- If you've woken up with back pain, it's possible you need a more supportive, higher-quality mattress.
- The Saatva Classic Mattress is our pick because it won the Chiropractic Seal of Approval and features two different layers of individually-wrapped coils and memory foam for great support.
- See more: The best mattresses
According to the National Institute of Health, more than 80% of the US population will feel acute back pain at some time during their life. They also estimate that 10% of the population has chronic lower back pain, making the condition the second most common cause of disability claims.
While the root causes of back pain are many — including sprains and strains, accidents, and spinal degeneration — other common issues may add to the misery: too much time spent sitting, lack of exercise, poor posture, genetics, and repetitive workplace motions, to name a few.
While only your doctor should be consulted in regard to pain management, sleeping on a mattress that doesn't give proper support — especially an old, saggy mattress — is likely only aiding the problem.
A high-quality mattress may help, however, especially one that provides pressure relief and significant support. In addition to several other factors, the American Chiropractic Association recommends sleeping on a mattress of medium firmness to minimize any curve in your spine.
As such, we've researched the best mattresses recommended by medical associations and reputable sleep blogs to help relieve back pain through firm support. Keep reading for our picks, plus tips on how to choose a mattress that's good for back pain.
Here are the best mattresses for back pain:
- Best overall: Saatva Classic Mattress
- Best adjustable mattress: Sleep Number C4 Mattress
- Best memory foam mattress: Amerisleep AS2
- Best on a budget: Bear Mattress
Updated on 10/5/2020 to edit links, references, and prices.
The best overall
A mattress so comfortable it won the Chiropractic Seal of Approval, the Saatva Classic features two different layers of individually-wrapped coils and memory foam for great spinal support.
If you like an innerspring mattress and want your back to feel its very best, it's hard to go wrong with a mattress from Saatva.
There are three firmness levels, but each mattress features individually-wrapped coils that conform to your every curve while a lower layer of wrapped coils provide support and firmness. A layer of high-quality memory foam provides even more cushioning comfort, and there's a support system around the perimeter of the mattress so it won't sag when you lie or sit near the edge. Finish the whole thing off with a Euro pillow-top, and you have a mattress fit for royalty.
The Saatva mattress was also chosen as the official mattress for the Healthbridge Sleep Medicine Center, and the extra wire support for your spine contained in the mattresses' center third won it the Chiropractic Seal of Approval.
Mattress Guides reviewed the Saatva mattress extensively, giving it a 4.7-out-of-5-star rating.
Insider Reviews' Kylie Joyner tested this mattress and found that both she and her partner noticed a reduction in back pain. She writes, "My boyfriend, who sleeps religiously on his back, says, 'My back pain is gone and this has completely eliminated the 2 to 3 a.m. wake-ups I used to have in the night.' I'm typically a restless sleeper, but I've found I definitely sleep more soundly through the night, and I've been able to sleep on my stomach (my preferred sleep position) all through the night with no discomfort."
We love the Saatva Classic so much that it's also our best overall pick in our guide to the best spring mattresses, and our top pick for back pain in our guide to the best mattresses overall.
Pros: Exceptional support and comfort from an innerspring mattress
The best adjustable mattress
With the Sleep Number C4, you can tailor the support just the way you like it by adjusting the amount of air inside the mattress.
According to Sleep Like the Dead, people who own adjustable air mattresses report the most relief from back pain — but this isn't the type of air mattress you might sleep on at the in-laws'. It's a true mattress with added dual air bladders, which you can easily adjust by adding or removing air to reach the perfect level of support your back needs.
The Sleep Number C4, which is one of the classic, less-expensive Sleep Number mattresses, not only lets you adjust the air fill, and thus the support level, it also has a 1-1/2-inch layer of comfort foam for even more support, and a three-zoned foam layer that is contoured to relieve pressure in your head, back, and hips. Top it all off with a breathable, knit fabric cover, and you have a mattress that treats your back right.
But what really makes Sleep Number special is that you and your sleeping partner can each tailor their side of the bed to the preferred level of firmness and support. So if you like it as firm as it gets, but your partner wants it a bit softer, there is no problem or argument. Just reach for your remote controls and go to the "sleep number" you each prefer.
While there are several Sleep Number mattresses with more bells and whistles than the C4, they'll naturally cost more.
Pros: Adjustable firmness and support for both bed partners
Cons: While reasonably priced by Sleep Number standards, it's still a fairly expensive mattress
The best memory foam mattress
The medium-firm Amerisleep AS2 mattress has memory foam that cradles and supports your body, relieving pressure and discomfort.
Not only does the Amerisleep AS2 help relieve back pain and provide a great night of sleep, but it's easier on the environment as well. Amerisleep produces its memory foam in a closed chamber, eliminating the hefty dose of harsh chemicals usually created (and expelled) in the production of this comfortable foam. Its eco-friendly production techniques ultimately lead to a mattress with very little of the lung-irritating Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) so common to memory foam.
Additionally, the heart of the mattress is Amerisleep's Bio-Pur memory foam, a plant-based foam that cradles your body without building up body heat. That means you won't wake up hot and sweaty, a common problem with memory foam.
A layer of Active Flex foam lies atop the Bio-Pur foam. Active Flex has high conformability intended to relieve pressure point pain. In between the two layers of foams, there's an Affinity layer for even more comfort, and a layer of textured channels to keep body heat from stagnating inside the mattress.
On top is a Celliant fabric cover that recycles body heat into infrared light, resulting in a mattress that is comfortable and supportive.
Sleep Junkie chose the Amerisleep AS2 as a top pick for back pain, commenting that, "When it comes to reducing back pain, the AS2 also has Amerisleep's Surface Modification Technology (SMT). SMT 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."
Amerisleep will return or exchange the mattress within 100 days if you don't like it.
Pros: Free shipping and delivery, easy returns within the first 100 days, excellent support and conformability, low VOCs, and few complaints of the mattress "sleeping hot."
Cons: Only available online, somewhat expensive
The best on a budget
If you want to treat your back right but also want to watch your budget, you'll love Bear's reasonably priced, high-density foam mattress, which features just the right amount of bounce.
Targeted towards athletic and active people who want to keep their back and joints in tip-top shape, Bear has created a mattress that's not too firm, not too soft, but pure comfort all the way.
It has a core of high-density foam intended to keep your spine aligned properly, a transition layer for just enough "bounce" to prevent pressure or pain, an upper layer of cooling graphite-gel memory foam that supports you without trapping body heat, and a woven Celliant outer cover that converts body heat into infrared light.
Sleep Advisor chose this as one of the best mattresses for back pain, saying, "The mattress does a nice job relieving pressure while also providing bounce. It has quick responsiveness with an inch of slightly slower-responding memory foam on top."
Mattress Guides also reviewed the Bear mattress, giving it high praise for comfort, reasonable price, use of mostly green materials (meaning you don't have to worry about off-gassing or toxic chemicals), and excellent support.
Pros: Reasonable price, excellent support, particularly good for active people who want to protect their back
Cons: Only comes in one level of firmness — medium
How to choose a mattress that's good for back pain
It was once recommended that those with back problems sleep on a very firm mattress, but that advice is long debunked. Today, back experts recommend a medium-firm mattress, which gives plenty of spine support without putting pressure on your shoulders, neck, and hips.
Three terms you'll hear bandied about quite a bit at a mattress store are firmness, supportiveness, and conformability.
- Firmness refers to how much the mattress "pushes back" against your weight. A very firm mattress pushes back a lot and keeps you above the mattress's top, while a very soft mattress pushes back a little and lets you sink down into the mattress a bit. While preference is important, for most people with bad backs, the best bet is medium-firm.
- Supportiveness refers to how well it keeps your spine in alignment while you recline. A mattress with good support helps keep your head, shoulders, hips, and back in a relaxed, neutral position with no bending, sagging, or pressure.
- Conformability is the meeting point between the mattress's firmness and supportiveness. It refers to the way the mattress conforms, or molds itself, to your body's curves. The right mattress conforms itself enough to relieve pressure on your joints without letting your back or hips sag or sink.
Whether it be memory foam, air, innerspring, or some other type, the best mattresses for back pain hit the sweet spot for all three of the above traits.
Check out our other bedding and mattress guides
The best mattresses
There are several types of mattresses on the market from soft to firm, memory foam to innerspring, budget to luxury. In our guide to the best mattresses, we've tested dozens of options to bring you the best you can buy.
The best pillows
A good pillow means a good night's sleep. We reviewed dozens of pillows to narrow down the choices to the ones you'll love best. These are the best pillows you can buy.
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The best sheets
We spend nearly a third of our lifespan sleeping on our beds, so why wouldn't you want the best sheets possible? Not only do you want something soft and comfortable, but you also want something that's durable and can hold up to washes. That's why we combed through reviews, listened to opinions from bed sheet buyers, and tested sheets ourselves to compile our list. These are the best sheets you can buy.
The best mattress toppers
Although a mattress topper isn't a must-have for your bed, it's one of the easiest ways to up your sleep quality and comfort. We researched dozens of mattress toppers and determined that these are our favorites. Here are the best mattress toppers you can buy.
The best spring mattress
Don't think of those uncomfortable spring mattresses from the past: Today's options are well-made, comfortable to sleep on, and designed to last for some time. If you're leaning toward a traditional spring mattress (also called an innerspring mattress), we have five great recommendations. Here are the best spring mattresses you can buy.
The best mattresses for side sleepers
Finding the perfect mattress is tough for side sleepers. Regardless of which one you choose from our favorites, though, we're confident that you'll get a good night's sleep. And if you find that these mattresses don't work for you, rest assured that they come with a sleep trial so you can take these beds for a test run before making a long-term commitment. Here are the best mattresses for side sleepers.
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