Have you ever awakened in the morning with a crushing pain in your back and wondered where it had come from? Or did you feel like the muscles in your back are so stiff they are made of wood? Perhaps you experience this most mornings.
Whatever the reason, lower back pain can ruin your day, affect your relationships, and impact your whole outlook on life. The right mattress can make all the difference, and we can help you choose the perfect one. Which mattress is the best for lower back pain? Which one will work with your body rather than against it?
We took the eight top-rated mattresses for lower back pain and reviewed each one in detail to find the mattress we would recommend.
If you are in a rush, skip to the section you want to read first.
- Causes and prevention of back pain
- How can a mattress help with lower back pain
- Different types of mattresses
- What to look for in a mattress for lower back pain
- Our comparison of the top 8 mattresses
- What’s The Best Bed’s recommendation for the best mattress for lower back pain
- The sleeping positions for controlling back pain
What Causes Lower Back Pain and How to Prevent it
According to Neurological Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), around 80% of all adults experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. This makes it the most common cause of job-related disability. Lower back pain is so common that in a large survey, more than 25% of people reported having lower back pain in the last 3 months. Whether it’s a pulled muscle or a more serious spinal disorder, lower back pain is familiar to most of us.
There are two types of back pain: acute and chronic. According to the Mayo Clinic, acute back pain is defined as a sudden onset pain that persists for six weeks or less. The most common cause of acute back pain is a light injury. Perhaps a fall, or a pulled muscle, that does not change the structure of the muscles or spine.
Chronic back pain, lasting for 12 weeks or longer, is more serious. As NINDS explains, around 20% of people who suffer from acute lower back pain will develop chronic back pain that may last for over a year. Surgery, physical therapy, and other treatments help some. But they are invasive, time-consuming, and are not a guaranteed cure.
The Causes of Lower Back Pain
Among the many potential causes of lower back pain, according to Mayo Clinic, these are the most common:
Pulled Ligament or Muscle
Inactive lifestyles lead to weak backs that are more susceptible to pulling a muscle or ligament. Heavy lifting is a common cause.
Exercising regularly to strengthen your back is the best way to prevent this kind of acute back pain.
Bulging or Herniated Disk
The soft tissue between the vertebrae are called disks. Disks provide cushioning and flexibility between the bones. There are nerves that run down the spine and exit each of the vertebrae, right next to the disks. Sometimes disks can bulge or rupture, and as they press against the nerves, they cause neck or back pain.
According to Back Pain Relief Institute, prevention of herniated disks is again related to strengthening the back through regular exercise.
Osteoarthritis (OA) slowly wears away the cartilage, and eventually the bones, causing pain and swelling. According to the National Institute of Health, OA in the back will eventually affect up to 85% of people.
Full prevention of OA is not possible. However, there are steps you can take to slow the onset, as explained by the University of Rochester Medical Center:
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Control your blood sugar
- Keep active
- Avoid injuries
As National Osteoporosis Foundation explains, osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones by reducing bone production and density. Bones become weak and brittle. Around 54 millions of Americans suffer from osteoporosis and low bone mass.
To reduce the effects of osteoporosis, you can:
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a healthy diet, rich in vitamin D and Calcium
- Take supplements
How the Right Mattress Can Reduce Your Lower Back Pain
Your mattress can have a major effect on your daily life, for good or bad. A quality mattress can significantly reduce back pain and prevent spinal damage. According to Spine Health, “Sleeping on the wrong mattress can cause or worsen lower back pain… a mattress that provides both comfort and back support helps reduce low back pain, allowing the structures in the spine to really rest and rejuvenate.”
Why You Need Good Sleep
Sleep is a process of healing and regeneration, particularly for the brain.
According to National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, poor or insufficient sleep can cause:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- High blood pressure
- Hormone imbalance
- Weakened immune system
- Premature death
- Diminished thought processes and information intake
- Loss of emotional and behavioral stability
Poor sleep causes a lot more than fatigue and grouchiness. And regular sleep deprivation can have serious long-term health effects.
How pain affects sleep
As the Sleep Foundation discusses, only 45% of people with acute pain reported good or very good sleep, and only 37% of people with chronic pain slept well. Additionally, “23% of those with chronic pain reported higher stress levels, compared with 7% of those without pain.”
Thus, there is an interactive cycle, with pain reducing the quality of sleep, which diminishes the quality of life. Fatigue reduces the motivation to exercise, socialize, and accomplish your goals. This then influences your mental and physical health. A good mattress that focuses on your lower back pain can change your life.
Different Mattress Types
- Memory foam mattress
The popularity of memory foam mattresses exploded when NASA’s durable memory foam was replicated, at a low cost. Memory foam became a widely used filler for shoes, pillows, and, of course, mattresses.
Memory foam molds around any weight that is set upon it, providing a “cradling” effect that many people enjoy. And for those that suffer from lower back pain, memory foam mattresses provide the support that is needed. Memory foam offers plenty of pressure point relief, reducing the strain on your spine. Unlike other mattress types, memory foam also comes in a variety of firmness levels. This makes it highly adaptable for every sleeper’s needs.
Modern memory foam mattresses also offer a lot of targeted support. This means your body is perfectly supported right where you need it most. This innovation is known to reduce pressure points in the lumbar region and, in turn, get rid of back pain.
- Pillow top mattress
A pillow top mattress is usually an innerspring mattress with a pillow-like layer sewn on top. This layer can be made out of a variety of materials including memory foam, latex, fiberfill, cotton, and wool. For lower back pain sufferers, a memory foam pillow top is the way to go. As the website, Sleep Like The Dead claims:
“Tops that include memory foam tend to have above average (back) pain-relief potential and conforming ability.”
This is due to the fact that the top layer of memory foam reduces the pressure points by supporting the lumbar region and contouring the body. And while we don’t usually recommend innerspring mattresses for individuals with lower back problems, a pillow top is a isn’t a bad choice.
However, keep in mind that pillow tops are expensive, and have a much shorter lifespan than most other mattresses.
- Latex mattress
Similar to memory foam, latex is also a very adaptable material. It is often a little firmer and can provide good support for your spine. And because it is a naturally bouncy material, it is easier to move around in a latex mattress than in memory foam.
There are three types of latex mattresses on the market:
- Synthetic latex
- Natural latex
- Blended latex
Synthetic latex mattresses are the cheapest of the three. Made from petroleum by-products, they are causing environmental concerns. Although softer than the others, synthetic latex wears out faster.
Natural latex mattresses are a rare treasure made from the sap of rubber trees, automatically raising the price tag. Natural latex is firmer than the other two types, but it lasts for a very long time.
Many companies claim to sell “natural latex” mattresses for relatively low prices, but these are most likely only blends.
Blended latex mattresses are a mixture of the previous two types. They are more durable and more eco-friendly than synthetic latex, yet cheaper and softer than natural latex. A good compromise that can work well for those with lower back pain.
Two manufacturing methods for latex mattresses include:
- The Talalay method begins with pouring liquid latex into a mold. Once it has set, manufacturers use a vacuum to extract the air, and then freeze the latex. This method creates a more consistent and durable mattress.
- The Dunlop method is much simpler. Liquid latex is poured into a mold and allowed to set. As air bubbles tend to float to the top, Dunlop mattress becomes denser at the bottom and softer on the top.
- Gel mattress
Invented in 2006, gel mattresses quickly gained popularity because they sleep cooler than most other foams. Especially when compared to traditional memory foam.
Creating a gel mattress involves saturating ordinary memory foam with synthetic gel. What this creates is almost identical support and cradling to the ordinary memory foam. But with more effective cooling properties.
Overall, these mattresses are great for people with lower back pain that are also hot sleepers.
- Hybrid mattress
Made from foam and innerspring, hybrid mattresses take advantage of both materials. The top layer of foam offers gentle contouring and lumbar region support. Whilst the bottom layer of innerspring provides pressure point relief and breathability.
The hybrid mattress is a versatile design that aims to suit everyone. Yet it works especially well for those with lower back pain.
Read more about the best hybrid mattress.
- Innerspring mattress
While innerspring mattresses are one of the most popular choices on the market, they are also one of the worst for those who suffer from back pain. They often offer very little pressure point relief, which means that your spine can be pushed out of alignment when you sleep.
Because of their design, innerspring mattresses start to wear out faster than the other types. The result of this is that you get less and less support over time, which prevents your spine from staying straight. This can aggravate your back problems and cause you even more lower back pain.
Read more about best innerspring mattress.
There Are Four Types of Innerspring Mattresses, Each With Pros and Cons.
Bonnell coil mattresses were first created in the 19th century, and are still the most common type of mattress coil used today. Its shape resembles a twisted hourglass with knotted top and bottom. The design is relatively easy and cheap to make.
Offset coils are similar to Bonnell coils, but with a flattened and hexagonal top and bottom. This provides the mattress with more durability, support, and comfort. However, it also comes with a higher price tag.
These mattresses are made from one continuous wire that is bent into many S shapes, from top to bottom. To keep this design in shape, and improve its durability, the coil is framed with a thick wire. This makes continuous coil mattresses popular and affordable.
Pocketed coils (Marshall coils)
Pocketed coils are wrapped into individual fabric pockets. This allows them to move independently from one another. It also helps them to adapt to pressure in a more effective way.
Because of this complicated design, pocketed coil mattresses provide much better motion isolation. This means that even if you twist and turn in your sleep, your partner won’t feel a thing. These mattresses are quiet, supportive, and very comfortable. But they come at a much higher price than the other innerspring mattress types.
Airbeds are a popular option as compact guest mattresses. They come in a wide variety of dimensions, and can be easily inflated with an electric air pump and deflated without any extra tools. When inflated, a double airbed can hold up to 450 lbs. When fully deflated, it can be stored in a small space with minimum effort.
For those who are suffering from lower back pain, sleeping on an airbed is a terrible idea. They offer no support for your back creating a lot of strain and curving your spine. This unhealthy position only aggravates the pain.
What to Look for in a Mattress to Alleviate Lower Back Pain
Different people prefer different things when it comes to sleep. However, The Cornell University’s Ergonomics group recommends that a good mattress should:
- Conform to your spine’s natural curvature.
- Distribute pressure evenly. This decreases chances of restless sleep and improves blood circulation.
- Minimize the transfer of movement, especially if sleeping with a partner.
- Offer good edge support.
With those in mind let’s evaluate the best mattress for you from our top 8 mattress choices.
Finding the Best Mattress for Lower Back Pain: the 8 Top-Rated Mattresses in the Industry
|Leesa Mattress||AlexanderSignature||Amerisleep AS2||Saatva Mattress||Layla Sleep|
|Mattress Type||Memory Foam||Memory Foam||Memory Foam||Hybrid||Memory Foam|
|Pressure Point Support||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Great Motion Isolation||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Firmness||Medium-firm||Medium/Firm||Medium-firm||Luxury firm / Firm Plush Soft||Firm/Soft|
|Specific Focus on Lower Back Pain||No||No||No||Yes||No|
|Customer Ratings (5*)||4.4||4.7||4.7||4.9||4.6|
|Free Trial Length||100 nights||100 nights||100 nights||120 nights||120 nights|
|Warranty||10 years||20 years||20 years||15 years||Lifetime|
What’s The Best Bed’s top-rated mattresses are all memory foam or hybrids. This is because they provide the comfort, support, and pressure point relief needed to minimize lower back pain.
The Leesa Mattress
The Leesa Mattress is an all-foam three-layered mattress that stands at 10 inches tall. It is designed to provide pressure point support and temperature control for those that sleep hotter.
Top layer: 2″ Cooling Avena® Foam
The top layer is made from a bouncy, latex-like material called Avena® Foam. This layer provides airflow for better temperature control that cools you as you sleep.
Avena® Foam provides good pressure response. The latex-like bounciness lets you comfortably change positions in your sleep.
Second layer: 2″ Contouring Memory Foam
This layer contours to your shape and provides lumbar support for your lower back. It also works well with the top layer to provide a comfortable sinking feeling.
Third layer: 6″ Core Support Foam Base
The bottom layer of the Leesa mattress is made from high-density poly foam. It supports the layers above it, retains the shape of the mattress, and provides durability.
Even though it is not designed with any kind of pain in mind, the Leesa mattress is a versatile choice for anyone with lower back pain. And although it sounds great on paper, the company’s customer ratings are actually the lowest among the top 8. The common complaints from Leesa’s official website are about the firmness of the mattress and its unpleasant and persistent off-gassing smell.
The Alexander Signature Mattress
The Alexander Signature Mattress comes in a choice of either Medium or Luxury firmness. Known for its great support, the Alexander Signature Mattress consists of four layers that work to alleviate lower back pain.
Top layer: 2.5″ 4 lb. Gel Foam Memory Foam
The initial layer of gel foam provides a supportive and cooling experience. With contouring and pressure point relief, this layer provides a cool and comfortable sleep.
Second layer: 1.5″ 4 lb. Visco Memory Foam
The second layer of the mattress holds another type of memory foam. The Visco Memory Foam adds softness to the mattress, and allows you to sink a bit deeper without compromising the spine’s alignment.
Third layer: 2″ 1.8 lb. SmartFlow Foam
Made of poly foam, this transitional layer works as a link between the soft layers above and the firm base layer below.
Fourth layer: 7″ 1.8 lb. Solid Edge Support Base Foam
The solid support base offers a stable foundation that provides longevity to the mattress.
Focusing on support and pressure point relief, the Alexander Signature mattress is a good choice for a sleeper with lower back pain. The only downside some critics complained about was the poorer than average edge support.
The Amerisleep AS2 Mattress
Amerisleep is one of the most eco-friendly mattress manufacturers on the market. Choosing from a series of five different firmness options, What’s The Best Bed editors picked the medium-firm mattress as their top choice.
Mattress cover: High Performance Celliant® Fabric
The cover of the AS2 mattress incorporates Celliant® fabric. It helps to promote restful sleep and enhances the performance of the mattress by turning excess body heat into energy.
Top layer: Extra-Breathable Bio-Pur® Cooling Layer
Amerisleep’s Bio-Pur® layer is up to five times more breathable than ordinary memory foam. It provides great airflow because of its advanced open-cell structure. It also offers strong support and cradling as you sleep.
Second layer: The HIVE® Layer
This layer is cut to feature hundreds of hexagons that provide more ergonomic support. Its zones offer targeted pressure relief and comfort in five areas: the head, shoulders, back, hips, and feet. All of the most important points of the body for sleepers with back pain.
Third layer: Bio-Core® Base
To reduce its carbon footprint, all Amerisleep mattress layers are made using an eco-friendly, zero-emissions process. This includes the Bio-Core® layer which is designed to last decades and minimize sagging.
Overall, the design of the Amerisleep AS2 mattress offers superb support for lower back pain sufferers. Its breathable layers deliver great temperature control and help to keep your spine in its natural alignment as you sleep.
The Saatva Mattress
The Saatva mattress is another good choice for sleepers with lower back pain because of its pillow top design. The cotton top provides cushioning whilst the foam and the coils provide lumbar region support and pressure point relief.
Top layer: Cotton Cover & Euro Pillow Top
The soft and breathable cover of the Saatva mattress contains a soft and comfortable pillow top. This provides just enough cushioning to take pressure off certain parts of your back.
Second layer: Lumbar Support Enhancement
The second mattress layer supports pressure points and works as a transition layer between the pillow top and the springs. It also has a specially designed lumbar region support system made from convoluted foam.
Third layer: Individually Wrapped Comfort Coils
The individual coils provide motion isolation, so your sleep won’t be disturbed. They balance your body weight with just the right amount of support and bounce.
Fourth layer: Steel Coil Support System
When combined with the comfort coils in the layer above, this layer provides bounce and pressure response.
Fifth layer: Base And Edge Support System
The base of the Saatva Mattress offers support to the mattress. And the attached edges ensure the mattress stays in shape.
The Layla Mattress
The Layla mattress is flippable. On one side, the mattress is firm. On the other, it is soft. This allows the user to choose the side that will help them relieve their lower back pain most.
Soft layer: 3-inch copper-infused memory foam
This layer is made from copper-infused memory foam. Copper is known to provide a unique way to manage body temperature. And the memory foam offers a comfortable sinking feeling with support and pressure point relief. Both of these materials together create a great blend that supports sleepers with lower back pain and helps them sleep cool.
This is the “soft” side of the mattress.
Second layer: 2 inches of convoluted support foam
This comfort layer increases airflow and acts as a transition to the next layer.
Third layer: 4.5-inch base support foam
This supportive mattress layer is made from high density poly foam with a quick response to pressure. It provides support regardless of which side you sleep on.
Firm layer: 1 inch of copper-infused memory foam
This layer is made from the same copper-infused memory foam as the soft layer of the mattress, but is 1-inch thick. This reduces the sinking effect yet provides some contouring still.
This is the “firm” side of the mattress.
The Layla mattress is a reasonable and relatively inexpensive option for people with back problems. As with most things, you get what you pay for. You might wonder if both firm and soft options of the Layla mattress can be the best of either, but they do seem to offer good motion isolation on both sides.
The Nectar Mattress
Made from five layers of memory foam, the Nectar mattress offers a very traditional memory foam feel. Soft and supportive it has a nice balance between firmness and “cradling”. According to Nectar’s website, the mattress is “plush but highly supportive”. The mattress combines both traditional and gel foams to create a soft and cool sleeping experience.
Top Layer: Tencel Cooling Cover
The cover is designed to be soft and regulate the heat. It is quilted with 1 inch of memory foam that offers instantaneous pressure relief.
Second Layer: Quilted Gel Foam
This foam gets infused by gel beads during the manufacturing process to improve breathability and heat control. This means that the mattress is much cooler than that made from ordinary memory foam
Third Layer: Gel Memory Foam
Another layer of gel memory foam, which the company refers to as Lush Foam™. It is designed to absorb and distribute heat, as well as provide responsive support for your body.
Fourth Layer: Adaptive Hi Core Memory Foam
Dense and heavy, this memory foam layer is designed to be responsive and bounce back quickly to its original shape. This layer is what makes the Nectar mattress a good option for people with lower back problems. You get to have great pressure point relief, as well as cushioning from the layers above.
Fifth Layer: Breathable Base Layer
The high-density base layer is molded with specially designed air channels. These channels allow the mattress to be extra breathable while using the high-density foams.
The Nectar is the best low budget mattress all-round. For the price you pay you get a very good support and pressure relief combination. This helps to reduce back pain and improve your night’s sleep. And while it doesn’t have a dedicated support system like other mattresses, the Nectar mattress still performs well.
The Bear Memory Foam Mattress
With four layers of memory foam stacking up to 10 inches, this is a mattress that is one of the smallest on the market. Similar to Amerisleep, the Bear mattress also uses Celliant® cover to convert your body heat into infrared light. Combining the improved blood flow with their focus on reducing muscle and back aches makes this a great mattress for those in pain.
Mattress Cover: Breathable Celliant® Cover
The cover is designed to convert heat into infrared light. This helps to improve local blood flow and encourages restful sleep.
First Layer: Cooling Graphite-Gel Memory Foam
Infused with both gel and graphite, the mattress removes unwanted heat. Because of this unique material combination, the Bear mattress claims that it is up to seven times cooler than ordinary memory foam.
Second Layer: Responsive Comfort Foam
This responsive foam layer offers the traditional foam body contouring but with a better response. This means it bounces back into its original shape faster.
Third Layer: Transitional Performance Foam
Positioned between the comfort layer and the base, this layer provides even more pressure relief. At the same time, it offers a smoother transition between the top layers and the base.
Fourth Layer: High-Density Support Foam
The high-density base provides great support for your body. It is durable and long lasting.
While Bear claims to be a medium-firm mattress, a lot of their customers say that it is much softer than expected. Considering that firmness is hard to measure, this is quite understandable. If your back pain is caused by a mattress that is too firm, or if you are a soft sleeper, then this would be a good option. Otherwise, you might want to look for something a little bit more solid.
The Original Purple Mattress
Combining hyper elastic polymer with memory foam, Purple aims to create a mattress with the best pressure point relief. The top layer offers a grid support that focuses on the most important pressure points. While the memory foam provides balanced support for the whole body.
The first layer: Hyper Elastic Polymer
The hyper elastic polymer grid layer is made to collapse when enough pressure is applied. Because of this, it offers very good targeted support. The heavier parts of your body are able to sink in deeper, while the lighter parts get more contouring.
Second Layer: Plush Comfort Foam
The plush comfort layer is where most of the pressure relief happens. This layer is made to contour your body and create the feeling of suspense.
Third Layer: Support Foam
The base layer is made out of high-density support foam. This is what stops your body from sinking too deep into the mattress.
Overall, the Purple mattress is a good choice for sleepers with lower back pain. But the rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars shows that it still have space for improvement.
The Best Mattress for Lower Back Pain
To alleviate lower back pain, What’s The Best Bed recommends the Amerisleep AS2.
Here is why:
The Celliant® cover increases blood flow and relaxes muscles
Amerisleep’s Celliant® mattress cover is created with 13 heat-absorbing thermo-reactive minerals. It transforms heat into energy which the body absorbs. The result is an increase in blood flow, which helps to increase comfort and promotes restful sleep.
This unique property also helps with lower back pain.
The Bio-Pur® layer is cooling, responsive, and offers strong back support
Amerisleep’s Bio-Pur® layer is up to five times more breathable than standard memory foam. Combined with the Celliant® cover, you will sleep in cool and relaxing comfort. Bio-Pur® is also more responsive to pressure. It bounces back 10 times faster than traditional memory foam and delivers exceptional support.
The HIVE® layer reduces pressure points by 49%
Amerisleep’s HIVE® layer works by utilizing hundreds of hexagonal shapes. They improve airflow and deliver targeted support to your head, shoulders, back, hips, and feet.
In a clinical study, HIVE® was proven to reduce painful pressure points by 49%.
The Bio-Core® base naturally aligns the spine
Bio-Core® provides great hip and shoulder support, maintaining natural spine alignment. This feature is especially important for those who suffer from lower back pain.
How Your Sleeping Position Impacts Lower Back Pain
Making sure you rest in your optimal sleeping position is crucial to reducing lower back pain. Many people prefer sleeping on their stomach, but this is not advised for those experiencing lower back problems.
Sleeping on your stomach centralizes the majority of your weight, and pulls you down towards the center of the mattress. This creates strain on your back and bends your spine. Changing this behavior alone could drastically improve lower back problems.
How to Sleep on Your Side
According to medical professionals, sleeping on your side is best. It allows you to properly align your spine and keep it straight throughout the night, reducing lower back and shoulder pain. However, adjusting your sleep position can be difficult to get used to.
Place a pillow in front of you
To adopt side sleeping, go to bed hugging your pillow. This can help prevent you from rolling over onto your stomach.
Place a pillow between your knees
To keep your top leg well supported, you can place a small pillow between your knees to stabilize your hips and relieve pressure to your spine.
Choose a correct pillow
Select a tall and firm pillow. Sleeping on your side creates a gap between the mattress and your head. If not filled properly, your head will dip, putting unnecessary strain on your spine which can cause lower back pain.
How to Sleep on Your Back
Not everyone likes sleeping on their side, so sleeping on your back is another option. When lying on your back, keep your spine flat against the mattress. This will be easy on your spine and relieve pressure on your lower back.
Use a flat pillow, or no pillow at all, for your head
Try sleeping without a pillow. The higher your head gets raised, the more curve you induce in your spine. If the spine is not properly aligned during sleep, there will be tension that causes upper and lower back pain.
Instead, you can move that pillow under your knees. Adding some elevation to the center of your legs will take pressure away from your spine, assisting with relieving lower back pain.
Make the right mattress choice
Understanding pain, its causes, and solutions is the first step towards a pain-free sleep. And the right mattress can reduce lower back pain. Our team at What’s The Best Bed compiled this research and recommend the Amerisleep AS2 as the best mattress for lower back pain. The rest is up to you.
1 Milne, C. T. APRN, MSN, BC, CWOCN; Saucier, D. APRN, MSN, FNP-BC, CWCN; and Motta, G., BSN, MPH, ET. 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
2 “The best mattresses for back pain” Business Insider, https://www.businessinsider.com/best-mattress-for-back-pain/ Published 3/14/2018, Retrieved 5/8/2018