Shopping for the best mattress for back pain? We're here to help. After all, we know a thing or two about what the best mattresses have to offer when it comes to support and pressure relief. (And sadly, we also know first-hand how uncomfortable sleeping with a back injury can be.)
If you're sleeping on the wrong mattress for your needs — or your mattress is just very old — you'll be constantly shifting positions in a futile attempt to get comfortable, culminating in those nagging aches and pains. Back pain also negatively impacts your sleep quality, leaving you more susceptible to brain fog, lower resistance to illnesses, and other health problems.
We've rounded up five of the best mattresses for back pain based on our extensive research and testing. Our picks span a range of preferences and price points, with discounts almost always available in mattress sales; you're likely to get even better deals during the upcoming Memorial Day mattress sales.
We've also included a few helpful tips below to help you find the right mattress to soothe your aches, although we strongly recommend you consult with a doctor for a specific diagnosis or treatment plan. With that said, keep scrolling for our top mattresses for back pain...
The best mattress for back pain in 2023 - as chosen by experts
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The handcrafted Saatva Loom & Leaf memory foam mattress is our top pick for sleepers with back pain. Its 5lb core of body-hugging memory foam, 2-inch layer of gel-infused comfort foam, and tufted cotton cover provide impressive pressure relief. The middle of the mattress features a gel-infused lumbar crown to improve circulation in the lower back and keep everything aligned.
It comes in a relaxed firm or firm feel. Saatva recommends the relaxed firm for most sleepers, which is what we tried for our Saatva Loom & Leaf review. Our lead tester was recovering from a lower back injury at the time she reviewed the Loom & Leaf and noticed a marked improvement in her pain after three weeks of sleeping on it. Our testing panel felt adequate support and pressure relief in all the right places, no matter which position we dropped into.
Despite featuring some cooling technology, the Loom & Leaf falls somewhere in the middle when it comes to temperature regulation. (We woke up sweating a few nights during testing.) If you're a chronically hot sleeper, we suggest checking out the Cocoon by Sealy Chill or Purple Plus elsewhere on this list. Otherwise, the Loom & Leaf is an excellent choice for sleepers with back pain, especially since it comes with a complimentary in-home setup plus a full year to test it out. You'll be able to save during regular Saatva mattress sales, too, but right now you can get it with a seriously impressive $500 off on all sizes by using this exclusive sale link.
- Read more: Saatva Loom & Leaf mattress review
The Cocoon by Sealy Chill holds a spot in our best cooling mattress guide for its tremendous value. A queen regularly sells for $799 after an evergreen 35% off discount that includes a free set of sheets and a pair of Sealy's best pillows; you may be able to get further savings with Cocoon by Sealy promo codes. The mattress also comes with a 100-night trial, with free returns plus a full refund if you're not satisfied.
This value mattress offers plenty of relief for hot sleepers with back pain. It features a stretch-knit fabric cover woven with phase change material that absorbs and dissipates body heat for an immediate cooling effect. Meanwhile, Sealy's Perfect Fit memory foam adapts to the weight and shape of your body while keeping your spine aligned. There's also a layer of responsive comfort foam plus a polyfoam base to limit motion transfer and prevent sleepers from sinking too far into the mattress.
The Cocoon by Sealy Chill is a medium-firm mattress, but some sleepers claim it feels even firmer than that. Back sleepers in particular should find it suitable, but side sleepers or those who prefer a softer bed may want to consider the Loom & Leaf at the top of this list. We've yet to test this mattress ourselves but plan to have a full review in the coming weeks.
- Read more: Cocoon by Sealy Chill mattress review
Sleepers who want their bed to have more bounce should opt for a hybrid mattress. If you grapple with aches and pains, we recommend the Nolah Evolution 15". This lofty 7-layer mattress is available in three firmness levels: plush, luxury firm, and firm. We tested the firm version in our Nolah Evolution 15" review and it kept us well-aligned with consistent pressure relief, particularly when sleeping on our backs.
We were instantly comforted and cradled from the moment we sat on it — which wasn't what we were expecting with a firm mattress. A combo of 8-inch support coils and pressure-relieving foams eased tension through our joints while keeping our spine neutral. Our lead tester felt unparalleled support in every sleeping position, but some side sleepers may benefit from one of the softer firmness options.
Although the Nolah Evolution 15" has three dedicated cooling layers, we found its temperature regulation inconsistent. The Cocoon by Sealy Chill is a better option if you want a cooling mattress with a firm surface. However, if you suffer from joint pains, a bad back, or poor alignment, the Nolah still has a lot to offer. We recommend waiting for a Nolah mattress sale so you can score $500 to $700 off its higher mid-range MSRP.
- Read more: Nolah Evolution 15" mattress review
The Purple Plus mattress merges superior cooling with excellent pressure relief. Its proprietary GelFlex Grid design has thousands of air holes that prevent heat from getting trapped in the mattress. This pliable material also provides relief in key pressure points (shoulders, hips, spine, and knees), making it one of the best mattresses for side sleepers in particular.
The Purple Plus mattress has a unique two-level firmness design. It's softer under the arms and legs yet firmer along the spine and lumbar. This ensures support and relief in all the right places. Meanwhile, its high-density foam layers absorb almost every movement so you and your partner can sleep soundly without disturbing each other.
This mattress is made to suit all sleep styles, but sleepers who weigh over 230lbs may not feel as supported. (If that sounds like you, check out the DreamCloud Premier below.) The Purple Plus is among the brand's more expensive offerings, although it's a bargain versus premium cooling beds from rivals like Casper and Tempur-Pedic — and you'll be able to pocket a few hundred dollars during occasional Purple mattress sales.
- Read more: Should I buy the Purple Plus mattress?
The flagship DreamCloud Mattress (which we've reviewed) provides excellent support and pressure relief for most sleepers. However, those who weigh over 250lbs may find it less sturdy. Thus, we recommend the DreamCloud Premier, which has received praise from heavyweight sleepers who claim it holds up well with regular use.
Compared to its entry-level counterpart, the DreamCloud Premier has a thicker layer of dynamic transition foam for alignment plus three times the amount of cashmere in its top cover for a softer, more breathable surface. Meanwhile, two rows of thicker gauge coils along the edges will eliminate the risk of falling out of bed. (It also aids with motion isolation.)
Its medium-firm feel should suit all sleep styles, but some reviewers say it's too firm. It only comes in one level of firmness, so consider the more customizable Nolah Evolution 15" or Saatva Loom & Leaf. Fortunately, with a generous 365-night trial, you'll have plenty of time to decide whether the DreamCloud Premier is right for you. And DreamCloud mattress sales run all the time, so you'll be able to score a nice discount along with some free premium bedding with purchase; you should also check the latest DreamCloud coupons.
- Read more: DreamCloud Mattress review
Which type of mattress is best for back pain?
Memory foam mattresses are often recommended for sleepers with back pain since they'll contour to the exact shape of your body. Whether you go for foam or a hybrid of foam and springs, make sure there aren't any gaps between your body and the mattress as this can strain your back and joints.
You'll also want to take your sleeping position into consideration. If you're a combi sleeper, base your decision on your dominant position. Here's a brief rundown of what to shop for, according to your sleep style...
- Side sleepers should go for a medium or semi-firm mattress to relieve pressure along the hips and shoulders.
- Back sleepers need a mattress firm enough to support their hips and lower lumbar so it doesn't hold them in a 'c' or 'v' shape.
- Stomach sleepers will also want to look for a firmer mattress, although this position isn't recommended if you have back pain.
In terms of firmness, our article on what's the best mattress firmness for back pain can give you some helpful pointers and expert advice. Also, peep our feature about what kind of mattress is good for back pain for more information plus expert tips from medical professionals — but keep in mind that they're providing general advice. Consult with your doctor for a specific diagnosis and treatment plan for your back pain.
How do I know if my mattress is causing my back pain?
If you frequently wake up with back pain, your mattress could be the culprit. Sleeping on the wrong bed can exacerbate an existing injury or introduce new aches. Here are three signs your mattress is causing you back pain:
You can't ever get comfortable.
This is an indication that you're sleeping on something that's either too firm or soft for your body type and sleep preferences. There's also a possibility that your sleep needs have changed since you bought your mattress. Either way, not being able to get comfortable in bed will eventually manifest in back and joint pain.
You wake up feeling like you just worked out.
This could be trickier to deduce if you have a physically-demanding job or exercise regularly since DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) could be to blame. However, if you wake up every morning feeling like you just completed a serious workout, your mattress is possibly the reason why.
Your mattress has obvious wear and tear.
The lifespan of a mattress is between seven and 10 years — possibly longer if you wrap it in one of the best mattress protectors. But if you're finding indents, yellowing fabric, and/or sagging along the perimeter, it's time to save your back and go mattress shopping.
Provided your mattress is in otherwise good shape, you can add one of the best mattress toppers to make it as soft or firm as you need to feel comfortable — but if your bed has seen much better days, browse the top deals for the best mattress for back pain below: