The average person spends 7 to 9 hours each night lying in bed, so investing in a good mattress plays a huge role in sleep and overall health for years to come. If you suffer from back pain, it’s essential to find the right mattress. The best mattress for back pain is one that supports the spine but also relieves pressure so you can get comfortable.
- BEST OVERALL: Saatva Classic Mattress
- RUNNER-UP: LUCID 10-Inch Latex Hybrid Mattress
- BEST PRESSURE RELIEF: Layla Sleep Copper Infused Memory Foam Mattress
- BEST SPINAL ALIGNMENT: Casper Sleep Element Mattress
- BEST FOR ATHLETES: ZOMA Memory-Foam Mattress
- BEST FOR HOT SLEEPERS: Purple Hybrid Premier
- BEST FIRM MATTRESS: Zinus 12-Inch Gel-Infused Green Tea Memory Foam
- MOST INNOVATIVE: Nolah Signature 12
- UPGRADE PICK: The WinkBed
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: LinenSpa 8-Inch Memory Foam and Innerspring Hybrid
Types of Mattresses for Back Pain
The best mattresses for back pain promote healthy spine alignment. Traditionally, innerspring mattresses, with their stiffer support, have been the most popular. However, all-foam, latex, and hybrid models provide unique features that adapt to various body shapes and sleep styles. Different types of mattresses have characteristics that could make them a better choice for you based on your size, weight, or personal preferences.
Innerspring mattresses contain coils that flex to support the body. There are four common types: Bonnell, offset coils, continuous coils, and pocketed coils. Bonnell coils have a distinct hourglass shape and are often interconnected for greater strength. They’re bouncy and less durable than other types of coils. Offset coils look similar to Bonnell but have a square- or hexagon-shaped head that better adapts to the body’s curves.
A mattress with continuous coils has circular-shaped wires throughout the mattress that provide strength and durability. However, these coils can transfer motion across the mattress, making for a noisy, bouncy bed. The most popular innerspring mattresses today have pocketed coils individually encased in the fabric. They move independently of one another, so they adapt to the body better than other coil types.
Innerspring mattresses allow air to circulate, so they sleep cooler than foam and create a more responsive bed. They work well for back and stomach-sleepers who tend to prefer firmer support. Side-sleepers, especially those with back pain, might not get the pressure relief they need from an innerspring model.
Hybrid mattresses combine foam and latex comfort and transition layers that conform to the body’s shape with one or two innerspring support layers that add responsiveness and breathability. Hybrids have become a favorite for back pain because they mix pressure relief with firmer coil support. They’re also popular because couples with different mattress preferences can often find a happy compromise. These models are softer than are innerspring mattresses, but still respond well to movement and provide stiffer support for the back.
Side-sleepers get pressure relief from the foam or latex through the shoulder and hips, while back-sleepers benefit from the firmer support from the coils. Stomach-sleepers might prefer a hybrid with thinner comfort and transition layers to take advantage of the coils’ support.
Latex mattresses provide excellent pressure relief in the shoulders, hips, and lower back. They don’t conform as closely to the body as memory or polyurethane foam, but they have a springier, more responsive feel. At the same time, latex prevents some of the motion transfer between sleepers.
The latex foam used in mattresses can be natural or synthetic. Natural latex goes through one of two manufacturing processes to become either dense Dunlop or springy Talalay latex. Dunlop latex’s dense structure means it’s typically used in a support layer of a mattress. Talalay latex has a lighter, springier feel than Dunlop, which means it’s almost always in the mattress’s comfort or transition layers. Synthetic latex costs much less than the natural variety and feels similar, but it’s not nearly as durable.
Latex mattresses are a good choice for side-sleepers who need extra pressure relief at the shoulders and hips. Back-sleepers might need a firmer latex mattress or a hybrid with latex comfort layers. Stomach-sleepers are the only ones who might not get adequate back support with this type of mattress.
Polyurethane and memory foam conform closely to the body. If the foam is soft enough, the body almost sinks into it for excellent pressure relief. However, some foams aren’t responsive to movement, making you feel stuck in the indentation of your own body. Foams also can trap body heat.
Gel-infused mattresses are a subtype of foam mattress. Because foam can trap body heat, some manufacturers infuse the foam with cooling gel. Gels absorb heat, pulling it away from the body.
Side-sleepers might prefer the pressure relief of foam. It also can work well for back-sleepers, but they may need a firmer mattress. Foam might not provide enough support for stomach-sleepers, whose lower back and hips might sink into the mattress.
What to Consider When Buying the Best Mattress for Back Pain
A mattress is a highly personal purchase. What feels good to one person doesn’t necessarily feel good to another. You’ll need to consider your preferred sleep position, mattress type and materials, and firmness and density when making a choice.
The three main sleep positions are back, stomach, and side. Everyone has a position they prefer, but most people actually change positions several times throughout the night. When possible, the mattress should help keep the spine aligned in a neutral position.
Back-sleepers need support at the waist and pressure relief through the shoulders. They usually can sleep on almost any mattress type as long as it meets personal firmness and cushioning preferences.
Side-sleepers put the body’s curves into the mattress’s surface, which means they need excellent pressure relief to maintain a neutral spine position. Foam, latex, and hybrids offer the best pressure relief because they give and adapt under high and low pressure.
Stomach-sleepers typically prefer firmer mattresses that prevent the hips from sinking into the mattress. Firmer innerspring and hybrids work well for stomach-sleepers.
Mattress Type and Materials
Innerspring mattresses are supportive and respond quickly to movement. They’re generally a good choice for back- and stomach-sleepers who need firmer support. Foam and latex mattresses work well for side-sleepers because of the materials’ ability to relieve pressure and conform to the body as it moves. Hybrids balance support with pressure relief, working well for many people with back pain no matter their sleep position.
Density and Firmness
Mattresses are made in five firmnesses—soft, medium-soft, medium, medium-firm, and firm. Heavier people tend to need a firmer mattress to support their body weight. Sleep position also influences which firmness feels the most comfortable. Soft and medium-soft mattresses work well for side sleepers, while back sleepers might be more comfortable on a medium to medium-firm mattress.
Foam density influences firmness, but it’s a better indicator of the foam’s durability. High-density foams resist breakdown for longer than low-density foams. Keep in mind that density doesn’t necessarily equate with firmness. A dense foam can be relatively soft and vice versa. If you want a mattress that lasts, look for high-quality, high-density foams.
Some mattresses have zoned support that varies throughout the mattress to correspond to different parts of the body. For example, there’s less support through the shoulders and hips to relieve pressure. Firmer support through the neck, lower back, and knees prevents sinkage and keeps the spine neutral. Mattresses can have two, three, five, or even seven support zones.
Uncomfortable pressure in the shoulders, hips, and back can cause morning aches and pains. Foam and latex do an excellent job of targeting high-pressure points. If you prefer innersprings, pocketed coils relieve pressure without transferring too much motion.
For the best spine health, aim to keep the spine in an even, neutral position from the top of the head to the tailbone. Back-sleepers will need support at the neck and lower back with pressure relief in the shoulders. Stomach-sleepers need support in the hips to prevent bowing in the lower back. Side-sleepers need a mix of pressure relief in the shoulders and hips with support at the head, lower back, and knees.
Innerspring mattresses allow heat and air to circulate away from the body, making them one of the best mattress types for temperature regulation. Both memory foam and latex foam require some kind of aeration features or temperature-regulating technologies like air channels or infusions of gel, copper, or charcoal to move heat away from the body. If you love the feel of foam but get overheated, a hybrid offers a middle-of-the-road solution.
Sleep Trial Period and Warranty
A sleep trial period is the time during which you can return the mattress for an exchange or full/partial refund. Most mattress companies offer at least a 30-day trial, with some extending to a full 365 days.
Warranties typically cover defects in materials and construction for anywhere from 5 years to a lifetime. They usually include an indentation policy in case the mattress gets an indentation over a certain depth. Look for policies that cover the smallest indentation possible. Read the fine print to see how to activate and report any warranty issues, too.
Our Top Picks
The best mattresses for back pain support the back, conform to different body positions, and keep the body cool. Many mattress companies also offer excellent sleep trials and warranties to protect a buyer’s investment. These and other factors have gone into the following recommendations.
The combination of coil-on-coil support with a memory foam comfort layer in the Saatva Classic Mattress and the extra cushioning of a Euro-top create a supportive and comfortable mattress. This model has extra lumbar support through dual layers of wired and memory foam spine support. It’s a mix of cushioning and pressure relief that prevents the hips or lower back from sinking too deeply into the top layers. The coils within the hybrid mattress are designed to minimize motion transfer for those who change positions often or sleep with someone who does. The coil units also improve the mattress’s breathability for some cooling effects.
Saatva offers this model in three firmness levels—plush soft, luxury firm, and firm. Those options give this mattress potential to work for a wide variety of sleep positions and comfort preferences.
In the Lucid 10-Inch Latex Hybrid Mattress, coils bring the support while the memory foam and latex relieve pressure. With the latex layer on top of the memory foam, active sleepers are less likely to feel stuck in the memory foam. The combination of foam and coils allows sleepers to get comfortable in many sleep positions.
The foams work well for side-sleepers, while stomach- and back-sleepers get extra support from the coils. It doesn’t have zoned support or extra cushioning, but this model is easy on the wallet. Its latex layer improves breathability for cooling and the foam has hypoallergenic properties.
The Layla Sleep Copper-Infused Memory Foam Mattress has four layers of pressure-relieving foam that do more than conform to the shoulders and hips. They’re arranged in an order that allows sleepers to flip the mattress to find either a firm feel or a soft, plush feel.
The soft side’s top layer is infused with copper to conduct heat away from the body and resist bacteria buildup. The foam offers variable support that relieves high-pressure points. Deep channels and zoned surface modification in the transition layer support the lower back and add breathability. It’s easy to flip the mattress if the soft side is too plush to get firmer, yet still pressure-relieving support.
The Casper Sleep Element Mattress combines a contouring memory foam top layer with a zoned transition layer. The transition layer provides firmer support through the lower back and hips to maintain a neutral spine position. Air channels through the top layer let heat escape to cut down on heat build-up.
This model comes in both an all-foam or hybrid model. The hybrid has extra responsiveness from the pocketed coils and a firmer feel. The combination should provide spinal alignment in various sleep positions.
Athletes put their bodies to the test, and the Zoma Memory-Foam Mattress is designed specifically to meet the needs of a body in recovery mode. The zoned support in the top layer offers soft cushioning through the shoulders but stays firm through the hips and lower back. However, that means side-sleepers might not get quite as much pressure relief in the hips with this model.
A breathable cover surrounds the foam for a cooler sleep. The transition layer is made of a highly responsive memory foam that quickly pops back into place after each movement. Consequently, pressure points find relief before they get stiff or sore.
Purple mattresses, including the Purple Hybrid Premier, contain a unique Purple Grid made of an elastic polymer to relieve pressure and keep sleepers cool. In many respects, the grid feels like foam, but has top-notch breathability due to its open, columnar structure. A pocketed coil support layer helps heat move away from the body.
The Premier comes in two support levels based on the height of the grid. The more grid in the mattress, the more contouring a sleeper gets.
The Zinus 12-Inch Gel-Infused Green Tea Memory Foam Mattress has an infusion of green tea and charcoal to neutralize odors. A cooling top layer and contouring transition layer cradle the curves of the shoulders and hips. It’s a firmness that works well for back- and stomach-sleepers.
While the 12-inch model provides plenty of cushioning, this Zinus mattress comes in four heights—6, 8, 10, and 12 inches. Lighter-weight sleepers might not need the deeper, heavier support of the 12-inch model. The Zinus is made of less dense foams than some memory-foam mattresses, which lessens its longevity.
The soft side of the Nolah Signature 12 contains a unique, extra-thick AirFoam top layer that pulls double duty. First, its construction allows heat to circulate to reduce overheating. Second, it contours to the body while also responding well to movement, so sleepers don’t feel stuck. The responsiveness is enhanced with a latex-like transition layer that gives the mattress some bounce.
If the soft side makes you feel like you’re sleeping in the mattress rather than on it, you can flip the Nolah to the firm side. Here, you still get the cooling AirFoam, but in a thinner layer over the high-density support core.
The WinkBed falls between an innerspring and a true hybrid because it has quilted cool-gel memory foam in the Euro pillowtop. The foam lets the hips and shoulders sink into the bed, yet a layer of micro-coils underneath keeps the cushy top layer responsive. Its foam enhancement adds support through the middle lumbar region, or lower back. Heat-dispersing technology wicks heat away from a sleeper’s body.
This model’s support comes from a pocketed coil core with seven support zones. These zones relieve high-pressure points but provide the kind of support that keeps the spine in a neutral position through different sleep positions.
LinenSpa’s 8-Inch Memory Foam and Innerspring Hybrid Mattress provides hybrid comfort at an affordable price. There are three heights available: 8, 10, and 12 inches. With this model, the thinner the mattress, the firmer it feels. If you like to sink into the mattress and need extra pressure relief, the 12-inch model’s thicker top layer offers more cushioning. Stomach-sleepers, on the other hand, might prefer the firmer 8-inch model.
In all three models, an innerspring layer provides the overall structure and support, while the top memory foam layer provides pressure relief.
The Advantages of Owning a Mattress for Back Pain
Back pain can keep you awake at night and on edge during the day. A mattress designed to relieve that pain can improve your sleep and overall quality of life. These mattresses focus on spinal alignment. A spine that stays in a neutral position allows muscles in the neck and back to relax.
A mattress that relieves back pain also provides pressure relief at sensitive joints. The hips and shoulders are common pain points. Too much pressure in these areas can cause unnatural curvature in the spine, compounding back pain. A mattress that contours to the body and lets high-pressure points sink into it takes the pressure off of the back for better relaxation. The biggest advantages you’ll find from these types of mattresses include.
- Reduced pressure at the shoulders and hips.
- Zoned support for pressure relief or support based on body physiology.
- Reduced back pain helps you sleep better at night and feel better during the day
FAQs About Mattresses
Mattresses are a big investment and can affect your health for years. Everyone has different preferences and sleep styles, so make sure to factor those into your decision, too.
Which type of mattress is good for a bad back?
Mattresses with zoned support and materials like memory or latex foam that relieve pressure typically perform well.
Is a memory foam mattress good for back pain?
Memory foam relieves pressure, so it can be a great choice for pain relief. However, it should be coupled with materials that support the spine and help maintain a neutral spine position.
What firmness of mattress is good for lower back pain?
Firmness preferences are based largely on body weight and sleep style. However, many people find a medium-firm mattress balances support with cushioning and comfort.
How long do mattresses last?
Innerspring mattresses typically last 5 to 7 years. High-quality memory foam and hybrids last 6 to 8 years. Natural latex mattresses can last around 10 years. However, the quality of the materials and construction play a significant role in the mattress’s longevity.