These Are the 7 Best Mattresses for Lower Back Pain
If you're looking to upgrade your mattress for lower back pain relief, try these expert-recommended picks for every type of sleeper.
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Lower back pain and sleep
Lower back pain can be, well, a pain to deal with, especially when it’s chronic and affects your day-to-day life. It’s extremely common, affecting an estimated 80 percent of the American population at some point in their lives, according to the American Chiropractic Association.
“Low back pain occurs when the spine or muscles become in spasm,” explains Allen Conrad, a chiropractor and certified strength and conditioning specialist at Montgomery County Chiropractic Center in North Wales, Pennsylvania. “When this happens, the body sends pain signals through your nervous system to alert you of this pain,” he says. (Here’s how your brain helps with low back pain.)
There are a number of factors to blame for causing lower back pain. Some of the most common causes, according to Dr. Conrad, include lifting something the wrong way, prolonged repetitive activities, herniated disc caused by an injury, a nerve condition known as sciatica where pain can shoot up through the back of the leg, as well as sleeping on an old, nonsupportive mattress or couch. (Here are signs your back pain is actually an emergency.)
“When you sit or lay in a certain position for long periods of time without proper support, the musculature of the low back begins to tighten and spasm, which will cause low back pain when you go to stand up,” he says. “The most common cause is usually not having proper support for the lumbar spine, and sleeping on a mattress without that extra protection can lead to low back pain,” he explains. (This is the best sleeping position for lower back pain.)
Because low back pain has been shown to be directly correlated with sleep disturbances, according to a study in the European Spine Journal, it’s crucial to ensure that your sleep environment—namely your mattress—provides additional lumbar support.
(Learn how to get rid of lower back pain for good.)
How to choose the right mattress for lower back pain
Selecting a mattress to relieve your lower back pain isn’t a one-size-fits-all experience. It’s important that you take into consideration several factors that are unique to you.
A mattress suitable for back pain has to deliver proper support levels, notes Alex Savy, a certified sleep science coach and the founder of SleepingOcean, a site dedicated to helping people improve their sleep. “It needs to have a thick, sturdy core that would be able to deal with your body weight and distribute it evenly,” he says.
A good, pressure-relieving mattress has to offer close conforming to your body, according to Savy. “Picture it like a gentle hug around your protruding body parts and pressure points,” he says. “In this case, memory foam is the winner, but you can also check latex mattresses and hybrid models that have thicker comfort layers,” he explains.
To determine the right firmness level for you, consider your weight and preferred sleeping position, according to Savy. For average-weight back sleepers, he recommends a medium-firm bed, for lightweight users (less than 130 pounds) he recommends medium or medium-soft firmness, and for heavier back sleepers (over 230 pounds) he recommends firm.
“Average side sleepers would benefit from sleeping on a medium or a medium-soft mattress, petite users would benefit from a soft mattress, and larger folks should go for medium-firm,” he says. He adds, “Stomach sleepers should choose medium-firm or firm beds.”
If lower back pain is making you toss and turn during the night, Savvy recommends choosing a mattress that won’t restrict your movement, such as latex or hybrid.
“If you are a hot sleeper, pick something that has cooling properties, such as open-cell or gel-infused foam, latex, or hybrid,” Savy says. “If you don’t want to disturb your partner when trying to find the most comfortable sleeping position, get a motion-absorbing memory foam mattress,” he says.
It’s also important to consider durability. Savvy suggests looking for models with an extended warranty and quality materials such as natural latex, high-density foam, and low-gauge coils.
(Not in the market for a new mattress? Consider these mattress toppers for lower back pain instead.)
Best mattresses for lower back pain
Here are the mattresses that experts recommend for people suffering from lower back pain.
Nectar Memory Foam Mattress
Of all foam mattresses on the market, this is Savy’s favorite. “The Nectar uses gel-infused foam for the comfort layer, so it doesn’t sleep hot and also has a quilted pillowtop for added comfort,” he says. “The base layer is thick, dense, and sturdy and does an excellent job of providing the needed support for the back.” Since the Nectar Memory Foam Mattress absorbs shock from motion well and has a medium feel that can be universally comfortable for a wide range of sleepers, Savy recommends it to his couple clients who sleep in bed together.
(Improve your flexibility with these foam roller exercises.)
Layla Hybrid Mattress
“The Layla Hybrid Mattress combines the cushion and comfort of memory foam with the stability of coils—a combination that creates a feel that’s both pressure-relieving and supportive,” says Jordan Duncan, a chiropractor at Silverdale Sport & Spine in Silverdale, Washington. In addition to the fact that the coils provide great support for the lower back and hips, Dr. Duncan appreciates how you can sleep on either side of the Layla Hybrid Mattress. “One side will give you a softer feel and the other side a firmer feel, depending on which you prefer,” he adds.
(Try these exercises for lower back pain.)
This hybrid mattress from Saatva is great for consumers who can’t decide between memory foam and traditional coils.
“Saatva’s Classic combines support coils, comfort coils (individually wrapped), edge reinforcement, and a plush pillowtop, so it can offer reliable support and does a great job of distributing the sleeper’s weight evenly,” says Savy.
“The mattress’s ‘spinal zone’ uses an extra layer of high-density memory foam and an active wire technology to support the back properly and to aid healthy spinal alignment, which is a vital feature when it comes to dealing with lower back pain,” he says. (These are the everyday habits damaging your spine.)
Casper Original Foam Queen Mattress
Dr. Conrad recommends the Casper mattress for side sleepers due to its reinforced lumbar cushioning.
“The Casper helps those who sleep on their side avoid spinal compression with its reinforced support zones in the shoulder and low back regions, which keeps the spinal column in anatomical position while sleeping,” Savy says. “This type of mattress includes reinforced foam around the hips, waist, and low back regions, which will help prevent low back spasm while you sleep,” he says.
(Here’s how to improve posture for back pain relief.)
Purple Queen Mattress
“The purple mattress has a dual layer of reinforcement support, which is durable yet flexible for side sleepers with a history of low back pain,” explains Dr. Conrad. “This flexibility of the mattress helps support tension spots in the lumbar spine, which can help prevent spasm and sciatica pain when you wake up.” He recommends the Purple Queen mattress and its dual layer of foam to those who tend to toss and turn throughout the night.
(These are the best posture correctors recommended by back experts.)
Botanical Bliss by Plushbeds
This all-latex model from Plushbeds, which comes in two firmness layers, works well for a wide variety of sleepers, notes Savy. “This mattress is quite bouncy and doesn’t restrict movement, and at the same time, it can contour the sleeper’s body and offers decent pressure relief,” he says. “Another major plus is that this mattress is adjustable, which means, if you don’t feel 100 percent comfortable, you can unzip the cover and swap the latex layers to achieve your ideal firmness level.”
(These are the best back massagers for lower back pain.)
Amerisleep AS3 Memory Foam Mattress
Bio-Pur is a plant-based material that’s known to be even more breathable and responsive to movement than traditional memory foam. This mattress from Amerisleep provides this luxury. This, Dr. Conrad explains, allows both comfort and support for those who sleep on their back or side, but also reinforced pressure points due to its quick response time upon movement. “This combination of comfort and reliability is ideal for those with a herniated disc in their back, and its balanced comfort and support is effective for reinforcing healthy sleeping positions,” he adds.
Next, learn how this woman with a herniated disc used mind-body exercises to heal.
- American Chiropractic Association: "Back Pain Facts and Statistics"
- Allen Conrad, BS, DC, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist at Montgomery County Chiropractic Center in North Wales, Pennsylvania
- European Spine Journal: "Prevalence of sleep disturbance in patients with low back pain"
- Alex Savy, a certified sleep science coach and the founder of SleepingOcean
- Jordan Duncan, DC, a chiropractor at Silverdale Sport & Spine in Silverdale, Washington