3 Things to Look for in a Memory Foam Mattress if You’re a Back Sleeper

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image of woman lying on back - best memory foam mattress for back sleepers

If you sleep on your back, we’ve got some good news for you: This is considered one of the healthiest sleep positions. Why? Back sleeping keeps your head, neck, and spine in a neutral position, relieving pressure and making it less likely you’ll wake up with aches and pains in the a.m. Still, finding the right mattress is key, as sleeping on the wrong one as a back sleeper will leave you sore.

If you sleep on your back and like the feel of a body-hugging memory foam mattress, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you’ll be adequately supported and remain comfortable all night long. In fact, the mattress that’s right for you will be different than the one that’s ideal for side or stomach sleepers. Here’s what to look for in a memory foam mattress if you’re a back sleeper.

How to find the best memory foam mattress for back sleepers

Back sleepers do well on just about any sleep surface—innerspring, memory foam, or latex. Memory foam is a good option for back sleepers because it hugs the natural curvature of your spine.

If you’re a back sleeper shopping for a memory foam mattress, look for the following features:

  • Medium-firm comfort level: Most back sleepers should avoid anything too soft or too firm. A memory foam mattress that’s too soft won’t give you enough support, causing you to sink into the bed, while an overly firm memory foam mattress will put too much pressure on your shoulders and back, leading to aches and pains. A memory foam mattress with a bit of give—in the medium-firm range—is ideal of back sleepers of average weight since it’ll adequately support your lumbar spine. That said, body weight can affect how soft or firm a mattress feels—so lighter sleepers should choose a slightly softer comfort level, while heavier sleepers should opt for a slightly firmer comfort level. (Here’s how to find the best mattress for your body type.)
  • Added lumbar support: Lumbar support is one of the most important features to look for in a memory foam mattress if you’re a back sleeper who suffers from back pain. Lumbar support will ensure your spine is kept in neutral alignment while you sleep. In a memory foam mattress, you might find added lumbar support in the form of denser foams or gels in the center third of the mattress. (Learn how to protect your back while you sleep.)
  • High-density foams: While you should keep comfort and support top of mind when selecting a memory foam mattress for back sleepers, durability is also key. The shorter the lifespan of a mattress, the sooner it’ll begin to sag—and that’s not good for back sleepers, who need a lot of spinal support. Look for high-quality materials in a memory foam mattress, like high-density foams. Premium memory foam has a density of 4-5 pounds per cubic foot. A memory foam mattress made with high-density foam should last you 10-15 years.

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Something else to keep in mind: Memory foam mattresses are best suited to sleepers under 200 pounds, as they may not offer the right support to higher-weight individuals. If you weigh more than 200 pounds, are a back sleeper, and like the feel of memory foam, consider a latex mattress or a hybrid mattress (featuring an innerspring support core and memory foam and/or layer comfort layers) instead. Here’s how to find the best mattress for heavy people.

How to find the best pillow for back sleepers

Matching your pillow to your sleep position is important too. The best pillow for back sleepers is one that molds to the shape of your head and neck. If you have back pain, put another pillow under your knees. This will maintain the curve of your lower back and relieve discomfort.

For more advice on finding the right memory foam bed for you, here’s how to choose the best memory foam mattress for your sleep position.

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