Home / Best Mattress / Best Mattress for Side Sleepers

Best Mattress for Side Sleepers

Austin Meadows

Written by

Austin Meadows, Sleep Product Tester

Jenny Iyo

Medically Reviewed by

Jenny Iyo, Physical Therapist

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We've recently added our video about different sleeping positions to our buyer's guide to help explain the affects of side sleeping.

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Sleeping on your side is considered to be the most common sleeping position. Side sleeping also has major benefits including reduced back pain, improved breathing, and better digestion. However, side sleepers often experience shoulder pain and lower back pain if their mattress is unsupportive or uncomfortable. The type of mattress you sleep on directly affects how much support and comfort you get each night.

Side sleepers often prefer a mattress that contours to the shape of the body and provides pressure point relief. These features reduce back and shoulder pain while cushioning the areas of the body that press deeper into the mattress. We’ve tested scores of mattresses, analyzing how each performs for side sleepers across a variety of weight groups. Our testers also examined each mattress for criteria like durability, temperature neutrality, and value.

The Best Mattresses 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 narrowed down the best mattresses for side sleepers. Take a look at our top picks to find in-depth information on the models we chose.

Our buyer’s guide can also help you learn how to choose the best mattress for your lifestyle and personal preferences. It covers different mattress constructions, firmness levels, materials, and how each of these affect side sleepers. The guide also details what to expect when it comes to a mattress’ price, warranty, and lifespan. We’ll include the benefits and drawbacks of sleeping on your side, as well as how this position affects sleep.

Product Details

Helix Midnight

Best Overall

Helix Midnight

Helix Midnight
Price Range: $699 - $1,449
Mattress Type: Hybrid
Firmness: Medium Firm (6)
Trial length: 100 nights (30-night requirement)
Trial length: 100 nights (30-night requirement)
Warranty: 10 Year, Limited
Warranty: 10 Year, Limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Who it's best for:
  • Side sleepers who weigh less than 130 pounds
  • People who want a mattress with more bounce
  • Those who tend to sleep hot
Highlights:
  • Memory foam contours and relieves pressure points
  • Pocketed coils add bounce and secure the edges
  • Steady airflow ensures good temperature regulation
Helix Midnight

Get up to $350 off + 2 free Dream Pillows

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 that is designed specifically with these sleepers in mind. If you frequently switch between your right and left sides while you sleep due to shoulder pain or stiffness, the Midnight provides enough give to ensure you’ll be comfortable staying in one position.

What It’s Made of

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.

Individually wrapped coils in the support core minimize motion transfer and circulate air. This layer gently contours to the shape of your body. A bottom layer of DuraDense foam enhances the support and durability of the Helix mattress.

How It Performed

The Helix Midnight mattress has a medium firm (6) feel with impressive pressure point relief. The Memory Plus foam contours closely to the body, cushioning high-impact areas and preventing aches and pains. The foam layers of the Helix Midnight mattress have different densities in order to provide the best relief and support for side sleepers.

Edge support is another area where the Midnight performs well. The coil base has a reinforced perimeter, which increases the sleepable surface area of the bed and prevents sagging along the perimeter.

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.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“We found the Midnight to be a great choice for side sleepers who need more support. The memory foam provides just enough cushioning and the coils make the mattress feel really stable.”

Nectar Mattress

Best Value

Nectar Mattress

Nectar Mattress
Price Range: $499 - $1,199
Mattress Type: Foam
Firmness: Medium Firm (6)
Trial length: 365 nights
Trial length: 365 nights
Warranty: Lifetime, Limited
Warranty: Lifetime, Limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Who it's best for:
  • People who want a high-quality mattress, but are shopping on a budget
  • Side sleepers who weigh at least 130 pounds
  • Sleepers who frequently experience joint pain
Highlights:
  • All-foam design provides excellent motion isolation
  • Thick memory foam layer relieves back pain and pressure points
  • 365-night sleep trial
Nectar Mattress

$599 off! $100 off + $499 in free accessories included.

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. That said, the mattress performs at the same level – if not better than – many competing all-foam models.

What It’s Made of

The Nectar begins with a gel-infused memory foam comfort layer, followed by transitional and support layers of dense polyfoam. The mattress is medium firm (6) and more supportive than the average all-foam mattress. These qualities can be attributed to the thick, dense support layers.

A cover made of polyester, nylon, and polyethylene encases the entire mattress. The Nectar measures 11 inches thick, making it a middle-of-the-road mattress in terms of both firmness and profile.

How It Performed

The cover of the Nectar wicks away moisture, while the gel-infused memory foam distributes body heat and weight. A transitional polyfoam layer offers additional support and prevents uncomfortable sinking. A polyfoam base layer stabilizes the mattress. The foam layers result in top-notch motion isolation and pressure point relief.

The Nectar offers a very balanced sleep experience. A thick memory foam comfort layer contours to the body and cradles the spine, but a medium firm feel and sturdy support layers prevent excessive hugging or sinkage. As a result, the Nectar should feel quite comfortable for anyone who sleeps on their side and enjoys the cloud-like feel of sleeping “in” – rather than sleeping “on” – their mattress.

Since the Nectar 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 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.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“The Nectar feels firmer and more supportive than many of the memory foam mattresses we’ve tested. I get to enjoy the slow response and close contour without the uncomfortable sink.”

DreamCloud Mattress

Most Comfortable

DreamCloud Mattress

DreamCloud Mattress
Price Range: $699 - $1,299
Mattress Type: Hybrid
Firmness: Medium Firm (6)
Trial length: 365 nights (30-night requirement)
Trial length: 365 nights (30-night requirement)
Warranty: Lifetime, limited
Warranty: Lifetime, limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Who it's best for:
  • Side sleepers between 130 and 230 pounds
  • Hot sleepers who like the feel of memory foam
  • Couples
Highlights:
  • Quilted foam cover creates plush surface
  • Memory foam and coils create a strong balance of contouring and support
  • 365-night sleep trial and lifetime warranty
DreamCloud Mattress

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on DreamCloud mattresses

The DreamCloud is a foam hybrid foam mattress that excels across various performance categories. The strong balance of contouring and support makes this a comfortable choice for many types of sleepers.

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 provides close contouring to the body. The memory foam is infused with cooling gel meant to minimize the trapping of body heat. A transition layer made with polyfoam provides moderate contouring but is firm enough to prevent the body from sinking too deep. The support core contains a coil system with a pocketed design intended to reduce motion transfer.

How It Performed

Rated medium firm (6), the DreamCloud offers adequate cushioning to areas where pressure tends to build up during sleep, such as the shoulders and hips. Meanwhile the polyfoam and coil system provide enough support for sleepers who require some firmness.

Though the memory foam may run too warm for some sleepers, the coils should enable enough air circulation to prevent excessive overheating. The cooling cashmere-blend cover also regulates the surface temperature and wicks moisture away from your body.

DreamCloud ships mattresses for free within the contiguous U.S. The company offers a generous lifetime warranty and 365-night sleep trial, with a 30-day break-in period required.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“As a side sleeper, I enjoyed the combination of thick foam cushioning and good overall stability. The DreamCloud’s thick design definitely gives it an edge over a lot of lower-profile mattresses.”

WinkBed

Best for Couples

WinkBed

WinkBed
Price Range: $1,149 - $2,049
Mattress Type: Innerspring
Firmness: Medium Soft (4), Medium Firm (6), Firm (7), Firm (8)
Trial length: 120 nights (30 night requirement)
Trial length: 120 nights (30 night requirement)
Warranty: Lifetime, Limited
Warranty: Lifetime, Limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Who it's best for:
  • Side sleepers
  • Couples
  • Those who tend to sleep hot
Highlights:
  • Euro-top hybrid design alleviates pressure and delivers strong support
  • Strong airflow throughout mattress
  • Pocketed coils provide motion isolation and excellent edge support
WinkBed

Get $300 off all mattresses

The WinkBed is a standout hybrid available in a wide range of firmness levels. The mattress excels at cushioning the shoulders and hips and promoting proper spinal alignment, which reduces back pain for virtually any sleeper, regardless of their 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.

What It’s Made of

The WinkBed comes in four firmness levels, corresponding to medium soft (4), medium firm (6), firm (7), and firm (8) on our firmness scale. It 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 from the sleeper. The medium soft option has an additional layer of polyfoam acting as a buffer to keep sleepers from sinking into the bed’s core.

The support core consists of a base of zoned, individually wrapped coils. The zones provide extra support under the midsection and a more accommodating feel for lighter areas of the body. The perimeter of the bed is reinforced, providing standout support around the edges and increasing the usable surface of the mattress.

How It Performed

During our tests, the WinkBed earned favorable ratings from side sleepers across all weight groups. 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 (7) models felt most comfortable for side sleepers between 130 and 230 pounds, while those over 230 pounds preferred the firmest model, known as the Plus.

The WinkBed offers excellent motion isolation, due to the thick foam layers that absorb movement and reduce a significant amount of motion transfer. 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.

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.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“The WinkBed’s versatility means most sleepers can select a comfortable option from the four firmness levels. We found those who weigh less than 130 pounds most enjoyed the mattress, but side sleepers really seemed to like this model across the board.”

Saatva Classic

Best Luxury

Saatva Classic

Saatva Classic
Price Range: $887 - $2,296
Mattress Type: Innerspring
Firmness: Soft (3), Medium Firm (6), Firm (8)
Trial length: 365 Nights ($99 Return Fee)
Trial length: 365 Nights ($99 Return Fee)
Warranty: Lifetime, Limited
Warranty: Lifetime, Limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Split King, California King, Split California King
Who it's best for:
  • Hot sleepers
  • People who prefer the feel of exceptionally bouncy mattresses
  • Shoppers who would rather not or cannot set up a mattress on their own
Highlights:
  • Multiple firmness and thickness options cater to different sleeper types
  • Responsive and supportive coil-on-coil design
  • Free White Glove delivery for all U.S. orders
Saatva Classic

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Side sleepers generally don’t feel comfortable on innersprings compared to other mattress types because most contain thin foam layers that offer little to no cushioning for the shoulders, lower back, and hips. These areas are all susceptible to added pressure if you sleep on your side without sufficient padding. The Saatva Classic is unlike traditional innersprings. This luxurious coil-on-coil mattress offers adequate cushioning and contouring while reinforcing the body to prevent deep sinkage.

What It’s Made of

The Saatva Classic is available in three firmness levels, including a soft (3) option for side sleepers who weigh 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.

The mattress features a Euro-top containing foam and soft fibers to give the surface a plush, comfortable feel. A transitional layer of pocketed minicoils and a support core with sturdy, recycled-steel hourglass coils deliver excellent support regardless of which firmness level you choose. You can also select a profile of 11.5 inches with 4-inch base coils or 14.5 inches with 7-inch base coils, the latter offering more reinforcement and bounciness on the surface.

How It Performed

The dual coil layers reinforce the perimeter to prevent excessive sinkage when you sleep near the edges or get on and off of the mattress. These layers also circulate air throughout the interior to keep the mattress cool, while a breathable organic cotton cover wicks away moisture from your body. Even by innerspring standards, the Saatva Classic sleeps exceptionally cool.

Saatva is one of the only online mattress brands to provide 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 365-night sleep trial for testing out the Saatva Classic and deciding whether it’s right for you, as well as a lifetime warranty for those who keep the mattress.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“The Saatva Classic is one of the most supportive mattresses we tested, but the Euro-top prevents the surface from feeling too stiff. The medium firm feel was the most popular with our testing group.”

Nolah Evolution 15

Best for Spinal Alignment

Nolah Evolution 15

Nolah Evolution 15
Price Range: $1,099 - $1,699
Mattress Type: Hybrid
Firmness: Medium (5), Medium Firm (6), Firm (8)
Trial length: 120 nights (30-night requirement)
Trial length: 120 nights (30-night requirement)
Warranty: Lifetime, Limited
Warranty: Lifetime, Limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Who it's best for:
  • Those who enjoy sleeping on high-profile beds
  • Shoppers looking for a mattress that relieves pressure
  • Back and side sleepers
Highlights:
  • Foam comfort system relieves pressure
  • Airflow through the coil layer helps the mattress sleep cool
  • Reinforced perimeter offers substantial edge support
Nolah Evolution 15

Get an additional $30 off the Nolah Evolution Mattress for total savings of $730 with code: SF730OFF

The Nolah Evolution 15 is a hybrid mattress that alleviates pressure and provides sturdy support, making it particularly well-suited to side sleepers who wake up feeling sore or stiff. Multiple firmness options also make the mattress accessible to a wide range of body types. Though it carries a luxury price-point, this Nolah mattress has high-quality materials and features that may be a worthwhile investment for those who prefer or sometimes use the side position.

What It’s Made of

The Evolution’s 8-inch pocketed coil support core sits atop a 1-inch polyfoam base. The pocketed coils have a zoned support system, so you’ll feel more reinforcement in pressure-prone areas like your hips.

The comfort system is made from three, 2-inch polyfoam layers that each have a different purpose. The bottommost layer is resilient and provides a comfortable transition between the core and other comfort layers. The next layer, a proprietary foam called AirFoamICE, is infused with graphite and idesigned to regulate temperature. Lastly, the quilted polyfoam Euro-top is infused with Nolah’s ArcticTex, a material intended to help you stay cool.

How It Performed

Together, all five layers of the Evolution provide a supportive and cushioning surface that helps alleviate pressure. The mattress is available in three firmness levels: plush (5), luxury firm (6), and firm (8). Side sleepers will likely feel most comfortable on the plush or luxury firm, depending on how much they weigh and the amount of support they need.

The mattress has significant edge support, thanks to its reinforced perimeter. Like other hybrids with cooling comfort layers, the Evolution 15 also offers excellent temperature control.

Nolah ships the Evolution for free to shoppers who live in the contiguous U.S. The mattress is backed with a 120-night sleep trial and lifetime limited warranty.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“The Evolution 15’s thick profile will probably appeal to side sleepers who want a softer feel on the surface but also need that next-level support. The mattress has plenty of cushioning but the coils provide extra reinforcement where it’s needed.”

Bear Elite Hybrid

Best Cooling

Bear Elite Hybrid

Bear Elite Hybrid
Price Range: $1,865 - $2,798
Mattress Type: Hybrid
Firmness: Medium (5), Medium Firm (6), Firm (8)
Trial length: 120 nights (30-night break-in period)
Trial length: 120 nights (30-night break-in period)
Warranty: Lifetime warranty
Warranty: Lifetime warranty
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Who it's best for:
  • Hot sleepers
  • Back and side sleepers
  • People who experience pressure points along their spines
Highlights:
  • Three firmness options
  • Polyfoam has a channeled design to enhance airflow
  • Foam and coil design balances cushioning and support
Bear Elite Hybrid

30% off sitewide, plus 2 free Cloud Pillows with mattress purchase

The Bear Elite Hybrid has a thoughtful design engineered with hot sleepers in mind. The foam and coil layers integrate cooling features that help keep the surface dry and comfortable at night.

What It’s Made of

The polyester cover is made with Celliant and phase change material, both meant to minimize heat buildup. The comfort system contains two layers – a memory foam layer that closely cushions the body and a firmer polyfoam layer with a zoned design that delivers enhanced pressure relief to heavier parts of the body. The pocketed coil system maintains strong, even support while giving the bed a slightly bouncy feel. Shoppers can pick from three firmness options – medium (5), medium firm (6), and firm (8).

How It Performed

A standout feature of the Bear Elite Hybrid is its cooling design. In addition to the Celliant and phase change material, the polyfoam has channels that enable air to flow through the comfort system. The coil system also permits plenty of ventilation since air can circulate freely through the coils.

The medium model is an excellent option for sleepers who need a softer surface with ample pressure relief. Side sleepers, in particular, may need a plush feel to cradle the shoulders and hips during sleep. The medium firm option is ideal for side and back sleepers up to 230 pounds, while the firm is best suited for stomach sleepers and those who weigh over 230 pounds. Regardless of firmness, all models strike a nice balance between support and cushioning to promote even spinal alignment in an array of sleepers.

Bear offers a 120-night sleep trial for all customers. The mattress is also backed by a lifetime warranty. Shipping is free to addresses in the contiguous U.S.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“Bear put a lot of thought into the Elite Hybrid’s design, and our testers found the cooling features really stood out from the competition.”

Brooklyn Bedding Aurora Hybrid

Best Pressure Relief

Brooklyn Bedding Aurora Hybrid

Brooklyn Bedding Aurora Hybrid
Price Range: $999 - $2,199
Mattress Type: Hybrid
Firmness: Medium Soft (4), Medium Firm (6), Firm (7)
Trial length: 120 nights (30-night requirement)
Trial length: 120 nights (30-night requirement)
Warranty: 10 Year, Limited
Warranty: 10 Year, Limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King, Custom Sizes
Who it's best for:
  • Side sleepers
  • Couples
  • Those who tend to overheat while they sleep
Highlights:
  • Foam comfort layer offers excellent pressure relief
  • Three firmness options
  • Pocketed coils provide sturdy support without generating too much motion transfer
Brooklyn Bedding Aurora Hybrid

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The Aurora Hybrid from Brooklyn Bedding is a well-rounded bed that keeps cool thanks to air circulation from the coil support core. The mattress comes in three firmness options. While the various options provide different levels of plushness, they all excel in pressure relief.

What It’s Made of

The bed is available in medium soft (4), medium firm (6), and firm (7) designs. The materials and construction vary slightly with each firmness option, but all beds begin with a top layer of proprietary CopperFlex foam that feels more responsive than traditional memory foam. Beneath is a layer of firmer TitanFlex foam, followed by a memory foam layer in the medium soft and medium firm beds and a layer of transitional VariFlex foam in the firm bed.

All three options feature a coil system with a zoned design that delivers targeted support to areas like the lower back. The Aurora’s cover is infused with phase change material designed to capture and release heat on contact, maintaining a cool sleep surface at all times.

How It Performed

Hot sleepers will appreciate the infusion of phase change material, which is designed to reduce heat retention. If you’re looking for a bed with significant contouring without too much sinkage, the Aurora Hybrid should hit the right marks. The foam comfort system provides excellent pressure relief regardless of the firmness level you pick. Since side sleepers tend to experience sore spots in the shoulders and hips during sleep, this bed is especially well-suited to this sleep position. The mattress also isolates motion very well, making it a good choice for couples.

The Aurora Hybrid comes with a 120-night sleep trial as well as a 10-year warranty. Customers residing in the contiguous U.S. will receive free shipping.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“The side sleepers on our team did not feel any pressure buildup while lying on the Aurora Hybrid. Thanks to the multiple firmness options, this bed worked for side sleepers in a range of weights.”

Leesa Sapira Hybrid

Best for Back Pain

Leesa Sapira Hybrid

Leesa Sapira Hybrid
Price Range: $1,299 - $2,099
Mattress Type: Hybrid
Firmness: Medium Firm (6)
Trial length: 100 nights (30 night requirement)
Trial length: 100 nights (30 night requirement)
Warranty: 10 Year, Limited
Warranty: 10 Year, Limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers who wake up with pain or pressure points along the spine
  • Hot sleepers
  • Couples who usually find hybrids too disruptive for sleep
Highlights:
  • Quintessential hybrid design with thick comfort layers and a robust coil support core
  • Perimeter reinforcement ensures good edge support
  • Excellent cooling thanks to aerated foam and coils that promote steady circulation
Leesa Sapira Hybrid

Up to $500 off mattresses + 2 free down alternative pillows

People who share their bed with a partner have different considerations than solo sleepers when selecting a mattress. The Leesa Sapira Hybrid checks many boxes for mattress qualities that matter to couples. These include above-average motion isolation, strong edge support, excellent temperature control, and good responsiveness for sex.

What It’s Made of

The Leesa Sapira Hybrid is constructed with two comfort layers. The top layer is composed of aerated polyfoam intended to circulate air near the surface, while the second layer is solid memory foam. The mixed-foam design produces a light bounce when you get into bed, followed by even contouring as your body settles into the foam layers. A transitional layer of dense polyfoam offers additional cushioning and serves as a buffer between you and the support core.

The Leesa Sapira Hybrid’s pocketed coils measure 6 inches tall. These coils are more robust along the perimeter to limit sinkage and stabilize the mattress, so you and your partner can use the entire sleep surface rather than being confined to the middle. The support core also contains a base layer of high-density foam. A knit polyester cover encases the entire mattress.

How It Performed

The Leesa Sapira Hybrid’s thick comfort system and sturdy coils create a balanced feel that should appeal to different types of sleepers. During our tests, the mattress earned very favorable ratings from side sleepers who weigh at least 130 pounds and back and stomach sleepers who weigh less than 130 pounds. The hybrid also performed well in motion isolation – an area where hybrids typically earn less-than-stellar ratings.

Breathability is another strong point of the Leesa Sapira Hybrid. The ventilated foam and coil system promote continuous airflow to cool down the interior, resulting in a comfortable surface temperature. Extra coil reinforcement along the edges also makes the mattress feel stable, allowing you and your partner to move across the surface with relative ease.

Leesa offers free ground shipping to all 50 states. Your Sapira Hybrid purchase includes a 100-night trial period with free returns after 30 nights, as well as a 10-year warranty against structural and workmanship defects.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“The Leesa Sapira Hybrid delivers across nearly every performance category. It sleeps cool, isolates motion, alleviates pressure, and feels stable along the perimeter.”

Birch Mattress

Best for Shoulder Pain

Birch Mattress

Birch Mattress
Price Range: $1,349 - $2,099
Mattress Type: Hybrid
Firmness: Medium Firm (6)
Trial length: 100 nights (30-night requirement)
Trial length: 100 nights (30-night requirement)
Warranty: 25 Year, Limited
Warranty: 25 Year, Limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Who it's best for:
  • People who tend to sleep hot
  • Shoppers seeking a mattress made with natural materials
  • Those who prefer a responsive feel
Highlights:
  • Made with natural and organic materials
  • Latex comfort layer and open coil system help the mattress sleep cool
  • Durable construction helps ensure a long expected lifespan
Birch Mattress

SleepFoundation readers get $400 off a Birch Mattress.

The Birch Mattress is a latex hybrid featuring an assortment of natural and eco-friendly components. These materials make it a good option for side sleepers seeking a supportive, pressure-relieving mattress that’s also sustainably produced. A medium firm (6) feel also ensures adequate pain and pressure relief in the shoulders, lower back, and hips for most sleepers.

What It’s Made of

The Birch Mattress is constructed with an organic cotton and rayon cover, moisture-wicking wool batting, and a comfort layer of natural Talalay latex. These components help to create a responsive feel and also maintain a cool surface temperature.

The support core contains pocketed coils and a base layer of wool and rayon batting. The coils are reinforced along the perimeter to protect the edges from sinkage and help you get in and out of bed easily.

How It Performed

The bed’s coils are zoned to provide reinforced edges, which enables sleepers to utilize the entire surface of the bed. The 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, lighter 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.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“We think the Birch will be a good alternative for side sleepers who need cushioning around their lower back and hips, but don’t like how memory foam sinks beneath their weight. Most of us agreed the latex provides just the right amount of give.”

Why You Should Trust Us

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 experiences of combination sleepers who alternate between side sleeping and back and/or stomach sleeping. The team consists of people who fall into different weight groups to ensure our findings are inclusive of all body types.

Side sleepers typically need more cushioning to ensure even alignment and minimal pressure along the spine. To test mattresses for side sleeping, we use body-mapping sensors to detect pressure buildup in sensitive areas like the shoulders and hips. We also measure sinkage beneath the tester’s body to determine whether the mattress offers adequate support for people of different weights. The top picks listed above reflect our overall findings.

How Sleeping on Your Side Affects Sleep

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.

Spine Alignment

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.

Side Sleepers With Shoulder Pain

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.

Side Sleepers With Back Problems

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.

Sleeping Position Video

For more information about how side sleeping and other positions affect your sleep, check out the video below.

Which Mattress Firmness is Best for Side Sleepers?

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.

Weight Range Typical Firmness Preference Recommended Firmness Levels
Less than 130 lbs. 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.
  • Soft (2-3)
  • Medium Soft (4)
  • Medium (5)
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.
  • Medium Soft (4)
  • Medium (5)
  • Medium Firm (6)
More than 230 lbs. Side sleepers in this weight category may favor firmer surfaces. While some might enjoy extra firm (9-10) beds, most will find sufficient support from firm beds that offer just enough padding to reduce pressure on the hips and shoulders.
  • Medium Firm (6)
  • Firm (7-8)
Scroll L – R for more details

Which Type of Mattress is Best 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.

Hybrid

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.

Innerspring

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.

Latex

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.

Airbed

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.

Foam

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.

Accessories Important For Sleeping on Your Side

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.

Pillows

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. 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
Back Medium
Side Medium or High
Stomach Low

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.

Mattress Toppers

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.

What Mattress Features Are Important For Side Sleepers?

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.

  • Mattress Type: Each mattress type has pros and cons, but for side sleepers, it is important that the mattress offers contouring and full-body support. The type of mattress you purchase determines other key components, including temperature regulation, motion isolation, and pressure point relief. Understanding your priorities and preferences will help you select the right mattress type.
  • Contouring: How a mattress responds to pressure and conforms to the shape of your body determines how well it contours. A contouring mattress keeps the spine aligned and cushions pressure points, which are essential factors for side sleepers.
  • Quality Materials: The quality of materials used directly affects the durability of a mattress. While high-quality materials can be more expensive, they often increase the lifespan of a mattress and make it a more valuable investment. Cheaper materials can break down more quickly and offer less support over time.
  • Firmness Level: While this is a subjective measure of comfort, side sleepers need a balance of soft cushioning for the shoulders and hips and support to keep the spine aligned. Consider your personal preferences and weight as well, as these can affect which firmness level will provide the most comfort and support.
  • Pressure Relief: Side sleeping puts pressure on the shoulders and hips. Contouring materials like memory foam and latex relieve pressure points and prevent shoulder and back pain for side sleepers.

Tips for Sleeping on Your Side Comfortably

Although side sleeping can interfere with spinal alignment and create pressure buildup, there are measures you can take to comfortably use this position.

  • Hug a second pillow while you sleep. This provides additional upper body support.
  • Tuck a pillow between your knees to reduce pressure in the lower back and hips. If you use a longer body pillow, you may be able to hug the pillow and place it between your knees.
  • Make sure your pillow has enough loft to maintain even alignment. Most side sleepers prefer pillows with medium to high loft because they provide the most head and neck support.
  • Invest in a softer topper if your mattress feels too firm. Side sleepers can benefit from extra cushioning around the shoulders and hips if their mattress surface is too stiff or rigid.
  • Sleep close to the center of your mattress if the edges aren’t reinforced. Some mattresses – all-foam and all-latex models in particular – tend to sink along the perimeter due to weak or inadequate edge support, and lying on an uneven surface can cause aches and pains to occur.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What mattress types are best for side sleepers?

    Since side sleepers require significant pressure relief, people who prefer this position should consider a hybrid or all-foam mattress. 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.

    Memory foam comfort layers perform best, but some people dislike its characteristic “cradling” sensation. For people who prefer to feel as though they are sleeping “on” their bed, rather than “in” it, natural latex foam can be 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.

  • How firm should a mattress be for a side sleeper?

    Side sleepers usually prefer mattresses that are between medium soft and medium firm, 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.

  • What mattress is best for side sleepers with back pain?

    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.

  • What mattress is best for side sleepers with shoulder pain?

    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 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.

  • What mattress is best for side sleepers with hip pain?

    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.

  • Is a softer mattress better for side sleepers?

    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.

About Our Editorial Team

author
Austin Meadows

Sleep Product Tester

Austin is a professional writer and researcher who has covered sleep science and sleep products for over a decade.

author
Jenny Iyo

Physical Therapist

DPT

Dr. Iyo is a Doctor of Physical Therapy at an orthopedic clinic in Seattle. She specializes in hands-on therapy and tailored exercise programs.