How To Choose The Right Mattress For Upper Back, Shoulder, & Neck Pain

Updated October, 2020
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Choosing the right mattress for your body pain depends on your weight, sleep position, and firmness preference. While these factors play a key role in determining which mattress is right for you, it's recommended to use a medium-firm hybrid innerspring mattress for upper body pain, as this mattress type provides adequate lumbar support to help alleviate sleep-related discomfort.

5 ways your mattress is causing your upper body pain

You may not know it, but your mattress can actually cause pain, particularly in your upper body! Here are a few ways you can tell if your mattress is actually hurting you:

Your spine is out of alignment

This is the primary cause of mattress-related pain. If your mattress provides too much or too little sinkage, it misaligns your spine during the night, resulting in most daily aches and pains.

You're not sleeping well

If you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or wake feeling groggy, there's a good chance your mattress is disrupting your sleep cycle. This is typically due to lack of comfort and can result in sleep deprivation symptoms, including headaches, excessive daytime fatigue, and an increase in daily pain.

Other physical or mental conditions are getting worse

Lack of sleep is known to increase the frequency of flare-ups and symptom severity of many physical and mental symptoms. Not only does this prove you're not sleeping well, but it's a vicious cycle. Your lack of sleep leads to worsened daily pain, which in turn leads to sleep deprivation that leads to flare-ups of other conditions that also hinder your ability to get a good night's rest!

Your mental health is declining

Over time, a lack of deep sleep leads to a slow decline in your emotional state. Those who don't sleep well are at an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and insomnia, to name a few. These emotional conditions cause symptoms, such as loss of interest, that make managing your upper body pain even harder. And, you guessed it, impair your ability to sleep well, further agitating your pain.

You've tried everything and still have pain

An old mattress can have visible and internal defects that impact your comfort and sleep quality. So, even if you can't see what's causing your condition to deteriorate, such as a dip in the mattress, it could still be forcing you into uncomfortable or even painful sleeping positions, worsening your pain.

Consider these when choosing a mattress for neck, shoulder, and back pain

Here are a few things to think about if you're looking for a mattress for your upper body pain.

Sleeping Position

Your sleeping position is the foundation of your sleep. It can make or break you! Here are a few tips about sleeping positions and their relationship to nighttime pain.

  • Sleeping on your back is highly recommended. It evenly distributes your weight, and if you sleep on your back, place a pillow underneath your knees to keep proper curvature of your spine.
  • If you sleep on your side, make sure your pillows are oriented so that your neck is slightly higher than your head. You should also place a pillow between your legs, so your body weight is more evenly distributed.
  • Sleeping on your stomach is considered the riskiest position for body pain. If you sleep on your stomach, you may want to try reconditioning yourself toward another position.

Lumbar Support

Lumbar support is your bed's ability to support your spine as you sleep. As spinal misalignment is the number one cause of upper body pain during sleep, it's crucial to find a bed with proper lumbar support to keep your spine's natural alignment throughout the night.

Firmness Level

Here are a few tips about firmness:

  • You want a bed that's firm enough to provide adequate support, but not so firm you spend your entire night completely flat.
  • Medium-firm is recommended if you experience pain.
  • If you're a side sleeper, you need a softer (but not too soft!) mattress. Back sleepers should have a firmer mattress.

Body Weight

If you're a more heavy-set individual, you should get a firmer mattress. This is because softer mattresses cause excess sinkage, leading to misalignment of your spine and further, perhaps even more widespread pain.

This is particularly important when dealing with the upper back!

Mattress Type

If you're experiencing pain, the type of mattress you get can make a huge difference in your daily pain. Here are a few tips.

  • Be cautious with an overly soft memory foam mattress. Remember, you need your spine to stay in proper alignment, and if the sinkage of your mattress is too deep, it won't provide adequate lumbar support.
  • Latex is better. However, it's generally a little too firm and doesn't contour to your body enough.
  • Innerspring mattresses are your best bet. The coiling system provides adequate lumbar support and even weight distribution throughout the night, keeping your spine in alignment while not sacrificing comfort!

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

Wondering what kind of pillows work best for upper body pain? Here are some tips!

  • Generally, you should use no more than two pillows.
  • The best types of pillows for back and neck pain are foam or polyfill, as these provide adequate thickness but still conform to your neck and head.
  • Avoid pillows that are too flat, but also pillows that are too tall.
  • Despite what you may have heard, feather pillows are okay for head support. This is because they easily contour, and therefore are useful tools in finding the right position.
  • Side sleepers should use a pillow that's higher under their neck than their head. For example, you can use your foam neck pillow for neck support and your feather pillow underneath your head!

The #1 Mattress For Upper Back, Shoulder, And Neck Pain

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