What makes the best mattress for back sleepers
The back sleeping position, although not the most popular, is one of the most recommended positions for overall health and for getting a good night’s sleep.
The best mattresses for back sleepers vary in firmness and comfort level, and there are a few key attributes back sleepers should look for in a mattress:
Source: Wall Street Journal
- Ample support: for natural alignment and lower back support
Sleeping on the back makes natural alignment much easier for the body, especially the head, neck, and spine. A mattress with a lot of support is important to keep the body in consistent alignment all night. This sleeping position can also cause or worsen lower back pain if the mattress doesn’t provide the right kind of support.
- Firmness: medium-firm to firm
- Enough softness: comfort for pressure point relief and lower back
Back sleepers naturally distribute weight across the body, which helps to minimize pressure points. It is key for back sleepers to find a mattress that does have just enough softness to conform to the body and the arch of the lower back.
- A mattress with cooling properties
Some mattresses are cooler than others, based on material and construction. Back sleepers may want to consider a mattress with cooling properties, as some materials can trap heat.
Firmness and support for back sleepers
The best mattresses for back sleepers are medium to medium-firm, and the desired firmness level varies from person to person, depending on body, weight, and personal preference.
The goal for a back sleeper is to find a mattress that is:
- Built with enough back support to keep the body in alignment
- Soft enough to cushion the natural alignment of the body, spine, and lower back, and relieve pressure points (head, shoulder blades, heels and tailbone, etc).
The recommended comfort level for back sleepers ranges from 1 to 10. Some very firm or soft mattresses can work for back sleepers, depending on the sleeper’s personal preference. Most back sleepers prefer a medium to medium firm mattress, that ranges from 5 to 7 on the firmness scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the firmest mattress).
Back sleepers can face several challenges because of the sleep position:
- Not enough back support
Back sleepers need to know that firmness level can be too high or too low, resulting in back pain or other issues if the firmness level and support are not accurate. A mattress with the right amount of firmness and support can help alleviate unwanted pressure on the back and keep the spine supported in its natural position. Also, using a pillow under the back of the knees can help with spine alignment.
Back sleepers may be prone to snoring, which may be occasional or consistent, depending on the person. The back sleeping position causes the airway to narrow and the soft palate to collapse, making a vibrating sound.
What is the best type of mattress for back sleepers?
There are many mattresses varieties for back sleepers to choose from, especially because the comfort scale and firmness levels can vary so much based on personal preference. Consider these different mattresses for back sleepers.
The best mattresses for back sleepers are:
- Foam mattress (poly and memory foam)
- Adjustable air
Learn more about the different kinds of Mattress Support Cores.
Note: Back sleepers should consider a mattress that is medium to slightly firm or firmness range of 5 to 7 on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the firmest). Also, a top comfort layer of about 2 inches is a good starting place recommendation for back sleepers, to provide the right level of cradling for the body.
Foam mattress (poly and memory foam)
- High-density foam layers (several grades of poly foam) support
- Combination of foam layers used for both support and comfort
- High-density foam layers (several grades of memory foam) for comfort
- Cooling technology to avoid heat trapping
- Consistent support and medium firmness level for back sleepers
- Elasticity of memory foam allows mattress to bounce back to original position (slower response time, however, compared to latex)
- Excellent conformity and relief for pressure points
- Consider thickness of comfort layers to prevent sinking down into mattress, and for keeping spine aligned
Hybrid mattress (foam and coil)
- Combination of both coils and foam(s)
- Coil support system gives great core support (coil types include: bonnell, offset, continuous, and pocket coil) layered with foam or quilting
- Foam layers are good for comfort and added support (memory foam, latex, polyfoam, natural fibers)
- Consistent support and medium firmness level for back sleepers
- Good conformity with memory foam and other foam layer(s) for soft comfort layer
- Consider comfort layers to prevent sinking down into mattress for back sleepers
- Great support, but may break down over time
- Latex foam layers (mainly Dunlop and Talalay)
- Latex layers are for both support and comfort
- Great for core support layers and comfort layers
- Good for medium-firm mattresses for back sleepers
- Conforms well to the body and relieves pressure points for comfort
- Only a mattress with a latex core should be in this category
- Good durability and long lasting
- Elasticity is good, and latex mattress will bounce back into original position after being compressed
Adjustable air mattress
- Adjustable chambers of air used
- Foams and fiber layers, too
- Provides needed support for back sleepers who want medium and adjustable firmness
- Firmness can be adjusted for personal preference
- Adjustments to mattress can allow for higher or lower position on certain part of the body that are heavier
- Don’t have issues with mattress sagging
- May be too firm for some sleepers (basic or no comfort layer)
- Definitely needs an effective comfort layer to provide enough softness for comfortable sleeping
Another kind of mattress back sleepers can consider is the innerspring mattress.
- Steel coil support system (coil types include: bonnell, offset, continuous, and pocket coil) layered with foam or quilting
- Coils range in thickness from 12.5 to 16 gauges and thinner coils can more easily shape themselves to contour to the body, while thicker layers provide support for holding up the weight of the body
- Conformity depends on comfort layers (materials like memory foam, latex, polyurethane foam, and natural fibers)
- Consider correct thickness of comfort layers to prevent sinking down into mattress for back sleepers, and correct softness for body and spine alignment
- Consistent support and medium firmness level for back sleepers
- Support may break down over time
- Resilient and durable
What else should a back sleeper consider?
In addition to a mattress with the proper support and the right amount of firmness for the sleeper, back sleepers should also consider the right pillow. Here are a few tips for picking a pillow that’s best for back sleepers.
Finding the right pillow
- Look for quality materials
- Use a pillow under the neck that fills the space between the bed and neck
- When you’re laying down on your bed, if you can look down and see your feet, that means the pillow is too large
- The pillow needs to encourage the natural curve of the neck and support your head and shoulders
- Consider a medium firm pillow with a curved edge
- Make sure your pillow isn’t too thick, making the head go forward
- Use a pillow under the knees to help reduce tension on and align spine naturally
The best mattresses for back sleepers
Back sleepers rely on personal preference when it comes to choosing a mattress, and there are many mattress varieties available with different support cores and comfort layers. Back sleeping is the most recommended sleeping position, and back sleepers have specific needs they look for in a mattress to ensure they get the healthiest sleep possible.
Here are some key components that are important to look for in The Best Mattresses for Back Sleepers:
- Ample support for natural alignment of spine and neck
- Medium to firm firmness level
- Enough softness for comfort relief for pressure points and lower back
- A mattress with cooling properties
This guide is focused on mattresses that meet the needs of back sleepers. With a wealth of information available to consumers about mattresses, the mattresses in this guide were selected based on research from publicly available sources like forums, chat boards, company websites, reviews, and information provided by consumers.
Specific qualities found in both support cores and comfort layers were taken into consideration when selecting mattresses in this guide. These are the different mattress types recommended for back sleepers:
- Foam mattresses
- Hybrid mattresses (innerspring or latex support core)
- Latex mattresses
- Adjustable air mattresses
These mattress varieties are explored in this guide, and are reviewed based on the following categories for each featured and ranked mattress brand:
- Aggregate customer rating
- Special features
All mattresses in this guide were selected based on research, and the data presented here is not weighted. Information on each mattress was evaluated and taken into account as a whole.
Back sleepers will find the mattresses in this guide to be the best of the best for their sleeping position. These high-quality mattresses and brands perform best for back sleepers, and are known for having the best design, technology, durability, and special features available on the market.
The best of the best
The Amerisleep AS1 is the firmest mattress in the Amerisleep line. Its supportive design provides more lumbar support than the average memory foam mattress and promote spinal alignment, making it ideal for back sleepers.
The 10-inch mattress consists of two layers and a cover. The foundation of the mattress is an 8” support core of high-density poly foam. This layer provides the compression support and shape of the mattress and results in its overall firmness. The 2” top comfort layer consists of an open-celled, breathable memory foam for pressure relief and temperature control. The Celliant cover has further cooling properties.
- Firmness: The Amerisleep AS1 is a firm mattress that has all the features most back sleepers will need for the lumbar support missing in more plush mattresses.
- Spinal alignment: The comfort level of the AS1 is ideal for back sleepers who are most susceptible to misalignment when sleeping on traditional memory foam.
- Sleeps cool: The open-cell structure of the foam and the specialized breathable cover both help provide adequate air flow and transfer heat away from the body.
Learn more about the Amerisleep AS1 by reading our full AS1 mattress review.
Tuft & Needle
Tuft & Needle makes foam mattresses that are made with a proprietary adaptive foam. The foam is flexible in its performance and when pressure is applied, the mattress becomes even more supportive.
Tuft & Needle mattresses are constructed with a 3-inch foam comfort layer and a 7-inch poly foam support core layer. They are medium firm, which is recommended for back sleepers.
The comfort layer offers excellent pressure relief, a key component needed for back sleepers because the entire back side of the body puts pressure on the surface of the mattress. The 3-inch thickness gives enough softness, but prevents back sleepers from sinking down too far into the mattress.
- Support: The foam in the Tuft & Needle is designed to provide more support when pressure is applied.
- Spine alignment: The structured poly foam foundation is good for back sleepers because it helps keep the spine and body aligned naturally.
- Sleeps cool: Tuft & Needle foam is breathable and helps draw out heat for cooler sleeping.
Learn more about Tuft & Needle in our full Tuft & Needle mattress review.
Other great options for back sleepers
Check out these 5 brands that all garnered high overall customer satisfaction ratings and are ideal for back sleepers.
Zenhaven, by Saatva, is an all-natural latex mattress that offers two firmness levels for back sleepers. Simply flip the mattress to choose from Luxury Plush firmness and Gentle Firm firmness.
The Zenhaven is made of four layers and a cover totaling 10 inches. The top Luxury Plush comfort layer is a 1.5-inch layer made with Talalay latex. It features a 5-zone comfort layer system that provides comfort and pressure relief, bounce, and responsiveness for movement and position changes. On the other side, the Gentle Firm layer provides additional support as the bottom support layer when the Luxury Plush firmness level is used, while offering more firm comfort when it is used as the top comfort layer for the Gentle Firm firmness level.
The latex used in Zenhaven’s mattresses does not trap heat, and the latex layers are also aerated and promote airflow. The cotton and wool cover is also breathable, which helps keep the mattress cool on the surface.
- Adjustable firmness: Zenhaven mattresses are designed to be flippable, with one side built to Luxury Plush firmness and the other side Gentle Firm firmness.
- All-natural: The Zenhaven features 100% natural latex, with no synthetic latex materials or foams, and organic cotton and wool.
- Sleeps cool: With its cotton/wool cover, the Zenhaven does not sleep hot.
Learn more about the Zenhaven in our full Zenhaven mattress review.
The Avocado Green Mattress is an all natural, non-toxic, and eco-friendly latex hybrid mattress that is handmade in California.
The Avocado mattress combines the firmness and comfort of a latex mattress with the support of an innerspring mattress. The Green Mattress is built to provide ergonomic support with a reinforced perimeter.
The mattress is constructed of 100% natural Dunlop latex foam that is durable and resilient while allowing for gentle support and breathable temperature control, all important features for a back sleeper. A layer of Joma New Zealand Wool helps wick away moisture, while the organic cotton mattress cover is soft and breathable.
- Thickness: Avocado mattresses come in standard and European-styled pillow-top models. The standard mattress is 11-inches thick and is a good choice for back sleepers.
- Support: Designed with 3 distinct zones of 576 to 1,414 coils, the mattress is built to provide ergonomic support with a reinforced perimeter.
- Sleep trial and warranty: Each mattress is covered by a 100-night risk-free sleep trial and a 25-year limited warranty.
The Casper mattress is a 10-inch foam mattress consisting of four layers. The Casper tends toward the firmer side, which is ideal for back sleepers.
The top comfort layer is a responsive foam layer that lays on top of dense memory foam, allowing for support and avoiding the sinking feeling often experienced with memory foam. Another layer of foam lies on top of the 5-inch base layer, which consists of high-density poly foam.
The Casper mattress responds quickly to pressure, which gives the mattress some bounce and helps distribute pressure evenly when sleeping on your back.
- Pressure relief: The Casper’s high-density memory foam helps provide pressure relief and support.
- Sleeps cool: The Casper mattress is designed to move heat away from the body.
- Comfort: The Casper offers back sleepers some bounce and a balance of firm support with the hug of memory foam.
To learn more about the Casper mattress, read our full Casper mattress review.
Spindle offers an adjustable natural-latex mattress made of 3 layers of Dunlop latex. Back sleepers can customize the firmness of the Spindle mattress by rearranging the layers until they find the right balance of support and comfort.
The Spindle consists of a cover, three main layers of latex, and a wool topper, which together measure 10 inches total. The three layers of 3” Dunlop latex are 100% natural and Oeko-Tex Certified. The 1” layer of natural wool batting is covered with organic cotton. The wool comes from sheep raised in Northern California and Oregon. The cover is organic-cotton twill quilted with wool. The sides of the cover are cotton canvas.
As a latex mattress, the Spindle is the best of both worlds for many back sleepers because it offers support and quick recovery, while still contouring to their body and providing adequate pressure relief.
- Customizable: Back sleepers can customize the firmness of their Spindle mattress by rearranging the layers.
- Support: The Spindle provides ample support and spring for back sleepers.
- Sleeps cool: Its wool comfort layer keeps the Spindle breathable so that it doesn’t sleep hot.
Learn more about the Spindle by reading our full Spindle mattress review.
Sleep On Latex Pure Green
Sleep On Latex makes latex mattresses that are made with natural latex derived from rubber trees, with no added synthetic latex, fillers, or any fire retardants. The Pure Green mattress comes in two thickness levels – 7-inch or 9-inch — and in several firmness levels from soft to medium to firm.
The 9-inch mattress features a 1-inch quilted wool top comfort layer and a 2-inch Dunlop latex comfort layer. It is supported by a 6-inch support core foundation layer. The 7-inch mattress includes a 1-inch quilted wool comfort layer and a 6-inch support core base. Both the 9-inch and 7-inch mattresses come with a cotton and wool blend zippered cover that can be removed.
These mattresses are ideal for back sleepers because they provide natural spine and neck alignment, which is important for back sleepers in preventing back pain. In addition, they offer good temperature control for back sleepers who sleep with the entire back side of the body on the surface of the mattress.
- Support: The Dunlop latex support core gives good spinal support to back sleepers.
- Pressure relief: While supportive, this design has enough contour to offer effective pressure point relief.
- All natural: The Pure Green mattress is made of all-natural materials with no synthetic latex added.
Additional resources for back sleepers
Consider these online resources for learning more about mattresses, sleep, and sleep positions:
- Learn about the history of mattresses by The Better Sleep Council
- Download the Better Sleep Guide by The Better Sleep Council
- Choose the right mattress for you by The Better Sleep Council
- Read about the best position for lower back pain in this Fox News article
- Learn more info on snoring, which is common for back sleepers
- How to choose the right mattress for you by LifeHacker
- Consumer Reports on Mattresses and their Mattress Buying Guide
- Find out what makes up your bedroom environment from the Sleep Foundation
- Learn how to buy pillows for every type of sleeper from a Chicago Tribune article
Buying a mattress online
There are some benefits to buying your mattress online, so consider these tips if that’s your plan:
- Consumer Reports Mattress Buying Guide
- What It’s Like to Buy a Mattress Over the Internet by Lifehacker
- US News & World Report on Buying a Mattress online
- Read a New York Times article on how to buy a new mattress with so many choices
- How to Pick Your Perfect Mattress by WebMD
Best mattresses for back sleepers
- WebMD’s Best Mattress Tips for Back Pain
- Mattresses Tips for Back Sleepers (foam or innerspring) by Cleveland Clinic
- Mattress and Sleeping Tips by University of Rochester Medical Center
What a back sleeper needs to know
- The back sleeping position is the highest recommended position for overall health and for getting a good night’s sleep
- Mattresses for back sleepers vary in firmness and comfort level based on personal preference
- The best mattresses for back sleepers are medium to medium-firm
- The goal for a back sleeper is to find a mattress that has enough support to keep the body in alignment and is soft enough to soften the natural alignment of the body and relieve pressure points
- The recommended comfort level for back sleepers ranges from 1 to 10. Some very firm or soft mattresses can work for back sleepers
- The best mattresses are usually foam, hybrid, latex, and adjustable air mattresses
- The right pillow is just as important as the mattress
- Consider a medium firm pillow with a curved edge under the neck that encourages the natural curve of the neck, supports the head and shoulders, and fills the space between the bed and neck
- Back sleepers may have back pain if the support or firmness of the mattress isn’t correct
- Consider a pillow under the knees to help reduce tension on and align spine naturally
- Snoring may occur for back sleepers