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What Makes the Best Mattress for Back Sleepers? Full Guide

What Makes the Best Mattress for Back Sleepers? Full Guide


Aoife O.
Nov 04, 2020

Side sleeping usually gets all the love for its many health benefits. But, back sleepers rejoice, your sleep position is pretty cozy too. Sleeping on your back keeps the spine aligned, and with a pillow under your knees, elevates the coziness further. But, what mattress properties should you look for? Let’s find out.

About Back Sleeping

Back sleepers are known to have strong personalities, love being the center of attention, and are rational and level-headed. Starfish sleepers (with legs and arms spread out) love to hog the bed but are great listeners and make trustworthy friends. Soldier sleepers (arms by your sides and knees together) are private, a little shy but reliable, and hard-working. Whether you’re a soldier or starfish, put a pillow under your knees or under your lower back (or both) this is super cozy comfort for back sleepers.

Pros of Back Sleeping

What are the benefits of sleeping on your back? The position:

  • Keeps the spine aligned
  • Can prevent neck strain
  • Eases tension in the shoulders
  • Puts less pressure on organs
  • Prevents the wrinkles and lines common with side and stomach sleeping

Cons of Back Sleeping

  • Could cause lower back pain if the mattress is too soft
  • Could cause neck strain of sleeping on an inadequate pillow
  • Exacerbates sleep apnea
  • Exacerbates snoring

What Mattress Qualities Should Back Sleepers Look For?


The best type of mattress for back sleepers provides ample space to stretch out. Being squashed into a tiny mattress is not ideal for sleep health. Consider a larger bed if you share it with a partner or pet. Learn more about the best mattress size for you here.


A responsive mattress moves with you and keeps your spine aligned. The best mattress support for back sleepers will not allow your body to sink or provide too much pushback, it will cradle your body in a supportive hug. For example, the Nolah Evolution provides both contouring and deep support.


The best firmness in mattress for back sleepers is of medium firmness (5-6/10). Although a medium-firm (7-8/10) is also beneficial for those who suffer back pain or prefer a firmer feel.

Temperature Regulation

If you sleep hot, the best mattress type for back sleepers is 100 percent temperature neutral. Some mattress types retain body heat and as a back sleeper, you’re using more mattress surface area. A breathable mattress, such as AirFoam™ or natural latex, pulls body heat from the surface of the mattress and releases it through the lower levels of foam for a perfect cool sleep.


Body contouring is an important factor to consider when choosing the best type of mattress for back sleepers. Contouring allows gentle sinkage in all the right places. Rather than sinking your entire body, if your hips and shoulder sink slightly into a comfortable mattress, spine alignment and sleep comfort are gained.

Comfort Tips for Back Sleepers

  • Put a pillow under your knees for added comfort
  • Put a thin pillow or small folded blanket under your lower back
  • Opt for a medium firmness to medium-firm mattress
  • Keep a quality pillow under your head to keep your neck comfortable
  • Use a wedge pillow under your head and shoulders if you’re a snorer or have sleep apnea


What Is the Best Mattress for Heavy Back Sleepers?

A mattress for back sleepers who are on the heavier side is a medium-firm, pressure relieving, and cool sleep space. Plus-size people assume a hard mattress is necessary to offer sleep comfort but this is untrue. A pressure relieving mattress allows all body shapes and sizes to be cradled in a supportive hug.

Learn more about the best mattress for heavy people here.

What Is the Best Mattress for Back Sleepers with Back Pain?

The best mattress for back sleepers with back pain is a quality, pressure relieving mattress that brings restorative sleep. Pressure relief is vital so you don’t sink into the mattress causing spine discomfort or experience pushback from a too-hard mattress. A pillow under your knees will provide a lot of comfort when dealing with back pain.

What Is the Best Pillow for Back Sleepers?

Pillows are a back sleepers best friend (after a cozy mattress of course). The best pillow for back sleepers allows perfect spine alignment and neck comfort. A too-thin pillow will obstruct your airways and a too-thick pillow will cause neck strain. The perfect pillow will be roughly 6 inches in depth and be a breathable material, such as AirFoam™.

What Kind of Mattress Is Best for Back Sleepers?

The best type of mattress for back sleepers is comfortable but above all, pressure relieving. A pressure relieving mattress allows the sensitive pressure points of hips and shoulders to gently sink into the mattress. A too-soft mattress creates spine misalignment and a too-hard mattress creates uncomfortable pushback. Pressure relief is an essential element for back sleepers’ comfort.

What Mattress Is Best for Heavy Side and Back Sleepers?

The best bed for back sleepers and side sleepers who are on the heavier side is quite similar. Back sleepers and side sleepers need a mattress that gently cradles the body and offers comfort to the sensitive hip and shoulder regions. A medium-firm, pressure relieving mattress that is breathable and durable is a super-cozy option for heavier sleepers.


When dealing with back pain, recovering from illness, injury, or strain. Getting back on your feet could be achieved quicker when sleeping on a quality mattress. Restorative sleep is essential to recovery and a pressure relieving mattress is a crucial element. The best mattress back sleeper managing pain could gain some comfort with a pillow under the knees and lower back. The best bed for back sleepers gives just the right amount of sinkage without causing discomfort in the lower back.

Disclaimer: Nolah does not provide medical advice. All resources on the Nolah blog, including this article, are informational only and do not replace professional medical counsel. Talk to your doctor about any health, mental health, or sleep-related issues.

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