Can a firm bed cause back pain?

Can a firm bed cause back pain?

A good mattress shouldn’t hurt your back

Chances are, if you’ve ever suffered back pain, you’ve been told to sleep on a firmer mattress. But does that help? Or could a too-firm bed be the root of your back pain problems? Here’s what you need to know about how firmness affects your spine – and how to find the perfect bed for you.

Get to know your spine

First, let’s start with a bit of anatomy. Your spine is made up of 33 bones called vertebrae, which are separated by cushions of cartilage called discs. These discs act as shock absorbers, absorbing impact and keeping your spine flexible.


Muscles and ligaments support the bones and discs in your spine. When these muscles are too tight or weak, they can lead to alignment problems and pain. Sleeping on a mattress that’s too soft can cause your spine to fall out of alignment, while sleeping on a mattress that’s too firm can put added pressure on your discs and joints.


Graphic of a human spine.

So, how do you find the perfect mattress firmness for your back? 

If you suffer from lower back pain, your best mattress firmness is likely to be somewhere in the middle. A medium-firm mattress will provide the support you need to keep your spine properly aligned while also giving you enough cushioning to reduce pressure on your discs and joints.


If you have upper or middle back pain, you may find that a firmer mattress is better for you because a firmer surface will help reduce the number of curves in your spine.


Of course, mattress firmness is just one factor to consider when it comes to finding pain relief from back and neck pain. Your sleep position, pillow choice, and whether or not you have any other underlying health conditions can also affect your back pain. So, if you’re still struggling with back pain after trying a new mattress, you should talk to your doctor or a physical therapist to get to the root of the problem.

Which mattress type is best for back pain?

When it comes to finding the perfect mattress, there are many factors to consider. Comfort, support, and durability are all important, but for people with back pain, one of the most important considerations is whether or not the mattress will help to ease their symptoms. 

Memory foam mattresses

A memory foam mattress conforms to the shape of your body, providing support and pressure relief. Memory foam can be beneficial if you suffer from back pain, as it evenly distributes your body weight and alleviates pressure points. 


Additionally, memory foam mattresses are known for their durability and long lifespan, making them a wise investment for anyone who wants to enjoy a comfortable night’s sleep for years to come. While they may be more expensive than traditional mattresses, memory foam mattresses are often worth the investment for people who suffer from back pain.

Latex mattresses

Latex mattresses have long been praised for their orthopaedic benefits, and many people find that they provide significant relief from back pain. The firmness of latex helps with proper spinal alignment, while the material’s springy nature helps absorb shock and reduce pressure points. 


In addition, latex mattresses are often more breathable than other types of mattresses, which can help to prevent night sweats and keep the body cool and comfortable. For people with back pain, a latex mattress can be a godsend.

Innerspring mattresses

Innerspring mattresses have been around for a long time and are still a popular choice among sleepers. They are comfortable, supportive, and typically have a longer lifespan than other types of mattresses. However, innerspring mattresses may not be the best option when it comes to back pain. These mattresses can be quite firm, which can exacerbate back pain. Additionally, the coils in an innerspring mattress can put pressure on the spine, leading to discomfort. 


If you suffer from back pain, you may want to consider a different type of mattress, such as memory foam or latex. These mattresses are designed to support and relieve pressure points, making them more comfortable for people with back pain.

Hybrid mattresses

A hybrid mattress is a type of mattress that combines the best features of both innerspring and memory foam mattresses. The result is a mattress that is both comfortable and supportive. Additionally, hybrid mattresses often feature a layer of gel-infused memory foam, which can help to relieve pressure points and reduce the amount of tossing and turning. 


For people who suffer from back pain, a hybrid mattress can be an excellent choice. The combination of support and comfort helps reduce pain and stiffness, and the gel-infused memory foam can provide additional relief. If you are considering a hybrid mattress, be sure to consult with your doctor or physical therapist to find the best option for your needs.


Man sitting up in bed holding his aching back.

Tips for choosing a firm bed for a bad back

Mattress size and type

When finding the perfect mattress, size and type are important considerations. Memory foam or a latex mattress may be the best option for people with back pain. These mattresses are designed to support and relieve pressure points, making them more comfortable.


Another important consideration when choosing a mattress is firmness. People with back pain often find a firmer mattress more comfortable and supportive. However, it is important to find a balance between firmness and comfort. A mattress that is too firm can be uncomfortable, while a mattress that is too soft can lack spinal support.

Sleeping position

Your preferred sleeping position can also affect the type of mattress you should choose. Stomach sleepers often find a soft mattress more comfortable, while people who sleep on their sides or backs often find that a firmer mattress is better for their spines.

Your budget

When it comes to mattresses, you get what you pay for. A higher-quality mattress will usually be more expensive than a lower-quality mattress, but it will also last longer and provides better support. If you are considering a memory foam or latex mattress, be prepared to spend a bit more money. However, the investment will be worth it in the long run.

Your health

If you have any health conditions that a certain type of mattress could exacerbate, be sure to consult with your doctor before making a purchase. For example, people with arthritis may find a softer mattress more comfortable, while people with scoliosis may need a firmer mattress for spinal support.


Back on man's head on pillow.

Things you can do to combat back pain at night

Sleep on your side

If you suffer from back pain, sleeping on your side can help to relieve pressure on your spine. Additionally, placing a pillow between your knees can help keep your hips aligned, reducing pain.

Use a mattress topper

If your old mattress is too firm or too soft, using a mattress topper can help create a more comfortable surface. A memory foam or latex mattress topper can provide additional support and cushion, making it easier to get a good night’s sleep.

Invest in a good pillow

Your pillow plays an important role in supporting your neck and spine. Investing in a good pillow can make a big difference if you suffer from back pain. A pillow that is too soft will not provide enough support, while a pillow that is too hard can cause pain. Look for a pillow that is specifically designed for people with back pain.

Stretch before bed

Stretching before bed can help to relieve tension in your muscles and improve your flexibility and sleep quality. You can do many different stretches, but some simple ones include the cat-cow stretch and the spine twist. Consult with your doctor or physical therapist to find the best stretches for you.

Get up and move

Sitting or lying in one position for too long can worsen back pain. Be sure to get up and move around every few hours to keep your muscles loose and prevent stiffness. Taking a short walk or doing some light stretching can also help to relieve pain.

Use heat or ice

Applying heat or ice to your back before bed can help to reduce inflammation and pain. Heat can be applied using a heating pad, while ice can be applied using an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel. Be sure to cover the ice pack in a towel to prevent it from damaging your skin.

Talk to your doctor

If you are suffering from back pain at night that is severe or does not improve with home treatment, be sure to talk to your doctor. Your doctor can help diagnose your pain’s cause and recommend the best treatment options for you. Medication or physical therapy may sometimes be necessary to manage your pain.

Find your firm mattress at Sleep Firm

If you’re looking for a firm mattress that can help reduce back pain, look no further than Sleep Firm. We offer a wide selection of firm mattresses in different materials, so you’re sure to find one that suits your needs. Shop online today and get a good night’s sleep tonight!