person laying on a soft mattress
Sleep Health

Are Soft Beds Bad For Your Back?

    Last Updated
    June 26, 2023
    min read

    Sleeping on a soft bed often feels luxuriously comfortable, however,  back pain is a common concern. Many people find that a soft mattress leads to back pain because it lacks adequate support necessary for the spine, while others argue that a firm or medium mattress causes discomfort by failing to conform to the body’s pressure points.

    So what is the undisputed answer to the popular question: ”Are soft beds bad for your back?” In short — yes, they can be. The long answer: a soft mattress with the right support should not cause back pain. 

    Whether you wake up refreshed or with aches and pains depends less on how soft your mattress is and more on the mattress’ ability to provide the right balance of support and pressure relief for your body.

    Can A Soft Mattress Cause My Back To Hurt?

    Yes, a soft mattress can cause back aches and pain if it doesn’t have the proper support. A bed is too soft when it doesn’t provide adequate support for your spine. For ideal spine alignment, your mattress should gently mold around the contours of your body, like your shoulders and hips, to help relieve pressure while simultaneously providing the right amount of pushback to support broader parts of your body, like your back and legs.

    The ‘right’ amount of pressure relief is highly dependent on your body type and sleeping position, so no single mattress is optimal for every sleeper. If =you sink too far into your mattress, your spine could become misaligned resulting in neck, back and shoulder discomfort.

    Difficulty getting in and out of your bed is another indicator that your bed may be too soft. Changing positions can be difficult and uncomfortable when a mattress is too soft. This issue is prevalent in people with mobility issues or those who experience chronic pain.

    The Common Misconception About Firm Mattresses

    A common misconception about firm mattresses is that they are universally better for support and spinal alignment. While firm mattresses offer benefits for certain sleepers, they are not a one-size-fits-all solution for back pain and other physical requirements.

    Depending on your body type and sleeping preferences, the 'right' balance of body conforming pressure relief and pushback from support will vary by person.

    If you are a side sleeper and tend to wake up feeling pain or numbness in your shoulders or hips, your mattress may be too firm causing pressure to build on these concentrated areas of your body. 

    For this reason, firmer mattresses are often preferred by back and stomach sleepers.

    Comparing Varying Qualities of Mattress Support

    When it comes to soft mattress support, there is a notable difference between the quality of mattresses in the market. Many mattresses often lack the necessary support structures and durable materials, leading to discomfort and inadequate spinal alignment. 

    On the other hand, certain mattresses are designed with proper support systems that help maintain the natural curvature of the spine, promote healthy sleep posture, and alleviate pressure points. Investing in a quality mattress with sufficient support is crucial for ensuring long-term comfort, spinal health, and a restful night's sleep.

    Every Purple mattress is engineered to provide a perfected balance of soft, cushioning comfort with full body support courtesy of our proprietary  GelFlex® Grid technology. This patented innovation dynamically adapts to the body's shape, evenly distributes weight, relieves pressure points, and promotes proper spinal alignment night after night.

    Responsive Mattresses Are Optimal

    A responsive mattress is a bed that adjusts to the weight applied, providing support and pressure relief by conforming to the body's contours.

    Responsive mattresses are ideal for individuals with back pain because they adapt to the body's shape, offering personalized support and alleviating pressure on the spine and joints.

    Purple's GelFlex®  Grid instantly adapts as you move. The hyper-elastic polymer instantly flexes to support all sleeping positions with no lag time or interruption for a blissful, deep sleep.

    Pressure Points And Poor Spinal Alignment

    Soft mattresses can relieve pressure points as they conform to the body's shape and help distribute weight evenly. This can alleviate pressure on the shoulders, hips, and knees. The level of support necessary for proper support ultimately depends on the sleeper’s body type. If a mattress is excessively soft, it may not provide the optimal amount of support.

    Upgrade Your Sleep With a Purple Mattress

    A mattress that provides adequate support and promotes proper spinal alignment is essential for maintaining good posture and reducing the risk of back pain. 

    While a firmer mattress may be suitable for back and stomach sleepers, a softer mattress may be better for side sleepers or people with lighter body weights

    However, personal preferences and medical conditions can influence your choice – it is always best to consult a healthcare provider or a sleep specialist if you have any concerns.

    Purple offers mattresses to suit every preference and need — all backed by the revolutionary GelFlex® Grid sleep technology combined with various comfort and support layers.

    The GelFlex® Grid's unique design uses hundreds of columns that work together to support broad surfaces like your back and legs, while giving way under concentrated weight to gently cradle areas like shoulders and hips.

    The Restore Hybrid Collection offers more soft to more firm mattress options,  both of which provide adequate support for any body type.

    Soft Bed FAQs

    Is it bad for a bed to be too soft?

    It can be bad for a bed to be too soft if it isn’t providing the appropriate support for your weight, sleep preferences, and medical needs.

    Which is better for my back – a firm or soft mattress?

    Whether a soft or firm mattress is better for you comes down to support and preference. Back and stomach sleepers may benefit from a firmer mattress that prevents their spine from overarching. Side sleepers may benefit from a softer mattress that contours and supports the hips and shoulders. 

    What type of mattress is ideal for people with back pain?

    Someone with back pain may benefit from using a hybrid mattress with a zoned coil system that provides targeted support.

    The Purple RestorePlus™ Mattress from the Restore Hybrid Collection along with all of our Rejuvenate Mattresses from the Rejuvenate Luxe Collection feature zoned coils to provide targeted support for back.

    About the authors

    Cecilia Gillen

    Cecilia brings over five years of writing experience primarily centered around lifestyle and health topics. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Media and Journalism from the University of South Dakota. She’s both an advocate for sleep and a night owl at heart.