Why Does Sleeping on a New Mattress Cause Back Pain?

New mattresses aren’t always a match made in heaven. Sometimes, for one reason or another, you just can’t get comfortable no matter how hard you try. The truth is that not all mattresses are suitable for every single person. Unless you know which firmness rating best suits your sleeping style, you may suffer for it.
Let’s look into the reasons why a brand new, straight off-the-shelf mattress might be causing you back pain.

Are you looking for a mattress that won’t cause back pain? The Saatva mattress ranks top of our list for lumbar support and overall comfort.

Can a New Bed Cause Back Pain?

Beds are one of the top sources of lower and upper back pain. Next to office chairs, they are the most likely piece of furniture to hurt your back. It’s not just back pain, either. New mattresses can cause neck pain, hip pain, and aches in the shoulders. If your mattress is old, lumpy, or has broken springs, you can expect aches and pains all over your body.

Beds cause different pains depending on which type of sleeper you are—assuming that your mattress is brand new and it is hurting your back already, that pain might be because of the firmness rating of your bed.

Before you judge too harshly, please give yourself a couple of weeks to get used to it since manufacturers say this is how long it takes to settle. Otherwise, check below for tips on treating the pain, depending on the type of sleeper you are.

Side Sleepers and New Mattress Pain

Shoulder pain is common in side sleepers, particularly if your mattress is too firm. The rotator cuff digs into the bed, which pushes it back into your body. In the end, you will likely switch to the opposite side for comfort, only to toss and turn back and forth for the rest of the night.
This pressure is likely to resolve itself as your mattress settles. If not, try doing some rotator cuff strengthening exercises (like these), increase your range of motion and flexibility through yoga, or purchase a thick foam mattress topper of a softer mattress firmness rating. Any or a combination of all these treatments could lead to a better mattress experience.

Stomach Sleepers and New Mattress Pain

Stomach sleepers need plenty of support to not suffer from lower back pain or pain between the shoulder blades. Generally, an overly soft mattress causes this discomfort. If your bed is still under sleep trial or warranty, we suggest replacing it with a firmer option.

Stomach sleepers should always err on the side of caution and go for a firmness rating of 7 or above. Since your stomach is doing the supporting while you sleep, you need the mattress to carry the extra weight.

Back Sleepers and New Mattress Pain

Back sleepers are the chameleons of the sleeping world. They can lie on a soft or a hard surface, but medium is a safe option.

If you are a back sleeper and your new mattress gives you pain past the two-week settling-in period, you likely have the wrong firmness. Too rigid, and you will ache from lying against it. Too soft, and you won’t have enough support. Try a 5-6 on the firmness scale or get another mattress topper of differing firmness.

Some Mattresses are Made for Everyone

Some mattresses suit any sleeper; offering zoned support that works in your favor. Regardless of position, zoned support will cradle you to the perfect sleep every night. The Saatva mattress and the Puffy mattress are both designed for every kind of sleeper, so you should find something that suits you in their range.

Why would a new mattress give you back pain?

Back pains from a new mattress can be caused by any number of factors. Let’s review a few things to narrow down to make sure it’s the new mattress causing the pain. Some other factors that might result in back pain include:

  • Sleeping in a draught of air can cause pain. Try sleeping with windows closed or aircon off in your bedroom.
  • Exercise throughout the day may be hurting your back.
  • Back pain might be caused not by the mattress but by the bed frame supporting it.
  • Over-reaching, bending, flexing, and stretching can all
  • cause discomfort.
  • An underlying health condition might cause back pain.
  • The mattress might still be in its settling period.

If you test all the above and narrow it down to just the mattress, then here are the types of pain a new bed can cause. Looking out for these types of pain in your back will help you find the best solution.

Neck pain

This usually means you need new pillows rather than a new bed. Neck pain can develop if you have sagging or bulkiness at the top end of the bed or if you have been sleeping on a worn mattress for so long that your posture needs to adjust.

If you are experiencing neck pain on a new mattress, replace your pillows and check your bed frame. A broken frame could lead to a sagging mattress and more pain for you in the future.

Shoulder pain

Shoulder pain is common in side sleepers who use a mattress that is too soft or too hard. If the bed is too hard, the rotator cuff will dig into your side.

If the mattress is too soft, you will likely experience both hip and shoulder pain if you lie on your side. Trying new pillows can also help with shoulder pains. It may be that sleeping with a lower pillow will help relax the issue.

Hip pain

Again, hip pain is a regular complaint of side sleepers who have a mattress that doesn’t provide the proper support. It often appears alongside shoulder pain but doesn’t usually include back pain. You can target hip pain by adding a pillow under the waist area while you sleep.

This technique props you up and gives you a little extra comfort. In more extreme cases, changing your new mattress for something of a different firmness rating is the only other option.

Back Pain

Commonly experienced by stomach and back sleepers, lower and upper back pain from a new mattress is usually caused by an improper firmness rating. A bed that isn’t providing enough support will hurt you all over, while a mattress that offers too much rigidity can hurt the spot right between your shoulder blades.

Solving this is reasonably easy. You need to up the firmness or buy a firmer mattress topper. If that doesn’t work, try a soft foam or latex mattress instead of a sprung or hybrid one. Remember: firm mattresses aren’t always the best choice for every sleeper.

Reasons Why your New Mattress is giving you Back Pain

There are multiple ways a new mattress can hurt your back, but you can also do a few things about it. Let’s talk about back pain and then move on to what to do to fix it.

1 – It’s not firm enough/It’s too firm

Mattresses that aren’t hard or soft enough can hurt your back. Just like if you sit on a stool all day with no support, your muscles will strain until it hurts. This is the same problem experienced in thousands of office workers forced to sit at desks all day.

Lower back pain radiates up and down the spine, eventually causing real problems to many.
Instead of suffering, you can check if your mattress is still in warranty or sleep trial. If it is, send it back for a different model. If it isn’t, introduce mattress toppers of the firmness rating that better suits you for the best effect.

2 – You have been used to a bad mattress

You got so used to a worn-out bed that using a new one is now painful to you. This isn’t as far-fetched as it may seem. Your posture will have changed to match if your body has accustomed to accounting for a lopsided mattress. Take this old mattress away, and now you have bad posture. Your new bed is straightening you back out again and causing you pain in the process.
This fix is simple – just wait. If your back pain persists past the three-week point, then it is safe to say you don’t have the right mattress for you. If it goes away on its own, you know that your new bed has straightened your posture out again- and that’s not a bad thing. You should always see your healthcare provider first, just in case it is something worse.

3 – It’s not fully expanded yet

Modern mattresses usually ship in boxes wrapped up in vacuum-packed cellophane. When you unbox, the bed starts expanding. It can take up to 3 days for your mattress to completely expand. You can sleep on it until that time, but it won’t give you the most comfortable sleep that it was designed to provide you with.

This is the same principle as a mattress taking two weeks to settle. Until it is safely within the bed frame and the parts have had a chance to settle into place, the mattress might not be working to its best ability. Some mattress providers won’t even let you return the mattress before 30 days have passed so that they can be sure that you have given it the best chance.

4 – Your bed frame isn’t working

If your bed frame is broken or defective, it could lead to a restless night’s sleep for you. The bed frame doesn’t need to be technically broken, either. If you have a king-sized mattress on a queen-sized bed frame, then you should expect it to cause you some discomfort. Similarly, if you have an adjustable frame that won’t stay in place, you can expect back pain from any new mattress placed upon it.

If your bed frame isn’t flat or doesn’t offer you steady support, it is time to get a new one. The bed frame is almost as crucial to getting a good night’s rest as your mattress is. Get a new one and see if that solves your new mattress back pain problem.

5 – You’re sleeping on the wrong material

Memory foam is brilliantly comfortable, but it offers a lot less support than a sprung or hybrid mattress. Since stomach sleepers and side sleepers need a reasonable amount of support, sleeping on memory foam isn’t necessarily the best path to go down.

If you are a stomach or side sleeper, try switching to an innerspring or a hybrid mattress. Avoid air beds, memory foam, or latex to eliminate back pain from any new mattress.

How can you Stop a New Mattress from Hurting your Back?

Now that we know what causes back pain, let’s talk about how to fix it. Try some of the following solutions if your brand-new mattress is causing you back pain.

Give it Some Time

A mattress takes about two weeks to adjust to your shape. This is why sleep trials typically last at least 30 days. The industry-standard sleep trial length for a mid to high-range mattress is about 100 days. Some companies offer a full 365-day trial, and some offer fewer than 200 days. Regardless of how long the sleep trial is, you won’t usually be able to return it until that 30-day point has passed.

Take it Back

If your new mattress is still giving you a backache after 3 weeks, return it for a firmer or softer model. Be sure to check with the mattress supplier at the point of purchase as to whether you can return it before thirty days or not.

If you aren’t sure which type of sleeper you are, or if you don’t know what firmness rating you like best, opt for a mattress with a good sleep trial length so that you can try it out. As we mentioned above, you need to give it longer than thirty days. If that period finishes and you are still in pain, take it back for a different model. Your consumer rights should remain intact should you do so.

Fix the Bedframe

If the bed frame is causing you pain, fixing it is the surest way to get a good night’s sleep. Since these are often cheaper than mattresses, you should be able to buy one for an affordable sum.

If you end up buying a used bed frame, look for evidence of infestation before you buy it. Try and go to a reputable source and make sure it is sanitary if you are buying from someone’s home. You should look out for bedbugs and termites for at least the first year of use.

Add in Support

If you can’t get a firmer mattress topper, you may need a bed with added lumbar support. Try swapping for something firmer to eliminate that pain. However, you can now buy memory foam mattress toppers in all manner of firmness ratings. This means you should be able to find something that matches your needs without the added expense of buying a second new mattress.

If you do have to get another new Mattress?

If you do end up getting a new mattress, try and return the old one while still in the warranty period. If this isn’t possible, you can resell your lightly used mattress on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace to try and recover some of your losses.

If nobody buys it, there is also the option of donating it to your local homeless shelter and turning that mattress mistake into a good deed.

What is the best mattress for back pain?

We researched the top three mattresses you can buy to try and eliminate the chances of back pain. If you are suffering and need inspiration, try the following mattresses to help your painful back.

1 – The Saatva Range

Any of the mattresses in the Saatva range will give you premium comfort and support in the upper and lower back. Saatva is renowned mattress manufacturers with a dedication to all-natural fabrics. The Zenhaven is a particular favorite of consumers since it uses 100% natural Talalay rubber. The company even gives you a 180-night sleep trial- but you probably won’t want to use it.

2 – The Puffy Range

With both a regular version and a deluxe version of the Puffy mattress, this company is a firm favorite as a mattress range of distinction. The beds are affordable, have been voted to be one of the most comfortable mattresses of 2023, and have an established fanbase who swear it’s like sleeping on a cloud. Puffy mattresses have different comfort zones built in to make sure each part of your body is fully supported. This makes them some of the best beds available for back pain.

3 – The Emma Mattress

The type of sleeper you are will impact whether the Emma original or the Emma Hybrid mattress is best for you. If you are a stomach sleeper, go for the firmer hybrid. If you are a back or side sleeper, the softer foam Emma will suit you best. Emma has the bestselling mattress in the UK and has retained that title since 2019. The beds are renowned for the support and pressure relief found within.

FAQs about Why Sleeping on a New Mattress Causes Lower Back Pain

Below, we have tried to anticipate and answer the most asked questions regarding back pain and new mattresses. If you can’t find what you are looking for, don’t forget that you can contact us for more information.

Q: What should I do if my new mattress hurts my back?
A: Wait out the 14-day advised trial period. If your new mattress still hurts beyond this period, reach out to the manufacturer to enquire about returning it. Opting for a new mattress with a sleep trial will help solve return disputes.

Q: How long does it take for your back to get used to a new mattress?
A: Mattress sellers advise that a bed-in-a-box mattress might take up to 3 days just to expand. All beds will require a 14-day settling-in period, and some don’t achieve their full potential until a month has passed.

Q: Can a new mattress make you sore?
A: Yes, a new mattress can make you sore. It can be too firm or too soft, it can be settling in or it can be that it doesn’t fit on your bed frame. All of these things can cause a new mattress to give you back pain.

Q: Can a new mattress fix back pain?
A: If your old mattress has been giving you pain, it may be best to upgrade. A new bed might take time to get used to, but it should provide you with relief once it settles. If it continues to hurt you after 30 days, return it to the manufacturer.

Q: How do you know if your mattress is causing your back pain?
A: If you eliminate any other potential causes of back pain and your new mattress is all that is left, then you can be sure it is hurting your back.

Conclusion on why sleeping on a new mattress causes back pain

Sleeping on a new bed can give you back pain for any of the reasons above. Usually, you will take time to get used to a replacement for your old mattress, so it’s important not to give in too quickly. If the mattress gives you back pain beyond that crucial thirty-day period, then take it back, knowing that you gave it your best shot.

Don’t forget to try different mattresses to find your firmness rating and look for a product with a risk-free sleep trial. Above all else, give it time. Change is never easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.