Finding the best bed for back pain is important since you spend roughly a third of your life in it. In the last section, we saw how platform frames are often the best choice for people with back pain. Now, let's consider the other important component of a bed.
There is no one mattress that will suit everyone with back pain; some people are comfortable with very firm mattresses while others require softer varieties. Firm mattresses help support alignment but can place painful pressure on the body's joints. Softer mattresses cradle the joints but can allow them to sink into the bed, distorting spinal and pelvic alignment.
Innerspring, air and water mattresses are quickly falling out of favor as more supportive and longer-lasting options become available. One main innovation in the mattress world is foam. Latex and memory foam are both now commonly used in the making of mattresses. Memory foam, also known as visco-elastic foam or polyurethane foam, molds to the shape of your body and re-expands when you get up. Its density ranges from soft to firm. Firmer densities of foam will help promote alignment. Memory foam mattresses are excellent for people who share a bed; the foam reduces or eliminates the transfer of motion across the bed, meaning one partner' movement shouldn't wake the other. The disadvantage of memory foam is that it is not very breathable, meaning you may 'sleep hot' on it. Some manufacturers, like Serta, have taken measures to counter the heat problem by equipping their memory foam with special fabrics that breathe well.
Latex mattresses can be either synthetic or natural. Since synthetic latex is cheaper and more durable, many manufacturers choose to go with it or to combine it with natural latex in their products. Latex foam also conforms quickly to the body and is firmer than memory foam. It is highly breathable and hypoallergenic. See for more on the comparison between memory and latex foam mattresses.
Finally, we have the futon. There are two types of futons: American and Japanese. Traditional Japanese futons have been used throughout history and are just making their way to the West. These mattresses are very thin and usually made of cotton, although sometimes wool or feathers are used. Japanese futons are traditionally placed on the floor for sleeping and then rolled up and stored in a closet during the day. Some people use the mattress on platform or panel frames. This option only works for people who need or like a very firm sleeping surface; the thin Japanese futon compresses quickly and the platform doesn't allow for any give. American futons are usually made of cotton, cotton and polyester or cotton and foam. These can also compress for firmness, but are much thicker and allow for more cushioning.
When it comes to cost, American futons are by far the cheapest option. Most American futons, no matter what size, will be less than $200. Japanese futons are not easily accessible in the U.S.; ordering one online can cost anywhere from $200 to $600 and above, depending on size.
Standard 10'-12' memory foam mattress can cost $300-$500 or more. Thinner, 8' mattresses are available for around $200 and have very high customer ratings on . Many memory foam mattresses come with a 20 year warranty. Latex mattresses can be expected to cost $500 or more.
If you want the support of memory or latex foam but can't afford a whole mattress, you can consider investing in a mattress topper. Coupled with a futon or other mattress along with a platform frame, you may achieve the balance you're looking for. Toppers are available at different levels of firmness. Memory foam toppers can cost between $50 and $150 depending on thickness and size. Latex toppers are more expensive, ranging from $190 to $300 depending on size and thickness.
When shopping for a mattress, consider thickness, firmness, cost, durability and the frame it will go on. There are many options to choose from. It is possible to find a good bed for back pain even on a budget.