Can a New Mattress Cause Back Pain?

Medically reviewed by
 Dr. Jennifer Miller, PT, DPT: Expert Physical Therapist and Pelvic Health Specialist

Dr. Jennifer Miller, PT, DPT: Expert Physical Therapist and Pelvic Health Specialist

Dr. Jennifer Miller is a compassionate and skilled outpatient physical therapist with nine years of experience in the field. She earned her Doctor of Physical Therapy from Elon University and…

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Last Updated On January 5th, 2024
Can a New Mattress Cause Back Pain?

Key Takeaways

  • Initial Adjustment Period: It’s common to experience some minor back pain when transitioning to a new mattress. Your body needs time to adapt to the different support and alignment provided by the new mattress, so don’t be alarmed if you experience discomfort during the initial adjustment period.
  • Signs Your Mattress Is the Culprit: Watch out for signs that your new mattress might be causing your back pain. These signs include persistent discomfort, a lack of improvement over several weeks, and the worsening of pre-existing back pain. If you notice these signs, it’s essential to consider whether the mattress is the cause.
  • Choosing the Right Mattress: The type of mattress you choose can significantly impact back pain. Memory foam and latex mattresses are often praised for their ability to relieve pressure points and provide proper spinal alignment.

So you’ve set up a new mattress and have spent a night sleeping upon it, hoping to experience pleasant dreams and awaken refreshed for the day. Yet, when you wake up, you find yourself with a stiff and sore back.

Switching mattresses is often an exciting upgrade, especially if your old mattress was lumpy and uncomfortable. However, some people find that after getting a new mattress, particularly one that is more firm than their previous mattress, they start experiencing increased back pain and discomfort.

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This unexpected back pain can be frustrating and concerning when you just made a major purchase in hopes of improving your sleep.

Yet, the relationship between new mattresses and increased back pain is complicated because mattress comfort and support needs can also be very personal and dependent on individual preferences and health conditions.

“Transitioning to a new mattress can temporarily affect your back,” Dr. Devon Hoffman explains. “Ensure it offers the right balance of comfort and support for your spine to prevent any discomfort.”

Finding the root cause of back discomfort after getting a new mattress may take some patience, but there are solutions available if the new bed is causing problems.

In this article, we will explore the connection between a new mattress and back pain, helping you understand why this discomfort happens. Let’s uncover the details and find out what you need to know.

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3 Signs Your New Mattress Is Causing Back Pain

While a new mattress is generally expected to provide better sleep, it can sometimes lead to discomfort. Let’s explore three signs that your new sleep surface might be causing your back pain. Verified Source ScienceDirect One of the largest hubs for research studies and has published over 12 million different trusted resources. View source

Persistent Discomfort

Consistent back pain after switching to a new mattress suggests it may lack the right support and comfort for your body. If the pain persists and is strongest when you wake up, it’s a sign that your current mattress might be the cause.

Lack of Adjustment Period

While it’s normal to need time to adjust to a new mattress during the transition period, if several weeks pass and you still experience back pain, it indicates that the mattress may not be suitable for you. Give yourself time to adapt, but if the pain persists without improvement, consider whether the mattress is to blame.

Pre-Existing Back Pain Worsens

If your chronic back pain worsens after getting a new mattress, especially due to poor sleeping posture, it indicates the mattress may not be compatible with your needs. A suitable mattress should support proper spinal alignment and alleviate discomfort, rather than making it worse.

If your back pain intensifies with the new mattress, reassess its suitability for your specific condition. For example, if you are a back sleeper, you should not lie on a soft mattress as it is likely to misalign your spine. Instead, choose a medium-firm mattress. Meanwhile, side sleepers must avoid too-firm mattresses that can cause pressure to build up.

Is Back Pain a Concern with a New Mattress?

Your body needs time to adjust to a new mattress, and it’s normal to feel initial discomfort as your body adjusts. Bad posture habits developed on an old or lumpy mattress can make the pain caused by the new mattress worse.

Give yourself at least a month to adjust and pay attention to how your body feels. If the pain doesn’t improve or gets worse, the new mattress might not be right for you. Remember that your comfort and well-being are important, so consider other options that provide the necessary support and comfort for pain-free sleep.

Why Does My New Mattress Cause Back Pain?

Switching from an old bad mattress to a new good one takes time to get used to. Your body adjusted to the unhealthy old mattress even though it was bad for your back. The new supportive mattress may not feel as comfy at first, but it’s better for your back in the end.

Zoned support is an important feature to consider when choosing a mattress. It means that different areas of the mattress provide varying levels of support to different parts of your body, using sleep technology such as surface modifications. This targeted support helps to align your spine properly and alleviate pressure points.

Having the right support keeps the spine aligned, reducing back pain. People with back pain may notice relief when they switch to mattresses designed for their body type and sleep position. Softer mattresses for side sleepers and lightweight sleepers, firmer mattresses for back, stomach, and heavier sleepers.

You can take extra steps to improve your sleeping comfort, too:

  • Back sleepers: Along with having a mattress for back sleeping, place a small pillow under your knees for lower back support and pain reduction during sleep.
  • Side sleepers: When lying on a mattress for side sleeping, use a body pillow to support your upper arm and upper knee, keeping your spine straight while sleeping.
  • Stomach sleepers: Try changing your sleep position if you can. If not, place a flat pillow under your abdomen while stretched out on a mattress for stomach sleeping to slightly elevate your pelvis and relieve pressure on the lower back. You can also place a pillow under your lower legs to support your lower back.

New mattresses, like good shoes, need a break-in period. At first, the parts like springs and foam can be stiff, but as you break in the mattress they’ll get softer and fit your body better over time.

If the new mattress feels too firm, you can use a mattress topper until it adjusts. Just make sure you take precautions to keep the mattress topper from sliding.

Your Mattress Doesn’t Provide the Right Support

If you wake up with aches and pains, it might be because of bad sleeping habits. Your back pain can get worse if you use the wrong mattress. Using the wrong mattress can worsen your back pain and mess up your neutral alignment.

People often think they need a firm mattress for a bad back, but that’s not always true. If it is a very firm mattress, it can create pressure points and cause discomfort, leading to more tossing and turning.

“People who sleep on their side on a firm mattress will often report a new onset of numbness/tingling or pain,” says Dr. Jennifer Miller. “That’s why it’s so important for me to always ask about my patients’ sleeping habits and mattresses.”

On the other hand, soft mattresses can also be a problem as they make your body slouch and put you in an unnatural sleeping position. It’s important to choose the right mattress that fits your body’s shape and feels comfortable and supportive to prevent back pain.

Your Mattress is Paired with an Unsupportive Bed Base

Your mattress needs a supportive bed base to work well. It’s important to have a bed base that matches your mattress and provides good support. If your mattress is paired with an unsupportive bed base, you may experience problems like back pain or discomfort during sleep.

Check if your mattress base is level and doesn’t have any dips or hollows that could cause permanent body impressions or mattress sagging. Make sure the bed base and mattress are a good match to ensure a comfortable and supportive sleep experience.

A slatted bed frame with excessive gaps can cause the mattress to sag and affect its supportiveness. Make sure the bed base and mattress are a good match to deter mattress sagging and ensure a comfortable and supportive sleep experience.

What to Do When Dealing with Back Pain from Your New Mattress

To relieve pain caused by your new mattress, try using additional pillows or cushions for extra support. For example, using a wedge pillow under your knees can help alleviate lower back pain for back sleepers. Check if your bed frame or foundation is properly supporting your mattress, as an unsupportive one can contribute to discomfort.

Consider upgrading or adjusting your bed frame if needed. Additionally, using a mattress topper can customize the feel of your mattress by adding an extra layer of cushioning or support. These steps can help you get a good night’s sleep and improve your overall comfort while sleeping on your new mattress.

Types of Mattresses to Consider

Every type of mattress has its pros and cons, including the likelihood of back pain. Here’s a quick overview of what you can expect from each.

Memory Foam Mattress

Memory foam mattresses are often praised for their ability to relieve pressure points and provide proper spinal alignment, which can help reduce back pain and promote a more comfortable sleep experience.

Latex Mattress

Latex mattresses offer a supportive yet yielding surface that can provide excellent spinal alignment and alleviate back pain. The natural resilience of latex helps to distribute body weight evenly, reducing pressure on the back and promoting proper spinal alignment.

Innerspring Mattress

Innerspring mattresses, especially those with a supportive coil system, can provide good back support by maintaining proper spinal alignment. The coil system helps distribute weight evenly, relieving pressure points and reducing the likelihood of developing back pain.

Hybrid Mattress

Hybrid mattresses, with their combination of memory foam or latex layers and supportive coils, can offer a balance of contouring support and responsiveness that can help alleviate back pain. The hybrid design provides targeted support and pressure relief, promoting spinal alignment and reducing the risk of developing or exacerbating back pain.


How do I know if my mattress is causing my back pain?

You can determine if your mattress is causing your back pain by paying attention to certain signs. Consider if your back pain is worse when you wake up and improves throughout the day. This could indicate that your mattress is not providing adequate support during sleep.

If you notice poor posture, discomfort or pain while lying down on your mattress, it may be a sign that it is not properly aligning your spine. Another clue is if you experience relief when sleeping on a different mattress, such as when staying at a hotel or a friend’s house. This suggests that your own mattress may be the culprit.

How long does it take for your back to adjust to a new mattress?

It can take different amounts of time for your back to adjust to a new mattress. Generally, it may take a few weeks to a couple of months for your body to fully get used to the new sleeping surface. During this time, your back muscles and spine need to adapt to the different support and alignment from the new mattress.

To help with the adjustment, it’s important to choose a mattress that keeps your spine in a neutral position. This means your spine should stay in its natural curve while you sleep, with the right alignment from your head to your lower back. A mattress that provides good support and cushioning can help achieve this position.

What happens to your body when you get a new mattress?

When you get a new mattress, your body goes through an adjustment process. It takes time for your muscles and spine to adapt to the different support and proper alignment provided by the new mattress. Your body may experience temporary discomfort or stiffness as it gets used to the new sleeping surface.

How do I know if my mattress is too firm?

You can determine if your mattress is too firm by paying attention to a few signs. If you wake up feeling stiff, sore, or numb, it could indicate that your mattress is too firm for your comfort. Additionally, if you feel like you’re sleeping on a hard surface rather than slightly sinking into the mattress, it may be too firm.

Another clue is experiencing pressure points or discomfort in areas such as your shoulders, hips, or back. In such cases, considering a mattress with materials like memory foam, hybrid mattresses, or latex foam can provide better cushioning and a more comfortable sleep surface.

Is it normal to sleep bad on a new mattress?

It is normal to have difficulty sleeping on a new mattress. When you switch to a new mattress, your body needs time to adjust to the different feel and support. It may take a few nights or even a couple of weeks to get used to the new sleeping surface and start sleeping better.


It’s okay to have a little back pain when you start using a new bed, but if the pain keeps happening or doesn’t get better, it might mean the mattress isn’t right for you. Look out for signs like feeling stiff, uncomfortable pressure points, or if your chronic pain gets worse.

You might also experience pain elsewhere in the body, such as the shoulders or hips. If your mattress is causing hip pain or shoulder pain, it’s important to ask if it’s the right mattress for you.

You can try a memory foam mattress for pressure relief or a latex foam bed for responsive cushioning. Also, make sure your mattress is on a good bed base and use extra pillows or cushions as needed for more comfort. Remember, taking care of your spine and finding the perfect mattress is important for a good night’s sleep and feeling your best.

Once you have completed your mattress shopping and made the decision to switch to a high-quality mattress, you can expect improved sleep quality with enhanced comfort and proper alignment of your spine. It is common to experience some minor back pain during the initial adjustment period to the new mattress.

About the author

April Mayer is a sleep expert and writer with a degree in exercise physiology. She has dedicated her career to exploring the relationship between sleep and productivity. Her insightful articles, such as "The Surprising Way Your Mood Might Be Messing With Your Productivity" and "Wake Up to More Productive Mornings," have been featured in reputable publications like Forbes, Greatist, Real Homes, Thrillist, Tom's Guide, and Eat This, Not That. With a passion for helping others lead more productive lives through restful sleep, April offers valuable expertise on foods and vitamins for better sleep. As a trusted member of the Early Bird team since March 2020, she continues to provide informative and well-researched content.

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