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Choosing a mattress is all about your primary sleep position and that of your partner—which is to say, it’s not always simple.
Roughly 17 percent of more than 48,000 CR members in a recent survey said that they fall asleep on their back. If you’re in this category (even if you tend to wake up on your side—joining the 70 percent of respondents who identify as side sleepers), you know how important it is to have the right support at bedtime.
We’ve put together a list of mattresses that are generally great but are especially fantastic for back sleepers, according to our lab tests. So even if you have a bedmate who sleeps in some other pose, both of you should be happy.
If you want more options, check out our mattress ratings, which include more than 100 models.
In our support tests for back sleepers, we use human subjects (people!) of small and large stature. Technicians graph 36 points along their spine using displacement sensors to measure the physical distance between their back and the mattress to analyze whether a mattress maintains the natural curve of the spine.
“The majority of those sensors are located from the neck to the hips and provide the basis for our analysis of back support,” says Chris Regan, the project leader in charge of mattress testing at CR. “The data from those sensors will identify those mattresses which do not properly support the natural curve of your spine. It’s that lack of support that makes you shift around on a mattress trying different positions.”
This test is combined with a separate test that uses hundreds of sensors on a bed to measure the level of pressure where the body comes into contact with the mattress. We average the results of the small and large test subjects to produce a score for average-sized sleepers. A mattress that has great back support for a petite back sleeper may not work for a back sleeper who’s substantially larger.
CR members can read on for ratings and reviews of standout models for back sleepers—both foam and innerspring—from brands including Avocado, Beautyrest, Casper, Charles P. Rogers, and Sleep on Latex.
Tips for Buying a Mattress
Tossing and turning all night? Maybe it’s time for a new mattress. On the “Consumer 101” TV show, CR expert Chris Regan shares tips on what to look for when mattress shopping.
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