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How Firm Mattress For Back Pain

Discovering The Truth About Your Mattress

BEST Mattress for Back Pain According to Science + Giveaway!

You may be in love with your bed, but that doesnt mean it is in love with you back. Research has discovered numerous signs which indicate that a persons bed is to blame for their back soreness, especially in the morning. Pay close attention to how you or your partner behaves throughout the night. If you have any of the following sleep-disturbing signs, it may be time to replace your mattress.

  • You wake up frequently during the night for no apparent reason.
  • You toss and turn a lot or cant get comfortable.
  • You feel increased pressure on parts of your body when laying in certain positions.
  • You feel swallowed up by your bed.
  • Your bed feels flat and unforgiving on the curves of your body.
  • Your waking back pain goes away after about 20-30 minutes.

Back pain can be caused by several things, but if your bed is to blame then it should be very easy to tell. Your back pain may not be caused by something serious. In fact, studies show that about 56% of people who sleep on a medium-to-firm mattress have less back pain in the morning than their softer-mattress-having counterparts.

In general, sleep experts advise people to get a new bed ever 8 to 10 years. It may be that your mattress has served you well for a very long time.

However, it may also be time to replace it for something better if its causing you pain.

Q: Is A Firm Or Soft Mattress Better

A: Sleeping on a mattress thatâs at either end of the spectrum isnât always the best solution for back pain. Too-firm beds offer great support, but they donât always provide enough cushioning for pain relief. On the contrary, too-soft mattresses typically arenât able to maintain the level of spine alignment needed to keep pressure off your lower back. Itâs typically better to find a mattress in the middle, around the medium to medium-firm mark, that fills in around your sides while still supporting healthy spine alignment. However, remember that each sleeper differs in body type and nighttime needs so the main thing to keep in mind is how the mattress works for you specifically. As a general rule of thumb, it should be firm enough to support a healthy posture, but soft enough to cushion your sides.

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Problems Related To Pressure Points

When you sleep on a firm mattress, it creates pressure points in body parts like the pelvic area and shoulders. This causes discomfort for all, especially for the ones who are used to sleeping on their sides. Such pressure points on someone who suffers from a bad back will cause double the discomfort, hence making it difficult to take rest and sleep.

Another problem with the pressure points is that they may create numbness and this may result in you tossing throughout the night. You may suffer from the same every day and struggle to find a comfortable position. Finding a comfortable position on a firm mattress will be difficult.

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Whats The Difference Between A Firm And Soft Mattress

When shopping for a new mattress, you have likely noticed that each one comes with a firmness level. But, how is this level determined? Many brands rely on a standard firmness scale from 1 to 10with 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest. Firm and soft mattresses are at opposite ends of this scale. That said, youll rarely find mattresses rated as a 10 or a 1 because those are extremely firm and extremely soft beds that arent commonly made.

A firm mattress rates between a 9 and a 7 on the firmness scale. These beds have very little give, so the surface tends to remain even and allows for little sinking.

A soft mattress rates between a 2 and a 3 on the firmness scale. These beds compress quickly and easier when pressure is applied. Most sleepers experience some level of sinking when resting on a soft bed.

Misalignment Of The Spinal Cord

The 5 Best Mattress Toppers for Back Pain (2020)

A mattress with lots of firmness will not support your spinal cord as expected. On the contrary, what it does is to provide support only to the heavy parts of your body, like hips, thighs, etc. Such a situation creates pressure points that are not comfortable. Apart from the discomfort, such a mattress may also cause numerous long term problems, such as inadequate support for the spinal cord.

For some, a firm mattress may cause all kinds of problems. By sleeping on the mattress you may not be able to understand what your body is trying to do since most of the muscles will perform subconsciously.

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How To Tell If Your Bed Is Causing Back Pain

According to Spine-Health, there are correlations between getting a good nights sleep and alleviating back pain. For example, if youre not sleeping well, your body cannot produce the correct hormones needed to heal your body as you sleep, thus alleviating pain. Here are some telltale signs that your bed may be the culprit:

How Back Pain Affects Sleep

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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, we know that 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 back pain and those who have long-term, persistent 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 persons symptoms and can range from surgery to physical therapy to pain-relieving medications.

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What Type Of Mattress Is Best For Lower Back Pain

If youre dealing with lower back pain, the right mattress can make a big difference.

A mattress that doesnt hold up our body will cause pain in the lower back, explains Dr. Lynelle McSweeney, a chiropractor in Reno, Nevada. We need support to keep our joints from going into a stress point, which puts pressure on nerves and strains the muscles.

In general, hybrid or innerspring mattresses will offer more support than all-foam options, which may be too soft.

The manufacturers firmness rating can also help you zero in on a supportive option. These ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest. Medium-firm mattresses, which have a rating of 7 to 8, are typically recommended for lower back pain.

Keep in mind that the firmness of a mattress will depend on a few different factors, including your preferred sleeping position, your body size and weight, and whether you share your bed with a partner or pet. Personal preference plays a role too.

There is no single right mattress for everyone, but there are certain considerations when youre dealing with lower back pain:

Make a point of checking reviews so you can see what previous purchasers have to say about any mattresses youre considering.

Sleeping on your back is generally considered best for the body, says McSweeney. But supporting your body in your preferred sleep position can also work. Getting sleep is the most important thing for your health and well-being.

Have You Been Following Good Sleep Hygiene

Mattress firmness for back pain, hip pain, and shoulder pain? Bed firmness breakdown

Trouble sleeping with a bad back can also be made worse by poor sleep hygiene and disjointed bedtime routines.

Once youve taken the time to ensure that your mattress has both the correct spring tension for your bodyweight and upholstery layers for your sleeping position, its time to make sure your bedtime routine is conducive to sleep!

It may sound obvious but try following the points below to make sure that you can experience the best nights sleep possible:

  • Avoid caffeine two hours before bed.
  • Sleep at regular times.
  • Avoid eating late at night.
  • Hot baths can help you sleep better.
  • Free your mind by making lists of to-dos.
  • Practice meditation or mindfulness in the evening.

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Its Unique Grid Structure Offers Optimal Airflow

  • Materials: Memory foam, support coils
  • Firmness level: Firm with responsive, adaptive support
  • Trial period: 100 nights

Thanks to its patented Purple Grid, the Purple Hybrid Mattress is unlike any other on this list. It consists of five layers, and the Purple Grid gently gives under your body, hugging your pressure points and fully supporting your back while you sleep. The grid sits on top of a 7.5-inch layer of responsive coils that offer additional support while you sleep. Plus, there are open air channels that allow air to freely flow through, making it much cooler than memory foam-only mattresses. This particular model is the companys firmest and offers the most support in the hybrid collection the Hybrid Premier 3 and Hybrid Premier 4 are medium-soft and soft, respectively.

What the reviews say: When it comes to cooling and pain relief, several sleepers say it hits both marks. I have had previous spinal surgeries so pressure relief and support are paramount, and this mattress delivers, says a customer. I feel very supportedit even corrected some back pain I had from the last mattress I tried. And yes it sleeps cool and Ive always been the hottest of sleeper.

What Type Of Mattress Is Best For Back Pain

Be wary of mattresses described as orthopaedic or posturepedic. These terms describe firm mattresses and can often mislead people into thinking they are suitable for a bad back. These mattresses can often make a bad back worse instead of better.

There are several types of mattresses that may help to alleviate back pain. Weighing up the pros and cons of each type will help you determine which is best for you.

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Turn The Heating Down

Not only does a high room temperature mess with your sleep at night, it can affect the materials in an all-foam mattress and make it feel much softer than it should. Hybrids, which used springs and foam, usually escape this fate, but its something that foam owners should keep in mind.

Adjusting your thermostat to a cooler temperature can add firmness to a soft mattress. This isnt so much fun in the colder months, but it could make the difference you need for better sleep.

Why You Can Trust Us

Best Extra Firm Mattress Topper for Back Pain

At Sleep Foundation, weve personally tested hundreds of mattress models to bring you the top picks listed above. Our expert team includes product testers that represent a wide range of body types, sleep positions, and comfort preferences. After thorough hands-on testing, we consider these selections to be the best of the bunch.

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Mattress Firmness Suitability For Back Pain

Mattresses can potentially be available in any of the following firmnesses .


Extra soft mattresses are typically best for side sleepers that weigh less than 130 lbs because they allow you to sink more deeply into the mattress materials to remove pressure on your hips and shoulders.

This means that an extra-soft mattress may be suitable if you have back pain thats primarily triggered by surface pressure such as sciatica or nerve-related back pain because the softer surface is less liable to create pressure points.


Soft mattresses are often preferred by side sleepers and lighter weighted sleepers under 150 lbs again due to the greater give afforded by the upper comfort layers that may also provide relief for back pain that is brought on through pressure points.

Softer mattresses are often best avoided by heavier weighted sleepers over 230 lbs especially if you sleep on your front because youre more likely to sink into the mattress and experience back pain due to spinal misalignment and bad posture.


Medium-soft mattresses are often enjoyed by side and back sleepers in the 130 230 lbs range, whilst front sleepers under 200 lbs who prefer more pressure relief may also feel well supported.


A medium firmness mattress is the most popular mattress firmness and is typically best suited to front, back, and side sleepers in the 130 230 lbs range .




How To Tell If A Mattress Is Too Firm

A handy check to determine whether a mattress is too firm is to lie on your back and slide your hand between the mattress and the hollow of your back. The mattress is probably too firm if your hand slides underneath easily.

If you struggle to slide your hand underneath, it is probably too soft. Ideally, you should be able to slightly slide your hand underneath your back with a little bit of resistance. This would indicate that the mattress is providing the correct level of support.

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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.

Consider An Adjustable Base

Choosing A Mattress For Back Pain & Sciatica

One study found that switching from an innerspring bed to an adjustable bed resulted in a 32% pain decrease and a 73% increase in sleep quality amongst the participants who were suffering from chronic back pain .

And there are many anecdotal reports that sleeping on an adjustable bed with a suitable mattress can help to reduce lower back pain and ease the symptoms of conditions like GERD/acid reflux and sleep apnea .

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Best For Stomach Sleepers: Leesa Original Mattress

  • Made using synthetic memory foam

This mattress contains organic latex, wool, and cotton for a cozy natural feel that’s a dream to sleep in. Plus, a layer of innerspring lend the support that back pain sufferers crave. Its wool is super breathable , making it a good pick for sleepers who tend to sweat at night. Pssst… hot sleepers on a budget can also check out these cooling mattress toppers to place on their existing mattresses.

Best Boxed Mattress: Helix Midnight Luxe Mattress

  • Offers a hybrid of coil and foam

  • Great for side sleepers

  • Strong chemical odor

Today, more and more mattresses are being shipped in boxes, allowing for faster delivery and easier set-up. Hands down, one of the best boxed mattress options for those with back pain is the Helix Midnight mattress.

This 14-inch mattress provides support with a layer of wrapped coils which sits under layers of foam for comfort. The company claims that this mattress is their most popularproviding a medium firm feel that is ideal for side sleepers who need pressure point relief. The mattress is covered with a breathable quilted pillow top that keeps you cool throughout the night.

Helix offers a 15-year warranty on their Midnight Luxe mattress, so you know you’re getting the most protection for your investment. You can test out your new mattress for 100 nights, opting to return it if it doesnt meet your expectations.

Firmness: Medium | Thickness: 14 inches | Type: Hybrid | Trial Length: 100 nights

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When A Bed Is Too Firm

A firm mattress is a common recommendation for people looking to avoid soreness and stiffness. However, an overly firm mattress has a similar effect in some ways as one that is too soft, forcing the body to conform to the hard surface, throwing out your spines natural alignment. A bed that feels too hard can also cause discomfort around pressure points.

Choose A Hybrid Design

Best Mattress for Back Pain

A high-quality hybrid mattress is typically the best type of mattress for back pain because the individually wrapped springs can provide adaptive support for your spine to maintain good posture, whilst the foam top layers can help to soften pressure points that may otherwise aggravate your nerves and impede circulation.

If maximum pressure relief is your goal, then a memory foam topped mattress is the best choice, whilst natural latex foam can provide a more breathable alternative if you tend to sleep hot.

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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.


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