The 7 Best Mattresses for Back Pain of 2021

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Mattresses for Back Pain

Verywell / Sabrina Jiang

First Look

Best Overall: Saatva Classic Mattress at saatva.com

"Offering pressure point relief no matter your position, its coil construction contours to your body’s unique movements."

Best Memory Foam: Amerisleep AS2 12" Memory Foam Mattress at amerisleep.com

"While it may be too firm for some, it's especially popular among stomach and back sleepers and features breathable memory foam."

Best Budget: 8" Memory Foam and Innerspring Hybrid Mattress at linenspa.com

"The affordable option includes an extra top layer of memory foam to provide extra comfort and boasts compatibility with any base."

Best Boxed Mattress: Helix Midnight Luxe Mattress at helixsleep.com

"Boxed for easy delivery and set-up, the coil and foam hybrid is especially ideal for side sleepers who need pressure point relief."

Best for Side Sleepers: The Casper at casper.com

"Offering three zones of support, it keeps your spine aligned and your waist supported, especially as you doze on your side."

Best for Stomach Sleepers: 10" Gel Memory Foam Mattress at lucidmattress.com

"Compatible with any base and all sleep styles, the medium-firm option makes sleeping on your stomach comfortable and pain-free."

Best Gel Foam Mattress: Sweetnight 12" Gel Memory Foam Mattress at sweetnight.com

"More affordable than other picks without skimping on comfort, it has three, hypoallergenic layers, ideal for sensitive sleepers."

Anyone who lives with back pain understands what a major difference a restful night’s sleep can make—and, on the flip side, how disruptive it is when you wake up already experiencing discomfort. Though there are many causes of back pain, regardless of how it started, you want to make sure that the mattress you sleep on every night is meeting your needs. But finding one that works for you is often easier said than done.

“There is no ‘best kind’ of mattress for your back problems, so you may need to be open to some trial-and-error,” says Dr. Gregory Funk, a chiropractor and the owner of Ideal Health Chiropractic in Denver. “At the end of the day, you should look for a mattress that not only aligns with your personal preferences, but can also provide adequate support for the natural curves and alignment of the spine."

Here are the best mattresses for back pain on the market.

Best Overall: Saatva Classic Mattress

Saatva Classic in Luxury Firm
Courtesy of Saatva.
Pros
  • Promotes healthy spine alignment

  • Antimicrobial outer cover

  • Made with recycled steel coils

  • Two height options

Cons
  • Return fee

  • Prone to sagging

  • May be too firm for some

Saatva’s Classic Mattress offers pressure point relief no matter your go-to sleeping position. Designed to add benefits to those recovering from surgery or experiencing back or joint pain, its individually-wrapped coil construction contours to your body’s unique movements while the memory foam keeps your spine in check. And if you’re prone to overheating, its dual-coil system promotes enhanced airflow while the organic pillow top promises breathability. 

Depending on your body type and if you prefer a hugging or floating feel, choose from the comfort levels plush soft, luxury firm, or firm. For added weightless comfort, you can also purchase the Lineal Adjustable Base, which offers underbed illumination and head and foot support, to complement the mattress. 

If this hybrid pick doesn’t meet your needs or expectations, it can be returned within 180 nights of the home trial, at a pickup cost.

Firmness: Available in plush, luxury firm, and firm | Thickness: 11.5 inches | Type: Hybrid (foam and innerspring) | Trial Length: 180 nights

Best Memory Foam: Amerisleep AS2 12" Memory Foam Mattress

Amerisleep

Courtesy of Amerisleep 

Pros
  • Free returns

  • Base is designed to prevent sagging 

  • Open-cell design promotes breathability 

  • Made to resist dust mites and mold

Cons
  • May be too firm for some

While it doesn't come cheap, the Amerisleep AS2 Mattress is heralded as one of the best options for people with back pain and is designed with common sleep problems in mind.

The 12-inch AS2 mattress is described as medium-firm and is popular among both stomach and back sleepers. The mattress includes several layers of material to provide comfort and support and has zones that provide extra pressure relief for your shoulders and lower back.

The mattress is made from a unique type of memory foam that’s eco-friendly and keeps you cool throughout the night. Even more, the memory foam bounces back to its original shape in mere seconds, so you don't get stuck in ruts if you shift during the night. If you buy this mattress through the manufacturer, you’ll have 100 nights to test it out in a risk-free trial.

Firmness: Medium-firm | Thickness: 12 inches | Type: Memory foam | Trial Length: 100 nights

Best Budget: 8" Memory Foam and Innerspring Hybrid Mattress

LinenSpa Memory Foam and Innerspring Hybrid Mattress

Linenspa

Pros
  • Free returns within 30 days

  • Compatible with any base

  • Doesn't require a box spring

Cons
  • Takes up to 48 hours to expand

  • May not be as breathable as some need

You don't have to put up with your back pain just because you don't have a huge budget for a new mattress. This eight-inch mattress is described as medium firm and combines memory foam with the traditional support of an innerspring mattress. The innersprings are topped with a 1.5-inch layer of memory foam to cradle your body as you sleep and minimize pressure points.

The Linenspa mattress comes compressed in a box for convenient delivery as well, but as is true of all boxed mattresses, it perks up to its intended size and firmness level once it's unpacked.

Firmness: Medium-firm | Thickness: 8 inches | Type: Hybrid (foam and innerspring) | Trial Length: None offered

Does Price Matter?

"Don’t assume the more money you spend, the more comfortable you’ll be. The best sleeping surface is the one that feels best to you,"Neel Anand, M.D., professor of orthopaedic surgery and director of spine trauma at Cedars-Sinai Spine Center in Los Angeles

Best Boxed Mattress: Helix Midnight Luxe Mattress

helix-mattress

 Courtesy of Helix

Pros
  • Offers a hybrid of coil and foam

  • Great for side sleepers

Cons
  • 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 popular—providing 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 doesn’t meet your expectations.

Firmness: Medium | Thickness: 14 inches | Type: Hybrid (foam and coil spring) | Trial Length: 100 nights

Best for Side Sleepers: The Casper

Casper Original

Courtesy of Casper

Pros
  • Free returns

  • Minimal movement disturbances to partner

Cons
  • May be too firm for some

Sleeping on your side is tricky as you need adequate support around your waist to keep your spine in alignment. If your mattress doesn't provide this support, you may wake up with a stiff, achy back.

One of the best mattress options for side sleepers with back problems is the Casper mattress, which has a special zoned design to give you support exactly where you need it. The Casper mattress is constructed from four layers of memory foam that balance support, comfort, and breathability. And there’s a softer “zone” under your shoulders, allowing you to sink in as you sleep on your side, and a firmer zone under your hips and core to keep your spine in place. They use open-cell foams to keep you cool throughout the night, too.

The company offers a 100 night risk-free trial, so you have plenty of time to make your decision.

Firmness: Softer around shoulders, firmer under the hips, waist, and lower back | Thickness: 11 inches | Type: All foam, or Hybrid (foam and innerspring) | Trial Length: 100 nights

Best for Stomach Sleepers: 10" Gel Memory Foam Mattress

Lucid 10 Inch Firm Gel Memory Foam Mattress

Courtesy of Lucid Mattress

Pros
  • Free returns within 30 days

  • Hypoallergenic properties

  • Ideal for all sleep styles

  • Compatible with any base

Cons
  • Non-removable cover

If you sleep on your stomach, a plush mattress will likely cause back pain as you'll sink into it throughout the night, causing your spine to be out of alignment. However, a mattress that’s too firm will be uncomfortable, putting too much pressure on your stomach and ribs.

Because of these variables, it can be tough to find a great mattress for back pain if you sleep on your stomach. One of the better choices available is the LUCID 10-inch Gel Memory Foam Mattress, which is the perfect medium-firm option to make sleeping on your front comfortable and pain-free.

It’s constructed with two layers—a 7.5-inch high-density foam base that provides the support you need and a 2.5-inch gel-infused memory foam surface that makes sleeping on your stomach more comfortable and regulates temperature throughout the night.

Firmness: Firm | Thickness: 10 inches | Type: Memory foam | Trial Length: None offered

Best Gel Foam Mattress: Sweetnight 12" Gel Memory Foam Mattress

Sweetnight Breeze 12 Inch Queen Size Mattress

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Free returns within 100 days

  • Hypoallergenic

  • Reversible

Cons
  • Non-removable cover

There are many quality foam mattresses that can help reduce your back pain. And one of the best, most affordable options is the Sweetnight 12 inch Gel Memory Foam Mattress.

While it costs hundreds less than comparable products, this 12-inch memory foam mattress will give you a great night's sleep, helping to reduce body aches all the while.

This mattress has three thick layers of foam for optimal comfort. The top layer is made of a gel memory foam that regulates temperature, keeping you cool throughout the night while cradling the contours of your body—no matter what position you sleep in. Plus, the mattress is hypoallergenic and resistant to allergens, making it a great option for those who are sensitive to pollen and dust.

Firmness: Medium-firm | Thickness: 12 inches | Type: Gel-infused memory foam | Trial Length: 100 nights

Final Verdict

Those with back pain who want appreciate construction and choice, should consider the Saatva Classic Mattress (view at Saatva). The hybrid composition of the mattress brings the best of memory foam, a pillow top, and a dual-coil system to support healthy spine alignment and provide back and joint pain relief. It's available in three different firmness levels and comes with a 180-night trial so you can test it out with peace of mind before making a final decision.

If you're looking for an option that's slightly more affordable but still offers excellent support, the Memory Foam and Innerspring Hybrid Mattress from Linenspa (view at Linenspa) is another great choice.

Casper Mattress Bedding
The Spruce / Sage McHugh

What to Look for in a Mattress for Back Pain

Mattress Type:

Memory foam 

Memory foam has become enormously popular. Though most of us associate the material with the Tempur-Pedic brand, it's widely used by other mattress brands.

Aptly named, memory foam sinks in wherever you put pressure and molds to that shape, bouncing back when you take it away. Because of this, these mattresses provide even support all along your spine, says Steve Knauf, D.C., executive director of chiropractic and compliance for The Joint Chiropractic. It’s also great for isolating motion—that is, not being disturbed when your partner or dog moves in the middle of the night. Plus, it’s hypoallergenic.

Memory foam mattress can be made of a few different materials which come with their own pros and cons:

Traditional memory foam is petroleum-based polyurethane. It's temperature sensitive so it softens with your body heat and stays hard where it's cool, making it great for not only cradling your body shape but also isolating movement. However, it also retains that body heat which can interrupt sleep for some.

Plant-based memory foam is made from coconut, soy, and other plant materials so it has the perk of being vegan, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. These materials often spring back more quickly, too, so they're great at shaping around your body as you move in the night.

Gel-infused are memory foam mattresses finished on top with a layer of gel. This adds both comfort and breathability. While full memory foam can be quite hot from your body heat, the gel allows air to circulate more, making for a cooler sleep surface. They also spring back to their initial shape very quickly after weight is removed.

Coil

Coil mattresses (also called innersprings) are the most traditional and most common type available. That's largely because they've been the leading type of mattress for nearly forever. 

The mattress is comprised of a series of steel coils that compress when you sit or lay on them. The shape, size, and number of coils all vary from mattress to mattress, as well as the different coil options—continuous, Bonnell, offset, and pocketed coil. But in general, the more coils, the higher the quality and support.

The main draw of this type of mattress is that it's the most affordable option (other than an air mattress). It's also very bouncy and keeps you cool because there’s more room for air to circulate, Knauf points out.

However, coil beds also usually wear out faster so while you may get it cheaper, you'll have to replace it sooner to maintain sufficient spine support. Also, coil beds can be squeaky, so it's not an ideal choice if you or your partner move a lot in the night.

Toppers

Like mattresses, toppers in themselves are made in a variety of materials, densities, and thicknesses. Polyester blends are a decent option and usually the cheapest, but they don't provide a ton of support and degrade quickly over time. Feather toppers, often called featherbeds, feel extremely soft and luxurious but they don't offer much support for your spine (and a lot of people are allergic to them). 

For more spine support, latex and memory foam are typically best. They add either softness or firmness, good support for your joints, and motion control for others on the bed. 

Latex

Natural latex comes from the sap of a rubber tree, so it's a great option for those concerned with chemicals and environmental footprint. 

In a mattress, it performs similarly (but to a slightly lesser extent) to memory foam with its ability to contour to your body and bounce back. But it offers a little more bounce than full memory foam, so it's nice if you don't want that full sinking feeling. It also retains less heat than memory foam which can be good for sleep hygiene. Plus, it’s hypoallergenic.

Firmness:

Mattresses come in every level of firmness from squishy soft to hard as concrete. Though a lot of people think harder is better, surprisingly there is no one ideal firmness to help ease back pain, says Harrison Linder, M.D., pain management specialist with The Center for Interventional Pain Medicine at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. In fact, one study found when people were given seven different firmness to try, there was no collective favorite. Some people like to sleep on a harder surface, others on one that’s soft. Dr. Linder says in general, people usually prefer a “medium-firm” option. “They tend to be firm enough to offer support for back and front sleepers, but still offer some cushion from those that prefer to sleep on their sides.”

In fact, a 2015 study analysis in Sleep Health found medium-firm mattresses were most ideal for sleep comfort, quality, and spinal alignment.

However, that level of firmness was subjective, so really it's still about what feels most comfortable to your body. Your best bet is to test beds out in person. 

Support:

While ideal firmness is subjective, support is not. What’s important for your back is the curves: “The spine has a natural curve to it and your mattress needs to be supportive of that natural curve as well as the entire body,” Knauf explains. When you’re laying down, there should be no place where your body is not touching the bed. 

But we don't all sleep in the same position, so support may look different for everyone. “The goal is to achieve pressure relief for adequate rest and renewal, while still keeping the spine and important structures in proper alignment,” says Dr. Linder. 

Firm mattresses aren’t usually comfortable for side sleepers—they can cause pressure to build in your shoulder and hip joints, delivering restless sleep and stiff and sore muscles the next day, says Knauf. But people who sleep directly on their backs or stomach tend to like it more.

Meanwhile, if you sleep on your front or back, soft mattresses can cause areas of your body that are heavier (like the pelvis) to sag, pulling your upper body out of alignment, Knauf explains. Softer mattresses help relieve pressure from the hips and shoulders for those that sleep on their sides, Dr. Linder adds.

Return Policy:

In a perfect world, we’d always be able to try mattresses before buying them. But for a variety of reasons, in-person shopping isn’t an option for everyone, leaving us guessing about whether we’re actually going to like the mattresses we buy online. For this reason, be sure to check the company’s return policy. It’s also worth checking if the mattress comes with some sort of established trial period—like when you’re able to test it out for a certain number of nights and return it for a refund if it doesn’t work out. Additionally, look for the company's warranty on the mattress. Mattresses can be a big investment, and you want to make sure you can get a repair or replacement if your product is defective.

Price:

Mattresses can be incredibly expensive, but there are also some good, affordable options. You do sleep on one every night, and the right (or wrong) one can significantly affect the quality of your sleep, so you want to make sure you invest in one that's going to help with your back pain for years to come.

Saatva Classic Mattress

The Spruce / Lindsay Boyers

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are firm mattresses better for back pain?

    Not necessarily. “While specialists used to recommend an extra firm mattress as the ideal choice for proper back support, that guidance is outdated and has pretty much been overruled,” Neel Anand, M.D., professor of orthopaedic surgery and director of spine trauma at Cedars-Sinai Spine Center in Los Angeles explains. “Instead, you should look for a mattress that supports the natural curve of your spine when you are lying flat and on your side.”

    So what kind of support should you look for, based on your spinal curves? “Those with flatter spines and less spinal curvature tend to do better with a slightly firmer mattress, while those with larger spinal curves tend to do better with a little more cushioning,” Dr. Jordan Duncan, a chiropractor and the owner of Silverdale Sport & Spine, a clinic in Silverdale, Washington tells Verywell Health.

    And though people with back pain may certainly prefer sleeping on an especially firm mattress, that’s not universally the case. “A firm mattress can create discomfort in the neck, shoulders, and pelvic area, as the firmness can create unnecessary pressure on those points of your body,” Dr. Funk explains.

  • How often should you replace your mattress?

    Ultimately, this depends on the type of mattress you have, but according to Duncan, a good general rule is to replace your mattress every eight to 10 years. “Worn-out, sagging mattresses don’t provide the level of support required for those with back pain,” he notes. 

    Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. “If you reach a certain point where you consistently wake up with back pain, then it is absolutely time to consider purchasing a new mattress,” Dr. Funk explains. “However, back pain has a variety of influencing factors, so your mattress may not always be the culprit.”

    In order to help you determine whether your mattress is the cause of your back pain woes, Dr. Funk recommends getting into the habit of analyzing your sleep and evaluating your mattress every six months or so, using the following questions:

    • Is the mattress showing any signs of wear and tear? 
    • Has your quality of sleep declined recently? 
    • Do you wake up with any recurring pains? 
    • When you sleep on another bed outside of your home, how does your sleep change? 

    Mattresses are an investment, so you want to be sure to take care of them. A mattress should last you seven to 10 years, says Knauf. You can maximize that lifespan by:

    • Rotating your mattress every six months. Moving your head to your feet every so often can help avoid lumps or compression in specific places.
    • Don't jump on the bed. Obviously, this can speed up the taxing of your coils or encourage compression of foam and latex.
    • Put a waterproof mattress cover between your mattress and the sheets to prevent dirt or water from getting in and creating mold.
Saatva Classic Mattress

The Spruce / Lindsay Boyers

What Experts Say

"If you’re thinking about investing in a new mattress, the number of options and amount of conflicting information about choosing the ‘right’ kind can be overwhelming, especially when you are likely spending a significant amount of money. It’s a decision you don’t want to get wrong because you’ll have to live with it for years to come. And if you’re bed-hunting for you and your partner, the choice becomes even more challenging because you’re trying to make two people comfortable."Neel Anand, M.D., professor of orthopaedic surgery and director of spine trauma at Cedars-Sinai Spine Center in Los Angeles.

Why Trust Verywell Health? 

Camryn Rabideau is a regular contributor to outlets like Martha Stewart, InStyle, Food52, Taste of Home, USA Today, The Spruce, and more. She also regularly writes product reviews for Reviewed, putting today's hottest gadgets and home essentials to the test. She received her B.S. in Textiles, Merchandising and Design from the University of Rhode Island.

Additional reporting to this story by Rachael Schultz and Elizabeth Yuko

As a seasoned health writer and editor—and someone with insomnia and occasional back pain—Elizabeth Yuko understands how much of a difference having the right mattress can make. She’s always on the lookout for new (and research-backed) products, techniques, and services that can help people cope with sleep difficulties, stress and other health challenges.

Rachael Schultz is a freelance writer with a focus in health and nutrition. Her articles have appeared on a handful of other Health sites, and she has a degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design. She specializes in breaking down science and medical jargon into digestible information.

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Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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