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Sleeping on your side is considered to be the most common sleeping position and has major benefits including reduced back pain, improved breathing, and better digestion. However, side sleepers often experience shoulder and lower back pain if their mattress is unsupportive or uncomfortable.
The side sleepers on our testing team often prefer a mattress that contours to the body’s shape and provides pressure point relief. We’ve tested hundreds of mattresses, analyzing how each performs for side sleepers across various weight groups. Our testers also assess mattress through a battery of tests regarding important criteria like temperature neutrality, pressure relief, edge support, and motion isolation.
Watch our video below to learn more about our lab’s top mattress picks for side sleepers.
With so many different mattress types and features on the market, it can feel overwhelming to decide which mattress is right for you. Taking our testing team’s scores into account, we’ve narrowed down the best mattresses for side sleepers. Check out our top picks to find in-depth information on the models we chose.
We’ve also put together a buyer’s guide to help you choose the best mattress for your lifestyle and personal preferences. We’ll discuss the benefits and drawbacks of side sleeping, and how different mattress designs, firmness levels, and materials affect side sleepers. Our guide also breaks down what to expect when it comes to mattress pricing, returns, and warranties. If you’re looking for other bedding products that cater to side sleepers, check out our guide to Best Pillows for Side Sleepers.
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The Helix Midnight is a hybrid model specifically designed for side sleepers’ needs. Our testers noted that the Midnight provides excellent contouring and support with well-rounded performance across the board.
Many mattresses are constructed with materials that make them comfortable for side sleeping, but the Helix Midnight is one of the only mattresses on the market designed specifically with this position in mind. If you frequently switch between your right and left sides while you sleep due to shoulder pain or stiffness, the Midnight provides the balance of give and support to ensure you’ll be comfortable staying in one position.
How It Performed
Our testers felt the Helix Midnight mattress had a medium firm (6) feel with impressive pressure point relief. The adaptive foams contoured closely to our bodies, cushioning our high-impact areas and preventing aches and pains. The Midnight’s mixed-foam design provides the best combination of relief and support for side sleepers weighing up to 230 pounds.
We found that edge support is another area where the Midnight performed well. The coil base has a reinforced perimeter, which kept us well-supported as we sat on and lied near the edges. This increases the sleepable surface area of the bed and works to prevent sagging along the perimeter over time.
What It’s Made of
The comfort system begins with a layer of adaptive Memory Plus foam, followed by a second layer of high-grade polyfoam that provides ergonomic support. Individually wrapped coils make up the support core, reducing sagging in the midsection and bolstering the edges. A base layer of DuraDense foam works behind the scenes to enhance the overall support and durability. A polyester cover engineered to enhance cooling encases the mattress.
Helix offers 100 nights to try out the Midnight, with a 30-day break-in period. The mattress is covered by a 10-year warranty, and Helix ships free to customers in all 50 states.
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The DreamCloud uses layers of foam and coils in a hybrid design to provide support and pressure relief. If you’re looking for a comfortable bed that performs well all-around, or if you and your partner have different body types or sleep positions, we believe the DreamCloud is right for you.
The DreamCloud is a foam hybrid mattress that excelled in multiple performance categories during our testing. We found that the bed’s strong balance of contouring and support makes this mattress a comfortable choice for a wide variety of sleepers.
How It Performed
We rated the DreamCloud at medium firm (6), as it offered adequate cushioning to the shoulders, hips, and other areas where pressure tends to build up during sleep. The polyfoam and coil system provided enough support for sleepers who require some firmness. Though our hot-sleeping testers found that the memory foam may run too warm for some sleepers, the coils should enable enough air circulation to prevent excessive overheating. The mattress also earned higher-than-average marks in motion isolation for a hybrid, so we recommend it if you share the bed with a partner.
What It’s Made of
The mattress begins with a breathable cashmere-blend cover that’s been quilted with polyfoam for a soft, plush surface. Beneath is a layer of memory foam that contoured closely to our bodies. The memory foam is infused with a cooling gel meant to minimize body heat retention. A transition layer made with polyfoam also provided moderate contouring, but it was firm enough to prevent our bodies from sinking too deeply. A coil system with a pocketed design offers targeted support to the shoulders and midsection to prevent sagging.
DreamCloud ships mattresses for free within the contiguous U.S. The company offers a generous 365-night sleep trial, during which you can test and return the mattress after a 30-day break-in period required. A lifetime warranty against structural defects backs mattress purchases.
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The Nectar is a great match if you’re looking for the pressure relief of memory foam with an above-average firmness level. You also can’t beat the low price, year-long sleep trial, and lifetime warranty.
The Nectar is a high-quality memory foam mattress with an approachable price-point. This makes it suitable for buyers on a budget and high-end shoppers alike.
How It Performed
We found that the Nectar provides a very balanced sleep experience. The thick memory foam comfort layer contoured to our bodies and cradled our sensitive pressure point areas, but the bed’s medium firm (6) feel and sturdy support layers kept us from sinking excessively or feeling too “hugged.” As a result, we believe that the Nectar should feel comfortable for anyone who sleeps on their side and enjoys the cloud-like feel of sleeping “in” — rather than sleeping “on” — their mattress. If you don’t like this “in the bed” feeling, we recommend looking for a bouncier mattress with latex in its comfort system.
Since the Nectar is medium firm, we believe it’s best for people who weigh at least 130 pounds. With contouring foam that doesn’t sink in too deeply, the mattress kept good air circulation around our bodies and did not retain too much heat. The mattress also includes phase change material meant to regulate temperature throughout the night. We found that the Nectar’s combination of foam layers provide top-notch motion isolation and pressure point relief, and the mattress aced all of our motion isolation tests.
What It’s Made of
The Nectar begins with a gel-infused memory foam comfort layer that adapts to the body to relieve pressure. A transitional polyfoam layer adds support under the contouring memory foam, and it helps keep your weight evenly distributed. The polyfoam base layer offers stability and support to the midsection to prevent uncomfortable sagging. A polyester, nylon, and polyethylene cover encases the entire mattress.
Nectar ships free to customers in the contiguous U.S. The company also offers a generous 365-night sleep trial, giving you a full year to try the mattress. The mattress is covered by a lifetime warranty against structural defects.
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The Saatva’s coil-based design results in strong performance when it comes to temperature regulation, edge support, and responsiveness. If you’re looking for a luxurious, supportive bed that genuinely impressed us with its breathability, we recommend the Saatva Classic.
Side sleepers generally don’t feel comfortable on innersprings compared to other mattress types. This is because most innersprings contain thin foam layers that offer little to no cushioning for the shoulders, lower back, and hips. We’ve found that the Saatva Classic is unlike these traditional innersprings, as it uses a layer of pocketed minicoils to provide pressure relief. If you’re looking for a high-end model with a thoughtful design, we recommend the Saatva.
How It Performed
The mattress is available in three firmness levels, including a soft (3) option that was popular among our side sleepers weighing less than 130 pounds and a medium firm (6) for those who weigh more. If you sleep on your side and need extra support, you can opt for a firm (8) feel instead. You can also select a profile of 11.5 inches with 4-inch base coils or 14.5 inches with 7-inch base coils. We found that the latter offers more reinforcement and springiness on the surface, making it a better option if you need a bit more support or anyone who appreciates a little extra bounce.
The dual coil layers reinforced the perimeter to keep us from sinking when we slept near the edges or got on and off the mattress. We noted a responsive feel that was easy to move across, which should appeal to couples who prefer a bouncy feel for sex. The coils also allowed air circulation throughout the interior to keep the mattress cool, while the breathable organic cotton cover wicked moisture away from our bodies. Even by innerspring standards, we found that the Saatva Classic slept exceptionally cool.
What It’s Made of
The mattress features a Euro-top containing polyfoam and soft fibers to give the surface a plush, comfortable feel. Underneath is a memory foam lumbar pad that cushions the lower back and hips to help alleviate pressure buildup. A transitional layer of pocketed minicoils cradle pressure points while supporting the body and adding responsiveness. A support core with sturdy, recycled-steel hourglass coils delivered excellent support regardless of which firmness level you choose. A breathable organic cotton cover encases the mattress.
Saatva provides free White Glove delivery throughout the contiguous U.S. This service includes scheduled delivery date and time, full mattress assembly in a room of your choosing, and complimentary haul-away for your old mattress and box spring. Each purchase comes with a generous 365-night sleep trial for testing out the Saatva Classic and deciding whether it’s right for you, as well as a lifetime warranty if you decide to keep the mattress.
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The WinkBed’s versatility meant most of our testers could select a comfortable option from the four firmness levels. There was plenty of overlap in terms of comfort for different kinds of sleepers with each firmness level, making it easy to find a middle ground for couples as well.
The WinkBed is a standout hybrid available in a wide range of firmness levels. Our testers noted excellent cushioning for the shoulders and hips, and many found it promoted proper spinal alignment. This should reduce back pain for virtually any sleeper, regardless of body type. The plush surface makes this model an especially good fit for side sleepers in all weight categories, and the strong motion isolation caters to couples.
How It Performed
The WinkBed comes in four firmness levels, corresponding to medium soft (4), medium firm (6), firm (7), and firm (8) on our firmness scale. The medium soft model was particularly popular among those who weighed less than 130 pounds. The foam layers contour closely to improve spinal alignment and cushion areas along the spine prone to pressure buildup, such as the shoulders and hips. The medium firm and firm models felt most comfortable for side sleepers between 130 and 230 pounds, while those over 230 pounds preferred the firmest model, known as the WinkBed Plus.
The WinkBed excelled in our motion isolation tests, thanks to the thick foam layers that absorb movement and reduce motion transfer significantly. The pocketed coils move independently from one another, generating less responsiveness than traditional innerspring coils. Co-sleepers should experience few — if any — sleep disruptions thanks to these two components. Our testers barely noticed each other’s movements during our shared partner sleep tests.
What It’s Made of
The WinkBed is wrapped in a breathable Tencel cover, with layers of gel-infused polyfoam and SupportCell polyfoam quilted into a Euro-top. The polyfoam provides some cushioning and contouring to relieve pressure, while the gel infusion helps draw excess heat away. The medium soft option has an additional layer of polyfoam, acting as a buffer to keep you from sinking into the bed’s core.
The support core consists of zoned, individually wrapped coils. The zones ensure extra support under the midsection and a more accommodating feel for lighter areas of your body. The perimeter of the bed is reinforced, providing standout support around the edges and increasing the usable surface of the mattress.
The WinkBed ships free to the contiguous U.S. The mattress is backed by a 120-night sleep trial that has a 30-night adjustment period before you can initiate a return. It is also covered by a lifetime warranty.
Best for Shoulder Pain
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The Brooklyn Bedding Signature’s foam layers cushion and contour to keep you comfortable, but the coils make the sleep surface feel very supportive. You can choose between three firmness levels: medium soft (4), medium firm (6), and firm (8). Our side-sleeping testers noted all three models greatly reduced pressure in their shoulders, but they particularly enjoyed the softest model’s deep contouring.
If you’re in the market for a mattress that offers substantial pressure relief without sacrificing support, the Brooklyn Bedding Signature Hybrid is a worthwhile option. The hybrid model comes in three firmness options, and the Signature Hybrid — Soft proved ideal for cradling areas of painful pressure buildup such as the shoulders and hips.
How It Performed
The above-average plushness of the Signature Hybrid can be beneficial if you sleep on your side or weigh less than 130 pounds. It caters to sleepers who want a mattress that contours closely to alleviate pressure while still receiving support for the midsection from the coil base.
Like many other mattresses with softer feels, the mattress excels in absorbing movement and noise. If you’re frequently disturbed by your partner’s nightly movement, we highly recommend this pick. The Signature Hybrid also earned high rankings in our temperature control tests. The coils generate steady airflow to cool off the interior, and a gel infusion in the TitanFlex foam layer absorbs and releases body heat to help the surface stay comfortable.
What It’s Made of
The Signature Hybrid — Soft begins a fabric cover quilted with polyfoam for a cushioned surface, followed by a layer of TitanFlex foam engineered to be more responsive than traditional memory foam. Next is a transition layer made from VariFlex foam that ensures even weigh distribution. The support core consists of pocketed coils over a high-density polyfoam base layer. The coils are reinforced along the perimeter, providing pushback and minimizing sinkage when you get in and out of bed.
The Signature Hybrid not only carries an affordable price-point, but also qualifies for free ground shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S. Brooklyn Bedding offers a wide range of sizes for the mattress, including a split California king for couples who use adjustable beds and several RV-friendly options. Each order comes with a 120-night sleep trial and 10-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Best for Hip Pain
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The Layla Hybrid accommodates most side sleepers thanks to its reversible construction with a distinct feel on each side. Whether you prefer deep cushioning or robust support, this mattress should meet your needs, and cooling components ensure a comfortable night’s rest for hot sleepers.
If you’re a side sleeper who also tends to overheat in bed, finding a comfortable mattress that offers adequate cushioning to reduce hip pain without feeling excessively warm can be challenging. The Layla Hybrid nicely balances contouring and cooling thanks to breathable foam layers and steady air circulation through the coil system. As a flippable mattress with medium soft (4) and firm (7) surfaces, the hybrid also accommodates most side sleepers regardless of how much they weigh.
How It Performed
During our hands-on tests, we evaluated both sides of the Layla Hybrid. Side sleepers on our team weighing less than 130 pounds preferred the softer side for its close contouring and cushioning around the shoulders and hips. Those weighing more than 230 pounds received sufficient support on the firm side. For those between 130 and 230 pounds, both sides felt comfortable. Our back and stomach sleepers largely preferred the firm side.
We noticed that each surface performed well in areas where the opposite side fell short. Pressure relief and motion isolation were major strengths of the medium soft side, while the firm side earned higher ratings for edge support and ease of movement. Temperature control was one area where both sides excelled. We detected little to no heat buildup on either surface.
What It’s Made of
The Layla Hybrid’s softer side begins with 2.5 inches of memory foam, followed by a 2-inch transitional polyfoam layer. This surface contours deeply to cradle your body and alleviate pressure along the spine, but the transitional layer is zoned to prevent uncomfortable sinkage beneath your midsection. The firmer side includes the same materials, but the layers are thinner to create a more supportive feel with moderate conforming. Copper infusions in the memory foam layers are intended to offset heat absorption and help you stay cool.
Pocketed coils between the foam layers provide support and stability to both sides of the mattress. Extra reinforcement along the perimeter prevents you from sinking too much when lying near the edges or getting in and out of bed. At 104 pounds in a queen size, the Layla Hybrid is fairly hefty and may require two or more people to lift and flip when you want to change the firmness. Robust carrying handles on each side aid with this process. A stretchy polyester-viscose cover encases the mattress. You can remove and machine wash this cover to keep your sleep surface hygienic.
The Layla Hybrid is competitively priced, and standard ground shipping is free for orders in the contiguous U.S. Layla’s sleep trial runs for 120 nights. If you choose to keep the mattress, you’ll also receive a manufacturer’s warranty covering structural defects for up to 10 years.
Best for Spinal Alignment
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We believe the Evolution 15’s thick profile is an excellent choice for side sleepers who want a softer feel on the surface but also need next-level support to keep their spine in proper alignment. The mattress has plenty of cushioning, but the coils provide extra reinforcement where it’s needed.
The Nolah Evolution 15 is a hybrid mattress that alleviates pressure and provides sturdy support, making it particularly great if you have trouble maintaining healthy sleep posture. Multiple firmness options also make the mattress accessible to many body types. This mattress has high-quality materials and features that may be a worthwhile investment for those who primarily or occasionally use the side position.
How It Performed
The Evolution 15’s foam hybrid construction provides a supportive and cushioning surface that helps alleviate pressure. The mattress is available in three firmness levels: medium (5), medium firm (6), and firm (8). The side sleepers on our team weighing less than 230 pounds preferred the medium, while those over 230 pounds preferred the medium firm.
The mattress has significant edge support thanks to its reinforced perimeter. We were able to lie close to the perimeter and sit along the edge to tie our shoes without sinking. The zoned configuration also ensured our hips and shoulders didn’t sink too deeply into the mattress. Like other hybrids with cooling comfort layers, the Evolution 15 also offers excellent temperature control.
What It’s Made of
The comfort system is made from four polyfoam layers that each have a different purpose, starting with a quilted polyfoam Euro-top infused with Nolah’s ArcticTex, a material intended to help you stay cool. The next layer, a proprietary foam called AirFoamICE, is infused with graphite and designed to regulate temperature. The bottommost layer is resilient and provides a comfortable transition between the core and other comfort layers. The Evolution 15’s pocketed coil support core sits atop a polyfoam base. The pocketed coils have a zoned configuration, so you’ll feel more reinforcement in pressure-prone areas like your hips.
Nolah ships the Evolution for free to shoppers who live in the contiguous U.S. The mattress is backed with an optional 120-night sleep trial and lifetime limited warranty.
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The side sleepers on our team really appreciated the thick foam layers on the Bear Hybrid. It’s just the right amount of cushioning without sacrificing support.
The Bear Hybrid is a well-balanced mattress that combines the cushioning of foam with the strong support of pocketed coils. The mixed-foam comfort system relieves pressure, making this an ideal model if you frequently wake up with aches and pains.
How It Performed
The mattress has a medium firm (6) feel that offered an even balance of contouring and support for most of our side and back sleepers, especially those seeking cushioning for areas where pressure builds up at night. Side sleepers between 130 and 230 pounds awarded the mattress its highest ratings. We received significant cradling in the shoulders and hips but didn’t sink uncomfortably deep.
Hot sleepers on our team found this bed very comfortable, thanks to the strong ventilation through the coils. The cover is also engineered to wick away moisture and maintain a neutral surface temperature. As a result, our heat guns detected minimal heat retention on the surface. We also recommend the mattress to couples who prioritize responsiveness for sex. The coils create a bouncy feel that was easy for our testers to move across.
What It’s Made of
The mattress begins with a cover quilted with gel-infused polyfoam that gently cradles the body, followed by a memory foam layer that contours the body closely. Beneath is another layer of polyfoam that further promotes contouring but has a firmer feel to prevent the body from sinking into the support core. The core is composed of pocketed coils that offer strong support but also respond to the body for gentle pressure relief. The cover is made from a Celliant-polyester blend fabric designed to keep the surface cool.
Bear offers a 120-night sleep trial for customers to try out the mattress, during which you can return it anytime after a 30-night break-in period. A lifetime warranty protects the Bear Hybrid against structural defects. Shipping is free to the contiguous U.S.
Best for Back Pain
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The Leesa Original offers deep cushioning and even contouring to promote even alignment and reduce pressure for side sleepers. This all-foam model also excels at motion isolation and does not produce any noise, so we also expect couples to be satisfied with the mattress.
An all-foam mattress can benefit people who wake up with aches and pains in their shoulders, lower back, or hips. That said, the deep “hug” of memory foam can feel restrictive to some sleepers. The Leesa Original is designed with a top polyfoam layer over transitional memory foam, so the surface feels more responsive and excessive sinkage is less likely. This makes the mattress a solid choice for people who need some conforming to alleviate back pain without sacrificing overall support.
How It Performed
During our tests, we found the Leesa Original was best suited to side sleepers on our team weighing up to 230 pounds. Back sleepers in this weight range also found the mattress comfortable, as did stomach sleepers weighing less than 130 pounds. The mattress has a medium (5) feel, so people who weigh more than 230 pounds may want to consider a firmer bed that provides stronger support.
Open-cell foams in the comfort system are engineered to release heat rather than trap it, so our temperature control tests show the Leesa Original sleeps relatively cool for an all-foam model. Motion isolation is another highlight. All three foam layers absorb movement and significantly reduce motion transfer across the surface, reducing the potential for sleep disruptions if you share your bed with a partner.
What It’s Made of
The Leesa Original’s top layer is made of open-cell polyfoam, and the transitional layer is open-cell memory foam. Both materials are fairly adaptive, so you’ll notice deep, even contouring as your body settles into the mattress, but the open-cell composition prevents heat from building up. A high-density foam base rounds out the design. The cover is a polyester-Lycra spandex blend that feels soft and stretchy.
The Leesa Original’s sticker price is below-average for a hybrid model, and customers in all 50 states enjoy free ground shipping. Your order comes with a 100-night sleep trial. Should you decide to keep the mattress, Leesa backs your purchase with a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty.
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The eco-friendly Birch Mattress provides gentle contouring, strong edge support, and exceptional bounce. We recommend it to side sleepers looking for an exceptionally cool mattress.
The Birch Mattress is a latex hybrid featuring an assortment of natural and organic components. These materials make the mattress a good option for side sleepers seeking a supportive, pressure-relieving mattress that’s also naturally cooling.
How It Performed
The mattress is medium firm (6). Its highly responsive feel comes from a latex comfort layer that conforms gently, and the pocketed coil support core. The bouncy surface allowed us to get in and out of bed, change positions, and crawl across the mattress with ease. A reinforced perimeter enables you to utilize the entire surface of the bed. This zoning held up well in our testing lab, as we could easily tie our shoes while sitting on the Birch Mattress’ edges and experienced plenty of pushback lying along the perimeter.
The robust support core provided ample support for our side sleepers weighing 130 pounds or more, while the latex offered enough contouring to relieve pressure points. Our lighter testers experienced more of a floating sensation, and the bed felt a bit firmer for them. Depending on their personal preferences, side sleepers weighing less than 130 pounds may want to look for a model with more cushioning for the shoulders and hips.
What It’s Made of
The Birch Mattress’ comfort system begins with a blend of organic wool and rayon that cushions the surface and encourages airflow. Underneath is a second layer of wool that acts as a natural fire barrier, followed by Talalay latex. The latex gently cradles your body to reduce pressure buildup while providing enough responsiveness to keep you on an even plane. A pocketed coil system makes up the support core, offering targeted support to the hips and shoulders and reinforcing the perimeter of the mattress. The coils rest on a base layer of wool and rayon for stability, and a breathable organic cotton cover encases the mattress.
Birch offers free shipping to customers within the contiguous U.S. The mattress comes with a 100-night sleep trial to test the mattress. If you decide to keep the mattress, it comes with a 25-year warranty against structural defects.
We rely on our team of sleep experts to research, evaluate, and rate a wide range of sleep products. To date, we’ve personally tested hundreds of individual mattress models. Our list of the best mattresses for side sleepers is primarily based on feedback from testers who exclusively sleep on their sides, though we also drew from the experiences of our combination sleepers who alternate between side sleeping and back and/or stomach sleeping. Our team consists of people who fall into different weight groups to ensure our findings are inclusive of all body types.
Over the years, we’ve found that side sleepers typically need more cushioning to ensure even alignment and minimal pressure along the spine. To test mattresses for side sleeping, we use technology like body-mapping sensors to detect pressure buildup in sensitive areas like the shoulders and hips. We also measure sinkage beneath each of our testers’ bodies to determine whether the mattress offers adequate support for people of different weights. The top picks listed above reflect our overall findings.
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 you should take 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 your shoulder, especially if the mattress does not offer enough cushioning or contouring support, can result in neck and shoulder pain. If you sleep on your side, you 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 your 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 your 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 your spine aligned and relieves joint pain. This keeps your 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.
For more information about how side sleeping and other positions affect your sleep, check out the video below.
Using our 10-point scale, a mattress firmness of medium (5) to medium firm (6) is typically best for side sleepers. Firmer mattresses can sometimes cause pressure buildup if you sleep on your side. That said, 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.
For side sleepers, mattress firmness determines how cushioned your pressure points are. Firmness 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 you’ll want to consider when deciding on mattress firmness, including your personal preferences, body weight, and mattress type. Heavier people press deeper into mattresses, 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 and pushback to a mattress. Of the several types of mattresses available, each has benefits and drawbacks for side sleepers.
Over the years, we’ve developed our 10-point firmness scale and put in the hours of testing to uncover what firmnesses are typically best for side sleepers of all sizes. We’ve put together a quick breakdown of our findings in the table below.
|Weight Range||Typical Firmness Preference||Recommended Firmness Levels|
|Less than 130 lbs.||We’ve found that side sleepers in this weight category usually prefer softer mattresses with deep contouring. Overly firm mattresses may not provide adequate pressure relief for the shoulders and hips. Many of these sleepers sleep well on a medium soft (4) or medium (5) mattress.||
|130 to 230 lbs.||Side sleepers who fall in this weight category will find the best balance of support and contouring in beds that are somewhat firm but still conform to the body. We typically recommend beds in the medium soft (4) to medium firm (6) range for these sleepers.||
|More than 230 lbs.||Side sleepers in this weight category can opt for firmer surfaces. While some might enjoy extra firm (9-10) beds, most will find sufficient support from medium firm (6) to firm (7-8) beds that offer just enough padding to reduce pressure on the hips and shoulders.||
Most side sleepers on our team fall into two camps regarding their preferred mattress type: memory foam models or hybrids. Memory foam mattresses are best for side sleepers who need a close body-hug and even contouring to relieve pressure in the shoulders and hips. Hybrids offer this contouring while adding supportive coils to prevent sagging for side sleepers who need more support. However, many side sleepers find other mattress types comfortable as well.
We’ve put together a breakdown of the most common mattress types on the market today, as 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 in build and performance 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 your 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.
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 a top memory foam or polyfoam layer, and can also include additional memory foam, polyfoam, or gel-infused foam layers. Memory foam may be better for sleepers who need extra cushioning for the shoulders and hips, while polyfoam feels slightly more supportive and responsive. A foam mattress’ base layer is usually composed of 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. You can further customize the mattress with sleep accessories, including pillows and mattress toppers, to make sleeping on your side more comfortable. Pillows ensure your head and neck are aligned, while mattress toppers can change the comfort system and feel of your bed. We’ll provide a quick rundown of what to look for when it comes to pillows and mattress toppers so you’ll know how to elevate your bed’s comfort and support.
When sleeping on your side, the best pillow 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. Proper support relieves pressure on the neck and shoulders. We’ve put together the following table to outline the ideal pillow loft based on your preferred sleeping position.
|Sleeping Position||Pillow Loft Recommended|
|Side||Medium or High|
In addition to having a comfortable pillow under your head, you can use knee pillows (or regular pillows) 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. Sleeping in this way helps keep the hips square and spine aligned.
A mattress topper is a removable 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. If your current bed doesn’t contour enough, then adding a mattress topper can help to alleviate back and joint pain.
Mattress toppers are also a great way to try out a new mattress material. If you’re not sure memory foam is right for you, we recommend using a memory foam mattress topper to give 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. You have unique needs as a side sleeper and you should allow those needs to drive your mattress search. Mattress companies can often use misleading terminology, or exaggerate some of the benefits of unique features. Don’t buy into the hype and take your time to find the right option.
We’ve put together a quick list of the most important elements of a mattress for side sleepers. These points are based off of our years of product testing, mattress research, and sleeping on different beds as side sleepers ourselves.
Keep these factors at the top of your mind while you’re shopping for a mattress and you’ll be on track to find a great mattress match.
Although side sleeping can interfere with spinal alignment and create pressure buildup, there are measures you can take to comfortably sleep in this position. Here are some of our pro tips you can try to sleep more comfortably on your side:
Memory foam, latex, and hybrid mattresses are great choices for side sleepers who require significant pressure relief. These mattress types have thicker comfort layers that can provide plenty of cushioning and contouring. While some innerspring models do contour enough for side sleepers, almost every high-performing hybrid or foam mattress offers enough pressure relief to prevent pressure sores, aches, and pains.
We’ve found that memory foam comfort layers perform best when it comes to contouring, but some people dislike its characteristic “cradling” sensation. Side sleepers should use memory foam mattresses if they want close contouring around their pressure points. For people who prefer to feel as though they are sleeping “on” their bed, rather than “in” it, we recommend natural latex foam as a pressure-relieving alternative. Latex mattresses can be purchased with a latex, polyfoam, or pocketed coil support core, depending on your budget and support preferences.
Mattresses between medium soft (4) and medium firm (6) tend to earn high ratings from our side-sleeping testers. But choosing a specific firmness should always be made with your weight in mind. People who weigh below 130 pounds usually need a softer mattress, while people above 230 pounds require firmer support.
Your subjective experience will depend on how much the mattress compresses beneath you, so the right firmness will always feel balanced and comfortable. However, side sleepers can sometimes feel that the correct firmness level causes pressure points or pain at their shoulder or hip. Purchasing a bed with better pressure relief is the best answer since it will prevent pressure points without compromising support as a softer mattress would.
Spinal alignment is particularly important for side sleepers with back pain, making features like ergonomic zoning more critical than they might be for other people. This is most common in hybrid mattresses since pocketed coils can be individually tuned to provide zoned support that targets areas like the pelvis and shoulders. Pocketed coils also compress individually, allowing for better alignment than innerspring mattresses and more structured support than mattresses with a polyfoam core.
Side sleepers usually experience shoulder pain when their mattress does not offer enough pressure relief. The ideal mattress for a side sleeper contours gently around the point where their shoulder presses into the mattress, allowing for correct alignment through the upper back and preventing their weight from resting directly on the point of their shoulder.
Some people mistake a lack of pressure relief for their mattress being too firm, but we find that buying a softer mattress is more likely to increase shoulder pain than relieve it. Instead, look for a hybrid or all-foam mattress with a memory foam or pressure-relieving polyfoam comfort system.
Hybrid mattresses are an excellent choice for side sleepers who experience hip pain. Pocketed coils provide support and encourage proper spinal alignment, while a pressure-relieving comfort layer helps prevent pressure points and lumbar tension. A sufficiently firm all-foam mattress can also help relieve hip pain. Some side sleepers may also find that placing a pillow between their knees reduces their hip pain, regardless of their mattress.
Side sleepers exert a lot of pressure on their hips and shoulders during sleep. As a result, pressure may build up overnight and lead to discomfort or pain. Soft mattresses can help side sleepers by cradling the shoulders and hips, in effect preventing pressure from building up too much. However, keep in mind that side sleepers also need support from their mattress to prevent the midsection from sinking in and misaligning the spine. So while soft mattresses can help promote good sleep posture in side sleepers, the mattress should also provide adequate support.
Sleepers in lighter weight categories are most likely to benefit from a soft mattress. Since their bodies don’t sink as deep into the mattress as heavier sleepers, they will receive sufficient support while still benefiting from the bed’s contouring.
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Our team at Sleep Foundation conducts extensive hands-on tests for each mattress to provide you with the most reliable, data-driven recommendations and reviews. Below are key guidelines that inform our testing methodology: