I'm a bed tester — the best mattresses for lower back pain share these key features

 A woman with long dark hair wakes up after an uncomfortable night's sleep on a hybrid mattress as she's really better off sleeping on a memory foam bed.
A woman with long dark hair wakes up after an uncomfortable night's sleep on a hybrid mattress as she's really better off sleeping on a memory foam bed.

If you’re waking up with lower back pain each morning – and crucially you wake up pain-free when sleeping on any other mattress – then you're in need of a new bed. Many of this year's best mattresses for all sleepers share features that reduce pressure points and ease general aches and pains, but the best mattresses for lower back pain have a specific set of features that help them stand out from the crowd.

I’m a mattress reviewer and test a wide variety of beds. And I’ve come to learn that the best mattresses for back pain all share five specific features. In this guide, I’ll run you through each one and give you my recommendations of the mattresses to consider investing in. And with the Memorial Day sales coming up, we're fast-approaching a great time to buy.

Here's what I've learned about mattresses for lower back pain while reviewing a wide range of traditional and boxed beds...

5 features the best mattresses for lower back pain have in common

1. Dedicated lumbar support

Mattresses with good lumbar support will help to maintain neutral spinal alignment. What does that mean in layman’s terms? Your lumbar region is the five vertebrae in your lower back, spanning your ribcage to your pelvis. And a mattress with good lumbar support will help to maintain the natural curve of your spine, filling the gap between your lower back and its surface.

A woman in a brown t-shirt massages her painful lower back in bed
A woman in a brown t-shirt massages her painful lower back in bed

When you’re looking for a mattress to help with back pain, the most important thing is to ensure that your spine is supported around this lumbar region and that there’s no cave-in under your spine.

For that reason, I recommend looking for mattresses with targeted lumbar support, such as reinforced springs, a strip of foam and / or specialised quilting in the centre third of the mattress.

Saatva is the most well-known brand for its targeted Lumbar Zone tech (read our Saatva RX review to learn more about this), but you’ll also find similar technology in WinkBed’s Lumbar Layer and the Helix Sleep Luxe line’s Enhanced Lumbar Support.

2. Great pressure relief

When you lie in bed, you’ll probably notice that some parts of your body come into contact with the mattress more than others. This creates pressure points, most commonly around the hips, knees, shoulders and lumbar region. When a mattress supports and cushions these pressure points, it provides pressure relief.

Everyone needs pressure relief in a mattress, but it’s particularly important if you suffer with aches and pains, including back pain. This is because a lack of pressure relief is often the cause of your back pain in the first place. The amount of pressure relief varies according to your sleeping position.

Side sleepers need a thicker layer of cushioning to provide pressure relief along the shoulders and hips, while back sleepers need to support their lumbar region. Stomach sleepers will need a firmer mattress that provides pressure relief around the hips, whilst still keeping them supported and lifted for spinal alignment.

Emma Original mattress
Emma Original mattress

3. Strong edge support

Sturdy edge support allows sleepers to sit comfortably on the edge of a bed, but also allows us to spread out and maximise the space available to sleep on. And when it comes to back pain, a mattress with good edge support will also help to minimise aches and pains.

If a mattress has weak edge support, it can cause sleepers to tense up overnight as they’ll be worried about rolling out of bed in their sleep. In addition, it reduces the amount of sleep surface available, which could lead to sleepers lying too rigid at night, not allowing themselves to move around for fear of sliding off the mattress.

Sturdy edge support also means that the edge of the bed is as (or very nearly as) firm as the middle of the bed, meaning there’s no great difference in firmness wherever you’re lying on the surface.

4. Enhance temperature control

This might sound like an odd one when it comes to back pain but being uncomfortable and too hot at night leads to restless sleep. And restless sleep can exacerbate back pain.

If you’re overheating at night, you’ll either be tossing and turning trying to get comfortable or waking up and throwing off bedding. None of these things will help with adequate lumbar support or pressure relief, as you won’t be in one position long enough to feel any benefits.

A woman wakes up in bed after a good night's sleep
A woman wakes up in bed after a good night's sleep

If you’re a particularly hot sleeper, investing in one of the best cooling mattresses will help to provide you with a peaceful night’s sleep. Specialist cooling mattresses are designed to help dissipate heat and increase airflow, often using advanced cooling technology to help regulate your body temperature.

Although these mattresses can be pricey, there are some budget options such as the Cocoon by Sealy Chill mattress, which is also one of my recommended mattresses for back pain.

How to choose a mattress for your sleep position

Although there are recommended sleeping positions for those suffering with back pain, it can be hard to change the way you sleep. I’d always suggest working with your preferred sleeping style when it comes to choosing a mattress for lower back pain, but it is useful to note that orthopaedic surgeons often recommend sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs.

If you’re already a side sleeper, check out our best mattresses for side sleepers to find one that has the right lumbar support for your back pain. If you’re a back sleeper, investing in the best pillow to support your head and neck could make a huge difference to your back pain (although, of course, a good pillow is important in any sleeping position).

Sleeping on your stomach is widely regarded as the worst possible sleep position for back pain, as it causes the lower back to dip out of alignment. But if you can’t fall asleep in any other position, make sure to invest in one of the best mattresses for stomach sleepers to add additional support where needed.

The top 3 mattresses for back pain

1. Saatva RX: was from $1,995 | $1,795 at Saatva
The Saatva RX is our top choice for back pain sufferers. In our Saatva RX mattress review we found it delivered a perfect blend of pressure relief, support and comfort, doing a remarkable job of easing back pain with its Unique Therapeutic Support Core and patented Lumbar Zone Quilting. The Saatva has a medium firm feel, with sturdy edge support and excellent temperature regulation. You’ll also get a 365-night trial, forever warranty and white glove delivery.View Deal

2. The DreamCloud: was from $839 | $419 at DreamCloud
The DreamCloud is always competitively priced, but right now there’s 50% MSRP, making this an absolutely bargain for back pain sufferers. During our DreamCloud Hybrid mattress review we found that the mattress excelled at alleviating back and hip pain, providing superior pressure relief and added support around the lumbar region. There’s also a forever warranty, 365-night trial and free delivery and returns.View Deal

3. Brooklyn Bedding Aurora Luxe: was from $999 | $749.30 at Brooklyn Bedding
The Aurora Luxe is customisable, with the choice of three firmness ratings to suit your sleeping style. Back pain sufferers are probably most likely to suit the firm option, but the medium option is a consideration for side and petite sleepers. There’s plenty of support for the spine and cushioning from the memory foam layer and, with the GlacioTex cooling cover, the mattress is an excellent option for hot sleepers. Benefits aren’t pretty standard with the Aurora Luxe – a 10-year warranty and 120-night trial period.View Deal