Herniated discs impact nearly 3 million Americans each year. A herniated disc is an inflamed or out-of-place disc, and it occurs when the rubbery discs between your vertebrae bulge and press against surrounding nerves. If left untreated, herniated discs can lead to other medical conditions like sciatica, and the sharp pain associated with a bulging disc can result in tossing and turning.
The best mattress for herniated discs should offer pressure relief and plenty of back support to help the sleeper avoid waking up with more pain. A high-quality mattress could even alleviate some of the discomfort associated with herniated discs.
If you’re looking for a comfortable mattress to alleviate back pain, we at Amerisleep recommend choosing the AS2, AS3, or AS4 mattress.
Consider an Amerisleep Mattress
We make and sell five mattresses, each containing eco-friendly foams and FDA-determined Celliant® technology. Our high-quality, CertiPUR-US® certified foams are created through green methods with little to no VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) emissions.
The AS2 is our medium-firm model and our recommendation for those seeking better sleep on a firm mattress. The AS2 is great for back and stomach sleepers who need a firmer surface to keep the spine aligned and prevent uncomfortable sinkage. The AS2 contains 2 inches of Bio-Pur®, 3 inches of Affinity with HIVE® technology, and 7 inches of Bio-Core®.
The AS3 is our medium model— perfect for side and combination sleepers, and overall our most popular mattress. The cushioning feel of memory foam with a 5-zone support system evenly supports the body and relieves pressure points without risk of sagging. The AS3 contains 3 inches of Bio-Pur®, 2 inches of Affinity with HIVE® technology, and 7 inches of Bio-Core®.
The AS4 is our medium-soft option, and recommended for those wanting a restful night on a cloud-like mattress. The AS4 is great for side and combination sleepers who need deeper compression for pressure relief in heavier sections of the body, particularly in the shoulders and hips. The AS4 contains 4 inches of Bio-Pur®, 1 inch of Affinity with HIVE® technology, and 7 inches of Bio-Core®.
Why Choose Amerisleep?
Bio-Pur® is a plant-based memory foam— Amerisleep replaces a significant amount of petroleum with castor oil during the manufacturing process. As a result, Bio-Pur® is five times more breathable and ten times more responsive than traditional memory foam.
Affinity with HIVE®
The Affinity layer incorporates HIVE® technology. Hundreds of hexagonal-shaped segments form five zones of support for different areas of the body— softer support for the shoulders and hips, and firmer support for the head, back, and legs.
Bio-Core® is a durable, sag-free foam that evenly supports the body across the sleep surface. Bio-Core® maintains the bed’s overall shape and prolongs the mattress’s lifespan.
Sleep Trial and Warranty
We provide customers with a 100-night sleep trial and a 20-year warranty with each mattress purchase. During the 100-night trial period, customers can sleep on their new mattress within the comfort of their own home. While there’s no mandatory break-in period, we do recommend trying the bed for at least 30 days. If you don’t like the mattress, we’ll arrange a pickup and donate the bed or recycle it.
We offer one of the best warranties in the mattress industry— 20 years. Most mattress companies only offer a standard 10-year warranty. Our 20-year warranty protects the mattress from any manufacturing defects and sagging greater than 0.75 inches, while many mattress companies only protect against sagging greater than 1 inch.
During the first 10 years, we’ll replace the mattress free of charge. During the last 10 years, we’ll choose to either repair or replace the mattress at a prorated charge to the customer, depending on the year of the claim.
What is a Herniated Disc?
Also known as a slipped disc, a herniated disc occurs when the nucleus (soft, jelly-like center) of a spinal disc pushes out through a tear or weakened annulus, the tough, rubbery disc exterior. Herniated discs can occur in any part of the spine, resulting in pain, numbness, or weakness.
Spinal discs act as protection between the vertebrae and provide flexibility to the spine. Over time, these discs can wear down and cause friction between the vertebrae, leading to degenerative disc disease where one or more discs break down. Though it’s called degenerative disc disease, it’s more of a natural occurrence from aging.
Herniated discs result in lower back pain, neck pain, and back problems, like chronic back pain, limited mobility, and difficulty breathing. If left untreated, herniated discs can lead to more serious medical conditions including sciatica, spinal stenosis, and scoliosis.
When the nucleus of a spinal disc pushes out, it could press against the sciatic nerve, leading to sciatica— sharp, shooting pain through the lower back, hips, and legs.
Spinal stenosis occurs when the spaces within the spine narrow, placing pressure on the nerves and causing pain. Spinal stenosis most likely occurs through wear and tear changes from osteoarthritis.
Scoliosis is the abnormal curvature of the spine— either an “S” shape viewed from the back or a “C” shape viewed from the side. A healthy spinal curve forms the shape of an “S” when viewed from the side. Scoliosis can cause tears in the annulus, leading to herniated discs.
Preventing Disc Herniation
Diet and Exercise
Excess body weight puts more pressure on the spine, increasing the risk of disc herniation. By changing your diet and incorporating exercise, you can strengthen your core enough to stabilize and support the spine.
Keeping your back straight and aligned while sitting, standing, walking, and sleeping can prevent the likelihood of a herniated disc, particularly for long periods of time. Stretch regularly to prevent stiff muscles. When lifting heavy objects, keep your feet parallel to your shoulders and always lift with your legs— lifting with your back could cause injury.
What to Look For in a Mattress
For those seeking pain relief from a slipped or herniated disc, first, decide on what type of mattress you want. Then, choose a mattress based on your preferred sleep position and current body weight. Also, consider the firmness of a mattress and if it includes cooling features to regulate your temperature and reduce inflammation. Bedding accessories like a pillow or adjustable base can also provide a better night’s sleep.
Know how to distinguish between the different types of mattresses, since some, like memory foam and latex, provide better comfort and support to those with spinal pain.
A memory foam mattress molds to the body’s natural curves to relieve pressure points. The supportive, conforming abilities of memory foam are perfect for relieving pressure points. Look for a memory foam mattress with transition foams and sturdy core foams that will keep the softer layers from sagging, helping you avoid back pain.
Innerspring mattresses are cooler than traditional memory foam and have a bouncier feel due to their inclusion of inner coils. Unlike memory foam, innerspring mattresses offer subpar pressure relief and may not be the best option for those with chronic back pain.
Latex comes in two forms— synthetic and natural. Talalay latex is one of the softest, most popular foams and it is made with added chemicals, like polyurethane fillers. Talalay may not last as long as Dunlop latex (all-natural, 100% pure latex), but Talalay is more widely available.
Similar to memory foam, latex conforms to the body for pressure point relief, but is more responsive and cooler. A latex mattress is another good choice for those with chronic back pain.
A hybrid mattress combines the pressure relief of memory foam with the responsive bounce of innerspring coils. Hybrid mattresses are a good option for those with back pain, but you may not receive as much pressure point relief as you would with a memory foam or latex mattress because of the coiled support layer.
When choosing the best mattress for your needs, consider your favorite sleep position. Some sleep positions can reduce pain, like side and back sleeping. Stomach sleeping, however, may aggravate a herniated disc because of the pressure placed on the spine.
Side sleeping is a good sleep position for those with a herniated disc. Placing a pillow between the knees can further align the spine, ease tension in the hips, and prevent the spine from twisting.
The best mattresses for side sleepers are soft to medium in firmness because they’re the best at relieving pressure in the shoulders and hips.
Back sleeping is the best sleeping position for a herniated disc because of the back’s direct contact with the surface, allowing natural spinal alignment and cushioning.
The right type of mattress for back sleepers will be medium to firm for some contouring and even support across the surface.
Stomach sleeping is one of the worst sleep positions for a herniated disc— gravity forces the natural “S” curve of the spine to straighten and can aggravate existing back pain. For committed stomach sleepers, we recommend placing a thin pillow under the hips to alleviate pressure on the spine.
Stomach sleepers should look for a medium-firm to firm mattress to prevent the body from sinking.
The ideal firmness level in a mattress should depend on your preferred sleep position and current body weight. A too firm or too soft sleep surface will throw the spine out of alignment, increasing pressure, and worsening pain in the body.
The more bodyweight pressed against the sleep surface, the more support is needed. Excessive weight on a softer mattress leads to sagging— something sleepers should avoid. Bodyweight is broken into three categories: lightweight, average weight, and heavyweight.
Lightweight individuals weigh less than 130 pounds. They need a softer surface, like a soft to medium mattress to let the body sink into the surface for contouring pressure relief.
Average Weight Sleepers
Average weight individuals weigh between 130 pounds and 230 pounds, and sleep best on a medium-soft to medium-firm mattress. The feel from this type of mattress provides a balance of comfort and support.
Heavyweight individuals weigh more than 230 pounds. Heavier sleepers should look for a medium-firm to firm mattress to support the body and offer contouring pressure relief without the risk of sagging.
Cooling features in a mattress serve to not only regulate body temperature, but they can also reduce inflammation from a herniated disc or lessen pain from pinched nerves. Cooling features vary, depending on the mattress material.
Plant-based memory foam
By partially replacing petroleum with plant oils, mattress manufacturers produce breathable, more responsive memory foam, like Amerisleep’s Bio-Pur®.
Gel memory foam
Swirling gel or adding gel beads enables the memory foam comfort layers to absorb and disperse body heat for even temperature regulation.
Egg crate-shaped or cut ridges in the foam allow air to pass through the mattress, providing cooling and allowing heat to escape.
Copper and graphite infusions pull heat away from the body, and may even provide other health benefits like improving blood circulation.
The open structure of steel coils allows for better air circulation within the mattress.
Adding accessories like pillows, mattress toppers, mattress protectors, and adjustable bases can reduce pain and remove pressure from areas of your body for a good night’s sleep.
Not only is it important to have a mattress with excellent support, but you also need the right pillow to support the neck (sometimes referred to as the “cervical spine”). Herniated discs can occur in any part of the spine, including your neck— the right type of pillow cradles the head and neck and aligns the spine for pain relief.
Mattress toppers alter the feel of your current mattress. Depending on the type you choose, a topper adds softness to a firm mattress or support to a soft mattress. Mattress toppers may even offer needed contouring for a pain-free night of sleep.
Mattress protectors are not used for pain relief, but they are vital in protecting your mattress warranty.
Adjustable beds are a great option for those with herniated discs. Not only can they help reduce back pain, but they may also decrease symptoms of sleep apnea, aid in faster surgery recovery, and assist those with restricted mobility. An adjustable base comes at a higher price point than a typical bed frame, but the benefits may be well worth the cost.
How should I sleep with a herniated disc?
Sleeping on your back is the best sleep position for a herniated disc. The position keeps the spine in neutral alignment.
Is a memory foam mattress good for your back?
Yes. The best mattresses for back pain relief are typically memory foam, as memory foam supports the body and conforms to the body’s natural curves, relieving pressure points and reducing pain.
The Best Mattress for Herniated Discs
The key to better sleep and less pain is a good mattress that aligns the spine. To find the best mattress for back pain, you need to know your current body weight and favorite sleep position. Cooling features like plant-based memory foam can reduce inflammation in painful areas of the body. We recommend three of Amerisleep’s mattress models: the AS2, the AS3, or the AS4.
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.