Chronic back pain plagues million of people nationwide, and sleeping on an uncomfortable bed only makes matters worse. Many have found that chiropractic treatments, along with finding the best mattress for back pain, are the two most effective ways to put an end to pesky pains. Everybody’s most comfortable mattress is going to be different, but there are a few key things to look for when searching specifically for a bed to ease your discomfort.
In this guide, we’ll discuss our Editors’ recommended mattresses for back pain relief and our tips for finding a high-quality, pain-relieving bed.
Best Mattresses for Back Pain
|Amerisleep AS2||Features pressure-relieving, plant-based memory foam and advanced zoned support technologies to eliminate back pain.||
|Zoma Sports Mattress||Designed to help athletes sleeper better and recover quicker; features state-of-the-art sleep-enhancing technologies.||
|Purple Mattress||Features innovative "No-Pressure" Smart Comfort Grid™ to combat pain.||
|Bear Mattress||Contains graphite-infused memory foam to help you sleep cool and comfortable.||
|Layla Mattress||Contains copper-infused memory foam to offer enhanced pressure relief for pain points.||
As we mentioned, Amerisleep’s AS2 mattress is our recommended mattress for back pain. We’re fans of the Amerisleep brand because they use top-notch sleep-enhancing technology to promote healthy, restorative sleep.
The cover of every Amerisleep mattress is Celliant® fabric, which has been FDA-determined to increase local blood flow, improve circulation, and keep your temperature regulated while you sleep— all these factors help you wake up feeling rested and rejuvenated. In the AS2, they use 2 inches of their Bio-Pur®, a breathable, pressure-relieving memory foam, to cushion and cradle your body. Memory foam is regarded as the best material for pressure relief, so this layer helps release tension in your joints and eliminate pressure points.
The most important technology included in the AS2 to combat back pain is their HIVE® technology, a zoned support layer. HIVE® contains five strategically placed comfort and support zones that are designed to promote your spine’s natural curvature and encourage healthy sleep styles. In your feet, torso, and neck, the HIVE® support layer feels firmer and offers more support to prevent those areas from sinking too far into the mattress. On the other hand, the HIVE® technology feels softer and allows for deep compression under your shoulders and hips to prevent pressure points and pain.
We also really like how the HIVE® has been clinically-proven to reduce pressure points by up to 49%.
- HIVE® technology relieves pressure points and promotes healthy sleep positions
- Best for back and side sleepers
- Uses plant-based memory foam
Next on our list is the state-of-the-art Zoma Sports Mattress. Containing three layers, this memory foam bed is designed to foster neutral spinal alignment and prevent pain or pressure points from forming.
Let’s talk about its construction.
The first layer of the Zoma is 2 inches of gel-infused memory foam. When you lay on this layer, it molds to your body to alleviate pressure build-up and offer instant comfort. The gel within the foam combats body heat and prevents you from getting uncomfortably warm while you sleep. Zoma also includes its sleep-enhancing Triangulex™ technology in this layer. Triangulex™ feels firmer under your midsection and softer under your hips and shoulders to promote proper posture. Its firm center prevents sinkage within the mattress and holds your spine in line with the rest of your body.
Next, is their Reactiv™ foam— a layer of latex-like poly-foam. Reactiv™ boosts this bed’s bounciness and creates a more “on top of the bed” feel in regards to firmness. The responsiveness of this layer prevents you from sinking unhealthily far in the mattress, too. Primarily, Reactiv™ serves as a soft transition layer between the cushioning memory foam above and the sturdy base below.
The last and final layer of the Zoma is their Support+ foam, a durable poly-foam. The Support+ layer reinforces the two layers above and prevents premature deterioration and sagging throughout the mattress.
The Zoma Sports Mattress comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
Zoma Sports Mattress Highlights
- Designed to be comfortable for the majority of sleepers
- Gel-infused memory foam combats body heat, ideal for hot sleepers
- Triangulex™ technology offers enhanced spinal support
3. Original Purple Mattress
The Purple brand is innovative because they designed and use a whole new material for making mattresses— hyper-elastic polymer. The founders of Purple, one of which being an actual rocket scientist, decided to dabble in mattress making and designed this material into a grid shape to use as the top layer of their beds, the goal was to create the first ever “No Pressure” mattress. Purple’s Smart Comfort Grid™ is a bit of a paradox; when you lay on this mattress, the grid collapses under your weight to offer instant comfort and release pressure in your joints, however, it still maintains a level of support, as it holds your body in line and promotes a neutral spine.
Purple’s flagship mattress, the Original Purple, is excellent for those who suffer from back pain because of it’s ability to closely conform to your body’s curves and relieve tension in your joints and pressure points. The dynamic support of the Smart Comfort Grid™ promotes your body’s natural shape and ensures you’re not sinking too far into the mattress and over-extending your spine, a contributor to back pain.
- World’s first “no-pressure” mattress for ultimate pain relief
- Compatible with back, side, and stomach sleepers
- Features pain-relieving Smart Comfort Grid™
Bear mattresses are designed specifically to help athletes get better and more reparative sleep so they can perform their best each day. On their website, they state their beds are designed to relieve back and muscle pains, which is exactly what sleepers who experience back pain are looking for! They use Celliant® in their cover to boost circulation and recovery time, so your body and mind should feel energized and ready to take on the day when you rise.
Bear sells two beds, a memory foam model and a hybrid alternative— we recommend choosing their memory foam bed. The first layer of this model is 1.5 inches of graphite-infused memory foam; memory foam is excellent for pressure relief, so it helps eliminate aches, and the graphite gel they infuse into this layer helps keep you at a cool temperature all night long.
We mentioned earlier memory foam can retain heat, so Bear uses this gel to offset that risk. Next, we want to mention the following layer, which is actually two 1-inch layers that act as one. The extra 2 inches of foam below the top layer allow for deeper compression in the mattress, which is important for those with back pain as it eases tension in the spine. Though these two layers allow for more compression, they’re not memory foam, and are designed to be more responsive and ensure you don’t sink unnaturally far in the mattress.
The combination of these top layers create a healthy balance of comfort and support so those with back pain can experience pressure relief without sacrificing spinal support.
- Designed to help athletes get better sleep
- Best for side and back sleepers
- Cooling design is ideal for hot sleepers
Layla offers an innovative, flippable firmness mattress; meaning, one side is firm, but if you flip it over, the other side is soft. This bed is perfect for sleepers who aren’t exactly sure what firmness they need from a bed. For the most part, their firm side is best suited for stomach and back sleepers while their soft side is ideal for side sleepers, but everybody is different and this bed gives you options. Layla’s memory foam mattress includes the infusion of copper, which has a handful of sleep-promoting benefits.
To start, copper is structurally supportive, so when you lay on this bed, it’ll compress under your weight and offer more support in areas where you need it, preventing you from sinking too far in the mattress and contributing to neutral spinal alignment. This alone is great for those with back pain because it helps reinforce your body’s natural, healthy curvature. Copper also is highly conductive, so it pulls heat away from you and out of the mattress, keeping you cool and comfortable while you sleep.
On their website, they mention the Layla is designed for pain relief, specifically they aim to nurture your spine’s alignment and eliminate muscle aches, two important factors for those with back pain. Regardless of how you sleep, you can get pain-relieving rest on the Layla bed.
- Flippable firmness
- Compatible with side, back, and stomach sleepers
- Copper-infused foam keeps you cool, clean, and supported
What Causes Back Pain?
As back pain sufferers know, the pain can comes from many places, such as an injury, occupational strains, daily stress, sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress, or a combination of the above.
According to the Mayo Clinic’s research, the conditions most commonly linked to back pain are muscle or ligament strain, bulging or ruptured discs, arthritis, skeletal irregularities, and osteoporosis. It’s clear there is no singular cause, but there are common factors. Understanding these factors and using them to manage your discomfort is one of the most effective ways to alleviate back pain.
Many forms of back pain have one thing in common: they get worse after a bad night’s sleep. Whether it’s the result of a one-time injury, a chronic problem, or just the aches and pains of everyday life, back pain will only worsen on an uncomfortable mattress. Tossing and turning may aggravate the underlying cause. Too much pressure on the wrong part of the body can make you feel worse than when you went to bed.
While sleeping, pressure is gradually released from your vertebrae— because you’re lying down, your upper body is no longer applying pressure to your spine. When a person wakes up, they can be up to one inch taller than when they went to bed. As the day progresses, pressure returns with gravity, and various factors (like poor posture) compress your spine throughout the day.
The effects of poor sleep can be even worse depending on your sleeping position. Stomach sleeping, for example, places extra pressure and strain on the neck and spine.
In many cases, managing a chronic back problem comes down to finding the best mattress for back pain. Getting a good night’s sleep reduces stress, takes pressure off injured or strained areas of the body, and helps alleviate pain.
How Back Pain Impacts Sleep
How much of an impact can back pain have on sleep? The facts might surprise you:
- Lower back discomfort is the single leading cause of disability worldwide. It’s one of the most common reasons for missed work. Up to 80% of us will experience it at some point in our lives, says the American Chiropractic Association.
- Pain is a key factor keeping many Americans from getting the quality sleep they need. Sleep disturbance is a top complaint among patients dealing with a chronic back or joint problem.
- It has been reported by the National Sleep Foundation that those suffering chronic pain in their back or joints get around 42 fewer minutes of sleep per night.
- People with pain feel like they have less control over their sleep, and are more likely to worry about whether they’re snoozing enough.
Ease Pain with Healthy Sleep
The good news is, you do have control over your sleep quality. If back discomfort is a chronic issue, investing in the right mattress can significantly improve the quality of your sleep—as well as your well-being while awake. Even if an injury or chronic condition causes back pain, getting a peaceful night’s sleep with good support and alignment can be the difference between manageable pain and debilitating pain. Choosing a comfortable bed can lead to several significant improvements including reducing pain, facilitating better rest, and preventing new aches.
Sleeping on a lumpy or unsupportive surface can lead to discomfort. Sinking too deeply into a mattress can throw your joints out of alignment, causing them to twist and become uncomfortable as the night goes on. On the other hand, sleeping on a too-firm surface can interfere with the spinal cord’s ability to reach its proper alignment. Years ago, doctors recommended a firm mattress for people with back pain. However, recent surveys suggest people who sleep on very hard mattresses (sometimes called orthopedic mattresses) have the poorest sleep quality.
Finding a mattress with the right level of support, while also encouraging a comfortable and uninterrupted night’s sleep, can take significant stress off those pressure points and help your spine relax.
Best Mattress Types for Back Pain
Memory foam and latex mattresses tend to rate the highest amongst customers with back pain, with innerspring beds performing poorly in reviews. Very thin and inexpensive beds also tend to have worse long-term customer satisfaction scores. A high-quality hybrid mattress is also great for pain relief, because it combines pressure-relieving foam layers with zoned pocketed coils to create a responsive but cushioning bed.
Memory foam is thought to be the best material for pain-relieving because it’s the most contouring and cushioning. These mattresses conform to your body’s shape, allowing the wider parts of your body, like your hips and shoulders, to sink in while the narrower areas of your body, such as your waist and feet, lay atop the mattress.
Sleeping with straight, natural alignment relieves the pressures commonly associated with many back pains. A mattress with poor conformity or support forces the body to rest at an unnatural angle and prevents tense muscles from fully relaxing.
The ideal bed will be based on each person’s sleep style and preferences. Some people have a preference for the feel of memory foam, while others prefer the feel of latex. Things like materials, layer thickness, and firmness will depend on your body weight, sleep style, and other factors.
Our Choice: Memory Foam
Traditional spring mattresses are often flat and plank-like, providing uneven support. Stiff springs cause you to lay unevenly, regardless of your preferred sleeping position. For back sleepers, plank-like surfaces force the spine to arch and leave the inner knee unsupported, preventing the lower back from decompressing and causing several types of strains and pains.
Let’s picture why this might be the case. The hips and the upper shoulders are the parts of the body that protrude the most, the heel of the foot does as well. While lying on your back, your hips and shoulders touch the mattress and your heels dig in.
However, on a firmer bed, the lumbar region of your back remains arched. On firmer beds, there might be noticeable space between the lower back and the mattress. Your inner knees barely have a supporting surface, and your head tilts uncomfortably backward. All of this adds up to a very uncomfortable night’s sleep.
By comparison, medium-firm memory foam or latex mattresses are better choices. These sleep surfaces perform well because they don’t force the spine to curve into unnatural positions while you sleep. Instead, they allow the parts of your body that need to sink to do so, while still giving support in the places that require it. Hips and shoulders are cushioned, while the lower back is fully supported and able to relax.
In short, looking for a firmer mattress that uses memory foam technology is a great way to help with lower back pain by promoting healthy spinal alignment.
Concerns With Memory Foam
Memory foam is designed to fully conform to your body’s natural curves, to provide support exactly where you need it. But does that benefit come with a downside?
As memory foam beds have become more popular, there has been a growing concern with their tendency to trap heat. Meaning, even if the bed is soft and comfortable, you’ll still be uncomfortable at night because you’re sleeping on a hot mattress. Though it is true some memory foam mattresses are made from synthetic materials and extremely dense foams can trap heat, many mattress brands are taking extra steps to ensure their beds won’t trap heat. Mattress manufacturers have also found memory foam mattresses made from natural, plant-based materials tend to offer cooler and more comfortable sleep.
When it comes to getting a memory foam mattress, it’s important to consider where the product is coming from and how it is made. This can be harder than you’d think. For example, Nectar mattresses settled FTC charges that claims of their product being ‘assembled in the USA’ were false. When looking at a company, read its reviews and read its website to find out as much as you can about the product quality.
Why Memory Foam is Our Recommended Option
Based on everything we’ve looked at, medium-firm memory foam mattresses are perfect for those suffering back pain. Memory Foam contours the entire body without any gaps unlike innerspring mattresses. Most often, medium-firm mattresses let the spine to rest in a natural position.
Our research indicates Amerisleep’s AS2 is a good choice for medium-firm memory foam. Amerisleep uses high-quality materials, ensuring pain-free sleep for many years.
A Quality Mattress Starts with Quality Materials
There’s more. The memory foam used in the AS2 and other Amerisleep mattresses recovers its shape faster. With typical memory foam mattresses, you might wind up “stuck” when you switch positions while you wait for your memory foam to adapt—which can take up to 60 seconds. The AS2 bounces back in just four seconds. So your mattress keeps up with you while you move at night. That makes it one of the best mattresses on the market.
And when it comes to reducing back pain, the AS2 also has Amerisleep’s HIVE®. HIVE® is clinically shown to reduce pressure points up to 49%. It works by grouping hundreds of six-sided foam supports into five comfort zones to provide targeted pressure relief.
For places where you need an additional cushion, like the shoulders, the HIVE® layer has more space between the foam hexagons. That way those zones will compress more. And for zones where you need more support, like your head and feet, the HIVE® layer has less space between the hexagons to provide more reinforcement.
Beyond quality materials, Amerisleep also uses the latest performance technology like Celliant®, an advanced fabric, to further improve your back pain. How? Celliant® is designated by the FDA3 to temporarily promote increased local blood flow at the site of application in healthy individuals. It does that by safely converting body heat to infrared energy. As a result, the energy penetrates into the muscle and tissue to promote a temporary increase in local blood flow. This can help increase comfort and promote restful sleep.
Amerisleep also offers a generous 100-night sleep trial. If you feel that your mattress isn’t a good fit, Amerisleep will refund or exchange it during the trial period. They’ll handle the pick-up and donate the mattress for you.
Choosing Your Ideal Firmness
Now that we’ve sorted through the different types of mattresses, it’s time to answer another essential question for sufferers of back pain— how firm should my mattress be?
Is it better to go with a soft and cloud-like sleep, or should you take the old advice that the firmest bed is best? The answer may be neither, or possibly a combination of both options.
It has long been believed that a firm bed is the best choice for people who suffer from a bad back. But in reality, firm mattresses remain a hotly contested debate between orthopedic doctors and chiropractors. Recent surveys have shown hard mattresses might not be the best choice. The majority of chiropractors were probably right in recommending their patients sleep on medium-firm mattresses.
Overall, medium-firm mattresses are the most recommended, especially for back sleepers. Still want to do some more research? Check out other mattress reviews to learn about other types of mattresses, the materials they’re made from, and their firmness.
In two separate studies, Oklahoma State University researchers found medium-firm mattresses are the most effective at reducing clinically diagnosed back pain, shoulder pain, and spine stiffness. Subjects who slept on medium-firm mattresses experienced better sleep quality overall and fewer sleep disturbances throughout the night.
People with pre-existing conditions sometimes require a moderately firm sleeping surface to heal properly from strains and other injuries. Side sleepers might prefer options in the medium range to better cushion their hips and shoulder.
Still not convinced a medium-firm mattress is a better choice than one that’s rock-hard? Here’s an easy way to see how it might feel to sleep on a very firm mattress— place a plywood board under your mattress, or put your mattress on the floor for the night. Doing this will make your bed less cushy, giving you a good approximation of how a very firm mattress might feel.
In the end, it comes down to what works best for your body and the way you sleep. If back pain is a recurring issue, medium-firm mattresses are often a good way to alleviate some of that pain. You may need to try a few different options to find the best bed for your back pain, though; that’s why it’s a good idea to buy from a mattress brand that lets you try the mattress risk-free at home.
How Temperature Can Impact Pain
Cooler sleeping experiences often facilitate deeper sleep than hotter ones. A good night’s sleep requires a 1°C loss of core body temperature. Deep sleep is synonymous with more restful sleep, so seeking ways to cool your sleeping experience makes sense. Think of it this way: even if the support is perfect and your spine’s pressure points are alleviated, what happens if you’re hot all night? You’ll likely toss and turn because you’re warm and sweaty, only making your pain worse.
Comfort is a complicated thing. Finding the best mattress for back pain means considering all the factors, from comfort and support to keeping cool.
Fighting Back Pain on a Budget
Of course, buying a new mattress is a big investment. Even if you’re not in the market to spend a lot of money, there are still budget-friendly ways to improve your night’s sleep.
Consider Bed-in-a-box Mattresses
Everybody knows a mattress from a traditional retailer can cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. However, you can save yourself quite a bit of money by shopping with an online or bed in a box mattress brand. By selling their beds direct-to-consumer, these brands are able to price their high-quality beds more affordably. Meaning, a bed you may pay over $1,500 for in a store can cost you less than $1,000 online.
If you need a new bed but have a tight budget, we recommend starting your search online. There are over 175 different online mattress brands, and many brands sell their beds through Amazon. Just be wary of cheap beds or beds sold through unauthorized sellers.
When shopping on a marketplace such as Amazon, always check to make sure you’re buying through a brand’s verified storefront, and not from a third-party seller. You can usually easily detect third-party sellers because they price their beds much cheaper than others. If it seems too good to be true, it likely is.
Before clicking purchase on any new mattress, make sure it comes with a sleep trial and warranty, too. These protect you from getting stuck with an uncomfortable or defective bed.
Many chiropractors believe if the sleeper does not own a memory foam bed or if their current bed is too firm, the best thing to do is to lay a 1½ to 2½-inch thick mattress topper on their sleep surface.
It’s best to think of a memory foam topper as a small step towards an improved sleeping experience. Even this small step can have a big impact on back pain, especially if you decide to invest in a high-quality memory foam topper.
High-quality toppers are considerably less expensive than a new mattress, and with proper care, they can last for years. By adding a topper, you can get more use out of the mattress you already have—while boosting your comfort level in bed and keeping your back pain at bay.
Drawbacks to Mattress Toppers
Of course, foam toppers are not a foolproof solution. While a mattress pad aids comfort and can help with support, its thin profile doesn’t give the sleeper the deep advantages a memory foam or latex mattress does.
Compared with foam toppers, foam mattresses offer more pressure relief, mold and dust mite resistance, and longevity. The breathability and advantages of memory foam make it an overall good choice for pain, and it’s likely to be comfortable for most people.
In short, a mattress topper can help make your sleep surface more comfortable, but it won’t be as effective as a new memory foam mattress.
If you’re hesitant to purchase a new mattress outright, a memory foam mattress topper can be a good stepping stone. Knowing how your body responds to memory foam can inform your mattress decision when the time comes.
One thing to keep in mind— if you choose to use a mattress topper, make sure your current mattress isn’t already sagging. If your current mattress bows inward, the topper will likely do the same, so it won’t be able to provide you with the support to wake up pain-free.
Fight Pain by Changing Your Sleeping Position
Changing your sleep position can make a huge difference when you suffer from back pain. It’s a simple step that doesn’t cost anything but time and effort, and it can multiply the effects of a new mattress or mattress topper. The better you can train yourself to sleep, with your back relaxed and well-supported, the more you may feel relief from pain.
- According to the Mayo Clinic, side sleepers should draw up their legs slightly toward their chest and place a pillow between their knees.
- Back sleepers should place a pillow beneath their knees, and support their neck with a flat, rather than thicker, pillow.
- Stomach sleepers have the hardest time fighting back pain because sleeping on the stomach naturally stresses the spine. However, placing a pillow beneath the lower abdomen and using a thin pillow (or none at all) under the head can help reduce the negative impact of sleeping on your stomach.
These small changes in sleeping position can make a big difference, especially when they’re combined with a new and better sleeping surface. It can be hard to make the change, though, especially since you might naturally toss pillows away and roll back into your old position.
There is no single best position for back pain because there is no single source of back pain. Different people naturally sleep in different positions, and forcing a side sleeper to switch to their back can be difficult and uncomfortable. If you switch to a more supportive position but find yourself restless because of the new position, the disruption to your sleep might counter any benefits to your back pain.
Back pain is a struggle. But small changes to your sleeping position can make a real difference for some, especially if you choose to invest in the best bed for back pain.
Research and Resources
In making this article, we:
- Researched the leading contributors of back pain and how your mattress can play a part in the frequency of your aches and pains.
- Compared over 25 different beds looking specifically for features that promote healthy spinal alignment and proper sleep positions.
- Spent 20 hours writing and revising the article to deliver the most valuable information to those suffering from chronic back pain.
Did You Find Your Next Bed?
Pain and stress feed on each other. When sleep gets interrupted, especially if it’s because the body is too hot, it can cause discomfort, making chronic back pain even worse. Pain causes your body to be stressed, which in turn can lead to even poorer sleep, which will worsen the pain. It’s a vicious cycle, but it can be broken.
A healthy and comfortable night’s sleep can be one of the best ways to reduce stress and combat chronic pain. Meaning, finding the best bed for back pain is critical.
Remember the key mattress features for back pain: comfort, pressure relief, and temperature control. A good night’s sleep can be a hard thing to find, so take proper time to choose a solution that’s right for you. The perfect mattress will have you sleeping soundly through the night, instead of tossing and turning or waking up in a sweat. Medium-firm memory foam mattresses assist vertebrae alignment, reduce muscle tension, as well as soothe and prevent aches. These factors, along with affordability, make memory foam the best mattress for a bad back.
You spend nearly a third of your life sleeping, so it’s important you don’t cut corners. Now that you have the facts about the type of mattress will help your back stay comfortable, it’s time to make your pick. Of course, you should factor in your own preferences as well as your budget by doing research on the best mattress for your lifestyle. But our top pick is Amerisleep’s AS2. It’s made of high-quality medium-firm memory foam that conforms to your spine’s natural curves to keep it properly aligned. So you’ll sleep more soundly now—and for years to come.
2 Milne, C. T. APRN, MSN, BC, CWOCN; et. al. Evaluation of a Variable Pressure Foaming (VPF) Mattress with Surface Modification Technology (SMT) for Prevention and Treatment of Pressure Ulcers in General Medical-Surgical Patients. 43th Annual Conference of the Wound, Ostomy and Continence, June, 2011
3 The FDA has determined that Celliant® products are medical devices as defined in section 201(h) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and are general wellness products. Celliant® is determined by the FDA to temporarily promote increased local blood flow at the site of application in healthy individuals. Hologenix, LLC, the maker of Celliant®, states that Celliant® safely converts body heat to infrared energy. This energy penetrates into the muscle and tissue to promote a temporary increase in local blood flow and helps increase comfort and promotes restful sleep.