Do you suffer from back pain?
Is the quality of your sleep being impacted – or causing more pain?
You’ve come to the right place.
What’s In This Guide?
Table of Contents
Back pain can mess up with your sleep quality. It has kept me up more than a few nights.
And a bad mattress, pillow, or sleeping position can make back pain worse.
The good news is that there are many solutions and products that can help reduce back pain at night – and prevent back pain from occurring while you sleep.
In this guide, I identify the most common sleep problems back pain sufferers experience, and reveal the best solutions I’ve found through research. Some are products, others are just proven recommendations from people smarter than me.
After discussing common problems and solutions, I review the best products and sleep aids to reduce back pain and improve sleep quality.
Sleep-Related Issues (and Solutions) for Back Pain Sufferers
It's Really Hard to Fall Asleep…and Stay Asleep
Any kind of pain will make it harder for you to sleep. You'll struggle to fall asleep, and when you finally do, you are likely to wake up several times in the middle of the night because of the pain.
Insomnia is a serious problem that affects every facet of your life including your mental health, your physical health, your productivity, your emotions and so on.
Insomnia can also worsen the very back pain that caused the insomnia in the first place, creating a vicious cycle.
The best way to overcome insomnia caused by back pain is to address the cause of the pain. If you have an underlying health problem like arthritis, cancer or spinal problems, talk to your doctor about medication to relieve the pain.
If the pain is caused by an uncomfortable mattress, get a supportive mattress like the Casper Wave.
You can also try a few things to ease the pain. Using a heated massager like the Zyllion Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager before bed can make it easier to sleep through the night.
Stretching your back through stretching exercises or a device like the Magic Back Support Back Stretching Device can also reduce back pain when you go to bed.
Your Mattress Can Worsen Back Pain
Sometimes, I'll wake up in the morning with serious back pain that ebbs away during the day. If you experience the same problem, it's a clue that your mattress is not quite right.
An uncomfortable mattress is bad for anyone. But it's particularly bad for back pain sufferers. It intensifies and worsens your back pain.
For all you know, your mattress could be the cause of your pain. If you don't do something about it, it can lead to chronic back pain, where you experience persistent pain for months or years.
There are two things you can do to make your mattress more supportive. One, switch to a different mattress with good support and pressure relief.
Our favorite mattress for back pain is the Casper Wave.
Two, place a mattress topper on your mattress to improve lumbar support. We recommend the Pure Green Natural Latex Medium Firm Mattress Topper.
Your Pillow Can Also Be An Issue
It's not just your mattress that can cause or worsen back pain; your pillow can, too.
A pillow that's too high or too low affects the alignment of your spine. This puts pressure on your back, resulting in back pain or worsening your current back pain.
To protect your back when sleeping, choose the right pillow for your sleeping position. We recommend the Coop Home Goods Original Loft Pillow for all sleepers with back pain because you can adjust it to fit your sleeping position and body size.
Some Sleeping Postures/Positions Worsen The Pain
Like most American adults, I sleep primarily on my side. I’ve found it to cause the least amount of back pain.
If you have back pain, you have to be extra careful how you sleep. Certain postures and positions can worsen the pain.
For instance, stomach sleeping is terrible for your back. It places the most pressure on your lower back, especially if you don't sleep on the right pillow and mattress.
Sleeping on your side or back can also worsen back pain if you don't have adequate lumbar support and proper spinal alignment. That’s why sleeping on a comfortable mattress and pillow is so important.
Something else to check is your posture when you sleep. For example, side sleepers like me tend to lower the upper leg onto the mattress, twisting the hip and exerting pressure on their back. Use a knee pillow like the Contour Legacy Leg & Knee Foam Support Pillow to avoid this and improve alignment.
Back sleepers can improve their sleeping posture by elevating their legs using the DMI Wedge Pillow.
Pregnancy Can Worsen Back Pain
One of the biggest problems my wife experienced when she was pregnant was back pain. It is something many pregnant women have to deal with.
If you were already suffering from back pain before getting pregnant, pregnancy can worsen it, making it really hard to get a good night’s sleep when you need it most.
In addition to getting a more supportive mattress and trying things like massage and stretching, we highly recommend getting a pregnancy body pillow.
Look for one of those full body C or U shaped pillows like the INSEN 62in Pregnancy Pillow. They provide support to all parts of your body, and can relieve back, hip, neck and shoulder pain.
Pain When Getting In and Out Of Bed
Back pain can make previously simple tasks suddenly difficult. Something like getting in and out of bed becomes painful and slow.
Quickly getting up from the bed can worsen back pain. Take your time when you wake up. Get out of bed slowly and methodically so that you don't place sudden pressure and weight on your sensitive back.
Putting on a back brace like the Mueller 255 Lumbar Support Back Brace when you go to bed can help stabilize your back and reduce pain when getting in and out of bed. It can also make changing sleep positions easier and less painful.
It’s also a good idea to check if your bed is too high or too low – both can strain your back. If it is, get a lower or higher bed frame that is easier to get in and out of.
If the problem is that your bed is too high, you can also just use a stepstool.
Sleeping Cold Can Worsen Back Pain
Have you ever gotten muscle or joint pain when it’s cold? Apparently, cold weather is not good for some types of pain.
Cold weather causes muscles and ligaments to tighten. It can also increase swelling and reduce blood flow. All these can exacerbate back pain.
If you find that your back pain worsens when it’s cold, the best and most energy-efficient solution is heating the bed instead of the entire room.
Keep your AC low to save energy and instead get a heated mattress pad that keeps you warm through the night. Our top pick is the Sunbeam Heated Mattress Pad.
Other Sleep Solutions & Tips for Back Pain
- Change your sleeping position. Sleeping on your stomach is the worst as it puts a lot of pressure on your lower back. Back and side sleeping are better for back pain. But make sure you have the right mattress and pillow.
- Try heat and cold therapy before you sleep. Start with 15-20 minutes of cold therapy using an ice pack. Wait two hours for the inflammation and swelling to go down. Then follow it up with 15-20 minutes of heat therapy using a heated pad. You can also use a gel pack for both heat and cold therapy.
- Many people with back pain say electrotherapy provides short term pain relief lasting 5 to 24 hours. To do electrotherapy at home, you’ll need a TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) device like the HealthmateForever YK15AB TENS unit.
- Gently stretching your back can relieve pain. It’s also a great way to strengthen your back muscles, which helps with long term pain relief. There are lots of easy stretching exercises for back pain. You can also try yoga.
- Talk to your doctor about medication or treatment to help relieve back pain. It can help you sleep better.
- If you are an athlete or do intense physical activities, be careful not to over-exert your body. Protect your back and make sure you get lots of rest.
If you have a sedentary lifestyle, try adding safe exercise to your daily routine. Aerobic/cardio exercises as well as strength training can help reduce back pain.
Top 10 Sleep Products For Back Pain Sufferers
Top 10 Products For People Who Suffer From Back Pain: Reviews
The Casper Wave Hybrid uses a different bunch of materials and some novel designs all in an effort to make sure your back is well supported and your spine stays aligned when you sleep.
Many people who’ve slept on the Casper Wave Hybrid say that it hugs your back and body while also supporting you – the best combo for relieving back pain.
The Wave Hybrid has five layers.
The first three layers are different kinds of perforated foam – Casper calls it Airscape foam. They provide support, pressure relief and cooling.
The first poly foam layer has a coating of cooling gel that keeps you from overheating. The second layer is natural latex which keeps you from sinking too deep and keeps the top of the mattress cool.
The third layer consists of zoned memory foam. It’s softer around the shoulders for pressure relief and firmer in the midsection to provide lumbar support and keep your spine aligned.
The fourth layer is also poly foam, but it’s different. It’s embedded with gel pods under the waist and lower back to cushion your lumbar area while providing extra support to keep your midsection from sinking into the mattress.
This layer is also zoned to maintain spinal alignment.
The fifth and final layer is a base of springs that provide overall support and stability. They also boost mattress airflow to keep you cool.
The Casper Wave Hybrid has more foam layers than most hybrid mattresses. This gives it a softer feel. It ranks as a medium feel mattress (about 5 out of 10 on a firmness scale).
Despite being soft, however, sleepers don't report sinking too much into the mattress. Thanks to the zoned layers, the gel pods, the latex layer, and the spring base, the Wave Hybrid still manages to hold up your body.
Casper ships the Wave Hybrid to the contiguous US for free and offers a 100-night trial period. Mattress warranty runs for 10 years.
Issues & Limitations
Compared to most hybrid mattresses, the Casper Wave Hybrid is expensive. But we think it’s worth it if you want to sleep with less pain.
Another issue is the medium feel of the mattress. It’s perfect for most light weight and average weight sleepers, but it’s not supportive enough for heavy sleepers weighing over 230lbs.
If you are a heavy sleeper, sleeping on the Wave Hybrid can actually worsen your back pain.
We recommend the Saatva Classic mattress instead (the luxury firm or firm version). It offers firmer support particularly for heavy back and stomach sleepers.
Instead of solid foam, the Coop Loft pillow is filled with shredded memory foam (mixed with some microfiber for added comfort).
This makes it possible to adjust how much filling is in the pillow. If you feel it is too high, unzip the casing and remove some of the filling.
If you feel it’s too low, there’s spare filling included in a bag.
This adjustability makes the Coop Loft pillow ideal for all sleeping positions and body sizes.
The Loft pillow comes with a breathable cover made from a blended fabric called Lulltra (viscose-rayon + polyester).
The entire pillow, not just the cover, is machine washable.
Issues & Limitations
While shredded memory foam pillows sleep cooler than solid foam pillows, the bits of memory foam inside still trap some heat.
Many hot sleepers say they find the Coop Loft pillow a bit too warm for their liking.
If you are sensitive to heat or you naturally sleep hot, consider a pillow with natural filling like latex or down. These materials sleep cooler.
Memory foam tends to hug your body. You sink into it, which is why we don't think a memory foam topper is the best choice for adding support to your mattress.
Only get a memory foam topper if your problem is that your mattress is too firm. In that case, memory foam is perfect for adding pressure relief.
But for support, latex is the best choice. Specifically, a natural latex topper like the Pure Green medium-firm topper.
Latex has the ability to support you while also relieving pressure points. The Pure Green medium firm topper firms up your mattress without making it uncomfortably hard.
It improves lumbar support and spinal alignment.
The Pure Green latex topper is also great for cooling a hot memory foam mattress. Natural latex sleeps super cool.
The Pure Green topper is available in 1, 2 and 3 inch options. The 2 and 3 inch options are the best for most people. We especially recommend the 3 incher for heavier sleepers who need more support.
Issues & Limitations
The only downside of getting a natural latex topper is the price. The Pure Green natural latex topper is more than twice the price of most memory foam toppers.
On the upside, the latex topper is more supportive, it’s natural and organic, it sleeps cooler, and it’ll last longer.
Many side sleepers are not actually full side sleepers. They tend to sleep half on their side, half on their stomach with the top leg on the mattress.
This posture twists your hips and puts pressure on your lower back, leading to hip and back pain.
Using the Contour Legacy knee pillow will correct your sleeping posture. Place it between your knees so that your top leg is right on top of the lower leg.
By slightly raising your top leg, the Contour Legacy knee pillow also helps improve your spinal alignment and further reduces pressure on your back.
The Contour Legacy pillow is designed with grooves that fit perfectly against your knees. This contoured design makes it more comfortable and keeps the pillow in place even when you turn,
Another thing we like about the Contour Legacy pillow is that it's longer than most knee pillows. It extends upwards to also support your thighs.
The pillow is made with memory foam, so it feels soft and cushy. This makes it ideal also for relieving knee pain after an injury or operation.
The Contour Legacy pillow comes with a soft and breathable cover that’s removable and washable.
Issues & Limitations
The INSEN pregnancy pillow is an all-in-one pillow. It replaces the multiple pillows you would need to support your head, back, knees, and belly.
The INSEN pillow is C-shaped and extends all the way around your body. So it supports every part. Make sure you pass it between your knees to get maximum hip and back pain relief.
The INSEN maternity pillow is stuffed with cotton. It feels really cuddly. It’s also cooler than a memory foam filled pillow, though some hot sleepers might still get a bit too warm.
The cover is organic cotton, and it’s highly breathable to help with cooling and moisture wicking. By the way, you can remove and wash the cover. But the pillow itself is not washable.
Issues & Limitations
The most common complaint among users is that the pillow is not quite as full as shown in the pictures. While it’s comfortable, a lot of women feel it could use more stuffing.
The DMI wedge pillow is designed specifically for leg elevation. It looks different from the usual wedge pillows meant for head elevation.
It has an angled side for your thighs and a flat top that supports your knees and legs. The DMI wedge pillow effectively raises your lower body, taking a significant amount of pressure off your back.
It can also help you recover with less pain after an injury or operation on your back, knees or legs.
The DMI wedge pillow is available in three heights: 6, 7 and 10 inches. The best choice depends on your body size. Most sleepers find the 7 inch size to be ideal.
Each size is 20 inches wide, giving you plenty of space for your legs.
The pillow is made with firm polyfoam and comes with a removable and washable cover.
Issues & Limitations
The main complaint from customers is the fair quality of the DMI wedge pillow. Both the foam and the cover feel cheap.
Considering the pillow is made from ordinary polyfoam, we don't think it’ll last a long time. But it’s very affordable, so you can easily buy a new one when it wears out.
If you want a higher quality and longer lasting wedge pillow, we recommend the AllSet leg elevation memory foam pillow.
Back braces are typically prescribed for back injuries or to aid in recovery after a back operation. But you can also use a back brace if you’ve been struggling with lower back pain for years.
The Mueller 255 lumbar brace consists of a wide band that encloses around your lower back and abdomen using velcro strips. Steel springs provide compression to support your back.
The compression from the brace maintains good spinal alignment, prevents back movements that aggravate pain, and stabilizes your back.
Most users have found the back brace highly useful when going about their daily activities like house chores, walking, workouts and more.
You can also wear it to bed to reduce pain while you sleep. It’ll provide extra support and prevent pressure and strain on your back.
The Mueller 255 lumbar brace is adjustable. We recommend loosening it a bit when going to bed to prevent discomfort.
Also, make sure you choose the right brace size from the three options available: plus size, regular and small.
Issues & Limitations
Many people say the Mueller 255 lumbar can feel a bit uncomfortable when you wear it for long periods. But you can avoid this by choosing the right brace size and loosening it when it feels too tight.
The Zyllion Shiatsu massager will likely not feel as good and thorough as a professional masseuse, but it’s great for everyday use at home.
The Zyllion massager provides deep shiatsu massage using 3D rotating nodes. The nodes are designed to mimic the natural feel of a human massage.
They rotate in a circle and up and down. After 1 minute, the nodes automatically change direction to ensure full coverage (though not everyone is a fan of this).
The massage can feel a bit rough at first, but give it a few minutes and you’ll get used to it. You can also use the included sleeve to soften the massage.
The Zyllion massager includes a heat function. Infrared lamps directly heat your back to increase blood flow, relax muscles, and relieve back pain. You can use the massage function with the heat turned on or off.
The Zyllion massager is hands free. To use it against your back, place it or strap it against the back of a chair and lean back on it.
You can also use it on your neck, thighs, and calves.
The Zyllion shiatsu massager is compact, making it easy to carry it with you wherever you go. You can use it in the office or at a hotel room.
You can even use it in the car or when camping thanks to the 12V car adapter.
For back pain relief during sleep, we recommend using it for a few minutes just before bedtime. The massager will automatically shut off after 20 minutes.
Issues & Limitations
The on/off button on the Zyllion massage is located on the top surface that you lean against. This is a problem because you can easily press it when massaging your back.
Many users find they have to constantly turn the massager on because they accidentally turned it off with their back.
The other issue is the basic functionality of the Zyllion massager. It doesn't offer many customizable options like speed adjustment and heat level. On the upside, it’s one of the most affordable back massagers.
The Sunbeam heated mattress pad keeps your back warm the entire night, providing continuous pain relief.
It’s also helpful for back pain sufferers who experience more back pain when it’s cold. With the Sunbeam mattress pad, you’ll sleep warm all year round.
The pad is a queen size and includes a skirt that fits mattresses up to 16 inches thick. The skirt keeps the pad in place.
Using the wired controller, you can select up to 10 heat settings, allowing fine heat adjustment to suit your preferences.
The Sunbeam mattress pad is machine washable and safe to put in the dryer. Just remember to disconnect the controller before you wash it.
Issues & Limitations
One of the most common complaints from users is that the Sunbeam mattress pad doesn't have enough padding. You can feel the wires inside when you lie on it.
To make it more comfortable, place the heated mattress pad under a padded mattress protector, a mattress pad or a mattress topper.
Tip: The Sunbeam mattress pad is safe to use and has overheat protection. But if you are uncomfortable sleeping on something with electric wires inside, we recommend one of ChiliSleep's bed cooling/heating systems. They use water to warm the bed, instead of wires.
In addition to massage and heat therapy, stretching is another simple way you can reduce back pain at home. A few stretches before bed can help you sleep with less pain.
We recommend adding the Magic Back Support stretching device to your bedtime routine. It helps you stretch your back the right way to reduce pain.
Yoga and stretching exercises are great for reducing back pain. Adding a stretching device to your routine makes an even bigger difference.
The Magic Back Support device does what’s called spinal traction.
Spinal traction is a proven way to reduce back pain associated with a host of problems like degenerative disc, slipped disc, pinched nerves, sciatica and other problems.
It can also help reduce chronic back pain caused by physical activities, injury or poor posture.
The Magic Back Support stretching device works by stretching the spine, which reduces pressure on it. This reduces pain and improves healing.
While it may not completely get rid of back pain, users say they experience much less pain than before. They can sleep, sit, walk and do other activities much more comfortably.
To enjoy pain relief during sleep, set up the Magic Back Support stretching device on the floor and lay on it for a few minutes before going to bed.
For added pain relief, the device has acupressure points on the surface that massage your back. They can feel uncomfortable at first, but you’ll get used to them. Initially, you can place a towel or a soft cloth over the device to cushion your back.
We also recommend starting with the lowest position that creates a gentle arch. As you get used to the device, you can try the other two positions that arch your back more.
The Magic Back Support device is made with heavy duty ABS plastic that can support large users. Max capacity is 300lbs.
Note: If you have a major health condition like osteoarthritis or cancer, talk to your doctor before attempting spinal traction. In some cases, it can worsen your pain.
Issues & Limitations
Because of how thick and strong the device is, setting it up is difficult. It takes a lot of force to bend it so that it gets into one of the three grooves on the faceplate.
It also requires quite a bit of effort to adjust it from one groove to the other.
Best Sleep Products For Back Pain: FAQs
Which is the best mattress for back pain?
The best mattress for back pain is one that provides adequate support and proper spinal alignment. The best choice depends on your sleeping position, body weight and a few other factors.
Generally, stomach sleepers need a medium-firm to firm mattress, back sleepers need a medium to medium-firm mattress and side sleepers need a soft to medium mattress.
The most important thing is to ensure the mattress doesn't affect your sleeping posture, which can put pressure on the spine and aggravate or cause back pain.
How do you sleep well with back pain?
To avoid insomnia and poor quality sleep caused by back pain, look for ways to minimize the pain.
Most important, make sure your mattress and pillow are comfortable. Then you can try other techniques like massage, heat and cold therapy, sleeping with a back brace, and stretching among others.
Is a memory foam mattress good for back pain?
As long as the mattress firmness is right for your sleeping position and weight, a memory foam mattress is great for back pain.
Memory foam cradles your back, cushioning it from pressure.
Why does my back hurt worse at night?
It's probably because your sleeping posture puts pressure on your spine, worsening the pain. If your mattress is old or too soft, consider getting a new mattress or a mattress topper.
You can also use sleep aids like a leg elevation wedge (for back sleepers), a thin pillow under your belly (for stomach sleepers) or a knee pillow (for side sleepers) to take pressure off your back.
How do I know my mattress is causing back pain?
Your mattress is likely the cause of your back pain if the pain worsens when you sleep or you experience increased back pain when you wake up in the morning.
Your mattress is probably too soft or too firm.
Which is the best mattress topper for back pain?
Look for a mattress topper that solves what's wrong with your mattress.
If your mattress is too soft, you need a firmer topper to boost support. Look for a firm foam or latex topper.
If your mattress is too firm, you need a softer topper for pressure relief. A memory foam topper is the best choice.
As a degreed engineer, I love new technology as much as you do (perhaps more). I also understand how to sort the best products from the rest. My team and I spend dozens of hours each week reviewing the best & latest products for your bedroom. Many are tested in-house, and others we break down based on our technical understanding. Whether you need a bed-cooling system, an adjustable bed, or a new CPAP machine – we've got you covered.