Best mattress for a herniated disc
A herniated disc can affect the upper, middle, or lower back, but in any case, you need a mattress that provides deep pressure relief.
Pressure relief in a mattress relieves mounting stress on pressure points by evenly dispersing body weight. The last thing you want with a herniated disc is a mattress that sinks or dips under you because this will increase stress.
There are no clinical studies on herniated discs and mattress types, but it is generally accepted that memory foam and latex foam mattresses (pure foam or sprung/hybrid with a thick foam layer) are the best for back pain.
However, the mattress material is only half the picture – you also need a sufficiently firm/soft mattress to support your recommended sleeping position.
This article covers everything you need to know about mattresses and herniated discs to get a comfortable night’s sleep.
Mattress types and materials for a herniated disc
When you have a herniated disc, your spine is more sensitive to motion than it would otherwise be. For this reason, you need a mattress that isolates motion so you aren’t uncomfortable when you or your partner move.
The best mattress for this is a pure foam mattress – ideally memory or latex foam – because these mattresses absorb energy.
Memory foam mattresses are great for herniated discs because they absorb impacts and return energy slowly – a mattress with no bounce or spring. Latex foam is springier than memory foam, which improves mobility and has a firmer feel, which you might prefer if you are a back sleeper.
Hybrid mattresses are another option providing they have a thick memory foam top layer — ideally, 3cm thick or more to isolate motion.
Mattress firmness ratings for a herniated disc
The optimal sleeping position for a herniated disc is on your back, and back sleepers do best with a medium-firm mattress, depending on how much they weigh.
If you weigh up to 175lbs, look at medium mattresses, and if you weigh up to 230lbs, look at medium-firm mattresses for extra support.
Medium mattresses suit side sleepers more than back sleepers, so if you find sleeping on your side more comfortable, a medium mattress will suit you more because it is softer, reducing pressure on your side.
Remember that firmness is relative – for example, a medium-firm mattress feels like a medium mattress to someone heavy, and a medium-soft mattress feels firm to someone light. Our mattress firmness guide covers this in detail.
How to sleep better with a herniated disc
Investing in a good mattress is the best way to sleep better with a herniated disc, but there are other things you can do to improve sleep.
Here are some tips from our sleep experts:
- Buy a higher bed frame to make getting in and out of bed easier.
- Sleep on your back – this reduces the chances of pinching a nerve.
- Sleep with one firm pillow – this will keep your spine and neck in a natural position.
- If you sleep on your side, put a pillow between your knees – this will help align your spine and reduce pressure on your hips/lower back.
- Introduce direct heat to your bed with a heated mattress topper, heated blanket, or hot water bottle.
- Use topical ibuprofen gel to target the source of pain directly.
- Take ibuprofen/paracetamol an hour before bedtime.
- Ask your partner to take it easy getting in and out of bed.
- Create a sleep schedule, so you get back into a routine – this is critical after coming out of the hospital or following bouts of insomnia.
Sleeping with a herniated disc can be extremely painful, but a great mattress will make you comfortable enough to drop off.
Don’t be afraid to try alternating sleeping on your back and side for comfort – listen to your body and go with the flow to sleep better.
Lastly, your GP is the only reliable way to manage extreme pain that keeps you up. Ask them about your options if you cannot sleep due to the pain.