The 7 Best Mattresses for Back Pain of 2023

The dual-sided Saatva Zenhaven mattress has a firm and plush side, so it's comfortable for a variety of sleepers.

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Mattress for Back Pain

Verywell Health / Kevin Liang

Anyone 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 in pain. There are many causes of back pain, but sleeping on a good mattress is one way to help—so if you frequently wake up in pain, it’s time to evaluate if your mattress meets your needs. 

The experts we spoke to, including Tyler Bigenho, DC, a chiropractor at Clean Spine in California, and Angelie Mascarinas, MD, a board-certified assistant attending physiatrist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Florida, had suggestions for finding the best mattresses for back pain: You need one that isn’t too soft, that offers adequate support for your back and spine. This might take a bit of trial and error, so it’s essential to buy from a place that has plenty of options (or customization) and a generous trial period or return policy, so you can try something else if your first choice doesn’t work. A good test period is two weeks: If you don’t feel better after that, you might need a mattress topper, or it might not be a good fit for you.

Using this information, we tested 18 mattresses in our homes. The testers included stomach, back, and slide sleepers, and they shared their history of back pain and how their mattress helped or hurt them. They slept on the beds for one month, and they will continue to share their insights on how their mattress wears over time, so we’ll update this document as we have more information.

Best Overall

Saatva Zenhaven Natural Latex Mattress

Saatva Zenhaven Natural Latex Mattress

Saatva

Pros
  • Dual-sided: “luxury plush” on one side, “gentle firm” on the other

  • 365-night home trial

  • For side, stomach and back sleepers

Cons
  • Difficult and heavy to flip—requires two people

This bed won our Best Overall category because it’s suitable for side, stomach, and back sleepers. Beyond that, the fact that it’s dual-sided means that Saatva is covering even more bases for back health and support. 

Overall, the Verywell Health team noted that this was the most comfortable mattress they’d ever tried. The “luxury plush” side was soft but supportive enough to offer a great night’s sleep. The “gentle firm” side, however, provided just the right amount of support without feeling too hard. The bed was also comfortable enough for a side sleeper to rest on her back, and overall, there was no neck, back, or hip pain on either side. Our tester also observed a more restful night’s sleep due to less tossing and turning. 

Since it’s made from latex, the bed is heavy to flip—and less sturdy than coil mattresses—meaning you’ll likely need a helping hand. A 365-night guarantee offers peace of mind for just the right fit. Saatva offers a full refund—minus a $99 processing fee—if the mattress doesn’t suit you

Price at time of publication: $3,195

Key Specs:
Material:
Natural latex core, organic cotton upper | Size Listed: Queen | Trial Length: 365 nights | Thickness: 10” | Warranty: Lifetime

Best for Stomach Sleepers

Saatva Classic Mattress

4.2
Saatva Classic Mattress

Saatva

Pros
  • Three levels of firmness to select

  • Combination of innerspring and plush top layers

  • Breathable design and materials

Cons
  • Slight factory scent that dissipates after one to two nights

  • Not as breathable as expected in the summer months

It’s important for stomach sleepers to have a mattress on the firm side to avoid sagging and minimize the amount of pressure on the lower back. In terms of support, this bed received five stars as the hips weren’t sagging, and the curvature of the spine was well maintained. This level of support extends all the way to the edge, so you don’t have to worry about sagging corners. 

After four weeks of tests, the Verywell Health team noted top comfort levels for this mattress. It can often be hard to strike the balance between proper support and comfort, but the combination of innersprings, memory foam, and top layers of organic cotton offer firmness with a soft upper. Notably, one tester who suffers from back pain mentioned she no longer wakes up achy after a month of sleeping on this mattress. 

Price at time of publication: $1,995

Key Specs:
Material:
Innerspring coils, memory foam, organic cotton top | Size Listed: Queen |  Trial Length: 365-night | Thickness: 11.5” or 14.5” | Warranty: Lifetime

Best Budget

Bear Original Mattress

4.7
Bear Original Mattress

Bear

Pros
  • US-Certified non-toxic, environmentally safe materials

  • Breathable and cooling top layers

  • Contoured comfort

Cons
  • Faint plastic smell that dissipated after one to two hours

The Bear Mattress is the budget option on this list, but that doesn’t mean you’re compromising on quality. While this mattress is hundreds and, in some cases, a thousand dollars cheaper than the others, it still delivers comfort and support in spades. 

Our tester noted a marked improvement in sleep quality after four weeks with this mattress. She noted less tossing and turning of her own accord and fewer disturbances from her partner and dogs moving around on the mattress. Four different layers of foam offer cooling comfort, pressure relief, and support.  

This mattress is marketed as a great option for those who live a very active lifestyle and was rated the top memory foam mattress for athletes by Sports Illustrated. While we can’t attest to their rating criteria, our own reviewer, who exercises heavily five to six times a week, noted fewer aches, stiffness, and pain upon waking. 

Price at time of publication: $998

Key Specs:
Material:
Gel memory foam | Size Listed: King | Trial Length: 120-night | Thickness: 10”  Warranty: Lifetime

Best for Side Sleepers

Linenspa 8-Inch Memory Foam Hybrid Mattress

4.3
Linenspa 8-Inch Memory Foam Hybrid Mattress

Amazon

Pros
  • Great value for money

  • Expanded quickly

  • Good middle ground between firm and soft

Cons
  • Minor plastic smell that dissipated after one hour

  • 8-inch thickness may be too low for some

At $250, this mattress is a great price, especially if you’re a side sleeper. The hybrid innerspring and memory foam construction offered us high comfort and excellent support—particularly in our hips and lower back, where side sleepers can most often feel the pressure. 

Our reviewer noted that this mattress relieved her back pain and improved her quality of sleep overall. The bed arrives in a box, making delivery and carrying up narrow hallways a cinch. Once unpacked, the website says it will take 24 to 48 hours to fully expand, but in our tests, it took one-hour maximum. Note that the temperature of the room will affect how long it takes for your mattress to fully expand. You can expect it to take longer in cooler temps and less time in warmer ones. 

Price at time of publication: $250

Key Specs:
Material:
Hybrid innerspring and memory foam | Size Listed: Queen | Trial Length: 30 days | Thickness: 8” | Warranty: 10 years

Best for Lower Back Pain

Sweetnight 12 Inch Queen Size Mattress Medium Firm

4.7
Sweetnight 12 Inch Queen Size Mattress Medium Firm

Amazon

Pros
  • Supportive body contours

  • Quick, in-box delivery

  • Firm and stable

Cons
  • Soft edges and corners

  • Not a cooling mattress

The firmness of this mattress is what made it the best for lower back pain. Firm support is key so that you can relieve pressure, reduce tossing and turning, and have a better night’s sleep overall. Our tests revealed that the mattress was firmer than most but still received top marks for comfort. After a month of testing, not only did our tester enjoy a high-quality sleep, but she also experienced no back or neck pain while using the bed. 

While the bed itself stays firm and contours to your body rather than sags around it, it’s worth noting that the corners do sag while sitting on the edges. Regardless, our tests highlighted this bed is not only great value for money but a solid choice for those who suffer from lower back pain. 

It should be noted that although the maker lists cooling materials, we found that the mattress was warmer than expected. 

Price at time of publication: $348

Key Specs:
Material:
Combination of memory and gel foam | Size Listed: Queen | Trial Length: 100 days to return, replace or refund |  Thickness: 12” | Warranty: 10 years limited

Best Firm

Sweetnight Hybrid Coil Mattress

4.2
Sweetnight Hybrid Coil Mattress

Amazon

Pros
  • No smell upon unpacking

  • Expanded quickly

  • Great value for King size

Cons
  • The foam portion of the mattress is thinner than on other hybrids

This mattress was tested for one month by someone who sleeps on her side and stomach, which proved to be a great option for providing both comfort and support. Our tests showed reduced back pain over the course of the month, with slight tossing and turning still occurring. 

What makes this a great firm mattress option is the hybrid coil and memory foam design. Individually-wrapped coils move independently of each other, meaning great support and reduced partner disturbance. Our tests rated the comfort of this bed at 4.3, largely driven by the gel memory foam pillow top. 

Price at time of publication: $545

Key Specs:
Material:
Hybrid coils & gel memory foam | Size Listed: King |  Trial Length: 100 days to return, replace or refund | Thickness: 12” | Warranty: 10 years limited

Best for Back Sleepers

Lull Luxe Hybrid Mattress

4.6
Lull Luxe Hybrid Mattress

Lull

Pros
  • No smell upon unpacking

  • Individually packed coils for minimal sleep partner disturbance

  • Expanded quickly

Cons
  • Slight pains noticeable for side-sleepers

While it sits at a higher price point than some of the others, this mattress features six layers of a hybrid coil and foam comfort which was sufficiently supportive and markedly different from our reviewer's previous coil-only mattress. Our tests, however, showed that the Lull mattress was more comfortable while sleeping on her back than on her side, making this a great option for the back-sleepers. 

The bed fully expanded in about 10 hours, and after a four-week trial, the Luxe Hybrid Mattress noticeably improved the sleep quality of our reviewer. The medium-firm construction means that this bed is suited to those who prefer their beds “just right,” not too firm, not too soft. 

Price at time of publication: $2,199

Key Specs:
Material:
Hybrid coils and gel memory foam | Size Listed: King | Trial Length: 365-night | Thickness: 12” | Warranty: 10 years limited

How We Rated

4.8 to 5 stars: These are the best mattresses for back pain we reviewed. We recommend them without reservation.

4.5 to 4.7 stars: These mattresses for back pain are excellent—they might have minor flaws, but we still recommend them.

4.0 to 4.5 stars: We think these are great mattresses for back pain, but others are better.

3.5 to 3.9 stars: These mattresses for back pain are just average.

3.4 and below: We don't recommend mattresses for back pain with this rating; you won't find any on our list.

We Also Tested

Our in-home tests evaluated 10 mattresses, but only seven made it to our final list of recommendations. 

  • Avocado Green Mattress: The mattress highlights green and natural materials, but a major drawback was the very pungent scent from the bed’s natural wools. This took several days to subside, even with new sheets in a ventilated room. Where some of our beds took less than an hour to expand, this one took 36 hours before it was in full working order. That said, the mattress did provide good support and comfort, so it’s a considerable option for those who are concerned about non-natural materials. 
  • Lucid 10-Inch Memory Foam Mattress: It was a few days before this mattress stopped off-gassing smells from the factory. More notably, the manufacturer lists this bed as “firm,” however, our tests showed that this wasn’t the case and, in one instance, contributed to back pain after use. 
  • Nectar King Mattress 12-Inch Gel Memory Foam Mattress: While this bed offered relatively good support, our reviews showed that it offered no protection against sleep disturbance from partners moving in the night. This contributed to more tossing and turning and a worse night’s sleep overall.

How We Tested the Best Mattresses for Back Pain

Our recommendations were built from a blend of home testing and expert guidance. Mascarinas consulted the Verywell Health team on which beds to shortlist for the review. As a baseline, she recommended a medium-firm mattress since “you don’t want to sink in. It should cradle the hips and shoulders. All of the mattresses should fit these criteria.”

Eighteen people were assigned to review one bed each for one month straight. Before reviewing, they were required to note their pre-existing sleeping habits and style so that it could be used as a benchmark. Within these notes, reviewers had to mention things like whether they slept on their stomach, back, or side; if they usually wake up with joint aches; if there’s any pain or discomfort whatsoever while sleeping on their current mattress; and if their back feels painful or out of place. 

The tests included a two-week break-in period. This allowed the new mattress to settle and for the reviewer to note any chemical smells upon unboxing. Within this time, they also recorded (on a five-point scale where five meant “excellent” in any category) how supported they felt as they slept, how much they moved throughout the night, and how comfortable they were overall. The same process was repeated for the following two weeks with broader categories relating to sleep quality overall. This included recording if/how much their sleep had improved overall, how they felt upon waking in the morning, and if there were any resulting joint or back pain improvements.

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, DC, 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 mattresses 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 during 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, MD, pain management specialist with The Center for Interventional Pain Medicine at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. In fact, one study found that 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. 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 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 stomachs 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.

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, MD, professor of orthopedic 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,” Jordan Duncan, DC, 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,” Gregory Funk, DC, a chiropractor and the owner of Ideal Health Chiropractic in Denver, 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,” 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, 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 the 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.

Why Trust Verywell Health

Isabella Ubaldi regularly contributes to Verywell Health’s sister site, Health.com. She is a freelance writer with a keen personal interest in sleep hygiene. Isabella has spent more than 15 years managing a slipped disc in her lumbar spine through regular movement, pilates, proper seated posture, and a high-quality mattress, of course. She is a reluctant stomach sleeper which no doubt adds to the pain of the injury. Isabella has researched, written about, and worked for a range of global and independent clients and health topics, such as the best moisturizing body washes and how “femtech” is helping fill the gap in our medical understanding of women’s bodies. Her curiosity about the world feeds her interest in helping people reduce the shopping noise and make decisions that just might improve their quality of life or make the everyday a little bit sweeter. 

Additional reporting to this story by Camryn Rabideau. 

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.

3 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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