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While we’re sleeping, our body heals and restores energy for the next big day.
And nagging back pain is the last thing we want upon awakening.
The good news is that you can make your sleeping environment friendlier and reduce the chances of lower back pain visiting you by doing one simple thing:
Purchasing a mattress pad.
This simple item can add some cushioning you need to relax your deep muscles and provide the much-needed pain relief. So, dive right into the recommendations on how to choose the best mattress toppers for lower back pain and check the selection of the best models for lower back pain relief.
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Best Budget Option
Puffy Mattress Topper
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Saatva Mattress Topper
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Best Cooling Topper
GhostBed Memory Foam Topper
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Our List of the Best Mattress Toppers for Lower Back Pain Sufferers
Editor’s Choice – TEMPUR-Adapt® Topper
- Made of Tempur-Adapt technology with pressure relieving quality
- 3-inch thick and extra soft, great for mattresses that are already too firm for comfort
- Removable mattress topper for ease of cleaning
- Breathable Tempur material to minimize heat retention
The TEMPUR-Adapt® is our Editor’s Choice for the best mattress topper for lower back pain due to its unique TEMPUR® material. TEMPUR-Adapt® continuously adapts to your body throughout the night as the heat from your body causes it to soften, hugging your pressure points better. It also muffles tossing and turning, reducing motion transfer and any disturbances from a sleeping partner, or yourself. This muffling encourages less tossing and turning, enhancing sleep quality as you’ll be moving around less due to more pressure being absorbed.
The topper is 3 inches in size and extra-soft in firmness which is why I think it will be great for those who want to have a bed that is a bit balanced in firmness.
The objective of the TEMPUR-Adapt memory foam material – for those who are used to Tempurpedic mattresses – is to hug or conform to the body. This quality helps the sleeper have fewer pressure points.
Additionally, the TEMPUR topper has a cover that's woven to have micro air vents. This brings about some breathability and moisture-wicking property so the sleeper can be as comfortable as possible.
- Hot sleepers. Because the topper has a cooling cover that is breathable and wicks moisture away.
- Camping and RVs. The mattress topper is easy to roll up into a portable size for those packing essential items for camping. It can be used as a makeshift bed for campers who don't need a full-sized mattress.
- Side sleepers. The topper is rated as a soft to medium firm mattress accessory. This is an ideal firmness for petite sleepers who want to have their pressure points cushioned and relieved. But I also think side sleepers who are a bit heavy can also benefit from this.
- I think some buyers may see the price as too high since some toppers are sold for one-fifth of the price;
- It's not supportive for heavy sleepers because it's a soft all-foam mattress topper.
Best Budget Option — Puffy Topper
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- lifetime warranty for improved customer protection;
- works like a fitted sheet to eliminate adjustments;
- removable cover for effortless cleaning;
- adaptive feel regardless of the firmness level to offer effective pressure relief to different sleeper categories.
The Puffy Topper is our best budget option for lower back pain due to its budget-friendly price, while still offering a cradling, cushioning feel that may help ease tension while lying down. Puffy is a cost-effective option if you’re wanting to watch your dollars as it is $46 cheaper than the Saatva Latex Topper, and $84 cheaper than Plushbeds. Not only does Puffy allow you to save money, but I’ve tested this topper and found its conforming memory foam to be just as effective for relieving soreness in the body. The Puffy molds to the body, providing optimal support and filling in the back curve. This leads to pressure redistribution and pain relief. I felt the Puffy’s effect after only two nights, which is pretty impressive.
Now, back pain can often cause sleepers to shift in bed trying to find a comfortable position. And the Puffy would be perfect for such users. You see, this topper comes with an anti-slip grip and works like a fitted sheet. It sticks to the mattress and stays there all night. While testing this model, I didn’t have to readjust it even once. As a combo sleeper, I appreciate that a lot, as many other toppers usually end up hanging over my mattress in the morning.
Firming up a mattress may help with lower back pain, which is what I found with the Puffy topper. I recorded Puffy firming up the mattress by about 0.16 inches. This contrasts with the Ghostbed, which only firmed up its mattress by 0.02 inches.
- Shoppers looking for a long-lasting investment. The Puffy mattress topper is well-made, so it’s very likely to last users a long time. But if that’s not enough, it also comes with a lifelong warranty and offers excellent customer protection.
- Restless and active sleepers. This mattress topper won’t slide off or shift during the night, even if sleepers move a lot. The Puffy has a good grip on the mattress thanks to its anti-slip system. Plus, it works like a fitted sheet and stays secure all across the perimeter of the mattress.
- Allergy-prone sleepers. The Puffy mattress topper has a removable, washable cover. Thanks to such smart construction, allergy-prone users can easily clean the cover and eliminate any potential allergens.
- some off-gassing is possible upon unpacking;
- might not be supportive enough for heavier stomach sleepers.
Runner Up — Saatva Mattress Topper
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- four elastic bands to guarantee an extra secure fit;
- 45-night trial for improved customer satisfaction;
- three material variations to allow shoppers to find their ideal feel.
The next item on our list of the best mattress toppers for lower back pain is the Saatva. What makes it stand out from the crowd is the variety of materials the Saatva is available in. And two of them have cooling properties, which makes the Saatva ideal for those who hate sleeping hot. The graphite-infused foam model offers close conforming and a gentle hug but also draws the excess heat and moisture away. Shoppers can also pick the latex version, which doesn't feel too enveloping and remains neutral during the night.
Another thing that sets the Saatva apart is the return window it comes with. Sleep trials are quite rare for mattress toppers, but it seems like guys at Saatva want to make sure their customers are 100% happy. You get 45 days to test the topper and decide whether you like it or not. This could really come in handy for hesitant shoppers who aren’t sure what they need exactly.
- Those who appreciate the versatility. Since the Saatva comes in different material types, it gives users more chances to pick something that could suit their needs.
- Uncertain shoppers. The Saatva topper comes with a 45-day return window. So, if you aren’t sure about what you need, you can test the topper and return it in case it doesn’t work for you.
- Active or combo sleepers. The Saatva topper comes with sturdy elastic straps. They can keep the topper in place all through the night, which may come in handy for those who move a lot in bed.
- not a very cheap model, so it might not be ideal for shoppers on a budget;
- might not be firm enough to properly support stomach sleepers.
Best Cooling Topper for People with Lower Back Pain — GhostBed Memory Foam Topper
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- gel memory foam for cooler sleep without giving up the gentle cradling;
- waterproof cover to help maintain a clean, fresh sleeping environment;
- zoned design for targeted support and tension alleviation.
The next pick among the best mattress toppers for lower back pain is the GhostBed. Not only does it offer zoned support to maintain a neutral, pain-free back, but it also comes with several cooling properties. This model uses gel infusion to prevent heat build-up. Additionally, the GhostBed has a convoluted design, resulting in improved breathability. Thanks to that, my warm memory foam mattress didn’t make me sweat even once while I was using it with the GhostBed topper.
I also appreciate the cover that comes with this topper. First off, it’s waterproof. This means the cover can also work as a mattress protector and may help increase its lifespan. Additionally, the cover is designed like a fitted sheet. It has deep pockets and sits securely on top of the mattress. As a combination sleeper who sometimes shifts in bed, I appreciate this factor a lot. I did not have to readjust my GhostBed topper even once thanks to its secure fit.
During my tests, I noticed the Ghostbed topper gave the mattress a slow-adaptive response time. From an initial compression, I recorded a partial bounce-back of about 0.47 seconds and 0.89 seconds for a full bounce-back. This helps isolate motion and gives pressure relief to the lower back. The Puffy has a similar performance, with only a 0.02-second faster partial bounce-back time, and 0.04-second faster full recovery.
- Hot sleepers. The GhostBed foam topper uses cooling gel to prevent overheating at night. There are also small air channels all across the perimeter to ensure proper airflow and contribute to this topper’s cooling properties.
- Active or restless sleepers. This model comes with a cover that works like a fitted sheet. It has deep pockets and a reliable elastic band. That’s why the GhostBed topper remains in place even when used by active sleepers.
- Users looking to protect their mattress. The GhostBed uses a waterproof cover. Thus, it can prevent stains and odors, working as a mattress protector. Naturally, this can help users increase their mattress’s (and topper’s) lifespan.
- can potentially make it harder to get out of bed for people with slight mobility issues (as this topper is slow-moving and rather thick);
- not ideal for strict stomach sleepers.
Our Methodology - Why I Picked These Mattress Toppers
These mattress toppers were picked out for their ability to support the spine and lumbar, which is a key factor in helping reduce pain. The ability to conform and alleviate pressure was also considered, as this also plays a role in getting the muscles in the spine to relax, which can help reduce back pain.
In my review methodology, I test mattress toppers similarly to mattresses, examining their layers individually. I also test them on a 6.5 firmness mattress, which is the most universally liked mattress in most homes, so I can get a better idea of how a topper may feel on your mattress, and how it will likely affect how your back feels. Additionally, I also test how well a topper can stay on a mattress, looking for pockets or support straps and seeing their durability and functionality. If they can handle my tossing and turning tests without moving, I’ll consider the mattress topper as a candidate. My first-hand experience and knowledge of mattress toppers play a role in how I chose these mattress toppers.
What Types of Mattress Toppers Work Best for Lower Back Pain?
Most mattress toppers you will find on the market are made of these three materials:
- Memory foam. The queen of contouring, memory foam, quickly adjusts to your body shape and relaxes the deep spinal muscles, thus putting your spine into a natural position. This is the best pick for chronic lower back pain. However, traditional memory foam is a thermosensitive material, meaning that it can change the feel depending on body temperature. While this explains the cradling properties, temperature sensitivity is also a culprit of heat retention, so choose open-cell and gel-infused memory foams to avoid hot sleeping.
- Polyfoam. A cheaper alternative to memory foam, polyfoam has an open-cell structure and a spongier feel. The latter is great if your pain limits your mobility because polyfoam leaves you able to move without making you feel trapped. Note that polyfoam is generally less durable, so you should always opt for a higher density (1.5-1.8 PCF) — this will prevent premature sagging and breaking.
- Latex. Latex is a natural material, and along with good contouring and pressure relief, it offers other benefits — such as cool sleeping, durability, hypoallergenic and antibacterial effects. However, natural latex might be too expensive for some, which is its main drawback.
There are also dual-layer mattress pads with fiberfill padding. They might seem comfy at first, but the fiber layer often goes flat very quickly and loses its cradling effect.
What to Consider When Shopping for a Good Mattress Pad for Lower Back Pain?
When it comes to finding a suitable mattress topper for lower back pain, you need to consider your body’s needs. After all, we each have unique bodies, and no topper will be equally comfortable for everyone.
So, check out some tips that will help you make the right choice.
A good rule of thumb is to choose the optimal firmness in accordance with your weight, preferred sleeping position, and pain localization. Here’s why it’s important:
- Weight. Heavier users tend to sink deeper into the topper, and if it’s too soft, it may fail to provide proper support to them. So, if you’re a heavy guy, you might need a medium-firm or even a firm mattress pad to deal with the increased weight yet properly contour your lower abdomen area.
- Pain localization. Sometimes, lower back pain may affect not only the lumbar area but also the pelvis or the sacrum bone. If this is your case, you’ll need to look for a mattress pad for hip pain relief. Such pads can usually cradle your lower back better and prevent unnatural curvature of the spine.
- Sleeping position. Different sleeping positions create different pressure points in your body, and hence, require different firmness levels to distribute your weight properly. For example, a mattress topper for side sleepers should have a soft-to-medium feel in order to cradle the protruding hips and shoulders. Back and stomach sleepers can benefit from medium and medium-firm pads that would conform closely to their lower back. In fact, according to a 2003 study, most low-back pain sufferers feel better on a medium-firm surface (1).
Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach if you have lower back pain. This position flattens the natural curve of your lumbar area and can make things worse (2).
Sleeping hot is what we all want to avoid when shopping for a new mattress or topper. But if you’re initially prone to overheating during sleep, this might actually decrease your tolerance to pain.
Unfortunately, many mattress toppers that properly cradle your body also tend to sleep hotter because of the increased area of contact between your body and the topper.
Don’t worry, though. You can still improve the situation:
- Choose open-cell foams. Polyfoam or memory foam with an open-cell structure create a pathway for the heat to escape the material, which makes it easier for them to cool your body down.
- Go for infused foams. Gel or copper infusions make the foam more temperature-neutral and act as conductors of your body heat.
- Opt for egg-crate toppers. An egg-crate topper has a specific design that improves airflow between your body and the pad, thus helping you sleep cooler. Also, the crates provide a slight massage effect that contributes to pain relief.
Lower back pain often causes sleepers to toss and turn. While this may help them find the least painful position, this also often causes a mattress topper to move and slip. In this case, a secure fit is a must.
For active sleepers, the best solution would be a mattress topper that works like a fitted sheet. However, shoppers need to make sure the pockets are deep enough to accommodate the height of their mattress.
Another great option is a topper that has elastic straps. They are often adjustable, which makes them suitable for virtually any mattress thickness.
Response to Motion
Again, lower back pain sufferers often switch positions to relieve the symptoms. And if they share the bed with a significant other, this can be an issue. After all, too much movement can wake one’s partner up during the night, and no one wants that.
To avoid nighttime disturbances, it’s better to choose a slow-moving mattress topper. Memory foam works the best in this case. As for latex, it can be pretty bouncy (unless it’s a soft topper).
Not all mattress toppers come with a sleep trial. But for lower back pain sufferers, this aspect can be very important. And yes, picking a topper that includes a sleep trial may limit one’s options. But at the same time, testing a mattress topper at home can help users find the ideal model that would help relieve their back pain.
And in case it doesn’t, they don’t have to keep it (and sleep uncomfortably). Instead, shoppers can return the mattress topper, get their money back, and try the next model.
Usually, mattress toppers range from 1 to 4 inches in height. The thickness can determine how significantly the topper may alter the feel of one’s mattress.
For instance, thinner models may add a moderate amount of cushioning. Firmer but thin toppers can enhance the support, but only to a small extent.
Thicker toppers, on the other hand, are likely to change the feel of the mattress noticeably. Thicker models often offer more cradling and a generous hug. If a mattress topper is both thick and firm, it may deliver sturdier support. Such a design could also aid proper spinal alignment.
Dealing with back pain can sometimes cause limited mobility. And shoppers need to consider this aspect when looking for a new mattress topper. The thing is, this bedroom accessory can change the feel of one’s mattress, which could also make moving and getting out of it more challenging.
For instance, memory foam toppers usually have an enveloping feel. That’s why they can often feel like quicksand when users with limited mobility try to get out of bed. If that’s the case, shoppers might want to stick to latex toppers. They are bouncier and shouldn’t restrict movement that much. Polyfoam toppers might also suffice, as they move a bit faster than memory foam. Additionally, polyfoam is cheaper than latex and would be more suited for budget shoppers.
Mattress Pads vs. Toppers: Are They the Same?
Mattress toppers and pads are often regarded as synonyms.
However, they are different, and shoppers need to consider that when looking for something to ease their lower back pain.
Mattress pads are typically thinner than toppers. Therefore, they can’t always deliver the needed pressure alleviation. Additionally, pads often use less conforming materials (such as down or fibers, for example). Again, this may affect their tension-relieving properties, making mattress pads less than ideal for lower back pain.
Can a mattress topper cause pain?
Yes. If it’s not chosen based on your unique body needs, it may feel too soft or too firm, which is likely to result in morning back pain.
What kind of mattress topper is best for lower back pain?
The main things to look for if you suffer from lower back pain are medium firmness and close conforming.
A mattress pad is a sure way to make your sleep more comfortable and adjust the feel of your mattress to your needs.
To choose the model that will become your ally in combating lower back pain, go for materials that offer you good contouring: traditional or gel-infused memory foam and natural latex. Also, if your pain is the result of the old or overly firm mattress, consider thick pads with a softer feel that can address these problems and reduce your time of tossing and turning.
Or, you can pick one of the models listed in this selection.
From what I’ve seen, I think the best option here is the TEMPUR-Adapt®. Out of all the toppers, the TEMPUR-Adapt® comes to the forefront with its unique TEMPUR® material, which I think has some of the best conforming, body-hugging abilities that may help ease pain.
Have you tried mattress toppers for dealing with lower back issues? What was your experience? Share your thoughts below!
- Francisco M Kovacs, Ph.D., Víctor Abraira, Ph.D., Andrés Peña, MD, José Gerardo Martín-Rodríguez, MD, Manuel Sánchez-Vera, MD, Enrique Ferrer, Ph.D., et al. (2003, November 15). Effect of Firmness of the Mattress on Chronic Non-Specific Low-Back Pain: Randomised, Double-Blind, Controlled, Multicentre Trial. Retrieved from https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(03)14792-7/fulltext
- Deborah Weatherspoon, Ph.D., R.N., CRNA (2018, June 29). How These 3 Sleep Positions Affect Your Gut Health Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/sleep-effects-digestion#stomach-sleeping
Mattress Toppers Considered
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I’m looking for a mattress to support my lower back pain. Got a chance to read this article, now I have decided to go with a Mattress for spine support which is memory foam. Good job, Keep sharing!!
This was very helpful – thank you!
Thank you, Jody.
I’m glad that you found the article useful.