The Savvy Sleeper’s Guide to The Best Mattress For Back Pain
The search for the best mattress for back pain leads consumers to a variety of resources including reviews, recommendations, and sleep studies. In this article, we’ll discuss the key factors to consider when buying a bed to help eliminate back pain and how to choose the best mattress for back pain relief.
In this article:
- Customer Reviews vs. Sleep Studies
- Editors’ Choice for Best Mattress for Back Pain
- Best Mattress Type for Pain Relief
- Best Firmness for Pain Relief
- What to Consider Before Buying
- Have You Found Your Next Bed?
Reviews & Recommendations vs. Sleep Studies
While reviews and recommendations may be slightly more subjective, they are still helpful, particularly those that have been independently verified. Sleep studies include reports from the participants as to whether their sleep or pain levels improved using a variety of mattresses. These often continue for several months, making them slightly more reliable. When shopping for the best mattress for back pain, consumers should consider its support, impact on pressure points, and of course, overall value.
The Best Mattress for Back Pain: Amerisleep’s AS2
If you’re suffering from chronic back pain, Amerisleep has you covered. The Amerisleep AS2 is a medium-firm mattress designed to help alleviate the aches and pains of upper or lower back ailments.
Below, we’ll discuss the layers of this bed:
- The first layer of the AS2 is Amerisleep’s proprietary Bio-Pur® foam. Their Bio-Pur® foam is a plant-based memory foam, designed to contour to your body’s curves and release pressure when you lie down on this mattress. Because this foam is plant-based, it’s five times more breathable than standard memory foam and is also a more eco-friendly alternative. When making this plant-based foam, Amerisleep replaces a large portion of petroleum, traditionally used to make memory foam, and replaces it with castor oil. Doing this significantly eliminates the chance of their beds off-gassing and makes them healthier for customers to sleep on night after night.
- Next, is a zoned support layer with HIVE® technology. HIVE® is made by cutting hexagon shapes into a layer of foam and grouping them into five comfort zones. These hexagons are spaced closer together and offer a firmer feel where your body needs more support— such as in your feet, hips, shoulders, neck, and head. Oppositely, these hexagon shapes are spread farther apart where you want more comfort, so your body can compress deeper into the mattress for enhanced tension relief.
- The final layer of the AS2 is Amerisleep’s Bio-Core® foam. The base of the mattress should be strong enough to offer structural and edge support to the rest of the bed and sleeper above. It also needs to be durable enough to be long-lasting and prevent the mattress from sagging or prematurely deteriorating.
The plant-based memory foam used by Amerisleep will give you just enough pressure relief without sacrificing much-needed support. On top of the carefully crafted mattress layers, Amerisleep has outdone themselves by using a Celliant®-infused mattress cover. Celliant® fabric has been FDA-determined to help you sleep better by keeping your body temperature regulated.
What is the Best Mattress Type for Back Pain?
Maintaining the spine’s alignment is essential for eliminating pain and requires a good mattress with full body support. Whether you have back pain, hip pain, or shoulder pain, memory foam is one of the best mattress solutions as it conforms to the natural curves of the body while maintaining support, a conclusion supported by its continuous rankings above other mattress types in satisfaction surveys. According to extensive survey data compiled by Sleep Like The Dead, memory foam beds are found to be satisfactory by 81% of owners (the highest scoring bed type, versus 62% of innerspring owners).
Memory foam produced the fewest consumer reports of pain, as well— making it an ideal choice for those who frequently suffer from backaches. Memory foam’s ability to conform to sleepers means it excels at full-body support. Medium and high-density foams also keep their shape well over time, providing long-lasting comfort compared to fiber-fill and low-density padding foams.
Why Memory Foam Works
Memory foam bed are better at relieving aches and pains than other mattresses because of their viscoelasticity and ability to contour to the body’s curves. When you lie on a hybrid or innerspring bed, your body has to adjust to the sleep surface and get comfortable. Often, back sleepers find sleeping on a hybrid or innerspring bed creates a gap between the small of their back and the surface of the mattress— meaning, your lower back is not receiving proper support and is instead, unnaturally arched. However, with memory foam, the bed adjusts to your body. As memory foam cradles your body, it supports your lower back and allows your muscles to relax fully.
Additionally, a memory foam mattress should distribute your weight evenly across the surface of the bed, taking the brunt of the weight off of your pressure points such as the buttocks, hips, and shoulders. Memory foam also supports the dips in your body, such as waist and neck areas, allowing the spine to elongate, decompress and naturally align itself during rest.
Read on to get the rundown on the best memory foam mattress.
Which Firmness is Best?
For years, sleep scientists recommended those with back pain sleep on a firm mattress. However, results of a recent sleep study published by the Kovacs Foundation in The Lancet showed that people who suffered from chronic low back pain found the best mattress for pain relief to be medium-firm rather than firm. Those who had been assigned a medium mattress were twice as likely to report pain improvements versus those assigned firm beds. Sleep Like The Dead also highlights beds of medium firmness have fewest pain complaints.
Another study by the Back Research Center, published in Spine, compared three different types of mattresses including a waterbed, memory foam, and a firm futon-style mattress. The results of this study found participants reported fewer aches and pains with the memory foam mattress and waterbed when compared to the firm futon-style mattress.
In the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, an Oklahoma State University study found that merely the act of replacing your old mattress with a new one can improve your quality of sleep and help reduce pain. During this study, researchers measured participants’ comfort during 28 days in their current beds (9.5 years average age) versus 28 days in a new bed, providing credence to the recommendation that mattresses should be replaced every 8-10 years to ensure comfort and support.
A mattress needs to support your body in a neutral position in which your spine has a normal curvature, and your buttocks, shoulders, heels, and head are correctly aligned and supported, according to Arya Nick Shamie, MD, associate professor of orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center. She continues on WebMD:
“If the mattress is too firm, it will push on those main pressure points and take you out of alignment,” Shamie says. “If it’s too soft, those pressure points won’t be properly supported, so your whole body flops back.” Either way, buying a mattress that is not compatible with your sleep style can lead to pain.
As we found, finding scientific studies or endorsements from doctors for particular mattresses can be extremely difficult, as many decline to endorse specific brands (or are paid directly or indirectly if they are). Researching and reading reviews from people who use a memory foam mattress may be a better indicator of whether or not it is right for your needs. Polls over the last few years have indicated owners of memory foam beds report greater satisfaction than owners of other mattresses (by anywhere from 20-2%).
What to Consider Before Buying
As with any purchase, finding the best bed for back, neck, hip, or other body pains online will involve comparing the pros and cons of different mattress options. Essential elements to consider when purchasing a memory foam bed online include finding the best mattress for the money, warranties, reviews and customer support.
- Value– When shopping, compare and contrast apples to apples— meaning, consider the firmness, thickness, warranty, and other factors independently when looking at prices. Some lesser known brands of mattresses receive rave reviews and are said to provide the same quality of sleep as some of the big name brands, but for half of the money.
- Warranty– Have a thorough understanding of the warranty that comes with your bed, including the lifespan and what is covered. Is it partially prorated after X number of years? How deep should a sag or indentation be to be considered a defect? Are you required to use their foundation, box spring, or mattress cover?
- Returns – Ensure you can return or, at the very least, exchange your mattress in the event you dislike it. It may take your body up to one month to adjust to a new bed, so look for a trial that allows you to try the bed for a minimum of 60 days.
- Reviews– Finding and reading reviews from actual customers who have purchased a particular mattress may help weed out poorly constructed beds and give you an idea of what most people consider to be the best bed for a bad back. Subjective reviews regarding increased or decreased pain or comfort can be misleading, since your needs may vary significantly. Look for reviews that have been independently verified if possible, and consider sources like the manufacturer/brand website, third party review sites, forums and social networks when researching.
A Final Word
If you aren’t in a position to replace your mattress or think replacing your entire bed is not necessary, you can choose to use a memory foam mattress topper, instead. However, the benefits of a mattress topper do differ from sleeping on an actual memory foam bed. Memory foam mattresses have continued to receive the highest accolades from customers seeking the best mattress for back pain. Their ability to provide conforming support allows the spine to decompress, lengthen and align itself into the optimum position to alleviate back pain. Aside from pain relief, memory foam beds have other perks, such as advanced motion isolation and longer average lifespans. Based on the consumer survey data, detailed mattress reviews, and professional studies we found and discussed above, it’s safe to conclude that using an extremely firm or soft mattress would not help with chronic back pain. Instead, we recommend considering a medium to medium-firm memory foam bed to help eliminate aches and pains from your day-to-day.