Does Memory Foam Mattress Cause Back Pain? (Updated Research 2023)

Sleep is integral for both your overall health and affects your productivity during the day. However, you can’t get high-quality sleep if you constantly have to deal with sharp back pain whenever you go to bed. Sleeping on a worn-out or unsupportive mattress can cause this pain. So, you may be wondering- is memory foam good for your back?

Before you opt for this kind of bed, it’s essential to understand if memory foam mattresses cause back pain. If you’re searching for insights into this matter, look no further. In this in-depth post, we’ll be taking you through everything you need to know about memory foam beds to help you make an informed decision on whether buying a memory foam mattress is any good for your back.

Can a Memory Foam Mattress Cause Back Pain?

Sleeping on a memory foam mattress can result in back pain if you sleep on a memory foam bed of the incorrect firmness. If you prefer to slumber on your back or stomach, consider getting a firm or medium-firm mattress. In contrast, a soft or medium-soft memory foam mattress is best for side sleepers.

With a memory foam mattress that suits your sleeping style, your spine remains in a neutral alignment, and this eases joint pressure. Therefore, these mattresses are great at preventing any back pains as they perfectly align your spine without leaving any spaces and offer lumbar support. These benefits give memory foam a significant advantage over traditional mattresses.

With that said, some people still complain that memory foam mattresses aren’t suitable for them as they still experience some back pain after a full night’s sleep. This problem suggests that your spine is in the incorrect alignment.

Different factors can help you figure out whether your memory foam mattress is actually what’s causing your backaches, including:

  • You keep tossing and turning and struggle to nod off: Falling asleep becomes quite tricky when you aren’t comfortable. As a result, you keep fidgeting all night while trying to find a neutral and comfortable position.
  • You feel back pain immediately after waking up: If you felt fine right before going to bed but wake up in the morning with back pain, this is a hint that your memory foam bed is what’s causing the discomfort. This issue happens if the memory foam mattress is too firm, thereby generating joint pressure in the hip region, later leading to lower back pain. Alternatively, you may have poor spinal alignment due to sleeping on a very soft mattress.

Also Read: 1. 5 Best Mattresses Without Memory Foam for Back Pain Relief

                2.  Consumer Reports Recommended Best Mattresses for Back Pain

What are the Advantages of Using a Memory Foam Mattress?

Although there are many types of mattresses available on the market, the demand for memory foam mattresses is constantly rising. This shouldn’t be any surprise as these mattresses good for your back. If you still are uncertain whether this mattress is the right choice, here’s an overview of the benefits you’ll enjoy when using a memory foam mattress.

Improves Spinal Alignment

Are memory foam mattresses good for your back? Many people find relief when they buy a memory foam mattress for back pain. These mattresses effectively ease discomfort because they align to your spine thanks to their denser and firmer build. They also evenly distribute your body weight, ensuring your back gets optimal support while you’re sleeping. As a result, you should enjoy reduced aches and pains and a night of more restful sleep.

No Motion Transfer

The constant movement of your partner while you’re sleeping can interfere with the quality of your sleep. You need not worry about this if you decide to buy a memory foam mattress as the material provides outstanding motion isolation. This mattress type absorbs movement and pressure rather than bouncing like the latex or innerspring beds. Therefore, you can continue to enjoy your night in peace regardless of your partner’s movement.


Do you have any allergies, respiratory disorders, or sleep apnea? If so, a memory foam mattress could help because they usually feature germ-resistant and hypoallergenic material rather than feathers or wool. The dense design also means that pollen, mold, pet dander, dust, and other common allergens can’t find a way inside.

This type of mattress also doesn’t have any spaces and air pockets that can be ideal breeding sites for dust mites or moisture buildup.

Ideal For Sleeping Different Positions

Memory foam mattresses tend to bend according to your body’s pressure and naturally use the heat generated by your body. This handy feature makes a memory foam mattress ideal for any sleeping position as it offers you excellent pressure point relief and curves to the shape of your body.

This type of mattress also provides proper lumbar and hip support in any sleeping position without any uncomfortable pressure.


Buying a mattress isn’t cheap. Therefore, it’s essential to get the best model you can afford to avoid needing to buy another one after just a few years. You shouldn’t be overly concerned about this happening if you buy a memory foam mattress for back pain.

Memory foam beds generally retain their original shape even after using them for an extended duration, thanks to their high-density build. Likewise, these mattresses aren’t delicate, so you don’t need to put in a great deal of effort to ensure they’re well maintained.

Are There Any Disadvantages to Having a Memory Foam Mattress?

Despite memory foam’s popularity, it still has some downsides. These disadvantages apply to all three types of memory foam mattresses, including gel memory foam, traditional memory foams, and open-cell memory foam. Knowing these drawbacks is vital as it helps you answer the question; are memory foam mattresses good for your back?

The main disadvantages of memory foam beds include:

  • Lack of Water-Resistance

If you accidentally pour water or any other beverage on your memory foam mattress, you’ll have to find a way to dry it as quickly as possible. To make things worse, cleaning this type of mattress isn’t easy. You will need to take steps to shield your bed, as any liquid contact could cause degeneration of your mattress, reducing its expected lifespan.

Therefore, we suggest investing in a water-resistant mattress cover to ensure your mattress doesn’t come into contact with any fluid.

  • Initial Odor

Another issue that many people often complain about memory foam mattresses is the initial smell after unboxing. This chemical-like odor smells like polyether polyurethane and occurs during the production process. This smell can be more intense for cheaper memory foam mattresses, and many people even find it unbearable.

To rid your mattress of this irritating smell, you should leave it in the open air for at least 48 hours. However, bear in mind that the aroma is harmless and poses no risk to your health.

  • It’s Too Firm

Buying a memory foam mattress for back pain is often recommended because it doesn’t tend to sag too much over time and trigger back issues. With that said, some high-density memory foam mattresses are very firm, which some people find very uncomfortable. However, memory foam gradually softens over time, so you should give your body a few weeks to get used to the feel before sending it back to the store.

  • Expensive

The most premium memory foam mattress brands can cost thousands of dollars. While they guarantee excellent quality and durability, spending such a sum of money isn’t something every consumer can afford. Fortunately, plenty of brands offer a decent balance between comfort, durability, and affordability.

  • Heat Sensitive

Before you buy a memory foam mattress for back pain, you need to know that this type of bed heats up very quickly. For the winter season, this is a plus. However, come summer, you may regret your decision.

This issue is more pronounced if you tend to sleep hot, with higher density memory foam mattresses retaining more heat than lower-density ones. If you live in an area with high humidity and warmer weather, you should either opt for a different mattress type or pick a memory foam bed engineered to sleep cool. Otherwise, you might find yourself waking up several times during the night due to overheating and discomfort.

To help address this issue, you should use fine cotton sheets instead of non-porous or synthetic fiber sheets on your memory foam mattress. Also, gel-infused and open-cell memory foam mattresses tend to sleep cooler than their traditional counterparts. However, you’ll need to spend more to get these top-of-the-range memory foam mattresses.

  • Bulky

It’s no doubt that the dense foam of memory foam mattresses helps many people with their back pain. However, it also makes them very heavy, so moving them is a real challenge. Many people find even changing the sheets pretty tricky without a helper to hand.

How Do I Know I’m Buying the Right Memory Foam Mattress to Ease Back Pain?

Searching for the right memory foam mattress to buy can be confusing as there are many choices to consider. This wide range makes the whole decision-making process a lot more complicated, especially if you’re new to shopping for this type of mattress. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. Here are some essential factors to bear in mind when looking for the right memory foam mattress for back pain:

Adjustment Period

You don’t want to buy a memory foam mattress that doesn’t provide you with the desired comfort. Because of this, you should always closely check the brand’s client trial period before deciding which memory foam mattress to buy. The standard trial period ranges from one month to a whole year.

To allow your body time to adjust, you should give it between 30 to 40 days, as this is how long it takes for most of these mattresses to break in. This way, you get a better idea of whether the bed is the right choice for you and avoid the hassle of returning it.


Like any other mattress, memory foam mattresses are also available in different sizes. These sizes are California King, King, Queen, Double/Full, Twin XL, and Twin. Some brands offer extra sizes, such as Short Queen or Full XL. First, determine what size meets your needs before placing an order for the memory foam mattress.


Memory foam mattress thicknesses range between 5 inches to 15 inches, but many have a thickness of roughly 10 inches. You need to know your body weight to have a better idea of which thickness best suits you. If you have a heavy build, a thicker memory foam mattress is ideal, but a thinner mattress would work fine if you’re light or skinny.

Firmness Level

The perfect firmness level differs from one person to another as it’s a matter of personal preference. Memory foam mattresses come in a full range of options, from ultra-plush to extra-firm. Choosing the correct firmness for your body type and sleep style is vital in terms of both comfort and support.

Ease of Cleaning

Buying a memory foam is a significant investment. Therefore, you want a mattress that will last you for as long as possible, which means choosing a mattress that’s easy to clean. To get insights on how easy it is to maintain, go through reviews by previous users and product specifications.

What Can I Do If My Memory Foam Mattress Hurts My Back?

Even after investing in a memory foam mattress for back pain, some people still complain that they still experience aches each morning. This back pain affects your overall quality of life, but you can take steps to prevent it from worsening or reducing it gradually. Here are some valuable tips to help you reduce back pain and consequently improve your sleep quality.

Buy Mattress Toppers

If you’re suffering from memory foam mattress back pain, then investing in a mattress topper is necessary. This mattress accessory is between two to four inches thick and goes over your mattress to either making it firmer or softer. Therefore, it helps alleviate body aches by improving your spinal alignment and reducing pressure.

When you want additional support, you should buy a firm topper, while a soft topper is ideal if you’re suffering due to excessive pressure. Mattress toppers are available in every standard mattress size, either at mattress stores or online. They feature a wide range of possible materials, including latex, gel foam, or memory foam.

Get Enough Quality Sleep

Not having enough sleep can cause back pain to intensify. Therefore, you need to prioritize restorative sleep as it helps repair body tissues and recharge your energy levels. Ideally, it would be best if you slept at least seven hours each night.

Use A Pillow

A rotated or misaligned usually causes lower back pain while you’re sleeping. You can avoid this by using an extra pillow, placing it behind the back of the knees for back sleepers, or between your knees for side sleepers. If you sleep on your stomach, place a thin pillow below your head and another pillow below your lower abdomen and hips.

With the comfort and support offered by pillows, the upper region of your spine shapes your body’s natural curvature. Also, your head gets much-needed support, reducing the chances of pain in your shoulders and neck.

Place An Adjustable Base 

You don’t want your spine to experience any pressure while you’re asleep. To achieve this, you can either lift your bed’s foot level or sleep at an incline position. With an adjustable base, you can accomplish precisely this as it allows you to raise your head, feet, or both while sleeping. You can also relieve joint pressure and increase circulation by sleeping in a zero-gravity position on the adjustable base.

Adjustable bed bases also provide improved lumbar support, which aids in minimizing back pain. As a result, the muscle tension in your spinal region reduces as your improved position decompresses the spine.

Also Check: Consumer Reports Best Adjustable Beds in 2023

Minimize Inflammation Through Exercise and Proper Diet

A sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits have become part of today’s society. However, these are life choices that you should avoid if you’re experiencing pain after sleeping on your memory foam mattress.

To reduce inflammation, eat healthy foods such as almonds, leafy greens, fruits, olive oil, tomatoes, and fatty fish such as tuna and salmon. These ingredients do a great job of reducing inflammation and promoting better sleep. In contrast, foods like red meat, refined bread, sugary drinks, and fried foods only worsen the inflammation, potentially increasing pain.

In addition to observing a healthy diet, you also need to exercise as often as possible. Regularly strengthening your muscles can lower your pain levels when you get to bed.

Can A Memory Foam Mattress Topper Cause Back Pain?

The memory foam topper is considered a cheaper alternative to buying a new mattress while still improving your comfort. This added layer sits over your existing bed to enhance its overall feel. You should invest in a mattress topper if you’re starting to feel pressure in your back, shoulders, and hips but don’t want to buy a whole new bed yet. Most mattress toppers feature wool, latex, polyfoam, cotton, and memory foam.

Although memory foam toppers usually improve the mattress’s overall support and comfort, some of them could cause. This problem is more likely if you get a mattress topper that’s too soft and you’re used to sleeping on a stiff mattress. Likewise, some people complain that mattress toppers that are very firm cause them to experience back pains. To avoid this issue, choose a topper of the correct firmness for your sleeping position.

5 Ways A Memory Foam Mattress Can Cause Lower Back Pain

There are different reasons why a memory foam mattress might cause you lower and upper back pain. Understanding them is essential as it helps you figure out whether memory foam mattresses are suitable for your back.

Memory foams are can, without a doubt, lead to back pain in the following ways:

Your Mattress Is Too Soft or Too Firm

How soft or hard your mattress feels describes its overall feel when sleeping on it. This needs to be one of the first factors you should consider before buying a memory foam mattress. If you make the wrong choice, you’ll end up buying a mattress that causes you lower back pain.

Whether to get a firm or soft memory foam mattress depends on your preference and sleeping style. Front and back sleepers tend to prefer firmer mattresses as they provide the support they need for proper spinal alignment. Meanwhile, side sleepers generally require a softer bed to prevent pressure around the shoulders and hips.

You Don’t Get Adequate Support

A mattress’s support describes how well it promotes good posture, protects your joints and back from pain, and aligns your spine. Lower back pain is a common symptom of an unsupportive mattress. Proper support is crucial regardless of whether you’re a back sleeper, side sleeper, stomach sleeper, or combi sleeper.

If you’re a heavy sleeper weighing more than 200 pounds, your memory foam mattress should be over 10-inches thick to prevent pain. Heavier individuals should choose high-density memory foam to stop their bodies from sinking in too deeply, which is a sign of inadequate support.

Sleeping On Your Stomach

Lower back pain can also be caused by stomach sleeping. This sleeping position is the least supportive because your mattress cannot ensure your back, neck, and spine align. As a result, this causes back issues.

If you can bear to break the habit, it would be best if you instead slept on your back or side as much as possible.

Still Adapting To Your Memory Foam Mattress

It takes a while for your body to get used to your newly-bought memory foam mattress- around 30 days for most people. Therefore, many manufacturers stipulate a 30-night adjustment threshold before returning the mattress.

You Get Too Hot While Sleeping

Memory foam mattresses can get very hot, especially during the summer. This problem is often worse if it doesn’t incorporate cooling technology. Traditional memory foam mattresses act as heat traps and lack breathability, causing sweating and discomfort.


Hopefully, you now understand why a memory foam mattress could cause back pain. Most people find that memory foam beds help with lumbar discomfort, but the incorrect firmness, thickness, or density could cause issues. We recommend considering your weight, sleeping position, and sense of comfort when shopping for a memory foam mattress to avoid lower back pain

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