How To Choose The Best Mattress For Back And Neck Pain

Updated May, 2021
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It's essential for those who experience neck and back pain to find a medium-firm mattress that's supportive but can contour to your shape. An innerspring or hybrid mattress is typically recommended, as they provide adequate lumbar support and allow a little sinkage. This helps keep your spine aligned. These are also the recommended specifications for sleeping on your back, which is the most ideal sleep position for those who experience neck and back pain.

Signs your current mattress is to blame for your pain

Many people don't consider their mattresses while trying to find the source of their pain. But since we spend the most time on our mattress than any other piece of furniture we own, your mattress may be causing some discomfort! Here are a few signs you're on a bad mattress.

Are you experiencing discomfort?

If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep due to discomfort, it could be your mattress. Outside of the obvious things, like large dips down the center, the interior of your mattress could be hosting several structural defects that you can't see but does affect your ability to get comfortable at night.

Are you waking up tired?

If you're waking up tired, you're not getting proper sleep at night. Don't think you wake up too much? These disturbances may be so brief you don't have the chance to fully awaken. However, you still feel the ramifications throughout your day.

Are your allergies getting worse?

Mattresses are allergen collectors! As such, older mattresses can be attributed to the worsening of allergies. Years of dust, dirt, and dander (not to mention dust-mites!) gather inside your mattress's lining, making seasonal allergies more frequent and more severe.

Have you had your mattress for nearly a decade?

You should replace your mattress every 8 years or so. However, several factors can age your mattress prematurely, like mistreatment or excess body weight.

What kind of pain are you experiencing?

Acute pain that starts in the night and peaks in the morning is related to your mattress. If your pain can be easily resolved by stretching, moving around, or just going about your daily life, there's a good chance it's because of a bad mattress.

Consider these when choosing a mattress for neck and back pain

If you experience daily back and neck pain, here are some things to keep in mind when looking to make changes to your nightly routine:

Sleeping Position

It's important to sleep in the right position if you experience pain throughout the night and day. This ensures your body's proper alignment as you sleep—essentially addressing your daily back and neck pain.

  • Back pain: It's recommended you sleep on your back with a pillow beneath your knees to maintain proper alignment. If you sleep on your side, try placing a pillow between your knees for even alignment throughout your body.
  • Neck pain: Once again, it's recommended you sleep on your back. It's also important to make sure you keep a proper pillow beneath your head to support the curvature of your neck. If you sleep on your side, use a taller pillow so your neck and head are in alignment.

Firmness Level

According to sales trends, the general public prefers mattresses in the medium to the medium-firm range. (Between 5-7 or so on the firmness scale.) This is probably because around 80% of people will experience back or neck pain throughout their lifetimes. Medium-firm is the best type of mattress to manage this type of pain by providing lumbar support while still contouring to your body, allowing a balance of comfort and practicality.

Bonus: Medium-firm is also the type of mattress recommended for back sleepers. It allows the appropriate level of sinkage without putting your back at a U-shape, keeping your body aligned throughout the night.

Body Weight

Heavy-set sleepers should consider a firmer mattress. This is because softer mattresses cause excess sinkage, leading to misalignment of your spine and perhaps even more widespread pain.

Mattress Type

Generally, mattresses with too much sinkage, such as memory foam, aren't recommended for back and neck pain. Conversely, a mattress with insufficient sinkage (example: latex)  keeps your back and neck too flat, causing acute pain upon waking. Innerspring mattresses work with your body, the coils underneath the comfort padding push back against your body, allowing the appropriate amount of sinkage yet still contouring to your shape.

Bonus: Hybrid mattresses provide similar support, but are reinforced for larger sleepers or couples to prevent excess wear-and-tear.

Lumbar Support

Lumbar support is your mattress's extra support to keep the lumbar region (i.e. your spine) in its proper alignment. The number one cause of back pain, neck pain, or poor quality sleep regarding your mattress is improper lumbar support, so this is the most important aspect to consider when purchasing a mattress. The best type of mattress for lumbar support is considered to be an innerspring or hybrid mattress!

Choosing the right pillow is also key to waking up pain-free!

Do you love your soft feather pillow you've had forever? Well, I'm sorry to tell you that your old feather pillow could be contributing to, or even causing, your pain. Here are a few things you should consider when purchasing pillows to go with your new mattress.

  • A pillow should push your head into alignment with your spine. You shouldn't be too flat or too far forward.
  • The best types of pillows for back and neck pain are foam or polyfill.
  • Feather pillows are okay to use, but if they've been around a while, they'll need to be replaced.
  • Most pillows should be replaced every 2-3 years.

The #1 Best Mattress For Back And Neck Pain

Saatva is our top pick for the #1 best mattress for Sleep Apnea in 2021! They're a luxury hypoallergenic mattress shipped directly to your door (with full-service white-glove delivery). They have over 50,000 reviews and continue to be one of the most reputable, established brands in the industry (founded in 2009). Check their price, here.

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