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How to choose the Best Mattress for Herniated Disc Sufferers

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Written by: Alex Savy
Read 19 minLast updated on July 2, 2021

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend adults get at least 7 hours of sleep every night to support optimal health (1). 

But it may be hard to reach that number, especially when sleeping with a herniated disc.

Luckily, a properly chosen mattress may help relieve discomfort and painful sensations so that you could enjoy restful slumber. So, let’s try to understand what makes the best mattress for herniated disc and how to pick something that would work perfectly for you.

A Quick Preview

Refresh Mattress by Natural Form
Best Overall - Editor’s Choice

Refresh Mattress by Natural Form
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The WinkBed
Best for Firmness Variety

The WinkBed
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AS2 by Amerisleep
Best Foam Mattress for Herniated Disc Sufferers

AS2 by Amerisleep
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GhostBed 3D Matrix
Best for Cooler Sleep

GhostBed 3D Matrix
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Saatva Classic
Best for Uniform Support

Saatva Classic
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Our Reviews of the Best Mattress for Herniated Disc Sufferers

Best Overall - Editor’s Choice — Refresh Mattress by Natural Form

Refresh Mattress by Natural Form

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Highlights

  • patented zoned technology to achieve effective pressure alleviation;
  • adjustable firmness to satisfy more types of sleepers;
  • natural wool cover for enhanced thermoregulation and improved comfort.

What makes the Refresh stand out from the rest of the best mattresses for herniated disc sufferers is its unique design. First of all, this model uses a zoned support system. It also hides adaptive air pods in its core that respond to the applied pressure differently to provide targeted support. As a result, the Refresh Mattress can easily keep one’s spine aligned, which also promises pain alleviation. I mean, only after a couple of nights on this mattress, I felt relieved of my back pain. Those are impressively fast results.

Now, another characteristic you might appreciate as much as I do is the adjustable firmness of the Refresh Mattress. With just a simple dial, you can make your mattress feel softer or firmer. And you can set different comfort levels on two sides of the bed. That’s something my wife and I were particularly happy about, as we have different firmness preferences.

Best for Firmness Variety — The WinkBed

WinkBeds Mattress Review P1077759

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Highlights

  • four firmness options to accommodate more types of users and sleeping styles;
  • lumber layer for additional support and improved spinal alignment;
  • Euro-top layer with gel infusion for cool and cradling comfort.

The next model that deserves to be called one of the best mattresses for a herniated disc is, of course, the WinkBed. If you (just like me) appreciate reliable support, then you’re going to love this mattress. The WinkBed uses individually wrapped coils for the support system. They respond to the applied pressure independently and can properly accommodate each body part. This means optimal weight distribution and reduced strain on your herniated disc. And the best part is, my back felt 100% comfortable in any sleeping position when using the WinkBed.

Now, this model comes in 4 firmness variations. There are options suited for different sleeping styles, petite users, average sleepers, and heavy individuals. My wife and I were testing the Luxury Firm Model and it worked for both of us (she’s a lightweight stomach sleeper and I’m an average user who prefers sleeping on one side or on my back).

Best Foam Mattress for Herniated Disc Sufferers — AS2 by Amerisleep

AS2 by Amerisleep

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Highlights

  • plant-based open-cell foam for cooler sleep without giving up effective tension alleviation;
  • extended warranty to guarantee longer-lasting customer protection;
  • responsive materials to combat the quicksand feeling.

Looking for the best mattress for a herniated disc that could hug your body gently? Then the AS2 by Amerisleep might be just what you need. This is an all-foam mattress that adjusts to the curves of the body to provide proper weight redistribution and thus, relieves pressure from the spine. It felt a little too stiff when I first laid down on the AS2. But after a brief adjustment period, I could feel the tension leaving my back.

Here’s the deal, though:

Despite being an all-foam model, the AS2 has a rather unique feel. It uses Bio-Pur foam, which is more responsive than traditional memory foam. Therefore, the AS2 does not restrict movement. That’s great news for herniated disc sufferers, as this condition often causes a lot of pain and can make moving in bed challenging. You don’t need that quicksand sensation added to the equation, and the AS2 does a great job of fighting it.

Best for Cooler Sleep — GhostBed 3D Matrix

GhostBed 3D Matrix

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Highlights

  • multiple cooling components to create a temperature-neutral sleeping environment;
  • reinforced edges to provide sturdy, uniform support all across the surface;
  • individually wrapped coils for targeted support and reduced motion transfer

The best mattress for herniated disc sufferers has to be cooling as well. After all, it’s hard enough to sleep well when dealing with pain., But if you also experience night sweats, things get even worse. However, the GhostBed 3D Matrix can prevent that. This model uses a special polymer layer that works to draw the excess heat away (plus a couple of extra tricks, like gel infusion and a cooling cover). Let me just tell you this: I was testing the GhostBed 3D Matrix when my AC was broken and the temperatures were unusually high. Needless to say, I didn’t have to deal with night sweats in spite of everything.

Another great bonus this mattress can offer is a 25-year warranty. That’s quite impressive, especially given its reasonable price. I mean, none of the mattresses from this list can offer such a long customer protection period except for the WinkBed (which comes with a Lifetime warranty).

Best for Uniform Support — Saatva Classic

Saatva-Classic

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Highlights

  • three comfort and two thickness variations to satisfy a wider range of sleepers;
  • enhanced edge support to maintain a uniform feel all across the surface;
  • spinal zone with an extra lumbar enhancement for improved spinal alignment.

Even though this model is the last one on our list, the Saatva Classic has all the right to be among the best mattresses for a herniated disc. Especially if you share your bed with a partner and require more sleeping space. Why? Because the Saatva can deliver optimal support all across the surface. This might also come in handy if your herniated disc is making it more challenging to get out of bed. With strong edges, you can push your hands into them and get a little boost to get up easier.

And it doesn't end there:

The Saatva can also boast of its proprietary Spinal Zone technology. This mattress uses an extra layer of foam to provide additional support for the lumbar area. Plus, there’s an active wire meant to help promote proper spinal alignment. All of that can reduce the strain from your back and thus, relieve your herniated disc pain. I tested the Saatva after a really bad fall and honestly, it made my back feel so much better after just a couple of nights.

Dealing with a Herniated Disc

All of the bones in our spine are cushioned by discs, which help absorb the shock from moving, twisting, and lifting. Each disc contains a soft inner part and a firmer outer section. A disc becomes herniated when the inner part starts protruding through the outer section (2). spine

Source: https://louisianapain.com/bulging-disk-vs-herniated-disk/ 

Now, you may expect this condition to be mostly among the elderly, but the statistics show that herniated discs are most common among people between 30-50 years, and it is twice as common in males than females (3).  Age-distribution-disc-herniation

Source: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Age-distribution-disc-herniation-n-1-021-patients_fig34_298545636

While being commonly associated with age-related conditions, disc herniation is usually caused by straining or trauma, or weak muscles due to a sedentary lifestyle (2). It can occur in any part of the spine or neck, which leads to pain or numbness (or both). Naturally, this can influence your sleep quality. Now, you probably realize that only your doctor can choose the right treatment for you. In the meantime, in order to sleep better, you may want to look for a suitable mattress for a herniated disc. After all, sleeping comfortably and getting enough rest can help speed up your recovery as well as minimize pain and other symptoms.

What Is the Best Mattress Type for a Herniated Disc?

When it comes to picking the best mattress for a herniated disc, opinions differ. The main rule here is: as long as it makes you feel comfortable, your bed is good. 

But each mattress type has certain peculiarities and characteristics, which may work for some sleepers and make others feel uncomfortable. Let’s take a closer look at them:

  • Memory foam. Famous for its adaptiveness, memory foam offers close conforming. This material adjusts to your body curves and minimizes pressure points, which can help with pain relief in those with a herniated disc. However, keep in mind that memory foam can trap your body heat. This can affect your sleep greatly, especially if you are prone to night sweats. A good solution would be a mattress that has gel-infused layers or uses open-cell foam technology for improved air circulation.
  • Polyfoam. Polyfoam is a bit denser and more responsive than memory foam, which makes it a great option for sleepers who don’t want to feel stuck in their mattress. At the same time, polyfoam provides good pressure relief and precise body contouring, so it may work for those with herniated discs quite well.
  • Latex. Since disc herniation can cause muscle weakness, it may be challenging for some people to switch positions during the night (4). And that’s when the bounciness of latex would come in handy. This material is very responsive and springy, which makes it a good choice for a suitable mattress for a herniated disc. Latex also does a good job of reducing pressure points without enveloping your body too much.
  • Hybrid. Hybrid mattresses usually combine a coil base and foam or latex comfort layers. Many sleepers appreciate their balanced feel. Hybrid mattresses successfully pair solid support with pressure relief. Many hybrid models feature zoned spinal support, which puts them among the best mattresses for a lumbar herniated disc. The main drawback of this bed type is its price tag, which isn’t ideal for shoppers on a budget. Check out our 5 best-rated hybrid mattresses here.
  • Innerspring. Coil mattresses offer consistent support and bouncy response throughout the surface. They typically don’t sleep hot and don’t restrict your movements during the night. However, innerspring mattresses aren’t that impressive when it comes to pressure relief, which can be an issue when dealing with a herniated disc. Since these beds are usually quite cheap, some sleepers combine them with a memory foam topper to enjoy a more balanced feel. However, this might not work for everyone, especially if your herniated disc is causing radiating pain.

Things to Look For in a Good Mattress for a Herniated Disc

The truth is, there’s no universal recipe for the best mattress for a herniated disc. After all, different sleepers have various requirements in terms of comfort levels.

Here’s the thing, though:

When it comes to dealing with disc herniation, some mattress characteristics are crucial. And that’s what you need to pay your attention to:

  • Support. The spine has three main curves: cervical, thoracic, and lumbar (5). These curves have to be supported and properly aligned during sleep to maintain correct posture and a healthy spine. So, it doesn’t matter whether you want a mattress for a herniated disc in your neck or lower back, for instance. It just has to support your whole body evenly in order to keep the spine aligned. 
  • Firmness. You should pick your bed firmness according to your sleeping position. For average side sleepers, a soft-to-medium mattress would be a good option. Back sleepers require firmer support and may want to look at medium to medium-firm mattresses. As for stomach sleepers, a firm bed would be the most suitable. Now, your weight matters as well, and if you are a bigger individual (over 230 pounds), you might need something extra supportive and a bit firmer
  • Pressure relief. Extra pressure on your spine or muscles can cause back pain (6). And this may worsen the pain from your herniated disc. Your mattress should be able to help reduce that pressure. In this case, you need something that would allow for enough cushioning for the protruding parts of your body. 
  • Quality materials. When dealing with a herniated disc, you don’t want your mattress to lose its properties too soon. Look for well-known brands and a good warranty, as it would give you peace of mind for years to come.
  • Cooling. While not being directly related to disc herniation, sleeping hot can make you feel uncomfortable during the night and affect your sleep quality. If you are prone to overheating during the night, look at mattresses that use cooling components (gel memory foam), allow for air circulation (hybrid and innerspring), or naturally don’t trap body heat (latex).

Which Sleeping Position Is the Best for a Herniated Disc?

Herniated Disc

Source: https://anagenesisspine.com/spine-services/herniated-discs 

A correct sleeping position is one of the potential treatment options that can help you with pain relief when dealing with a herniated disc. But which one is considered to be the healthiest option? Let’s take a look and see how each position works:
  • On your back. This sleeping position is considered to be the healthiest one for most people  (7), as it can help you maintain proper spinal alignment. Back sleepers usually require medium firmness and a good amount of cushioning for their hips and buttocks. If you have a herniated disc in your neck, you may want to invest in an orthopedic pillow with a special dent in the center for proper neck support.
  • On your side. Sleeping on your side is another good option when dealing with a herniated disc. It might be especially beneficial if you are dealing with a foraminal herniated disc (8). A proper mattress, in this case, has to be soft enough to cradle your protruding shoulders and hips. You can try to put a pillow between the knees or even use a full-body pillow to contribute to spinal alignment. 
  • On your stomach. This sleeping position may work if you have lumbar paracentral disc herniation (8). But in other cases, it is not recommended for disc herniation. The thing is, sleeping on your stomach can cause your hips to sink while elevating the chest and creating an unhealthy arch in the spine. However, if you can’t sleep in any other position, at least make sure that your mattress is firm and supportive enough. 
Quick tip: Sleeping in a reclined position helps some people feel more comfortable when struggling with back pain caused by a disc herniation. Therefore, you may try an adjustable bed frame. Make sure that your mattress is flexible enough to be used with it. Foam and latex mattresses are generally thought to work best with adjustable bases. Also read: Best Mattresses for Adjustable Beds

F.A.Q.

Can a bad mattress cause a herniated disc?

While a bad mattress cannot really cause disc herniation, it can worsen the symptoms and prolong the recovery process.

Is a memory foam mattress good for a herniated disc?

It depends on your personal preferences. Generally, memory foam mattresses are considered to be a good option for sleepers with a herniated disc due to this material’s pressure-relieving properties.

What’s the best sleeping position for people with herniated discs?

Sleeping on your back or side is considered suitable for a herniated disc. When lying on your side, you can also put a pillow between the knees to aid spinal alignment.

Conclusion

Having a herniated disc doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to have sleepless nights

You just need to pick a suitable mattress.

So, keep in mind that you may need good pressure relief for disc herniation, as well as solid support. A hybrid or latex mattress can be optimal, but if you want more cushioning, you should go with memory foam.

And don’t forget that firmness and quality materials matter too. After all, you don’t want your new bed to sag within the first two years.

I know, choosing a good mattress is easier said than done. So, allow me to share my personal champion - the Refresh Mattress by Natural Form. This is a customizable model, so it should work for a wide variety of sleepers. Additionally, this mattress is very likely to reduce stress from one’s herniated disc thanks to its smart construction and adaptive materials. The Refresh would be an excellent choice if you’re looking for ways to promote proper spinal alignment and want customizable comfort.

So, how are you dealing with disc herniation? Do you think a suitable mattress can help alleviate the pain caused by this condition? Share your thoughts in the comments!

References

  1. Watson NF, Badr MS, Belenky G, et al.; Consensus Conference Panel (2015, August). Joint Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society on the Recommended Amount of Sleep for a Healthy Adult: Methodology and Discussion. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/38/8/1161/2417936
  2. Rachel Nall (2019, March 07). Slipped (Herniated) Disc. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/herniated-disk
  3. Jo Jordon, Kika Konstantinou, John O'Dowd (2009, March 26). Herniated lumbar disc. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2907819/
  4. Tim Newman (2018, August 21). Causes and treatment of a herniated disk. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/191979
  5. Daniel K. Park, MD (2020, June). Spine Basics. Retrieved from https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/spine-basics/
  6. Adapted from a pamphlet originally prepared for the Arthritis Foundation by John W. Frymoyer (n.d.). Back pain. Retrieved from https://orthop.washington.edu/patient-care/articles/arthritis/back-pain.html
  7. National Sleep Foundation (n.d.). The Best Sleep Position for Your Body. Retrieved from https://www.sleep.org/articles/best-sleep-position/
  8. Richard Staehler (2017, October 25). Mattresses and Sleep Positions for Each Back Pain Diagnosis. Retrieved from https://www.spine-health.com/wellness/sleep/mattresses-and-sleep-positions-each-back-pain-diagnosis

Our research

27

Mattresses Considered

112

Hours of Research

2

Sleep Experts Consulted

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