The best type of mattress for back pain is a medium-firm hybrid, foam or latex mattress. If you suffer from chronic back pain, you’ll want to have a mattress that is firm enough to support your spine but allows enough give to relieve irritation on pressure points. Traditional innerspring mattresses can provide adequate support, but tend to be more rigid, allowing for less give than their foam or hybrid counterparts, which is not ideal for pressure relief.
While it will cost more, getting an adjustable bed for back pain may make it easier to sleep for those with more extreme back pain. Getting an orthopedic mattress is another option. Orthopedic mattresses are specifically designed to support your joints, spine and whole body, and can be made of any material. A well-made orthopedic mattress can certainly go far in helping pain sufferers, but it’s worth noting that there are no official qualifications that must be met for a mattress to call itself orthopedic, meaning any brand can use this term to market a mattress.
Hard or soft mattress for back pain?
Several years ago the top advice for back pain sufferers was to get the firmest mattress possible, but health care professionals have since adjusted their recommendation to a medium-firm mattress. A mattress that is too firm or too flat (not allowing for any give), offers little-to-no support for the curve of the spine or the knees and can actually make back pain worse.
The goal is to sleep in a position that supports the arches and curves of your body and allows your spine to rest in a neutral position to relieve pressure.
How should I sleep with lower back pain?
Those with back pain can find relief sleeping on their side or back with the right mattress. Stomach sleeping is not recommended for those with back pain or injury, as it can make the pain worse. Consider these sleep position modifications for pain relief:
Sleep with a pillow under your knees (for back sleepers)
If you sleep on your back, placing a pillow under your knees will help keep your spine in a neutral position and alleviate any unnecessary pressure.
Sleep with a pillow between your knees (for side sleepers)
Side sleepers can reduce lower back pain by placing a pillow between their knees to return their spine to a neutral position and relieve pressure on their lower back and hips.
Sleep with a pillow under your hips (for stomach sleepers)
While stomach sleeping is not generally recommended for those who suffer from back pain, stomach sleepers may find some relief by placing a thin pillow just under their hips and lower abdomen.
Sleep at a slight incline (for back sleepers)
Gravity can do wonders. Try sleeping at a slight incline (5 degrees or less) to prevent spinal degeneration, increase circulation and help detoxify your system. An adjustable bed will be the easiest way to achieve this position, but wedge pillows and other mattress add-ons are also available.
Get the right pillow (for all sleeping positions)
The quality and thickness of your pillow can also make a big impact for neck and back pain. Recommendations vary slightly depending on your size and weight, but the average optimal pillow thickness is 3”–5”.
The best mattresses for back pain
To find the best mattresses for back pain we compared mattress firmness, support, layers and construction. We only included mattresses that specifically addressed pressure relief, spinal alignment or included advanced technology with features that could be used help to reduce pain—like adjustable beds.
Best for sleeping elevated Model 1 Superior Memory Foam by Craftmatic
Craftmatic is a brand known for their adjustable beds. Their Model 1 bed is available with an 8”, 10” or 12” memory foam mattress. Their highest density mattress (12”) comes with 4” of eco-conscious memory foam, 2.5” of premium memory foam, a 1.5” layer of gel-infused memory foam, designed to keep you cool at night, and an HD poly foam support base.
Type: Memory foam
Special features: Full-body massage option, heat control.
Price (Queen): Starting at $2,500
Warranty: 25-year limited warranty
Test period: 30-night in-home trial (mattress only, no trial available for base)
Best for the price Nest’s Alexander Signature Hybrid
A hybrid mattress provides the support of a coil mattress system with the comfort and pressure relief of memory foam. A hybrid mattress is a good choice for anyone looking for a not-too-soft, not-too-firm mattress solution, which is ideal for those who suffer from chronic back pain. The Alexander Signature Hybrid mattress is available in Plush, Medium and Luxury Firm. We recommend the medium or luxury firm for those with back pain, depending on their sleeping position.
Special features: Cooling technology
Price (Queen): $1,199
Test period: 100-night in-home trial
Best for customization Sleep Number 360 p5 Smart Bed
Sleep Number beds allow users to adjust the mattress to suit their individual sleep needs. The 360 p5 Smart Bed model is designed with pressure relief in mind. The “smart bed” feature refers to responsive air technology that automatically adjusts to you to provide proper support and comfort.
Special features: Control your bed from your smartphone.
Feature: Dual adjustability, custom firmness for each sleeper
Queen: Starting at $1,999
If you’re looking for a mattress to reduce your back pain, you have quite a few options. We recommend looking for a medium-firm mattress that includes layers of memory foam for pressure relief. Getting a supportive mattress and paying attention to your sleeping position will go far in giving you a restful and pain-free night’s sleep.
As a member of the ConsumerAffairs research team, Jessica Render is dedicated to providing well-researched, valuable content designed to help consumers make informed purchase decisions they can feel confident making. She holds a degree in journalism from Oral Roberts University.