Waking up with back pain is a daily struggle for millions of Americans. It can be a challenge just to get out of bed. For some, the pangs can be chronic, constantly distracting or even disabling them. It’s one of today’s leading health problems.
As the American Chiropractic Association reports, back pain:
- Affects more than 10% of the U.S. population at any given time
- Leads worldwide statistics as the most common reason for disability
- Is the second-most-common reason for doctor visits
- Most common cause for employees missing work
- Affects half of working Americans every single year
For most, lower back pain begins between the ages of 30 and 50, and the likelihood of a problem increases with age. Primary care physicians and emergency rooms treat millions of back pain patients every year. Unfortunately, about 10% of people seeking treatment eventually develop chronic back pain, and many end up on medication to control it.
Your back is a biological superstructure. There are many opportunities for problems to arise. Pain can come from any number of sources, such as bulging discs, pinched nerves, and strained muscles. There’s no shortage of delicate areas that are prone to discomfort.
Here’s a hard truth that might come as a shock: the place you look to for relief from your pain might actually be causing it. An ill-suited or aging mattress can cause or aggravate many back, neck, and hip problems. Selecting a mattress that’s suited to your body and sleep habits is a smart move.
Mattress Inquirer’s Recommended Mattress for Back Pain
Shoppers are often overwhelmed when they see the wide range of products that advertise as the best solutions for back pain. This post gives you the relevant data so you don’t need to hunt for it.
Based on recent Better Sleep Council research, consumers want:
- A mattress that gives them a good night’s sleep (83%).
- A solution to a sore back and stiff muscles (71%).
- A bed that isn’t too soft (63%).
- A mattress that complies with doctor recommendations (51%).
Mattress Inquirer’s #1 recommendation is the Amerisleep AS2 Mattress, acclaimed the “best mattress for back pain” by Business Insider. Made for back and stomach sleepers, the AS2 is medium-firm and provides better design, technology, and customer service at nearly half the price of some other brands.
TempurPedic’s TEMPUR-Flex Prima is a somewhat similar medium-firm option made with hybrid materials. Though its durability is excellent, the AS2 can say the same and costs almost half as much.
Saatva’s medium-firm innerspring hybrids provide good support and a reasonable price point but having the lowest cost doesn’t mean the best value. You can get better quality for only slightly more money with the AS2 Mattress.
This post will provide you the full details about our recommended mattress, and why we chose it.
How Your Mattress May Be Causing Back Pain
Timely replacements or upgrades of your mattress are among the best ways to ensure that your bed isn’t making your back pain worse.
A mattress degrades over time. The initial quality and degree of use factor into any estimate, but once a mattress starts to go, it doesn’t matter how good it used to be. Most mattresses last anywhere from five to 10 years. A bed from a top brand should last longer — and in some cases, it does.
The Amerisleep AS2 mattress, for instance, comes with a full 20-year warranty. By contrast, Saatva offers a 15-year warranty with a complex set of conditions. TempurPedic offers a 10-year limited warranty.
Trying to get more use out of a failing mattress can become a vicious cycle. Unfortunately, many people push the limits.
They’ll tolerate the subtle changes in their sleep quality. They won’t necessarily notice the slow changes taking place. People often place the blame for their back pain and restless nights on aging and lifestyle. They don’t consider the possibility that their mattress is the root cause of their troubles.
As the mattress continues to fail, sleep quality drops. During the day, you may become even more tired and uncomfortable, as your body isn’t able to recover from strained muscles or tight ligaments while you’re sleeping. Your sleep posture changes as the mattress becomes less supportive, and you may find yourself spending more time in bed, hoping that more rest will help you recuperate.
This cycle continues, leading to lower energy, lost productivity, and pain.
Watch for these warning signs that your mattress is a part of the problem:
- Sagging: Your mattress should be flat. Really flat. A sagging mattress causes unwanted curvature of the spine, regardless of sleeping position.
- Soreness: Listen to your body if you’re waking up with discomfort. Stiffness that goes away with time or stretching means there’s a good chance your mattress is at fault. If you’re a back sleeper, throw a pillow under your knees. For side sleepers, a pillow between the knees can help until you receive your new mattress.
- Tossing and turning: If you find yourself waking up at night, frequently changing positions to get more comfortable, your mattress could be the cause. Supportive mattresses let you stay in the same position longer, promoting more restful sleep.
- Bad match: Maybe your mattress isn’t old. If you own a mattress that’s too firm for your individual sleep needs, you’ll have too much force on the pressure points in your head, back, shoulders, and hips. This may lead to misalignment, which can cause pain. On the other hand, mattresses that are too soft for your sleep needs can allow the spine to curve when it should be straight. This contributes to poor sleep posture, and it’s an invitation for back trouble. The wrong mattress can create all sorts of problems.
There are other reasons to consider a new mattress that aren’t pain-related. Dust mite super-colonies and allergens are a couple of big ones.
What Is Sleep Posture and How Does It Relate to Back Pain?
Your sleep posture is a combination of a few things:
- Sleep position: Are you a side, back, or stomach sleeper?
- Personal preference: Do you prefer to “sink in” to your mattress or rest “on top” of it?
- Mattress: What kind of bed you sleep on (innerspring, pillow top, memory foam)? What condition is it in?
- Time: How long have you been doing it this way?
Most people follow a typical sleeping pattern. Some side sleepers shift from side to side or raise one knee. Back sleepers never move an inch. Over time, long hours in potentially unnatural positions can affect your body.
When it comes to your back and sleeping, the primary concern is to keep your spine straight and aligned. Your muscles and ligaments should also be in a neutral, relaxed state. If this isn’t happening, back pain could be only a wake-up call away.
If you’re getting up with soreness or frequently waking at night, your sleep posture could be the reason. Follow these best practices to make sure you’re getting the best rest possible:
This is the most common sleeping position, and it’s a reasonably healthy one. Make sure you avoid curling your spine and keep it as straight as is comfortably possible.
Some side sleepers tend to turn their hips and raise one knee so that both knees have contact with the mattress. This puts strain on the lower back and hips and can lead to a sore back. It’s best to avoid doing this.
Try placing a small pillow between your knees to keep your hips in a more natural and comfortable position.
If you notice soreness in one shoulder, you may consider sleeping on the other side. However, sleeping on your left side can carry risks, and we don’t recommend it. A recent study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology concluded that sleeping on your left side can aggravate discomfort from heart conditions.
Back sleeping on a medium-firm bed, such as Amerisleep’s AS2, is best for people with back pain. This is one of the factors that led Business Insider to call it the “best mattress for back pain.” Avoiding a sore back depends heavily on keeping your neck, spine, and hips in a neutral position. Back sleeping is a great way to accomplish this.
If you’re experiencing discomfort, you may need targeted support to help align your spine, especially if you have an aging mattress. Try placing a pillow or a wedge under your knees to help elongate and straighten your back.
Stomach sleepers are most at risk, as they put a great deal of strain on the muscles and ligaments in their necks, backs, and pelvis.
If you’re a stomach sleeper, be aware of your neck. A thick pillow can put it at odd angles. This can lead to real discomfort, particularly for the first few hours of the day.
Proper pelvic support is needed, too. Without it, the spine can gradually begin to curve inward. This can lead to acute or chronic back pain as it becomes misaligned.
Placing a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen can help. It supports you, keeping your back straight. You should also think about using a thinner pillow to reduce the strain on your neck. Try to change the side that you’re facing when you fall asleep or during the night if you awaken.
Make an Adjustment
People have sleep habits, and some are hard to break. But in the case of your sleep routine, it can help you put an end to your back pain. Because sometimes the position that you’ve grown used to isn’t the best one for you.
It’s possible to change your sleeping position with persistence:
- Take care to place yourself in the new position you want each night.
- Prop pillows or cushions around you to make it harder to change your position during sleep.
- If you wake up during the night in your old position, rearrange yourself in the desired posture.
Changing your customary sleep position can be a challenge. It can take some time to get used to it. But in the long run, it may be your best chance for reducing or eliminating your back pain.
If your body is accustomed to a “bad” sleep position, you might actually experience a temporary increase in discomfort as you adapt to your new, better position. This adjustment period is perfectly normal. It’s usually short-lived, though, and stretching can help to relieve any tightness.
Try to stick to your new sleeping choice for at least a month before giving up. However, if you’re dedicated and systematic about it, the process rarely takes that long.
If you feel your sleep posture aligns with best practices but you still feel discomfort, it may be time to consider your gear. The wrong mattress undermines even the best sleeping positions.
How to Choose Your New Mattress
The perfect mattress is:
- Built to address your unique sleep needs
- Within your budget
Take the time to educate yourself. Unfortunately, there’s no single mattress that suits all customers. An excellent choice for one person could be a nightmare for the next.
Think about these factors when shopping for your next mattress.
What’s Your Budget?
There are two truths when it comes to mattress pricing:
- More expensive does not necessarily mean better quality
- Less expensive does not necessarily mean lower quality
Diligence in research is the key to finding your perfect bed at the right price. Several factors influence the pricing of a mattress, including:
- Materials. Natural latex is more expensive than synthetic. Pillow top and hybrid mattresses generally cost more, and their features may not be right for your back. Adjustable air beds involve mechanical parts and air pumps, which cost money too.
- Source. If you’re buying direct, you cut out the cost of the middleman.
- Size. Naturally, bigger beds cost more than smaller ones, but pay attention to the thickness of materials, too. A bed with a four-inch layer of memory foam normally costs more than one with a two-inch layer. It will also feel different. Knowing the right amount for you keeps you from overpaying for materials you might not need.
- Manufacturing. Different processes and materials create different costs for manufacturers. Lower-cost mattresses can sometimes be just as suitable as their pricier counterparts. But, be careful. They’re often made from less desirable materials that might contain allergens and toxins. Find a provider who uses quality materials and an efficient and eco-friendly process. You just might find a high-quality mattress at an attractive price.
- Durability. Mattresses made with cheaper materials can fail quickly. Often the first sign of trouble is in the upholstery layer, which if poorly made can move or buckle to produce bumps and ridges. Other times there might be an overuse of foam or, in an innerspring mattress, an underuse of steel in the coils. Both can lead to the appearance of sagging and indentations within months. A mattress that results from quality materials and assembly should last many years.
It can be tempting to pick the cheapest option available. Sacrificing your sleep and well-being to save a few hundred dollars isn’t a good idea. Typical mattresses range from $300 to $3,000. Custom or luxury mattresses can take you beyond that. TempurPedic’s Cloud Supreme Breeze mattress, for example, is a well-reviewed product from a strong brand, but also comes with an average price tag of $3,499.
There are several types of mattresses, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. Narrowing your choices down to a mattress type best suited for your unique sleep needs helps to speed up the process and put you in a bed that’ll improve the way you sleep and alleviate your back pain.
This basic mattress uses interconnected springs or individual pocket springs to deliver a bouncy, responsive feel. The bonus? They’re also inexpensive.
However, innerspring mattresses are not recommended for back pain. They’re also not a good idea for anyone that shares a bed since they fail at isolating movement. If your partner regularly moves throughout the evening, they’ll easily disrupt your sleep.
If you’re single and a solid sleeper, an innerspring mattress may work for you.
Pillow Top Mattresses
These are generally innerspring mattresses with an added top layer of soft material. Initially they may feel extra comfy, but they’re prone to sagging. They have a shorter average lifespan than most other options.
Pillow top mattresses can sag even before their springs do. The soft materials are repeatedly compressed from bodyweight, which makes them uneven. Even a one-inch depression can cause poor sleep posture and discomfort.
If you can afford to replace your mattress more frequently, a pillow top may be the way to go, as the initial comfort is top notch. But there are better alternatives if you’re prone to back problems.
NASA developed memory foam in the 1970s for use in pilot seats. Since then, people have found lots of great ways to incorporate it. Memory foam provides comfort in many products, including:
- Seat cushions
- Sports equipment
- Medical tables
For sleepers with back pain, an all-foam mattress made with memory foam can be a blessing. Its natural ability to conform to your body shape provides support and comfort in almost any position. Increased support reduces or eliminates pressure points. Less pressure means a more restful and recuperative sleep.
Memory foam mattresses are suitable for any style of sleeper. They’re especially helpful for those dealing with pain or individuals who want to minimize energy transfer in a shared bed. You won’t start bouncing when your partner gets into or out of bed or changes position in the middle of the night.
Traditional memory foam isn’t without its drawbacks, as some consumers feel that it:
- Sleeps hot: Traditional memory foam retains body heat, which can cause you to feel warmer at night. Higher temperatures lead to discomfort which compromises the quality of your sleep.
- Makes them feel stuck: Most memory foam takes longer to bounce back to its original form. It can be difficult to change positions, especially when the foam layer is too thick.
- Smells funny: Many memory foam mattresses emit an unpleasant smell that can take days to dissipate. In some cases, the chemicals released can be toxic and harmful to consumers.
- Isn’t eco-friendly: As an entirely petroleum-based product, some manufacturing processes for memory foam create harmful pollution. Poorly made memory foam can contain irritants and toxins.
Over the years, manufacturers have developed some creative solutions to address these concerns. You can see some examples with the Amerisleep brand’s innovations such as HIVE® technology, Bio-Pur® material, and VPF manufacturing. They deliver memory foam comfort through eco-friendly means without the traditional drawbacks.
These mattresses have innerspring or pocket-spring designs with top layers of gel, latex, or memory foam. They’re meant to combine the responsiveness of an innerspring mattress with the comfort of an alternative.
A hybrid mattress is an excellent choice if you want the contouring of foam and the bounce that comes with innerspring models. But they can be heavy and pricey, and they have a shorter lifespan than other options.
Selecting a mattress based on personal sleeping position is vital to long-term comfort. Your preferred position and your back pain problems can tell you how firm your choice should be. The general sleeping positions are:
- Back sleeping
- Stomach sleeping
- Side sleeping
- Mixed position sleeping
Pure back sleepers account for about 18% of the population according to the Better Sleep Council. As a back sleeper, you’ll want a firmer mattress that supports your spine. Keeping your spine straight helps to avoid back pain, so you’ll need a mattress that isn’t too soft and won’t sag.
Memory foam is a good choice for back sleepers.
If you’re a stomach sleeper with back pain, you need a firmer mattress to distribute pressure evenly. With most of your weight centered on your torso, it’s easy for your spine to curve inward during sleep. This results in aches and discomfort.
Stomach sleepers should get the support they need from foam and hybrid mattresses.
Side sleepers account for 57% of the population. Unlike their back and stomach sleeping peers, side sleepers require a softer bed. By sleeping on your side, all your weight concentrates on smaller areas. You’re much more likely to develop unwanted pressure points.
Side sleepers should avoid most innerspring and firm mattresses and focus on softer foam and hybrid models.
Mixed sleepers, also known as combination (combo) sleepers, start out and end up in different positions. For this reason, they have the most options on the market. Mixed sleepers tend to prefer a medium firmness mattress that offers both support and comfort.
Mixed sleepers find suitable options in many mattress types, such as foam and hybrid.
Best Mattress for Back Pain: 7 Reasons Why We Recommend Amerisleep
Now that you have a solid foundation in what causes back pain and how mattresses can help or harm you, it’s time to decide how to proceed. Remember to factor in your own preferences and budget as you review the detailed reasons for our earlier recommendation.
Mattress Inquirer does recommend the Amerisleep AS2 for back pain, the medium-firm option among the five models on offer. The features that put it over the top are these:
1. Use of Celliant® Covers
Celliant® is fiber-infused with a mix of thermo-reactive minerals that provide a unique and beneficial effect. It turns radiant body heat into infrared light.
Infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye, has longer wavelengths than visible light. Unlike harmful UV radiation, infrared light is safe and beneficial for your body and is often used in the medical field for treatment in:
- Cardiovascular health
- Healing wounds
- Treating muscle injuries
Your skin is essentially transparent to infrared light. It penetrates the body, entering muscles and slightly warming them. It increases localized blood flow to those areas and promotes recuperative sleep.
The FDA has determined* that Amerisleep’s Celliant® cover turns your escaping body heat into infrared light. Because it’s literally built into the fibers that make up the cover, it stays active for the life of your bed.
2. Cooler Sleep with Bio-Pur®
One of the most common complaints with traditional memory foam mattresses is that they sleep hot. Memory foam traps and holds body heat and can produce sweltering nights.
The AS2 uses Bio-Pur®, which differs from traditional memory foam. It uses a large open-cell structure. With more space between foam particles, air has more room to circulate. This structure makes it five times more breathable than other, denser memory foam. With a mattress made from Bio-Pur®, you’ll stay cooler throughout the night.
But it’s not just less dense. Because of its advanced structure, it still conforms to your body. Bio-Pur® is also 10 times more responsive than traditional memory foam. Once the pressure releases, it regains its original shape in seconds. This makes it much easier to change positions or get out of bed quickly. Traditional memory foam can take as long as a full minute to regain its shape.
3. Better Support with HIVE® Technology
The AS2 includes HIVE® technology. HIVE® stands for Harness Intelligent Ventilation and Energy. It creates a transitional layer from the Bio-Pur® foam to the Bio-Core® high-density base.
A clinical study showed that HIVE® technology reduces pressure points by 49.2% when compared to other memory foam mattresses. Another study, by the Better Sleep Council, shows that 81% of consumers want a mattress with targeted back support.
The HIVE® layer uses hundreds of raised hexagon shaped cutouts. These cutouts influence the support given to specific regions of the mattress. They help to increase support where you need it most.
Amerisleep arranges the hexagon cutouts into five comfort zones:
Areas that need more support, such as the head, back, and feet, have hexagons spaced closely together. This tightness leaves little room for them to expand when they become compressed. They don’t allow those areas to sink as much.
For areas that need a bit more softness, such as your hips and shoulders, the hexagons are widely spaced. Having wider gaps allows the hexagons to expand when compressed. You have more cushioning for the parts of your body that are prone to pressure points.
In addition to targeted support, HIVE® keeps you cool. The hexagon cutouts create channels just beneath the top Bio-Pur® layer. These channels provide space for air circulation, which pulls heat away from you.
4. Eco-Friendly Manufacturing
Amerisleep also gets high marks for its work on improved sustainability. The company has taken proactive and effective steps to reduce its carbon footprint.
Foam for Amerisleep mattresses is manufactured using a process called variable pressure foaming (VPF). This is the only method of manufacturing a foam mattress that exceeds the Clean Air Act. The air released from this process is cleaner than the air that goes in.
VPF uses a closed chamber to produce foam. The air used in the process goes through a series of carbon filters. The filters remove all harmful contaminants before releasing air from inside the chamber. The pollutants are then completely recycled onsite.
The VPF process produces zero emissions.
VPF Manufacturing Means Virtually No VOCs
VPF doesn’t require harsh chemicals either. Your mattress will be practically free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). You won’t have to deal with the odor new memory foam mattresses can have.
VOCs are gases that come from some solid and liquid products. They are present in everyday materials such as:
- Aerosol sprays
- Air fresheners
- Dry-cleaned clothing
- Hobby supplies
VOCs are also responsible for that new-car smell that many love. But, they are an irritant and can contribute to adverse health conditions such as:
- Headaches and nausea
- Nose, throat, and eye irritation
- Kidney, liver, and central nervous system damage
- Fatigue and dizziness
It can take some time for VOCs to leave a new memory foam mattress. Bio-Pur® foam made by VPF manufacturing eliminates the VOC problem so you can enjoy your mattress from day one.
Amerisleep also uses less polyurethane than traditional memory foam. It accomplishes this by substituting some of the polyurethane with plant-based oils.
5. The 100-Night, Risk-Free Trial Offer
It takes more than a few minutes on a showroom bed to know if your new mattress is right for your bad back. It’s a good sign that Amerisleep offers its in-store and online customers a 100-night, risk-free trial. Here’s how it works:
- Delivery. Your new mattress arrives at your doorstep, and the 100-night trial begins.
- Setup. The mattress arrives in a box. Once unpacked, just unroll it and let it expand. It takes about two hours for the mattress to absorb enough air for sleeping and up to 24 hours to fully expand.
- Adjustment period. While most people feel right at home from day one, some need a short period to adjust. Don’t worry if you initially feel some soreness — it’s not uncommon. Once your body adjusts to a natural position, you’ll enjoy a more restful sleep. You should allow up to 30 days for the adjustment period, but many people don’t need that long.
- Days 31 to 100. If you’re still not satisfied with your new mattress, contact Amerisleep anytime between days 31 and 100 to request a free pickup and a full refund.
- Pickup. Amerisleep will send someone to pick up the mattress. You won’t need to pack it up or even keep the box. It’s that simple; no added back aches for you.
All returned mattresses are either recycled or donated to a local charity, so there’s no waste.
6. The Industry-Leading 20-Year Warranty
You’ll have a hard time finding a website that doesn’t say that most mattresses last between 6 and 10 years. The Bio-Core® foam base layer in an Amerisleep mattress is well-crafted enough that the company can offer a solid 20-year warranty.
If an Amerisleep mattress sags even three-quarters of an inch within the first 10 years, you get a full replacement. During the second decade — now well beyond the lifespan of most mattresses — you receive a prorated credit toward a replacement.
7. A Variety of Options
Overall, though we’ve recommended the AS2 here, it’s important to remember that Amerisleep has five models to select from. It’s generally possible to find an Amerisleep mattress of the right size and firmness for any need.
SleepAdvisor.org recognized Amerisleep’s line of mattresses as one of the highest-rated foam beds available today.
Business Insider rated the AS2 as the best mattress for back pain, saying:
“If you’ve suffered long enough with back pain, it’s time to wake up to the advantages of a supportive, quality mattress. The Amerisleep AS2 is as good as it gets when it comes to helping your back feel its best.”
SleepJunkie.org — a website dedicated to providing sleep product information to consumers — covers the best mattresses for a bad back and states:
“…our top pick is Amerisleep’s AS2. It’s made of high-quality medium-firm memory foam that conforms to your spine’s natural curves to keep it properly aligned. So, you’ll sleep more soundly now — and for years to come.”
Shopping for a mattress is stressful enough for most people. For those who must consider an aching or ailing back, it’s even more so. That’s why, when recommending a product, it’s crucial for it to live up to its promise to provide restful and restorative sleep.
The Amerisleep AS2 delivers on that promise. It also doesn’t hurt that the risk-free trial and industry-leading warranty showcase the company’s confidence in the product. If you need to replace your old mattress, it’s worth trying out the Amerisleep AS2.
* The FDA has determined that Celliant® products are medical devices as defined in section 201(h) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and are general wellness products. Celliant® is determined by the FDA to temporarily promote increased local blood flow at the site of application in healthy individuals. Hologenix, LLC, the maker of Celliant®, states that Celliant® safely converts body heat to infrared energy. This energy penetrates into the muscle and tissue to promote a temporary increase in local blood flow and help increase comfort and promotes restful sleep.