The Best Mattress for Back Pain:
Why It’s Hard to Beat Tempur-Pedic
Back pain is a major issue for sleepers. You could experience back pain throughout the night, which keeps you awake. Or you might feel it when you get out of bed, with a stiff lower back or a crick in the neck, which can ruin your whole day.
Sometimes the back pain is due to external factors outside of your mattress — car accident, sports injury, or an underlying medical condition. And sometimes you’re experiencing back pain because you’re sleeping on an unsupportive mattress or a bed that’s just too firm (or too soft) for your body type and preferred sleeping position.
Either way, finding the best mattress for back pain (no matter how it was caused) can go a long way in helping you get a better night’s sleep.
At Slumberland, our staff of sleep specialists are constantly helping customers find a solution that works for them, and their unique form of back pain. This means we’ve helped customers suffering from sciatica, spinal stenosis, lower back pain, neck pain, and more.
By working with such a wide variety of customers with all kinds of pain — from the aches of fibromyalgia to the sharp pangs of a pinched nerve — we’ve learned what does (and what doesn’t) work.
In this post, we look at our go-to recommendation for sleepers suffering from back pain. Then we look at some frequently asked questions we get asked about different types of mattresses, sleep positions, and more.
A quick note: At Slumberland’s Sleep Solutions department we make it easy to find the best mattress for back pain. We created a universal rating system that lets you compare all mattress brands and mattress types. This includes giving each mattress a rating (on a scale of 1-5) on how well it helps with back support, pressure relief, and more. Visit a Slumberland location for a personalized sleep solution.
The Best Mattress for Back Pain — Tempur-Pedic
Tempur-Pedic is our go-to pick for the best mattress for back pain because of its advanced TEMPUR® foam, which both comforts you and supports you.
TEMPUR® foam is technically a form of memory foam, but it's in a different category than the memory foam you find in other leading mattress retail brands and in popular bed in a box mattresses.
When you lie down on a Tempur-Pedic, the foam layers adapt to your weight, shape, and body temperature. This is what makes Tempur-Pedic unique amongst the competition, and why we think it’s the best mattress brand for providing pressure relief. By adapting to your body temperature, heavier parts of your body (such as shoulders and hips) will get more contouring support than the lighter parts of your body.
Why is this good for back pain?
If you’re sleeping on a traditional mattress, it may be too soft or too firm. If it’s too soft, your hips will sink and put extra pressure on your already aching back. If it’s too firm, then the mattress is pushing up against your back, instead of cradling it. This can further aggravate your pressure points and lead to you tossing and turning throughout the night.
In short, the mattress firmness is one-dimensional. The bed itself doesn’t adapt enough to completely support your body where you need it.
But because TEMPUR® foam adapts to your unique weight and shape, you get the support and comfort you need.
Finding the Right Tempur-Pedic Mattress for You
There is an entire collection of Tempur-Pedic mattresses, which you can try in person at one of our Slumberland locations throughout the Midwest. But we can make general recommendations based on our experience.
Best Mattress for Back and Stomach Sleepers — TEMPUR-ProAdapt® Medium
The Tempur-Pedic ProAdapt® is available in a soft, medium, medium hybrid, and firm model. For stomach and back sleepers, we’d recommend the medium, (though the medium hybrid or firm mattress are worth considering as well). The bed is roughly 12 inches tall and is available in all the main mattress sizes (from twin to king).
The ProAdapt series comes with Tempur-Pedic’s dual cover system. This means you can actually unzip the cover and wash it at home if you’d like. This helps keep the mattress feeling fresh and clean.
But we like it for back and stomach sleepers because of its APR™ (advanced pressure relieving) layer of foam just beneath the cover. And when you get the firm ProAdapt, it’s not going to give in as much and you’ll get the support both stomach and back sleepers need for your lower back.
Best Mattress for Side Sleepers — TEMPUR-LuxeAdapt® Soft
The LuxeAdapt is similar to the ProAdapt, with the washable dual layer cover system. What sets it apart is the TEMPUR-ES comfort layer that provides a softer feel, and the denser TEMPUR-APR+ support layer that better conforms to your body.
While any Tempur-Pedic mattress is going to provide side sleepers with the support they need, the TEMPUR LuxeAdapt is going to cradle your body without putting too much pressure on your hips and shoulders, which can lead to lower back pain. We recommend you get the soft version, though it is available in a firm model as well.
Best Mattress for Hot Sleepers — TEMPUR-LuxeBreeze® (Soft or Firm)
Tempur-Pedic also makes mattresses that cater to people suffering from back pain, and who are sleeping hot at night.
The Tempur-Pedic LuxeBreeze can feel up to 8 degrees cooler throughout the night, and thanks to the ventilated Tempur-APR material, you’ll still have that advanced support while staying cool. (If sleeping hot is something you’ve been battling, check out our post on how to sleep cool.)
The Tempur-Pedic Breeze is available as a soft or firm mattress. Which mattress firmness level works best for your type of back pain will depend on several factors (including your weight, shape, and the location of your pain).
To get a customized recommendation based on your sleep style, visit a Slumberland showroom.
What’s the Best Sleeping Position to Manage Back Pain?
There are side sleepers, back sleepers, stomach sleepers, and combination sleepers. Most of us are side sleepers. And depending on the person, back or side sleeping is generally the most recommended sleeping position. On the other hand, stomach sleeping is considered the worst possible sleeping position.
Let’s look at each position separately and see how it affects finding a mattress for back pain.
A quick note: To make things easier for our customers, we added a universal softness ranking to all the mattresses on our showroom floor. This means you can compare comfort levels across different brands. Our rating system is on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being the firmest and 5 being the softest. Below when we recommend specific comfort levels, you’ll see that we’re recommending the corresponding numbers.
When you sleep on your side, you’re actually putting the least amount of your body directly on the mattress (compared to stomach or back sleeping). This means the areas that are touching the mattress are taking increased pressure.
Side sleepers are putting pressure mainly on their shoulders, hips, and knees. They also have dips to fill — mainly in the space between their hips and shoulders.
If you’re a side sleeper who is on a mattress that’s too firm or hard, then your bed isn’t soft enough to fill that gap, which puts pressure on your lower back and shoulders.
Back sleeping is considered a very healthy sleeping position, and it may be doctor recommended if you suffer from sleep apnea and have to wear a CPAP mask at night.
Plus, it’s the ideal position for sleeping elevated (whether on a wedge pillow or an adjustable base).
Back sleepers tend to do best on a medium to medium firm mattress (which would be all mattresses with a rating of 2, 3, or 4) because that gives them just enough cushion to fill the slight gap in their lower back. If the bed is too soft, then their flat hip will sink into the mattress, resulting in more back pain, not less.
Stomach sleeping is almost never recommended as a sleeping position. When you’re on your stomach, you’re actually going against the natural curve of your spine. Your hips are sinking into the mattress, putting pressure on your lower back.
Sometimes people sleep on their stomach because it’s the only way for them to feel comfortable on their mattress. This is a sign that you need a new bed (or perhaps a new pillow).
If, for whatever reason, you must sleep on your stomach, then we recommend that you sleep on a firmer bed (or a 1 or 2 comfort level rating at Slumberland). The less your hips sink into the mattress when you’re on your stomach, the better.
Frequently Asked Questions by Slumberland Customers
Are Some Types of Mattresses Better for Back Pain?
There are three main types of mattresses to consider when looking for a bed to help with your back pain:
- Innerspring coil mattresses
- All-foam mattresses
- Hybrid mattresses
Innerspring coil beds are the kind of mattress most of us grew up on. It’s the kind of bed found in your average hotel room. There are pillow tops and euro tops (which are thicker and softer) and tight tops, which are generally firmer. Coil beds have a familiar bounce, don't sleep hot, and are usually the most affordable type of mattress on the market.
But when it comes to treating back pain, there are great innerspring mattresses and. . . not so great ones. This is because your weight is being distributed across a thin foam (usually not memory foam) or filler layer over the top of hundreds of coils.
Compare that to an all foam mattress (which we cover next). On an all foam mattress your weight is more evenly distributed across the bed’s surface.
All Foam Mattresses
All foam mattresses can be either poly-foam (which is memory foam without the contouring, cushioning aspect of memory foam), memory foam, or latex foam.
- Poly-foam mattresses are generally inexpensive but they also do not have the same benefits of memory foam. While they are more breathable, their lack of conforming means they aren’t necessarily a win for sleepers with back pain.
- Memory foam mattresses like Tempur-Pedic are the best mattresses for managing back pain. Memory foam takes pressure off your body, and contours to your weight and shape.
- Latex mattresses can be good for back pain, especially if you’re mainly sleeping on your back. Latex beds tend to be firmer than other foam mattresses.
A hybrid mattress is a foam mattress that has a coil support system as its base layer of support. A hybrid is different from a coil mattress due to the ratio of coils vs. foam layers. Generally, a hybrid is at least 50% foam, whereas a traditional coil mattress can be as little as 10% foam.
A hybrid mattress is trying to give you the benefits of sleeping on memory foam (or latex) combined with the familiar bounce and feel of a coil mattress.
Can an Adjustable Bed Frame Help with Back Pain?
An adjustable bed frame is an upgrade from a traditional mattress foundation. It can fit in nearly any bedstead (or can even function as furniture so you don’t need a bedstead) and works with almost any mattress you’re going to find from a reputable manufacturer.
Adjustable bases use a motor to move the frame which in turn elevates you and the mattress. You can either get an adjustable base that lifts just the head of the mattress, or one that respositions both the head and feet.
An adjustable bed frame is great for back pain because by elevating your legs at night, you take pressure off your back. If you’ve ever put pillows under your knees, you know what we’re talking about. But the benefit of an adjustable bed frame (vs. stacked pillows) is that the frame is more comfortable and won’t shift throughout the night.
Is a Firm or Softer Mattress Better for Back Pain?
Mattress firmness levels do matter.
If you’re a side sleeper and you’re sleeping on a firm mattress, then there’s an increased chance that you’re not getting the support you need. You’ll toss and turn and likely experience aches and pains in your shoulders and hips.
And if you’re a stomach or back sleeper and your mattress is too soft, then your hips will sink into the bed, which puts pressure on your lower back.
But there’s also the misconception that a firmer mattress is a “better mattress for back pain” or will “last longer.” This isn’t necessarily true. When a mattress is designed to be soft and conforming, it’s designed to give in with your body and then bounce back.
If this wasn’t true, you’d expect a softer mattress to have a shorter warranty. But most name brand mattresses (no matter what their firmness) offer at least a 10-year warranty on their beds.
Can a Mattress Topper Help with Back Pain?
Mattress toppers often get a bad reputation, but if you’re using them correctly they can make an uncomfortable mattress more comfortable. But like anything, it all depends on the quality of materials you’re getting.
If your mattress is too firm, then adding a plush mattress topper can help it feel softer without requiring you to go buy a brand new bed.
But if your mattress is defective — if it’s sagging or there’s lumps throughout the bed — then a mattress topper is going to work as a bandaid. It’ll cover up the sags and dips for a short while, but eventually the topper itself will likely start to sag in the same areas.
Finding the Best Mattress for Back Pain at Slumberland
Finding the right mattress for your back pain is going to take some time, but it shouldn’t be difficult. By visiting a Slumberland location, you get to ask our dedicated sleep experts questions that are relevant to you and your sleep needs.
Plus, you get to try the mattresses in person, including our go-to pick for the best mattress for back pain — Tempur-Pedic.
If the Tempur-Pedic line doesn’t work for what your body needs, we have other brands — from Sealy Posturepedic to Stearns and Foster — ready to go. These mattresses include traditional coil, pillow tops, and hybrids.
To find a mattress that helps reduce — and possibly completely eliminate your back pain — visit a Slumberland showroom today.