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What Type Of Mattress Is Best For Lower Back Pain

Should You Choose Firm Or Soft

Best Mattress for Lower Back Pain and Sciatica – Our Top 6 Picks!

This is pretty much the same as when we talk about comfort and support.

A new mattress should never be too firm, nor should it ever be too soft.

A mattress should be as neutral as it can be, to ensure both your body and spine stay in a neutral position.

A mattress that is too firm can not only restrict blood flow, but can also cause pinched nerves.

If you find that a lot of the times you awake, with the sensation of having pins and needles in your body, this is a sign of a mattress that is too rigid.

If your mattress is too soft, you chance having a sagging effect, much like a hammock.

When this happens, you can find yourself with back pain, due to your spine not being correctly aligned.

Hopefully now you understand why we want a mattress to be as close to neutral as possible.

You need your mattress soft in the right places, without being too soft.

But you also need your mattress to be supportive, without being overly rigid. Best Mattress Firmness For Bad Back

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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:

20 years

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.

Is Memory Foam Good For Your Back

Perhaps the most common question we hear is are memory foam mattresses good for your back?

Well, our research shows that sleepers with back pain often tend to be highly satisfied with a memory foam mattress. In fact, studies show that large numbers of people who own one experience some sort of joint pain relief. This satisfaction arises due to the unique properties and behavior of memory foam.

One of the most important features to look out for is the density of the foam. Generally, high-density provides the utmost support and optimal spinal alignment. Whereas the medium-density presents less contouring of the body, and the low-density is considered to provide less effective relief compared to the former two.

Memory foam is a popular choice, but its not always the perfect choice. Beds for backs are available in a range of different materials and, depending on your circumstances, a mixture of each may be best for your needs.

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Creating Optimal Spinal Alignment

When we enter slow-wave sleep, our muscles are not paralyzed like in REM periods, and we may move around. This could mean rolling around and winding up in odd sleeping positions. If you have a mattress with zoned support, this shouldnt be a big deal as long as you dont wind yourself into a pretzel. The mattress should do the work in letting your shoulders and hips sink in a little while supporting the spine.

However, if youre on an ultra-hard bed and end up on your side, you could end up messing with the spinal curve, and if youre already dealing with pain and inflammation, this isnt great news.

Mattresses have come a long way in the past few years and many companies have realized the benefits of proper spinal alignment for sleep. When youre laying on the side, proper alignment should be fairly straight, allowing the hips and shoulders to sink in slightly while supporting the middle. Mattresses that offer zoned support tend to be great at this.

When sleeping on your back, there should be a slight curve in the spine, with support in the mid and low back, while allowing the neck to rest backward. If you live in the twenty-first century, you probably spend a fair amount of time looking at screens. Whether on your phone, a computer, or a gaming device.

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A Mix Of Foam And Bounce: Leesa Sapira Hybrid

The best kind of mattress for lower back pain relief ...

20% off w/code WIRECUTTER

*At the time of publishing, the price was $1,450.

Who its for: The Leesa Sapira Hybrid is likely to appeal to back-pain sufferers, regardless of preferred sleep position, who want a foamy feel with a pinch of springiness. The foams density suggests it will hold up well for people who weigh more than 200 pounds.

How it feels: The bounce from the coils seems to mellow out the feel, making this hybrid just a touch softer than a typical medium-firm.

Why its great: The foam-innerspring feel of the Leesa Sapira Hybrid is more balanced than that of the Tempur-Adapt, our other hybrid pick in this guide, whose memory foam takes over the entire experience of the mattress. In the Leesa Sapira Hybrid, the 4-pounds-per-cubic-foot memory-foam layer and 1,000-plus individually pocketed coils support your spine and conform to your curves. Its sturdy but not rigid, said one of our back-and-side-sleeping testers. You can sit on the edges without sliding off, too. Unlike the Saatva Classic, Leesa mattresses are available at partner retailers, so you may be able to try the Leesa Sapira Hybrid in person before you buy it. Within the 100-night trial period, you can return it for a full refund if you dont like it, though youre required to sleep on it for at least 30 days first.

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Is Orthopedic Foam Good For Lower Back Pain

Orthopedic foam can be used to treat lower back pain. It has plenty of different features, making it suitable for people suffering from lower back problems. Orthopedic foam can easily conform to the shape of the body. It can be easily used to relieve lower back pain.

It sometimes has coils or other pressure-relieving layers that help people with lower back pain. Thus, the answer is yes, and you should use it for lower back pain.

Back Sleepers With Back Pain

If you are a back sleeper with back pain you are going to want support from your mattress for your low back and mid back. Support will offer you back pain relief by allowing the rest and recovery your muscles, joints, and discs need. Without support your muscles are having to work all night to support a spine that is already under day to day stress. With support you will have that proper spinal alignment, and to get support you need a firm mattress.

Support is necessary for the indented areas of our body . You want your mattress to push up into these areas to keep your spine in the correct position. The best material for that is a hybridmemory foam or latex.

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How Back Pain Affects Sleep

Related Reading

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.

Simple Sleep Tricks To Reduce Back Pain

Best Mattress Type For Back Pain – Research Shows GIVEAWAY!

A new mattress is a big investment, and sometimes its too expensive to fit into your budget. If you want to reduce back pain in a cost-effective way, there are a few other options you can test out.

  • Pillow: A new pillow that works with your sleeping position and provides good neck support can be a great way to quickly improve your sleep posture and reduce some back pain. Our best pillows for back pain roundup includes a few options, and explains how pillows can help fight back pain in more detail.
  • Mattress Topper: Adding a firm mattress topper to a sagging or unsupportive mattress can be a nice quick fix for back pain. It also gives some much-needed support and can extend the life of your mattress by a few months. Check out some of our best mattress toppers to see some options.
  • Change your sleeping position: Your sleeping position could be creating some back pain. Back sleepers have the easiest time achieving a neutral spinal alignment, which can really reduce pain. Stomach sleepers, on the other hand, are particularly prone to waking up with back pain. Side sleepers can also have some issues with pain if they arent careful about not twisting their back into odd positions as they sleep. If youre struggling with back pain, training yourself to sleep on your back could be a big help. Check out our How to Train to Sleep on Your Back article for some tips.

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The Saatva Mattress Supports Natural Spine Alignment To Relieve Back Pain

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the bestproducts. Healthcare professionals review articles for medical accuracy. Learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Verywell Health / Sabrina Jiang

Anyone who lives with back pain understands what a major difference a restful nights sleep can makeand, on the flip side, how disruptive it is when you wake up already experiencing discomfort. There are many causes of back pain, including sleeping on a bad mattress, so you’ll want to make sure that the mattress you sleep on every night is meeting your needs.

Why Sleep Is So Important To Help Relieve Back Pain

You know that saying if you arent going forward, youre going backward? Thats exactly how your spine works with mattress firmness. If youre sleeping on a bad mattress, not only are you not helping to alleviate your low-back pain, you could be giving yourself chronic pain.

When we sleep on a high-quality mattress, our bodies can enter deep sleep and help mend themselves, relieving inflammation and resting tired muscles that can provide comfort and help promote proper spinal alignment. Thats because of the role that REM sleep plays in a nights rest. A good nights sleep means getting through the sleep cycle, which is vital to the bodys recovery after a hard day.

Unfortunately, if you cant get restful sleep , youre compounding those problems.

These little inflammations and ticks and scratches add up to create real problems that can exacerbate spine problems and make sleeping even tougher. Make your bed part of the solution, not part of the problem. The best mattress for back pain is one that will support your spine, provide good, restful sleep, and the comfort that your body is on the mend. So whats the optimal type of mattress for you?

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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 .



Other Things To Consider When Sleeping With Back Pain

Best Type Of Mattress For Lower Back Pain

While relief from chronic back pain may be your primary concern, there are other factors youll want to consider before you make your final decision. Here are some other components you may want to look for in a mattress when youre narrowing down your options.

Body Type

Make sure you keep your body type in mind when looking for a mattress to help with your back pain. As mentioned above, the firmness of your bed can affect the quality of your sleep depending on your preferred position. Well, your weight plays a part in how firm a mattress feels to you. What feels soft to a larger person may feel uncomfortably firm to a petite person. Our heavy sleepers guide has more information that may prove useful in your buying journey.

Mattress Durability

As is the case for any mattress shopper, youll want to make sure you are investing in a quality product. The higher the quality, the likelier it is that your mattress will have high durability and be able to hold up under your weight for many years. If you get a mattress that begins to sag prematurely, this could contribute to worsened back pain.

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Sleeping Cool And Airflow

There are a handful of design techniques and novel technologies that work to keep modern mattresses cool and sweat-free.

Some memory foam mattresses use open-air internal chambers that allow air to flow through the mattress, keeping it dry and cool. Other use gel-infused foam layers to reduce bacterial growth and pull heat away from sleepers.

Organic mattresses use natural materials such as cotton and wool to regulate mattress temperature and keep the bed breathable.

Smart beds use electric grids and preset information to electronically lower a mattresss temperature. Some models use this feature like an alarm mechanism, lowering the mattresss temperature until the sleeper it too cold to continue sleeping.

Engineers and creative designers will likely continue to create and implement fantastic improvements upon the current cooling and airflow methods used in contemporary mattresses. The future of sleep keeps getting brighter.

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Best Mattress For Hot Sleepers With Back Pain

If you tend to overheat at night, consider the Bear Hybrid Mattress with its cooling Celliant cover.

  • Best for: Side sleepers and hot sleepers
  • Available sizes: Twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, California king
  • Mattress type: Hybrid pocket coils and three foam layers
  • Firmness : 5
  • Motion isolation : 4
  • Heat dissipation : 9
  • Edge support : 5
  • Trial period/warranty: 100 nights 20 years
  • Weight/thickness: 110 pounds 14 inches
  • Shipping and returns: Free shipping, free returns
  • White-glove delivery and mattress removal: Yes, $100 for white-glove plus $50 for mattress removal
  • Showroom availability: 8 locations

Pros: Stays cool, excellent heat dissipation, great for side sleepers, made of CertiPUR-US and Greenguard Gold certified materials, easy to move

Cons: May not suit stomach or back sleepers or heavy individuals, below-average motion isolation

Bear designs its mattresses for athletes looking for a bed that will help them stay cool and recover from grueling workouts. I consider myself a hot-sleeping athlete and found the Bear Hybrid provided cooling recovery.

Bear mattresses feature Celliant covers. Celliant is supposed to help with heat dissipation, but I haven’t found any scientific studies on mattresses that support this. Yet, in my experience testing mattresses, toppers, and sheets with Celliant, the material does run cooler than non-Celliant options. My objective tests with the Bear Hybrid showed it stayed cool and quickly dissipated heat when I got up from it.

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