Can a soft mattress cause back pain?

Last Updated on April 7, 2022

We all know the feeling of sinking into bed after you’ve had a long day, but if you’re sinking in too deep, you may be doing more harm than good to your body. There’s nothing wrong with preferring a softer bed. However, everyone needs a certain amount of support in order to promote healthy spinal alignment so let’s find out whether a soft mattress can cause back pain.

Beyond just preference, choosing the right firmness level comes down to your individual sleep needs, body type/weight and sleeping position. From lower back pain to muscle and joint stiffness, we are going to discuss it all.

Can a soft mattress cause back pain?

Can a soft mattress cause back pain?

Excessively soft mattresses can come with the possibility of back and hip issues. If a bed is too soft to support your hips and shoulders properly, your body might sink in too deeply, which can lead to joint pains and a bad back. It can also place additional pressure on your spine and cause body aches.

A soft option might overcompress under the hips and create pressure points. Thus if you’re struggling with chronic pain or have back and hip problems, you should opt for a firmer mattress to receive the fantastic pressure relief you deserve! There are even dedicated mattresses for back pain and lower back pain.

However, if you aren’t sure if the firmness level is the reason for your pains and aches, here are the five most common signs your bed is too soft:

You wake up stiff and sore

The most common symptom of a sleeping surface that’s too soft is a stiff and sore lower back. That typically happens first thing in the morning, after you’ve been in bed for a prolonged period (slept for 8 hours). Yes, there are plenty of reasons for a sore lower back, but persistent morning aches and pains are normally a good indicator that your mattress is the issue.

It’s hard to get comfortable

Tossing and turning every once in a while is common, but stress, anxiety and even poor health can contribute to insomnia and poor sleep quality. That said, your bed plays a significant role in how long it takes to get comfortable at night. If you find yourself constantly readjusting, that can be a sign your muscles cannot fully relax, which is a key sign you are sleeping on too soft of a surface.

Stomach sleepers wake with neck or shoulder pain

This next sign is more evident for people that sleep on their stomachs. Generally speaking, stomach sleepers need to be particularly careful with the mattress firmness levels they pick. That’s because sleeping on your stomach already puts extra strain on your neck, shoulders and upper back due to the unnatural twisting that the position requires.

So, if you sleep on your stomach and are certain you have the right type of pillow for this sleep position but somehow continue to experience neck and shoulder pain, that could be a sign your hips are sinking too far into your bed.

5 signs your soft mattress is giving you back pain

Struggle to get in and out of bed

How difficult is it to get in and out of bed? If you find that you feel “stuck” in it and have a hard time pulling yourself up and off your mattress, this could be a good enough sign it’s too soft. While certain highly conformable materials like memory foam can contribute to the issue, a hybrid mattress, or one that features latex or latex-alternative foam, is a reasonable indicator that firmness is lacking.

You feel like you’re sinking in too deep

Quality mattresses are typically designed with three or more layers that normally consist of a top comfort layer, a middle transitional layer, and a bottom support layer. The comfort and transitional layers are designed to deliver contouring comfort for the curves of your body. 

However, if you feel like you are sinking all the way to the bottom layer, your bed is most likely too soft or worn. If your current mattress is too old, your quality sleep may not occur, which is why you should consider replacing it with one that will provide an even distribution of pressure.

Bottom line

We are all aware of the significance that replacing a mattress has, and that’s for several reasons. Over time, any bed – no matter the quality will lose some of its integrity, like the comfort and support, that it was designed to provide. That’s why the mattress industry normally recommends that mattresses be replaced every seven years or so. You can also check out what we think are the best soft mattresses in the UK today here.

However, it’s not just the age of your bed that can affect your sleep and comfort. If you have a soft mattress, it could also cause back pain and sleep disruption.

There’s a big difference between a sleep surface that’s too soft and one that’s too old. 

We hope we were able to answer the how and why when it comes down to ‘Can a soft mattress cause back pain?’ and now it’s our turn to hear from you if any questions regarding the subject were left unanswered. If you want to share some information, we would gladly hear about it in the comments below.

Isabelle Harris
Connect On

Leave a comment

five + 1 =