Sleep Expert Reveals The Best Type Of Mattress For Back Pain
How to find a mattress that helps you sleep better with back pain
Back pain is a nuisance, especially when it impacts your ability to get a full night of quality sleep. Unfortunately, sleeping on the wrong type of mattress can worsen an existing back injury or even create new aches and pains.
If you can’t find relief from your back pain when lying in bed, it may be time to consider investing in a new bed. So what is the best mattress for back pain? Firm mattresses are often touted as the catch-all solution for sleepers seeking solace from aching backs, but the real answer is more nuanced.
We recently spoke to Dr. Allison Brager, neuroscientist and sleep specialist for Molecule , to get her expert insight into how to pick a mattress that can reduce back pain and help you sleep more comfortably once more.
Best Luxury Smart Mattress: I8 360 Smart Bed
One of my best friends purchased this mattress from Sleep Number. And, he’s made a vow to never go back to any other mattress. With a 4.8 rating out of 5 stars, I don’t think that he’s alone.
The i8 360 Smart Bed has won people over by offering the following features:
- You can adjust the firmness and comfort of each side in your Sleep Number® system.
- The firmness of each side automatically adjusts in response to your movements.
- Displays your SleepIQ® score and insight into improving your sleep.
- Heat is absorbed, then released as you cool, so that you can sleep comfortably.
- With smart 3D fabric, you can sleep cooler and more comfortably by up to 50%.
You can try the mattress for up to 100 nights after technicians set up the bed. There’s also a decent 15-year warranty. However, to get the most out of this mattress, you’ll need to purchase it along with either the FlexFit Base or FlexFit 3 Smart Base.
Choosing The Best Mattress For Lower Back Pain
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.
Sleep comfort is also sacrificed if a mattress does not match one’s individual preferences. A mattress that provides both comfort and back support helps reduce low back pain, allowing the structures in the spine to really rest and rejuvenate during the night.
With the vast variety of mattresses on the market, choosing the right mattress can be difficult. The following practical guidelines are designed to help patients with low back pain choose the best mattress for both back support and sleep comfort:
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Should You Worry About A New Mattress Causing Back Pain
Getting a new mattress is exciting. You anticipate sliding between the sheets and sleeping blissfully on your brand new bed. But then you struggle to get comfortable at night and you wake with morning pain or stiffness. What gives?
Your body needs time to adjust to a new mattress. Many of us adopt poor posture over the years, and a bad or old mattress can compound the problem. Its normal to feel some initial discomfort or soreness as your body adjusts.
Sleep on your new mattress for at least a month. If your pain doesnt improve, and especially if it worsens, your new mattress may not be the right fit for you.
Want to try out your new mattress without the hassle? Casper mattresses come with a 100-night risk-free sleep trial and an easy return process for more snoozing and less stressing.
Does Luxury Mean That The Mattress Is Expensive
Unless it’s made from high-quality materials, an expensive mattress isn’t worth the price. For added aesthetic features or other fancy features, you can consider a high-priced mattress. A mid-priced, well-made mattress is often enough for most sleepers.
In addition, an expensive mattress may also be thicker than most people prefer. Many people who want a luxury mattress will find what they’re looking for between 12 and 14 inches.
Buying a cheap mattress is not the same as buying a poorly made mattress. In fact, a lot of budget mattresses are actually quite comfortable. However, they don’t have as many features.
Regardless, shopping online for a new mattress is the best way to get a great deal. Due to lower overhead and available distribution channels, companies offering online mattress sales tend to offer cheaper prices than traditional brick-and-mortar mattress stores. They also tend to offer lengthy sleep trials and free shipping.
You can always find deals throughout the year, such as Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. And, don’t forget the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.
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Our Back Pain Mattress Testing Methodology
I tested all of the mattresses in this guide. I put the beds through several objective tests and slept on them for at least 14 nights. Unless otherwise noted, I tried each model’s queen size.
I mostly sleep on my side, with some stomach and back time. I am 6 feet tall, 205 pounds, and sleep hot. Plus, I have chronic lower back pain.
When shopping for a mattress for back pain, the most important factors to consider are comfort, motion isolation, and the home trial policy. To get additional information on what to look for in a mattress, I spoke with two experts: Tamara Huff, MD, a Georgia-based, board-certified orthopedic surgeon and health disparities advocate, and Amit Jain, MD, an associate professor of orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and chief of minimally invasive spinal surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Test results for the main attributes we tested:
Here are the main attributes we look for and how we test them:
Comfort: Based on my years of experience testing dozens of mattresses, I subjectively assess how supportive the bed feels, how hot it sleeps, the firmness, and how my back feels in the morning.
Heat dissipation: I rely on objective laser thermometer measurements. I take readings before lying down, immediately after spending at least an hour on the bed, and two minutes after getting up.
Medical News Todays Methodology
MNT chooses mattresses, sheets, pillows, and other bedding that meet the following criteria:
- Certifications:MNT will choose products that have CertiPUR-US or other certifications. This means that the products are low in pollutants and free from heavy metals and volatile organic compounds.
- Size: MNT chooses products that are available in various sizes.
- Materials and fill:MNT selects products made from different materials and fills, such as memory foam and latex, to suit a range of sleep and lifestyles.
- Budget: MNT features products to suit a wide range of budgets.
- Firmness: MNT selects mattresses available in a range of firmness options to suit most peoples sleeping styles.
- Sleep trials:MNT chooses companies that offer a sleep trial.
- Shipping: Where possible, MNT will include shipping information, such as where the company delivers to and whether shipping is free.
- Warranties and return policies: MNT will include products with warranties and clear returns policies.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.
Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.
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Best Mattresses Recommended By Chiropractors
I am frequently asked by patients what mattresses I recommend for their back pain or particular condition. Patients want to know where to find the best mattress for back pain, chronic pain, sciatica neck pain, hip pain, shoulder pain, disc issues, muscle spasms, and after spinal surgery.
Nowadays most mattresses for back pain are sold online, which makes picking a bed a difficult task. It is a costly purchase that you will spend a lot of time using, so it is important to make an educated decision.
Choosing the wrong mattress could cost you thousands of dollars and many nights of back pain and restless sleep. I have some knowledge to share with you to make sure this doesnt happen.
Can Sleeping Position Affect Back Pain
Sleeping position can have a direct effect on back pain. Each sleeping position creates a unique set of pressure points and areas that need cushioning, and this is why our testers believe having the right mattress to suit your sleeping position is an important part of preventing and reducing back pain.
Back sleepers tend to have their most serious pressure points around the lumbar area. Our pressure tests on various mattresses have shown that if a mattress is too soft, the weight of the abdomen will cause this region to sink out of alignment with the rest of the back and hips. If the mattress is too hard, it wont accommodate the natural curvature of the spine in the lumbar area. For this reason, a medium-firm to firm mattress usually works best for back sleepers.
Side sleepers have high-impact areas where the body is the widest, notably at the shoulders and hips. A mattress needs to be contouring enough to cushion those pressure points but not so soft as to let them sink too deeply into the bed and out of line with the rest of the body. Most side sleepers on our test team get the best results from a medium to medium-firm mattress.
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What Sleeping Position Is Best For Upper Back Pain
Sleeping on your stomach is particularly strenuous for your upper back, according to the Keck School of Medicine. This is because the position forces you to turn your head to one side overnight.
Aside from avoiding stomach sleeping, people with upper back pain can make sure they have a supportive pillow if they like to sleep on their side.
According to Keck, sleeping on your back is likely the best position to avoid upper back pain. However, its not a good sleeping position for pregnant people. And for some people, it can be difficult to sleep deeply in this position, too.
What Mattress Firmness Is Best For Side Sleepers
Although mattress firmness is very much a preference, side sleepers will benefit from a soft to medium soft mattress that allows their body to sink into it. This allows the support layers to better cradle and contour the body, allowing your spine to sleep in a much straighter position.
That said, some side sleepers need more support than others and may require additional padding or softness, while others might prefer a slightly firmer finish.
We recommend testing out different firmness levels or opting for a mattress that falls in between soft and medium or is adjustable.
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Why Loom & Leaf Wins As Best Memory Foam Mattress For Bad Backs
Loom & Leaf is flat-out one of the nicest beds you can find online, particularly if youre searching for a memory foam bed. And it doesnt just look nice. Its supportive, comfortable, and has a very clever design. As opposed to other memory foam beds, this one contains a special cooling layer to help regulate temperature.
Best Mattress For Back Pain 2022
Dr. Bhavik Sheth, PT, DPT, CSCS, SFMA
Dr. Bhavik Sheth, PT, DPT, CSCS, SFMA is a physical therapist and the co-founder of the Elite Movement Initiative, a physical therapy group. He earned his D…
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In the U.S., 1 in 3 adults claim back problems affect their everyday activities, including sleep. Less sleep can cause back pain to escalate because of the lack of time spent in non-REM a key part of the sleep cycle responsible for muscle recovery.
The right mattress can make a difference between a good nights sleep and a sleepless night. The best mattress for back pain will conform to the body, relieve pressure points, and provide full-body support. Weve compiled a list of the best mattress options on the market today. We also include a guide on what to look for in the best mattress for back pain.
What Are The Best Back Pain Mattresses
There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but the best mattresses for back pain typically incorporate memory foam and some extra features, such as enhanced lumbar support.
Research shows that most people benefit from a medium-firm mattress to relieve chronic lower back discomfort. If you wake up in agony, its most likely due to a too-soft mattress.
How Much Of An Investment Do I Need To Make
Budget-friendly mattresses may cost just a few hundred dollars. These models often offer strong pressure relief and good support, but some may be more prone to forming impressions over time. Higher-priced models may seem like a big investment, but quality materials and construction can help the mattress last longer, which may make it a better value in the long run. Direct-to-consumer mattresses sold online are often less expensive, since the manufacturer isnt paying for showrooms and additional staff. These mattress in a box models are comparable to those sold in brick-and-mortar stores in terms of construction and performance.
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When Should I Get A New Mattress
Most mattresses will require replacing after around 7 years.
A worn mattress may not provide adequate support and may be sunken or worn. This may contribute to back pain. If a person has an old mattress, they may wish to try a new one. Sleep trials allow consumers to test a mattress for a period before committing to a purchase.
one-third of their lives either sleeping or trying to fall asleep. People with back pain may experience difficulty falling asleep because they cannot get comfortable.
Choosing a mattress to suit an individuals needs and preferences may help alleviate back pain and improve sleep quality.
An individual should consider the type of back pain they are experiencing and their preferred sleep position before choosing the mattress that will work best for them.
- Caggiari, G., et al. . What type of mattress should be chosen to avoid back pain and improve sleep quality? Review of the literature.
Trial Period And Warranty
When shopping for any bed, especially online, its important to find out the trial period before pressing purchase. Luckily, most online mattress retailers offer generous risk-free trial periods in which you can try your bed at home for up to a full year. If you dont like it, you can send it back for a refund or exchange.
Youll also want to check out your mattress warranty. Things like manufacturing defects and premature wear should be covered for at least five or so years.
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Best Adjustable Mattress For Back Pain: Sleep Number 360 I8
Sleep Number states that this adjustable mattress may suit back and stomach sleepers. The mattress is split down the middle. Users can adjust comfort and firmness on each side separately.
An adjustable mattress may suit people with back pain as they can adapt the firmness and position to their needs.
The mattress features responsive Air technology that automatically adjusts according to a persons movements. The contouring surface also conforms to the individual to provide more support.
Sleep Number claims that this mattress can absorb and release excess heat to keep users cool throughout the night.
The mattress has a height of 12 inches .
The price depends on the mattress size chosen, as follows:
- Twin XL: $3,349
What To Look For And Avoid
The difference between a mattress suitable for back pain, and a so-called orthopaedic mattress, is mainly down to the marketing. I have a top 5 orthopaedic mattress article here but the results are pretty similar. Of course they are: because the meanings are pretty much the same .
The first thing to look for in a mattress suitable for back issues is the features, followed by the firmness rating.
Here is my summary of the very best mattress features for those with back issues and/or ongoing pain in their spine:
Below I will clarify the above points further for you, to make sure that you are clear on what it means. As always, I must state that if you have severe back issues then speaking to a licensed professional is a good idea, such as a chiropractor or even your GP.
But how do you actually choose the right mattress for back issues?
And dont assume that a memory foam mattress is softer / more slouchy than a pocket spring mattress because thats not always the case.
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