There is no one-size-fits-all mattress ideal for everyone, even those with chronic back pain. A good amount of sleep is pivotal in your peak performance. Choose the best mattress for you to prevent back pain!
Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 17 Dec 2021.
The Best Mattress For Lower Back Pain
Isn’t it true that you should purchase the firmest mattress you can find? Not so fast, my friend. While this used to be widespread knowledge, there is no intense study to back it up. According to current thought, there is no one-size-fits-all mattress ideal for everyone, even those with chronic back pain. Allow your preferences to guide you, and go with what seems most natural to you.
Making the best decision, though, may be tricky. There are so many goods on the market that just because a mattress feels nice in a showroom doesn’t guarantee you’ll be pleased sleeping on it for the next few years.
Here are some pointers to get you started:
It Needs to Keep Your Spine Aligned
You may not know it, but a proper sleeping position is crucial. While you sleep, your back muscles and ligaments (tissue that keeps joints together) need to rest and heal. A substantial mattress — or too spongy — will not provide the proper support for your spine at the neck or lower back. Everyone has a different idea of what is firm enough (but not too firm): A somewhat softer surface, for example, maybe preferable if you have broad hips. To keep your spine aligned, you’ll need a little extra wiggle room. A more complex surface may be preferable for someone with narrower hips.
When in Doubt, Go ‘Medium-Firm’
Although data is sparse, one study allocated new mattresses to over 300 individuals with low back discomfort. For 90 days, they slept on either “medium-firm" or “firm" mattresses. Those in the middle category said they were the least bothered.
Consider purchasing a memory foam mattress (instead of a traditional innerspring one). The foam fits your shape. The disadvantage is that particular memory foam mattresses trap heat, and the material may include additional chemicals.
Take a Longer Test-Drive
If you get a good night’s sleep and wake up pain-free after sleeping in a hotel or a friend’s room, write down the model number of the mattress. Alternatively, go for a bed with a money-back guarantee: An increasing number of businesses now allow you to purchase a mattress, try it for 30 to 100 days, and then return it for a refund if you’re not satisfied.
Just Buy Something
When Oklahoma State University researchers randomly assigned 62 individuals to sleep on a range of different beds for 28 days, they discovered that almost everyone improved their sleep. That was true regardless of which model they were assigned. Still, individuals sleeping in the cheapest beds reported more significant lower back discomfort than those sleeping in the medium- and higher-priced beds.
The fact that the beds were brand new appeared to be the most significant factor. The individuals’ old beds had an average age of 9.5 years, according to the researchers. “Sleep quality may be reliant on timely change of bedding systems," they found. The bottom line: If you’ve been sleeping on the same mattress for nine or ten years (or more), it’s time to upgrade. Almost any new replacement will be better than an old mattress’s sagging base. However, it may be worthwhile to invest in at least a mid-priced model.
Pillows and Positions Matter
Even if you have the best mattress, it isn’t the only factor to consider when sleeping with back discomfort. The kind of pillow you use and where you put it, as well as your sleeping posture, are all essential considerations.
- Cleveland Clinic: “Is Your Sleep Position Causing You Back Pain?"
- Consumer Reports: “Mattress Buying Guide."
- Harvard Healthbeat: “What Type of Mattress is Best for People With Low Back Pain?"
- Jacobson, BH. “Grouped Comparisons of Sleep Quality for New and Personal Bedding Systems." Applied Ergonomics, 2008.
- Kovacs, FM. “Effect of firmness of mattress on chronic non-specific low-back pain." Lancet, November 2003.
- Mayo Clinic: “Slide show: Sleeping positions that reduce back pain."
- University of Utah Health Care: “Good Sleeping Posture Helps Your Back."