The products featured in this article have been independently reviewed. When you buy something through the retail links on this page, we may earn commission at no cost to you, the reader. The Sports Illustrated editorial team is not involved in the creation of this content. Learn more here.
If you’ve experienced back pain, finding the best mattress to alleviate discomfort is essential. The best mattress for back pain should provide support and relief, while the wrong mattress could actually make things worse. This happens when a bed doesn’t correctly support the spine and puts stress on pressure points. Other mattresses might cushion the pressure points but fail to support the back, leading to poor spinal alignment and increased pain. With proper support and pain relief in mind, we’ve narrowed down the top ten mattresses for those suffering with back pain. And while there’s not one best mattress to relieve all back pain, we show you how to find a mattress that addresses your specific comfort preferences, sleeping position and back pain type.
The best mattresses for back pain:
- Best Overall Mattress for Back Pain: Saatva
- Best Affordable Mattress for Back Pain: Nectar
- Best Mattress for Back and Neck Pain: Bear Hybrid
- Best Cooling Mattress for Back Pain: The WinkBed
- Best Mattress For Upper Back Pain: Brooklyn Bedding Signature
- Best Firm Mattress for Back Pain: DreamCloud Luxury Hybrid
- Best Mattress for Lower Back Pain: Nolah Evolution
- Best Mattress for Side Sleepers with Back Pain: Ghostbed Flex
- Best Hybrid Mattress for Back Pain: Layla Hybrid
The Saatva Classic is a great mattress overall, but it earned the number one spot on this list thanks to its incredible spinal alignment. Our testing team scored the Saatva Classic a perfect 10 out of 10 on spinal alignment, making it one of the best options on this list, especially to target the lower back. When lying on a mattress without proper support, the sleeper’s lower back can dip downward, causing pressure buildup and poor spinal alignment. But the Saatva Classic enhances support in that zone to keep the lower back aligned.
Plus, the Saatva Classic is available in three different firmness levels: plush soft, luxury firm (the medium-firm option) and firm. Note that it’s not ideal for people who prefer pure memory foam since the Saatva Classic is a hybrid, combining pocket coils, steel coils and high-density memory foam. At the end of the day, the Saatva Classic is a great fit for most sleepers, and it’s designed to reduce back pain while you sleep.
Luckily for mattress shoppers on a budget, a supportive mattress doesn’t have to cost a fortune. The Nectar mattress offers excellent pressure relief—an essential for back pain sufferers—without an outrageous price tag. A unique layer of gel memory foam dissipates tension on pressure points, while the top layer contours to your body’s curves, providing a comforting cushion effect.
Of course, it’s not the perfect mattress for every sleeper. Because the Nectar mattress is all-foam, it hugs the body in a way some find uncomfortable. If you prefer to sleep on your bed rather than in it, we recommend hybrid or innerspring options, like the Saatva Classic or Layla Hybrid. Also, note that while the Nectar scored high in the pressure relief category, our testers found that it lacked in spinal alignment, with a 7.5 of 10. Fortunately, you don’t have to cross your fingers that your bed will work for your back pain; Nectar includes a one-year trial so you can be sure it’s right for you.
Unfortunately, back pain rarely exists in a vacuum. It often goes hand-in-hand with other types of chronic pain, like neck pain. If you experience both back and neck pain, then you need a mattress that offers all-over pressure relief, like the Bear Hybrid. Our testers found that the Bear Hybrid relieves pressure from head-to-toe. This hybrid mattress is also a great option for folks who like to work out.
If you sleep with a partner you’re concerned about waking, or vice versa, the Bear Hybrid may not be the best mattress for you. It scored relatively low in motion transfer, meaning that every time you or your partner toss and turn, that movement will likely travel to the other side of the bed and disrupt the other sleeper.
For those worried about waking up not just achy, but also overheated, consider a bed specially designed to cool. The WinkBed is our top pick for people with back pain who are also hot sleepers. It provides it all-pressure point relief, cushioning, spinal alignment and cooling properties. A layer of individually wrapped pocket coils increases airflow through the bottom of the mattress while the gel-infused foam retains less heat than typical memory foam. Finally, the Tencel cover dissipates heat while you sleep.
While this mattress checks boxes for back pain and hot sleepers, it might not work for couples who shift a lot throughout the night. Motion isolation helps keep your tossing and turning to your side of the bed, and the WinkBed did not impress in this test when movement easily transferred from one side of the bed to the other.
If you hold pain in your upper back, the Brooklyn Bedding Signature mattress may help relieve tension. You can choose between three different firmness levels (soft, medium and firm) knowing that each promotes pain relief by targeting pressure points, promoting spinal alignment and providing all-over support.
The Brooklyn Bedding Signature mattress is also great for people who tend to sleep near the edge of the bed. With some mattresses, the edges collapse when you get too close to the edge—but you don’t need to worry about that with the Brooklyn Bedding Signature. Our testers gave this bed a nine out of 10 for edge support, meaning you can sleep comfortably on the whole bed, not just the middle.
Some people who deal with back problems are tempted to buy a soft mattress to cushion their pressure points, but a firm mattress can often provide greater pressure relief. If you experience back pain and are looking for firm support, the DreamCloud Luxury Hybrid could be a good fit for you.
It’s a hybrid mattress that combines pocketed coils with gel-infused memory foam for a medium-firm mattress experience. The DreamCloud is also a crowd pleaser. Our testers found it to be comfortable for all sleeping positions, from back sleepers to side sleepers to stomach sleepers, and even combination sleepers who tend to change position throughout the night. Remember that this is not your typical cushy, soft mattress. If you want the cushioning of a plush top layer, this might not be the bed for you.
The Nolah Evolution mattress is our top pick for people who struggle with lower back pain. This mattress is made up of the classic hybrid combination of coils and foam—but with a unique design feature. The coils are divided into three sections, which work together to provide the ideal amount of pressure relief and spinal support. The coils in the lumbar area offer additional support to soothe and relax your lower back.
This advanced sleeping technology does come with a hefty price tag. The Nolah Evolution is one of the most expensive mattresses on this list. Stomach sleepers might also think twice: You will likely find the Nolah Evolution too soft for your liking.
Side sleepers often wake with back pain because their sleeping position puts extra pressure on the hips, lower back, shoulders and neck. For side sleepers looking to neutralize tension on these pressure points, we recommend the GhostBed Flex. The mattress’s two layers of gel memory foam contour to the shape of your body, providing both support and pressure relief.
It’s important to note that this mattress isn’t all memory foam. Its pocket coils add resistance and motion isolation for couples, as well as cooling properties for those who sleep hot.
You’ll notice that many hybrid mattresses made our list because their combination of contouring memory foam and supportive coils is ideal for folks with back troubles. Of all the hybrid beds here, we rank the Layla Hybrid at the top. Why? It has it all: spinal alignment, pressure relief and affordability.
This hybrid doesn’t just combine two materials—it also offers two firmness levels. The adaptable Layla can be flipped so sleepers are able to pick the firmness level they prefer: medium-soft or firm. The only population our testers recommend against the Layla Hybrid is heavyweight side sleepers, who may not get the same pressure relief as they would with a more supportive model, like the GhostBed Flex.
How to Find the Best Mattress for Back Pain
Your bed can be restorative or exacerbate pain, and it all comes down to what’s inside your mattress. Depending on what your mattress is made of, the design can target back pain by relieving pressure points, aligning the spine and contouring to the hips, shoulder and neck. Below, we include a brief description of the most popular mattress materials and explain why they do or don’t promote back health and pain relief.
An innerspring mattress is the “old school” mattress type, made with steel coils that provide support and bounce—although not always the best cushioning. This classic style does suit some back pain sufferers who toss and turn throughout the night, because the coils respond to those movements easily, without resistance.
Memory foam mattresses have gained in popularity since the 90s. Unlike bouncy spring mattresses, memory foam cushions and contours to the body, which can help relieve pressure buildup and reduce back pain. However, memory foam mattresses typically aren’t as firm as innerspring mattresses, which means you may not get the same level of spinal support.
For the benefits of both innerspring and memory foam mattresses, consider the versatile hybrid. The hybrid mattress design combines coils and springs with memory foam to provide best-of-both-worlds support and cushioning. While these beds are some of the best options for people with back problems, note that hybrids tend to be more expensive, which may not be ideal for budget shoppers.
Firmness is another important factor when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. Folks used to believe that the best mattress for back pain was extra-firm, but new research has found that no specific firmness level is better or worse for back pain. Lucky for you, there are no wrong answers. Firmness is simply a matter of personal preference, so find what feels right for your pain and your sleeping position.
Types of Pain
Different types of back pain require different solutions, so let’s break down some of the most common chronic issues and discuss how your bed, and even your lifestyle, can help give relief.
Lower back pain
Lower back pain is the most common type of chronic back pain because it supports the majority of your weight. Another possible cause of low back pain is a sagging mattress. Many mattresses start to collapse in the middle as they age, and this sagging can throw your back out of alignment. Replacing an older mattress, in combination with lower back strengthening exercises, can help alleviate chronic issues.
Upper back pain
When people experience upper back pain, injuries and bad posture are often to blame. If you haven’t recently injured your upper back but regularly experience pain in that area, you may start by looking into how to improve your posture.
If you wake up with soreness in your shoulders, you might be sleeping on the wrong type of mattress for your sleep position. Side sleepers often experience shoulder pain when they sleep on a mattress that’s too firm. You can try to reduce shoulder pain by training yourself to sleep on your back. If you’re a side sleeper through and through, look for a mattress specifically designed to support the side body’s pressure points.
Neck pain could be caused by a wide variety of issues, from an injury to poor posture. But one commonly overlooked reason for neck pain is your pillow. If you experience chronic discomfort here, you may find relief with a contoured pillow, or one with a higher or lower loft than your current pillow.
The position that you sleep in can have a profound impact on your back pain and sleep quality. We detail the four sleep positions to help you understand what mattress is best suited to your sleeping style.
Back sleeping is typically considered the best sleeping position for reducing back pain, so if you primarily sleep this way, you’re already doing your back a big favor.
Side sleeping is most closely associated with shoulder pain, as pressure builds in this area. However, with the right level of support and contouring in a mattress, side sleeping doesn’t have to cause pain.
Generally, stomach sleeping is considered the worst position for aggravating the back. When you sleep on your stomach, your lower back is likely to sink downward, putting undue weight on your lower back and hips.
Combination sleepers change position throughout the night, alternating between two or more sleep positions. For these active sleepers, the most important factor is the mattress’s responsiveness. You want the mattress to bounce back as you move so that you don’t feel stuck while trying to shift to a more comfortable position.
Did you know that your body type has an effect on your sleep? Different body types have different mattress needs, and it’s important to consider how a mattress can be perfect for one bodyweight but uncomfortable for another.
Most mattresses are made with average-weight sleepers in mind. Unless a mattress specifically says it’s built for lightweight or heavyweight sleepers, you should be relatively comfortable on most mattresses. Avoid excessively soft or firm mattresses, unless that’s your personal preference.
Heavyweight sleepers need a firmer mattress to prevent weight-related mattress sagging. If you don’t like the feel of a firm mattress, a pillow topper can soften the surface of the bed.
Lightweight sleepers typically sleep best on a softer mattress, especially side sleepers. If you weigh less than average, look for a mattress that is soft, medium-soft or medium in firmness.
What to Know About Buying a Mattress Online
Buying a mattress online is fast and easy, but it can make some people nervous to make such an important purchase sight unseen. Most online mattress companies have recognized this hesitation and have found ways to make the process feel less risky.
Most mattresses that you order online will be delivered bed-in-a-box style. After ordering, a rectangular box is delivered right to your door. Once you unbox it, the mattress unrolls and expands over the course of 24 hours. It’s all much more convenient than hiring a moving truck—but some brands take customer service a step further. A few mattress brands, like Saatva, offer white-glove delivery, where they will bring the mattress to your house and set it up for you, no unboxing required.
If you’re worried about ordering a mattress online only to find out that it worsens your back pain, rest easy. Nearly every online mattress retailer includes a trial period. Trials typically last anywhere from 30 days to a full year. At any point during this period, you can return your mattress for a refund if you find it isn’t the right match.
Your mattress warranty is typically much longer than the trial period. Most mattress warranties last anywhere from five to 25 years, and cover manufacturer mistakes. Note that you cannot use the warranty to return a mattress simply because it’s uncomfortable, but you can return a mattress if it’s excessively sagging, for example.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the best mattress for back pain?
The best mattress for back pain will depend on a lot of factors, like your body type, sleeping position and personal comfort preferences. The important thing is to find a mattress that can keep your spine in proper alignment while relieving pressure at points like the hips, shoulders and neck.
Is a firm mattress best for back pain?
It used to be considered common knowledge that an extra-firm mattress was best for relieving back pain. However, in recent years we have realized that there is no singular firmness level that is ideal for resolving back problems. The best way to choose the firmness of your mattress is by following your personal preferences. If it feels good to you and doesn’t cause back pain, then it’s a good fit.
How do I know if my mattress is causing back pain?
Your mattress is likely contributing to your back pain if you wake up with soreness and achiness that dissipates as the day wears on. Your mattress could also be causing back pain if it’s older (more than seven to 10 years) or sagging in the middle. Sagging can compromise spinal support, which can throw your back out of alignment.
Prices are accurate and items in stock at time of publishing.