Can a Mattress Cause Back Pain?

Written by: Andjela Kastratovic
Updated: 05/23/2023

You wake up in the morning, ready to start the new day, but one thing is in the way – back pain. Why does that happen? Can a mattress cause back pain? 

An average human spends one-third of their life sleeping, so your sleeping surface is significant. 

There are ways to know whether your mattress is at fault here, and there are also ways to choose a new mattress that can suit you better. 

Let’s get into it! 

Signs That Your Mattress Is Causing Back Pain

Many people suffer from back pain, and a mattress doesn’t have to be the main culprit.

But how can you know whether your mattress is to blame? Here are some signs you should watch out for. 

You Wake Up in Pain

If you experience pain every morning, you likely have a bad mattress. If it can’t give you proper support, you will wake up tired and with sore muscles.

Although, keep in mind that some other things could also be at play here, like your sleep posture.

You Can’t Get Comfortable at Night

If you find yourself tossing and turning every night instead of going straight to sleep, there’s something wrong with your current mattress. You can’t find the proper position to sleep in, and everything feels wrong. 

The mattress doesn’t provide comfort, and you need that if you want to be pain-free after waking up.

Waking Up Often During the Night

And even if you manage to fall asleep fairly quickly, you keep waking up at night, often feeling very uncomfortable. Your mattress should provide enough support and comfort to allow for uninterrupted sleep. 

Your Mattress Is Too Firm or Not Firm Enough

The wrong mattress firmness can have a lot of impact on your spinal health

Most people prefer a medium-firm mattress, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect for everyone. If your mattress is too firm or soft for your body, it can cause back pain. 

A mattress is supposed to provide support, but mattress firmness can significantly affect the neutral alignment of your spine.

A firm mattress can feel like you’re sleeping on the floor, but a soft mattress feels like clouds. The first puts too much pressure on your back, while the other doesn’t do enough, causing you back pain in both cases.

You Sink Too Much Into the Mattress

Sinking into the mattress is also bad for your spine.

The thing with mattresses is that softness doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s an ideal mattress for you. A firmer mattress can still be comfortable.

In fact, soft mattresses that let your body sink in too much can’t keep your spine in a neutral position and can make your joints twist, which creates back pain. 

You Have a New Mattress

Did you start having back pain after getting a new bed? Are you thinking about exchanging it for a new one? 

Don’t do that just yet! It can take time for your body to adjust to the new bed, so you should wait before you make your decision. 

Your Have an Old Mattress

Old mattresses have many problems that can impact your spinal health, causing back pain. They often can’t support your body, and they can’t provide comfort.

If you have an old mattress that keeps you up at night, you should get rid of it.

You Always Feel Tired

You get eight hours of sleep every night but still feel like you haven’t slept at all after waking up. This is often a sign that you need to say goodbye to your old mattress because it can’t offer you good sleep quality and can cause back pain.

Your Mattress Is Lumpy and Saggy

Is your old mattress already too lumpy and saggy? Can it give you the support you need? 

Most old mattresses lose shape over time, and lumpiness and sagginess are sure signs that you need to get rid of your old mattress. These things are uncomfortable and can cause back pain!

You Feel Like You’ll Roll Off the Bed

Do you like to sleep near the edge of your mattress? Does it ever feel like you’re going to fall off? 

If your mattress is like this, it has trouble with edge support. The lack of edge support can strain your spine and hurt you even more if you roll off the mattress. 

Your Back Pain Is Gone After a Couple of Hours

The back pain is there every morning but goes away after a couple of hours. And then you go to bed, sleep, and it’s there again tomorrow. 

This is one of the telltale signs that your mattress is to blame. It impacts your spine during the night, and you feel it the next day.

What Should You Do if Your Mattress Is Causing Back Pain?

You read this list, and you realize that maybe your mattress is to blame. What do you do now?

Well, you need to get the right mattress. You don’t necessarily have to look for a good mattress for back pain; you need to find the ideal mattress for your body and sleeping preferences.

Look for a high-quality, supportive mattress with proper firmness for your body weight and preferred sleep position. You can also look for one with zoned support.

And make sure that it relieves pressure points! Mattress materials that push against your body too much can lead to back pain. Different materials offer different levels of pressure relief, but memory foam is known as a good choice for those experiencing pain.

Finally, know that sleeping positions also matter. It matters when you choose a mattress, and it matters in general. Stomach sleepers can feel more neck pain and can’t keep their spine aligned. If this is a problem for you, consider switching your sleeping position. 

How to Sleep With Back Pain

However, your mattress isn’t always the only one to blame. Here’s how to sleep better, even with back pain. 

If you can’t invest in a mattress right now, you could use a mattress topper to fix some issues. Know that mattress toppers can’t fix problems with support, but they can make a mattress more comfortable. 

Make a mattress firmer or softer with a mattress topper, or add pressure relief to it. 

You can also use extra pillows. Back sleepers can put a pillow beneath their knees so their spine is under less pressure, and side sleepers can put one between their knees to keep their hips aligned and avoid lower back pain.

And it’s not just about your body at night. Bad posture during the day can do more harm to your back than sleeping can, even if you have the ideal mattress.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Firmness Is Best for Back Pain?

There’s no best firmness for back pain. The mattress should be soft and firm enough to fit the sleeper and their body. 

As a general rule, firm mattresses can cause as much harm as soft ones, and your ideal mattress should suit your body.

Can a New Mattress Cause Back Pain?

Yes, a new sleeping surface can cause back pain if you aren’t used to it. Especially if it’s different from the mattress you used to sleep on. 

What Is the Best Mattress for Back Pain?

There are no rules; it’s all about what your body needs. The best mattress for back pain is a high-quality mattress that provides enough support and comfort. 

Final Thoughts

So, is it time to get a different mattress?

Remember that spine health is essential and should always be a priority. Different mattresses are made to fit different people, so it makes sense that your ideal mattress has the attributes that suit you.

If you have chronic back pain, make sure to seek professional medical advice!

Good luck with your search, and get a good night’s sleep!

Reviews written by:

Andjela Kastratovic - Co-editor

Anđela is a content writer by the day and an Illustrator by night. She loves anything creative, but sleep takes the cake – that’s why she enjoys writing for Anatomy of Sleep so much!

While in high school, she got accepted for her dream job – a ‘professional sleeper’. Her job was to test new mattresses from a local mattress brand and write reports on the quality of sleep. Ever since then, she’s been in love with reviewing mattresses and putting her compelling research into ultimate buyer’s guides. While not exploring the latest brands, she likes to illustrate and spend time with her dog and friends.