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Best Mattress For Lower Back Pain: Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

Malena Piper

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A whopping 31 million Americans experience low back pain at any given time and it’s the leading cause of disability worldwide. If you’re one of the many who are suffering from low back pain, we suggest investing in a high-quality mattress to reduce your discomfort and improve your health and wellbeing.

With so many different types of materials, levels of support, and varying degrees of firmness, it can be confusing to know what the “right” mattress is. However, for anyone struggling with low back pain, a mattress that can support the weight of the hips while also conforming to the spine’s natural curve will alleviate pain. Ultimately, though, the best mattress for lower back pain will depend on your individual sleeping position and body type.

In this article, we examine the different components of a mattress and its effects on low back pain. We’ll also discuss the causes of back pain and how it affects our sleep.

Best Mattress for Lower Back Pain

MattressHighlightsPrice (Queen)
BEST MATTRESS FOR MOST SLEEPERS
The AS3Amerisleep
Features thermo-reactive material that increases circulation and cell recovery.
BEST GEL MEMORY FOAM MATTRESS Designed to help athletes sleeper better and recover quicker; features state-of-the-art sleep-enhancing technologies.
BEST ECONOMICAL MATTRESS Vaya Mattress
Vaya Vaya
Contouring but lifting Vaya Foam holds the spine in a healthy position.
Purple Mattress
PurplePurple Mattress
Contains a "No-Pressure" Purple Grid™ to ease pain and discomfort.
$1149
Purple Mattress
BearBear Mattress
Features temperature-regulating technologies to promote peaceful sleep and muscle recovery.
$800

Best Mattress for Most Sleepers: Amerisleep AS3

amerisleep as3 BEST MATTRESS FOR MOST SLEEPERS
Amerisleep AS3

Amerisleep’s most popular, the AS3, blends support with comfort for a balanced medium feel.

Receive 30 percent off your Amerisleep AS3 mattress

Use code AS30

Get discount
Best mattress features
  • Bio-Core® resists sagging or softening, ensuring a long-lasting mattress.
  • Bio-Pur® memory foam not only relieves pressure but keeps cool as it conforms to your body.
  • HIVE® technology cushions your shoulders and hips while supporting your back, head, and feet.
Recommended for...
  • Couples with different body types and firmness preferences.
  • People suffering not just from back pain but shoulder or hip pain.

The AS3 is Amerisleep’s top-selling mattress and the perfect mix of comfort and support. It’s described as having a medium firmness and is ideal for most body types and sleeping styles.

The AS3 is especially great for those with low back pain because its Bio-Pur® comfort layer is designed to relieve pressure points by contouring to your body. Bio-Pur® memory foam is more responsive than traditional foam, meaning it bounces back quicker when you move around to prevent you from feeling “stuck.”

Below that, the Affinity layer with HIVE® technology provides even more support. HIVE® technology gives your head, back, and legs more support, while keeping your hips and shoulders cushioned. The goal of this technology is to keep your body in its natural alignment and reduce pain-causing pressure points. Ultimately, reversing lower back pain.

Lastly, the Bio-Core® layer provides a supportive base that won’t sag or develop soft spots over time. A mattress with soft spots can disrupt the body’s natural alignment. A sturdy mattress core is crucial for maintaining low back support.

Every Amerisleep mattress comes with a 100-night, risk-free sleep trial; a 20-year warranty; and free, no-contact shipping. Shop the AS3 and more online or at one of their select showrooms throughout the country.

Best Gel Memory Foam Mattress: Zoma Mattress

Zoma mattress BEST GEL MEMORY FOAM MATTRESS
Zoma Mattress

The Zoma is made for athletes but is suitable for almost any kind of sleeper.

Receive $150 off your Zoma Mattress

Use code WIN150

Get discount
Best Mattress Features
  • The gel foam top layer contains triangular cutouts that double as air channels, increasing heat dissipation.
  • Triangulex™ design increases pressure relief in the mattress's head and foot.
  • Support+ foam boosts the mattress's durability, promoting longevity.
Recommended for...
  • Athletic and inactive sleepers, because both benefit from a deeper night of sleep.
  • Hot sleepers looking for a cool gel foam mattress.

The Zoma Mattress was designed for active lifestyles and enhanced performance. Its unique Triangulex™ design is specifically engineered to relieve pain-causing pressure points. This targeted surface modification technology within the gel memory foam comfort layer targets three zones—head and shoulders, hips and lower back, and upper and lower legs—and provides support tailored to those parts of the body.

Zoned support is a much-appreciated feature by anyone with low back pain because it adds extra support where it’s needed most while maintaining overall comfort to prevent pressure points.

Zoma’s middle layer of foam promises a quick response to movement. Its ability to quickly contour to your body prevents the mattress (and you) from sinking in or getting “stuck” and throwing your spine out of alignment. Furthermore, its stable support base was designed to provide structural support and prevent wear and tear while still feeling plenty of cushioning.

The Zoma Mattress is an online mattress brand that ships free to the lower 48 states. Each mattress comes with a 10-year warranty and 100-night risk-free sleep trial with free returns.

Best Economical Mattress: Vaya Mattress

vaya mattress BEST ECONOMICAL MATTRESS
Vaya Mattress

The Vaya Mattress is perfect for budget shoppers suffering from a stiff back.

 

Receive $300 off your Vaya Mattress

Use code VAYA300

Get discount
Best Mattress Features
  • The comfort layer has an open-cell design in a breathable cover, so air can quickly wick away heat.
  • Vaya Comfort Foam quick to snap back into shape, so your sleep is not disturbed as you move.
  • Vaya's Comfort and Base Foams are certified non-toxic by CertiPUR-US®.
Recommended for...
  • Green shoppers looking for a high-value mattress.
  • Side, back, and stomach sleepers.

The all-foam Vaya Mattress features a more simplistic design. It’s naturally hypoallergenic and its light and airy Vaya foam is certified by CertiPUR-US®. The unique foam conforms to your body without making you feel trapped like traditional memory foam can. The plush mattress is described as having a medium feel, and it contours to your body while providing pressure relief.

Maintaining the spine’s natural alignment is one of the most important factors when it comes to low back pain. With Vaya, its support layer does just this—keeping your body in a healthy position all night. The Vaya offers just the perfect balance of support and bounce to deliver optimum comfort for most sleep styles and body types.

The Vaya Mattress ships free and comes with a 10-year warranty and 100-night sleep trial.

Purple® Mattress

Purple Mattress PURPLE® MATTRESS
Purple® Mattress

The main highlight of any Purple® mattress is the company’s special Purple Grid™ material, which forms the comfort layer of all their beds.

Best mattress features
  • Purple Grid™ is not only conforming but cooling, thanks to its hundreds of air channels.
  • The grid's "No-Pressure" feel leaves a sleeper weightless, like they're floating on a cloud.
  • Rigid poly-foam support prevents sinkage, maintaining a healthy spine alignment.
Recommended for...
  • People who want an unique alternative to traditional memory foam.
  • Combination sleepers who want a mattress that adjusts with their movements.

Designed to support every body and sleep style, the Purple® Mattress’s most notable feature is its innovative comfort layer. Using patented technology, the top layer is constructed in a grid-like pattern called the Purple Grid™. The unique material provides “No-Pressure” support and mimics the feeling of floating.

Below that, a poly-foam transition layer keeps you cushioned and a firm poly-foam support core prevents you from sinking in too deep. The result is a soft and supportive mattress that quickly adapts to your body and sleep position by flexing to cradle your hips and shoulders and keeping your back supported.

The Purple® Mattress is available online and at select mattress stores and retailers across the country. Each mattress includes a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty, plus free shipping and returns.

Bear Mattress

Bear Mattress BEAR MATTRESS
Bear Mattress

Our favorite feature is the Celliant® cover, which promotes local blood flow for greater pain relief.

Best mattress features
  • Celliant® fibers transform body heat into infrared energy for a cooler and more restorative night of sleep.
  • The medium-firm feel soothes back muscles while still supporting them.
  • All Bear mattresses are CertiPUR-US® certified, free of toxic materials.
Recommended for...
  • Ambitious people with an active lifestyle.
  • Hot sleepers who want a cool night's sleep.

The Bear Mattress is great for those with demanding and active lifestyles. It was engineered to increase energy and help you recover faster. The Bear Mattress features a multi-layered memory foam construction that hugs and conforms to your body no matter how you choose to sleep.

The Bear Mattress even features special technology to improve muscle recovery and promote blood circulation. Sleep-enhancing Celliant® fibers in the Bear’s mattress cover have also been clinically proven to facilitate deeper rest, ultimately contributing to back pain relief.

Based on customer feedback, the Bear Mattress ranks its level of firmness at an optimal 7.1 out of 10, with 10 being the firmest. A medium-firm mattress is recommended for low back pain since anything too soft or too firm can lead to or increase back pain.

The Bear Mattress comes with a 100-night risk-free sleep trial and a 10-year warranty. Shop the Bear Mattress at their showroom in Hoboken, New Jersey, or at one of their partner stores in Austin, Texas, or McLean, Virginia. Buyers can also shop online for free delivery and returns.

What Causes Low Back Pain?

When the components of the back (spine, muscles, discs, and nerves) are disrupted, it affects how they fit together and move, causing discomfort. Lower back pain affects the lowest five vertebrae, called the lumbar region. This is the area of the back that supports the majority of the upper body’s weight. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the most common area of the back for pain to occur is in the lumbar region.

Since the lower back has a greater range of motion and more of a curved shape, it’s more prone to injuries related to posture and movement. Our sleeping position and the support of our mattress can greatly affect our posture, both positively and negatively.

Back pain can affect people of all ages, and it stems from countless causes. Some of the more common causes, according to the Mayo Clinic, include muscle or ligament strain, bulging or ruptured disks, arthritis, skeletal irregularities, and osteoporosis. Back pain can also be the result of an internal disease, poor posture, obesity, lack of exercise, and stress.

Types of Back Pain

Generally, back pain can be categorized into two different types: acute and chronic.

Acute Pain: This is a short-term pain that lasts no more than six weeks and is usually caused by something like a fall, an injury, or over-lifting. Most low back pain is acute and usually subsides on its own (or can be easily treated).

Chronic Pain: Less common than acute, chronic pain is a pain that lasts more than three months. It can continue long after an initial injury or even after the acute pain has been treated. Chronic back pain can persist even if there’s no serious or obvious underlying cause. Sometimes the pain can be remedied through treatment, but other times the pain will continue.

How Lower Back Pain and Sleep Are Related

When back pain occurs, it can easily interfere with our sleep. In fact, more than half of people who suffer from back pain frequently report a significant interference in their sleep. Disrupted sleep can be harmful to our health and lead to more serious medical conditions. Short-term, a lack of sleep can impair our day-to-day performance. Long-term, poor sleep can increase our risk of chronic disease, weight gain, and diabetes. It can also lead to depression, chronic fatigue, and mood changes.

Moreover, poor sleep can actually be a contributing factor to back pain. When we don’t get enough sleep, our body’s immune response is negatively affected and we’re more prone to experiencing pain. This creates a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break.

How Back Pain Affects Sleep

When our bodies are experiencing pain, it can be extremely difficult to fall asleep for a number of reasons. Any discomfort interferes with our ability to relax. When we aren’t comfortable, it’s natural to move around until we are. The act of tossing and turning to find a more comfortable position can increase strain and cause even more pain, impeding on our overall sleep quality.

Many sufferers of chronic back pain also have trouble staying asleep through the night. One study found that the relationship between pain and sleep produces changes in sleep patterns. Those in pain may experience less slow-wave sleep. This stage of sleep is the deepest stage of non-REM sleep and is important for feeling rested.

How Sleep Affects Back Pain

While back pain can negatively affect your sleeping habits, the reverse can also happen—poor sleep can actually cause back pain.

Human growth hormone (HGH), released while we rest, works to relieve pain and heal the body. When we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies fail to release the proper amount of HGH, hindering our body’s ability to heal from pain.

Poor sleep can also intensify pain. A study analyzing how pain and sleep loss are related shows that sleep deprivation reduces our level of tolerance to pain. Another study shows how sleep disturbances and inadequate sleep can lead to increased inflammation, which is usually present in back pain issues. Increased inflammation is generally associated with increased pain as well.

What to Look For in a Mattress

There are many things that can contribute or cause back pain, and sleeping on a mattress that fails to provide proper spinal support is one of them.

A bad sleeping posture puts strain on the spinal disc, nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and pulls the body out of alignment, leading to neck and back pain.

A good sleeping posture equates to maintaining the spine’s natural alignment through the night. For those with low back pain, a mattress providing both support and cushion is ideal because it encourages healthy sleeping positions.

The type of mattress, level of firmness, and added support features are all things to keep in mind when looking for a bed that will alleviate back pain.

Mattress Type

Memory Foam

Memory foam mattresses are a favorite amongst those with back pain because they offer contouring comfort, unlike any other mattress. Their ability to contour to the body allows them to distribute your weight evenly and relieve pressure throughout the body. Back pain sufferers enjoy the sponge-like cushion of memory foam mattresses because they’re gentle on pains and effectively reduce discomfort.

While memory foam is cushioning and pain-relieving, keep in mind sleepers with back pain need support, too—and not all memory foam mattresses can provide that. To find the best memory foam mattress for back pain, look for a bed with zoned support. Zoned support technologies provide varying levels of comfort to properly support different parts of the body. These technologies support healthy spinal alignment by keeping the torso lifted and the shoulders and hips cushioned.

Latex

Latex mattresses are made from synthetic or natural latex, a type of rubber. They feature layers of latex foam and a supportive base. These mattresses are similar to memory foam in that they provide some contouring, but their bouncier feel prevents them from cradling you like memory foam does.

Like memory foam, latex mattresses offer pain-relieving benefits and can be a great choice for someone with low back pain. Latex offers a more cool and lifted feel, as opposed to memory foam’s contouring and cradling. So, depending on your sleeping position, you might prefer the feel of one over the other. Either way, a bed that molds to your body is important for reducing pain because it alleviates pressure points.

Innerspring

An innerspring mattress features a support core of coils topped with a thinly-padded comfort layer.

An innerspring mattress is not recommended for people with low back pain. Their coil design does not provide any contouring or pressure relief. They also have a more bouncy, springy feel, which can be too firm for someone with low back pain.

Hybrid

A hybrid mattress is a combination of an innerspring and an all-foam mattress with at least two inches of foam in its top layer. Both memory foam hybrids and latex hybrids are available and each offers a different feel. A memory foam hybrid will be more contouring while latex hybrids are more bouncy.

A hybrids’ mix of supportive coils and contouring comfort layers make it a good pick for someone suffering from low back pain. It’s especially ideal for heavier sleepers because the coils add an extra layer of reinforcement to support the added weight.

Firmness

For a long time, firm mattresses were thought to be best for anyone suffering from lower back pain. But, a mattress that’s too firm can’t accommodate the natural curve of the spine. On the other hand, a mattress that’s too soft won’t provide the proper amount of support. A medium-firm mattress is the perfect mix of support and cushion and is most ideal for low back pain.

However, what’s considered medium-firm will depend on the sleeper’s body weight. Heavier bodies will sink further into a mattress and, as a result, need firmer support to maintain a neutral position. Alternatively, a more petite body will have a harder time sinking in and may need a softer mattress to offer adequate cushioning.

Sleeping positions also affect the level of firmness needed. Different sleeping positions create different pressure points on the body, each needing varying levels of support. Because of this, having the right mattress for your sleep position can help with back pain. One study shows that those experiencing chronic back pain can reduce it by replacing their mattress with one more suited to their sleeping position.

Extra Support Technologies

Those with back pain will benefit from mattresses that have zoned support technologies or feature extra lumbar supports. These two features can alleviate pressure in the back while still providing a comfortable cushion.

Mattresses that feature zoned support technologies have varying levels of firmness for different areas of the body. They can offer firmer support around the hips to keep in line with the spine while cushioning the shoulders for pressure relief.

Some mattresses have features that directly support the lumbar region to keep the spine in its natural alignment. Added padding in the low back area and lumbar wire support zones are examples of these technologies. Depending on the brand and type of bed, will vary how these features are designed.

How to Shop for Your Sleeping Position

Most adults are either a side, back, or stomach sleeper, and each position alters the spinal alignment in a different way. Knowing your sleeping position and how it affects various pressure points will determine which mattress type is best for you.

Side

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, sleeping on your side with knees drawn up in a fetal position can help open up the joints in the spine and relieve pressure by reducing its curvature. Oftentimes though, side sleepers will experience more pressure on their shoulders and hips. To account for this, a mattress that’s firm enough to keep the hips lifted but soft enough to cradle the shoulders is best for side sleeping.

Back

Sleeping on your back is the preferred sleep position for maintaining proper spine alignment because it lets your body rest in a neutral position. A medium-firm mattress will best support back sleeping because of its balanced mix of support and comfort. A too-firm mattress can create gaps between the lower back area and the bed’s surface, while a mattress that’s too soft can cause the hips to sink in too deeply. Both of these scenarios lead to improper spinal alignment and will worsen back pain.

Stomach

For anyone suffering from low back pain, sleeping on your stomach is not recommended. When we sleep in this position, a great deal of weight is shifted to our midsection, causing our torso to sink deep into the mattress. The sinking ends up pulling our spine down and out of alignment, creating an arch in the lower back. We advise against stomach sleeping and suggest switching to side or back sleeping if you tend to sleep on your belly. However, the best mattress type to counteract an arching back is one that’s firm enough to prevent the stomach from sinking in too deeply.

Comparing Sleep Trials and Warranties

Mattresses often come with warranties and sleep trial periods that can help ease buyers’ minds. Here, we explain the difference between the two.

Mattress Warranties

Most mattresses come with some form of manufacturer’s warranty guaranteeing the quality of the product. The length of the warranty and specifics regarding coverage will vary from each seller or brand—so it’s always best to read the fine print before purchasing.

Generally, a 10-year warranty is standard for the mattress industry; however, some brands strive to out-do their competitors and offer better, longer warranties with their mattresses. That said, we don’t recommend getting caught up in or sold by “lifetime warranties” because many of them are prorated.

Mattresses only last so long, so you will need to replace your bed at some point, even if it comes with a lifetime of warranty coverage. Most brands offering longer or lifetime warranties will offer a discount on a new bed depending on how old your current mattress is. But to actually benefit from a lifetime warranty, you have to shop with the same brand. If not, it deems the lifetime warranty more or less useless.

Warranties usually cover similar defects, but specifics can range across manufacturers. Commonly covered defects include sagging that reaches a minimum depth, broken or bent coils, seams that come undone, and bunching or rips in foam. They don’t cover normal wear and tear from prolonged use.

When comparing mattresses, look at a bed’s warranty to assess its quality. Brands offering longer warranties or better coverage usually offer a better quality product.

Sleep Trials

Mattress warranties are designed to protect buyers from faulty mattresses but they don’t guarantee that you’ll “like” it. This is where sleep trials have gained popularity. A sleep trial is a set amount of time that a customer has in which they can return the mattress at no cost.

When we switch to a new mattress, our bodies can take a while to adjust, and sleep trials accommodate this transition period. With a sleep trial, customers are able to test out a mattress over a couple of months without having to fully commit to it. Sleep trials can vary in length but many are offered between 90 and 100 nights.

Sleep trials are especially popular with bed in a box mattress brands since they offer their products online only and their mattresses are unavailable for customers to feel in person.

FAQs

What is the best mattress for low back pain?

The “best” mattress for low back pain will vary from person to person depending on body weight and sleeping position. A mattress with a medium-firm feel that conforms to the body while keeping hips and shoulders supported is best for anyone with low back pain. Generally, memory foam mattresses are best at achieving this because of the soft, yet responsive foam.

Can a mattress cause back pain?

A mattress that fails to provide the proper amount of support can cause back pain. The spine needs to maintain natural alignment when laying down in order to not strain or put pressure on other parts of our body. When this happens, it can cause back pain.

A mattress that’s too firm will not be able to provide enough cushion to keep the spine in line. Likewise, one that’s too soft will not be able to provide sufficient support. A mattress that keeps the spine in line will prevent and reduce back pain.

Is the firmest mattress best for back pain?

Not necessarily. A medium-firm mattress is suggested for low back pain because it offers the best mix of support and cushion. Ultra-firm mattresses don’t provide enough cushion for the shoulder blades and body and usually cause more discomfort. Back pain sufferers need the support of a firm mattress with the cushion of a softer mattress, deeming medium-firm mattresses the most fitting.

It’s important to take your body type into consideration as well, though. A heavier sleeper may need a firmer mattress to prevent them from sinking too far in the bed.

What’s the best sleeping position for someone with back pain?

Sleeping on your back is usually the preferred position for someone experiencing back pain because it best supports the spine’s natural alignment. A naturally aligned spine is vital for reducing and preventing back pain.

How do I know if my mattress or something else is causing me pain?

If you continually experience pain when you wake up, your mattress might be the cause. If that’s the case, there might be lumps, soft spots or sagging areas in your mattress. These things all contribute to back pain because they disrupt our natural alignment. Older mattresses are especially prone to these symptoms because the materials break down over time.

Your mattress may also be causing you pain because it’s not providing you with the adequate amount of support that you need. Our bodies need a mattress that can support the weight of our hips and cushion our pain points.

Conclusion

Anyone with lower back pain can benefit from a mattress with the right balance of support and cushion to maintain the spine’s natural alignment. Depending on body weight and sleeping position, the exact firmness of your mattress may deviate from the recommended medium-firm level of support. And that’s okay—it’s always best to go with what feels most comfortable for your body type rather than stick to a general recommendation.

Determining firmness isn’t as complicated as it can be made out to be, so don’t stress out when comparing the wide variety of firmness options to consider. At the end of the day, all you need is a mattress that feels supportive enough to keep your midsection and hips and cushioning enough to ease pressure in the heavier parts of your body. When your mattress supports your body’s natural position, back pain will, by default, ease with time.

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