Finding the best mattress for back pain is tricky.
Because the "best" is highly subjective — and it all depends on your back.
What feels like soft cloud-like heaven for one sleeper, can be a pouffy, unsupportive nightmare for another.
And some naturally prefer a firmer mattress, while their partners swear sleeping now feels like they're on a concrete slab.
Back pain sufferers have a tough time choosing the right mattress because they're not always sure what's causing their pain. All they know is that, after the sleep trial period ends, the mattress that once felt like bliss in-store now feels like a wet sock.
If this sounds familiar to you, you may be part of the 50-80% of people with chronic pain due to poor sleep.
Science says there are proven methods of choosing the right mattress type for people with back pain. In this article, you'll learn exactly how to narrow down your search and find the best mattress for maximum comfort and support.
Can a Mattress Cause Back Pain?
It's not just hype or marketing gimmicks. Mattress type makes a world of difference for sleepers with back pain.
According to a recent survey, 95% of orthopedic surgeons say your mattress plays a role in lower back pain management. That means 31 million Americans who suffer from acute or chronic back pain have a chance to heal these issues.
Studies show that the wrong mattress can cause and exacerbate the mid and low back pain you may feel throughout the night. 27 patients reported chronic lower back pain, along with shoulder discomfort, and poor sleep quality before the study began.
After 12 weeks of sleeping on a medium-firm mattress, participants said they experienced a progressive and significant improvement. Their lower back pain and overall body stiffness reduced while their sleep quality increased.
The "sleep medium" that researchers used included layers of memory foam and latex, based on each individual's sleeping position.
The study's results reveal two critical points about the relationship between your mattress, back and shoulder pain, and a good night's sleep:
- Your sleeping material — what your mattress’s materials — and level of firmness matter
- Your sleep position needs to match the mattress you choose
Let's take each factor one at a time.
Many people hear about firm mattresses and instantly feel like they're going to be sleeping on an uncomfortable board. This is simply not true.
While firmness level is a personal, subjective evaluating factor, your mattress needs to be supportive enough to relieve pressure off your body and, over time, eliminate chronic back pain.
Mattresses today come with various firmness options, so even a slightly firmer surface can offer enough support for your body shape, positions, and weight.
You also don't need to change sleeping positions if you find the right mattress for you. However, one position seems to provoke aches and pains, especially for the lower back, and that’s sleeping on your stomach.
When it comes to sleeping position, back sleepers and side sleepers are mostly fine. However, stomach sleepers who don't have support (because their mattress isn't firm enough) are likely to experience muscle strain, leading to lower back pain.
Does a Mattress Really Help Relieve Back Pain?
On the flip side, if a mattress can cause back pain, it can also help relieve pain. It's all thanks to the relationship between pain management and sleep.
Sleep is a state that is meant to be restful for a reason. Our body restores itself during the night and recovers its energy, healing fatigued tissue, and cleaning out debris and waste.
So if you sleep with pain, a bad mattress will not allow the body to relax deeply and enter this much-needed restorative state. On the other hand, a poor night's sleep will intensify the pain you feel the next day.
You can see why choosing the right mattress is so important in maintaining your overall health.
What To Consider When Choosing a Mattress for Pain
Back problems often begin due to other activities like poor sitting posture or muscle strain. Still, it gets worse when you sleep on a mattress without the support you need.
So when it comes time to pick your mattress, you’ll need to know a few things about your body and what it needs — which we’ve boiled down to three key elements:
1) Your Spinal Alignment
If there were one rule to make sure you eliminate pain in the long term, it would be this:
Keep your spine aligned.
Your spine's alignment when you're sleeping depends on two things:
- Your sleep position (side sleepers, back and stomach sleepers)
- How comfortable and supportive the mattress's materials are when it comes to maintaining your spine's ideal sleeping posture
That's where a mattress provides support designed to maintain your spine's natural curves while taking the pressure off other joints and your muscles. A great option for this is a memory foam mattress.
Back pain sufferers are prone to experience misalignment because the position they sleep in puts pressure on certain parts of the spine. The only way to support the spine back into a natural, and even ideal, position is to rely on a mattress that conforms to the unique curves of their body.
For example, back sleepers need to keep their ears, shoulders, and hips in line. Side sleepers need to make sure their upper leg isn't pulling down on their spine. And stomach sleepers often suffer from lumbar pain (and even sciatica) because there's a very sharp arch in their lower back that isn't supported.
The right mattress can adjust itself according to your body’s needs and keep your spinal alignment intact. It can ensure that your body isn’t trying to overcompensate for awkward positions.
2) Recovery and Pressure Point Relief
Mattress pain isn’t just in the back. You can trace the pain in your neck, shoulder, hips, pelvis, and even your elbow joints to placing enormous strain on key pressure points. When your spine is out of alignment, it places added pressure on areas like your hips and shoulders.
In chiropractic practice, pressure points are specific points related to the build-up of tension, which can "trigger" overall muscle pain in another related area of the body.
However, without a firm mattress for adequate pressure relief, you risk adding even more force to the body's fascia, which can lead to myofascial pain. Not only does your back hurt continuously, but you feel stiff and sore when you wake up.
To aid your body's naturally restorative level sleep, you need medium-firm mattresses. This provides pressure relief through their materials and extra support to these areas through their construction.
3) Use and Function
It seems obvious — what else would you use a new mattress for except sleeping, right?
However, plenty of people rely on their mattress to work, relax, watch movies, read, and more.
Let's say you're a light sleeper and you like to go to bed early. But your partner is a night owl who likes working late at night in bed. There are two things you have to think about here:
- Firstly, prolonged sitting in conventional mattresses on the market causes back issues because there's no support for the lower back.
- Secondly, if your partner shifts or moves, there is likely to be motion transfer, which could jolt you awake just as you're about to fall asleep.
Some materials, like an innerspring mattress, will instantly convey a partner's movement or nighttime tossing and turning. Pocketed coils, due to their pocketed system and hourglass-shaped spring, tend to be better for reducing movement transfer.
However, one of the best options to completely eliminate this issue is a memory foam mattress or a hybrid mattress.
What is the Best Mattress for Back Pain?
The benefits of choosing mattresses designed for better sleep means you can address multiple issues through its features. For example, you can alleviate the following common sleep concerns with the perfect mattress purchase:
- Joint pain — Choose a memory foam, gel memory foam, or latex foam mattress.
- Sweaty sleepers — Choose a natural memory foam, latex foam, or gel-infused memory foam mattress to help keep you cool.
Now, back pain triggers a whole range of related issues. To address common headaches and insomnia due to poor sleep, it's never been more important to choose the right options when buying a mattress.
According to chiropractors and physiotherapists, memory foam mattresses are best for people with pain and body soreness. It addresses light sleepers' needs, people with spinal alignment issues, and those who need temperature regulation.
An excellent second, depending on your preference for material, would be a hybrid mattress. A hybrid mattress provides medium-firm support and entirely minimizes movement transfer. It easily molds around the contours of the body and has a very slow bounce back.
5 Best Mattresses for Back Pain
If you're looking for comfort and support, these mattresses for back pain have got you covered — or, rather, supported, thanks to multiple, specialized layers of foam. These are our top picks, from hybrid models to eco-friendly options for latex mattresses if you plan to sleep better.
1) The Dormeuse Mattress Deep-Contour Feel
The Dormeuse Mattress matches the quality and construction of the Beausommet, but it also reacts quickly to your body's natural movements. This interrupts the potential for sleep interruptions so that you can get into slow-wave sleep cycles required for muscle recovery.
What Makes the Dormeuse Stand Out?
- Dormeuse reduces VOC exposure and promotes a clean air environment.
- Its unique latex formula for a customized density, response time, and elasticity. It features the perfect balance of comfort and support for accelerated pain recovery.
- The model is created specifically for those who have a pronounced spinal curve
- Medium firmness that doesn't compromise density, durability, and performance
- There are no chemical flame retardants or poly foams included. If you like the space-saving concept of a bed in a box, the Dormeuse mattress comes specially fitted to take up 75% less space on a delivery truck.
2) The Beausommet Mattress Luxury Firm Feel
The Beausommet is part of Essentia's WholeBody Collection.
As such, it's one of the mattress types that provide head-to-toe recovery. The Beausommet focuses on delivering pressure relief, cool surface temperatures, spinal support, and a zero-gravity feel.
It is medium- to medium-firm (also considered a luxury firm), with a one-inch high-density layer of memory foam core.
What Makes the Beausommet Stand Out?
- At night, the Beausommet plummets to a surface temperature that's up to seven degrees cooler than your internal body temperature. This promotes “micro-hibernation” allowing the body to sleep into a deeper and more restorative REM cycle.
- Patented natural memory foam layer technology increases blood circulation, eliminates muscle numbness and soreness, and takes the pressure off your joints.
- Keep in mind that the Beausommet firmness levels are softer than the Stratami. Simultaneously, the memory foam technology makes it perfectly supportive for a side sleeper who has a less pronounced lower back arch or straighter posture.
- The Beausommet features a 2-inch molded natural memory foam layer for a responsive and restorative sleep unique to the WholeBody Recovery mattresses.
3) The Classic 8 Mattress Luxury Firm Feel
The Classic 8 Mattress is our next picture for a natural memory foam mattress that provides medium-firm support.
The Classic 8 offers sleepers a comfort later, which is a 2-inch top layer featuring Essentia’s patented natural memory foam. Made from natural Hevea latex, the Classic 8’s top layer drops by three degrees and offers improved elasticity for optimal sleeping posture.
We follow this up with a 6-inch support core designed for spinal alignment and wicking away moisture through an 8-hour sleep.
What Makes the Classic 8 Stand Out?
- Excellent temperature control, which promotes natural cooling up to three degrees cooler, and supports a full 8-hour sleep cycle
- Designed to include a 2-inch molded high-density foam layer
- Great all-around sleeper mattress, whether you’re a side, stomach, or back sleeper
4) Stratami Mattress Luxury Firm Feel
The Stratami Mattress provides medium-firm support with a five-inch latex foam core and an innovative dome-shaped contouring that is the star of this luxury firm feel mattress. The thoughtful design allows your body to remain cool throughout the night, while taking the pressure off your joints.
What Makes the Stratami Stand Out?
- The perfect solution for sleepers who prefer a more latex-type feel and support for their mattresses over natural memory foam.
- Additional air channels built into the state-of-the-art dome contouring reduce the surface area pushing back against your body. The result is a luxurious, comfortable mattress that just happens to be made of organic latex.
- Allergy-friendly, as Essentia mattresses are impervious to dust mites.
- The gentle contour of the Stratami Luxury is best for side sleepers who need shoulder support and stomach sleepers who need elevated lumbar support.
5) Stratami Hybrid Mattress
Combining the best of both worlds, the Stratami Hybrid Mattress is a design we’re extremely proud of. Time and again, sleepers who can’t decide between a spring mattress and a memory foam mattress rave about the comfort, support, and resiliency of the Stratami Hybrid.
For the Stratami Hybrid, we reimagined our layered design to feature a thoughtful combination of high-density latex foams. First, your body is cradled by 2 inches of our original Stratami latex comfort foam, with a 1-inch patented natural memory foam wicking away moisture and adding spinal alignment.
This luxurious comfort core then transitions to 8-inch, individually pocketed support coils for zoned ergonomic support and motion transfer absorption.
What Makes the Stratami Hybrid Stand Out?
- The perfect solution for sleepers who want to stay with an innerspring coil system, but need additional spinal support and pressure point relief.
- Features a deep contour design that cradles the body, offering full-body support and pressure redistribution. Sleepers can move around through the night while maintaining the same support.
- Thanks to the 8-inch individually pocketed coils, the Stratami Hybrid is perfect for light sleepers who need to eliminate disturbance due to motion transfer.
At Essentia, we believe that a good night’s sleep can be completely transformative.
We’ve hand-crafted multiple collections that fit the needs of sleepers on a completely granular and customizable level. Pick the function you want, with the support you need, and rely on our GOTS and GOLS certified materials to care for your health and the environment.
Essentia mattresses are unlike anything you may have experienced before. Learn more about our collections at Essentia today.