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A firm mattress may help alleviate back pain by distributing the body’s weight more equally and supporting spinal alignment. This, in turn, may help improve the quality of sleep.
In this article, we look at firm mattresses that may help improve or prevent back pain.
It is important to note that the statements below are based only on research. No one at Medical News Today, including the writer, has tried these products.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke recommend sleeping on a firm surface to help prevent back pain.
However, “firm” means different things to different people, and the best choice of a mattress will depend on a person’s weight and preferred sleeping position.
A 2015 review investigated how mattress types affect sleep quality and pain reduction in people with or without back pain. Studies in the review grouped mattresses into the following categories:
The review found that a medium-firm, self-adjusted mattress was the best at promoting quality sleep, comfort, and spinal alignment.
According to the company’s website, this mattress has the following features:
- A softer side: The makers claim that this provides gentle support around pressure points, which may be more suitable for side sleepers.
- A firmer side: They say that this may provide extra support and less sinking, which may be more suitable for people who sleep on their fronts or backs.
- Motion transfer control: This technology aims to prevent movement from traveling across the mattress, reducing the chances of disturbing a partner while shifting positions.
- Copper-infused memory foam: The foam contains copper gel that firms in response to increased pressure. This may help support pressure points and may also transport heat away from the body, making it a cooler alternative to other memory foam mattresses.
The WinkBed mattress was designed to alleviate back pain. It is available in four levels of firmness:
- Soft: This may be more suited to side sleepers.
- Firm: This keeps the body from sinking into the mattress but is not so firm that the mattress feels hard.
- Luxury firm: This apparently contours the body while providing pushback support.
- Plus: This aims to provide optimum support for people with a higher body max index (BMI).
According to the company’s website, the mattress supports the back by:
- Relieving muscle tension and pressure: A quilted top layer provides cushioning and support for the back, hips, and shoulders.
- Aligning the lower back and hips: A supportive “lumbar layer” aims to prevent sagging and joint misalignment in the lower back and hips.
- Providing adaptive back support: The mattress contains five sets of springs, which are aligned to provide support for different areas of the spine.
The Helix Plus mattress is a hybrid, combining coils and memory foam. The combination may provide extra support for people with a higher BMI.
According to the company’s website, this mattress provides:
- Maximum support: An extra layer of high-density foam and reinforced coils may provide extra support for people with more weight.
- Body contouring: Three layers of foam aim to support and cushion the body, possibly preventing pressure on the joints.
- Temperature regulation: The design of the mattress and its cover aim to increase airflow, keeping the mattress cooler. This may help prevent nighttime sweating.
According to the company’s website, their product combines the durability of a coil mattress and the comfort and support of a memory foam mattress.
A person can design their mattress, choosing the level of firmness and a few other features. But the makers say that each Saatva mattress contains:
- A luxury pillowtop: This cushioned top is apparently antimicrobial.
- Edge support: This foam casing around the edges of the mattress aims to prevent sagging.
- Durable steel coil support: The base of the mattress has “maximum-strength” steel coils that also aim to prevent sagging.
- Individually wrapped coils: These may contour the mattress to improve comfort and prevent motion transfer.
- Spinal zone technology: A wire layer aims to provide additional support in the center of the mattress, while a memory foam layer may reduce stress and tension in the lower back.
- Chiropractic approval: The makers say that the Saatva mattress has received approval from the Congress of Chiropractic State Associations.
The Purple mattress aims to adapt to each person’s body shape and sleep position to ease pressure and support the back.
According to the company’s website, the mattress provides:
- A soft-flex cover: This breathable cover aims to promote airflow, helping people stay cool while they sleep.
- A 2-inch support layer: This is designed to comfortably flex beneath pressure points while providing support to the rest of the body.
- Dual-layered comfort foam: A layer of soft, flexible memory foam rests above a firmer, more supportive base layer.
The Nectar mattress contains memory foam layers that aim to relieve pressure points in the shoulders, hips, and legs and improve spinal alignment.
According to the company’s website, the mattress has the following features:
- a soft, quilted memory foam cover
- a gel memory foam inner, which aims to distribute body weight and heat around the mattress for a more comfortable night’s sleep
- an adaptive memory foam core to help provide support
- a base layer for added support
Some mattress companies also sell pillows designed to alleviate back and neck pain. People can adjust the heights of these pillows to better support their spinal alignment.
Also, if a person wants to keep their mattress but adjust its firmness, they might try a mattress topper — which may be made of memory foam, wool, or latex.
In addition, some people may benefit from adjustable beds, as a change in positioning might provide better back support.
A specially designed mattress may help alleviate or eliminate back pain, and a firm mattress may be a better investment than a soft one.
However, the right level of firmness ultimately depends on a person’s body type and preferred sleeping position.
Most mattress companies offer a trial period, during which a person can decide whether to keep or return the product. The cost of these mattresses can be high, and paying in installments is often an option.
If choosing more supportive bedding does not alleviate back pain, a person should see a doctor to discuss treatment options.