8 Ways A Memory Foam Mattress Can Hurt Your Back

Is your best-quality memory foam mattress making you wake up in the morning with a piercing pain? Has your cloud-like mattress fooled you for a painful mattress with recurring lower backache?

We understand what that must feel like. Memory foam mattresses causing back pain is a real thing. In fact, there are several ways in which this chemically treated mattress can cause your back pain:

  • It’s too soft or firm for you
  • It’s too old, and the foam lost its structure
  • The mattress is brand new
  • You’re using the wrong base for the mattress
  • The structure is cheap and of low-grade quality
  • It’s not fit for your sleeping position

Stay with us as we find out more about the points mentioned above. 

But before we dive deep into the causes, let’s discuss the advantages and disadvantages of memory foam mattresses. 

What is a memory foam mattress?

The earliest memory foam design dates back to 1966, when NASA used memory foam (viscoelastic foam) to enhance the safety of aircraft seats. Since then, memory foam application has expanded to many areas, most specifically mattresses, pillows, cushions, etc. This type of mattress is made with Polyurethanes, a commonly used polymer. 

Memory foam mattresses have been the crowd’s favourite for many reasons. Mainly, people use it for its pressure-relieving characteristics and plush comfort.

Contrary to the benefit that most people believe it has, memory foam also has some severe drawbacks, as reported by several users. This mattress can be cosy for a while but cause significant dips and sags, resulting in a non-bouncing effect, something memory foam promises to do. 

These dips usually cause lower back pain since they don’t deliver the proper support needed for the back. But as mentioned earlier, there could be several other factors combined to hurt your back. 

Whatever the reason, it is best to find out early before the pain gets worse. In the long run, such pain and aches may develop into something more serious.

The following are 8 causes of the sharp pain you’ve been facing since you got your memory foam mattress. Along with the causes, we have mentioned solutions for each cause to ease your painful experience. 

Ways your memory foam mattress is hurting your back – 8 causes

1.    The mattress is too soft for you.

We know that the whole point of buying memory foam is its softness. It is best for those people with sleeping issues since the plush sensation and the comfort of a memory foam mattress helps you fall asleep faster. 

But sometimes, memory foam can be too soft for some people and their backs without their knowledge. Especially for people who are on the heavier side, an overly soft and plush mattress can take away the neutral position support that the mattress is supposed to give. It could mould you in too deep, obstructing the proper spinal alignment. This causes misalignment and discomfort in your spine and back, resulting in back pain whenever you lie on it. 

Here’s the fix:

  • Use a firm mattress topper: If you’ve already bought a mattress and find that it’s too soft, you can fix it by getting a firm topper for your mattress to make it more comfortable for your back. Avoid getting a feather or quilt topper since it may add more to the softness. Look more at a latex or bamboo topper
  • Use a different bed frame: Another fix is using a different base or bed frame. Using a solid wooden or metal base will make the mattress firmer resulting in a more comfortable feel than earlier. 
  • Use plywood: If none of the above solutions works in your favour, you can use a sheet of plywood under your mattress and get rid of the discomfort of a sagging memory foam mattress
  • Rotate the mattress: If your mattress is double-sided, you can consider flipping it upside down to fix the issue temporarily. Memory foam mattresses usually have a soft top and denser bottom.
  • Cool your room temperature: You may already know foam mattresses change firmness based on temperature: the hotter your body, the softer the mattress. You can turn down the temperature of your room and keep it between 12°C to 16°C to make your mattress firmer. 

2.    The mattress is too firm for you.

Mattresses come with varying firmness, usually ranging from very-firm, medium-firm to soft. How soft or hard your mattress depends on the build of the mattress. You can easily lie on the mattress and figure out the firmness. 

Although people buy memory foam mattresses for their softness, don’t make the mistake of assuming that all of them are soft. Some memory foam mattresses are firmer than expected and could end up hurting your back. This type of mattress suits those people who like sleeping on a firm surface without sinking in too much. 

However, someone with back pain, especially in the lumbar region, can end up feeling more pain when sleeping on a firm mattress. 

Here’s the fix:

  • Use a soft mattress topper: Similar to the solution for a soft mattress. You can place a memory foam, down or wool topper over your leading memory foam mattress and make it softer. You can get a separate soft topper for your firm mattress. 
  • Wait for your mattress to expand: If you’ve recently purchased your mattress, likely, it hasn’t fully expanded. Over time, when you keep applying pressure on it, it’ll get softer and give you the comfort it’s supposed to give. 
  • Warm your room: You can effectively make your mattress feel softer by warming your room above the current room temperature. 

3.    The mattress is too old.

Like everything else in nature, memory foam also becomes redundant with time. It loses its properties of support, and your body keeps sinking in further. In some cases, lumps also start forming, and the mattress becomes saggy. 

All of these factors are big contributors to backache and extreme discomfort. The lack of support for your spine creates an unhealthy position for your back and damages your posture. Eventually, the pain increases until you change your mattress.

Here’s the fix:

  • Buy a new mattress: This could be an obvious option but getting a new mattress is the safest and wisest step. Unless you invest in a new one, you will keep having these backaches, and there isn’t much to fix an old mattress. 

Primarily you may consider getting another memory foam mattress. But it would be an excellent idea if you widen your horizons and look for options other than memory foam. You can settle for a latex or organic mattress, which may come slightly more expensive, but offer fantastic comfort.

However, if you want to stick to memory foam, there are many memory foam mattresses with extended-lasting properties with extended warranties that you can consider checking out. This way you wouldn’t have to worry about replacing it soon again. 

4.    The mattress is brand new.

Brand new mattresses take some time to adjust with your body and the sleeping position. Not being used to a foam mattress can often lead to back pain. You can make this work by giving your mattress a few days and getting adjusted to it over time. Usually, with the application of heat and pressure, the mattress softens and delivers the right kind of comfort demanded by your body.

Here’s the fix:

  • Break-in your mattress: This method involves you breaking into your mattress by either walking, rolling or jumping on it for 10-30 minutes every day for a few days after your purchase. It will make your mattress less firm and help you get adjusted to it in no time. This method usually works great for all types of mattresses.

5.    You are using the wrong base for the mattress.

Often it isn’t the mattress’ fault. It could be the base of your bed that may be causing the problem. For instance, your mattress may not fit well on your bed base if the base slats are too wide apart for the mattress. Or the bed size is wrong for the bed frame. 

Since memory foam can push through the slats, the mattress would end up setting unevenly. Hence, the comfort level gets altered, and your spine ends up being in a weird position. 

Here’s the fix:

  • Use the mattress on the floor: Although this isn’t advisable for long-term use, you can take your mattress to the floor for a few days and sleep on it to check the difference. If you wake up with a more comfortable feeling in the morning, it is evident that the problem is with the bed frame. 

Additionally, you can take the issue with customer support and ask them which bed frames would be compatible with your mattress. Also, check the bed frame and mattress measurements properly so that your mattress doesn’t end up getting squished, resulting in less space for it to expand. 

6.    The mattress is of cheap and low-grade quality.

Cheap memory foam mattresses are not ideal for use, especially if you have back pain and lumbar area problems. This is because memory foams of cheap quality use low-density foam, unlike the high priced and high-density memory foams. The low-grade and cheap foams perform lesser than expected and easily sag or lump faster. Worst part? They are made of harmful toxins that may become health hazards in the long run. 

Here’s the fix:

  • Always buy the best quality: There isn’t much solution for low-grade memory foam. Before you purchase a memory foam mattress, make sure it meets all the quality standards. A quick way to get an idea is checking the warranty of the product or the trial period. If it’s low and the brand doesn’t stand behind the product, why should you?

This is why we recommend the Nectar mattress because they have a lifetime warranty and a 365-day trial.

7.    Your sleeping position is wrong.

Sleeping position is an essential factor in determining a comfortable sleep. While all of us have different sleeping positions, it is also vital that we realise which ones can put more pressure on our back and cause pain the following day. 

Many experts believe that sleeping on your belly is the worst for people with persisting back pain problems. Your back, neck, and spine aren’t aligned in this position, so that it will do damage. On top of that, this position puts more strain on your neck when you sleep. 

Here’s the fix:

  • Consider changing position: You can alleviate your pain by working and improving your posture. Instead of sleeping on your stomach and front, try sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees. This will give your back good support. Another position would be sleeping on your back. This will allow the memory foam to do its magic instead of causing more strain on your back.

8.    The mattress is not giving enough support.

The last possible reason your mattress is causing constant pain on your back is that it may not be giving adequate support. By this we mean, your mattress is incapable of supporting your neck, spine, hip and all other joints in your body. A memory foam mattress with good support ensures good posture and keeps your back free from pain. 

Just because a mattress is firm enough doesn’t mean it gives the proper support. If both the upper and lower layer of the mattress has good core support, the mattress will not cause any pain to your body. Often sagging also causes poor mattress support. 

Here’s the fix:

  • Heavy sleepers need more support: The reason why your mattress may not be holding you up so well is probably because of your weight. If you’re someone weighing more than 90 kgs, you may want to look for a high-density memory foam or a hybrid memory foam mattress.
  • Replace your saggy mattress: Saggy memory foam mattresses are no good for support. The best way to tackle this situation is to get rid of it and replace it with a new one.


Back pains are not easy to get rid of, especially when you’ve been sleeping on the wrong mattress all this while without knowing the actual cause. Buying the right kind of memory foam or non-memory foam mattress depends on how much you know about mattresses. And if you’ve already bought one, you can refer to the solutions given in this article to help you alleviate your back pain.