If you sleep on your back, consider yourself unique! The majority of people sleep on their side. Fewer than 15% of sleepers sleep on their back, according to The Better Sleep Council, in either the savasana or starfish position:
8% of sleepers lie on their back with arms extended down their sides.
5% of sleepers sleep on their back with arms up beside their head.
Pros and Cons of Sleeping on your Back
Despite its lack of popularity, back sleeping offers many health benefits, including:
Fewer face wrinkles:
Back sleepers leave their face open to the ceiling while they sleep, so they get fewer facial wrinkles from their pillows than side and stomach sleepers.
Supports spinal alignment:
The back-sleeping position keeps the sleeper’s head, neck, and spine rest naturally in alignment.
Prevents acid reflux:
Since your esophagus is elevated above your stomach when you sleep on your back, it’s more difficult for food to bubble up from your digestive tract and cause acid reflux.
Worsens snoring and sleep apnea:
Back sleepers are more prone to snoring and sleep apnea. When air can’t move into the lungs during sleep, both snoring and sleep apnea can occur. These conditions are more prevalent in back sleepers because the throat muscles are less open than when you’re lying on your side.
Thanks to gravity, the base of your tongue collapses into your throat when you sleep on your back, causing the throat muscles to narrow or to close intermittently. In fact, this is why so many doctors encourage back sleepers to try sleeping on their side in order to reduce snoring.
May contribute to poorer quality sleep:
One study found that poor sleepers tend to spend more time awake and more time on their back during sleep.
Now that you know the good and the bad of sleeping on your back, read on to find a mattress that helps accentuate the positive and minimize the negative. Our guide will help you answer questions like:
- What mattress is most supportive for back sleepers?
- How can I get adequate pressure relief for my back?
- Which mattress type will provide the best hug when I’m asleep?
Our top picks
Best Mattresses for Back Sleepers
|BRAND||MODEL||TYPE OF MATTRESS||FIRMNESS/FEEL||PRICE|
|Avocado Green||Latex Hybrid||Medium-Firm, Firm||$1,399 (Queen), $1,799 w/ Pillow-top|
|Zenhaven||Latex||Soft, Firm||$1,899 (Queen)|
|Amerisleep AS1||Memory Foam||Firm||$1,199 (Queen)|
|Novosbed||Memory Foam||Soft, Medium, Firm||$1,099 (Queen)|
What do back sleepers need in a mattress?
Back sleepers need a mattress that will fully support the natural curve of their spine while sleeping. The ideal mattress for a back sleeper allows you to sink into the mattress enough (but not too much) so that you’re not lying fully above it, which causes ache and strain for your spine.
A supportive mattress will keep your spine level while you’re sleeping. Pay attention to the contour ability of the mattress – this will indicate how well the mattress will mold to your body. Ideally, the mattress should hug and contour to your body to support all of you equally. The third thing back sleepers should consider is firmness.
Medium firm mattresses, right in the middle of the firmness scale, are best for back sleepers. Choose a slightly softer mattress if you weigh less than 130 pounds, and one that is slightly firmer if you weigh more than 130 pounds.
What types of mattresses are good for back sleepers?
As you can see from the chart below, the best mattresses for back sleepers are memory foam and latex mattresses. They provide superior contour ability, allowing your back to sink deeply enough into the mattress to support the natural curvature of your spine. Although, a memory foam topper can be added to an innerspring bed to achieve a similar effect for a lower cost.
Beds primarily lose their supportive function through sagging, so it’s important that back sleepers also choose a mattress with longevity. Again, this puts latex and memory foam mattresses at the head of the pack.
|Mattress Type||Innerspring or Coil||Memory Foam||Hybrid||Latex||Airbeds|
|Durability||3 years||7 years||4 years||8 years||8 years|
|Back Sleeper Grade||C||A||B||A||F|
The key is to find a mattress that keeps your spine in alignment and comfortably supported. Let’s review the common mattress types so you can choose the best one for you.
Innerspring mattresses use coils for support with foam and fabric on top for comfort. They’re the traditional bed that springs to mind when people envision a mattress.
- Pros: Widely available, provide better edge support than all foam bed, affordable
- Cons: Poor motion transfer, prone to sagging and collect dust
Memory foam mattresses are designed specifically to contour to your body shape. The support core contains polyurethane foam and the top layer contains visco-elastic foam.
- Pros: Superior contour ability and motion isolation, long lifespan
- Cons: Tendency to trap heat, heavy and difficult to move, initial offgassing odor, inferior edge support
Hybrid mattresses seek to combine the feel of innerspring and memory foam beds. They use an innerspring coil support core with comfort layers of memory foam, gel foam, or latex.
- Pros: Provide support without fully enveloping the body, great edge support, superior temperature regulation
- Cons: More expensive, average durability, heavy and difficult to move
Latex mattresses are constructed entirely of all-natural organic latex foams, a combination of natural with synthetic latex, or all synthetic latex foams.
- Pros: Fully organic and hypoallergenic options available, superior support for back sleepers, above-average durability
- Cons: Heavy and difficult to move, limited availability in stores, initial offgassing odor, expensive
Airbeds utilize an air support core, which the individual can inflate using an electric air pump, with a foam comfort layer on top.
- Pros: Adjustable firmness, longer lifespan if parts are replaced
- Cons: Tend to lose air during the night, typically only support up to 300 lbs
Besides the mattress itself, what else might a back sleeper like yourself need to know?
Best pillows for back sleepers
To maintain proper spine alignment, back sleepers should look for pillows on the medium firm side with divots for the head and neck.
Many back sleepers choose memory foam pillows to provide the needed height and support. If you go this route, look for one that’s perforated or has cooling gel; otherwise, the enveloping nature of the pillow may uncomfortably heat your head while sleeping.
If you snore, or have sleep apnea or acid reflux, look for a wedge pillow with a little more height to help keep your airways open. Contour pillows have more height in the front and the back, with a dip in the middle. These are another good option for back sleepers who snore, since they support the neck while preventing the chin from collapsing into the chest.
Mattress cost can vary widely by type of mattress, size, quality, and where you purchase it from. You can usually find a high-quality mattress for around $1,000.
As you saw in the chart above, the best mattresses for back sleepers (memory foam and latex) tend to be on the more expensive side, but you can find more affordable options from online mattress dealers. If you do buy online, keep an eye out for whether the company offers free shipping or mattress removal as well.
Review our Buyer’s Guide for more information on mattress types and costs.
When choosing your mattress, review the warranty. Some mattress sellers offer generous warranties, and some don’t. The terms of your warranty can affect whether the initial price tag feels like a steal or not
The mattress warranty ensures the longevity of your mattress to an extent. Review the length of your warranty and compare it against the average lifespan of your mattress in the chart above.
Defects that are typically included in a mattress warranty are sagging, broken coils, undone seams, and bunching of the foam. The warranty will state the depth and scope of the sag or bunching that’s covered.
The warranty will also explain the required support you must use for your mattress, such as a solid frame or a box spring. Not using the proper support will void the warranty.
Mattress return policies
Most brick-and-mortar mattress retailers give you at least 30 days to return your mattress for a refund or exchange. Many online retailers provide 100-night trials and free returns.
Try to allow yourself the fullest extent of the trial period before giving up on your new mattress. It will take about 30 days for your mattress to fully “break in” and adjust to the firmness, support, and comfort level you can expect for the long-term.
Top-5 Mattresses for Back Sleepers
In no particular order, here are our top picks for the best mattresses for back sleepers.
The Avocado mattress is a hybrid mattress with an 8-inch innerspring coil support core and 3-inches of good-quality Dunlop latex foams in its comfort and bottom layers. The standard mattress is slightly firmer than medium (between 6-7 on a scale of 1-10), and costs $1,399 for a Queen. Shoppers can add a 2” latex pillow top for another $300 to enjoy a true medium firm feel. Avocado offers a 100 night sleep trial and free delivery, and optional disposal of your old mattress for a $99 fee.
- Why? The use of latex foams in the Avocado bed provide the desired contour for back sleepers. The inclusion of latex foams keep the mattress surface bouncy enough for sex and help regulate the bed’s temperature, making it a nice option for back sleepers who sleep hot.
- Why not? The Avocado mattress is a new bed, so its longevity, long-term support, and overall customer satisfaction are not yet widely available. It also takes a few weeks for the mattress to arrive, which is longer than most online retailers.
- The Bottom Line: If you want a cooler sleep surface with the contouring feel of a memory foam bed, the Avocado mattress is a solid choice.
The Zenhaven mattress is an organic latex bed made of high-quality latex foams. The bed offers two firmness levels, and all sleepers have to do is flip the bed over to experience the other firmness. The softer Luxury Plush mattress is slightly below medium, while the firm is a true firm. The Luxury Plush could be better for back sleepers of lighter body weight, while the Gentle Firm could provide long-term support for heavier back sleepers. Delivery is free and includes old mattress pickup. A Queen costs $1,699.
- Why? The 120 night sleep trial is longer than most, and backed by the company’s award-winning customer service team. The Zenhaven’s organic materials are naturally hypoallergenic and highly durable.
- Why not? Zenhaven does charge a $99 shipping fee for returns. As a full-latex bed made of Talalay latex, the bed will be bouncier than the average mattress and could be too much for those who prefer more contour for their back.
- The Bottom Line: Because Talalay is so bouncy, it doesn’t trap much heat, making this a good fit for back sleepers who want a cool sleep surface. As an all-natural latex bed made of organic cotton, wool and latex, the Zenhaven is also a recommended option for back sleepers with allergies.
Amerisleep has been selling foam beds online since 2010. The AS1 is a firm memory foam mattress with a 2-inch memory foam comfort layer with 8-inch support core of support foam. Amerisleep beds use high-quality foams with Celliant technology in their covers, a technology designed to distribute heat, regulating the mattress temperature and helping the body recover during deep sleep. A Queen costs $1,199 and comes with free shipping.
- Why? The thinner memory foam comfort layer provides enough give for back sleepers without allowing them to fully sink into the mattress, wreaking the spine out of alignment. The company has a strong reputation for excellent customer service and maintains an A+ BBB rating.
- Why not? The Amerisleep bed is pricier than your average foam mattress, and consumers are required to keep the bed for a full 30 days of the 100 day sleep trial. With only 2 inches of memory foam, this provides enough
- The Bottom Line: The Amerisleep AS1 is a great choice for back sleepers who know they like a memory foam feel but need the support of a firmer bed.
After a short online sleep quiz, Helix Sleep designs a custom hybrid mattress for the shopper’s sleep needs, varying the density and ILD of the foams in the individual layers depending on the results. The hybrid design uses 2 inches of dynamic foam in its top layer (a foam with a similar feel to both memory foam and latex), 2 inches of pocketed micro-coils, 2 inches of transition foam, and 4 inches of support foam. Helix offers a 100 night sleep trial and free shipping. The Queen costs $995.
- Why? Sleepers can choose a custom firmness based on their sleep needs. The micro-coil layer helps provide additional contour for back sleepers without too much sinkage.
- Why not? Helix launched in 2015, so it’s still relatively new to the mattress market. Also, because sleep preferences are subjective, users may not properly answer the sleep quiz, which can affect the design of their mattress. The density of the foam in the comfort layer is only 3 PCF, which is good quality, but not great.
- The Bottom Line: For back sleepers who want to customize the feel of their bed for an affordable price, the Helix mattress is a great choice.
The Novosbed is an all-foam mattress available in three different firmness options: Soft, Medium, and Firm. The composition of the Novosbed differs by firmness level. All three mattress models contain differing amounts of memory and support foams, with the Soft model uses a gel-infused memory foam for its top layer. A queen size costs $1,099, and the sleep trial is 120 nights.
- Why? Novosbed started selling beds online in 2009. Its longevity in the online mattress market bodes well for its popularity and the veracity of their marketing claims. The high-density foams offer long-term support for back sleepers.
- Why not? The sleep trial has more rules than is typical with an online bed: users cannot request any changes to the bed until 30 days have passed. At that point, they can request a comfort adjustment but cannot return it until a full 60 days. As a memory foam mattress, the Novosbed may trap heat and be difficult to move around on during sex.
- The Bottom Line: The Novosbed is an affordable memory foam mattress made with high-quality foams that will support back sleepers for the long run. The Medium is a true medium firm most back sleepers will find suitable.