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Can A Too Soft Mattress Cause Lower Back Pain

Signs That A Soft Mattress Could Be Causing Back Pain

Can A BAD Mattress Cause Lower Back Pain?

If you suffer from back pain, here are some signs that an overly soft mattress could be to blame:

1. Your mattress is over eight years old. No matter how firm your mattress was when you bought it, the support it provides and its level of comfort will naturally deteriorate over time. If you have had your current mattress for eight years or more, it may be time to look into buying a new mattress to give your back the support it needs.

2. You find yourself tossing and turning in your sleep. Do you tend to sleep soundly, with little movement, or are you someone who moves about a lot during the night? If you find yourself tossing and turning, it could well be that you are struggling to find a comfortable sleeping position that is supportive enough for your joints. Not only does this mean that your spine won’t be neutrally aligned, which could lead to back pain, it also means that your sleep quality will affect how you feel mentally, as well as physically.

3. You wake up with back pain in the mornings. A telltale sign that a soft mattress is causing back pain is when you go to bed feeling absolutely fine, but wake up in the morning with pain. If your mattress is too soft, your spine won’t get the support you need at night, which can cause misalignment and that niggling pain that you’ve come to associate with your mornings. While back pain can have many causes, its regular presence in the mornings can suggest that a too-soft mattress is to blame.

Comfort Scale Ratings 9

We sometimes refer to very soft mattresses in the 9-10 range of our Comfort Scale as cloud-like. These mattresses use some of the softest comfort materials available, for a plush sleeping surface that youre sure to sink into. Stomach sleepers should avoid mattresses in this category. Most back sleepers will also need something with more support. But for side sleepers and the few back sleepers who want the most pressure relief possible, this comfort range may be right for you.

  • May work for some back sleepers

  • Far too soft for stomach sleepers

  • Good for some side sleepers

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Best Mattress Firmness For Back Pain

For many people, a medium-firm mattress is the best choice for reducing back pain.

One small study tracked the sleep quality of adults with lower back pain. After tracking the participants sleep quality for 21 days on their own mattresses, they were given medium-firm mattresses with foam and latex layers. After 12 weeks, the participants had progressively less back pain and stiffness.

Your mattress firmness may not be right for you if lying on it causes your spine to become misaligned. Look at it this way:

  • Your mattress is too soft if your hips sink lower than your shoulders.
  • Your mattress is too firm if your hips and shoulders lie flat on the surface.
  • Your mattress is just right if your mattress contours to your body shape and keeps your spine aligned.

Looking for a mattress thats just right? We have thoughtfully designed mattresses at every price point, so you can say sayonara to nighttime back pain without breaking the bank.

  • Casper Element® Mattress: A seriously comfortable sleep at our coziest price
  • Casper OriginalTM Mattress: Our most popular mattress, engineered for cool, comfortable sleep
  • Casper Nova® Hybrid Mattress: Our most plush mattress is also supremely supportive
  • Casper WaveTM Hybrid Mattress: Our most supportive mattress, now combining foam and springs for added lift, airflow, and edge support

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Why Your Bed May Be Giving You Back Pains

Back pain that appears out of nowhere can be confusing and frustrating. If you haven’t changed anything in your normal routine, you must be thinking about what’s causing your backache. The answer to the mystery could be right in front of you – your bed, or to be more precise, your mattress or pillow. And you are not alone! Many people around the world deal with the daily struggle of waking up unrested and sometimes in pain. The good news is that you could alleviate many of these concerns effectively with the right pillow and the best mattress for back pain. Here are some hints and advice on what to look for when shopping for a mattress for back pain.

Which Type Of Mattress Is Best For Back Pain

What Is The Right Bed Mattress For My Back?

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.

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You Wake Up With Back Pain

While it may seem obvious, morning pain is one of the first signs that you and your mattress may no longer be friends. If you feel fine when you go to bed but wake up groaning and clutching your lower back, your mattress could be a contributing factor. A problematic mattress can contribute to spine misalignment, which in turn leads to morning pain.

Responsive Mattresses Are The Best

A responsive mattress is a bed designed to provide support and pressure relief by adapting to the weight applied. The material used in responsive mattresses is supportive and comfortable, and the beds are made from natural latex foam.

In my opinion, responsive mattresses are the best bed for people suffering from back pain. The mattress will conform to the persons body, providing support for the spine and relieving pressure on the joints.

Additionally, the material used in high-density and responsive mattresses are less likely to sag over time, meaning that the bed will maintain its shape and provide consistent support for years to come.

Mattress tip: The heavier your mattress and the higher the density, the longer it will last on average.

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Picking The Right Mattress For Your Back

Naturally, everyone has their own unique preferences, which can make it difficult to find the perfect mattress. When searching for a mattress, look for one thats not too firm or too soft.

If the mattress is too firm, it will push on your pressure points and cause misalignment. If the bed is too soft, it will allow your body to sink into the bed, causing bad posture while you sleep, which can also result in neck or back pain.

While mattresses can be a financial burden, you should always consider investing in a good one, especially when taking into account that youll be spending seven to nine hours on your mattress every night. This makes it an important piece of furniture.

Your Mattress Is Too Soft Or Too Hard

Floor Sleeping: More Supportive than Mattress for Back Pain (Decompression Technique) – Dr Mandell

Mattresses range in firmness, and experts typically recommend medium to hard support. Because each body is different, you might find yourself more comfortable and supported with one of the following.

  • Soft: Soft mattresses have thick, plush cushioning that sinks when you sit or sleep on them. The conforming comfort of a soft mattress is a good fit for lightweight side sleepers but never sacrifice adequate spinal support for softness.
  • Medium: Medium mattresses range from medium-soft to medium-hard with several variants. They are usually a good fit for versatile sleepers, including side, back and stomach sleepers, and people with different body types.
  • Hard: Hard mattresses offer firm support for back and stomach sleepers, plus heavier people. These beds have little to no shrinkage.

Extra-soft and extra-hard mattresses also exist for specific sleeping situations and physical needs but arent generally necessary for the average sleeper.

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Other Ways To Help Your Back/neck Pain

Changing your mattress will most likely work wonders for your back pain if that was the cause. However, you can also incorporate a stretching routine into your day. Make it your daily goal to do a few stretches before going to bed and after waking up to help with spine flexibility.

Remember to learn how to sleep in the best position possible. Sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs can help support your lower back. Certain pillows can also help promote less neck and back pain while you sleep.

Using A Firm Mattress For Lower Back Pain

For sleepers not experiencing chronic lower back pain, a firm mattress will be more comfortable. When resting on a firmer sleep surface, your bones absorb most of the pressure. This means less stress will be on your muscles, arteries, and veins. And when the muscles are less strained, blood circulation is improved. A firm sleep surface also prevents your lower back from collapsing, which allows for more oxygen intake as you sleep. Less sagging can mean your body weight is distributed evenly, so no one section will bear the brunt of the pressure. Firm mattresses will only hurt your back if you’re a combination sleeper weighing between 130 and 230 pounds. A firm mattress usually works well for heavy sleepers and individuals who prefer to sleep strictly on their stomachs and backs. If you’re a side sleeper, sleeping on a firm bed will strain your muscles, and you’ll get up with joint pain and even develop lower back pain. And for persons with specific back problems like scoliosis and arthritis, a firm mattress can actually exacerbate pain. That’s why it’s crucial to research mattresses before committing to buy a new bed.

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Firm Vs Soft Mattresses Pros And Cons

A good mattress is the foundation of a good nights sleep, so choosing which one is right for you really is a big decision. You spend a third of your life on it, and unsatisfactory sleep affects the rest of your life, too. Getting good quality, restful sleep is essential to general health and wellbeing.

The variety of mattress options on the market is enormous, making the final decision trickier than ever. And one of the biggest decisions in terms of mattress buying is the choice between purchasing a firm vs soft mattress. There are pros and cons for either, and really the choice is extremely personal. Here are some tips to help with your decision.

The Mattress Was Surprisingly Cheap

Soft Memory Foam Sleeping Pillow for Lower Back Pain,Multifunctional ...

Whilst not every cheap mattress is going to be poor quality, those that are made from inferior quality materials are going to be more prone to sagging and softening prematurely, which can lead to discomfort and back pain.

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Cheap Mattresses Cause Back Pain High

A good nights sleep is essential for good health, but finding a comfortable mattress can be challenging. For many people, the cost is a major deciding factor when buying a mattress.

However, skimping on quality can have serious consequences.

Cheap mattresses are often made with inferior materials such as low-density foams that sag and lose their shape over time. This can lead to back pain, as the spine is not adequately supported.

In addition, cheap mattresses are generally uncomfortable, making it difficult to relax and recover properly. This has been proven by research.

There Is No Perfect Bed

There is no best mattress. It probably varies enormously as to what you are used to, said Dr. Steven H. Feinsilver, director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Humans spend about one-third of their lives sleeping, but we still havent figured out what an ideal mattress should feel like. Thats because there likely isnt a single type that would be perfect for everyone.

In the past, doctors have recommended hard mattresses, but more recent surveys and studies have increasingly pointed toward medium firm mattresses as the best for sleep comfort, quality, and spinal alignment.

One report from 2011 found that when individuals were given seven beds of different firmness to try for a month, there was no consensus about which was the best.

Unfortunately, terms like hard and medium firm tend to come with varying degrees of subjectivity, meaning one companys medium firm mattress may feel nothing like another companys.

Its fairly remarkable that there is not any consistency in the literature where people have looked at it and said this is the kind of bed you need, said Feinsilver.

Products like the Sleep Number Bed, which allow for complete control and variability of bed firmness highlight just how subjective the ideal sleeping surface should feel. In some models, two people can sleep on the same bed with each half tuned to each individuals own specifications.

Not as much as youd think.

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You Can Feel Weird Pressure Points

A mattress thats too soft in certain areas particularly in the upper comfort layers due to indents or defects can create pressure points on your body that can lead to back pain.

These pressure points can also arise if the comfort and transition layers of the mattress arent able to resist your weight, and so you crash into the support core below.

What To Do If Youre Waking Up With Back Pain

How to Fix a Sagging Mattress for Back Pain Relief

Back pain is a common complaint for adults. About 80 percent of adults will experience lower back pain at some point in their life. More than a quarter of adults report experiencing low back pain within the last three months. Low back pain is the most common cause of job-related disability and a major contributor to missed workdays.

If youre waking up with back pain, chances are youre not getting the restorative sleep you need at night. Common causes of back pain include getting into an accident and lifting something heavy. Sometimes back pain can develop over time with age. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to low back pain, especially if you have a burst of activity your body isnt prepared for.

Most low back pain is short-term, lasting just a few days to a few weeks. Often, it resolves on its own or with a treatment of the underlying cause. However, chronic back pain persists for 12 weeks or longer. Sometimes, a medical or surgical procedure can relieve the pain, but sometimes, pain persists despite treatment.

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Can A Mattress Cause Back Pain

According to experts at Spine Health , Sleeping on the wrong mattress can cause or worsen lower back pain. Lack of support from a mattress reinforces poor sleeping posture, strains muscles and does not help keep the spine in alignment, all of which contribute to low back pain.

The good news is that this can be remedied but at the same time its also important to recognize whether your bed is the actual source of the problem, or whether something else is causing it.

In all cases, if you are experiencing ongoing back pain then you should speak to your doctor or healthcare professional and get their expert advice. There are many different causes of back pain, so it pays to be extra careful when identifying the potential root cause.

Lets now look at whether a mattress can cause back pain, and what you can do about it if you suspect yours is troubling you

You Wake Up Often At Night

In one study, more than 35% of adults reported getting up at least three nights a week, and 23% getting up at least once a night. Even if waking up at night is normal, if it is a new or growing problem for you, consider whether your mattress can provide the support you need to stay in bed comfortably.

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The Age Of The Mattress

You shouldnt be sleeping on a mattress thats more than seven years old, explained Dr Smycz. It simply wont provide back support when the mattress is older than that.

A 2009 study found that newer bedding systems increased sleep quality and reduced back discomfort, whereas older and cheaper mattresses caused back discomfort and poor sleep quality.

Best Mattress For Back Pain According To Our Sleep Experts

Tempurpedic Mattress Back Pain

Aches and pains disrupting your sleep? Don’t let a bad mattress ruin your rest. Here are the top recommendations for the best mattresses to combat back pain from CNET’s sleep experts.

Reviewed by:

Troy Mensen, DO

Troy Mensen is a family medicine doctor based in Chicago. He received his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine and holds a certification in family medicine from the American Board of Family Medicine. He is licensed by the State of Illinois Medical Examining Board.

McKenzie Dillon


McKenzie, a Certified Sleep Science Coach and proclaimed mattress expert, has been writing sleep content in the wellness space for over three years. After earning her certification from the Spencer Institute and dedicating hundreds of hours to sleep research, she has extensive knowledge on the topic and how to improve your quality of rest. Having more experience with lying on mattresses than most, McKenzie has reviewed over 150 beds and a variety of different sleep products including pillows, mattress toppers and sheets. McKenzie has been a guest on multiple radio shows including WGN Chicago as a sleep expert and contributed sleep advice to over 50 different websites. Before she was writing about sleep, she graduated as an English major from the University of Nevada, Reno and was covering music news for an online entertainment magazine.

Lindsay Boyers

CNET Contributor

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