeper, a back-sleeper, or a stomach-sleeper. Whether youre trying a mattress in a store or testing one you purchased online, ask yourself these questions to get a better idea of how comfortable it really is.

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Some Parting Words Regarding Back Pain

You dont have to let the stress of shopping for a mattress keep you up at nightand you shouldnt have to deal with pain when you wake up in the morning. This list of The Sleep Doctors mattress picks will help you find the one that will keep your back pain in check, so you can take back control of your sleep.

Breus, Michael. 2019. Low Back Pain and Sleep. The Sleep Doctor , December 14, 2019.

Cleveland Clinic. 2019. Is Your Sleep Position Causing You Back Pain? Health Essentials , August 29, 2019.

Mayo Clinic, 2020. Slide show: Sleeping positions that reduce back pain

Casper Editorial Team, 2020. How To Sleep With Back Pain: 5 Tips for Relief. Casper , March 4, 2020.

The Lancet, 2003. Effect of firmness of mattress on chronic non-specific low-back pain. The Lancet , November 15, 2003

is an Associate Editor at Pillar4 Media and contributing editor to who prefers to keep the room as cold as possible, no matter what time of year it is.

Tips For Sleeping With Back Pain

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Sleeping on the right mattress has the biggest impact on alleviating your back pain, but there are other things you can try that may help reduce your pain even more.

The important thing to remember here is to listen to your bodyif something doesnt feel right, dont do it. If your friend with back pain has discovered the perfect sleeping angle/temperature/white-noise/pillow-position combo to reduce back pain, it doesnt mean its going to be the best one for you.

The three things that may help further reduce your back pain are your beds foundation, your sleeping position, and extra mattress accessories.

Pick the Best Mattress Foundation

People who suffer from back pain have claimed that sleeping on an adjustable bed frame helps them sleep better at night. Keeping your head and feet elevated can relieve certain pressure points better than lying flat on a mattress. Similar to how you elevate your leg after an injury, elevating these parts of your body can help with blood flow circulation and getting more oxygen to your musclesboth of which can have an impact on reducing pain.

You also reference our mattress foundation guide for more information.

Correct Your Sleeping Position

Back Sleepers
Side sleepers
Stomach Sleepers

Sleeping on your stomach is generally not recommended for people who suffer from back pain. This position provides your back with the least support and can cause your back to cave in unnaturally.

Use the Right Mattress Accessories

Mattress Topper

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How Socially Responsible Are The Mattress Manufacturers

In the interest of helping consumers learn more about the companies their dollars support, I researched the corporate social responsibility of the mattress manufacturers found in this guide.

Here’s what I found:

  • Bear: Bear uses CertiPUR-US and Greenguard Gold certified foams in its products.
  • Casper: The company uses CertiPUR-US certified foams.
  • Helix: Helix’s products are made in the US of CertiPUR-US and OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified materials.
  • Leesa: The company makes its products in the US, is B Corp certified, uses CertiPUR-US certified foams, and donates one mattress for every 10 it sells.
  • Nectar: The company uses CertiPUR-US certified foams.
  • Puffy: Its products are made in the US of CertiPUR-US certified foams, and it donates mattresses to children’s charities, including returned mattresses.
  • Purple: Purple mattresses are made in the US with CertiPUR-US certified foams.
  • Sleep Number: According to CSRHub, Sleep Number is a supporter of sustainable forestry.

Why Does It Matter

When the body experiences trauma, like a car accident, a fall from a ladder, or slipping on the ice, the body has to find a way to accommodate the damage, heal it, and keep us walking upright. These changes can create misalignments that sometimes last for years and cause pain.

If youre wondering what this has to do with sleep, the answer is two-fold. One, sleeping wrong can be enough trauma to cause these issues, and two, sleeping right is a big part of healing these issues. So while those with chronic back pain might think they have a rocky relationship with sleep, the real issue might be the habits or the mattress.

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Why Purple Hybrid Wins As The Best Mattress For Lower Back Issues

For this list, we are specifically referencing the three Purple Hybrid mattresses because they offer plenty of support thanks to their pocketed coil bases and pressure relief . What makes Purple worth looking into, though? Well, it all really comes down to the top layer of the beds. Its a special material called Hyper-Elastic Polymer that is unlike any other comfort layer on a bed. Its one of the more supportive hybrid mattresses, while it maintains a soft and pressure relieving feel.

Purple can accommodate all sleeping positions, but if youre mostly a side sleeper , wed recommend you first look into either the Purple Hybrid Premier 3 or Hybrid Premier 4.

Choosing The Right Pillow For Your Sleep Position

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If youve found what appears to be the best mattress for back pain, but still wake up with occasional aches, first rule out these eight signs your back pain is actually an emergency. Then, consider exploring new pillow options or different sleep positions.

Sleeping on your back is actually the best position for your back, says Dr. Breus. If this isnt immediately comfortable, The National Sleep Foundation suggests taking the pressure off your spine by placing a pillow under your knees. It can take some time to train yourself to sleep in a new position, and consistency is key.

If youre a devout stomach sleeper, choose the thinnest pillow you can find to keep your spine as straight as possible and minimize stress on the lower back. And, if youre a side sleeper, the NSF suggests choosing a pillow that will support your head, neck, and ear as well as your shoulder comfortablyand placing a pillow between your knees or thighs may help maintain spinal alignment. These luxurious pillows can help you to get the best nights sleep ever.

Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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What Is Back Pain

Most of us know when our back is giving us issues, but what is really happening here behind the scenes?

According to the National Institute of Arthritis And Musculoskeletal And Skin Diseases, back pain is one of the most common medical problems in the U.S it can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain that makes it hard to move.

Surveys from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke found that about 80 percent of Americans will struggle with back pain at some point in their lifetimes this potentially helps explain why back pain is the fifth most common reason people go to the doctor. At the same time, many pain sufferers do not see a doctor because of pride, money issues, or other reasons.

The Mayo Clinic describes back pain symptoms as:

  • Muscle ache
  • Pain that radiates down the leg
  • Pain that worsens with bending, lifting, standing, or walking
  • Pain that improves with reclining

The Mayo Clinic also defines two types of back pain: acuteand chronic. Acute back pain occurs when symptoms last between a few days and a few weeks if the symptoms last for over 12 weeks, this is considered chronic back pain.

Best Memory Foam Mattress: Cocoon By Sealy

The medium-firm Cocoon Chill is perfect for memory foam mattress lovers who are avoiding back pain. The foam layers within the Cocoon are made to be ultra-durable and parlay responsiveness and pressure relief . The foam proved in testing to easily adapt to various sleep positions while keeping the body evenly supported.

These memory foam layers keep the spine uplifted and in alignment no matter what sleep position you prefer. The Chill is also appealing for couples who want firm support, but not to be awoken by their partners movements .

  • Mattress Type: Memory Foam

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Experiment With Mattress Toppers

If investing in a brand new mattress isnt ideal at the moment, you can still get some lower back pain relief with the help of mattress toppers, which add an extra layer of cushioning. Every mattress will change its shape as it ages, adding a mattress topper can help navigate through those changes, Dr. Rozenberg says. If the mattress becomes too soft with time, you can add a firmer topper. If a mattress is too firm when you buy it, you can add a topper to soften it up.

What Sleep Position Is Best For Back Pain Sufferers

Choosing a Mattress for Back Pain

“Sleeping on your side with pillows between your knees is very effective for back pain reduction,” said Jain. As a side sleeper with back pain, I rely on the Coop Home Goods Memory Foam Body Pillow to help keep my back aligned. It’s the top pick in our guide to the best body pillows.

Huff also said that a pillow between the legs is helpful for side sleepers. She added that it can reduce the chance of hip pain. She suggests lying on your stomach to take pressure off the spine as well.

Lastly, Huff emphasized the importance of taking time during your waking hours to improve your back health. “Doing core exercises not just exercises for your back and also working on your muscles in what we call the pelvic girdle, around your hip and pelvis, can really help support your back more and help with your overall back pain,” Huff said.

For exercises that can improve your back health, she recommends visiting, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons website.

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Is Spinal Alignment The Most Important Factor

Spinal alignment is certainly important, but its not the only factor when it comes to sleeping with back pain. Pressure relief is also important for helping you reduce pain and get to sleep. However, its important to find a material that relieves pressure while still allowing movement.

If you find youre waking up stiff and sore but feel better after you get moving, you could be dealing with swelling or inflammation in the joints or muscle tissue. While this can occur in almost any type of injury, its usually a sign that the injury isnt getting motion, especially while you sleep.

When it comes to spinal injuries or misalignments, most chiropractors and physical therapists will treat the issue by aligning the spine and increasing motion to reduce inflammation and swelling. If you can move around easily when you sleep, either to reposition or rollover, your body may be able to help aid in that process.


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