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|Purple makes new-age mattresses that are soft and firm at the same time. That might sound too good to be true, but somehow Purple has managed to make mattresses that get almost everything right, including firmness, edge support, temperature regulation, pressure relief, etc.|
Memory Foam Mattress
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|If you're searching for a medium firm memory foam mattress, DreamCloud is a smart pick. It’s supportive, comfortable, and does a great job of cradling your body. We think it could help with hip and back pain and just general back pain relief.|
Custom Innerspring Mattress
|Helix has a Sleep Quiz that matches you up with the best mattress for you. They have a number of hybrid mattresses for side sleepers with lower back pain, neck pain, and even hip pain. Additionally, their firmer models can accomodate back and stomach sleepers.|
|WinkBed is an innerspring mattress designed for heavier folks. WinkBed is the quintessential hotel luxury mattress that offers dual coil layers and a plush pillow top. Supportive beds like WinkBed tend to be the best type of mattress for back issues.|
|Casper Wave is a foam mattress that’s specifically designed to help ensure proper spinal alignment—could be a good option for back and neck pain, upper back pain, hip pain, and all sleeper types.|
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If you have chronic back pain, the right mattress can make all the difference. Likewise, the wrong mattress can make your situation worse. It is extremely important that you consult your physician or chiropractor before you get a new mattress or switch up your sleeping habits. The last thing that you want to do is take a step backward.
This list is intended to be helpful, but is not meant to be used in lieu of a meeting with your doctor, nor are we giving any health advice. We did, however, collaborate with a chiropractor in our area in order to learn more about chronic back pain and receive some recommendations he had in regards to buying a new mattress. We are using his professional opinion to compile our mattress list and write this post. We don’t expect it to apply to everyone, but we’re hoping that it serves as a good starting point for you.
Purple mattresses are in a league of their own. In fact, whether you shop in-store or online, Purple is about as unique as it gets—in a good way. There are four Purple mattresses on the market currently, but for this list we are specifically referencing the New Purple mattresses because they offer plenty of support and pressure relief (at the same time). We think Purple could be just what you need if you’ve already tried traditional innerspring and foam beds.
What makes Purple worth looking into, though? Well, it all really comes down to the top layer of the beds. It’s a special material called Hyper-Elastic Polymer that is unlike any other comfort layer on a bed.
As you can see in the video above, Hyper-Elastic Polymer is anything but typical. Oddly enough, however, it works on a mattress, and we think it just might be the best thing since sliced bread. Not only will it allow for excellent amounts of pressure relief for people with hip and back pain or shoulder and back pain, but also you never feel like you’re sinking into the bed. In other words, the areas that need pressure relief get it, and the areas that need support get it.
Purple can accomodate all sleeping positions, but if you’re mostly a side sleeper (which about 65% of people are), we’d recommend you first look into Purple 3 or 4. The way Purple’s line up works is that the original Purple mattress is the softest and most affordable bed that they offer and the New Purple mattresses (2/3/4) are a little more expensive, but incorporate pocketed coils for support and durability.
At the end of the day, Purple might not be for everyone, but we think it could be worth a try if you’re open to something new. If you want to see a more in-depth guide to all of the beds, make sure to read our Purple mattress comparison (Original vs 2/3/4).
DreamCloud uses a combination of micro pocketed coils—which tend to be more effective than innerspring systems at reducing motion transfer—alongside several layers of dense memory foam. All this means is that the bed isn’t especially soft, but sort of cradles your body, especially if you take a look at the quilted cashmere cover. At no point will you get a “stuck” feeling with DreamCloud.
As you probably know, your BMI (essentially weight to height ratio) affects your experience with a mattress and therefore (along with other things) dictates which bed is good for you. Knowing this, for the average person, we think DreamCloud is a solid back, stomach, and combination sleeper mattress. On our firmness scale, DreamCloud sits at about a medium firm.
We don’t think it’s the most ideal bed if you spend the majority of the night sleeping on your side, but if you tend to rotate positions here and there, it should be fine.
We just think that the bed is really comfortable, very supportive, and a wonderful option if you’re open to sleeping on memory foam. But perhaps the best thing about DreamCloud is that it comes with a full-year risk-free trial period. To be honest—while we think DreamCloud is a great option for back pain sufferers—it’s difficult to size people up for a bed online, so it’s nice that you can always return DreamCloud if it doesn’t fix or help your back issues.
We do think that you’ll appreciate the level of support and comfort provided by this bed, however. And the quilted cashmere cover cannot be overlooked. It’s really nice and definitely helps DreamCloud standout from the rest of the crowd.
Helix is one of the most innovative, interesting mattress brands out there right now. They actually allow you to choose a bed based on your exact sleeping preferences and body composition. You get to control everything from support to softness/firmness with your new mattress—and if you don’t like it, you can get all of your money back.
You can take the Sleep Quiz on Helix’s website to see which mattress best fits your sleeping preferences.
In fact, Helix—like most online bed-in-a-box mattress companies—offers completely free shipping and returns, alongside a 100-night risk-free trial. In other words, you can try out your new bed for more than three months to see if it’s right for you.
One note on the shipping process, though. If the bed comes in a box (like Helix does) you may want to have a friend help you unwrap and set it up; you don’t want to further injure your back and sometimes these beds can be quite heavy.
We think Helix is just about the ideal mattress for anyone with back issues, simply because you’re creating your own bed. There’s no guessing as to what the bed will feel like since you’ve created it. If you’re heavier and want a softer, but still supportive bed, you can get that. Likewise, if you’re more petite and want a firm bed, you can create that, as well.
Of course, there’s no absolute guarantee that the bed will cure your back issues, but at least Helix gives you the opportunity to create what you consider the perfect mattress.
WinkBed is a 15” innerspring mattress that looks and feels like it belongs in a five-star hotel. It’s clearly very well made and has a lot to offer, particularly to back pain sufferers. It comes in three different firmness levels (Softer, Luxury Firm, and Firmer), which allows you to pick one based on your sleep position (side, back, stomach).
Additionally, since it is 15” thick with two layers of coils, it will be supportive enough for larger individuals and they even offer a Plus version for extra heavy folks. But possibly the best part about this mattress is the price. Depending on discounts, you can usually find a queen size for around $1,400, which we consider a very fair price for what you’re getting. You can check current pricing on WinkBeds.com.
In terms of feel, it feels like exactly what it is: a thick and supportive innerspring bed with a soft pillow top. We think the Softer version will be ideal for anyone with upper back pain and the Luxury Firm and Firm versions will be suitable for individuals with low back pain. Overall, it’s a very nice, affordable, luxurious mattress.
The Wave is Casper’s high-end mattress. It’s 13” thick and is comprised of five layers of foam. What makes this mattress interesting, though, is that it has what Casper calls its Hyper-Targeted Support System.
All this means is that the bed offers more support in the center third (where the bulk of your weight will be) and more pressure relief in the top third (where your shoulders will be). It’s a novel concept that makes the Wave stand out from the rest of the all-foam beds out there.
We also think that the whole Hyper-Targeted Support System makes a lot of sense for individuals with back pain. If you’re suffering from upper back pain, you should get the requisite pressure relief for your shoulders with the Wave.
Similarly, if you’re lower back is what’s bothering you, we think that the Wave offers plenty of support to keep your spine in proper alignment.
At the risk of stating the obvious, your weight will impact your experience with the Wave—and every other mattress. The Wave is mostly ideal for medium and petite individuals. However, if you’re around 250 lb (give or take), you should be able to get by with this mattress, as well. It’s not our top pick for truly heavy folks, but if you’re in or around that 250 lb mark, the Wave is worth exploring further, particularly if you want more of a neutral feel and you don’t like a bed with bounce (as is common with coil mattresses).
Side, back, stomach, and combination sleepers should really enjoy the Casper Wave mattress, if you can get past the price tag.
A more affordable alternative to Casper Wave is the Level Sleep mattress, which also has the zoned support construction, albeit to a lesser extent. Even so, we really like the Level Sleep mattress and think that it could be a nice solution for anyone that wants a unique foam mattress that’s more affordable than Casper Wave.
We can’t definitively say that it will cure your back issues, but the entire concept of the bed is designed to help. What’s interesting about Level Sleep is that you can rotate the bed to get either more or less support under your upper back—technically, the bed actually has four different support zones. If you’re a side sleeper, you might want to rotate the bed to where the softest foams are under your shoulders. If you’re a back/stomach sleeper (that weighs under 230 lb), you might want to try out the firmer foams under your upper back. Whether or not it works for you, there’s no denying that Casper Wave and Level Sleep certainly have an interesting concept going on.
Despite the fact that we spend hundreds of hours researching and testing mattresses and bedding products, we realized that spinal health is an area where we need to consult a real professional. We worked closely with Dr. Ranvic Sahota from Synapse Chiropractic in order to learn more about proper spinal alignment and create this post. We relied heavily on his professional opinion and advice throughout the process. We feel that we have a great grasp on what’s important for someone that’s (unfortunately) suffering from back pain. Of course, everyone is different, so we can’t say which bed is absolutely right for you, but we’re hoping that this post proves to be a valuable research tool. In addition to working with Dr. Sahota, we conducted our own tests related to motion transfer, support, firmness, and more. We have a diverse team comprised of men and women who’s weights range from 95 lb up to 225 lb. This gives us a good perspective of what the mattresses are like for petite individuals, as well as heavier folks. We’re really hoping that this guide will be helpful for you and will serve as a useful research tool.
SEE ALSO: Today’s Best Mattress Deals & Coupons
As you probably know, there is a big difference between soreness and pain, especially when it comes to your lower back. It’s common to have a sore back here and there if you’re weightlifting, playing sports, or just sitting a lot, but chronic lower back pain can be an unrelenting, demoralizing burden. There are many causes of lower back pain and therefore many different treatments options. When it comes to finding the right mattress, however, you might start by identifying what type of sleeper you are. I say this because the best mattress for a strict side sleeper will be different than for a strict back sleeper. Before you go mattress shopping, identify whether you’re a stomach sleeper, side sleeper, or back sleeper, or a combination sleeper that rotates positions at night.
If you sleep primarily on your back, you might consider getting a medium, medium-firm, or a firm mattress that has plenty of support. I should note that the firmness level of a mattress depends on your weight and someone that’s heavier will generally experience a bed to be softer than a lighter person. You will want to makes sure that you keep your back in proper alignment and avoid excess sagging under your hips and shoulders—areas where people tend to carry the most weight.
If the mattress is too soft, there’s the risk that your hips drop and you start to feel more pressure in your lower back. You may even feel a gap form between your lower back and the mattress. Some of your pain may come from your Facet Joints on your spine being pinched together. Make sure you’re looking for good support and proper spinal curvature and alignment. Coil mattresses tend to provide good amounts of bi-directional support and will generally outlast all-foam beds. You should also remember that mattresses break in over time, so it might be better to start with a firmer mattress and let it soften up. It would probably be a mistake to start softer as the bed will become increasingly soft as you sleep on it.
Side sleepers may prefer a medium to a medium-firm mattress, but one that still has plenty of support. You don’t typically want an extra firm mattress since it might not allow for enough pressure relief under your hips and shoulders. That could cause additional issues in your upper back, shoulders, and hips. What we’re looking for here, again, is proper alignment of the spine. If the mattress is too soft and your hips sag too much, that could exacerbate your issue.
When you try out a bed, be mindful of how your spine—and specifically your lower back—feels. If you think you’re properly aligned, that’s great. But if you feel like the mattress is pushing or pulling you out of alignment, you should probably continue your mattress search.
Stomach sleepers are a bit tougher to deal with when it comes to low back pain. In general, stomach sleeping is probably not the best position for keeping proper alignment. All of this really depends on how you sleep, but it’s really easy to get out of alignment when you sleep on your stomach. That said, if you’re dead-set on sleeping on your stomach, you will likely prefer a firmer mattress. You’re looking more at a medium, medium-firm, or a firm mattress for ample support.
And as a reminder, your weight heavily affects the level of support that you need. If you’re lighter, you can most likely get away with a thinner, softer bed since you don’t create much downward pressure. If you’re, say, 250 lb or more, you will need a much heftier mattress, probably one that utilizes innersprings or pocketed coils.
This all depends on which positions you rotate between. If you’re a side and back sleeper, then you’ll mostly be looking at a medium to medium-firm mattress, simply because you don’t want to cause additional pain in your shoulders from getting too firm of a mattress. If you’re a back and stomach sleeper, you can generally get by (and might even prefer) a medium-firm to a firm mattress. In this situation, you want to avoid too soft of a bed that doesn’t support your hips. One advantage to being a combo sleeper, however, is that you could feel less achy and sore in the morning because your body is at least somewhat mobile during the night. If you lay in one position and don’t move, you may find that your body stiffens up and could leave you feeling more sore in the morning. Of course, this won’t be the case for everyone, but it’s something else to think about.
Anyone that suffers from upper back and shoulder pain is sort of in a different category from what we normally classify as back pain. Typically people experience soreness and stiffness in their lower back. But in the even that your scapula (shoulder blade), neck, or upper spine are giving you grief, again, you’ll want to start by identifying what type of sleeper you are (back, stomach, side, combo). From there, you should look for a mattress that’s perhaps slightly softer than you would if you had lower back issues. You still don’t want excess sagging, but you will need more pressure relief, especially if you’re a side sleeper.
I know we’re discussing mattresses here, but having the right pillow is also crucial in dealing with upper back and neck pain. For example, stomach sleepers will require a pillow with a much thinner loft so as to not kink their neck. It’s already easy to get out of alignment as a stomach sleeper and too thick of a pillow can take matters from bad to worse. Back and side sleepers will want a pillow with more loft, but to what degree depends on the sleeper. In general, side sleepers want their nose to be in close alignment with their spine (i.e. your head shouldn’t be sitting too high or low). Back sleepers will probably want to look for a pillow that allows them to sink in a little and end up sleeping with their head more or less straight upward—we’re trying to maintain the “C” curvature in the neck. For more information on pillows check out our Pillow Reviews page.
Firstly, as we mentioned in the start of this post, don’t make any final decision until you consult your physician and chiropractor. Selecting the wrong mattress could make your situation worse. Also, if you sleep with your wife, husband, partner, kids, you will want to think about other elements such as motion transfer and edge support. If you sleep with someone that’s especially active in their sleep, you won’t want them waking you up throughout the night. It’s hard enough to fall asleep with chronic back pain, so you won’t want their motion disturbing you when you finally do fall asleep. In this case, you may look into beds that have pocketed coils rather than a traditional innerspring system. The pocketed coils move more independently of each other than a large coil system does. This usually helps to dampen cross-mattress motion. The pocketed coils still provide great support and airflow, but with the advantage of less motion transfer.
Edge support can also be an important element to consider, especially if your partner/wife/husband hogs the bed all night. If you find yourself along the perimeter of the bed, certain mattresses may compress too much and give you a roll-off sensation. Most people will hate this sensation, but it could be particularly troublesome if you have existing back issues. When you go to try out a mattress, you may consider laying on the edges to see how the support is there.
There really isn’t one best bed for individuals suffering from back pain. As mentioned previously, it has more to do with the support of the mattress than anything else. Heavier folks will need a lot more support, which for the most part means either a spring mattress or a dense foam mattress. Lighter people can usually get by with an all-foam bed, but a spring mattress isn’t a bad option either.
In terms of foams and top layers, memory foam tends to offer a good amount of pressure relief, but not immediately. When the foam heats up, it will start to soften, but it also generally is quite supportive. This all depends on the density and thickness of the foam, but memory foam does have some attractive characteristics. Of course, it has some downsides, as well, such as sleeping warmer than gel memory foam or latex foam.
And speaking of latex foam, it has many positive characteristics—again, depending on the type, density, and thickness of the foam. Latex foam is usually airier, lighter, and bouncier than memory foam. It provides solid support and sleeps a lot cooler than standard memory foam. Just because you’re probably less familiar with latex mattresses doesn’t mean they’re a bad idea. We’ve tested plenty of mattresses that incorporate latex that are extremely comfortable and supportive. These latex beds also happen to be natural/organic a lot of times.
Polyurethane foam is another viable option. It doesn’t have as high of point elasticity as memory foam and the pressure relief isn’t quite there either, but it can be very supportive and responsive. Generally, you’ll have an easier time switching positions at night on a latex or poly foam bed, as opposed to a memory foam mattress. Poly foam also happens to be one of the more affordable mattress materials. As such, the budget beds tend to use a lot of poly foam. It’s probably not the best mattress for a heavier individual, but if you’re under 150 lb, you should get ample support from an all-foam mattress that uses poly foam.
Innerspring mattresses will generally offer the greatest amount of support, simply because you have a large system of interconnected steel coils. It is one of the better options for heavy individuals or anyone that wants maximum support. Innerspring beds also tend to last longer because they’re made of steel. The downsides are that innerspring beds have a lot more motion transfer and don’t usually offer as much pressure relief since you’re dealing with a larger interconnected system rather than individual coils.
Pocketed coils are a hybrid solution that offers more localized support. Since the coils are independent of one another, the motion transfer is less than it otherwise would be on a typical innerspring bed. But, since we’re still dealing with steel coils (usually), the mattress will be durable, have that stereotypical bounce factor, and offer great overall support. It is important to note that the feel of the mattress has a lot to do with its upper layers (or lack thereof). I say this because a mattress that has 7” pocketed coils and then 5” of various foams will most likely appear softer than a bed that uses coils and a thin layer of foams on the top. The closer you are to the coils, the firmer the mattress will be. As an FYI, when a bend blends two dissimilar types of materials (e.g. foam and coils) we refer to them as hybrid mattresses.
All this is to say that there is no perfect mattress that will work for everyone. You need to seriously consider your health conditions and try to identify a bed that fits your needs. You should take into account where the pain is, how much you weigh, and the construction of the mattress, among other things. And, as I’ve said many times, talk to your physician or chiropractor before you make a final decision.