Sleeping on your side is considered to be the most common sleeping position. There are major benefits to side sleeping, including reduced back pain, improved breathing, and better digestion. This makes sleeping on your side beneficial for your overall health and well-being.
The type of mattress you sleep on directly affects how much support and comfort you get each night. For people who have been sleeping on an older mattress, studies have shown that a new mattress can improve sleep quality and reduce overall pain and stiffness. Side sleepers often experience shoulder pain and lower back pain if their mattress is unsupportive or uncomfortable. A mattress that contours to the shape of the body and provides pressure point relief is especially beneficial for side sleepers. These features reduce back and shoulder pain while cushioning the areas of the body that press deeper into the mattress.
With so many different mattress types and features on the market, it can feel overwhelming to decide which mattress is right for you. We cover our top picks for the best mattresses for side sleepers and what sets them apart from other mattresses. We also include more on the benefits and drawbacks of sleeping on your side, and how this position affects sleep.
The Layla Hybrid mattress offers a unique flippable design, allowing owners to choose between a medium or firm sleep surface. This allows the bed to suit a wide range of side sleepers, regardless of their size. Lightweight and average weight sleepers tend to prefer the medium side, while heavier sleepers often find better support for their hips and shoulders on the firm side.
The low-density, copper-infused memory foam used in the comfort layer on each side of the mattress helps promote cooling on the sleep surface, and airflow through the coil layer further disperses heat. Those who tend to sleep hot on memory foam beds may find that this bed sleeps much cooler than competing models.
Each side also features a zoned polyfoam transitional layer which helps cushion the head and neck while supporting the heaviest areas of the body – the hips and shoulders – and promoting spinal alignment for side sleepers.
Layla offers a generous 120-night sleep trial and backs the mattress with a 10-year warranty. The mattress is made in the U.S. and customers within the continental 48 states receive free shipping.
The Helix Midnight mattress was designed specifically with side sleepers in mind. Comfort layers of memory foam lessen shoulder and back pain for side sleepers by relieving pressure points and keeping the spine aligned.
The breathable cover of the Helix mattress increases airflow throughout the mattress and prevents heat retention. A layer of Memory Plus foam relieves undue pressure on the shoulders and hips, while a second layer of high-grade polyfoam offers ergonomic support and cushion in these areas. The foam layers of the Helix mattress have different densities in order to provide the best relief and support for side sleepers. Individually wrapped coils in the support base minimize motion transfer and circulate air. This layer gently contours to the shape of your body. The coil base has a reinforced perimeter, which increases the sleepable surface area of the bed and prevents sagging along the edges. A bottom layer of DuraDense foam enhances the support and durability of the Helix mattress.
The Helix Midnight mattress has a medium firm feel with impressive pressure point relief. The Memory Plus foam contours closely to the body, cushioning high-impact areas and preventing aches and pains.
Helix gives you 100 nights to try out the Midnight mattress, with a 30-day break-in period. The mattress is covered by a 10-year warranty, though the customer is responsible for shipping costs. In the event of a defect, Helix will reimburse up to $100 in shipping charges.
The Nolah mattress is a foam mattress made without memory foam. Since it is made without traditional memory foam, there is better air circulation around the body and less of a feeling of sinking into the mattress too deeply. This mattress was designed with side sleepers in mind, and offers pressure point relief for the hips and shoulders.
The viscose cover of the Nolah mattress wicks away moisture, while the top layer of AirFoam relieves pressure points and supports the shoulders and hips. Compared to traditional memory foam, Nolah’s AirFoam has air bubbles throughout the foam that dissipate heat and cool the mattress. A transition layer of high resilience foam adds support and bounce to the mattress. This layer also prevents sagging over time. The high-density polyfoam base reinforces the Nolah mattress and improves edge support along the perimeter. This is ideal for people who share the bed, or those who tend to sleep or sit on the edge of the mattress, as it offers consistent support.
The medium firmness of the Nolah mattress prevents the feeling of sinking in. The mattress offers ample back support while still contouring closely to the shape of the body. This puts less pressure on the hips and backs, reducing aches and pains for side sleepers. The all-foam construction also minimizes motion transfer.
As an added benefit, Nolah donates to wildlife protection organizations with each mattress purchase. The company offers a 120-night sleep trial with a mandatory 30-night break-in period. The mattress is also backed by a 15-year warranty.
Our next pick is the Idle Hybrid from Idle Sleep. A flippable model, this mattress is constructed with a medium firm (6) feel on one side and a firm (7-8) feel on the other. Both sleep surfaces feature polyfoam comfort and transitional layers that conform to the body and evenly distribute your weight. Although both sides have a firmer feel, the polyfoam cushions the shoulders and hips and aligns the spine, which can reduce pressure points and back pain for side sleepers. The polyfoam is also somewhat responsive, so you won’t sink beneath the surface like you might on a memory foam mattress.
The Idle Hybrid’s shared support core consists of 6-inch pocketed coils. This layer stabilizes the mattress very well and minimizes sinkage along the edges when you get in and out of bed. The coils also promote steady air circulation to help the mattress maintain a comfortable core temperature. The Idle Hybrid also features a breathable Thermocool fabric cover for added cooling on the surface.
The Idle Hybrid has a very reasonable price-point compared to other hybrid models. Additionally, Idle Sleep offers an 18-month sleep trial – one of the longest trial periods in the industry – and further backs the mattress with a lifetime warranty. Ground shipping is free within the contiguous U.S. You can also choose full-service White Glove delivery for an added fee.
A latex hybrid model, the Birch mattress is an eco-friendly offering from Helix Sleep. Made with comfort layers of organic cotton and ventilated Talaylay latex, the Birch is a very good choice for those who tend to sleep hot.
The bed is medium firm (6) and offers a responsive feel due to the combination of springiness from the bed’s pocketed coil support layer and the bounce of the minimally conforming Talaylay latex comfort layer. The bed’s support layer is zoned to provide reinforced edges, which enables sleepers to utilize the entire surface of the bed.
The Birch’s robust support core provides ample support for side sleepers weighing 130 pounds or more, while the wool and latex comfort layers offer just the right amount of contouring to relieve pressure points. Lighter sleepers will experience more of a floating sensation and the bed may feel a bit firmer for them, so depending on personal preferences, lightweight sleepers may prefer a model with more cushioning for the shoulders and hips.
Birch offers free shipping to customers within the U.S. and backs the mattress with a 100-night sleep trial and a 25-year warranty.
The WinkBed MemoryLux mattress has targeted zones that relieve shoulder and back pain, align joints, and cushion pressure points. This makes it one of the best hybrid mattresses for side sleepers.
The Tencel cover of the MemoryLux mattress is tufted with two inches of gel-infused polyfoam that wicks moisture and heat away from the body. Beneath the cover is a layer of patented AirCell memory foam with an open-cell structure. The air capsules within this foam absorb shock and reduce motion transfer, while dissipating heat and reducing pressure on the shoulders and hips. A layer progression foam has five zones with varying degrees of firmness. The firmer foam supports the lumbar region and hips, while softer foam cushions the shoulders and legs. The support base of Atlas Core foam resists sagging over time and increases the durability of the mattress.
The WinkBed Memory Lux is available in three firmness levels: Soft, Medium, and Firm. The Medium firmness is ideal for side sleepers between 130 and 230 pounds, while the softer option is best for lighter sleepers. Those who weigh more than 230 may prefer the Firm option. All three options have standout pressure point relief for side sleepers. The MemoryLux mattress also isolates motion well, so people who share the bed shouldn’t be disturbed by their partner’s movements.
WinkBed offers a 120-night sleep trial with a 30-day break-in period. The mattress is covered by a lifetime warranty, though the customer is responsible for return shipping costs unless a defect is found.
The Bear Hybrid mattress combines elements of foam and innerspring mattresses. The medium firm feel of the Bear mattress is ideal for side sleepers who weigh more than 130 pounds. While the comfort layers contour to the shape of the body, the mattress does not hug the body too closely or sink in too deeply. The responsive layers support the body while relieving pressure points.
The cover of the mattress is quilted with Celliant fibers, which regulates temperature and promotes muscle recovery and healthy oxygen levels. The hypersoft cooling gel foam draws heat away from the body, keeping side sleepers who tend to sleep hot comfortable. A layer of adaptive comfort foam responds to pressure points and keeps the spine aligned. Differentiated support in the mattress ensures that the hips and shoulders do not sink in too far. Responsive transition foam adds airflow throughout the mattress and cushions pressure points. The Quantum Edge coil system prevents sagging throughout the mattress while providing consistent support. The perimeter of this base layer is reinforced, and the edge support is ideal for people who sleep or sit on the edge of the bed. Each layer of the Bear Hybrid mattress helps keep the mattress temperature neutral and prevents heat retention.
The Bear Hybrid mattress is competitively priced for a luxury hybrid mattress. Bear offers a 100-night sleep trial with a 30-day break-in period. The mattress is also covered by a 20-year limited warranty.
The Nectar mattress is constructed with high-quality materials at an affordable price point, making this mattress an ideal choice for anyone shopping on a budget. The foam construction relieves back pain and cushions pressure points for side sleepers.
The Tencel cover of the Nectar mattress wicks away moisture, while the gel-infused memory foam distributes body heat and weight. A three-inch layer of adaptive hi-core memory foam offers additional support and prevents the feeling of sinking in that is commonly associated with memory foam mattresses. The polyfoam base layer stabilizes the mattress. The foam layers result in top-notch motion isolation and pressure point relief.
Since the Nectar mattress is medium firm, it is best for people who weigh more than 130 pounds. With contouring foam that doesn’t sink in too deeply, the Nectar mattress has good air circulation and does not retain heat.
Nectar offers a generous 365-night sleep trial, giving you a full year to try out the mattress. The mattress is also covered by a lifetime warranty. For the first 10 years, Nectar will replace a defective mattress at no cost. After the first 10 years, they will repair or replace the mattress with a $50 shipping charge each way. This charge is waived if the mattress has a defect.
The Cocoon by Sealy Chill mattress has multiple layers of foam that cushion pressure points and keep the spine aligned. There are two firmness options to choose from, Medium Soft or Extra Firm, which can accommodate sleepers of most body types and preferences. The Medium Soft option is best for sleepers under 230 pounds who need extra cushioning, while the Extra Firm option is better for heavier sleepers.
This mattress is also ideal for side sleepers who tend to sleep hot, as the cover is made with a phase change material that absorbs and dissipates heat. A comfort layer of Perfect Fit memory foam relieves pressure points by adapting to the shape of the body. The personalized comfort layer is either medium soft or firm, depending on which firmness option you choose. Essential support layers are made with heavier foam. This adds resilience and durability to the Chill mattress.
The all-foam construction of the Chill mattress offers impressive motion isolation, and the mattress is silent when bearing weight. This reduces the likelihood of sleep disturbances throughout the night, especially if you share the bed or are prone to changing positions.
Sealy has a longstanding reputation in the mattress industry. The Cocoon Chill mattress includes a 100-night sleep trial, with a 10-year limited warranty.
Sleeping on your side is highly regarded within the medical community, and its benefits are compelling. Not only does side sleeping open your airways and reduce snoring and symptoms of sleep apnea, but it may also improve brain health and help prevent certain neurological issues. For people with heartburn, and especially for pregnant women, sleeping on your left side has been shown to reduce acid reflux. This sleeping position is also best for keeping your spine aligned, though there are measures you should take to ensure your body and spine get the proper support when sleeping on your side. Putting too much pressure on your neck, shoulders, and back can result in aches and pains.
When the spine is aligned, it is in a straight, neutral position. If the spine is misaligned during sleep, this can result in back pain and other issues. Though side sleeping is the least likely position to exacerbate spinal pain and other symptoms, there are still precautions that should be taken to ensure the spine is aligned as you sleep.
A contouring mattress responds proportionately to pressure points, cushioning the hips and shoulders. This helps keep the spine in neutral alignment. Side sleepers who maintain a symmetrical position are less likely to have back pain. This means sleeping on your side with your legs stretched out, and a higher loft pillow underneath your head. To keep your hips square, you may choose to sleep with a thinner pillow between your knees. The neck is part of the spine, so it is also important to keep your neck supported and resist tucking in your chin. These measures will help your spine maintain a neutral position.
Since side sleepers put pressure on one shoulder as they sleep, they are more likely to experience pain on the side that they sleep on. The added weight on the shoulder, especially if the mattress does not offer enough cushioning or contouring support, can result in neck and shoulder pain. Those who sleep on their side are also more likely to push one shoulder up towards their neck, which causes the spine to be misaligned.
Purchasing a mattress with the right firmness is an essential step towards reducing shoulder pain for side sleepers. It is also important to keep in mind your weight, as lighter people will not press into the mattress as much, and heavier people will put more pressure on the mattress. The mattress should cushion the shoulder and prevent it from sinking in too deeply, or not enough. The right pillow can also make a difference. The loft of the pillow should be high enough to keep your head and neck in line, and help prevent your shoulder from pushing up towards your neck.
For side sleepers with back problems, the right mattress can make all the difference. If a mattress does not contour to the shape of the body and provide ample support, this can cause a misalignment in the joints and the spine. As a result, your muscles can’t relax and have to work overtime to keep everything aligned. A contouring mattress, on the other hand, keeps the spine aligned and relieves joint pain. This keeps the hips and shoulders aligned as well. Some mattresses also have customized support for the lumbar region.
The simplest way to determine if your back pain is caused by your mattress is to pay attention to your back pain throughout the day. If you wake up with back pain that subsides or lessens as the day goes on, your mattress is likely the culprit. The best mattress for side sleepers will provide a flat, even surface without any sagging or indentations. A responsive material, like memory foam, will cushion pressure points and keep the spine aligned. The mattress should provide full-body support to prevent back pain.
Mattress firmness is a subjective measure of comfort, so whether you choose a soft or firm mattress for sleeping on your side will depend on several factors. Mattresses are usually rated on a firmness scale of 1 to 10, or extremely soft to extremely firm. Medium soft to medium firm mattresses are most common.
For side sleepers, mattress firmness determines how cushioned the pressure points are. It affects how much the shoulders and hips sink into the mattress, which helps keep the spine aligned. A comfortable mattress will alleviate aches and pains.
There are a few factors to consider when deciding on mattress firmness, including personal preferences, body weight, and mattress type. Heavier people press deeper into the mattress, so the same mattress may feel different to people depending on their weight and body type. The comfort layers affect the firmness and feel of the mattress. Memory foam conforms closely to the shape of the body, while latex offers gentle contouring with more bounce. Innerspring coils can add firmness to a mattress. Of the several types of mattresses available, each has benefits and drawbacks for side sleepers.
The best mattress for side sleepers will offer consistent support and contouring comfort. Most mattresses fall into one of the following categories. These are the most common mattress types on the market today, and understanding the difference between each type is key to determining which mattress is right for you. Though specific mattress models will vary in materials, construction, and unique features, there are commonalities within each category that will help you decide what type of mattress best suits your needs.
Definition: A hybrid mattress has an innerspring support system with thick comfort layers of memory foam or latex. Combining elements of these different types of mattresses into a hybrid design maximizes the benefits of each, with fewer drawbacks. A hybrid mattress may include a transition layer of polyfoam or micro coils beneath the foam comfort layers. The base of innerspring coils adds airflow and support to the mattress.
Highlight: Contouring support with temperature regulation. Since a hybrid mattress has substantial comfort layers, it tends to provide contouring support that relieves pressure points and keeps the spine aligned. While an all-foam mattress can restrict airflow and retain heat, a hybrid mattress typically has better temperature regulation due to the innerspring coils. For side sleepers, this means conforming comfort without overheating.
Definition: An innerspring mattress has a support base of steel coils, with thin comfort layers of fiber or foam. This traditional mattress style is minimalistic and offers less contouring than a hybrid or foam mattress. Widely available and easily recognizable, innerspring mattresses also tend to be affordable.
Highlight: Enhanced edge support. The steel coil support base of an innerspring mattress can be reinforced for better edge support. This increases the supportive surface area of the bed, ensuring side sleepers who sleep near the edge of the bed experience consistent support. It also prevents sagging along the edges over time.
Definition: A latex mattress is constructed with latex comfort layers and a latex support base. This type of mattress is most often made with natural latex, which is manufactured with sap harvested from rubber trees. The sap is then processed with the Dunlop or Talalay method. Dunlop latex is dense and durable, while Talalay latex is lighter and softer. Synthetic latex can also be used; this type of latex is made with petrochemicals.
Highlight: Responsive. Latex gently contours to the shape of your body, alleviating pressure points while preventing the feeling of sinking in too deeply. For side sleepers, this reduces shoulder and back pain. There is also more airflow around the body and better temperature regulation.
Definition: In an airbed mattress, the support comes from internal rubber chambers that are inflatable. The firmness is adjustable by filling the chambers with air, or removing air as needed. Airbed mattresses are often remote-controlled or can be paired with a smartphone app. The built-in pump adjusts the chambers to your preference. This type of mattress usually has comfort layers of foam, latex, wool or other fibers.
Highlight: Customizable Firmness. For side sleepers who are unsure of what their preferred firmness level is, or for those who find their needs change, an airbed mattress offers customizable firmness. Some airbed mattresses include two air chambers, so people who share the bed and have different preferences can adjust their sides individually. Certain models even include adjustability for different parts of the body. For side sleepers, this can mean adjusting the firmness under the shoulders and hips to keep the spine aligned.
Definition: A foam mattress has comfort layers and a support base of foam. The comfort system is often made with memory foam layers, and can include traditional viscoelastic memory foam, open-cell foam, or gel-infused foam. The support base is usually constructed with high-density polyfoam for added support and durability.
Highlight: Cushions pressure points. Memory foam contours closely to the body, responding to pressure and cushioning areas like the hips and shoulders. For side sleepers, this promotes proper spinal alignment and reduces aches and pains.
A mattress that offers full-body support and contouring is the most important purchase for side sleepers. Further customizing the mattress with sleep accessories, including pillows and mattress toppers, can make side sleeping more comfortable. Pillows ensure the head and neck are aligned, while mattress toppers can change the comfort system of the bed. Understanding what to look for in these sleep accessories is important for both comfort and support.
When sleeping on your side, a pillow for your head is necessary for spinal alignment. A medium or high loft pillow should lift your head enough to keep both your head and neck aligned with your spine. This relieves pressure on the neck and shoulders. The following table outlines the ideal pillow loft based on sleeping position.
|Sleeping Position||Pillow Loft Recommended|
|Side||Medium or High|
In addition to having a comfortable pillow under your head, knee pillows (or regular pillows) can be used to further customize your sleeping position and alleviate aches and pains. Side sleepers will benefit from drawing their legs up slightly toward their chest, and placing a pillow between their knees. This helps keep the hips square and spine aligned.
A mattress topper is a comfort layer that sits on top of your existing mattress. Toppers are usually made with memory foam, latex, or other common comfort layer materials. Adding a thicker comfort layer to your current mattress can increase the level of contouring and pressure point relief your mattress provides. This helps to alleviate back and joint pain.
Selecting a memory foam mattress topper gives you the chance to try out this material without committing to a new memory foam mattress. While you will not experience the full advantages of a memory foam mattress from just a topper, it is less expensive than purchasing an all-new mattress. It can also be a stepping stone to buying a new mattress if you decide you like the material.
Before purchasing a mattress topper, be sure to evaluate the current condition of your mattress. A mattress topper will enhance the comfort of a mattress, but it will not offer support or fix a broken mattress. If your mattress is sagging or unsupportive, it is time for an all-new mattress.
Due to added pressure put on the shoulders and hips, there are special considerations that side sleepers should keep in mind when shopping for a mattress. Mattress companies can often use misleading terminology, or exaggerate some of the benefits of unique features. The following factors are the most important to consider when shopping for a new mattress.