why does my new bed make my back hurt?
Sleep Problems

Why Is My New Bed Hurting My Back?

Last Updated on December 4, 2023 by Louise Carter

A mattress should be changed at least every 7 years if you’re subject to severe aches and pains in the morning or discomfort that makes it hard to sleep.

A new mattress still requires adjustment and may lead to short-term back pain.

Changing the size of your bed will likely lead to modifications, especially if you’re downsizing. You may need to adjust to a new sleeping position, which will exert pressure on your back.

Check that your new mattress isn’t too soft. While a lax bed may feel comfortable and cloud-like at first, it could result in the body sagging and slumping in the midsection.

A hard mattress can be just as bad. If you constantly apply weight to the body’s pressure points, you’ll find it difficult to relax in bed and may experience aches by the morning.

The strength and firmness of a mattress can usually be adjusted, whether to make the bed feel harder or softer if you’re experiencing back pain.

Consider upgrading the bed base and mattress to ensure the best match.

Adjusting to a new bed shouldn’t take long because you should be comfortable within a few weeks. Find a mattress with a comfort guarantee that can be returned if it causes prolonged discomfort.

Is it Normal for A New Mattress to Hurt Your Back?

Upon changing your mattress, you’ll likely undergo a transition period while you adjust to the new bed. This is crucial if you have used the same mattress for several years.

This adjustment can be uncomfortable, with your spine carrying the brunt of the discomfort.

According to the Journal of Orthopedics and Traumatology, lower back pain is among the leading causes of poor sleep quality. This suggests that back issues and mattresses go hand in hand.

You may believe the mattress is to blame if you’ve never experienced back pain and can’t ascribe your soreness to a sporting injury or pulled muscle.

The signs a bed or mattress is responsible for a bad back include:

  • Back pain is more pronounced upon waking up compared to other times of the day.
  • You can feel the mattress sag under your weight when lying down.
  • Springs and other components of the mattress can be felt digging into your back or side.
  • You’re resting 8 hours a night but feel tired, suggesting you’re not comfortable enough to enjoy high-quality sleep.
  • You regularly wake up at night without justifiable cause, like disturbances from road traffic.

If you’ve found the right mattress, these issues will begin subsiding before long.

is it normal for a new mattress to hurt your back?

How Long Should It Take to Adjust to a New Mattress?

A new mattress is seldom a low-cost investment, so it can be frustrating to experience post-purchase discomfort. Consequently, many mattresses offer a “comfort guarantee.”

If your mattress causes back pain, you can return it for a full refund within a set period. It can take 90 or 120 days to fully adjust to a new mattress, so avoid snap judgments.

If you’ve slept on a substandard mattress for long enough, you may instinctively assume a sleeping position that minimizes the impact of your problem while you sleep. This won’t resolve the issue.

Give a new bed sufficient time before declaring it uncomfortable. It can take time to adjust to a new mattress, and short-term discomfort may give way to longer-term health benefits.

If you’re still experiencing pain in bed for over 3 months, the problem is unlikely to resolve.

Why Does My New Bed Make My Back Hurt?

A new mattress will require adjustment before you sleep soundly. If you’ve used the same bed for several years and chosen a different mattress, your body will take a while to accept the change.

The most common types of back pain associated with sleeping positions and mattresses, along with their common causes, are as follows:

  • Lower back pain is usually caused by the hips sinking lower than the shoulders while lying down.
  • Middle back pain may result from pressure points on particular parts of your body.
  • Upper back pain stems from a lack of support from your mattress, affecting your sleeping posture.

Back pain shouldn’t be ignored, especially if your bed is responsible.

If you’ve been sleeping in a new bed for several months and can’t remove discomfort in your back and spine, consider if you need to consider returning and replacing your mattress.

Insufficient Size

Downsizing a bed takes longer to get used to, as you need to adjust your preferred sleeping position. Moving from sharing a King- or Queen-sized mattress to a single or standard double isn’t easy.

Switching to a smaller mattress may make sleeping in the star position impossible, and you’ll likely need to tuck your limbs more than you are used to.

Sleeping in the fetal position can reduce back pain if space on the mattress is minimal.

If you’re downsizing and snoring isn’t a consideration, consider a medium-firm mattress and assume the supine position while sleeping.

Lying on your back will take up less space, and a suitably hard mattress will distribute body weight.

On the plus side, if you share a smaller mattress with a partner, you may have no choice but to cuddle in bed – or, at the very least, share closer proximity.

This can make sleeping easier due to a heightened release of oxytocin, the “love hormone.”

Too Soft

Understandably, you assume a soft mattress will be more comfortable.

Bedsheets are marketed on their thread count, with softer bedding considered more comfortable and luxurious, but the same logic does not apply to mattresses.

If you ask, “Why does a soft mattress hurt my back?” the answer likely stems from the posture you are forced to assume. If your bed is so soft that it sags in the middle, your back will sink into the bed, potentially twisting your spine.

You may not notice this at night, but the impact will be keenly felt in the morning, and the discomfort will only magnify over time.

You’ll likely suffer from lower back pain and may experience increased discomfort in your upper back and shoulders. The lower your hips and pelvis are compared to your neck and shoulders, the more pressure your body will be under.

Heavier sleepers need to be particularly careful of extra-soft mattresses. The higher your BMI, the likelier you’ll find your midsection sinking into the bed and causing pain.

Firming Up A Soft Mattress

There are various ways to increase a soft mattress’s firmness. If you find that your new bed meets all your needs outside of the tendency to sink into the bedding, leading to back pain, consider solidifying your sleeping surface.

The easiest way to achieve this is by purchasing a mattress topper. These are available from any store that sells bedding, will not break the bank, and offer a variety of firmness levels. This simple addition may immediately resolve your problems with back support.

If you find that a mattress topper has a limited impact, try sliding some plywood between the base of your bed and your mattress. This will create an additional layer that provides more support for your back. Ensure this wood is completely smooth and cut to size.

You may also wish to change your base along with your mattress. A divan base will offer superior solidity to a sprung alternative. If you prefer a bed base with slats, ensure these are numerous and intact.

Too Firm

Be wary of a mattress that’s too firm and hard for comfort. You may have heard that a firm mattress is the optimum remedy for pre-existing back pain, but this isn’t always true.

Can a firm mattress cause back pain? It can do if your mattress doesn’t sufficiently support your spine or joints. Discomfort in the middle back is common in people who sleep on rock-solid mattresses, as a burden is placed on core pressure points.

Hard and firm mattresses can also cause lower back pain, as your hips will not be offered any respite from gravity. You can reduce this by sleeping with a pillow under your knees and hips.

why does a soft mattress hurt my back?

Softening a Hard Mattress

Even the firmest mattress will eventually show give, so be patient with your new bed. You’ll break in your mattress over days and weeks, and it’ll mold to your body shape and weight.

Keeping warm will speed up this process. While we usually advise staying as cool as possible overnight, heat will hasten the softening of a new bed, especially if you get a memory foam mattress.

Mattress toppers can also soften a firm mattress. Just as you can increase the strength of a bed by getting in a sturdy mattress topper, a softer product will make the bed feel a little more accommodating, similar to lying on a forgiving blanket.

Inappropriate Bed Base

When replacing a mattress, change your base. Most furniture stores specializing in beds and mattresses pair up both items, recommending a set where each component complements the other.

If you previously slept on a firm mattress but have switched to a softer alternative, you may be exposed to structural imperfections on the bed base. If the opposite is true, an older bed base may struggle to support the greater weight of a more solid mattress.

Even if your bed base looks solid, it’ll likely have experienced wear and tear over several years. It may also have molded itself to the shape of your existing mattress, so replacement feels odd and uncomfortable.

A new bed can always lead to immediate discomfort. You must ‘break in’ your new mattress and adjust to the change. Patience often leads to greater comfort, but don’t ignore back pain indefinitely.