Best Mattress for Back Sleepers
Back sleeping is relatively uncommon, as more and more people choose to fall asleep on their sides. But the position does let you relax by evenly distributing your weight, keeping your spine, pelvis, and hips in a neutral position.
For a back sleeper to make the most of their position, though, they need the right mattress. The best mattress for a back sleeper is equally supportive and plush. Most back sleepers find a medium-firm mattress strikes the right balance.
Our First Recommendation: Zoma Mattress
Our Zoma Mattress is 11 inches tall, a thickness suited for most back sleepers. Back sleepers sleep best on mattresses between 10 to 12 inches thick. Any thicker, and they might sink too far into the bed.
The Zoma Mattress has three distinct foam layers.
The first layer is 2 inches of soft and contouring gel memory foam. The gels we add to the foam mixture keep you cool and make the bed a little bit bouncier, while our memory foam wraps itself around the body to relieve aches and pressure.
Our Triangulex™ technology is in the first layer as well. The memory foam is solid in the middle, but we segment it into triangle cutouts in the legs and shoulders for more breathability and pressure relief. This provides a better balance of support and comfort.
Next is the second layer made with 2 inches of Reactiv™, a highly-responsive and latex-like foam. This springy foam adds support and responsiveness, making for a more comfortable mattress.
Finally, the third layer is 7 inches of our Support+ foam. This durable core supports the two top layers and the body, night after night.
Encasing the whole mattress is our cover, made with polyester and elastic material. Elasticity makes the cover more breathable, as the cover creates additional air channels as it stretches.
Our Zoma Mattress is $699 for a queen, with free shipping to anywhere in the 48 continental states. Every Zoma Mattress comes with a risk-free 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
And if you don’t love your Zoma Mattress after the adjustment period, we make returns easy. We will help you donate your mattress and issue a full refund.
Our Second Recommendation: Zoma Hybrid
Like our original memory foam model, the Zoma Hybrid is well suited for back sleepers. The supportive coils offer a slightly firmer feel, maintaining your spinal alignment as you rest.
The 12-inch Zoma Hybrid has four layers.
The top layer is 2 inches of gel memory foam. The cool memory foam fully molds to your body, even to difficult spots such as your back’s curves. This relieves pressure points that could otherwise build up into pain.
The first layer also contains perforations to improve airflow and spinal support. We place triangular cutouts in the head and foot of the mattress to increase its contouring abilities. This feature provides more pressure-relieving cushion while maintaining firm back support.
In the second layer, we have 2 inches of Reactiv™ foam. As the name implies, the material reacts to your movements, improving the bed’s response time.
The third layer is 7 inches of pocketed coils and provides the bed’s support. Pocketed coils are wrapped to reduce motion transfer, so the entire bed won’t bounce with your every movement. Firm foams surround the coils, adding protection that also doubles as edge support.
The last layer is an inch of base foam, which helps the coils remain straight and structured.
A queen size Zoma Hybrid is $999 and includes a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty. The warranty provides coverage for any Zoma mattress that sags beyond 0.75 inches.
About Back Sleeping
Back sleeping keeps the spine aligned. There are drawbacks to the position, however, such as an increased risk of developing sleep apnea or upsetting your digestive system.
Benefits of Back Sleeping
Back sleeping is the best position for spinal alignment. When you sleep on your back, your body weight is distributed evenly, which prevents pressure from building up. Sleeping on your back can prevent or soothe lower back pain.
Back sleeping is also easy on the limbs, as they rest at the sides with little pressure placed upon them. In contrast, side sleepers sometimes struggle to find a comfortable position for their arms, and they may wake up if they place too much pressure on their arms.
Back sleepers don’t press part of their face into their pillow while they sleep as they would while side sleeping or stomach sleeping. By keeping your face cleaner, you reduce your chances of waking up with acne. Back sleeping also minimizes the likelihood of developing premature facial wrinkles.
Risks of back sleeping
Snoring is one of the more likely consequences of back sleeping. Snoring is caused by gravity pushing down the tongue or the soft tissues at the back of the throat, which blocks the airway, causing snoring. This can also lead to obstructive sleep apnea, which has ties to serious conditions such as heart disease, asthma, and type 2 diabetes.
Back sleeping can also worsen symptoms of GERD, more commonly known as acid reflux. When you sleep on your back, it’s easier for stomach acid to flow up the esophagus, which can irritate the esophagus and cause pain. A wedge pillow or adjustable bed base can keep the head elevated and stomach contents in place.
Your mattress should have equal amounts of support and cushion to prevent that.
What Back Sleepers Need In a Mattress
A back sleeper needs a mattress that strikes a balance between support and comfort. The mattress must be resistant enough to keep the spine supported, but plush enough to mold to the curves of the spine.
Many back sleepers sleep best on a mattress with a medium-firm feel. Back sleepers who like a softer feel or who weigh less than 130 pounds may want to consider a medium mattress. A firm mattress can be good for plus-size back sleepers or those who like to rest on top rather than sink into their bed.
A good mattress for a back sleeper should be on the thinner side of our recommended thickness range of 10 to 14 inches— between 10 to 12 inches tall. A mattress that’s too thick may swallow the sleeper and curve their spine out of alignment.
Mattress Types for a Back Sleeper
The most common types of mattresses available are memory foam, latex, innerspring, and hybrid mattresses. While none of them are bad mattresses, some are more suited to back sleepers than others.
Still, the right mattress is often a matter of personal preference. Perhaps you prefer a bouncier bed than one that cradles you, or perhaps a bed that eases pressure and pain is what you most want after a long day.
Memory foam mattresses have been around for a while (since the 90s). Still, their rise to popularity is relatively recent, as the convenience of bed in a box mattresses caused the material’s popularity to skyrocket.
Easy delivery isn’t the best of what memory foam has to offer, though. The material has excellent contouring ability, easily conforming to the body for pressure and pain relief. It’s also the best material to prevent motion transfer, making it an ideal choice for anyone who shares a bed.
A memory foam mattress has two to four layers. The base layer should make up at least 50 percent of the mattress; otherwise, the bed will lack support.
Traditional memory foam mattresses can overheat as their dense structure holds onto body heat. A memory foam mattress with cooling components such as cooling gels, charcoal, graphite, or copper, can keep a hot sleeper cool.
Latex foam has a similar feel to memory foam, and the material molds itself to a body nearly as well. However, latex is naturally cooler and more responsive than memory foam. The responsiveness can make it easier to move about, but it also means a latex mattress doesn’t isolate motion as well as a memory foam mattress does.
There are two main types of latex, natural latex and synthetic latex. Of the two, we recommend natural latex, as it’s a more durable material that can last up to 15 years. However, latex mattresses tend to come with a high price tag, and the beds can be heavy and difficult to move.
Innerspring mattresses are still popular, despite other mattress options. The beds are bouncy and offer good edge support, which can keep you from feeling as if you’re about to roll off.
An innerspring mattress consists mostly of a coil support system, with a thin layer of foam or fiberfill on top. The thin comfort layer helps the mattress stay cool, but it also means an innerspring mattress typically lacks the flexibility to mold to the spine’s four curves. A mattress topper can improve the pressure relief an innerspring mattress offers, but it might not contour as much as a foam or hybrid mattress would.
Hybrid mattresses are a mix of springy coils and pressure-relieving foam, usually memory foam. The coils are typically wrapped in fabric or foam for better motion isolation. A hybrid must contain at least 2 inches of foam to qualify as a hybrid mattress.
Hybrid mattresses can provide a good night of rest for back sleepers, particularly models made with lumbar support to prevent or ease back pain. However, hybrid mattresses can be one of the more expensive mattress types, and usually, a hybrid gives out before a high-quality memory foam or latex mattress would.
Other Sleep Styles
Sleeping on your back isn’t the only position you can choose from. There’s also side sleeping and stomach sleeping, and some sleepers move between two or three positions in the night. A good sleeping position supports the spine’s neutral position.
Sleeping on your side is the most common sleep position, and it’s also one of the healthiest. By sleeping on your side, you can reduce pressure on your heart, decrease acid reflux symptoms, and open up your airway.
Side sleepers, however, may need to take steps to make sure their spines don’t move out of alignment. A soft to medium mattress and a pillow between the knees can help. A plush mattress minimizes the gap between the body and the mattress surface and relieves pressure in the hips and shoulders.
Stomach sleeping is possibly the least healthy position because it can lead to more serious health issues. The spine may be thrown out of alignment if the stomach sinks into the mattress too far, which is more likely to happen as gravity pushes down on the stomach in this position.
Those who can’t give up stomach sleeping should consider a firm mattress and pillow under their stomach to keep the spine aligned.
If you find yourself changing between back sleeping and one or two other sleeping positions, you’re probably a combination sleeper.
Combination sleepers may want to consider a medium mattress with motion isolation to suit their various sleep positions better. Another solution is for a combination sleeper to train themselves to sleep in one position. A body pillow can help keep you on your side, while a tennis ball attached to the front of your sleepwear by sewing or taping it on can prevent you from rolling over.
Mattress brands use firmness levels to label a mattress’s feel. Descriptions such as “medium-soft” or “extra firm” are used, but you may also see number rankings based upon the firmness scale.
The firmness scale goes from 1 to 10, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest. You’ll find very few mattresses with a 1 or a 10 rating as most people would not sleep comfortably on beds that soft or firm.
Your body weight can affect the feel of your mattress. Someone weighing less than 130 pounds often sleeps better on a softer mattress. A mattress for someone over 230 pounds should be firm to support their body weight better.
Sleep Trial, Warranty, and Return Policy
A mattress can be a big purchase, and to make sure the customer is protected, a good mattress comes with a sleep trial, warranty, or return policy. Be cautious of any mattress that doesn’t come with all three of these, particularly a warranty since it can mean the manufacturer isn’t willing to back their product.
A sleep trial is the trial period you have to try out a new mattress in the comfort of your home. Typically a sleep trial lasts between 90 to 120 days. Online mattress companies popularized the concept, though you’ll find some mattress stores provide sleep trials with their mattresses.
The mattress company may ask or require a customer to keep the mattress for 30 days before they will allow a return. This is because it takes a person about 30 days to adjust to a new mattress, even if the new one is an improvement over their previous mattress.
A mattress warranty covers manufacturing and structural defects, but not damage from normal wear and tear or poor ownership. In the case of a defective mattress, the company will repair or replace your mattress. Warranties are the sign of a manufacturer’s faith in their product, so we recommend you always buy a mattress with one.
Most mattress warranties last 10 years. A warranty more than a decade long is frequently a prorated warranty, which means the customer will cover part of the costs of repairing or replacing a mattress after the first 10 years.
It’s a smart idea to read through the warranty carefully, as it details what the expectations are for a mattress owner and what a mattress owner can expect if they need to repair or replace their mattress. For example, spills can void your warranty, so we advise encasing the mattress in a waterproof mattress protector.
We recommend reading the return policy before you buy a mattress. A return policy is typically included as part of a sleep trial, although a mattress without a sleep trial can still have a good return policy. Consider a mattress with a return policy with at least a 30-day guarantee to allow you enough time to adjust.
Check if there are any hidden fees for a return, such as a restocking fee or a shipping fee. Avoid these types of return policies if you can. Many mattress companies will not accept a mattress back if it’s dirty, stained, or damaged.
Setting a Budget
Now that we’ve talked about what to look for in a mattress, you may be wondering what’s a fair price to pay for a good mattress? It can be confusing, as you’ll find mattresses for as little as $100 and some for more than $3000. We recommend budgeting between $750 to $1200 for a new mattress.
If you’re shopping on a tight budget, don’t worry. With a little bit of searching, you can find a decent budget mattress for under $500. When you’re considering a budget mattress, try to find a mattress that’s close to 10 inches thick.
To save more money, try shopping online and on one of the big sales days such as Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Black Friday. If you’ve missed a sale, look and see if the company website offers promo codes for first-time buyers.
Other Tips for a Back Sleeper
A better mattress is a big part of improving your sleep quality, but it’s not the only step you can take. By developing better sleep habits, you should see a marked increase in how well you sleep.
The first step you can take is to establish a bedtime that gives you seven to eight hours of sleep. Stick to your bedtime and standard waketime on the weekends, as disrupting your routine can affect your sleep quality during the week.
Your bedtime routine can also include ways to wind down, such as taking a warm bath 90 minutes before bed. Turn off your electronics a couple of hours before bed and relax by reading a book or journaling. If you’re sometimes plagued by worries when you’re trying to nod off, spending a few minutes writing them down and concocting solutions can help you fall asleep.
Don’t get frustrated if you have difficulty falling asleep, as stress will only help keep you awake. Give yourself 20 minutes, and if you’re not sleepy, get out of bed and relax with a good book and a cup of warm milk or herbal tea. Keep the lights low to prevent wakefulness, and return to bed after 15 to 20 minutes or when you start feeling tired. The best pillow for a back sleeper is a medium-loft pillow between 3 to 5 inches tall. It should support the neck with any gaps, to prevent neck pain in the morning. The head should rest flat on the pillow to stay aligned with the spine. A wedge pillow or two can help with a back sleeper’s health. By sleeping with their head on a wedge pillow, back sleepers can prevent the collapse of soft tissues that can lead to snoring or sleep apnea and limit symptoms of acid reflux. A wedge pillow underneath the knees reduces pressure on the lower back, minimizing the chances of back pain. Many sleep experts advise against stomach sleeping because you could develop chronic back pain. When you lie on your front, gravity tends to push your belly into the mattress. As your stomach sinks into the mattress, it pulls your spine out of its neutral alignment.
Frequently Asked Questions
The best pillow for a back sleeper is a medium-loft pillow between 3 to 5 inches tall. It should support the neck with any gaps, to prevent neck pain in the morning. The head should rest flat on the pillow to stay aligned with the spine.
A wedge pillow or two can help with a back sleeper’s health. By sleeping with their head on a wedge pillow, back sleepers can prevent the collapse of soft tissues that can lead to snoring or sleep apnea and limit symptoms of acid reflux. A wedge pillow underneath the knees reduces pressure on the lower back, minimizing the chances of back pain.
Many sleep experts advise against stomach sleeping because you could develop chronic back pain. When you lie on your front, gravity tends to push your belly into the mattress. As your stomach sinks into the mattress, it pulls your spine out of its neutral alignment.
Did We Help?
Back sleeping isn’t the most common sleep position, but there are still many people who find it to be the most comfortable position. The right mattress should have a durable support system, relief for pressure points, and just enough malleability to follow the curves of the back.
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.