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Research from 2002 shows that sleeping on a bed that’s right for you can reduce back pain. Plus, getting good sleep has many health benefits.

While there are lots of great mattresses out there, there’s no best mattress for everyone. Your height, weight, age, sleeping position, and particular health conditions are factors that will determine what’s most comfortable for you.

Before deciding on a mattress, you may want to test out different styles, like hybrid or all foam, in a store to see what type you prefer. Then, you can start narrowing down brands and looking for particular features. If you choose to buy online, many companies offer home trials.

Read on to get a rundown of basic mattress features to look for, and what the research says about mattress types for back pain. We also provide our five top mattress picks based on consumer reviews, sleep experts, and clinical studies.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $1,500
  • $$ = $1,500–$2,000
  • $$$ = over $2,000

Mattress prices vary by size and brand. We based our price equivalents on a standard queen-size mattress. Many brands also have more affordable and more high-end models available.

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Best hybrid mattresses

Best foam mattresses

Healthline Reviews: Nectar Mattress

Here are the criteria we used to select our top mattress picks for back pain:

  • Customer reviews: We looked for mattresses with good reviews, specifically from people with back pain.
  • Options with added support: We made sure to include mattress options that provide added back support. For example, some mattresses are designed with firmer support in the lumbar region.
  • Company policies: As a rule, we only include mattress brands that let you try before you buy — either in stores or through a free trial period.
  • Different options: We wanted to be sure to include options to suit different preferences, so we list both foam and hybrid options.

Read more about how we vet brands and products here.

Price rangeTypeHeight (inches)Warranty lengthPressure points
Saatva Classic$$hybrid11.5 or 14.5lifetimeplush top that alleviates pressure points and comes in three firmness levels for all sleeping positions
DreamCloud Luxury Hybrid$$hybrid14lifetimemedium-firm feel alleviates pressure points in the hips and shoulders
Puffy Lux$$$hybrid12lifetimebody-conforming memory foam that adapts as you move to alleviate pressure
Nectar Memory Foam$foam12lifetime3-layer foam that provides a body-hugging feel to reduce pressure
Eight Sleep The Pod Pro$$$foam122 years4-layer bed designed to reduce major pressure points in the hips, back, and shoulders

Anyone with back pain knows it can interfere with daily activities, including sleep. Your beauty sleep is important, and lower, mid, and upper backaches can affect your ability to get quality shut-eye and even make it challenging to fall asleep.

Research from 2020 shows that chronic back low pain can negatively affect sleep. The more intense your pain, the more likely it is to wake you up and disturb your slumber. The research also found that people who reported worse sleep quality were also more likely to experience emotional distress and poorer overall function.

Here are 10 factors to consider when you’re mattress shopping:

1. Support

What’s considered proper support?

  • Your spine rests aligned: The mattress should be firm enough to support you in a sleeping position, with your spine in neutral alignment.
  • Your hips and shoulders are comfortable: At the same time, the mattress has to give enough support to keep your shoulders, hips, and lower back comfortable.

When you’re shopping in person, do the following:

  1. Lie on a mattress in your regular sleeping position and have someone check the position of your spine.
  2. Have the other person move on one side of the bed so you can see if motion transfers to you or if the mattress shifts under you.
  3. Make use of assessment software available in some stores.

Some retailers use a technology called BridgeIT, a scanning app that senses your body pressure points, or the areas where your body makes the most contact with a surface.

The app doesn’t recommend specific brands, but it can point you to three or four types of mattresses that best suit your needs.

Keep in mind that a 2003 clinical study shows that a medium-firm mattress is best for back pain. If you’re shopping online, look at firmness levels to get a sense of how well the mattress may suit your needs.

2. Comfort

Comfort is highly individual. That’s why it’s important to shop in person, even if you’re buying online. That way, you can test out features firsthand before comparison shopping.

To ensure comfort:

  • Shop in person: Try out different types and brands of mattresses in a mattress store or a department store and note the make and model of those that seem like they will meet your needs. While some companies don’t sell their mattresses in stores, they may still have showrooms where you can test them out.
  • Take your time: Spend at least 15 minutes testing each mattress. Move around on the mattress to try different sleeping positions.

A 2008 study of just over 100 people with chronic lower back pain found that a waterbed or a foam mattress was marginally superior for back symptoms and comfortable sleeping than a hard mattress. But the differences were small.

Some sleep experts recommend that whatever mattress you select, it’s a good idea to pair it with an adjustable bed base. This will allow you to raise the head, foot, or middle of the bed as needed.

3. Size

Would you sleep better on a larger bed? Consider increasing your mattress size to a queen or king size.

4. Cost and value

Mattresses can come with higher price points. Consider how much time you’ll be spending on it, and how a comfortable sleep will affect your performance in your waking hours.

As clinical sleep educator Terry Cralle, RN, advises, a comfortable mattress is “not the place to focus on dollars. Your investment will pay off in many ways.”

5. Brand name

You want to have a reputable brand mattress that’s well constructed and made of quality materials.

Be aware that many brands may be made by the same factory and with the same materials and construction. So, some brands may not have significant differences among them.

6. Mattress construction

If you’re someone who swears by your innerspring mattress, you may want to explore another mattress type, such as latex or memory foam, pillow top, hybrids, airbeds, or even waterbeds.

A small 2010 study found that people diagnosed with low back pain and stiffness had better sleep and less pain on a foam and latex mattress.

7. Sleeping position

Your sleeping position can affect your back pain.

If you’re a side sleeper, you may find a mattress with a softer top more comfortable, as it’ll help reduce stress on pressure points. If you’re a back sleeper or stomach sleeper, you may find a firmer mattress to be more comfortable since it will prevent your spine from sinking into the mattress.

8. Allergens

If you have known allergies, such as to latex, check the mattress’s materials list. Some foams can contain toxins, so look for a certified foam.

9. Delivery options

Will the store deliver the new mattress, set it up, and dispose of your old mattress with or without an additional charge?

If you’re buying a mattress online, you may need a plan for disposing of the old mattress and installing the new one.

10. Warranties

Many companies allow you to try the new mattress at home for a month or more. If the mattress doesn’t work for you, you can return or exchange it for a relatively small fee.

Check what the instructions are for physically returning the mattress. What would you be responsible for doing, and what will the mattress company or store take care of?

If you buy a foam mattress that’s delivered shrink-wrapped, this could involve you rolling it back up and re-boxing it.

Mattresses are typically constructed with a support core and an upholstery layer around them. There are many varieties, each with its advantages. Here are nine:

1. Innerspring

Innerspring mattresses use a steel coil system for support. The number of coils and how they are arranged vary, but generally speaking, more coils means more support. Additionally, some mattresses have a higher concentration of coils in the lower back area for added relief.

The coils are covered in various padding materials, which affect comfort and stability.

The particular coil configurations make a difference in how your movements transfer to your sleeping partner if you’re sharing the bed. It also affects how the mattress supports your body contours.

2. Memory foam

Memory foam mattresses use high density polyurethane foam as the support system in the upholstery layer. This foam contours closely to the shape of the sleeper.

3. Latex foam

Latex mattresses have latex foam as the support system. The latex may come from plant- or petroleum-based materials.

4. Hybrid

Hybrid mattresses combine steel coils for support with foam or latex on top for comfort.

5. Pillow top

Pillow top mattresses have an extra layer of padding on top of other support layers. As the name indicates, it’s like having pillows on top of your mattress.

6. Gel

Gel mattresses combine gel and foam. This allows the mattress to dissipate heat better. It also gives the mattress a different feel.

7. Airbed

Airbed mattresses have an adjustable firmness. They fit into standard bed frames and are covered with various padding materials, such as foam. Airbeds can also be controlled separately on each side.

8. Waterbed

Waterbeds use water as the support system. They can be hard-sided with a wooden frame or soft-sided with a foam frame inside a zippered fabric cover. They are made to fit conventional bed frames or platforms.

Some waterbeds have baffles inside that restrict the motion of the water.

9. Adjustable beds

These are made to look like conventional beds, but both the mattress and the base can move. You can raise your head or feet, and some have dual controls so that you and your sleeping partner can individually adjust your position.

What type of mattress is best for back pain?

The first thing to know is that a super soft, plush mattress is bad news for people with back pain. If you have back pain, a supportive mattress is a must, and something that has too much give can’t provide adequate support for your spine.

Some research from 2015 suggests that medium-firm, self-adjustable mattresses are the ideal sleeping surfaces for people with back pain. A zoned support mattress, one that allows you to target firmer support at the lower back level, is the ideal option.

But if you don’t have the budget for a self-adjusting model, don’t despair. Both hybrid and innerspring mattresses are good choices for people with back pain. And they typically provide more support than foam models.

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If you can’t afford a new mattress or aren’t ready to replace your current model, there are a few things you can do to improve the comfort of your existing mattress.

  • Add a mattress topper: A medium-firm mattress might provide great back support, but not everyone finds a hard surface comfortable. Adding a mattress topper, such as a soft one, adds some plushness without sacrificing support.
  • Go to the floor: Try putting your mattress on the floor, as this provides a firmer surface.
  • Better yet, add plywood: Not everyone will love the idea of sleeping on a mattress on the floor. If that’s you, try sticking a hard piece of plywood under your mattress for added support.
  • Use an adjustable base: An adjustable base can help you find a more comfortable sleeping position that puts less pressure on the parts of your back that ache during the night.
  • Look at your pillows: Sometimes, the source of back pain isn’t entirely the fault of your mattress. Your pillows might need a refresh. Or you might be sleeping on the wrong ones. If you sleep on your stomach or back, opt for a softer pillow than what you would use for side sleeping. Get our top pillow picks here.

Buying a new mattress may help your back pain. But if you have pain that persists, it’s best to seek a professional opinion.

If your back pain prevents you from participating in day-to-day activities or lasts longer than 2 weeks, it’s time to talk with a doctor. If the pain is more severe, seek care sooner.

Can a mattress cause back pain?

Absolutely. Any mattress that doesn’t support the natural curvature of your spine can cause back pain, even if you’ve never had chronic back pain issues.

Also, an uncomfortable mattress might cause you to sleep differently or toss and turn, potentially causing back pain.

Can replacing your mattress improve back pain?

Sure, but it’s not guaranteed to cure it, especially if your back woes are caused by an underlying chronic condition like osteoarthritis. That said, a supportive mattress may help reduce pain.

What style of mattress is best for back pain?

According to research from 2015, the best mattress for back pain is probably one that’s medium firm and self-adjusting.

But that doesn’t account for personal preference. Ultimately, the best mattress for back pain is one that you find comfortable and allows you to sleep like a baby.

What style of mattress is worst for back pain?

This will depend a lot on your personal preference. But because foam mattresses tend to be softer and less supportive than hybrid and innerspring models, you might want to avoid an all-foam mattress. However, some people with back pain may prefer the feel of foam, so we included several options on our list.

What mattress types are best for people with back pain?

There isn’t one mattress that’s universally best for those with back pain. It largely depends on your preferences and needs.

All-foam options may not provide enough support, causing your spine to sag as you snooze — whereas overly firm options could make the spine too straight.

Fortunately, many online mattress companies, including most of the brands featured in this article, have at-home trials, so you can literally sleep on it before you buy.

At-home trials can still be a hassle, as you still have to do something with the mattress if it doesn’t work for you — whether it’s coordinating for the company to pick it up or donating it. Nonetheless, if you’re not sure what will work best for you, the trials could help.

If you have back pain and prefer the feel of foam for its cushioning effect, a hybrid option that’s supportive and has foam on top could bring the best of both worlds.

You spend about a third of your life sleeping, so getting a mattress you like matters.

One 2009 study shows that simply changing your mattress can improve the comfort of your sleep.

The high cost of some mattresses can be a shock. Most brands have a range of mattresses, including more affordable models.

Consider all the factors above when you’re shopping for a mattress. Sleep experts point out that a good mattress is one of the most important investments you can make for your health.