Back sleepers need a mattress on the firmer side to provide support for their hips, shoulders, and trunk. But having a firm bed doesn’t mean you should have to sacrifice comfort. We’ve compiled a list of the best type of mattresses for people that sleep on their back.
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|Leesa Hybrid is a coil mattress that is very comfortable and supportive. This is one of the first beds we thought of when searching for the best mattress for back sleepers.|
Best For Heavy People
|Check Current Offers||Saatva offers a luxurious mattress that’s supportive and comes in multiple firmness levels. It even has an organic cotton cover and really nice European pillow top.|
Best For Hot Sleepers
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|Very unique mattress with support coils and Purple’s proprietary Hyper-Elastic Polymer topper material. The bed does not heat up and offers plenty of support and pressure relief.|
|Allswell is a supportive, responsive bed that costs way less than you'd expect. We see it as a wonderful mattress for back sleepers that need a cheap mattress (that's surprisingly nice).|
Memory Foam Mattress
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|Want an affordable memory foam bed? Cocoon is a great bed to check out. It also happens to be backed by Sealy, one of the largest mattress brands in the world.|
Natural & Organic Mattress
|Avocado is the most popular natural and organic mattress. It's supportive, durable, firm, and really comfortable. In other words, it's one of the best mattresses for back sleepers.|
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When it comes to finding a mattress, we almost always tell consumers to first identify which type of sleeper they are. Looks like you’ve already done that, so that’s good. Now comes the hard part. You need to figure out the other elements that are important to you and start trying out beds. Fortunately, we have tested and reviewed a lot of mattresses out there, including beds from Casper, Purple, Tuft & Needle, and many others.
In today’s post, however, we are going to go over our hand-selected list of the best mattresses for back sleepers in particular. I should point out that we are constantly testing new mattresses and that we’ll update this list whenever we find what we consider to be a better mattress. With that in mind, if you check back after nine months or a year, there could be some changes and it might not be the same list in its entirety.
Also, just so you know, we are not doctors or chiropractors and this is not an offering of health advice (our lawyers make sure we put that). We did, however, work closely with a chiropractor to help us identify key features of a mattress that would make it better or worse for a back sleeper. Still, we suggest that you do plenty of research and possibly even test out a few beds before you make your ultimate decision. With that out of the way, let’s talk mattresses!
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Leesa Hybrid has a firmer, supporitive classic foam feel without any of that stuck-in-the-mud feeling. Coming in at 10” thick, this is a beast of a mattress able to handle petite, medium, and heavy individuals. It’s constructed with a combination of pocketed coils, memory foam, and a textured soft cover that really takes things to another level.
Given the construction of the bed and its firmness level, this bed is most ideal for primary back sleepers, but if you sometimes find yourself sleeping on your side, the pillow top should provide adequate pressure relief at least for a little bit. Also, although this mattress does contain memory foam, it’s actually quite responsive, so changing positions shouldn’t be a hassle, which lets you sleep more soundly throughout the night.
Saatva is a luxury hybrid mattress that is comprised of a combination of pocketed coils, an innerspring support system, and memory foam. When you lay on it, it feels like a traditional innerspring mattress with a firmer pillow top, so if you’re into that (we know a lot of people are), great—this mattress is a solid option for you. If not, you may want to check out other mattresses that have more of a soft, neutral-foam or memory foam feel.
Keep in mind, Saatva is available in three different firmness levels—Plush Soft, Luxury Firm, and Firm. This allows all types of sleepers to find the mattress that best fits their sleeping habits. The Luxury Firm model is the most popular.
We categorized it as medium-firm to firm on the firmness scale. The dual layers of coils are super supportive, which is great for back and stomach sleepers. Also, the coils make the bed responsive, meaning the bed has some bounce and you’ll never feel like you’re “stuck in the mud” if you go to switch positions.
This mattress will also be fine for all body types, even larger individuals that weigh around 250 lb or more.
Because it is a big and heavy mattress, you’re going to be happy about the free white glove delivery that they offer. You don’t have to worry about lugging a big, heavy mattress all the way upstairs. The only downside with this mattress is that they don’t offer free returns. We recommend you really know what kind of mattress you like before purchasing this one.
Bottom line with Saatva: it’s one of the best mattresses you can buy online. We really like it. The company isn’t big on offering discounts, but you can check SaatvaMattress.com to see what they have up today.
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If you’re familiar with Purple, you know their mattresses have a different feel. Their new models (Purple 2, 3, 4) are constructed with poly foam, pocketed coils, and then the top layer is a Hyper-Elastic Polymer material that you really have to try to know what it’s like. It almost feels like a gel material, but we find it very comfortable.
We selected Purple 2 for this list, as it is the firmest bed that Purple makes. It’s supportive and also offers plenty of pressure relief. The bed is around a medium-firm on the firmness scale. However, because the Hyper-Elastic Polymer top layer is so flexible and responsive, we also think this mattress is fine for stomach and side sleepers if you happen to roll around at night.
While we wouldn’t recommend that everyone get a Purple 2 mattress, if you’re open to something new, chances are you’ll really like it, especially if you favor sleeping on your back.
Purple isn’t a big fan of offering cash discounts, but they will frequently bundle is sheets, a pillow, or some other incentive to get you to buy.
The Allswell Hybrid mattress is interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, it has a really accommodating feel that’s nearly universally loved. It doesn’t feel like memory foam (even though it technically has the material), and is abnormally affordable.
The MSRP for a queen size bed is under $400. You read that correctly—under $400 for a coil bed that was made in the United States. Often times, you can find it below $350 if they’re running a sale.
In addition to all of that, since the mattress uses 6” pocketed coils as its base, it’s a very supportive, responsive mattress. This is great if you’re a bit on the heavier side and plan on keeping your bed for a while, or if you tend to switch sleeping positions at night.
Despite having these coils, it’s pretty efficient at reducing motion transfer, which can be helpful for couples and light sleepers, especially if one partner is an active during the night and the other has a sore back.
The bottom line with the Allswell mattress is that it has more of a neutral feel—which people tend to really like—and it is priced to sell. We also think it’s a well-made, comfortable mattress that will work for a lot of people. And if you don’t like it, send it back for a full refund (it comes with a 100-night trial).
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Cocoon is a really nice budget mattress, especially if you’re looking for a dense memory foam feel. And Cocoon is actually owned by Sealy, which is one of the largest mattress brands in the world, so you know this bed is constructed well.
What’s also nice is that this bed is available in two different firmness options. However, we’ve tested both and they’re actually both on the firmer side of the spectrum, so keep that in mind.
If you’re really concerned with sleeping cool, you should check out the Cocoon Chill model, which has phase change material in the cover. This model is a little more expensive, but it does a good job of keeping you cool. Still, for the price, the Cocoon Classic is a great bed for back sleepers on a budget who like memory foam.
For consumers that are willing to spend a little more on a luxury-tier memory foam mattress, GhostBed Luxe is a fantastic option.
The GhostBed Luxe is one of few cooling, memory foam mattresses. It has a dense, firm memory foam feel, but what sets the Luxe apart is that it’s thicker than most foam beds (13” compared to the average 10″) and has cooling fibers woven into the top layer and cover. As a result, this bed is literally cool to the touch.
In terms of firmness, the Luxe comes in around a medium-firm on the firmness scale. And because it’s so firm, you won’t find yourself sinking into this bed as much as you would with a typical memory foam mattress—this helps limit that stuck-in-the-mud feeling as well.
The Avocado Green Mattress has a lot going for it. It’s made of 100% GOLS certified organic latex (which is great for eco-friendly consumers or anyone with allergies or asthma), pocketed coils, and organic wool. For those of you who aren’t familiar with latex foam, it sort of has a bouncy feel, as if the bed has coils (which it doesn’t), yet it’s still nice and soft.
What’s also cool about this mattress is that it’s technically offered in two different variations: with and without a pillow top. If you opt for the bed as is, it will be properly firm and only ideal for back (and stomach) sleepers. If you get the pillow top, it will cost more, but also be a little softer and therefore able to accommodate other sleeping positions as well.
When it comes to temperature regulation, Avocado is a pretty good choice for hot sleepers. Avocado does a good job of dissipating heat for two primary reasons. First, it’s on the firmer end of the spectrum, which means you’ll sleep more on top of the mattress rather in it. Also, latex foam generally sleeps cooler than most polyurethane foams since it has more of an open cell structure and it’s more responsive.
As I mentioned before, we aren’t doctors or chiropractors—we’re just a team of normal people trying to do good work. We spend hundreds of hours researching and testing these mattresses, not to mention the countless hours invested in producing our written and video reviews. We’ve tested everything from high-end luxury mattresses to beds that cost us $200 on Amazon. And we also have team members of different heights, weight, age, and gender, which helps to give us a well-rounded perspective of the mattress the we review. For example, our director of production is a big dog, weighing in at over 200 lb. He’s an ex-high school lineman that loves memory foam and sleeps like a bear. He helps give us that “larger person” perspective. Our director of content, Kaite, on the other hand, is barely 100 lb soaking wet. She can sleep on pretty much any mattress given how light she is. Now, in addition to compiling several opinions about softness/firmness, we also perform tests related to motion transfer, edge support, temperature regulation, and more. We might not touch on each of those points in the short comparison write-ups above, but we make an effort to go through each one in our individual reviews. Therefore, if you want all of the info about one of these beds, please consult our full reviews.
Like stomach sleepers, back sleepers generally prefer firmer mattresses in order to keep proper spinal alignment. If the mattress is too soft, you’ll experience excess compression under your hips in particular, but possibly under your trunk and shoulders, as well. Basically, wherever you carry the majority of your weight, you need the mattress to keep its shape. We should be clear that a mattress being supportive does not necessarily meant that it will be firm. Support refers to the density and thickness of the materials within a mattress. Firmness/softness refers to the Indentation Load Deflection (ILD) rating for the materials. Picture a thin slab of foam that’s extremely firm. The firmness doesn’t counteract the fact that you have a thinner piece of foam. We’ll cover support here in a moment, but let’s stay focused on the firmness level of the mattress.
In general, side sleepers require a bed that is softer and offers ample pressure relief for their shoulders and hips. If you picture it from a side view, it makes a lot of sense in order to keep a straight spine.
For back sleepers, you still want to keep a straight spine, but if your hips sag down too much it could cause lower back pain. Therefore, the bed probably shouldn’t be rock solid, but it should be firm enough to keep your spine straight. Of course, a lot of this has to do with your own preferences, but, in general, you should be looking for a slightly firmer mattress in the range of medium to firm, depending on your weight and preferences.
Not only does your weight impact how firm or soft you interpret the bed to be, but it also impacts the level of support that you require. Allow me to explain. Let’s unpack the softness/firmness concept first. If you’re a lighter individual, most beds in the medium range in terms of firmness will seem firmer to you. That’s because you don’t provide that much downward pressure on the bed and therefore you end up sleeping more on the mattress rather than in the mattress. For someone that’s heavier, the bed will seem softer. That’s because softness/firmness, while possible to quantify, is a subjective element when you’re testing beds. So don’t think of the bed as being a certain firmness rating, think of how firm it will feel to you.
Your weight also dictates how supportive the mattress should be. In general, spring and hybrid mattresses tend to provide more long-term support. That’s not always true, but if you’re especially heavier, you might want to first consider a coil mattress. Certain all-foam beds will work, as well, but they should be thick and dense. For someone that’s more average (under 200 lb) you can usually get by with a coil or all-foam mattress. Just make sure that the bed is at least 9” thick. If it’s thinner, it just won’t have the requisite support after 5-10 years.
I already covered the support systems—typically you’ll see all-foam beds or hybrid mattresses (i.e. have coils). In terms of the middle and top layers, there are five main material. The most popular is memory foam, which comes in varying thicknesses and densities. Memory foam is a touchy subject for people. If you’ve never tried it before, it has a lot of positive properties and then some elements that really turn off consumers. For example, if softens where pressure and heat are applied, which can cradle your body and be very comfortable. However, it’s not very responsive and therefore can leave you feeling stuck in the mattress. We calls this the stuck-in-the-mud feeling. With a firmer mattress, however, you’ll typically get less sinkage and therefore remain more on top of the mattress, so it won’t heat up as much as a softer memory foam bed. That said, memory foam is loathed for being a warmer material. To get around this, though, there are plenty of gel memory foams that seek to increase the airflow in the bed and keep you cooler. They do a good job, but aren’t the coolest materials out there. Still, if you sleep hotter, you’ll definitely prefer gel memory foam to standard memory foam.
Latex foam is another popular middle and top layer. It can offer ample pressure relief, but is also very responsive and supportive. It also has the added benefit of allowing for a lot of airflow, so if you sleep especially hot, latex is a good option for you. Latex is less common than memory foam, but it’s often a natural material (there’s also synthetic latex) with plenty of advantages, so don’t count it out.
We also sometimes see beds with proprietary foams, but there’s no rule of thumb for these. Don’t exclude beds with proprietary foams, but test them for yourself to see what you think. Similar story for a gel material mattress. There are only a few beds that use a gel-like material and we’ve been very happy with them.
This is often overlooked, but it’s very important with your mattress. If you don’t get the right foundation, you could potentially void the mattress warranty and even possibly damage the mattress. You should also check the FAQ section of the mattress brand’s website to find more information on approved foundations. For example, often you’ll see that a slatted bed frame, platform bed, box spring, or even the floor will do just fine, but some brands are especially strict and they require the bed to be placed on a solid surface with absolutely no flex. That eliminates some slatted bed frames, particularly those with wood slats as opposed to metal ones. Additionally, adjustable bed frames aren’t universally accepted either. If you want an adjustable bed frame, (a) I don’t blame you, they’re awesome, and (b) you should specifically ask the company if their mattress works with adjustable bed frames. You may also see that certain brands sell their own foundation system. If you don’t already have a foundation, it might be smart to get the one from the brand itself, so that you don’t have any issues.
The majority of this list has been centered around strict back sleepers, but what if you split time between your back and side? If this is the case, you want to play to your dominant sleeping position. In other words, if you’re 73% a side sleeper, you’ll likely need a bed that’s about a medium on the firmness spectrum. If you’re 73% a back sleeper, you will want something in the medium-firm tier. In either case, you need the bed to be firm enough that you feel well supported when sleeping on your back, but pressure relieving enough when you’re sleeping on your side.
The impetus for us saying that you should play to your dominant sleeping position is that you don’t want the exception to dictate the rule. You want to program around what is most likely going to happen while you’re sleeping.
We’ve heard time and time again that back sleepers suffer from lower back pain—not so much upper back, shoulder, or neck pain, though. If you’re dealing with lower back pain and you spend the majority of the night on your back, the fix is fairly straight forward. You need a firmer bed, but not so firm that it doesn’t contour to the shape of your body. More specifically, you need a bed with better support.
If you’ve read any of our other reviews, you’ll know that temperature regulation isn’t a straightforward, cut and dry subject. Materials, sleeping position, weight, and room temperature all affect how cool or warm a bed sleeps. What often goes overlooked, however, is that firmness plays a role as well. The firmer the bed, generally speaking, the cooler that bed will sleep. This is because the sleeper will rest on top of the bed with less of the materials coming in contact with their body. Softer beds, by design, allow for more give and necessitate that more of the surface of the bed will come in contact with their body. As an example, a firmer bed such as Plank will naturally tend sleep cooler than a plush mattress like Zinus.
The average queen size bed is about $1,000 online. You will typically see coil mattresses just above the $1,000 mark and foam beds just below it. There’s almost a mental barrier at $1,000 for queen size beds. That’s not to say that you should spend no more than $1,000. In fact, there are plenty of fantastic beds that we hold in high regard that are over $1,000—here’s our list of the best mattresses under $2,000. We just use the $1,000 mark to say that you can get some really nice beds for not much more than $1,000. At the end of the day, you should spend however much you want on a bed.