The Best Mattress for Back Sleepers

A woman relaxing on a Tempur-Pedic mattress

If you’re struggling to sleep comfortably on your back, then it could be that your mattress isn’t right for you. It might be the firmness level, the brand, or the age of your mattress (or all of the above).

Generally, back sleepers need a medium-firm to firm mattress (e.g., the Stearns and Foster Estate Rockwell Ultra Firm Queen Mattress). Anything softer and you run the risk of your hips sinking too deeply into your bed. When this happens, you put pressure on the small of your back because your spine is out of alignment. This leads to the common complaints that we hear at our Slumberland showrooms, such as “my butt sinks into my bed” or “I’m waking up with a stiff lower back.”

But if you go too firm, then it's like sleeping on the floor: The curve of your back isn’t getting supported because it doesn’t touch the mattress.

The best mattress for back sleepers will have just enough cushion to fill the contours of your lower back, but won’t be so soft that your hips sink deeply into your mattress.

Finding that sweet spot is what we help customers do at our Sleep Solutions department in Slumberland. And we do it in two key ways.

  1. We created a universal rating system to make mattress shopping easier. This means you can compare all different types of mattresses across different brands. You can now easily compare mattresses when it comes to critical factors like back support, pressure relief, feel, cooling, and more. To learn more, read our post on shopping for a mattress at Slumberland.
  2. At Slumberland, we’ve made it easy to compare mattress brands and get the info you want. We’re also ready to help you when needed. Our dedicated team of sleep and mattress experts are there to help you answer any questions you may have.

In this post, we look at our favorite mattresses for back sleepers, including different options for different body types, firmness preferences, and budgets.

Do you want a customized mattress recommendation? At Slumberland, our dedicated staff of sleep experts will help find the right mattress for you. Find the nearest showroom to you or start shopping online today.

The Best Mattress for Back Sleepers — The Tempur-Pedic ProAdapt

A woman sleeping in the morning

The best mattress for you will depend on several factors — including body type, whether you have any medical conditions (such as fibromyalgia), and your budget (learn about Slumberland financing options) — but all other things being equal, we’d recommend the Tempur-Pedic ProAdapt for back sleepers.

The Tempur-Pedic ProAdapt features TEMPUR® APR foam as its top layer. APR stands for advanced pressure relieving. It works by adapting to your shape, weight, and body heat. That means the Tempur-Pedic will adapt to you differently when you lie on your back vs. when you sleep on your side.

The ProAdapt series comes in different firmness levels, including a firm, medium, medium hybrid, or soft mattress. And while above we mentioned that firm to medium-firm is our general mattress firmness recommendation for back sleepers, you do have more flexibility when you’re sleeping on a Tempur-Pedic. The TEMPUR® material adapts to your shape and weight, so a back sleeper will get the right amount of support no matter if they’re on a firm or a soft mattress.

If you lay on the ProAdapt and find it’s a little too conforming, you can try the Tempur-Pedic Adapt series, which is Tempur-Pedic’s entry-level line (so it's available at a lower price point). It contains the original TEMPUR® material, but not the TEMPUR® advanced pressure relieving foam. So while it still adapts to your body, it won’t feel as cradling or contouring as Tempur-Pedic’s other models.

A Cooling Option for Hot Sleepers

Back sleepers generally don’t have to worry about sleeping hot as much as side sleepers (less of your body is in the mattress when you’re a back sleeper). But some of our customers still struggle with sleeping hot at night.

For these customers, we recommend the Tempur-Pedic Breeze mattresses. There is the Tempur-Pedic ProBreeze (available as both a medium or medium hybrid mattress) that can feel up to 3 degrees cooler, or the

Sometimes people aren’t naturally back sleepers but are trying to sleep on their back. This could be for a medical reason, such as needing to wear a sleep apnea mask at night.

An easy — and comfortable — way to stay on your back through your night is to use an adjustable bed frame. Adjustable bed frames can lift up your legs. When you sleep with your legs elevated, you’re doing two things.

  1. You’re taking pressure off your lower back.
  2. You’re making sure you can’t easily toss and turn throughout the night.

Adjustable beds come with other benefits for you as well. They make it easier to work from home (comfortably working on your computer from your bed) or watch a movie or read. They also help reduce snoring and acid reflux (GERD).

Some adjustable bases come with a massage feature which helps improve blood circulation, helping relieve inflammation and joint swelling.

The Best Mattress for Back Sleepers — Runner Ups

While Tempur-Pedic is our top pick for back sleepers, it won’t be everyone’s final pick. Sometimes customers prefer a more traditional mattress feel, something that doesn’t conform as much as the Tempur-Pedic mattresses do.

In those cases, we recommend the Sealy Hybrid mattresses and the Stearns and Foster coil mattresses.

The Hybrid Option — Sealy Hybrids

Hybrid mattresses are beds that use a mixture of foam comfort layers in the top half, and a coil support base layer in the bottom half. They give sleepers the conforming, pressure-relieving benefits of foam, along with the bounce and familiarity of an innerspring mattress.

At Slumberland we offer several different types of Sealy hybrids. These hybrids all have features you want from your next bed, including:

  • Individually wrapped coils — Individually wrapped coils (sometimes called pocketed coils) help cut down on motion transfer. So when your partner moves throughout the night, you don’t feel their movement on your side of the bed.
  • Breathable, high-quality memory foam — You want your memory foam dense enough to support you, but not so dense that it restricts airflow and becomes a heat trap.
  • Cooling covers — The Sealy Hybrids contain different technologies to help make sure your mattress is cool to the touch. For example, the Sealy Hybrid Trust II uses what’s called a MoistureProtect™ cover that draws moisture away from your body.

We specifically like the Sealy Hybrids for back sleepers because they use ComfortSense™ gel memory foam that, while not as advanced as TEMPUR® foam, does contour to your body’s weight and shape. Plus, because the Sealy Hybrids use gel infused memory foam these models won’t sleep hot throughout the night.

The Innerspring Option — Stearns and Foster

Some of our customers prefer a traditional innerspring mattress. That’s when the majority of the bed is a coil support system, with a few layers of either foam or other types of materials (such as cotton or wool blends) at the top to provide comfort. An innerspring mattress is going to have more bounce, and generally feel a little firmer than hybrids and all-foam mattresses.

At Slumberland, we like the Stearns and Foster coil mattresses for back sleepers because of its advanced two-in-one coil called the IntelliCoil®. This coil is incredibly durable but also conforming. It is more pliable at the top of the coil (for comfort) and sturdier at the base of the coil (for support). This makes it a great coil for back sleepers because it provides them with the right mix of comfort and support.

Plus, similar to the Sealy Hybrids, Stearns and Foster mattresses use individually wrapped coils and advanced cooling techniques. For example, Stearns and Foster mattresses use an air vent system at the sides of the mattress that helps increase airflow and reduce the chances of you sleeping hot at night. But, as we discuss in our article on the best cooling mattresses available, most customers don’t have any issue with heat on a coil mattress.

Frequently Asked Questions by Back Sleepers

Below we answer some of the mostly commonly asked questions we get at Slumberland. But keep in mind that buying a mattress is a bit like buying a pair of shoes — you want to walk around in them a bit before you order them.

So while the information in this post was written to help you find the best mattress for sleeping on your back, it’s no substitute for visiting a Slumberland showroom and trying these mattresses in person.

Is a Firm or Soft Mattress Better for Back Sleepers?

Out of the two main firmness options, we're going to say firmer mattresses are better for back sleepers, but the long answer can be a little more nuanced.

Back sleepers respond well to a firm to medium firm mattress because that comfort level doesn’t let your body sink in as much as softer mattresses. If you’re sleeping on a soft mattress there is a chance your hips will sink in so much that you will feel aches and pains in your lower back, and even possibly your neck.

But more important than the firmness of your mattress, is whether or not it's a supportive mattress. That’s why on a Tempur-Pedic mattress, back sleepers can often find comfort and support in both firmer mattresses and softer ones. But Tempur-Pedic is unique because of how its TEMPUR® foam adapts to your body weight, shape, and temperature.

So the general rule of thumb remains — if you’re looking for a mattress as a back sleeper, you will generally find more comfort on a firm to medium firm mattress.

Confused about firmness levels? We know that it can be difficult to gauge what firmness or comfort level you need. How does one company’s medium firm compare to another’s? In our Sleep Solutions department we created a universal rating system that lets you easily see each mattress’ comfort level on a scale of 1 to 5. This way you can easily compare different models and mattress types and find the right mattress for you.

Are Memory Foam Mattresses Good for Back Sleepers?

A man with his hands behind his head sleeping

The type of mattress you buy will play a big role in whether or not you get a good night’s sleep.

Quality memory foam mattresses can be great options for back sleepers. That’s because memory foam can fill the small curve of your lower back, giving you great pressure relief and comfort.

But if the memory foam is too soft, then your hips may sink in more than you want, putting your spine out of alignment. This can lead to back pain and tossing and turning throughout the night.

If you don’t want a memory foam mattress, then your next two options are latex mattresses or coil mattresses.

If you’re considering a latex mattress, you should look for natural latex foam and not synthetic latex foam. Natural latex beds are known for their durability, as well as their high price tag.

Thinking about getting a coil mattress? We recommend you first try tight top mattresses. A tight top is a coil mattress without a pillow top. Pillow top mattresses (such as the Stearns and Foster Estate Soft Pillowtop Queen Mattress ) can work for back sleepers, but they may be a little too soft for your needs.

What’s the Healthiest Sleep Position?

Most people sleep on their side. After that, the most common sleeping position on your back. That’s followed by the least common position — stomach sleeping.

And the good news is both side sleeping and back sleeping are considered healthy sleeping positions, whereas stomach sleeping is associated with back pain and neck pain. (If you’re a stomach sleeper, don’t worry, there are ways to change your sleeping position, including getting a better mattress or a more comfortable pillow.)

But what makes one sleep position better than the other?

When you’re sleeping at night, you don’t want to work against the natural curvature of your spine. That’s part of what makes stomach sleeping so unhealthy — when you sleep on your stomach you’re going against proper spinal alignment.

But if you’re sleeping on your side or back, and on a supportive mattress, then you’re keeping your spine properly aligned.

What’s a Good Trial Period?

Buying a mattress is a bit like buying a new pair of shoes. There is a break-in period. This is where you’re adjusting to your new mattress, and your new mattress (especially if it’s a memory foam mattress) is adjusting to you.

In our experience, it takes at least 30 days to get a good idea on whether your new mattress is right for you.

So you want a trial period that is at least 30 days long, but preferably 90-120 days long.

At Slumberland, we offer a 365-Night Comfort Guarantee on our mattresses (when you purchase a mattress protector with your new mattress). If after the 30-day adjustment period your mattress isn’t giving you the comfort and support you need, then you can come back into our showroom and re-select a new mattress. The price of your original mattress (minus a small reselection fee) will be applied to your new mattress.

What about Mattress Warranties?

We talked about how back sleepers need even and sturdy support from their bed. No sags or dips that cause their hips to sink low below their thighs. So what happens if your mattress starts to develop a sag? Does your mattress warranty protect you?

Most mattress warranties from reputable companies — including traditional retailers and online mattress companies — offer at least a 10-year mattress warranty. The main purpose of the warranty is to protect you in case your bed starts to sag more than normal.

How much of a sag or dip is allowed changes per brand and type of mattress. Most all-foam mattress warranties (like polyfoam or memory foam or latex foam) will cover any sag that’s greater than ¾”. While coil mattresses may require the sag to be up to an 1 ½” deep before their warranty kicks in.

What’s the Best Pillow for Back Sleepers?

The best pillow for back sleepers will have what’s called a low loft. Loft is the height of the pillow, measured at the middle of the pillow. There are low loft, mid loft, and high loft pillows.

While the best pillow for you will depend on several factors (including your body type and preference), generally speaking a low loft pillow will give your spine proper alignment. This is because a low loft pillow keeps your head parallel to your mattress. If you get a pillow with too high a loft, then your neck is going to be tilted uncomfortably as you try to sleep.

Next Steps: Finding the Sleep Solution for You at Slumberland

You want your new mattress to be both supportive and comfortable. As a back sleeper, you want just enough cushioning so the bed doesn’t trigger any pressure points. But you don’t want a bed so soft that your back is sinking into the mattress.

Plus, you may want a cooling mattress or a mattress that will help with serious issues like lower back pain, fibromyalgia, and spinal stenosis. And you may be sharing the mattress with a partner (which means they need to like it as well).

You can see how shopping for a new bed quickly can get overwhelming. At Slumberland, you can shop online and filter using the Sleep Solutions criteria to find the perfect mattress that fits all of your needs.

To try the best mattresses for back sleepers that are currently available — and get a personalized recommendation from one of our sleep experts — visit a Slumberland location today.