The firmest mattress is the best?

If you have a bad back, you should buy the firmest mattress you can find — correct? Not really. While that used to be the common wisdom, there’s no solid research behind it. There isn’t one type of mattress that’s best for everyone, including people with back pain. Let personal preference guide you, and choose what feels most comfortable.

But making a good choice can be tricky. So many products are on the market, and just because a mattress feels good when you lie down on it in a showroom doesn’t mean you’re going to be happy sleeping on it for the next several years.

Trick1: Keep Your Spine Aligned

You may not realize it, but good posture is important when you are sleeping. The muscles and ligaments (tissue that holds joints together) in your back need to relax and recover while you snooze. If a mattress is too firm – or too squishy – it won’t support your spine at your neck or lower back the way it needs to. What’s firm enough (but not too firm) is different for everyone: If you have wide hips, for instance, a slightly softer surface may be better. You need some more give in order to keep your spine in alignment. Someone with narrower hips might be better off with a firmer surface.

Trick2: Medium-Firm is a good choice

Research is limited, but in one study, researchers assigned new mattresses to more than 300 people with low-pack-pain. They used either “medium-firm” or “firm” mattresses for 90 days. Those in the medium group reported the least amount of discomfort.

You might consider getting a memory foam mattress (instead of a traditional innerspring one). The foam molds to your body. The downside: Most memory foam mattresses keep in heat and they are never natural.