It’s no fun struggling to get out of bed and starting your day with aches and pains in your back. If it’s any consolation, you’re not alone: in the UK, back pain is a common problem that affects millions of us at some point or other. And one culprint that many people overlook: their uncomfortable mattress.
Finding the perfect mattress to fix your back pain, of course, isn’t going to be easy. There I said it. But with any luck, I can help you with your research as I’ve done the legwork and slept on a bunch of mattresses to narrow it down to these top picks for the best mattresses that should stop your back aching.
And let me tell you, not all mattresses are created equal. There’s a LOT of marketing nonsense out there. Some mattresses promise to alleviate your back pain but fall well short when it comes to delivering results. So, in this article, I’ll be giving you an honest review of each mattress and sharing my personal experience with them. No marketing guff, just the real thing.
Let’s dive in and find the mattress that will give you the best night’s sleep and help relieve your back pain once and for all.
I’ve tried in this article to decipher a lot of the mumbo-jumbo that is commonplace in the mattress industry in the UK. But one thing to be aware of: while I am not a chiropractor, these observations that I have made are in tune with the same recommendations that the Sleep Council make. Working with both medical professionals and regular people, I’ve conducted extensive research on what factors contribute to a good bed for those who suffer from back pain. See the “Methodology” section below for details on the procedures I use to evaluate mattresses.
Additionally, I have provided a helpful buyer’s guide that discusses the most prevalent causes of back discomfort while sleeping, the best mattresses for relieving this pain, and how to select the proper mattress based on its design and materials.
Which features should I look out for?
Here is my summary of the top mattress features for those with back issues and/or ongoing pain in their spine:
- Mattresses for back issues should always be relatively firm, but not too firm that they’re like sleeping on a wooden board.
- The lighter you are, the more likely it is that you will need a less-firm mattress. If you are heavier, you will need a firmer mattress.
- Try to get a mattress with a long trial period, to suit your needs if possible. Some now offer a 365-night trial.
- If you’re buying in a shop, don’t go shopping when you’re very tired. All the mattresses will feel nice, even the really hard ones!
Below I will clarify the points further, to make sure that you are clear on what each one means.
As always, I must state that if you have severe back issues then speaking to a licensed professional is a good idea, such as a chiropractor or even your GP.
How to choose the right mattress for back ache
So how do you actually choose the right mattress for back pain/ache…?
Choosing the right mattress can minimise (or even prevent) the factors that may lead to back pain. Too rigid a back will mean your body isn’t relaxed. Too slouchy and you’ll be sleeping with a bent spine – not to be confused with scoliosis.
And don’t assume that a memory foam mattress is softer / more slouchy than a pocket spring mattress because that’s not always the case.
Here are my tips:
- Determine your sleeping position: Your sleeping position can significantly affect how well the mattress supports your body. Side sleepers, for example, need a mattress that provides adequate cushioning for the hips and shoulders, while back sleepers need a mattress that supports the natural curve of the spine. Determine your preferred sleeping position and look for a mattress that’s designed to provide adequate support for that position.
- Consider your body weight: Your body weight can also affect how well a mattress supports your body. Heavier people tend to need firmer mattresses to prevent sagging and provide adequate support, while lighter people may need softer mattresses that can contour to their body’s natural curves. Consider your body weight when selecting a mattress.
- Look for adequate support: A good mattress for back ache should provide adequate support for the spine, hips, and shoulders. The mattress should also distribute wieght evenly to prevent pressure points that can exacerbate back pain. Look for a mattress that’s firm enough to provide support, but not so firm that it’s uncomfortable to sleep on.
- Test the mattress: Ideally, you should try out a mattress before buying it to determine whether it’s a good fit for your body and sleeping position. Many mattress stores offer trial periods, allowing you to try out the mattress for a certain period and return it if it doesn’t work for you.
- Consider the material: Memory foam (and some hybrids) are often good choices for people with back ache, as they provide contouring support that can alleviate pressure points and promote spinal alignment. However, traditional pocket-sprung mattresses can also be a good option, as they provide firmer support that can help distribute weight evenly.
- Don’t forget the pillow: A good mattress is important, but so is a good pillow. Look for a pillow that supports the neck and shoulders and promotes proper spinal alignment.
Top 8 Mattresses for Back Pain (2024)
So without further ado, here are my top choices in the UK for those suffering with generalised back pain or back aches:
1. Nectar Memory Foam – Best Overall
The Nectar Memory Foam Mattress is the #1 choice at WhatMattress for those who suffer from back pain – and for good reason. According to our testing, it’s one of the best bed-in-a-box mattresses available on the market, offering superior comfort and support at ridiculously low price.
What sets “the Nectar” apart from its competitors is its three-layer foam construction. It may not sound like much, but the top layer of breathable “visco” memory foam helps regulate temperature, while the second layer of soft visco foam provides pressure relief. The third layer is a seven-zone, firm foundation layer, designed to provide support and distribute weight evenly.
The mattress’s thickness is also worth noting, as it delivers excellent levels of support and comfort. Unlike some of its competitors, it lets your hips sink into a considerable amount of soft foam before you come up against much resistance from the firm foundation below.
One of the most significant benefits of the Nectar mattress is its year-long trial period, which lets you return the mattress at any time in the first year of ownership for a full refund if you decide it’s not for you. Given that some of its competitors offer a 100-night trial period, having the extra time to decide is undoubtedly a great benefit.
In terms of price, the Nectar mattress was more expensive than many of its rivals when it first launched, but that’s changed over recent months. It’s now more affordable than most brands, making it an even more attractive option for people suffering from back pain.
2. Emma Premium – Best for Couples
Overall, the Emma Premium Hybrid has a medium-firm feel, which is often recommended for people with back pain. It’s not too soft, which can cause your body to sink in too deeply and put pressure on your back, but it’s also not too firm, which can be uncomfortable for some people. This makes it a great option for those who are looking for a mattress that can provide both comfort and support for their back.
Great edge support is another feature of this mattress, which is why I’ve picked it as my best mattress for couples. You should sleep well without worrying about falling off the side of the bed, thanks to the tall pocket springs and sturdy base foam that work together to provide great edge support for a reasonable-ish price.
The mattress features a layer of visco-elastic memory foam, which is known for its ability to conform to the shape of your body and provide targeted pressure relief. This can help to alleviate pressure points and prevent pain from building up in your back over the course of the night. In addition, the zoned pocket spring layer provides tailored support that can help keep your spine in a so-called healthy alignment. It’s also got the right level of firmness, in my opinion.
Overall, the Emma Premium Hybrid is a great option if you are in the market for a new mattress and suffer from back problems. Its medium-firm feel and supportive memory foam and pocket spring construction make it a good choice for a wide variety of sleepers.
3. Simba Hybrid Pro – Best Hybrid
The Simba Hybrid Pro is a premium mattress that, in testing, I found to be one of the most comfortable hybrids on the market.
One of the key features of the Simba Hybrid Pro is the layer of wool directly beneath the top cover. This layer of wool acts as a natural temperature regulator, helping to keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. This is important for people with back pain who tend to be more sensitive to changes in temperature.
Of course, the wool layer also adds an extra level of comfort to the mattress, which can help to alleviate aches in the upper- and lower-back.
The Simba Hybrid Pro is a bit thicker than the regular Simba Hybrid, thanks to its two layers of micro springs and open-cell foam layer. This makes the mattress more supportive and provides better edge support. It also has a thicker top cover that acts as a sleeping surface. However, the cover of the Pro isn’t washable/removable, but you currently get a free mattress protector with every order.
However, the extra comfort and benefits of the Simba Hybrid Pro come at a price, and it’s more expensive than many other premium hybrid mattresses in the market (if you don’t buy it when its discounted anyway). That said, if you’re looking for a high-quality hybrid mattress that provides excellent support, comfort, and temperature regulation, then the Simba Hybrid Pro is probably worth the investment.
Comparison: Top 3 mattresses
Here’s a side-by-side look at the above three mattresses.
|Nectar Mem. Foam
|Simba Hybrid Pro
|?️ Mattress Type
|? Firmness (10 = hard)
|? Lower Back Relief
|? Pressure Relief
|? Motion Transfer
|⏳ Sleep Trial
|? Price (Double)
4. Eve Original – Best Budget Choice
As I’ve said above, it’s important to find a mattress that can provide the right amount of support without sacrificing comfort. The Eve Original is a memory foam mattress that promises to deliver just that, thanks to its unique combination of foam layers. And what’s more, it is really quite cheap.
The Eve Original has a firmness rating of 8 out of 10, making it well-suited for those who need extra support for their lower back. Its 7 contour zones provide targeted support where you need it most, helping to alleviate pressure points and promote spinal alignment.
The mattress is made up of three foam layers: 3cm of memory foam, 3cm of “Evecomfort” foam, and 16cm of high-density base foam. The memory foam and Evecomfort foam work together to provide a comfortable top layer that molds to your body, while the high-density base foam provides deep compression support for the mattress as a whole.
One of the interesting features of the Eve Original is its 365-night sleep trial – like with Nectar, you now get the same one-year length with Eve too. This gives you ample time to try out the mattress and see if it works for your back pain.
While the Eve Original may not have all the bells and whistles of more expensive mattresses, it offers a budget-friendly option for those who need a supportive and comfortable mattress for their back pain. Plus, it’s made in the UK and comes with a 10-year warranty, giving you peace of mind that you’re investing in a product that isn’t, well, made in China.
Rest Assured is one of a few smaller brands that are actually owned by the same company that owns the well-known Silentnight brand. The Rest Assured Adleborough 1400 has a brilliant specification for the price. It’s a pocket sprung mattress – which is the more common alternative to memory foam. It also features a hand tufted finish, which is another sign of a quality mattress.
The Rest Assured Adleborough 1400 cannot be flipped or turns, so instead has to be rotated. When it comes to flipping, it’s often considered beneficial to be able to turn a mattress as this is thought to greatly increase it’s life. This mattress is also one of the only ones available that doesn’t come with any form of trial period – so it’s best to read many reviews or to go and actually try one out before purchasing. It does come with a 5 year guarantee though, which although is a long time, it’s not very long in the world of mattresses.
If you’re looking for a quality mattress, then Sleepeezee is always a very goo bet. They are one of the few mattress brands to have a royal warrant. If that isn’t a sign of quality then I don’t know what is. Sleepeezee are also highly scored all over the internet and on reviews websites such as TrustPilot.
When it comes to firm mattresses, most of them are pocket sprung as opposed to memory foam. The Ultrafirm 1600 is no exception. With a spring count of 1600 this mattress is going to be very firm and supportive. It has 200 more springs than the previously mentioned Rest Assured mattress. Bit it’s £100 cheaper so it is definitely a good buy.
Another good thing about the Ultrafirm 1600 when compared to the Rest Assured Adleborough 1400 is the fact that it can be flipped. This means that it can be turned over every once in a while. This reduces the risk of it sagging and therefore makes it last longer. At 240mm thick, it’s a pretty standard for other similar mattresses within the same price bracket.
Like the Adleborough 1400 the Ultrafirm 1600 comes with a 5-year guarantee. In addition to this you can also take advantage of Sleepeezee’s 100-night guarantee. This all helps you to ensure that you’ve made a good decision when you buy this mattress.
If you’re looking for a quality mattress that has been made in the UK, then look no further than the John Lewis and partners Classic collection. The Ortho Support 1000 is a great extra firm mattress with 1,000 springs which will offer a good level of support as long as you are not too large or too heavy. If this is the case then you may consider purchasing the uprated version of the same mattress, which has a spring count of 1,600 so is sure to offer more support. If you weight over 18 stone though then it is likely that a mattress with a spring count of around 2,000 would be more beneficial to you.
Considering the price of this mattress, it features a number of signs of good quality.
As is the norm with a quality mattress, the Ortho Support 1000 has hand side stitching. This is a much more labour-intensive way of making a mattress, and also gives you more support on the edge of the mattress e.g. when you are sitting on the bed. The mattress can also be flipped or turned, which means that it won’t sag and dip as much. All of this is in addition to the tufted top, which is a much more traditional way of holding a pocket sprung mattress together and is a sure sign of quality.
Although there is no free trial period, there is a 7 year guarantee for this mattress, which is considered as pretty good in the world of mattresses.
Unlike other brands, Owl and Lark don’t sell multiple different variations or products. They only sell one mattress, and they’ve thrown the kitchen sink into it – it’s got a cashmere + wool + latex layer, and is also a hybrid (so has a memory foam layer and then a pocket spring layer).
It is, in many ways, the ‘best of both worlds’. But you have to pay a premium for it, and it’s still a relative newcomer to the UK mattress scene. In other words, it’s a bit difficult to gauge long-term feelings and reviews, but as time progresses I’ll be sure to update my review. If you fancy a punt, go for this.
What actually causes back pain?
Back pain is a widespread issue that affects a significant portion of adults in the UK, perhaps even half of all adults at any one time. It’s often made worse by our sedentary lifestyles and poor posture. Whether we’re sitting at our desks or sleeping in our beds, an unsupportive mattress can exacerbate the problem, making it even more important to find the best mattress for back pain.
According to Dave Gibson, an osteopath, sleep coach, and founder of The Sleep Site, the position we sleep in is crucial for avoiding back pain. He recommends sleeping with your spine in alignment to prevent inflammation from pooling in the affected area. For back and front sleepers, this means finding a firm mattress that keeps your spine straight and prevents it from sinking into a U-shape.
What about heavier people?
I can’t stress this enough: finding the best mattress to alleviate back pain involves taking your weight into account.
People who weigh more than 15 stone will benefit from a mattress with more structure to prevent it from sagging too much and to keep their spine in good alignment while they sleep. Those who suffer from lower back pain should pay special attention to this, as a sagging mattress might make their condition worse.
A firmer mattress will provide additional support and help distribute your body weight more evenly, easing strain on your muscles and joints. The support and cushioning that memory foam mattresses provide can be especially helpful for those with larger bodies who suffer from back discomfort.
However, those adults who weigh less than ~10 stone might not need quite as much from their mattress. Some people with back pain find that softer mattresses alleviate their discomfort while they sleep and help them get a better night’s rest.
So is a firmer mattress always better?
When it comes to relieving back pain, doctors used to recommend very firm mattresses. Interestingly, the sleep quality of the 200+ people who took part in a controlled test who suffered from low back pain found their pain was worse when they used very firm mattresses, according to this survey. Those who slept on medium-firm mattresses reported slightly better feedback.
However, that doesn’t mean you should rush out and buy the softest mattress you can either!
Soft mattresses also have their drawbacksL it’s possible to sink too deeply into a soft mattress, causing painful twisting of the joints as you sleep, even if the mattress itself helps with alignment.
How can I test this?
An easy way to test this is to put a wooden board under your mattress to reduce motion from the bedsprings, or test out your mattress on the floor, to see if you prefer a firmer surface. Another option is to physically try out a number of different mattresses at a shop, of course. What may feel fantatsic for a few minutes in the shop might not be conducive to a restful night’s sleep once you get home, so keep that in mind.
You can get a more accurate reading by comparing how you feel after sleeping on different beds when you’re not at home. For example, many people say that they like the firmer style of Hypnos mattresses that you can find in most Premier Inns in the UK – all Hypnos beds run firm.
Whatever you choose, as we spend roughly one-third of our lives in bed, selecting the right mattress is crucial for managing low back pain. Finding the ideal one for your needs can have a major impact on how well you sleep and how productive you are the next day.
What type of mattress is best for back pain then?
Firstly, the differences between a mattress ‘suitable for back pain’ and an ‘orthopaedic mattress’ aren’t that huge. The key differences are:
- If you have been diagnosed by a specialist and have an orthopaedic complaint, then consider an orthopaedic mattress.
- If you are suffering from a generalised back pain that is ongoing but you haven’t been diagnosed with a specific medical condition, then consider a mattress suited to back pain.
If you have been diagnosed by a professional, then I have written a “top 5” orthopaedic mattress review here.
Now that’s out of the way…
The first things to look for in ANY mattress suited to soothing back pain are the features, followed by the firmness rating.
Back pain sufferers will likely find relief by switching to a more cocooning mattress, such as a memory foam or hybrid, and not the old school innerspring models. The memory foam mattresses in particular mould to the shape of the sleeper’s body, providing support and cushioning to help ease back pain.
However, traditional pocket-sprung mattresses can also distribute your weight well and prevent the sagging that can aggravate back pain.
Do keep in mind that not everyone will benefit from sleeping on a mattress that advertises “contoured” support zones. How well a mattress supports and distributes the body’s weight depends on a number of factors, including the user’s weight, sleeping position, and degree of back pain.
Finally, to minimise sagging and promote even wear, you should rotate your mattress on a regular basis. if it’s possible, you should also flip it every few months – but most mattresses nowadays aren’t really flippable. Overall this last part is really important for back pain sufferers. Why? Because it can have a huge impact on the comfort level and overall support of the mattress: by not flipping it, you’re making it more uncomfortable.
What about upper back pain?
I’ve mentioned lower back pain throughout this review, but if you have upper back pain, then using the right pillow can be just as important as selecting the right mattress. Since the upper back is responsible for supporting the weight of the head and neck, it’s essential to find a pillow that provides adequate support and cushioning in these areas.
Those suffering from upper back pain may find relief by using a pillow that cradles their head, neck, and shoulders. Find a pillow that supports your head and neck without forcing your spine out of its natural curvature.
Pillows made of memory foam or gel are popular choices since they mould to the head and neck for customised comfort. Additionally, there are pillows that are better suited to back sleepers, side sleepers, or stomach sleepers, so it’s clearly very important to select a pillow that works for you. 🙂
So how did I arrive at these conclusions? Glad you asked:
- The methodology used to assess “the best mattresses for back pain” above, involved an extensive research process that considered multiple factors such as firmness, support, and pressure relief. This research included looking also at customer reviews and expert opinions, as well as examining the materials and construction of each mattress.
- To ensure objectivity and accuracy, I or my colleageu tested each mattress for a period of several weeks to gather data on its performance in terms of back pain relief, sleep quality, and overall comfort. This testing involved a diverse group of people with different body types and sleep preferences to provide a comprehensive evaluation of each mattress.
- After the testing period, we compiled and analyzed all of the data to determine the top mattresses for back pain. We considered factors such as price, durability, and customer satisfaction, as well as each mattress’s ability to provide support and pressure relief for the back.
- We also consulted with medical professionals, including chiropractors and physical therapists, to ensure that our recommendations align with their recommendations for people with back pain. This helped us to identify any potential issues with a particular mattress and provided additional insights into the best mattresses for back pain relief.
- Ultimately, our methodology provided a comprehensive and objective assessment of the best mattresses for back pain, allowing us to confidently recommend mattresses that will provide the best relief and support for those suffering from back pain.
So there you have it.
In conclusion, comfort and support are the two most crucial qualities you need to look for in the ideal mattress for helping with your back pains. Numerous high-quality options exist for those seeking relief from back pain and an enhanced night’s sleep, whether they prefer memory foam or a hybrid design.
For those who suffer from back pain, finding the right mattress can make a big difference in their quality of life. It’s important to find a mattress that is both supportive and comfortable, allowing for proper spinal alignment and pressure relief.
Based on my research, I have concluded that the Nectar Memory Foam Mattress is the best mattress in the UK — due to its supportive and comfy design, low odour, and 365-night sleep trial period. If you like the idea of a hybrid mattress but need more support and temperature control, the Simba Hybrid Pro is a great option too.
Please let me know if you’d like to see other mattresses listed in this article in the comments below.
How long should I trial a mattress for?
Nowadays with the advent of mattress-in-a-box companies everywhere, most of them are online-only. So actually physically testing the product might be difficult. Note that a handful of mattress brands such as Simba Sleep do have concessions in some John Lewis stores, meaning you can try out the mattress there in the shop itself.
What about an "orthopaedic mattress"?
According to the Sleep Council, the term "orthopaedic" doesn't really mean much. An orthopaedic mattress generally means that - according to the manufacturer anyway - the mattress may be in the firm side. It is meant for those with back issues but it's an unregulated term open to interpretation. In other words, there is no standard definition of what makes up an orthopedic mattress.
How do I know if a mattress is good for back pain?
A good mattress for back pain should provide adequate support to your spine and align it in a neutral position. It should also offer enough pressure relief to ease the pain points in your body, especially in the lower back area. A medium-firm mattress is usually the best choice for back pain sufferers as it offers a balance of support and comfort.
Can a mattress cause back pain?
A mattress that doesn't properly support your body or that presses too much on your spine can certainly contribute to or exacerbate back pain. A painful night's sleep is not the only side effect of a too-soft or too-firm mattress. A lack of support from an old, worn mattress can also lead to a variety of unpleasant physical symptoms.
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