Best Mattresses For Back Pain

The UK’s Best Mattresses For Back Pain (2024)

Last updated: 01.11.2023 Reading time: 12 Min.

We’ve probably all struggled with back pain at some point in our life.

Whether the cause is work, stress, physical injury, or a bad mattress, being in pain is never fun. 😔

In this article, we explore how a quality mattress can help ease your pain.

We even recommend some of the best mattresses for back pain in the UK.

Let’s get exploring. 🥳

Best mattresses for back pain

The best mattresses for back pain

Sleep Hero Favourite

Nectar Premier Hybrid

The Nectar Premier Hybrid combines pocket springs, micro springs, and memory foam.
  • Memory foam, micro springs & full-size pocket springs
  • 28 cm (11 inches)
  • Medium-firm support 

Tell me more about the Nectar Premier Hybrid

The Nectar Premier Hybrid mattress is one of Nectar's best-selling medium-firm mattresses, designed for superior comfort and support for all body types. 

This mattress has been designed with enhanced cooling in mind, wicking away moisture and allowing for greater air circulation. ❄️

This helps keep the mattress cooler and more comfortable, making it better suited to hot sleepers or those who sweat easily. 

The combination of up to 2,462  micro springs and full-size pocket springs also aids support and gives you a more stable sleeping surface.

It also comes with a risk-free 365-day trial, giving you the chance to try the product in the comfort of your own home.

Reasons to buy

365-day trial

Lifetime guarantee

Free named-day delivery

Reasons to avoid

Not the best edge support

Best For Back Sleepers

Emma Luxe Cooling Mattress

The Emma Luxe Cooling Mattress is made with temperature regulation technology.
  • ThermoSync foam, memory foam, & pocket springs
  • 25 cm (10 inches)
  • Medium-firm

Tell me more about the Emma Luxe Cooling Mattress

Emma Sleep's most advanced Luxe Cooling mattress combines six layers of foam and springs for medium-firm support.

It ensures optimal spinal alignment with targeted support and sufficient push-back to prevent excessive sinking.

The mattress offers exceptional edge support, a standout feature not common in bed-in-a-box options.

It features enhanced temperature regulation technologies, so you won't feel as hot and clammy on this mattress as you may feel on other Emma memory foam mattresses.

The machine-washable cover is ideal for allergy sufferers and hygiene maintenance.

Delivered compactly rolled in a box, though it is notably heavy for easy manoeuvring.

Reasons to buy

200-night trial 

10-year guarantee

Excellent edge support 

Reasons to avoid

The foams retain some heat and feel warmer than non-memory foam products

We experienced some delivery issues during testing 

Great For Hot Sleepers

Simba Hybrid Luxe

The Simba Hybrid Luxe is Simba's most advanced mattress with 11 premium layers.
  • Pocket springs, Simba-Pure foam, wool & bamboo
  • 31 cm (12 inches)
  • Medium-firm

Tell me more about the Simba Hybrid Luxe

The Simba Hybrid Luxe is Simba Sleep's most advanced luxury mattress.

This mattress features an impressive 11 layers, including conical pocket springs, Simba-Pure CertiPUR-certified foam, open-cell graphite-infused Simbatex foam, and a temperature-regulating wool layer. 

The Simba Hybrid Luxe remains supportive and adapts to your body perfectly. 

The knitted cover and bamboo wool layer allow for breathability and superior temperature regulation, keeping you cool and refreshed all night long.

This luxurious mattress is available in all standard UK mattress sizes. 

The Simba Hybrid Luxe comes with free delivery & returns, a 200-day risk-free trial period, and a 10-year guarantee. 

Reasons to buy

High-quality materials 

Machine-washable cover 

200-night trial period 

Reasons to avoid

Very expensive 

Will not fit regular sheets due to its thick depth

Firmer Feel

Origin Hybrid Mattress

The Origin mattress is a firm and supportive mattress, ideal for stomach sleepers.
  • Hexagrid foam, graphite-infused foam, pocket springs & polyurethane 
  • Very firm
  • 25 cm (10 inches)

Tell me more about the Origin Hybrid mattress

The Origin Hybrid mattress combines six unique layers for firmer-feeling support. 

The HexaGrid layer has hexagon-shaped grooves that cradle your pressure points and offer relief to your joints.

The Origin mattress also has a graphite-infused cooling foam layer that regulates body temperature and antigravity pocket springs that give individual support to each area of the body.

The bamboo Tencel cover is high quality and feels soft and gentle on sensitive skin.

This firm feel makes it ideal for stomach sleepers who require a firm mattress that promotes a straight spine.

It also offers excellent edge support for those who like to sit on the edge of the mattress.

Reasons to buy

200-night trial period & 15-year guarantee 

Great value for money 

Excellent support for stomach sleepers

Reasons to avoid

It might feel too firm for side sleepers 

Luxury Option

Tempur Original

The Tempur Original mattress is the flagship Tempur product with NASA-approved memory foam.
  • Tempur memory foam
  • Medium-firm feel
  • 21 cm (8.2 inches), 25 cm (10 inches), or 30 cm (11.8 inches)

Tell me more about the Tempur Original mattress

The Tempur Original is the initial Tempur mattress and the first to use NASA-approved memory foam.

Tempur material is designed to respond to your body's temperature, shape, and weight.

It offers premium comfort and support no matter your sleeping preferences. 

The foam layers under the top comfort material enhance mattress stability, so your body will remain well-supported at all times.

According to Tempur, their Tempur Original memory foam offers 10x better motion isolation than standard memory foam mattresses. 

All Tempur Original mattress covers are removable and machine-washable at 40 to 60℃. 

Reasons to buy

100-night trial period 

10-year guarantee

Excellent motion isolation 

Reasons to avoid

Very expensive 

Can a bad mattress cause back pain?

There are many reasons someone might struggle with back pain.

Back pain, especially lower back pain, is exceedingly common, and an estimated 80% of adults [1] struggle with it at some point or another.

According to a clinical study [2] by the Allied Health Research Unit of the University of Central Lancashire, the number one cause of lower back pain relates to poor posture, which can have a variety of root causes.

Perhaps the cause is too many hours stuck in front of a laptop, typing away at work tasks or studies. 👨‍💻

Perhaps it’s strenuous exercise and a tad too much physical activity.

And, perhaps, it’s simply just because you have an old mattress that's sagging or unsuitable for you and your needs.

Bad posture
Bad posture is a leading cause of back pain

Regardless of the cause of back pain, a good mattress can help alleviate pain and ease some tension.


A good mattress will allow for even pressure distribution and alleviate pressure points, which allows your muscles to relax fully while you sleep.

The right mattress will also allow for optimal spinal alignment. 🦴

Regardless of your sleeping position, a good mattress will ensure that the heavier parts of your body sink in a little more and the lighter parts of your body receive more support.

This allows your spine to remain in its natural position.

Optimal spinal alignment
The right mattress will allow for correct spinal alignment

So how do you know if your current mattress isn’t good enough for you?

The British Chiropractic Association recommends that you look at the following:

  • The age of your mattress.
  • Whether you feel well-rested or tired in the mornings.
  • If you have a spring mattress, whether the mattress’s springs squeak.

You can also look at when your pain is the most pronounced.

If you feel the most pain in the mornings after waking up and it decreases during the course of the day, then you definitely know your mattress is at fault.

A poor mattress that causes back pain will also create various knock-on effects. 🧮

Back pain sufferers will know how chronic back pain can affect the quality of your sleep - and your life.

That's why finding a quality mattress for back pain that allows for a good night’s sleep is so important.

Wake up feeling refreshed
You should wake up feeling refreshed

Of course, if you’re struggling with upper back pain, you’d also need to consider the pillow you use.

The best pillows will keep your upper spine in alignment, preventing the build-up of tension and pressure points.

We’ll look at pillows in a little more detail further down in this article. 👇

Most common types of back pain

There are many types of back pain.

You can classify back pain as acute (directly tied to a specific event or injury) or chronic (lasting a few months and difficult to get rid of).

You can also classify back pain according to location. 📍

Lower back pain

This is the most common type of back pain, usually tied to muscle strains, but it can also be due to more serious issues.

Lower back pain is commonly associated with poor posture.

If you're sleeping on the wrong mattress, you're likely to experience lower back pain.

Back pain
Back pain can pop up anywhere

Middle back pain

This type of back pain is less common, but can be caused by anything from a muscle injury to nerve compression.

It can also be linked to more serious problems, like tumours or organ problems.

Stiffness and aching are generally due to poor posture and spinal support, which can be caused by a bad mattress. 🛏

Upper back pain

Pain in the upper back and shoulders is usually caused by poor posture.

It is commonly associated with a pillow with the wrong height or firmness. 🧱

Neck pain

This can be classified as back pain as it’s commonly related to spinal issues, including poor posture and poor pillow choice.

Neck pain
Neck pain can be linked to wrong pillow usage

If you're struggling with a sudden onset of severe back pain, we'd recommend you visit your doctor or nearest orthopaedic or spinal clinic for advice. 👩‍⚕️

For emergencies, call NHS 111.

Of course, severe back pain requiring medical attention is not the type of back pain we’re talking about here.

But if your back pain is due to poor posture or spinal alignment, a change in the mattress you sleep on can help.

You might also consider investing in a massage gun, which can help to relax any tension and provide relief for chronic back and neck pain.

Different mattress materials for back pain

If you’re looking to buy a mattress to help you with back pain, one of the prime factors to consider is the composition of the mattress.

The type of mattress you choose will impact both its level of firmness and the level of comfort it can provide.

Mattress materials

Memory foam

Memory foam is a very common choice for anyone struggling with bad back.

This is because memory foam adapts extremely well to your body shape and has pressure-relieving qualities.

This promotes optimal spinal alignment, which, as we’ve seen, can help with back pain relief.

Memory foam is also hypoallergenic, which is great for people struggling with allergies. 🤧

Nectar memory foam mattress
Memory foam mattresses like the Nectar adapt well to your body

Our favourite memory foam mattress is the Nectar mattress.

It features three layers of high-density foam and offers excellent back support.


Pocket sprung mattresses

Pocket spring mattresses are often the first choice for people struggling with back pain.

In pocket sprung mattresses, springs are wrapped in individual pockets, meaning they can respond to the body individually.

This increases body contouring and provides pressure relief.

In addition, the space between the springs creates natural ventilation channels, enhancing airflow and making pocket sprung mattresses very breathable. 💨

This is great for hot sleepers.

Pocket springs
Pocket springs are housed in individual fabric pockets

Most pocket sprung mattresses also feature comfort layers or a pillow top layer to enhance comfort.

Spring mattresses usually offer extra support and greater edge support than all-foam mattresses.

This makes them very suitable for pure stomach or back sleepers and people of a larger build.

You’re also likely to find other types of innerspring mattresses on the market, like open coil mattresses, that are much cheaper than pocket sprung mattresses. 💷

These may offer the same levels of breathability but won't provide adequate pressure point relief, so we wouldn't recommend these.

Latex mattresses

Latex mattresses are similar to memory foam mattresses in that they give you that “hugging” feeling - but they are often more supportive. 🤗

They are best described as moderate contouring mattresses.

This means they provide some cushioning, without giving you that ‘sinking-into-the-foams’ feeling commonly associated with memory foam.

Latex foam

Latex foam mattress

Natural latex mattresses are a great choice for anyone concerned about sustainability and environmental impact. 🌱

Hybrid mattresses

Hybrid mattresses are among the top mattresses to choose from. 🥇

They incorporate a combination of different materials and often consist of pocket springs and various layers of foam, latex, cotton, down, or wool.

The foam layers will allow for high contouring and good relief of pressure points, while the springs add in additional thermoregulation properties. ❄️

Eve Premium Hybrid

Pocket sprung memory foam mattresses are very popular hybrid options.

These combine the best features of pocket springs and memory foam, ensuring optimal comfort, support, and spinal alignment.

The Simba Hybrid Luxe is one of our favourite hybrid pocket sprung memory foam mattresses, combining multiple layers of memory foam with pocket springs.


Mattress firmness for back pain

The number one factor to consider when buying the best mattress for back pain is its level of firmness.

The wrong mattress that's too soft or too firm will greatly increase pains and be detrimental to your sleep quality.

People often think that a firm mattress is the best mattress for a bad back.

But, a 2003 study [3] concluded that medium-firm mattresses are often the best to help ease tension and alleviate back pain. 👍

Most of the top picks in our buying guide are medium-firm mattresses.

To judge mattresses on Sleep Hero, we’ve devised the Sleep Hero firmness scale.
Mattresses are given a firmness level on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is the softest and 10 is the firmest.

Most mattresses can be described as soft, medium-firm, or firm.

Firmness and comfort levels

There is no right or wrong degree of firmness, but you will have to find the right degree of firmness for you.

Part of this is related to personal preference and the type of feel you want from your mattress.

But your height, build, body weight, and sleeping position also influence which degree of firmness is right for you.

For example, if you’re of petite build, you’ll probably be more comfortable on a softer mattress that will allow you to sink in more deeply.

In contrast, if you’re of a very large build, a firmer mattress that offers more stability & support will be better. 🏋️‍♀️

Similarly, people who sleep purely on their backs or stomachs will do better on a firmer mattress.

Side sleepers will do better on a slightly softer mattress that offers both sinkage and support, allowing for optimal spinal alignment.

Firmness according to sleep position

How do you know if the degree of firmness you’ve chosen is right for you?

You may not know if your mattress is too firm or too soft for you.

Here’s a simple test:

  • Lie flat on the mattress.
  • Do you feel equal pressure along the length of your body?
  • Are any parts of your body sinking in more than other parts?

You shouldn’t feel any specific pressure points or any areas of more sinkage.

Mattress firmness

It’s important to remember that mattresses do wear out.

Even if you’ve bought a very firm mattress that offered excellent support, this will diminish as the years pass.

An old, worn-out, or sagging mattress is very commonly associated with back pain.

You should change your mattress every 8 - 10 years. 🗓

Most quality mattresses for a bad back will also come with a 10-year warranty.

Best mattress density for a bad back

If you’re struggling with back pain, you not only want to look at the materials a mattress is made from, but you’d also need to consider the density of these materials.

The density of a mattress refers to:

  • The amount of foam in a cubic metre.
  • The number of springs in a mattress.

Generally, the higher the density, the better the quality of the mattress and the more support it can give.

Conveniently, higher-density mattresses will also last much longer. 🥳

You can use the below table as a rough guideline to density and lifespan:

Density in kg/m³ Quality indicator Expected lifespan
Under 30 Inferior quality Up to 3 years
30 - 40 Average quality 3 - 6 years
40 - 50 Good quality 6 - 8 years
50 - 60 Very good quality 8 - 10 years
Over 60 Excellent quality 10 years and more

Best sleep position for back pain

You may think that the sleep position you choose won’t affect how you feel in the mornings, but the position of your body while you sleep actually has long-lasting effects.

Stomach sleepers, for example, are very likely to struggle with more severe neck and shoulder pains.

This is primarily because their heads will be turned to one side all night long, which creates tension.

Sleeping on your side is a good alternative, especially if you create a pain-free environment with one leg bent or a pillow between the knees.

This foetal position will allow for optimal spinal alignment and avoid pelvic rotation.

Pelvic rotation

The best sleep position, though, is sleeping on your back.

When combined with a medium-firm mattress and a good medium-loft pillow, this position ensures a tension-free sleep.

If you struggle with severe pains, we'd recommend you start sleeping on your back.

Should you choose an orthopaedic mattress for back pain?

Many people struggling with back pain will want to choose an orthopaedic mattress.

Orthopaedic mattresses are great but they are not always necessary.

If you’re struggling with an actual physical injury, such as a herniated disc, then an orthopaedic mattress is a great choice. 👌

These are often much firmer than other mattresses and are designed to offer excellent support.

But, nowadays, many brands throw around the term “orthopaedic” without any medical or professional assessment. 👨‍⚕️

Many brands simply use the term orthopaedic to describe their firmest mattress.

Firm mattresses can be great for some people - but they’re not great for all people.

The Mlily mattress brand has a whole range of orthopaedic mattresses.

If you’re of a very small build, for example, you won’t be able to sink into a firm mattress enough, which will lead to improper spinal alignment.

This, in turn, will lead to increased lower back pain. 😩

It’s more important to look for a great mattress that’s right for you than to settle on an orthopaedic mattress.

What if you’re sharing your bed with a partner?

If you’re sharing your bed with a partner of notably different body size, your mattress requirements will change.

The standard British double mattress is 135 x 190 cm.

But this is too small for couples where one partner is significantly larger, as the extra weight will create an imbalance in the mattress.

This, in turn, doesn’t allow the mattress to give adequate support to the lighter-weight partner, who may then struggle with back pain.

It is thus essential to choose larger mattress sizes.

We would recommend looking at king-size or super king mattresses. 👑

You can also read our article on choosing the best mattress size for more guidance.

UK mattress sizes

It is also possible to buy two single mattresses and combine these so that each mattress is perfectly suited to the respective partner.

A bed bridge can help make this more comfortable.

Alternatively, customisable or dual-sided mattresses are becoming more popular.

With these, each half of the bed is customised to meet the needs of each partner. 👩‍❤️‍👨

Best mattress toppers for back pain

If you’re sleeping on a mattress that’s too firm for you and waking up with back pains, then a mattress topper could be your saving grace.

Mattress toppers are thin layers of additional padding that can be placed on top of your mattress to add extra comfort and softness.

They are primarily used to make firm mattresses feel a little softer. 🐑

Of course, if you've just bought a new mattress and you're still within your trial period, you can return the mattress and receive a full refund.

This is a better option.

Most quality bed-in-a-box mattresses come with a risk-free trial period. 📦

This gives you the chance to test the mattress in the comfort of your own home for 100, 200, or even 365 days!

But if your trial period has expired, then a mattress topper can help.

Our favourite UK mattress toppers:

Best pillows for back pain

Pillows also have a huge effect on your sleeping comfort.

The wrong pillow is very likely to lead to increased neck, shoulder, and upper back pain.

This is because a pillow that’s too high or too low will cause upper spinal misalignment.

Pillow alignment

The right pillow for you will often depend on your sleeping position.

We can recommend the following:

Sleeping position Pillow loft
Back Medium
Side Medium or high
Stomach Low

Pillows are also handy in supporting other parts of the body.

Side sleepers, for example, may find it particularly comfortable if they place a pillow between their knees.

This reduces pressure on the hips and lumbar area and prevents pelvic rotation.

Full-body pillows can also be very comfortable - and not just for pregnant women!!!

Our favourite UK pillows:

What's the best mattress for back pain?

Several factors will influence which mattress will be best for a bad back.

These include:

  • Mattress materials
  • Mattress density
  • Mattress firmness

Ultimately, the best mattress for back pain will guarantee optimal pressure relief and keep your spine in perfect alignment.

This ensures you wake up refreshed and tension-free!

All of our recommended mattresses feature high-quality materials and have been specifically designed to enhance comfort, stability, and support.

Frequently asked questions

  • Is a firm or soft mattress better for back pain?

    There is no right or wrong here as the right degree of firmness for you will depend on several factors - including your height, build, and weight.

    For example, if you're petite, a softer mattress may be a better option as it'll offer more cushioning support.

    But if you're of a very large build, you'll need a firmer mattress that can offer the support you require.

    In general, though, medium-firm mattresses are the best choice to help alleviate back pain.

  • How do I know if my mattress is too firm?

    A mattress that's too hard can cause back pain, so you'll definitely want to soften it up a bit.

    But how do you know if your mattress is too firm?

    Here are a few tell-tale signs:

    • You're waking up with back, neck, or shoulder pains.
    • You feel a numbness or tingling in your arms and hands in certain sleep positions.
    • You wake up feeling tired - a sign of restless sleep.
    • You feel that the mattress doesn't contour your body or give way to your hips and shoulders.
    • You sleep better when visiting friends or hotels.

    Luckily, if your mattress is too firm, a mattress topper can help soften it up.

    If your mattress is too soft, on the other hand, you may experience some of the same symptoms but will have to buy a new mattress to solve the problem. 

  • References



Editor & Certified Sleep Therapist

Nicky is an experienced writer and editor with numerous qualifications. As a certified sleep coach, her interests lie in understanding how sleep problems arise from hormonal and environmental issues, particularly as part of stress and anxiety management.

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