Soothe back pain and sleep like a dream on the best orthopaedic mattresses we've tested from Simba, Silentnight, Eve and more
Sleeping on a mattress that’s too soft, too firm, too old, too lumpy or just plain wrong for your sleeping style could leave you full of aches and pains when you wake up. The best orthopaedic mattresses soothe your distress by striking the right balance of comfort and support, cradling your body perfectly while you sleep.
Orthopaedic mattresses, like most ergonomic furniture, are not just for the relief of those who already suffer from some pre-existing painful condition. They can be a superb investment for anyone because they enhance sleep quality, improve posture and can even help prevent pain for years to come.
There are many different types of orthopaedic mattresses available, including many varieties of hybrid beds-in-a-box that combine foam layers with conventional pocket springs. We’ve tested (yes, slept on) an awful lot of mattresses here at Expert Reviews, including many that fit the orthopaedic description, so we can offer you honest, impartial buying advice.
Skip down this page to discover the best orthopaedic mattresses currently on the market, or read on for a buying guide to help you find the ideal mattress for your back, your budget, and your sleeping style.
How to choose the best orthopaedic mattress for you
What is an orthopaedic mattress?
It’s important to state upfront that ‘orthopaedic’ isn’t an official industry term, and so there are no specific tests that a mattress has to pass to make that claim. In theory, any manufacturer can call their mattress orthopaedic.
However, much like with the term ‘ergonomic’, ‘orthopaedic’ is generally used for items whose main design goal is to provide comfort, and more specifically to nurture the long-term health of joints and bones and, to a lesser extent, muscles.
Orthopaedic mattresses mainly accomplish this by ensuring an even spread of body weight and by promoting spinal alignment – a fancy term for your back being straight while you relax. Correct spinal alignment is often key to avoiding back pain and can also help to reduce or prevent pain in your neck, shoulders and other joints.
Not all of the mattresses we’ve included in our round-up below are described by their manufacturers as orthopaedic, but they all aim to provide the level of support your body needs.
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Are orthopaedic mattresses always firm?
Forget the myth that an orthopaedic mattress is like sleeping on a plank of wood. Instead, these mattresses need to be soft enough to allow your spine to align while you sleep, whatever your sleeping position. Spinal alignment is almost impossible to achieve on a surface that’s too hard or too soft, as this diagram illustrates:
Even the least curvaceous of us have shoulders, hips, knees and these knobbly bits of skeleton need to be able to sink into the surface of a mattress to allow our spines to align. The right level of softness is just as important as the right level of support.
A mattress that’s too hard can actually make back pain even worse for some sufferers, especially those with a particularly curved lower back. Gary Jones, clinic director at PHYSIO 206, told us: “If you’ve got somebody with a more pronounced inward curve in the lower back – what we call an increased ‘lumbar lordosis’ – putting them on a firmer mattress would potentially increase that lumbar lordosis.”
How firm should my mattress be?
No single orthopaedic mattress will be the right choice for all people. Your size, posture and sleeping style will all have a big impact on which level of firmness suits you and your spine best.
- Lighter people and solo sleepers need some softness to allow for proper spinal alignment as a firm mattress may leave the hips and shoulders sitting too high.
- Larger people need the extra resistance offered by a firmer mattress to provide proper orthopaedic support.
- People with pronounced lower back curves need a slightly softer mattress.
- Side sleepers – which is most of us – need more softness than back sleepers. This is because your shoulders and hips sink further when you lie on your side than when you lie on your back.
One of the great benefits of buying a bed-in-a-box mattress is that you have the chance to try it out at home, potentially for months on end, before deciding whether it’s right for you and your partner. The 365-night, no-hassle, trial period pioneered by Nectar is now offered by many other brands, including Simba and Eve, so you’re under no obligation to stick with a mattress you’re not sure about. The company will usually even collect the mattress for free.
It’s also worth remembering that mattresses often feature in our special deal roundups, with big brands frequently cutting prices by 50% or more in their seasonal sales.
If you generally get on well with your mattress but perhaps find it a bit too firm, you might like to consider a mattress topper to give your body a little more to sink in. A topper adds an extra layer of comfort for a much lower price than buying a new mattress.
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How else will an orthopaedic mattress help me?
Orthopaedic mattresses were originally developed in the 1950s as a therapy for back pain, but they have many other benefits besides, including:
Better sleep – A really good mattress helps reduce tossing and turning and encourages you to sleep more soundly. As a result, you’ll wake up feeling more refreshed.
Relaxed muscles – Tense muscles are a significant cause of restlessness, as well as headaches. By encouraging your spine to align, an orthopaedic mattress promotes muscle relaxation throughout your body.
Pain control – An orthopaedic mattress can help ease the pain of conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgia, which can be exacerbated by poor sleep and tense muscles. A supportive mattress also reduces pressure on joints and can aid recovery from injury.
Better relationship – We’re not joking: if you’re a restless sleeper or if you share your bed with one, a good orthopaedic mattress can help you both. The combination of foam layers and pocket springs creates a structure that isolates movement, so you can sleep in peace. Orthopaedic mattresses are also designed to spread weight evenly across the surface of the bed, even if one of you is much heavier than the other.
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A new mattress can be a big investment, so it’s worth doing plenty of reading before you take the plunge. Here are a few of our other guides and best buy round-ups to help you choose:
- How to choose a mattress: Tips on how to buy the best mattress
- Best mattress for a bad back
- Best mattress for side sleepers
How we test mattresses
The only way to test a mattress properly is to sleep on the job. In our defence, we try to stay awake long enough to rigorously assess all the relevant factors, comparing our test mattresses fairly against rival mattresses.
Finding a balance of comfort and support is paramount, especially when we’re reviewing orthopaedic mattresses, and we also consider factors such as firmness (too hard? too soft?), temperature control (too clammy in summer?) and motion isolation.
The type of base you put your mattress on can make quite a difference to the way it feels – a divan base can add firmness and a slatted base can add bounce – so we always take into account the type of base we used when writing our in-depth reviews.
Finally, we assess the value for money, including the lengthy free trial period that’s now become standard for bed-in-a-box mattresses.
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The best orthopaedic mattresses you can buy in 2024
1. Simba Hybrid Pro: Best orthopaedic mattress for back pain
Price when reviewed: From £869 | Check price at Simba
Simba’s range of hybrid beds-in-a-box isn’t marketed using the word ‘orthopaedic’ but, thanks to an ergonomic design that provides pressure relief for your body and correct alignment for your spine, it certainly could be.
The medium-firm hybrid construction includes wool and foam layers for comfort, plus firmer pocket-sprung base layers for support. While some bed-in-a-box mattresses can feel too solid, the Hybrid Pro’s zoned design enables it to feel firm where needed and soft elsewhere, with enough ‘give’ to cradle your hips and shoulders and let your spine align naturally.
It’s not cheap, but Simba offers fairly regular discount deals, so it’s definitely worth checking the website. Deal or no deal, all Simba mattresses come with a 200-night trial, so you have plenty of time to make sure you’re happy with your purchase.
Read our full Simba Hybrid Pro review
Key details – Type: Hybrid foam and springs with eight layers including breathable sleep surface, wool cooling layer and zoned support base with 5,000 ‘Aerocoil’ springs; Depth: 28cm; Sizes: Single to super king; Warranty: 10 years; Trial: 200 nights
2. Nectar Memory Foam Mattress: Best orthopaedic mattress for side sleepers
Price when reviewed: From £475 | Check price at Nectar
The Nectar Memory Foam Mattress is one of the most comfortable bed-in-a-box mattresses we’ve ever tested. Its 2.5cm memory foam top layer makes it noticeably softer than the Simba Hybrid Pro and the Eve Premium Hybrid, offering that crucial extra bit of give for side sleepers, lighter people and solo sleepers.
Having said that, Nectar’s classic mattress isn’t sink-in soft. Its three-layer foam construction still offers a good level of support, striking a comfortable middle ground that should appeal to a wide variety of people and different sleeping positions. Our main reservation is that this mattress can feel quite warm in summer, so you may need a cooling mattress topper on balmy nights.
Read our full Nectar Memory Foam review
Key details – Type: Memory foam with five layers including 2.5cm foam top layer, pressure-relieving layer and seven-zone supportive base; Depth: 25cm; Sizes: Single to super king; Warranty: Forever; Trial: 365 nights
3. Eve Premium Hybrid: Best orthopaedic mattress for couples
Price when reviewed: From £625 | Check price at Eve
Constructed with five layers of memory foam and full-size pocket springs, the eve Premium Hybrid is a sumptuous 28cm deep (3cm deeper than their Original Hybrid) and proves very effective at reducing motion transfer – ideal, if not crucial, if you share your bed with someone who moves around a lot.
When we tested the Premium Hybrid, we found it to be well-suited for people who sleep in various different positions, including back and side, though we noted that habitual side sleepers may find it too firm. However, regardless of whichever position you sleep in, the mattress does a solid job of taking the pressure off your joints.
Read our full Eve Premium Hybrid review
Key details – Type: Hybrid foam and springs with five layers including active cooling layer and ‘floatfoam’ pressure relief layer, plus 1,400 pocket springs; Depth: 28cm; Sizes: Double to super king; Warranty: 10 years; Trial: One year
The Emma NextGen Premium feels wonderfully soft to the touch, but it’s actually quite firm to lie on. In fact, if you’re a side sleeper, you may find that it’s too firm to cradle your shoulders and hips for full spinal alignment, but if you’re a back sleeper, or physically big, this mattress has all the extra support you’ll want, at a good price.
The combination of extra tall, super-supportive pocket springs and layers of foam enables this mattress to do a brilliant job of absorbing movement, so you’re less likely to feel your partner moving around in bed. The top layer is also great for temperature control, feeling cool in summer and cosy in winter.
Read our full Emma NextGen Premium review
Key details – Type: Hybrid foam and springs including extra tall pocket springs, ‘Point Elastic Airgocell’ foam, ‘Halo Memory’ foam; Depth: 25cm; Sizes: Single to super king; Warranty: 10 years; Trial: 200 nights
5. Ergoflex 5G: Best memory foam orthopaedic mattress
Price when reviewed: £1,055 (king size) | Check price at Ergoflex
Actively billing itself as an orthopaedic mattress – unlike many of the other mattresses here – the all-foam Ergoflex 5G (nothing to do with your mobile phone signals) has a generous 9cm foam top layer that moulds effectively around your body, providing support just where you need it, along with plenty of comfortable pressure relief and excellent movement isolation.
Like many memory foam mattresses, the Ergoflex 5G can sleep a little warm, but when we reviewed it we didn’t find that it caused any uncomfortable overheating. However, at 30 days, the Ergoflex’s home trial is notably shorter than most of its rivals, so make your mind up quickly.
Read our full Ergoflex 5G review
Key details – Type: Memory foam with five layers including 9cm high-resilience foam, 5cm cool-sleep ‘Airflow’ layer and 9cm visco-elastic memory foam; Depth: 23cm; Sizes: Single to super king; Warranty: 10 years; Trial: 30 nights
6. Tempur Original Supreme: Best luxury orthopaedic mattress
Price when reviewed: From £1,319 | Check price at Tempur
This mattress is pricey, but this Tempur Original Supreme is a premium product with no compromise on quality or comfort, using the same material originally designed by NASA for use on the space shuttle. It’s durable too, with Tempur confident enough to include a 10-year guarantee.
When we tested the Supreme version of the Tempur Original mattress, we loved the luxurious feel, something that many bed-in-a-box rivals struggle to match. The upper foam layers cradle your shape and give relief to your hips and shoulders, while the lower layers provide ample support for your lower back.
Read our full Tempur Original Supreme review
Key details – Type: Memory foam with three layers including 11cm ‘Durabase’ base layer, 8cm support layer and 2cm comfort layer; Depth: 21cm; Sizes: Single to super king; Warranty: 10 years; Trial: 100 nights
7. Panda Hybrid Bamboo Mattress: Best hypoallergenic orthopaedic mattress
Price when reviewed: From £950 | Check price at Panda
Bamboo is a hypoallergenic, antibacterial fibre that makes for a breathable and odour-resistant bedding surface, and also pops up in this orthopaedic mattress’s internal layers. The six layers include a zoned spring layer to offer support in the right places and a memory foam layer infused with fresh bamboo, plus an orthopaedic-grade ‘OrthoAlign Foam’ layer, and up to 1,500 pocket springs.
All these layers and the bamboo infusion add up to a sumptuous, beautifully constructed mattress that offers cosiness and solid support. It will be too firm for some, but it’s ideal for back sleepers and those who prefer strong push-back.
Read our full Panda Hybrid Bamboo Mattress review
Key details – Type: Hybrid foam and springs with six layers including machine-washable bamboo cover, OrthoAlign foam layer, pocket springs and high-density foam base; Sizes: Single to emperor; Warranty: 10 years; Trial: 100 nights