Best Mattress for Back Pain in 2024 – CNET

$2,075 at Leesa

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Leesa Legend Hybrid

Best mattress for side sleepers with back pain

Chronic back pain can make carrying out daily tasks a lot more difficult. If you’re living with chronic back pain, it’s possible that your current mattress could be contributing to the issue. We spoke with Dr. Andrew Casden, chief of orthopedics and spine surgery at White Plains Hospital in New York, about the best mattresses for back pain. Casden said, “What we know for sure is that too soft or too hard a mattress is not good for your back and can lead to back pain. A good mattress should provide support for the natural curves in our body without putting pressure on the spine.”

Read more: Best Mattress of 2024

You don’t want a super firm mattress or too soft a mattress. Where does that leave you? According to Casden, “Medical research does suggest that a ‘medium-firm’ mattress can help reduce the risk of developing back pain and decrease the pain for those already suffering from back pain.” You should also take your specific sleeping position into account, so you maintain proper spinal alignment while sleeping.

I’ve tested over 100 different beds from just about any brand you can think of, and I have hundreds of hours of experience reviewing mattresses. This allowed me to select the best mattress for back pain that checks all the boxes you need for a bed that relieves the pain, not contributes to it.

Video: Best mattresses for back pain

Watch CNET Video Producer Owen Poole review the best mattress for back pain. 

What is the best mattress for back pain?

After testing many beds, we selected the Saatva Rx as the best overall mattress for back pain. Its seven-layered construction includes gel memory foam, support foam, micro-coils, 8-inch pocketed coils and a targeted Therapeutic SupportCore system to give this mattress a supportive and comfortable design, intended to alleviate chronic pain. The medium firmness level (or 4 to 5 out of 10 on our scale) of this bed means that it’s suitable for all body and sleeper types.

Best mattresses for back pain of 2024

Mattress price scale:

$ = Budget: $799 and below

$$ = Average: $800 to $1,699

$$$ = Premium: $1,700 and up

These reflect MSRP or list prices. Sales might make a mattress less expensive, but are always changing.

Jon Gomez/CNET

Type Hybrid mattressFirmness MediumTrial 365 nightsWarranty Lifetime warrantyPrice $$$

Why we chose the Saatva Rx: Saatva is a reputable brand that often makes our best lists due to its premium, luxury mattresses, and the Saatva Rx is no exception. This bed is especially great for back pain because it was designed to relieve pain and discomfort from conditions such as sciatica, scoliosis and arthritis. We found the bed to be around a medium on our firmness scale or about a 4 or 5 out of 10, leaning towards a slightly softer feel. This means that it should be comfortable for all sleeper types: back, stomach, side and combination. The slightly softer firmness might be more appropriate for side sleepers. 
We are especially impressed by the Saatva Rx’s design and construction. It has seven distinct layers, including the pillowy organic cotton cover. In addition to layers of gel memory foam, high-density foam and a stable base, there are also layers of micro-coils, a thicker layer of pocketed coils and what Saatva calls its Therapeutic SupportCore. This is zoned support that provides more spinal alignment and extra comfort in the center of the bed.

Read more about this bed in our Saatva Rx mattress review.

Pros:

  • Unique construction elements
  • Accommodating feel
  • Zoned support design
  • Complementary white glove delivery and mattress removal

Cons:

  • Luxury price point
  • Only one firmness option is available
  • Not the best motion isolation

Saatva Rx Mattress

Jonathan Gomez/CNET

Type Hybrid mattressFirmness 3 firmness levels | Plush Soft: Medium or 5 | Luxury Firm: Medium-firm or 7 | Firm: 9/10 or firmTrial 365 nightsWarranty Lifetime warranty Price $$

Why we chose the Saatva Classic mattressFor the shopper who likes luxury, the Saatva Classic is a premium hybrid mattress with extra bells and whistles. It features two coil layers, a zoned 3-inch pillow top, Lumbar Zone Spinal Wire and pressure-relieving memory foam that make it a great mattress for people with back pain. I also appreciate its customizable features: There are three firmness options and two height profiles to choose from. 

The middle area of the mattress has “lumbar zone technology” that utilizes an active-wire system, which consists of wires within the center of the mattress that works with the individually wrapped coils to provide the correct spinal alignment. This adds extra support for your middle and upper back, while the high-end memory foam that covers the entire mattress offers pressure point relief and keeps your spine totally aligned, especially when sleeping on your side. 

It’s one of the best mattresses for back pain if you like a medium to firm mattress with a luxurious and supportive feel. It’s offered in three firmness levels; Luxury Plush is around a medium, Luxury Firm is a medium firmness and the sweet spot for back pain sufferers, and Firm is a true firm. You can also choose between height profiles, a touch I appreciate. Typically, the thicker the mattress, the more durable and supportive it is. Read more in our full Saatva mattress review

Pros:

  • Dual-coil layers make Saava an extra supportive, durable mattress
  • Lumbar Zone Spinal Wire design helps promote a straight alignment
  • Accommodates all body types
  • Available in multiple firmness options

Cons:

  • More expensive than a typical online mattress
  • The return fee will cost you $99 if you don’t like your bed

Saatva Classic

* Pricing based on Queen model

Jonathan Gomez/CNET

Type Memory foam hybrid mattressFirmness Medium-firm or 6 to 7Trial 365 nightsWarranty Forever warrantyPrice $$

Why we chose the Nectar Hybrid mattress: With a medium-firm profile and 12-inch hybrid construction, the Nectar Hybrid offers comfortable stability and pressure relief. Made with dense gel memory foam and individually wrapped innerspring coils, it provides targeted support and minimal motion transfer so you and your partner can get better rest. It’s an excellent option for those with back pain who prefer that traditional memory foam feel.

The Nectar Hybrid mattress also boasts a cooling, antimicrobial cover. I don’t think this bed has a cooling sensation when lying down on it, but I think it regulates body temperature better than a typical memory foam bed. If cooling ability is a big value point for you, take a look at the Nectar Premier Copper

It took a few moments for the foam in the Nectar Hybrid to start molding around my body, but once it did, it gave me a dense, pressure-relieving feel, especially around my shoulders and hips. According to Nectar, nine out of 10 back pain sufferers have found relief using their Nectar mattress. It lands around a 6 to 7 out of 10 on the firmness scale, making it especially ideal for back and stomach sleepers.

Pros:

  • On the more affordable side
  • Excellent pressure relief and support
  • Accommodates all body types

Cons:

  • Not everyone likes the feel of memory foam
  • Dense memory foam might make it difficult for combo sleepers to change positions 

Nectar Hybrid Mattress

My Slumber Yard

Type Responsive memory foam mattressFirmness Medium to medium-firm or 5 to 6Trial 365 nightsWarranty Lifetime warrantyPrice $$$

Why we chose the DreamCloud HybridThe DreamCloud Hybrid mattress is a premium mattress that offers relief to people with back pain without being overly firm or soft. It boasts a light and airy pillow top, and its primary comfort layers are made with memory foam, but it doesn’t provide as much resistance or give as the traditional material does. It’s more bouncy and responsive. With an optimal firmness level for people with back pain, it’s worth the money it costs. It’s very affordable for its quality — comparable beds cost around $300 to $400 more or up. 

The memory foam in the DreamCloud Premier provides pressure relief without making you feel like you’re sinking into the foam. Did I mention the cover is partly made with cashmere? I meant it when I said it’s luxurious. Lastly, in the bed’s base layer, eight 1/2-inch coils are individually pocketed for optimal support and help to isolate motion.

I’d rate the DreamCloud Premier around a medium-firm, or a 6 out of 10 on the firmness scale. That means it’s firm enough to support you when you sleep on your stomach or back, but it’s also going to provide enough pressure relief that you feel some contour around your pressure points. I personally know two different people who sleep on a DreamCloud, and they think it’s the best mattress they’ve had. It also checks a lot of boxes for people who suffer from back pain and want a good balance of pressure relief to support.

Read more about this bed in our full DreamCloud mattress review

Pros:

  • Made with premium materials including cashmere
  • Although it’s made with memory foam, it has more of a responsive feel
  • Accommodates all body types

Cons:

  • Like most beds on this list, may be too firm for strict side sleepers

DreamCloud Premier Hybrid Mattress

Wesley Ott/CNET

Type Soft hybrid mattressFirmness Medium to medium-soft or 4 to 5Trial 100 nightsWarranty 10-year warrantyPrice $$$

Why we chose the Leesa Legend Hybrid mattress: If you’re a side sleeper with back pain, this bed’s medium to medium-soft firmness and three-zone support design could provide some relief. Its hybrid construction has an additional layer of thousands of micro-coils that offer impressive stabilization; you can feel the extra support as soon as you lay down on this bed. 

Leesa Legend Hybrid’s memory foam layer gently cradles your body, keeping the spine in a neutral position while providing pressure relief for the shoulders and hips. At the bottom of this bed is a base layer of high-density foam for added support and durability, making it suitable for all body types, including heavier sleepers. Its unique micro-spring construction also means there is very little motion transfer, so it’s much easier to move and change positions on this bed without disturbing your partner. 

Another notable feature of this mattress is the soft, breathable cover made of Merino wool and 100% organic cotton. Although it’s not necessarily cool to the touch, the moisture-wicking properties can help regulate your body temperature throughout the night. 

The Leesa Legend Hybrid falls on the more expensive side of our best list, but it’s a great option for side sleepers with back pain looking for a luxurious, pressure-relieving mattress.

Pros:

  • Comfortable pressure-relieving foam layers
  • Dual-spring support to help keep your spine in neutral alignment
  • Fantastic edge support and motion isolation
  • Parts of this bed are made with recycled, eco-friendly materials

Cons:

  • It’s an expensive bed
  • May be too soft for combo sleepers who also sleep on their back or stomach

Leesa Legend Hybrid Mattress

Jonathan Gomez/CNET

Type Hybrid MattressFirmness 6 or medium to medium-firmTrial 100 nightsWarranty 10-year limited warranty Price $

Why we chose the Allswell mattressOwned by Walmart and in line with its parent company’s brand, Allswell is an incredibly affordable hybrid mattress. It offers support and proper spinal alignment for back and stomach sleepers at a low price. It’s proof you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to buy a good mattress for back pain.

It will be best for back and stomach sleepers because of its medium-firm profile, but it’s one of the cheapest mattresses I’ve tested that includes a supportive pocketed coil base layer. Pocketed coils help to provide support for people who suffer from back pain. Paired with its firmness profile, it offers a good balance of support and pressure relief to help curb the aches. 

The Allswell mattress has a neutral and responsive feel, so you don’t feel like you’re sinking into the bed. Instead, the mattress gently cradles your joints and quickly bounces back once pressure is removed. I think it’s an enjoyable feel, especially if you’re not a fan of a memory foam mattress. For more information, check out our full Allswell mattress review

Pros:

  • One of the most affordable hybrid beds on the market
  • Medium-firm profile fits those with back pain, back and stomach sleepers
  • Accommodates all body types

Cons:

  • Too firm for side sleepers with back pain

Allswell

Jonathan Gomez/CNET

Type Hybrid mattressFirmness Medium-firmTrial 100 nightsWarranty 15-year limited warranty Price $$

Why we chose the Helix Plus mattressHeavier sleepers with back pain should look for an extra supportive and durable mattress, and Helix Plus checks that box. With a thick hybrid construction, medium-firm profile and XL pocketed coils that can support up to 1,000 pounds, it’s a solid pick that won’t break the bank. 

There are a lot of mattresses that claim to align your spine as you sleep, but many of these mattresses are designed to support a maximum of 230 pounds. If you weigh more than that — or close to it — your body can put extra pressure on the mattress, causing it to sag in all of the wrong places and leaving you with chronic back pain. That’s where the Helix Plus comes in. It will serve as the best mattress for back pain for those who are over 250 pounds.

This mattress type is specifically made for heavier sleepers with higher body weights. It’s 13 inches tall and has an extra layer of four-pound high-density foam designed to offer enough firmness to support up to 1,000 pounds of combined weight (or 500 pounds on each side). This extra comfort layer of support helps delicately push against your weight to help with spine alignment so that you sleep in comfort and wake up pain-free.

Read more in our full Helix mattress reviews.

Pros:

  • Durable and supportive
  • Specifically designed for sleepers over 230 pounds
  • Stronger pocketed coils than other hybrid mattresses

Cons:

  • Might be too firm and supportive for side sleepers or those under 230 pounds

Helix Plus

* Pricing based on Queen model

What to consider when buying the best mattress for back pain

Shopping for the best mattress for back pain that fits your needs isn’t always easy. People with back pain especially have to be considerate of their new bed purchase because they don’t want it to contribute to even more aches. Here are the key things to look out for when searching for a bed to help with back pain relief. 

Firmness level

As our medical experts have said, the best beds for back pain seem to be in the medium-firm range; you want a mattress that’s neither too firm or too soft. A medium-firm mattress mostly offers great support, but it’s not so firm that it loses its pressure-relieving abilities. At the same time, it’s important to consider your sleeping position to properly accommodate your needs. 

Sleeping position

Medium-firm mattresses will be perfectly suitable for many people with back pain including back, stomach and combination sleepers. The key is to have a mattress that keeps your spine in a straight alignment with your neck and head. As such, side sleepers with back pain may want a slightly softer mattress that gives underneath the curves of your shoulders and hips. A medium mattress is best for petite and side sleepers because you get more pressure relief without compromising support. 

Hybrid construction

Between foam beds and hybrid beds that incorporate both foam and coils, hybrid beds are typically best at helping alleviate back pain. Foam beds are more prone to sagging and indentations, and this wear and tear can help contribute to your back pain. Hybrid beds with coils in the foundation layer provide more support for all body types, and do a better job of keeping your spine in proper alignment. 

Special ergonomic designs

Some beds have average designs while others are made with back pain sufferers in mind. Keep an eye out for these ergonomic mattresses. Beds like the Casper Wave with multiple zoned support layers or the Saatva with special lumbar support will likely prove to be more beneficial for back pain than a standard hybrid or foam mattress. 

Best mattress for back pain graphic showing pressure points for different sleepers.

When you’re shopping for the best mattress for back pain, it’s important to find a firmness level that accommodates your sleeping position. 

How we test the best mattresses for back pain

CNET editors pick the products and services we write about based on editorial merit. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission. 

We considered several key factors when testing the best mattress for back pain: price, firmness, feel and pressure relief. We also made sure to note what special features each mattress offered.

Firmness and feel

At the start of any mattress testing, we immediately note the bed’s firmness and feel. These are the two most important factors consumers use to decide on a mattress. Think of firmness as how hard or soft your mattress is. Part of this is your preference, but firmness is also dictated by how you sleep. For example, back and stomach sleepers need a firmer mattress to keep their spine and neck aligned. In contrast, side sleepers need a softer mattress with pressure relief to prevent painful pressure points at the shoulders, hips and knees. People with back pain generally need at least a medium-firm level of support. 

Feel is a preference thing. It all comes down to what you want your bed to feel like. Do you like sinking memory foam? Or thick pillow tops? What about the unique feel of the Purple mattress? The firmness and feel of each mattress are noted in the reviews. 

Support and pressure relief

Regarding mattresses for back pain, great support with ample pressure relief is essential. Once we had a roundup of the beds that stood out the most, we carefully considered the beds with designs that were meant to help promote a neutral spinal alignment. We also looked at mattresses that have been endorsed by the people who know best at the American Chiropractic Association. For even more expertise, we consulted specialized doctors who have the necessary knowledge on the best and worst mattresses for back pain. 

Read more on how we test mattresses.

Other mattresses we’ve tested

It’s difficult for the average person to test every mattress they might be interested in, especially when it comes to online mattresses that are exclusively sold through the brands’ websites. That’s why we have our CNET Sleep editors test the mattresses we review, and create round-ups that include some of the best beds they snuggled up to. While the beds above are top choices, here are a few that could have easily made the list as an ideal mattress for back pain. 

Avocado mattress: For individuals who live green or are particularly sensitive to household allergens, an organic mattress like Avocado might be appealing. With the optional pillow top, the Avocado mattress has a medium-firm profile that keeps the back in neutral alignment and prevents it from sagging into the mattress. It’s also endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association, although, it might be a little too firm for side sleepers. Another plus about this bed is that thanks to its latex foam construction, it’s hypoallergenic and antimicrobial. 

WinkBed mattress: There are several perks to a WinkBed mattress that make it an ultra-comfortable option for people who suffer from back pain. It’s offered in three firmness levels, but the firm model (rated around a medium-firm) is what I recommend, thanks to its golden ratio of support to pressure relief. Not only is it made with supportive pocketed coils, but it also has a “LumbarLayer” specifically designed to offer targeted support to your lumbar region.

Loom & Leaf mattress: Offered in two firmness levels, medium-firm and firm, the Loom & Leaf mattress is a memory foam mattress that can help prevent back pain and offer cooling relief at the same time. It’s a thick, foam mattress with a firm profile that keeps your spine from sagging into the bed. If you happen to sleep hot, it also has a cooling gel layer that’s very effective at keeping you and the bed at a comfortable temperature. 

Signs your mattress is causing back pain

Dr. Jacob Hascalovici, chief medical officer of the telehealth chronic pain platform Clearing, gave us insight into the consequences of a bad mattress, and the signs to look out for. 

“If you’re frequently waking up with a crick in the neck, back pain, stiff joints, experiencing mental fogginess, and having trouble falling asleep can all be signs of a mattress that is hurting your back,” Hascalovici said. “A bad mattress can mean a bad night’s sleep. It can also add up to more pain, both in your back and in other muscles and joints that are forced out of alignment or have to compensate for a lack of support.” 

That’s why it’s so important to sleep on an accommodating mattress. “Over time, pain and lost sleep can lead to memory problems, lack of concentration, mood swings, lowered immunity, and even weight gain and a higher risk of heart trouble,” Hascalovici said. “Getting a good night’s sleep is vital for multiple areas of your mind and body, so it’s worth prioritizing.” 

Different types of back pain 

“The back is such a large and important part of the body, it’s not unusual for it to develop aches and pains,” Hascalovici explained. “While back pain can be characterized in many different ways, it can be convenient to classify it by where it shows up.”

Neck pain: “Unfortunately common, neck pain can happen for quite a few different reasons. The neck can get sore from supporting an out-of-alignment head — if you carry your head thrust forward, for example, hunch, or have ‘text neck’, you may notice soreness and difficulty turning your neck. Arthritis can happen, or the neck can get injured. It’s also not uncommon to wake up with neck pain from unsupportive pillows, from sleeping on your stomach, or from tooth-grinding during the night, among other things.”

Upper back pain: “The upper back, or thoracic spine, can suffer from musculoskeletal pain,” Hascalovici said. “Discs can slip, strains can occur, and nerves can get pinched. Often, the causes of upper back pain can be traced back to being sedentary, having relatively poor posture or weakened muscles that let the spine tilt out of alignment. Upper back pain can affect the shoulders; shoulders may also hurt if you’ve been putting pressure on them unevenly while sleeping.”

Lower back pain: “Only five vertebrae comprise the lower back, but those bones bear a lot of weight and pressure,” Hascalovici said. “Herniated discs, muscle strains, nerve damage, and arthritis can all cause lower back pain. Doing heavy, repetitive labor, lifting heavy weights, toting a hefty bag around, or slumping don’t help, either. For people with lower back pain, a medium-firm or firm mattress can sometimes yield some pain relief.”

“Wherever pain shows up in the back, it can be frustrating,” he continued. “The back is vulnerable to damage and to soreness caused by inflammation and arthritis; stress also contributes to back pain, since it often makes people clench their muscles.” As a remedy, Hascalovici suggested “supplements, regular exercise, good posture, an anti-inflammatory diet, managing stress, and getting enough sleep all help to prevent and manage back pain.”

Other ways to reduce back pain

Hascalovici said some sleeping positions are better than others for back pain, and offered a few tips to help you sleep more comfortably.

  • If you can, try to sleep on your side while bending your knees a little. It may help to put a firm pillow behind your back to help hold you in place. 
  • A soft body pillow or feather pillow between your knees may make you feel more comfortable. 
  • If you naturally prefer sleeping on your back, tuck a small pillow under your knees to keep your lower back from arching and possibly hurting more. 
  • Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach, but if you can’t, you can at least stick a pillow under your hips at night to keep your back from arching too much.
  • Consider a mattress topper to make your bed feel more supportive or more pressure-relieving, depending on what you need out of your current mattress. If your bed is too soft, consider a latex topper to add firmness. If your bed is too firm, a plush memory foam topper can help soften things up. 

Yes. A poor mattress or ill-suited bed for your needs can be a contributing factor to your back pain. If your bed is fairly new, less than a few years old, your bed may be too firm or too soft for your needs.

A soft mattress can cause back pain for back and stomach sleepers because it allows the lower back to sag into the foam. On the other hand, a firm mattress can press into the shoulders and hips of side sleepers, causing the spine to be misaligned. 

If your mattress has sags, indents or visible wear and tear, it’s a sign your bed is too old. Old mattresses with lumps and bumps aren’t efficient and promoting proper spinal alignment, and can lead you to wake up with back pain. 

Memory foam and latex are the most commonly recommended mattress materials for back pain. These materials conform to your body and provide pressure relief where you need it most. 100% memory foam mattresses and hybrid mattresses — which combine springs with memory foam and/or latex — are both good choices.

Memory foam mattresses are among the best for back pain. They contour your body, alleviating pressure on your joints and reducing aches and pains. The memory foam also aligns with the natural curvature of your spine, providing lumbar support.

Very firm mattresses were often recommended for back pain in the past, but based on feedback from sleepers, a mattress that’s too firm can disrupt sleep and contribute to back pain. On the other hand, mattresses that are too soft also contribute to poor sleep quality and back pain, by throwing your spine out of alignment and putting too much pressure on your joints. 

In general, the best mattress for back pain is one that’s rated medium to medium-firm, but it also depends on how you sleep. For example, side sleepers need a mattress that’s softer than back sleepers who generally need a firmer mattress, so the right mattress depends on your existing sleep habits.

Some of the best mattresses to help alleviate back pain include:

  • AS5 Hybrid
  • Saatva
  • DreamCloud
  • Purple Hybrid
  • Nectar Premier
  • Casper Wave
  • Allswell
  • GhostBed Flex
  • Helix Plus

The best sleeping positions for back pain are on your back with a pillow underneath the knees to alleviate pressure or on your side with a pillow between the knees. If you sleep on your stomach and can’t make the switch, sleep with a pillow underneath the lumbar region (your lower back area). 


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