What’s The Best Mattress For Back Sleepers? Top 5 + Deals

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So, what is the best mattress for back sleepers?

The short answer is…it varies depending on your weight and build. I appreciate that’s as helpful as a sieve on a sinking ship.

So here’s the gist of it:

  1. Heavier people generally need firmer mattresses than lighter or thinner people (regardless of what position you sleep in). So, a seven foot rugby player would probably want a firm mattress whilst a four foot jockey would want a soft mattress. This is to make sure the mattress is sufficiently ‘supportive’.
  2. However, if you sleep on your back you need a bit more support than a side sleeper, so you should lean towards a firmer mattress than usual. So, a five foot jockey who sleeps on their back might like to test out a medium firmness mattress instead of a soft mattress.
  3. Just to confuse you, there’s not a consistent way of measuring firmness in the mattress industry. As a result, our five foot jockey should probably try out a few ‘medium’ mattresses in a showroom. Alternatively, they could pick one online with a free trial period.

What the science says about the best mattress for back sleepers

Some academic research has been carried out into the topic of sleeping positions, notably a study in 2020 in China by Zhang and Hou. It was called ‘The Influence of Mattress Material on Sleeping Comfort of Different Age’.

Amongst the findings was some suggestion of which type of mattress materials are best for people who sleep on their back. Back sleeping is referred to as the supine position in academic papers.

Their research concluded that ‘young and middle aged subjects’ who slept on their side had ‘high evaluation’ of memory foam and latex mattresses. Meanwhile, ‘young-elder’ back sleepers had ‘higher evaluation on memory foam, and coir mattress’. In case you’re wondering, coir comes from coconuts and is sometimes used as a mattress filling.

Conversely, the ‘elder subjects’ who slept on their back ‘preferred coir and cotton mattress’.

Perhaps surprisingly, Zhang and Hou concluded that ‘The subjects lay on back preferred softer material than subjects lay on side’. This is contrary to the usual advice that side sleepers prefer softer mattresses because of the increased pressure on their shoulders and hips.

Here’s our pick of five mattresses worth considering if you sleep on your back. Prices and review scores are correct at the time of writing.

1. Emma Mattress – £699 – good for lighter weight people who sleep on their back

The Emma Mattress offers a 10 year warranty and 200 night home trial. That means you can return it and get a refund if you find it isn’t right for you. It is made entirely from layers of foam and it’s won multiple awards from the likes of Ideal Home and Good Housekeeping. 

One of the middle layers is memory foam so you get good support without sinking into the mattress as much as you might expect. TrustPilot scores average 4.4/5 for the Emma brand. They make other mattresses and other products so it’s a combined score.

Emma Sleep mattress side
The Emma Mattress offers a 200 night trial and a 10 year guarantee…
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The layers of the Emma Mattress use different types of foam
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50% Off + 200 night trial + 10 year guarantee + Award Winner
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2. Ergoflex 5G Mattress – £809 – good for average weight people who sleep on their back

The Ergoflex 5G is a medium/firm mattress which comes with outstanding reviews and the option to send it back if you don’t like it. It comes with a 10 year guarantee and has won a best buy award from expert testers.

It’s one of the highest rated mattress brands we can find on TrustPilot with an average score of 4.7/5 (at the time of writing).

You don’t get the mammoth 200 day trial period that you get with the Emma Mattress (above) but you do get 30 days. That should be plenty of time to try it out. It’s certainly better than lying on a mattress for 10 seconds in a showroom. On the other hand, a showroom allows helpful comparison between models.

The Ergoflex 5G doesn’t use any springs and is another memory foam mattress, so it won’t be to everyone’s taste. Most of us still go for the more familiar feel of a pocket spring mattress rather than memory foam. However, a lot of people find that a memory foam mattress ‘provides more support’  according to the John Lewis & Partners buying guide. There’s some evidence that memory foam doesn’t gather dust in the same way as natural fibres.

As mentioned earlier, research by Zhang and Hou in China found that memory foam was a popular material amongst back sleepers who were ‘young and middle aged’ or ‘young elder’. However, it was less popular amongst ‘elder subjects’. You can read the summary of their research here.

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Ergoflex is one of the highest rated mattress brands on TrustPilot
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Save up to 45% on the Ergoflex Mattress + trial period
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3. John Lewis & Partners Natural Collection British Wool 8750 – £1299 – good for slightly above average build/weight people who sleep on their back

If you can afford them, take a look at the John Lewis Natural Collection of mattresses. They’re made by a company called Harrison Spinks which is a posh mattress maker based in Yorkshire.

The company has won awards such as ‘Bed Manufacturer of the Year’ 2018 at the National Bed Federation Awards. The type of springs used in this one won a prize at the same Awards in 2019. The company is also one of the few mattress brands with a Manufacturing Guild Mark. That’s a sign of good quality.

We’ve picked out this firm mattress which is a mid-priced option in the range. A double mattress ranges from about £1000 – £5000.

John Lewis & Partners say that their Natural Collection firm mattresses are about right for someone who is more than 16 stone. They are one of the few companies which actually offer such clear guidance on the recommended weight for their mattresses.

Why are some John Lewis mattresses four times the price of others?

In all there were 18 firm mattresses in the John Lewis & Partners Natural Collection when we checked. So what’s the difference between a £600 mattress and a £2600 mattress?

Cheaper mattresses within a range tend to be thinner, as they don’t use as many materials. Also, some cheaper mattresses can’t be turned over, which means they might develop sags and dips quicker.

There are other boring technical things such as whether it has ‘hand side stitching’ which gives it more strength when you sit on the edge.

Mattresses with a higher spring count usually cost more. However, be aware that mattresses with thousands of springs are actually ones with several layers of small springs. 

This John Lewis & Partners Natural Collection Fleece Wool 8750 has a very good specification with hand side stitching, a high spring count and the option to turn it over.

As well as the usual sizes, it’s available in Super King Zip Link. That is where two smaller mattresses are joined together.

It comes with a 7 year guarantee.​ Overall, Harrison Spinks was scoring 3.7/5 on TrustPilot when we checked.

John Lewis & Partners Natural Collection British Wool 8750
Award winners Harrison Spinks makes mattresses for John Lewis & Partners
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4.​ Sleepeezee Ultrafirm 1600 Pocket Spring Mattress – £469 – good for heavier people who sleep on their back

Do you prefer the feel of a ‘traditional’ mattress with pocket springs rather than a foam or memory foam mattress? If so, I’d consider something like this ‘extra firm’ Sleepeezee Ultrafirm 1600.

However, I’d only go for a very firm mattress like this if you are a heavier than average person who sleeps on their back. 

Is a firm mattress the best mattress for back sleepers?

There’s an old myth that a firm mattress is good for your back. However, actual experts like the Sleep Council say that it isn’t that simple. What you need is a mattress which is supportive enough to give your spine the ‘correct alignment’.

If you’re too light, you’ll just lie on the top and won’t sink in at all. Some firms use the phrase ‘orthopedic’ but that usually just means it’s a very firm mattress. It is no guarantee that it is good for your back.

Why this Sleepeezee mattress is worth your money

We’ve picked out a mattress from the Sleepeezee range for a number of reasons. 

The company has been going for many years and even has a Royal Warrant, which isn’t given out lightly. If you’re a republican, you might be more impressed with the TrustPilot reviews. They were a very commendable 4.2/5 when we checked. 

Alongside all that, you get a 60 night sleep trial. That means you can ‘exchange your mattress for a different Sleepeezee model if you’re not 100% happy’. Such home trials are now very common in the foam and memory foam mattress market. However, they are much less common for traditionally made pocket spring mattresses.

With all those credentials, you might assume Sleepeezee are expensive but they aren’t really. I’d put them as mid-priced.

The Sleepeezee Ultrafirm 1600 was scoring about 9/10 from 100+ customers when we checked. It comes with a 5 year guarantee, which is a bit shorter than some. Most modern foam mattresses come with a 10 year guarantee (OTTY, Eve Sleep and Simba Sleep), whilst posh brand Vispring offer 30 years and Nectar Sleep offers a ‘Forever’ guarantee. Obviously, you should have a read of the small print with a guarantee as there’s variation in what is covered.

Sleepeezee Ultrafirm 1600 mattress

Sleepeezee has a Royal Warrant but their mattresses aren’t as expensive as you might think
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Positive reviews + long established UK brand + Royal Warrant
Positive reviews + long established UK brand + Royal Warrant Show Less

5. Brook + Wilde Lux Mattress (firm version)- £899 – good for average or slightly above average build/weight people who sleep on their back

The Brook + Wilde Lux is a memory foam and springs mattress which deserves a mention in our top 5. It’s a lesser-known name but has a lot going for it. 

They only make three mattresses, but the Brook + Wilde Lux comes in four different levels of firmness. Your options are soft, medium, firm and extra firm. The idea is that you can swap it for a different firmness or get a refund within 100 days if it doesn’t give you the right support. You get a similar trial with OTTY, Eve Sleep, Simba Sleep and Nectar Sleep.

How is the Brook + Wilde Lux mattress constructed?

The Brook + Wilde Lux mattress is what’s known as a ‘hybrid’ mattress which means that it combines memory foam and pocket springs. Memory foam is a material which provides consistent support and which ‘hugs’ you in bed. Some people aren’t keen on the slight ‘sinking’ feeling. Others find it is much better than traditional pocket springs.

Some back sleepers have an issue where they find memory foam is a bit too hot for them. However, this Lux mattress is among those which aims to overcome this with ‘cooling memory foam’.

Lower down the mattress are pocket springs, which is the type of support that most of us are used to from a mattress. Cheap and nasty sprung mattresses use ‘open coil’ springs. However, most half-decent mattresses use pocket springs as they don’t wobble around like jelly.

It comes with a 10 year guarantee and arrives squashed up into a box to make it a bit easier to get it upstairs.

If you’re ‘average’ weight and build and you sleep on your back then the firm version of the Lux is more likely to offer the right level of support. If you’re lighter or weigh less than average then you might be better trying the medium firmness version.

The brand scores 4.7/5 on TrustPilot.

Brook and Wilde Lux best mattress for back sleepers

You can choose from soft, medium, firm or extra firm with Brook + Wilde’s Lux Mattress
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52% off the Lux Mattress + 100 night trial + choice of firmness levels
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