The Best Mattresses to Help Alleviate Back Pain (and Existential Dread)

We all deserve some uninterrupted beauty sleep—and getting a comfortable, supportive mattress is the first step toward a pain-free morning.

Sep 9 2021, 6:24pm

We’ve all woken up with a kink in our back (not the fun kind) and chalked it up to sleeping funny, tossing and turning, or the classic “passing out in downward dog on the couch in between your eighth and ninth DIPA.” Whatever the reason your back is screaming, it doesn’t have to be this way. Seriously—all you need is a solid, supportive mattress to help you stop the cycle of four-Advil mornings. (And, you know, go easy on the couch-boozing.)


Now, getting a new mattress can be a daunting process—we know that. They’re often expensive and a pain in the ass to bring home from the store, and (provided you don’t sleep on a futon) you probably already have one. You also probably have some sort of love-hate relationship with your current mattress and don’t really want to buy a new one, or maybe you have some sort of sentimental attachment to the lumpy slab of springs you’ve been sleeping on since your parents kicked you out for stealing money to buy Digimon cards. The last thing you want to do is listen to some COASTAL ELITE tell you that you need to ditch the bed you found behind the bowling alley because it’s “flea-ridden” and “smells like it was once alive.” Listen, we get it—after all, we’re Americans! We fought a war over the right to stick our fingers in our ears, close our eyes, and never change our outlook on life (or buy a new mattress) despite insurmountable evidence suggesting that we should. [Eats Budweiser can.] But please, fellow patriot, lower the shotgun so that I may share the Good News: Mattresses are higher quality, more affordable, and easier to purchase than ever. You’ve probably been inundated with ads (and possibly an expertly written article or two) for mattresses lately, and there’s a reason for that. People are finally waking up and realizing they don’t have to live in constant, sleep-induced pain—they just need to invest a little cash in a durable, comfortable mattress. 

Sleeping on a mattress that lacks proper support “reinforces poor sleeping posture, strains muscles and does not help keep the spine in alignment, all of which contribute to low back pain,” writes J. Talbot Sellers, a physiatrist at the NeuroSpine Center of Wisconsin who specializes in treating spine pain. “A mattress that provides both comfort and back support helps reduce low back pain, allowing the structures in the spine to really rest and rejuvenate during the night.” In other words—if your mattress isn't doing its job, the muscles in your back will be working overtime while you sleep, meaning that you'll wake up to discomfort. But there's a back-friendly mattress for every budget—and getting one can be a total gamechanger.

So hop into our virtual sidecar and let us guide you on your quest to purchase the thing you’ll spend an entire third of your life on. 

The one that sounds Scandinavian

If you haven’t heard of Saatva, you haven’t been paying attention to the mattress game. (Honestly, we don’t blame you.) The brand’s classic mattress offers a plush Euro pillow top, which “cradles you in cushioned comfort” to relieve stress on your pressure points, while the lumbar zone support layers help ensure healthy spinal alignment—no matter how much you toss and turn. Saatva also works with organizations and mentoring programs to introduce young students to “career paths across our business, from finance and operations to digital marketing and product design.”

Saatva Classic Mattress

$1695.00$1492 at Saatva

Nectar of the gods

What a good name “Nectar” is for a mattress company—before we even looked at the product, we were already picturing a tired worker bee having a snooze on a sunflower. Thankfully, no bees are included with the Nectar mattress, just a sturdy, seven-inch layer of standard foam as well as a three-inch layer of gel-infused memory foam with phase-change material (sounds straight out of The Matrix) that auto-adjusts to your temperature as you sleep. (PS: You can sleep on one of these bad boys for an entire year and return it for a full refund if you're not completely satisfied.)

The Nectar Memory Foam Mattress

$899.00$799 at Nectar

Sleep on the first page of search results

“DreamCloud” might be a little on the nose for a mattress company, but despite sounding like a Silicon Valley startup, the company’s mattresses are great for people with back pain. Innerspring, individually wrapped coils that adapt to your body help you get custom support, while the gel memory foam relieves stress on your pressure points, helping you wake up refreshed and pain-free. There’s also a 100-day free trial if you end up wanting to go back to your alley mattress full of shame and crumpled dollar bills. 

The DreamCloud - Luxury Hybrid Mattress

$1598.00$999 at DreamCloud Sleep

Not the ghost

Though, just as friendly. The Wave Hybrid mattress from Casper is the brand’s best offering for sleepers with back pain, and features continuous ergonomic zones with gel pods that help give you “perfect spinal alignment,” as well as resilient springs that prevent sinking. Oh, and, “9/10 Casper sleepers say they have less back pain after sleeping on our mattresses,” according to the folks at Casper.  

Wave Hybrid Mattress

$2695.00$2290.75 at casper

Cosplay as toast

For that, you’ll need an Avocado—the mattress variety. The Avocado Green Organic Mattress is easy on both the planet and your back, and features up to 1,414 individually tuned, tempered steel coils that float independently to reduce motion transfer, keep your back aligned, relieve back pain, and distribute your weight more evenly. Plus, you get to wake up knowing you’re in Mother Earth’s good graces. (There’s also a vegan option for $100 less.)

Avocado Green Organic Natural Mattress (Queen)

$1599 at Avocado

Ready your wine glasses

Does anybody else remember those commercials? (Wasn’t there one where they, like, sit on an egg?) Anyway, Tempur-Pedic is the tried-and-true OG of the memory foam mattress game—so much so that the brand’s name is often synonymous with the product, like Kleenex, BAND-AID, and Taylor Ham. This TEMPUR-ProAdapt Firm Memory Foam Firm Mattress features a firm yet comfortable sleep surface which cushions and conforms to your body, providing excellent support for people with back pain, as well as reduced pressure on joints and proper body and spinal alignment. Tight.

TEMPUR-ProAdapt Firm Memory Foam Firm Mattress

$3199 at Raymour & Flanigan

Sweet dreams, people. 

The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.  


Health, bed, Sleep, Evergreen, Spine, Sleeping, back pain, mattress, mattresses, furniture, joint pain

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