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The 6 Best Orthopedic Mattresses Of 2022 To Ease Your Aches & Pains

The 6 Best Orthopedic Mattresses Of 2022 To Ease Your Aches & Pains
Image by mbg creative
October 21, 2022
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We spend a third of our lives asleep—or, in many cases, attempting to sleep1. While at first this may sound like wasted time, our bodies do a lot to recover during those resting hours. Insufficient sleep can cause decreased mental sharpness2 (among many other things), and if you're up half the night with neck or back pain, you aren't achieving all the benefits of a deep, restorative sleep. With all this in mind, many brands have started to offer orthopedic mattresses, helping people with chronic pain sleep soundly through the night.

With our time in bed being crucial for our overall health and well-being, finding a comfortable and supportive mattress is essential. But exactly what is an orthopedic mattress? We spoke with an expert to better understand what the orthopedic mattress label really means and how to find the best mattress for reducing back pain.

Keep reading to learn about the best orthopedic mattresses, plus our picks to achieve that deep sleep we're all craving.

The best orthopedic mattresses of 2022:

What is an orthopedic mattress?

If you struggle with back or neck pain, you might be on the hunt for an "orthopedic" mattress. Well, friends, we're here to tell you that such a thing does not quite exist.

"Orthopedic" is a blanket term that's touted by plenty of mattress brands, but it's one that isn't clearly defined by medical associations. "There are some mattresses that are marketed as orthopedic mattresses, which are designed to provide support for the musculoskeletal system," says Cameron Yuen, DPT, CSCS, and director of rehab and training at Bespoke Treatments Physical Therapy in New York City. "This isn't an official designation, however, so it isn't necessary to only look for those listed as ‘orthopedic’ if your back is bothering you."

To be clear, labeling a mattress as "orthopedic" isn't a bad thing. It's just important to remember that this label doesn't necessarily make the mattress better than any other medium-firm mattress out there, and these mattresses aren't guaranteed to solve all of your aches and pains.

So what type of mattress will make your pain more manageable?

A collection of recent research suggests that medium-firm mattresses reign supreme when it comes to reducing back pain, thanks to their combination of support and cushion. Medium-firm beds are typically the best fit for a wide range of body sizes and sleep positions and are often recommended by physical therapists, chiropractors, and orthopedic surgeons for people with joint pain.

"Back pain can rarely be attributed to a single factor," Yuen explains. "Pain can be caused by the health of the spine, activity levels, stress, and, in some cases, sleeping positions or mattresses. Look for a mattress that is somewhat firm but soft enough to conform to the curves of your joints and muscles."

How we picked:

Firmness

Tossing the term "orthopedic" aside, we focused on mattresses that are medium-firm (per expert advice) and that offer a good balance of support and cushion for optimal spinal alignment in various sleep styles.

Reviews

We read hundreds of reviews, with a particular focus on those that mention back and neck pain.

Quality

Each of the beds on this list use high-quality, CertiPUR-US certified materials. As always, we prioritized brands that use organic, recycled, and nontoxic materials whenever possible.

Price

We selected mattresses at a variety of price points—because no one should have to compromise sleep quality for price.

Our picks of the best orthopedic mattresses:

Best for stomach sleepers: WinkBed (Luxury Firm)

Pros:

  • Luxury hotel-bed feel
  • Firm enough for stomach sleeping

Cons:

  • Not for foam lovers
  • Longer delivery time
Materials: FoamCoils
Sizes available: TwinTwin XLFullQueenKingCalifornia King
Trial period: 120 nights
Warranty: Lifetime

Sleeping on your stomach often causes your hips and neck to twist and isn't the best way to keep your spine happy—but hey, if that's how you get your best sleep, you do you!

This mattress is a great pick for stomach sleepers thanks to its firm yet plush design. It's a luxury hybrid made from recycled, individually wrapped steel coils, gel-infused foam, and a plush Euro-top. You can choose from four firmness options: softer, luxury firm, firmer, and plus, which is intended for heavier people. The Luxury Firm is the brand's bestseller and is rated at a 6.5 out of 10 on the firmness scale.

It arrives compressed and rolled in a box. You don't need to wait long for it to expand, and you can sleep on the mattress as soon as it's reached its full size.

What customers say:

This mattress has 4.8 out of five stars, across 8,000 total reviews. It's a hit with all sleep positions and with couples as well. One person writes, "I sleep on my side and back and my husband sleeps on his stomach and we both really like it. I definitely wake up with less hip and back pain. This may be the first time ever that we agree on a mattress!"

Of course, some reviewers complain that their WinkBed is either too soft or too firm. If you end up not loving your bed, you can exchange for a different firmness option (or return it altogether) within the first 120 nights.

Best budget: The DreamCloud

Pros:

  • Affordable price point
  • Luxury hybrid design

Cons:

  • Only one firmness option
  • No sustainably sourced materials
Materials: FoamCoils
Sizes available: TwinTwin XLFullQueenKingCalifornia King
Trial period: 365 nights
Warranty: Lifetime

How it's made & how it arrives:

The original DreamCloud mattress is another hybrid mix of innerspring coils and foam, but it comes at a significantly lower price point than the other beds we selected. It only comes in one medium-firm firmness option, but if you're a strict side sleeper or just someone who likes a little additional cushion, you can upgrade to the DreamCloud Premier, which adds a plush foam topper for an additional $400.

Like most of the mattresses on this list, this one arrives compressed and wrapped in a box. The brand recommends leaving it to expand for 24 hours, and once the mattress is in your home, you'll have a full year to decide if it's the right one for you.

What customers say:

With just under 8,000 reviews and 4.8 out of five stars, this mattress gets overwhelmingly positive reviews online. "The DreamCloud is super comfortable. It is fluffy but firm and has good support. No more achy body!" one person reports.

Most negative reviews are from people who say their DreamCloud was firmer than they wanted (and there is only one firmness option). Reviews are very mixed from side sleepers: Some folks recommend upgrading to the Premier if you need a little more cushion for side sleeping.

Best for back sleepers: Avocado Green Mattress

Pros:

  • Supportive hybrid design
  • Organic & sustainably sourced materials

Cons:

  • Delivery is notoriously bad
  • Customer service could be better
Materials: WoolLatexCotton
Sizes available: TwinTwin XLFullQueenKingCalifornia King
Trial period: 365 nights
Warranty: 25-year

As the name suggests, this bed is the greenest on our list and the flagship mattress of Avocado, a brand known for their dedication to organic and sustainably sourced materials. It's a combination of supportive coils, GOLS-certified organic latex, and GOTS-certified organic wool and cotton. While it has a plush feel and is suitable for all sleep styles, the Avocado Green is on the firmer side, making it best suited for back sleepers. There's also an option to add a plush pillowtop, which Avocado recommends for smaller folks or side sleepers.

All Avocado beds ship from their factory in Los Angeles, California. They're actually a carbon-negative company, which means they voluntarily offset more than 100% of their emissions! When it arrives, the bed will be compressed and rolled in a box. But because it's made with natural and organic materials, you won't experience any weird smells while it comes to life.

What customers say:

With an overall rating of 4.7 out of five stars and over 17,000 reviews, people with all different sleep styles praise the buoyancy of this mattress. Many report waking up without aches and pains, and a back sleeper writes, "The perfect solution for our increasingly aching backs! Its comfort is amazing and there was absolutely no odor! We love it!"

While the brand does offer a generous 365-night sleep trial, the most common complaints from reviewers are about less than stellar customer service during the return process.

Best for side sleepers: Leesa Legend Hybrid

Pros:

  • Eco-friendly materials
  • Targeted support for side sleepers

Cons:

  • Might be too soft for back sleepers
  • Expensive
Materials: Pocketed springsMemory foamPerforated foamOrganic cottonWool
Sizes available: Twin XLFullQueenKingCalifornia King
Trial period: 100 nights
Warranty: 10-year

The brand's first mattress with a focus on sustainable materials, this design contains two layers of supportive recycled coils, multiple layers of certified foam, and a soft cover made from organic cotton, merino wool, and recycled water bottles. It's a softer bed, which makes it a better fit for side sleepers, but it still includes targeted support to keep your hips and shoulders in alignment. The brand rates this mattress at a 4 to 6 out of 10 on a firmness scale. 

This mattress arrives compressed and rolled in a box and will take a couple of hours to reach its full size. There might be a slight smell to your mattress while it expands, but it will go away quickly.

What customers say:

This is a newer model, so there aren't a ton of reviews, but it has 4.5 out of five stars overall with mostly positive comments from side sleepers. One reviewer says, "The mattress itself is a perfect balance between soft, supportive, and springy. As a side sleeper, this has helped a surprising amount with shoulder soreness." 

As with all mattresses, some people say it's either too firm or too soft for their liking. The silver lining here is that if it doesn't work out for you, you can return it for free within the 100-night trial, and the company will help you donate it.

Best for back pain: Saatva Classic

Pros:

  • Multiple firmness options
  • Natural, organic materials

Cons:

  • Not for foam lovers
Materials: Organic cottonSteel coilsNon-toxic memory foam
Sizes available: TwinTwin XLFullQueenKingSplit KingCalifornia KingSplit California King
Trial period: 365 nights
Warranty: Lifetime

We've included this mattress on many of our product roundups, and for good reason: It's one of the best mattresses on the market today. It combines the traditional support of steel innersprings with a plush layer of nontoxic memory foam, for a real luxury-hotel feel. You can even customize your mattress by choosing an 11.5- or 14.5-inch height and select from three firmness options: Plush Soft, Luxury Firm, and Firm.

The Luxury Firm is the brand's bestseller and is most popular with folks looking to relieve aches and pains. However, since this is a firmer bed by design, some side sleepers and smaller-bodied folks might prefer the Plush Soft model.

Saatva delivers all of their mattresses through white glove delivery, meaning someone will bring it into your home for you and help set it up. The brand says it won't have any funky off-gassing smells and, since it was never compressed, you won't have to wait to sleep on it.

What customers say:

This bed has 4.8 out of five stars and over 2,800 reviews—most of which are very positive and speak to reduced back pain or feeling supported. "It's like sleeping on a marshmallow while being fully supported, firm but not too firm, no pressure points digging into my body, no sagging in the middle," one person raves.

The majority of the negative reviews are from people who find this bed to be too firm. Still, even these comments typically mention Saatva's quality customer service and generous return policy.

Best king size: Nest Sparrow Signature Hybrid

Pros:

  • Breathable hybrid design
  • Dual firmness options for king and split king models

Cons:

  • No organic materials
  • Too firm for some
Materials: Steel coilsGel-infused foam
Sizes available: TwinTwin XLFullQueenKingCalifornia KingSplit California King
Trial period: 365 nights
Warranty: Lifetime + Renewal Exchange

The Signature Sparrow Hybrid combines cool gel foam, supportive steel coils, and a customizable, removable (yep, removable!) middle comfort layer. There are three firmness options: Plush, Medium, and Firm. With king and split king models in particular, you can select different comfort layers for each side of the bed—great news for those who sleep with a partner with different support needs or preferences. 

The brand offers a Lifetime Renewal Exchange, which allows you to trade in your original comfort layer for a different firmness. If you swap a few years into owning your mattress, you will also extend its lifespan—a win for sustainability!

This mattress arrives compressed and rolled in a box, and the comfort layer will already be built in. Most reviewers say there aren't any funky smells as it expands; you can sleep on the mattress right away.

What customers say:

Reviews are generally very positive about this mattress. Side sleepers, back sleepers, and people who previously experienced pain have great things to say. One person who ordered a split king writes, "We ordered the split king with plush/medium comfort layers. It has been a great purchase. My wife loves her side and my lingering lower back pain that I had for years was gone in about 2 weeks, plus I sleep much better!"

A few people warn that the Medium and Firm comfort layers are rather firm, so if you're a strict side sleeper you might be better off with the Plush.

How to choose:

Stay supported.

Per our expert's recommendations, focus your search on a bed that's medium-firm and provides a good combination of cushion and support. Take your body weight into consideration, as lighter people will likely find that their mattress feels firmer than those with more weight. This is where a generous in-home sleep trial is a huge help.

Prioritize returns and trials.

On that note, if solving back pain is your goal, it can be even more frustrating if your new mattress doesn't work out. Prioritizing brands that allow for extended in-home sleep trials and easy returns or exchanges will help soften the blow a bit if the bed you choose ends up not being the one.

Keep a discerning eye.

Mattress brands love to make claims that their beds "promote spinal health" or are "doctor-recommended." Just remember that mattresses are extremely personal, and just because something comes doctor-recommended for one person doesn't mean it'll be a fit for you.

Consider your sleep style.

Your sleep position will also determine what feels comfortable to you, so keep that in mind when searching for a supportive bed. Folks who are strict side sleepers need a little more cushion to cradle their hips and shoulders, while back or stomach sleepers should choose a firmer surface to keep their spines in alignment.

FAQ

What are the disadvantages of an orthopedic mattress?

The only potential disadvantage to a mattress that labels itself as "orthopedic" is that it may be too firm for some smaller-bodied folks or strict side sleepers. Also, beware of marked-up prices from brands claiming their mattress can work magic for your spine—there is no clear definition of an "orthopedic mattress" and the term isn't regulated by medical institutions.

Which brand of orthopedic mattress is best?

Because at its core an "orthopedic" mattress is truly just a medium-firm bed with good support and cushion, the right brand of mattress for you will come down to a few personal preference factors. Consider the price, sleep trial, return policy, and the materials the mattress uses when conducting your search.

Why should I use an orthopedic mattress?

If you experience back pain, you'll want a mattress that is designed to provide support. Again, the term "orthopedic" doesn't necessarily make a mattress better for you than any other high-quality, medium-firm mattress. When in doubt, speak with your health care provider about what sleep surfaces could help relieve your specific pain.

The takeaway.

Back pain can make sleeping comfortably a challenge, to say the least—but finding the right mattress will help. If you're hunting for a mattress to relieve your aches and pains, it's in your best interest to let go of the term "orthopedic" and focus on medium-firm mattresses that support your spine and cushion your pressure points. Luckily, we have plenty of recommendations for excellent mattresses, comforting toppers, and supportive pillows to help you build your perfect, pain-free nighttime oasis.

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Meet The Experts

Jamey Powell is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn, NY. Previously the senior market editor at Healthline.com, she has years of experience scouring endless product reviews and testing out the latest and greatest products in the sleep, fitness, and nutrition markets.
Scott Nass, M.D., MPA, FAAFP, AAHIVS is a family physician and HIV specialist in California. He takes a holistic approach to healthcare, incorporating principles of functional medicine and using food as medicine when working with patients.