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|Purple beds are both pressure relieving and supportive and are ideal for hot sleepers or anyone that’s open to a new style of bed. For some people, Purple could be the best type of mattress for lower back pain and perhaps even hip pain.|
|Casper Wave is a foam mattress that’s specifically designed to help lower back pain sufferers. The Wave was actually endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association and we think will be a nice option for side sleepers with lower back pain as well as other types of sleepers.|
|Level Sleep is a more affordable version of the Casper Wave mattress. It has the zoned support construction, which is intended to offer more support in key areas, such as your lower back, and more pressure relief in others.|
Best For Heavy People
|WinkBed is a tremendous value and a tremendous bed. It has two layers of coils and a fluffy, soft pillow top. The big reason it made the list, however, is that it's darn near unmatched in terms of support—it will be a great option for heavy people with sciatica pain.|
Memory Foam Mattress
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|If you like memory foam, there’s a good chance that you’ll like the Tempur-Adapt. It’s the brand's flagship product and we think it's likely the best Tempurpedic mattress for low back pain. TempurPedic in general is considered one of the best brands for individuals with lower back pain and other health issues.|
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Sciatic and lower back pain can be some of the most unrelenting, disheartening conditions. In mild cases, they’re annoying; in extreme cases, they can be near crippling. According to the American Chiropractic Association, one half of all working Americans experience back pain symptoms each year. That’s a lot of people. And that’s very sad.
In this post we will run through a few suggestions for a new mattress, but first we should acknowledge that we are not physicians or chiropractors. We are normal people just trying to do good work. As such, we collaborated with a professional chiropractor to help us write this guide and to learn more about Sciatic and lower back pain. This post and our list below are meant to be helpful, but they are not health advise.
You should consult your physician or chiropractor before you buy a new mattress or change your sleeping habits. With that out of the way, let’s talk about finding a new mattress.
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Purple makes some of the most unique beds that you will ever encounter. They aren’t for everyone, but if you end up liking Purple, it has a number of advantages that you won’t get with other beds.
For example, Purple beds are soft and firm at the same time. They also tend to sleep at a more neutral temperature since they allow for a tremendous amount of airflow. And all of this is because the top layer on Purple 2, 3, 4 and the Original Purple bed is a proprietary material called Hyper-Elastic Polymer. It’s laid out in a grid format that reduces surface area, which promotes airflow, and provides support and pressure relief at the same time.
It’s difficult to fully explain the feel of these beds, but they’re somewhere between medium-soft and medium-firm, depending on the sleeper and the model. We selected Purple for this list for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that they’re completely unique. If nothing has worked for you in the past, Purple might be worth a try, especially considering they offer free returns. You can see the current pricing and deals for the beds on Purple.com.
We’d recommend that you first start by looking at the New Purple mattresses, which have pocketed coils for their foundation layer. Typically, coils are a good idea if you carry around a little extra weight, or just want a more supportive bed.
The Casper Wave mattress is unique in the sense that it has a Hyper-Targeted Support System, which essentially means that the bed is constructed to provide more support and more pressure relief in the correct areas.
For example, the center third has more support since this is where the majority of your weight will lie (i.e. your trunk and hips). The top and bottom thirds of the bed are a bit softer in order to provide more pressure relief for your shoulder, which is critical if you spend a lot of the night on your side. It’s subtle, but it’s a clever way to construct a bed.
Also, as an aside, the Casper Wave has actually been endorsed by the American Chiropractor Association. We aren’t aware of many other beds that have this stamp of approval.
Perhaps the biggest knock against Casper Wave is just the price. For a foam mattress, it is a little expensive, but then again, it is in the luxury tier and we really like the design concept. You can see the current prices and check for offers on Casper.com.
Compared to most of the beds on this list, Level is the most affordable by a decent margin—and yet we still think it could be a good option for certain people with sciatic pain. The bed will work for all kinds of sleepers. Overall, it comes in right around a medium on the firmness scale, meaning it finds a nice balance between being soft and comfortable while also providing the necessary support.
Level is actually known for its zoned support system (somewhat like Casper Wave) that is firmer in the middle third of the mattress under the sleeper’s hips, trunk, and lower back. Given this framework and the fact that the bed is quite affordable, we think it will be a good solution for individuals that weigh under 250 lb.
It’s not for everyone, and the different zones are fairly pronounced, but Level does offer free returns, so it could be worth a try if you’re open to a new type of bed. You can learn more about the bed and it’s design on LevelSleep.com. They offer a 365-night trial period, which should give you plenty of time to evaluate the mattress for yourself.
To save you time, here are the main reasons why WinkBed is on this list:
Those are the major boxes the WinkBed checks, but that’s not it. We also like that WinkBed offers a Plus option for heavier individuals that uses a triple-zone pocketed coil system for extra support. They recommend this mattress for heavy sleepers that are over 300 lb.
All of their mattresses have two layers of coils and a puffy, soft pillow top. We can’t imagine anyone complaining about the support and construction of WinkBed mattresses. You can see the full construction breakdown on WinkBeds.com.
At the end of the day this bed really doesn’t have many cons. WinkBed likes to say their bed is like a “Luxury Hotel Mattress” and we’d have to agree. It’s definitely like a mattress you’d find at the presidential suite at the Ritz-Carlton.
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The TempurPedic brand has, in part, been built off of the notion that they offer more than just beds, they offer wellness devices. As such, there had to be at least one TempurPedic mattress on this list. And why not go with their flagship model, the TEMPUR-Adapt? You can see the entire lineup of TempurPedic beds on their website.
This bed mixes pocketed coils (for support) and memory foam (for pressure relief, support, and comfort). It even has a special cover with a phase-change material woven in to draw body heat away and keep you cool—it’s actually cool to the touch. This bed is best for memory foam lovers that want a slightly firmer, supportive bed.
In an attempt to be as helpful and insightful as possible, we worked closely with Dr. Ranvir Sahota from Synapse Chiropractic to assemble our mattress list and write this post. In addition to specifically discussing sciatica and lower back pain, we went through an in-person demonstration of proper spine alignment and sleeping positions. Any of the recommendations or assertions that we make in this post are based on his professional opinion. Of course, alongside working with Dr. Sahota, we conducted our own tests related to support, firmness, motion transfer, edge support, and more. We have a team of 10+ individuals at the time of this post, who’s weights range from 95 lb up to 225 lb. This gives us a good perspective of the relative firmness and support of each mattress. We also open the up beds to inspect their construction and get an idea of the quality of the materials. We have spent hundreds of hours researching, putting together this list, and testing these mattresses. We sincerely hope this review is helpful for you.
I think it’s important that we talk at least a little about what sciatic pain is. According to Harvard Medical School, sciatica affects as many as 40% of people, though it is frequently misunderstood. The sciatic nerve is your body’s largest nerve and is about the thickness of your finger. It starts from the lower lumbar area of your spine at L4, L5, and the sacrum bone. Smaller nerves come out from your spine and connect together to travel down your buttocks and the back of each of your legs, all the way down to your feet and big toe. You can see this in the image below.
Sciatic pain can form as a result of several issues, but the most common cause is a herniated disc where the nerve roots are pinched or irritated. You may feel anything from slight numbness or tingling all the way up to a stabbing sensation or throbbing pain. And the pain can be anywhere along the sciatic nerve, whether that be lower back, buttocks, or the back of your leg. As such, you should consult your physician or chiropractor before you make an decisions with regard to a mattress or your daily habits. In many cases, sciatica goes away by itself relatively quickly, in a matter of minutes, hours, or days. There are some cases that are more longstanding, but a lot of sufferers find that applying ice to the area and taking an anti-inflammatory drug can be helpful in reducing the pain. Even so, often the root cause remains. As a result, you may consider taking proactive steps with your physician or chiropractor to treat the issue.
Your back is a complex structure of muscles, nerves, joints, and ligaments and therefore it’s impossible for me to say what causes pain for everyone. In the section above we covered sciatica, which can result in lower back pain—frequently as a result from a pinched or irritated nerve root. However, lower back pain can come from a car crash, sports injuries, poor posture, obesity, arthritis, and countless other incidents. You can experience pain from pulled muscles, ruptured disks, sprained ligaments, aggravated joints, and more. This is why it’s so important that you consult with your physician and/or chiropractor as soon as the pain starts.
Before you start your mattress review search you should take an introspective look at yourself. What kind of pain are you experiencing? How heavy are you? What type of sleeper are you (back, stomach, side, combo)? You should also think critically about your budget and preferences in terms of materials. For example, do you like memory foam? Some people love it, others hate it. Do you like the feeling of a pillow top? It’s fluffy and softens up the bed, but some people feel like it heats up the mattresses. So, as you can see, even from this short list there are a lot of things to consider in the mattress hunt. Let’s start with the pain topic.
Clearly, all back pain is not created equal. You may experience soreness or you may be virtually paralyzed by the pain. I don’t know your situation, but I can tell you that lower back pain and upper back pain are an entirely different beasts. If you’ve experiencing upper back pain, I’d suggest you look at our Best Mattress for Back Pain list. It overlaps a little with this list, but we discuss the upper back in more detail there.
For lower back pain (and again, I don’t know your specific situation), you generally want a firmer mattress to help keep your spine in proper alignment. You’ll probably be choosing anything from a medium to medium-firm, or even a firm mattress. But even more than the firmness, you should look into a supportive mattress, especially if you’re heavy or overweight.
If you’re experiencing back pain because you’re overweight, you will definitely want to look into a supportive mattress, perhaps one that uses innersprings, pocketed coils, or dense/thick foam. And now a word on innersprings vs pocketed coils. Given that your profession is presumably something other than reviewing bedding products, I wouldn’t be surprised if you weren’t 100% clear on what the difference is. Traditional innersprings are part of a larger system and are extremely durable. They offer great support, but not many advantages beyond that. Pocketed coils are individually-encased steel coils that move freely from one another. As such, they tend to deaden motion more efficiently and offer more localized support.
Because you’re heavier, you will wear down an all-foam mattress relatively quickly and the support will basically vanish. Therefore, innerspring beds and mattresses with pocketed coils are probably your best bet, as coils tend to be more durable and supportive. They also have the added benefit of letting in great airflow and helping to keep you cool, which is an issue that a lot of heavier individuals have to deal with. And they’ll give you a little of that bounce that you’re probably used to with a mattress.
Additionally, since firmness is subjective, you should probably consider a firmer mattress. Here’s where I should clarify that firmness and support are not the same thing. Firmness refers to how hard the mattress feels, whereas support refers generally to the thickness and density of a mattress. We’ve tested plenty of beds that are supportive, yet soft. Just know that there’s a difference. But the reason we say that you should consider a firmer bed is because a heavier individual will perceive a bed to be softer than will a lighter person. It’s all relative. If you have lower back pain, you should almost certainly stay away from soft, thinner beds. You should probably look for a bed in the 12” to 15” range that has coils (innersprings or pocketed coils). Having said that, we understand that sometimes your budget doesn’t permit buying an expensive, thicker mattress. And in this case, we would implore you to go no thinner than a 10” mattress.
In general—regardless of your weight—it’s probably best to look at a bed with coils or dense support foam. That said, your sleeper type is crucial to know. For example, if you sleep on your back, you’ll be looking at a slightly different mattress than you would if you slept exclusively on your side. And keep in mind that firmness is a relative term, which is why we try to depict firmness on a spectrum. You’ll want good support either way, but someone that’s say 95 lb can get by with a much thinner, softer bed than a 300 lb sleeper. Totally different ballgame. Also, keep in mind that all beds soften up. Therefore, the mattress you get day-1 will always be firmer than it will be after you’ve slept on it for six months.
I bucket back sleepers and stomach sleepers in together because you’ll be looking at similar firmness levels for the bed. You should consider a bed that’s medium-firm to firm in order keep proper spinal alignment. You may want a bed that’s a tad softer if you sleep on your back, simply because you want to support the natural curvature of your spine. For example, if you sleep on a hardwood floor, you’ll feel a gap between your low back and the floor. You want the mattress to cradle you, almost as though you’re floating. It should fill that space under your low back, but your hips should not feel as though they’re sinking in too much.
If you sleep exclusively on your stomach, you can get away with a slightly firmer mattress since you really want to avoid your hips or trunk sagging in too much. In general, sleeping on your stomach isn’t the best for avoiding back pain. You’ll more typically experience pain in your upper back, shoulder, and neck, but it can irritate your low back, as well. Stomach sleepers will want to pay close attention to their pillow. That affects the angle of your neck and can either help you out or make things much worse. You should look at some of the content on our Pillow Reviews page for more info on finding the right pillow.
Side sleepers dealing with sciatica or low back pain will still want a supportive mattress, but they may prefer one that’s a bit softer. You’re probably looking at something in the medium to medium-firm range, although this depends on your weight. You want a bed that has good support, but let’s your shoulders and hips sink in a bit. You need good pressure relief in those areas, otherwise you’ll wake up feeling sore or stiff, especially in your scapula (shoulder blade). You don’t want a bed that’s overly soft or firm. The bottom line is that you will have to determine how it feels. If you feel too much pressure on your shoulders, move on to the next.
Finding a bed for one person is tough, but adding a second person really throws a wrench into the equation, unless you have the exact same body types and sleeping preferences. Your best bet here is to pay attention to motion isolation with your mattress, which refers to how efficiently a bed deadens motion. Once you fall asleep, the last thing you want is your partner waking you up because they move around a lot in their sleep. Pocketed coils and foams tend to be better than traditional innersprings when it comes to motion transfer.
Also, edge support is worth testing. Edge support refers to how supportive the bed is around the perimeter. If you find yourself sleeping along the edges of the bed, you’ll want to make sure you don’t get a roll-off sensation. That can be annoying and detrimental for someone with back issues. Typically, coil/spring mattresses are better than all-foam beds for edge support. That’s not always the case, but more often than not, you get better edge support on a bed with innersprings or pocketed coils.
If you sleep with someone else, you essentially have three options: