If you’re waking up with hip pain or having trouble falling asleep because of it, you’re not alone. There are many potential reasons for hip pain, and the problem can be as simple as a bad mattress.
A bad mattress can cause or worsen hip pain by putting too much pressure on your hips or spine. Your hip pain may get worse if nothing is done.
In this guide, we cover some of the common causes of hip pain, what a sleeper with hip pain should look for in a mattress, and what might be the best mattress for you. We also go over lifestyle changes sleepers can make for a better night of sleep, such as a new sleep position and improved sleep hygiene.
Causes of Hip Pain
There are many factors and medical conditions that can cause hip pain. A doctor can diagnose the reason and help you come up with a treatment plan.
Some possible medical causes of hip pain include:
- Arthritis, specifically osteoarthritis, is a common cause of hip pain. Osteoarthritis comes from the wear and tear placed on joints as cartilage breaks down with age.
- Tendinitis, is when the tendons connecting your muscles and bones are irritated or inflamed from overuse. This can occur after physical activity or simply as a result of aging, leaving you with some pain, tenderness, and stiff joints.
- Bursitis is when the fluid-filled sacs around your joints, known as bursae, are inflamed. This is commonly caused by overtaxing a joint or by an injury. Lying down can worsen the pressure on the hip area, increasing pain.
- Sciatica is when the sciatic nerve gets inflamed, causing pain. The sciatic nerve runs from your lower back through your hips and down your legs. Often, sciatica affects only one side of the body.
- Hip fractures come with a sudden and severe hip pain. Fractures are more common with age, as bones become more brittle and the dangers of falling increase.
- Pregnant women may find themselves waking up with hip pain. The right mattress, a pregnancy pillow or knee pillow, and a switch to side sleeping can help make the pregnancy more comfortable.
- Overexertion from exercising can cause soreness. If you overdid it at the gym, we recommend relaxing for a few days, doing nothing more intense than going for a walk or a swim.
Hip pain can also be a symptom of back problems or bowel issues. This is known as referred pain, where the pain you feel originates in another part of your body. Fixing the underlying issue can lessen or even eliminate any pain.
If you’re waking up with hip pain, it can be a sign you’re sleeping on a bad mattress or that your sleeping position is stressing your body. Check if there are other signs your mattress needs replaced, such as wear and tear or a loss of its shape.
If you want to be certain the problem is your bed, spend a night elsewhere such as at a hotel. A better night’s sleep outside of your bed likely means it’s time for a new mattress.
What a Sleeper With Hip Pain Needs From A Mattress
When you’re looking for your next mattress, there are a few points you should not compromise on if you want to wake up pain-free in the morning.
A supportive mattress can help maintain healthy spinal alignment. This means a bed should keep your spine in a posture similar to how it would be if you were standing straight. Mattresses prone to sagging, such as innersprings or hybrids, can have their support compromised as they wear out.
A pressure-relieving bed is essential to soothe chronic pain. When pressure builds up in your joints, it can cause or worsen pain. Memory foam is the best type of mattress to relieve pressure, with latex as a close second, followed by a good hybrid mattress.
A durable mattress is something all sleepers should look for. You can gauge a mattress’s expected lifespan from its material, with natural latex and memory foam mattresses often lasting eight or more years. Look at the included warranty as well, as a warranty covering less than 10 years can be a warning sign the mattress is not high-quality.
Our Recommendation: Zoma Mattress
We designed our Zoma Mattress to provide pressure and pain relief, regardless of a sleeper’s lifestyle. We drew upon more than 20 years of mattress-making experience and cutting-edge technology to create it.
The Zoma Mattress stands 11 inches tall with three foam layers. Let’s take a closer look at each layer.
The first layer is 2 inches of gel-infused memory foam for a cool night’s sleep. This layer contains our unique Triangulex™ technology.
Triangulex™ contains triangle-shaped cutouts in the shoulder and leg areas for added breathability and comfort, and the middle of this layer offers solid support to your midsection. By splitting the mattress into these three zones (legs, midsection, shoulders), your hips and torso receive maximized support while your shoulders and legs receive extra pressure relief.
The mattress’s second layer contains 2 inches of Reactiv™ foam. Reactiv™ is a responsive polyfoam with a bounciness similar to latex. This layer acts as a buffer between the top comfort layer and the support core underneath.
The final layer is 7 inches of our high-density Support+ foam. Support+ foam supports the layers above it, making the bed even more durable.
Wrapped around the mattress is our cover. The cover’s fabric is mostly polyester, with a hint of elastane to stretch the fabric and create air channels.
The Zoma Mattress is $750 for a queen size and comes with free shipping, a 100-night risk-free sleep trial, and a 10-year warranty.
If you’re not satisfied with the Zoma Mattress, returning it is simple. We will work with one of our local partners to pick up the mattress after which you will receive a full refund.
There are a few different mattresses available on the market, but the main four types are memory foam, latex, innerspring, and hybrid. Some are more suitable for hip pain than others, but you can read about all four and decide which one is best for you.
We recommend a memory foam mattress to best alleviate hip pain. A memory foam mattress molds to your body for full support and minimal pressure build-up.
A memory foam mattress also minimizes motion transfer better than any other type of mattress, making it suitable for anyone who shares a bed. A decent memory foam mattress lasts about seven years, and a high-quality memory foam mattress can last eight or more years.
Memory foam does have its drawbacks. One is how traditional memory foam traps body heat, which can overheat your body and wake you up.
Many manufacturers account for this by adding cooling gels to the foam mixture. Once added, the gels will absorb and dissipate body heat. Other brands mix in copper, charcoal, or graphite to create a cooling mattress.
A low-quality memory foam mattress may not respond fast enough to a sleeper’s movements, leaving the sleeper “stuck” in the mattress. Cooling infusions can impact its response time, with gel memory foam and plant-based memory foam often bouncing back quicker than traditional memory foam.
When shopping for a memory foam bed, we recommend looking for one that’s not only soft and contouring but offers support and responsiveness as well. Pay attention to the construction of each layer and search for an even balance of support and comfort.
A latex mattress can be another good choice to alleviate hip pain. While latex foam is not as conforming as memory foam, it still conforms well to a sleeper’s curves.
Latex is more breathable than memory foam, which helps to keep a sleeper cool. It’s also bouncier than memory foam, but latex doesn’t isolate motion as well as memory foam does.
Latex is either produced from rubber tree sap or from the organic compounds styrene and butadiene. The first creates natural latex, while the second produces synthetic latex.
Natural latex is an eco-friendly and durable material— some natural latex mattresses last up to 15 years. This can make the high cost of a natural latex mattress a rewarding investment.
Some sleepers find latex is firmer than they were expecting. To offset this, many companies offer an optional pillow top.
An innerspring mattress contains hundreds of steel coils to give the bed its bouncy support. The space between the coils in the support layer makes an innerspring one of the more breathable mattress types available. However, the coils easily transfer movement so innersprings may not be the best choice for anyone who shares a bed.
We do not recommend an innerspring mattress for sleepers with hip pain. An innerspring often lacks the waist support, durability, and malleability needed to soothe a sleeper’s hip pain and keep the spine in healthy alignment.
Your body weight often shifts to your hips while lying on an innerspring mattress, causing your hips to sink into the bed and shift your spine out of alignment. A firmer innerspring mattress typically doesn’t correct the problem, as the bed may instead raise the hips too high.
The coils of an innerspring mattress sag as the bed ages, compromising support. This can happen in as little as five years.
You may have grown up sleeping on an innerspring mattress, but as we get older we often need a bed with more contouring. While innerspring mattresses can come with a quilted pillow top to cushion the body, it cannot match the moldability of a foam or hybrid mattress.
A hybrid mattress has a coil system in its base and at least 3 inches of foam on top. Typically a hybrid mattress uses a pocketed coil system, meaning each coil is wrapped in fabric or foam to better isolate motion.
Hybrids may not be the best for a sleeper with hip pain. While the top layer(s) of a hybrid mattress can conform to a sleeper’s body, a memory foam bed tends to mold better to the body. Many hybrids contain low-density foam, which doesn’t provide sufficient support to alleviate pressure points.
Hybrid mattresses often have high prices. A hybrid can last longer than an innerspring mattress but its coils are still likely to sag after about six years.
If you’re considering a hybrid mattress, look for one with a supportive foam layer and a transition layer between the top and bottom layers. A transition layer can add more pressure relief and spinal support.
Sleep Position: How It Can Help or Hurt
Your sleeping position can cause you to wake up in pain if it puts added stress on your spine or if you’re sleeping on an unsuitable mattress. Ideally, your sleeping position keeps your spine in its neutral position, neither raising nor lowering it out of alignment.
Changing your sleep position can reduce pain, as can sleeping on a quality mattress better matched to your sleep style.
While side sleeping has its advantages and health benefits, it can cause pain by placing extra pressure on the shoulders and hips. If you’re a side sleeper waking up with hip or shoulder pain, you may be sleeping on an improper mattress.
The best mattress for a side sleeper lets the hips and shoulders sink in just enough to keep the spine from curving. For this reason, side sleepers should consider a mattress with a soft to medium firmness. We recommend memory foam mattresses for side sleepers, as it’s the material that best contours to the body.
Back sleeping keeps the spine in a neutral position and evenly distributes your body weight across the mattress. It can be a good position for soothing chronic pain, as your limbs and body are more at rest and less contorted than they would be in other positions.
Back sleepers do best on a medium-firm to firm mattress. Be careful as this position can cause pressure to build up in the base of the spine. A pillow underneath your knees can help mitigate the pressure build-up.
By sleeping on your stomach, you risk lower back pain and spinal misalignment. Sleeping on your stomach moves your center of gravity to your torso, which can cause your hips to sink into the mattress and stretch your spine out of alignment.
A firm mattress and a pillow underneath the pelvis can better keep a stomach sleeper’s spine aligned. However, we advise stomach sleepers try side or back sleeping instead. A new mattress and a body pillow can make the switch easier.
Different firmnesses are best for different sleepers. Many chronic pain sufferers find a medium or medium-firm mattress helps most but your perfect firmness may be something else.
Your sleeping position isn’t all that determines what firmness offers you the best support. Your body weight also affects the feel of your mattress. A heavy sleeper typically enjoys a firmer mattress because their weight compresses the layers, changing the feel, while a lightweight sleeper does better on a softer mattress.
When it comes to mattress weight capacity, you’re considered a heavyweight sleeper if you weigh more than 230 pounds and a lightweight sleeper if you weigh less than 130 pounds.
Many brands don’t just describe their mattresses with a label like “medium-firm” or “firm.” They come up with these labels by using the firmness scale, which runs from 1 to 10. A softer mattress has a lower rating, a firmer mattress a higher one.
Each company has its own slightly different take on the firmness scale. Take a moment to skim through mattress reviews and customer feedback before you purchase a bed. Are there any customers unhappy with how firm or soft their mattress was? A little bit of research can save you trouble later on.
Edge support keeps a sleeper from feeling they’re about to roll off the bed. If you wake up with hip pain, edge support can make getting out of bed easier.
The trade-off to edge support is it shrinks your available sleeping surface. Edge support can also break down before the rest of the mattress does.
Sleep Trial, Warranty, and Return Policy
A mattress purchase covers more than just the mattress. It often includes a sleep trial, warranty, and return policy. All three of these policies help determine a mattress’s price, so it’s a good idea to read through them and see what policies you’re buying. We do not recommend the purchase of any mattress that does not come with these protective policies.
A sleep trial is the time frame you have to test out a new mattress. Online mattress companies popularized sleep trials, although you’ll see them attached to some in-store mattresses as well.
Many sleep trials last between 90 to 120 days, although some are as short as 60 days and a few may last a year. It takes a sleeper about a month to completely adjust to a new mattress, so a decent sleep trial will cover at least 30 days.
A mattress warranty covers any damage or defects stretching beyond expected wear and tear.
Mattress warranties typically cover:
- Sagging of variable depth, often beyond an inch
- Burst coils
- Tears, splits, or cracks in the foam
- Torn seams
- Damage to the zipper on the mattress cover
The industry standard for a mattress is a 10-year warranty, although some companies offer warranties lasting 20 to 25 years. A few even offer lifetime warranties. Typically after the first 10 years, the warranty is prorated— this means that you will pay a portion of the cost to repair or replace your mattress.
A return policy clarifies when, how, and why you can make a return. It’s smart to read through the policy before you buy to know what you can expect.
As you read through the return policy, keep these questions in mind:
- How do you file a return claim? Do you have to speak with someone, or does an email suffice?
- When can you make a return? Some companies have a waiting period before you can make a return.
- In what condition does the mattress need to be in? Some companies won’t accept a mattress back if it’s damaged or stained.
- How do you dispose of the unwanted mattress? Will the company pick it up, or will you be responsible to ship it back or donate it?
- Can you ask for a full refund, or can you only exchange for another mattress? Will you receive a partial refund if you exchange for a mattress costing less?
- Are there any hidden fees, such as a restocking fee?
We recommend choosing a company that will do most of the work for you and pick up an unwanted mattress at your door.
Other Ways to Help Hip Pain
A new mattress isn’t the only change you can make to ease hip pain. New pillows and toppers, better sleep routines, and heat or ice treatments can all help you get a better night’s sleep. We recommend speaking with your doctor first to get more ideas and to outline a full treatment plan.
Using a secondary pillow such as a knee pillow or a wedge pillow can help keep your hips aligned and take the pressure off of them. For a wedge pillow, place the pillow’s right angle under the crook of your knees, letting your legs bend around it.
The best pillow for hip pain is one that is firm and elevates your knees or legs for pressure relief.
A mattress topper can be a good alternative if you’re not ready to commit to a new mattress just yet. If you suspect your bed is too firm, try a memory foam mattress topper to soften it up.
We recommend a mattress topper as a temporary measure; however, if your bed is sagging beyond repair, it’s probably time for a new bed.
Better Sleep Hygiene
Establishing and sticking to better sleep habits can help break the vicious cycle of pain and poor sleep. Improve your sleep and often your pain will decrease.
A few steps you can take for a better night’s sleep include:
- Stay away from stimulants and certain foods. Caffeine or energy drinks can affect your sleep even if you drink it as early as 6 hours before bedtime.
- Dim the lights. Stop using electronics two hours before bedtime.
- Get into a routine. Fall asleep at the same time every evening and wake up at the same time every morning. Yes, even on weekends.
- Cool down your room. The recommended room temperature for sleep is between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Experiment with your thermostat to find what’s best for you.
Heat and Cold
Applying heat or ice to the pain spots is a simple and inexpensive way to treat inflammation.
Whether heat or ice will soothe your discomfort more depends on its source. Heat can alleviate stiffness and exhaustion by promoting blood circulation. Cold can treat swelling and severe pain, as it reduces circulation and numbs nerve endings. You can ask your doctor which one is the more effective treatment for you.
Heat treatments include a heating pad, a heat wrap you can wear around your hips or lower back, a hot water bottle, and a warm shower or bath. For cold treatment, wrap an ice pack in a cloth. Most treatments consist of an application of heat or ice to the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes, aside from a heat wrap which can be used for 8 hours while you sleep.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is memory foam good for hip pain?
Using a memory foam mattress is one of the best choices you can make to soothe hip pain. The material molds itself to the sleeper’s body, relieving pressure and pain in the process.
Is a firm or soft mattress better for hip pain?
This is a bit of a trick question, as your ideal firmness depends on your sleeping position. A too soft or too firm bed can cause you to wake up in pain.
With hip pain, moldability is key. A mattress capable of shaping itself to your body can relieve pressure and pain.
Did We Help?
Whatever the reason you’re waking up with hip pain, it’s best to treat it as quickly as you can to lessen the impact on your sleep schedule. Interrupted or shortened sleep can negatively affect your everyday life.
A supportive mattress that relieves pressure can help alleviate hip pain, putting your life back on track. We recommend a medium to medium-firm memory foam mattress.
It’s a good idea to speak with your doctor to see if there might be more serious and long-lasting factors than a bad mattress to consider and to discuss any other lifestyle changes you may wish to make.