Only a small percentage of people prefer sleeping on their backs—about 10 percent—despite the tendency to lie flat on our backs while reading or watching TV. Like all sleeping positions, back sleeping has its pros and cons.
The main benefit is that the spine, neck, and pelvis remain naturally aligned during our sleep. The potential problem: the body can be easily thrown out of alignment without a mattress that provides proper support and cushioning. Sleeping on your back can also worsen snoring.
As a result, back sleepers must carefully consider the right mattress for them, but don’t worry about becoming overwhelmed by the choice.
Our guide will include a detailed breakdown of the best mattresses for back sleepers in 2021, how we chose them, and what you should look for to get the restful sleep you deserve.
Our Top Picks: Summary
The Best Mattresses for Back Sleepers: Our Top Picks
The Nectar mattress packs in quality materials and is both durable and affordable.Check Price
Why we Picked It
We picked the Nectar as the best overall mattress for several reasons. It’s a mattress that packs in quality materials and is both durable and affordable.
For back sleepers, it’s a particularly great option due to its medium-firm rating. Sleeping on your back requires a balanced combination of support and comfort. The Nectar provides that through its gel memory foam at the top and the high-density polyfoam support at the bottom.
In other words: it’s going to feel like a memory foam mattress with its excellent contouring properties but without the excessive sink-in that many of them have.
Memory foam mattresses are also somewhat infamous for their heat retention. The Nectar gets around this with a cooling gel located in its top layer, which helps to reduce overheating during sleep.
If you love the feel of memory foam mattresses but want something that offers traditional support as well, then you won’t find a better option than the Nectar.
Keep in Mind
Overall it’s an excellent bed, but it doesn’t offer a great deal of bounce. This is especially important for couples who may need a more responsive mattress for sex. There may also be slight off-gassing odors in the first few days.
In a Nutshell
- Medium-firm rating is ideal for back sleepers
- Offers outstanding value for money
- The cooling gel reduces overheating
A quality mattress at a price that is hard to beat.Check Price
Why we Picked It
We picked the GhostBed mattress as our favorite for overall value. It would be hard to find a bed of this quality at a similar price tag.
At the top of the mattress is a high-quality gel memory foam that provides pressure relief. The high-density polyfoam base below ensures you won’t sink too much into the mattress either. This balance is essential for keeping the spine aligned—back sleepers will greatly benefit from this.
The top latex layer helps to reduce overheating during sleep. When you combine that with a layer of memory foam, you get a bed that feels bouncy but also provides considerable pressure relief.
The cover of the GhostBed mattress is thin and stretchy, which means the air will flow through it and the material won’t bunch up as much as thicker materials.
Keep in Mind
The GhostBed’s edge support, while good, is still prone to sinkage in places. The bed aims to provide a bouncy feel to sleepers, too, but it still might not be responsive enough for couples.
In a Nutshell
- Medium-firm rating means comfort and support for back sleepers
- Top latex layer reduces overheating
- Quality at a price that is hard to beat
A plush pillow top and zoned support make for a luxury feel.Check Price
Why we Picked It
Like all great hybrids, the Winkbed is built to achieve that balance between comfort and support, and we’re pleased to say it delivers.
The luxe Winkbed offers a plush, comfortable feel with its Euro-pillow top (a cushion sewn under the cover) and a more traditional innerspring firmness with five coil zones. You’re going to feel that comfort and pressure relief at the top of the mattress, while the coils provide an upward force that feels durable and strong.
For those back sleepers that worry about overheating, the Winkbed aims to solve this with its pocketed micro-coils that encourage airflow, and a Tencel outer cover that’s naturally breathable and helps to keep you cool.
The traditional innerspring coil construction allows the Winkbed to provide excellent edge support. This is particularly great for those with limited mobility or if you frequently find yourself sitting at the edge of the bed.
Keep in Mind
We love the luxe Winkbed, but keep in mind that the product is quite heavy and can be difficult to move without extra help. Some customers have also mentioned minor off-gassing odors during the first few days.
In a Nutshell
- Innerspring construction provides great support
- Very durable, high-quality materials
- Offers a cool sleep
A hybrid mattress constructed from organic and natural materials with a variety of green certifications.Check Price
Why we Picked It
The Awara bed is the most eco-friendly mattress out of our top picks. It’s a hybrid mattress that primarily uses organic and natural materials in its construction, and it’s achieved a variety of green certifications.
The Awara has a top layer of 100% organic Dunlop latex that provides a feeling of softness with a little bit of a bounce to it. It features individually-wrapped pocket coils that provide support at the bottom of the mattress while the layer of latex contours to the body at the top. Both layers work together to ensure a properly aligned neck, spine and pelvis.
The Awara is a medium-firm on the scale and should provide enough support for heavier back sleepers who weigh over 230 pounds. All of that comes at an affordable price.
Keep in Mind
It’s worth keeping in mind that the Awara can be heavy to move without another person to help out. The bed might also be too firm for some people, particularly lighter sleepers who need cushioning for the neck and lower back.
In a Nutshell
- Very eco-friendly with organic, natural materials
- Pocketed coil support system
- Offers a leading 365-night trial
How We Chose the Best Mattresses for Back Sleepers
We take great care to ensure the mattresses we choose meet a high standard in a variety of critical areas. From the material quality of the mattress to how well it isolates motion, the very best beds will meet and often exceed our high standards. You can learn more about our process here.
The Anatomy of Back Sleeping
Lying on your back isn’t all that common; most people prefer to sleep on their sides. However, like all positions, back sleeping does offer its own set of benefits.
Chief among them is how this position naturally aligns the spine if the correct support is available. Most scientific papers have stated that preserving the spine’s natural S-shape while sleeping is essential for healthy and restful sleep.
In other words, you need a sleep surface that can support the spinal column with the least amount of resistance to your natural movements. The lower the resistance is, the less energy that is required, which results in better sleep. Ideally, the lower back is cushioned, but the pelvis doesn’t sink too low. A good mattress that offers adequate support and comfort, like the ones above, will ensure the correct balance.
There are different ways to sleep on your back, too. One way is to sleep with your arms positioned straight at your sides, but be warned that this sleep position that may trigger snoring.
Another form of back sleeping is to have your arms stretched above your head, sometimes with your legs stretched out as well. This position can help to reduce acid reflux, but may require a larger mattress to accommodate the stretched out limbs.
Pros and Cons
Here are some pros and cons of back sleeping:
|Sleeping on your back is great for the spine if properly supported||Sleeping on your back can worsen snoring|
|The position prevents neck pain||It’s not good for people who suffer from sleep apnea|
|It can lead to fewer wrinkles and sagging||It can cause lower back pain without proper support|
|It can prevent acid reflux|
Special Considerations for Back Sleepers
There are a number of special considerations to ensure back sleepers pick the right mattress for the job. Getting it right can mean a restful sleep without any back pain, but how do you know what to prioritize?
Fret not; below we’ve detailed all of the key considerations you need to keep in mind.
If you sleep on your back, good support is one of your primary considerations when choosing a mattress. Specifically, you will need cushioning in the lower back, but enough support so that the pelvis doesn’t sink too low. The aim here is proper spinal alignment, so you’ll need a supportive mattress that contours to the body effectively.
A responsive mattress adjusts quickly to changes in pressure. Back sleepers will need a mattress that is responsive so that the natural curve in the lower back is cushioned. However, they will also need a mattress that doesn’t sink or hug too much, or else the pelvis will push into the mattress—this can lead to misalignment and eventual discomfort.
Buying a mattress that can stand the test of time is a top priority. It’s especially important for back sleepers because a sagging mattress will not provide the necessary support for the back and spine.
Sleeping on your back requires good, long-lasting support, so you need a mattress constructed from high-quality materials. We highly recommend any of our picks above.
The medium-firm rating on the firmness scale is popular with sleepers of all positions. Back sleepers, in particular, will prefer a medium-firm rating in most of their mattresses. This is because the bed needs to be balanced between being too soft and too rigid.
A mattress that is too firm will put extra strain on the neck and back and won’t be comfortable. A mattress that is too soft won’t keep the spinal aligned, and can therefore cause discomfort as well.
Body weight comes into play when choosing a mattress, especially for back sleepers. Those who weigh more than 230 pounds tend to prefer a slightly firmer mattress because it prevents them from sinking too deeply and throwing off spinal alignment. Conversely, lighter sleepers—those who weigh under 130 pounds—will need a softer mattress to better cushion the neck and lower back.
The key to supporting your back isn’t just about the mattress itself. Having the right pillows or pillow is also essential. Those who sleep on their backs will benefit the most from a pillow that is medium in firmness and height with subtle contouring, similar to the properties of the mattress you need.
Not having any pillows is also valid as this can help your back to extend. This allows it to rest in a more natural position, without altering the location of the spine and neck.
The Best Mattress Types for Back Sleepers
A healthy balance between firmness and support is the best choice for back sleepers. As a result, most people who sleep in this position prefer memory foam and latex mattresses due to their unique cushioning properties.
Of course, these mattresses must not be too soft and should provide adequate support, as this can otherwise misalign the spine.
To make it all clear for you, here are the four main types of mattress with pros and cons for back sleepers:
|Type of mattress||Pros for back sleepers||Cons for back sleepers|
Other Considerations When Choosing a Mattress
When it comes to picking a mattress, no matter the position you like to sleep in, there are other points to consider to ensure you get what you want. For example, does the company offer a lengthy trial with the mattress?
Below we’ve listed some other key considerations for you:
Material quality greatly affects the durability of a mattress, so it’s important to look for a bed constructed from high-end components. A sagging mattress is the last thing you want, especially if you sleep on your back.
You need to think about the individual layers in a mattress, the type of material used in them and make sure to take note of the thickness too. For example: cheaper foam will compress over time, while thinner coils will start to sag. Of course, the higher the quality of the material, the greater the price—in most cases.
Material quality will affect the price of a mattress, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a great mattress with quality components.
As with all online shopping, look around for special discounts, coupons and any other offers that may be available. Some of our top picks offer excellent value for money.
Some of the best companies out there will offer a leading 365-night sleep trial so you can get used to your new mattress before deciding to keep it. Most trials are shorter, however, averaging around 90 days. Some companies will also require you to pay for shipping if you choose to return them for a refund — these trials are usually risk-free.
Always keep in mind the length of the sleep trial and any additional details too, such as whether the sleep trial still applies if you purchase the mattress from sites like Amazon.
Always keep in mind the type of warranty your mattress comes with and the specific details. For example, how long is the mattress covered? What type of warranty is it? Does it, for example, cover a sagging mattress?
Other specific defects, such as bent coils, or material bunching are usually covered under most mattress warranties, but always double-check. Most warranties only cover mattress defects, and not normal wear and tear.
If you’d like to know more about the other types of mattresses out there, then you can find more of our comprehensive and independent guides below.