Best mattresses for back pain UK 2023: we compare lumbar support from Simba, Nectar, Emma, Tempur mattresses
A good night’s sleep can be hard to achieve if you have back pain - but these mattresses have been designed to help alleviate it so you can drift off peacefully
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One in six adults across the suffer from back pain - an issue that can start as a painful inconvenience and devolve into a serious disability. Compounded by bad posture, long days hunched over keyboards, and bad back support while in bed, sufferers turn to myriad solutions to try and fix it. Our first recommendation, of course, is to seek medical advice, but secondarily it to ensure you have a sufficiently supportive mattress.
Why? Sleeping slows our heart rate, and subsequently circulation. This means any inflammation will accumulate in one area, making the pain worse in the morning. A good sleep position can alleviate this.
Sleeping with your spine in correct alignment is key. If you are a front sleeper or a back sleeper, it’s easy for an unsupported spine to settle into a U-shape - this is not good.
As to side sleepers - their spine can fall out of alignment if the pillow is too high or too low, or the mattress too soft.
Soft or firm - which mattress is better for back pain?
First of all - there’s no standardised system for firmess - so that which one manufacturer calls firm, could be medium-firm by another’s reckoning. That said, the prevailing advice for back pain is to seek out a medium-firm mattress.
If you weigh more, though, you’ll need a firmer level of support than a lighter person. If you’re a co-sleeper, and different sizes, you’ll need to look for a mattress with zoned support - luckily you can find mattresses these days designed to provide differing levels of firmness on each side.
If you’ve seen people mattress shopping by bouncing down up and down on one, this is really a perfunctory exercise where back pain is concerned - you’ll have to sleep on a mattress in order to tell if it will alleviate your discomfort.
The trial period an orthopaedic mattress offers can be an excellent indicator of quality. The longer the trial period offered, the more likely the mattress will perform well. 200 night trial? That’s a manufacturer who has faith in their product - you should, too.
Which type of mattress is best for back pain?
Hybrid mattresses - also known as memory foam mattresses - contain a layer of mouldable foam, to contour to your body, allowing both support and a soft, yielding feel from the mattress. Because they use multiple layers of foam, they offer sufficient ventilation to help regulate body temperature. While a regulated body temparature doesn’t affect back pain, specifically, it does, according to research, help “sleep continuity” - i.e. unbroken, restful slumber.
By contrast, pocket-sprung mattresses are generally firmer and provide better weight distribution.
Arguments can be made for both of them - mattress technology is advanced enough these days that leading manufacturers create both hybrid and pocket-sprung mattresses that can help with back pain - so it generally comes down to personal preference on feel and trialling that mattress for at least 30 days to see if it works.
How else can I ease my back pain?
If you’re a side sleeper, it’s thoroughly recommended to sleep with a pillow between your knees to help the alignment of your spine. Also, regularly rotating or flipping your mattress will help it stay at it’s supportive best - think of it as ‘resetting’ the filling.
And if you’re a co-sleeper - get the biggest bed/mattress you can afford. If you have back pain, you’ll need to move around - the best chance you can do that without disturbing your partner is a huge bed - superking if you can. Research supports the argument that the bigger the mattress, the better the sleep.
We’ve rounded up the best mattresses to buy below if you are suffering from muscle tension or pain in your back.
All the prices we have included below are for double mattresses.
Want a perfect night sleep? Read our guide to how to pick a set of bed sheets - linen or cotton, thread count, and the best sets of bed linen UK, or the best earbuds for a sound night’s sleep.