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Best Mattresses For Back Sleepers

Sleep on your back? Here's how to find the perfect mattress for you.

Do you prefer sleeping on your back? You’re one of the 38% of people who are back sleepers - not quite as popular as side sleepers, but not as uncommon as front sleepers. You’ll need the highest level of support from your mattress out of all the sleeping positions, to ensure you don’t wake up with a bad back.

38%
of people sleep on their back

We’ve put together the ultimate guide to choosing a mattress as a back sleeper, with everything you need to consider to get the perfect night’s sleep. We’ve also included our top picks of the best mattresses for back sleepers!

What are the best mattresses for back sleepers?

As a back sleeper, your priority should be ensuring your heaviest pressure points, such as your shoulders and hips, don’t dip too far into the mattress, causing your spine to curve.

This can be achieved by finding a mattress that has an excellent support system, preferably with orthopaedic support, to really focus on your spinal alignment and back health. Spinal support is the most important aspect of selecting a mattress for a back sleeper.

Infogrpahic depicting a person laying on their back, showing how their spine should be kept aligned.

Pressure points for back sleepers

Back sleepers put more pressure on their tailbones, which is why you might experience lower back pain if you sleep in this position. You can relieve these pressure points by choosing a medium firmness mattress as this will keep your spine nicely aligned, letting your hips and buttocks dip into the mattress while your shoulders stay higher up. The best mattress for a back sleeper is one with orthopaedic support that eases these pressure points.

Recommended mattresses for back sleepers

Orthopaedic mattresses

Orthopaedic mattresses are specially designed to support spinal health and reduce back pain. They’re also a great choice if you’ve suffered a back injury or simply suffer from back ache. For back sleepers, orthopaedic mattresses are an excellent choice, as they alleviate pressure on the spine, reducing the curvature of your back and keeping your posture nicely controlled.

Pocket sprung mattresses

Pocket sprung mattresses are ideal for back sleepers as they often have a firmer comfort grading. Individually pocketed springs can target your pressure points directly, keeping your spine nicely aligned. You can also find pocket spring mattresses with zoned support that offer specific levels of support exactly where you need it.

Hybrid mattresses

If you’re a back sleeper who prefers a little more ‘give’ in your mattress, consider a hybrid mattress which combines pocket springs with memory foam. You’ll receive the support of the pocket springs, with even more support as well as comfort from the memory foam as it contours to your unique shape.

Memory foam mattresses

As a back sleeper, you might also want to consider a memory foam mattress, but be sure to choose a medium firm or firm comfort grading. This will mould to your body, keeping you supported and aligned, without compressing too much and causing your body to dip out of shape.

It’s a myth that memory foam is bad for your back - in fact, modern memory foam is incredibly supportive. For more information, read our Memory Foam Mattress Buying Guide.

What is the best mattress firmness for back sleepers?

For back sleepers, medium-firm and firm mattresses are recommended, as they offer the most consistent support to your spine. Firm mattresses absorb the pressure from your bones, allowing your muscles to relax.

If you tend to sleep on your back, but sometimes change sleeping positions, a medium or medium-firm mattress is a good choice. This will provide excellent support to all of your pressure points and allow your hips and shoulders to ‘dip’ slightly if you roll onto your side, keeping your spine aligned.

Extra firm mattresses are generally reserved for those with medical conditions or who need specialised support. Back sleepers with chronic back pain or other injuries might benefit from an extra firm mattress, but they will generally be too firm for the average sleeper.

For more information on firmness levels, read our helpful Mattress Firmness Guide.

Pillows for back sleepers

Slightly elevating your legs by placing a pillow just below the back of your knees can help to maintain good posture as you sleep. This will help to maintain the natural curve of your lower back, reducing back pain when you wake up in the morning. This can also help to alleviate pain in your spine as you sleep. Ensure the pillow you use isn’t too high, however, as this will also throw your alignment off - make sure to stay as straight as possible.

Our top 5 mattresses for back sleepers

Our product experts have chosen the five best mattresses for back sleepers, offering the most support for sleeping in this position.

TEMPUR® ONE Firm Mattress

This award winning mattress is made from specially designed TEMPUR® Material, which is unlike any other memory foam. It’s able to mould to your body to give orthopaedic levels of support, while billions of visco-elastic cells move between a solid and fluid state to provide exceptional pressure relief.

As a back sleeper, you’ll be expertly supported while also experiencing a weightless sensation. It's one of the best mattresses for back sleepers due to it's ability to mould to any body shape.

Close up of the corner of the TEMPUR® ONE Firm Mattress.

SleepSoul Nebula Ortho Pocket Mattress

A budget friendly option, this mattress includes both pocket springs and innovative reflex foam to keep you supported and your spine aligned. The individually pocketed springs conform to your body’s shape, adjusting as you move.

Reflex foam moulds to your body and supports you at your most comfortable - it’s much like memory foam, but has less heat retention, and doesn’t compress as much, which is perfect for a back sleeper.

Close up of the side and corner of the SleepSoul Nebula Ortho Pocket Mattress.

Emma® Premium Memory Hybrid Mattress

Another award winning mattress, this innovative design from Emma® is also one of our bestsellers. Medium firm and with orthopaedic support, this mattress features 5 Zone CarbonFlex™ Springs, which ensure you’re optimally supported in the exact places all night long.

This mattress is also great for front sleepers as it features Halo Memory Foam™, so if you tend to turn in the night, or if your partner prefers a different sleeping position, then this is the mattress for you.

Close up of the side and corner of the Emma® Premium Memory Hybrid Mattress.

This mattress is available with our 100 Night Sleep Trial, so you can test it out for no extra charge. If it's not perfect for you, simply send it back! For more information on our 100 Night Sleep Trials, head to our Sleep Trial page.

Sealy Blackwood Elevate Posturepedic Mattress

This mattress actually uses open coil springs - a lattice shape of high tensile steel springs. A traditional technique, this provides a firmer feel, ideal for those who like to sleep ‘on’ the surface of the mattress (rather than sink ‘in’ it) and for back sleepers who want a more rigid mattress.

This mattress also has a memory foam layer for added support, as well as exceptional comfort. This is one of the best mattresses for back sleepers as it actively aligns your spine, preventing back pain.

Hyder Backcare Ultimate 3000 Mattress

If you do wish to go for an extra firm mattress as a back sleeper, we’d recommend this mattress from Hyder. With orthopaedic support properties, a pocket spring system and layers of comforting wool, this mattress is ideal for supporting your back and posture at a specialist level.

Preventing excess curvature of the spine, this mattress is perfect for back sleepers.

Close up of the side and tag of the Hyder Backcare Ultimate 3000 Mattress.

FAQs

Still looking for more back sleeping answers? Browse our frequently asked questions. Remember to take a look at our other helpful guides, such as our Mattress Buying Guide: How to Choose a Mattress, or for help on choosing the right size bed, read our Ultimate UK Bed & Mattress Size Guide.

Can you sleep on your back when pregnant?
The NHS states that after 28 weeks, sleeping on your back doubles the risk of stillbirth. Sleeping on your back while pregnant can also cause swelling in your legs and ankles. It's much safer to sleep on your side when pregnant, with a pillow between your legs for comfort and support.
Nightmares when sleeping on back
While more research is needed, it's possible that people report more nightmares when sleeping on their back as it can make it more difficult to breathe, causing more vivid dreams.
Why do my arms go numb when sleeping on my back?
Your arms can go numb when sleeping on your back if you've somehow compressed a nerve and cut off blood circulation to your arms. Simply readjust or move your pillows around, and you'll find the blood begins to flow back down your arms. If it doesn't feel back to normal after a few minutes, consider seeking medical attention.
How to stop sleeping on your back
If you wish to stop sleeping on your back, try positioning pillows behind and in front of you as you lay on your side. This will prop your body up, and hopefully keep you in a side sleeping position all night. The more pillows you stack closely to your back, the less likely you are to roll over into a back sleeping position.
What is the best mattress for a bad back?
The best mattress for a bad back is one with orthopaedic properties, or with a firm comfort grading. This will offer you the best support to your spine, keeping it nicely aligned and ease any back aches and pains.
What are the disadvantages of sleeping on your back?
When you sleep on your back, your tongue slides back, partially blocking your airways and causing you to snore more.
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