The 5 Best Mattresses for Back Pain in 2023, According to Sleep Experts
You'll stand up straighter and sleep more soundly with the best mattress for back pain.
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If the first thing you utter as you roll out of bed each morning is, “Oww, my aching back,” then you’re probably starting to wonder if the mattress is to blame. It very well could be.
“Aside from injury and general posture, back and spine health can be greatly affected by the surface slept upon,” says Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., founder of The Sleep Doctor. The best mattresses help reduce stiffness and pain by supporting the natural curvature of the spine. For many, this is most evident around pressure points—most often the hips and shoulders, which require varying amounts of cushioning when lying down.
“Any mattress can help alleviate back pain if it offers the right combination of comfort and support,” says David Rubin, a certified sleep coach and director of product testing at The Sleep Doctor. The best mattress for back pain, specifically, depends on personal sleeping positions and body types. “Most studies suggest that a medium-firm mattress is the most useful for preventing and relieving lower back pain. People who experience upper back pain should consider sleeping on their back or side to help alleviate pressure on the shoulders,” says Rubin.
So, is it time to buy a new mattress? “If you wake up from sleep more than three times a week feeling stiff and sore, and it was not due to a big workout, then it’s probably the bed,” Dr. Breus explains. “If the mattress is sagging like a taco, and you’re a stomach sleeper, then it will put more pressure on the lower back and cause continued strain in that area.”
It’s also important to remember that a mattress is part of a sleep system. “Choose the pillow to complement the mattress to avoid putting the spine out of alignment or putting pressure on the joints,” notes Rubin. In general, the softer the mattress, the higher loft pillow you’ll want, he explains.
The best mattresses for back pain
Best overall mattress for back pain
Saatva Latex Hybrid Mattress
All of Saatva’s mattresses have the COCSA Seal of Approval, which means they meet the Congress of Chiropractic State Associations’ standards for supporting spinal health. The brand, which offers free white-glove service and setup, hand-delivers and assembles the mattress and bed frame anywhere, as well as disposes of the old bed at no additional cost (a huge plus for back pain sufferers).
The brand’s latex hybrid is a favorite among sleep experts. “This hybrid mattress combines the coil base of a traditional innerspring mattress with a Euro-pillow top sewn into the top of the mattress, which offers best-in-class comfort and back support for those with lumbar problems,” says Abby Wood, a sleep health content associate at Mattress Nerd.
According to Alex Savy, a certified sleep science coach and founder of SleepingOcean, this model has all the necessary features that the best mattress for back pain needs: comfort, tension relief, support, spinal alignment, quality build and cool sleep.
“The latex layer is zoned, which means it adapts to different sections of the body and offers pinpoint pressure alleviation,” he says. The wool layer serves to add extra cushioning while also helping to regulate body temperature. Savy describes it as “luxurious comfort,” and a prime pick for hot sleepers looking for the best cooling mattress for back pain.
Keith Cushner, the founder of Tuck, agrees, calling this a top pick for a luxury cooling mattress. “It features Talalay latex, which promotes air circulation. It also has a cooling cotton and wool cover that is naturally moisture-wicking,” he says.
- Five ergonomic zones for enhanced support and pressure relief
- Responsive and ultra-breathable natural latex
- Made with premium eco-friendly, non-toxic and hypoallergenic materials
- Free in-room delivery, setup and mattress removal
- 365-night sleep trial
- Lifetime warranty
- $99 fee for returns
Best value mattress for back pain
Layla Memory Foam Mattress
Good news for anyone suffering from aches and pains: It’s possible to find an affordable mattress that doesn’t skimp on features. In fact, the Layla flippable mattress has two firmness levels—soft and firm—so it’s like getting two beds for the price of one. The soft side offers a plush hugging feel that’s ideal for side sleepers who prefer cradling around the hips. Back and stomach sleepers enjoy the firm side for its increased support and less sinkage.
According to Robert Pagano, co-founder of Sleepline, this is the best affordable mattress for back pain. “The 2-inch-thick copper-infused memory foam top layer provides therapeutic benefits by conducting heat away from the body and helping to reduce inflammation,” he explains.
Savy is also a fan, calling it the “true embodiment of affordable luxury.” The mattress feels soft without sacrificing support, he adds, redistributing the pressure across the body and making one feel almost weightless. Hot sleepers don’t have to sweat this pick, either. Copper-gel foam ensures you feel cool at night. Plus, it’s antimicrobial, which offers odor control.
- Reversible design offers two beds for the price of one
- Copper foam provides ample support around deep compression areas
- Comes with two memory foam pillows
- Excellent motion isolation
- 120-night sleep trial
- Lifetime warranty
- Shipping fees to Hawaii, Alaska and Canada (otherwise free shipping and returns)
Best hybrid mattress for back pain
Puffy Lux Hybrid Mattress
Puffy prides itself on its “cloudlike comfort,” and its lux hybrid mattress delivers a nice balance of cradling support and soft contouring. It features six layers of premium high-density memory foam specifically designed to support the spine and reduce back pain, plus a layer of pocketed coils that minimize movement transfer. The hybrid mattress has an adaptive, yet responsive, feel that appeals to all sleeping positions.
“The top layers pleasantly contour the body, allowing the pressure to distribute evenly. And the coil core provides support and keeps the spine aligned,” says Savy. “Proper alignment leads to reduced tension, as well, which makes it very comfortable—an important factor when choosing the best mattress for back pain,” he adds.
Victoria Wildhorn, a sleep health specialist at Mattress Clarity, is a fan of Puffy’s proprietary gel-infused cooling foams. “It’s designed to let the body sink in, but still move around,” she says.
- Hybrid design with targeted spinal alignment
- Stain-resistant, hypoallergenic and removable washable cover
- Endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association (ACA)
- 101-night sleep trial
- Lifetime warranty
- Free shipping and free returns
- Only available in one firmness profile (medium-plush)
Best organic mattress for back pain
PlushBeds Botanical Bliss Organic Latex Mattress
The best mattress for back pain depends on what kind of discomfort you’re experiencing, along with your sleeping position. “For side sleepers or people with a herniated disk, a softer mattress puts less pressure on the spine and helps some wake up without pain in the morning,” explains Pagano. He suggests the Botanical Bliss because it’s highly recommended by orthopedic specialists and chiropractors for its buoyant feeling that gently cradles pressure points, which helps relieve aches and pains.
The brand’s unique interchangeable layers also allow you to easily adjust the firmness and thickness for a customized-just-for-you fit. You can even change the feel on each side of the bed for couples with different sleeping needs.
For those searching for organic mattresses, each Botanical Bliss bed features about 10 pounds of organic New Zealand wool (about three times as much as the typical non-toxic mattress) for superior support, soothing pressure relief and increased breathability. It consists of zero chemicals and all organic materials, including certified organic latex and certified organic cotton and wool, so you can sleep soundly knowing you’re safe from nasty toxins.
- Certified organic, non-toxic and crafted by hand
- Circular knit design offers enhanced hip and shoulder pressure relief
- Two firmness options, three heights and nine sizes available
- Chemical-free fire barrier
- 100-night sleep trial
- Lifetime warranty
- $349 charge for in-home setup and old mattress removal
Best memory foam mattress for back pain
Amerisleep AS3 Mattress
When shopping for the best mattress for back pain, many people turn to memory foam for its ability to contour to the shape of the body and provide support and pressure relief to the back. This helps alleviate pain by distributing weight evenly and reducing pressure points.
The medium-feel AS3 mattress ups the ante with its plant-based Bio-Pur, which is significantly more breathable and responsive than traditional foams. Not worrying about night sweats is just one of the reasons we named this the best memory foam mattress for back pain.
The eco-friendly and non-toxic mattress is cradling, adaptive and slow-moving. “Sleeping on it feels like a gentle hug: The mattress envelops the body and fills in the curves to provide proper support,” says Savy. “Additionally, there’s a zoned transition layer meant to deliver different support levels for different body parts, aiding in healthy spinal alignment.”
- Plant-based Bio-Pur memory foam offers cooling comfort
- Transition layer eases tension and targets pressure points
- Non-toxic and fiberglass-free
- 100-night sleep trial
- 20-year warranty
- Free shipping and returns
- Some sleepers may prefer a firmer feel
What to look for when buying a mattress for back pain
“People who suffer from back pain will want to look for a mattress that keeps their spine in a neutral position. In other words, the hips and trunk should be in the same plane as the rest of the body,” says Matthew Ross, the general manager and in-house sleep specialist at Slumber Yard.
Your sleeping position also factors into the equation. “Sleeping on the back is actually the best position for the back,” says Dr. Breus.
“When sleeping on the back, back pain sufferers may want to place a pillow under the knees and a little roll underneath the small of the neck,” advises Ross. The pillows will help maintain the natural curves of the spine, he explains. Side sleepers need a mattress that has added pressure relief for the shoulders and hips, along with the best pillows to match.
With the ability to buy beds online, you no longer need to leave home to find the best mattress for back and hip pain. But, Dr. Breus warns, “You’ll need to sleep on the surface for a week or more before you can really tell if the mattress is a good fit.” Look for brands offering an in-home trial period to ensure you’ve made the right choice.
It’s not just about the best mattress for back pain—you also need to consider the foundation for the mattress. You may think the box spring or base of the bed is simply there to hold it up off the ground, but these foundational pieces serve an important function, too. “Many people with back pain like adjustable bases,” says Dr. Breus. “These are bed frames that adjust the height and angle of the bed itself for the sleeper. These turn out to, in some cases, be more critical than the mattress.”
Types of mattresses for back pain
When it comes to finding the best mattress for back pain, the options are plentiful: memory foam, pillow top, traditional coils/springs, gel, latex and various combinations (hybrids) of these material types. Then, of course, there’s the level of hardness within each material category (soft, medium, firm) and also the support level (how it keeps the spine aligned).
Why you should trust us
If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that sleep isn’t something to be messed with. That’s why we consulted with nine experts, all with unique backgrounds in sleep, to get their insight into the best bed for back pain. These experts include multiple certified sleep coaches, founders of sleep-related companies and health specialists. Together, they provided critical information to help shoppers make thoughtful shopping decisions.
How we found the best mattresses for back pain
There are plenty of mattress brands out there, so we narrowed down our search using various methods. Some are brands our editors have tested themselves, and others have such high customer ratings that they grabbed our attention. We considered the mattresses’ overall quality, features and price to ensure we would have a healthy variety. Once we cut down the dozens of options to a select few, we ran them by our team of sleep experts to get their insight. From there, we were ready to select our top five best mattresses for back pain.
What type of mattress is best for back pain?
The answer isn’t so simple. Ultimately, the best bed is the one that feels best to you. With so many options on the market, don’t get too hung up on what material you’ve heard is better. “It’s really about personal preference,” says Dr. Breus. “For example, if you sleep hot, steer clear of memory foam. But if you have significant back issues, the nice part about memory foam mattresses is that they help keep the body in one place, so that way the spine is stabilized.”
Gregg Dean, CEO of Layla, agrees that memory foam mattresses are top picks for pain because they contour to the shape of the body, providing support and pressure relief to the back. “They help alleviate pain by distributing body weight evenly and reducing pressure points,” he adds.
Hybrid mattresses, he notes, combine the support of innerspring coils with the comfort of memory foam. They also provide an ideal balance of support and pressure relief for people with back pain. Latex mattresses, made from natural or synthetic rubber, are another popular option for their responsive and supportive feel.
Is a soft or firm mattress better for back pain?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Factors such as body weight, pain points and sleeping habits require different levels of firmness. “Generally speaking, side sleepers tend to prefer softer beds that provide more pressure relief for their hips and shoulders. Back sleepers typically prefer slightly firmer beds for support purposes. Combination sleepers typically prefer beds that are more medium in terms of firmness,” says Ross.
You’ll want to determine the location of the pain, as well as if the discomfort comes from a specific condition, such as a herniated disc, spinal stenosis or arthritis. “People with lower back pain should look for a firm mattress. The mattress should also have a built-in pillow top or topper that adjusts to provide even more support where it is needed,” suggests Pagano. For people with a herniated disk, a softer mattress cushions common pressure points and provides less pressure on the spine.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that comfort is subjective, and what works for one person might not work for another. The best mattress for lower back and leg pain is the one that provides the right balance of comfort and support for an individual’s needs.
Does insurance or Medicare cover mattresses for back pain?
Generally, insurance plans, including Medicare, don’t cover the cost of mattresses specifically for back pain. However, if a doctor prescribes a specialized mattress for a medical condition, such as pressure ulcers or spinal cord injuries, insurance may cover a portion of the cost.
About the experts
- Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., is the founder of The Sleep Doctor. He’s a clinical psychologist with more than two decades of experience in his field. He’s a diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine (ABSM) and a fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).
- David Rubin is a certified sleep coach and director of product testing at The Sleep Doctor. He’s had a lifelong passion for well-being and health optimization.
- Abby Wood is a sleep health content associate at Mattress Nerd.
- Alex Savy is a certified sleep science coach and founder of SleepingOcean. He has written over 100 articles about sleep and sleep-related products.
- Keith Cushner is the founder of Tuck.
- Robert Pagano is the co-founder at Sleepline. He has struggled with sleep for many years and has experience with sleep products and treatments.
- Victoria Wildhorn is a sleep health specialist at Mattress Clarity. She creates and shares sleep resources, especially for those with health conditions, to help improve their sleep.
- Matthew Ross is a general manager and in-house sleep specialist at Slumber Yard. He has tested over 175 of the most popular mattresses sold online.
- Gregg Dean is the CEO of Layla.