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Sleeping on your side is considered to be the most common sleeping position. There are major benefits to side sleeping, including reduced back pain, improved breathing, and better digestion. This makes sleeping on your side beneficial for your overall health and well-being.
The type of mattress you sleep on directly affects how much support and comfort you get each night. For people who have been sleeping on an older mattress, studies have shown that a new mattress can improve sleep quality and reduce overall pain and stiffness. Side sleepers often experience shoulder pain and lower back pain if their mattress is unsupportive or uncomfortable. A mattress that contours to the shape of the body and provides pressure point relief is especially beneficial for side sleepers. These features reduce back and shoulder pain while cushioning the areas of the body that press deeper into the mattress.
With so many different mattress types and features on the market, it can feel overwhelming to decide which mattress is right for you. We cover our top picks for the best mattresses for side sleepers and what sets them apart from other mattresses. We also include more on the benefits and drawbacks of sleeping on your side, and how this position affects sleep.
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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.
The breathable cover of the Helix mattress increases airflow throughout the mattress and prevents heat retention. A layer of Memory Plus foam relieves undue pressure on the shoulders and hips, while a second layer of high-grade polyfoam offers ergonomic support and cushion in these areas. The foam layers of the Helix mattress have different densities in order to provide the best relief and support for side sleepers.
Individually wrapped coils in the support base minimize motion transfer and circulate air. This layer gently contours to the shape of your body. The coil base has a reinforced perimeter, which increases the sleepable surface area of the bed and prevents sagging along the edges. A bottom layer of DuraDense foam enhances the support and durability of the Helix mattress.
The Helix Midnight mattress has a medium firm feel with impressive pressure point relief. The Memory Plus foam contours closely to the body, cushioning high-impact areas and preventing aches and pains.
Helix gives you 100 nights to try out the Midnight mattress, with a 30-day break-in period. The mattress is covered by a 10-year warranty, though the customer is responsible for shipping costs. In the event of a defect, Helix will reimburse up to $100 in shipping charges.
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The all-foam Layla Mattress accommodates side sleepers across different weight groups thanks to its reversible design, which features a sleep surface on the top and bottom sides. One side of the mattress has a medium (4) feel and two foam layers, including a 3-inch upper layer of memory foam that contours closely to the body. This surface will likely be most comfortable for side sleepers up to 230 pounds. The opposite side is firm (7) with a thinner memory foam layer, and better suited to side sleepers who weigh more.
Both memory foam comfort layers are infused with copper, which has natural cooling properties to regulate the surface temperatures. The cover, which can be removed and dry cleaned if stains occur, is also made from a breathable blend of polyester and viscose from bamboo. The support core shared between both sides consists of high-density polyfoam to stabilize the bed. The comfort layers not in use serve as base layers for added reinforcement.
Since the Layla Mattress is an all-foam model, it excels at motion isolation by absorbing movement from sleepers and preventing transfer to other areas of the surface. This can reduce nighttime disruptions for couples. Additionally, the mattress does not make any noise.
Innovative construction, pressure-relieving materials, and strong performance combined with an approachable price-point make the Layla Mattress a high value pick for side sleepers. Layla also provides free shipping throughout the contiguous U.S. You’ll receive a 120-night sleep trial for testing out the mattress, as well as a lifetime warranty.
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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.
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.
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.
Best for Back Pain
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The WinkBed is a standout hybrid available in a wide range of firmness levels. This selection allows the mattress to cushion the shoulders and hips, promote proper spinal alignment and reduce back pain for virtually any side sleeper regardless of their body type. The mattress is available in Soft, Medium, Firm, and Plus models, which translate to a medium soft (4), medium firm (6), firm (7), and firm (8) on the 10-point firmness scale.
Each WinkBed model follows the same basic construction with slight variations. The mattress is wrapped in a breathable Tencel cover, with two layers of gel-infused polyfoam quilted into a Euro top in the base models. The polyfoam provides some cushioning and contouring to relieve pressure, while the gel infusion helps draw excess heat away from the sleeper.
Next is a layer of micro-coils. These coils are individually wrapped, allowing them to move independently of each other to accommodate different parts of the body and reduce the likelihood of motion transferring from one side of the bed to the other. The medium soft model has an additional layer of transitional polyfoam acting as a buffer to keep sleepers from sinking into the bed’s core. The Plus model uses durable, zoned latex in place of micro-coils to provide targeted support and cushioning throughout the bed.
The WinkBed’s support core consists of a base of zoned, individually wrapped coils. The zones vary depending on the model, providing extra support under heavier areas and a more accommodating feel for lighter ones. The perimeter of the bed is reinforced, providing standout support around the edges and increasing the usable surface of the mattress.
The WinkBed’s multiple firmness options ensure that there is a comfortable, supportive bed for any side sleeper. Those who weigh less than 130 pounds will fare best on the ample cushioning of the medium soft or medium firm options. Sleepers who weigh between 130 and 230 pounds will be most comfortable on either the medium firm or firm models. Lastly people who weigh more than 230 pounds tend to gravitate toward the support and firmness of the firm and Plus options.
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 Memory Foam
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Memory foam is popular among side sleepers due to its close contouring around the shoulders and hips, which can improve alignment and reduce pressure points along the spine. The Amerisleep AS4 is a standout memory foam mattress constructed with proprietary Bio-Pur, a dense material that conforms more evenly and resists indentations better than the foams found in many competing models. The mattress is considered medium soft (4), so side sleepers who weigh up to 230 pounds should find it particularly comfortable.
The AS4’s support core is made from 7 inches of polyfoam that provides a stable base. The 1-inch polyfoam transitional layer is zoned, meaning it provides strategic levels of support beneath different parts of your body. Your hips and shoulder sink slightly lower than your back and neck, which promotes spinal alignment and can be particularly helpful if you sleep on your side.
The memory foam layer enhances the AS4’s motion isolation, so it’s unlikely that movement will transfer from one side of the bed to the other. Though memory foam is known for retaining heat, Bio-Pur foam has an open-cell structure and is engineered to increase airflow.
Amerisleep backs the AS4 with a 20-year warranty and 100-night sleep trial. Shoppers who live in the contiguous U.S. qualify for free shipping.
Best Pressure Relief
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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.
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 support in pressure-prone areas like your hips. The mattress has significant edge support, thanks to its reinforced perimeter.
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.
Next is a quilted polyfoam Euro-top that’s infused with Nolah’s ArcticTex, a material intended to help you stay cool. 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.
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.
Best Mattress For Athletes
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Athletes and other physically active people who sleep on their sides are especially vulnerable to aches, pains, and pressure points while they sleep. These individuals are great candidates for the Bear Hybrid. The mattress offers mid-level firmness for a balance of contouring and support, so most side sleepers should feel less pressure, and the Celliant fabric cover is engineered to help the body recover during the night.
Celliant fibers regulate temperature and promote muscle recovery and healthy oxygen levels. The hypersoft cooling gel foam draws heat away from the body, keeping side sleepers who tend to sleep hot comfortable. A layer of adaptive comfort foam responds to pressure points and keeps the spine aligned. Ample support ensures that the hips and shoulders do not sink in too far, while responsive transition foam adds airflow throughout the mattress.
The Quantum Edge coil system prevents sagging throughout the mattress while providing consistent support. The perimeter of this base layer is reinforced, and the edge support is ideal for people who sleep or sit on the edge of the bed. Each layer of the Bear Hybrid mattress helps keep the mattress temperature neutral and prevents heat retention.
The Bear Hybrid mattress is competitively priced for a luxury hybrid mattress. Bear offers a 100-night sleep trial with a 30-day break-in period. The mattress is also covered by a 20-year limited warranty.
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The Birch Mattress is a latex hybrid featuring an organic cotton cover, eco-friendly wool batting, and natural Talalay latex. These materials make it a good option for side sleepers seeking a supportive, pressure-relieving mattress that’s also sustainably produced.
The bed is medium firm (6) and offers a responsive feel due to the combination of springiness from the bed’s pocketed coil support layer and the bounce of the minimally conforming latex comfort layer. 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.
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The Cocoon by Sealy Chill mattress has multiple layers of foam that cushion pressure points and keep the spine aligned. It comes in a medium firm (6) feel, which can accommodate side sleepers of most body types. The mattress provides exceptional memory foam cushioning for sleepers under 230 pounds, though some sleepers over 230 pounds may prefer a firmer bed.
The Chill is also ideal for side sleepers who sleep hot. While standard memory foam tends to absorb and trap body heat, leading to excessive warmth that can be unpleasant for sleeping, the foam in this mattress is made with phase-change material that dissipates heat away from the surface to keep you cool
A comfort layer of Perfect Fit memory foam relieves pressure points by adapting to the shape of the body. Essential support layers are made with heavier foam for extra resilience and durability. The all-foam construction of the Chill offers impressive motion isolation, and the mattress is silent when bearing weight. This reduces the likelihood of sleep disturbances throughout the night, especially if you share the bed or are prone to changing positions.
Sealy has a longstanding reputation in the mattress industry. The Chill comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year limited warranty.
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The DreamCloud Premier is a pillow-top hybrid with a balanced, medium firm (6) feel that side sleepers should find quite comfortable – especially if they weigh between 130 and 230 pounds. In addition to memory foam quilted into the Euro-top to give the surface an invitingly plush feel, the mattress contains a gel-infused memory foam comfort layer and polyfoam transitional layer. This thick comfort system allows the Premier to contour closely and alleviate pressure for side sleepers better than the average hybrid model.
The support core is constructed with pocketed coils and dense base foam. These layers provide excellent overall stability for the entire mattress and reinforce the edges against sinkage. At the same time, the coils move independently from one another, so the surface shouldn’t feel excessively springy. This means owners won’t lose too much sleep due to motion transfer when their partner moves in bed or gets up during the night.
The entire mattress is encased in a cover made from a cashmere blend that’s both naturally breathable and luxuriously soft. Air flows freely through the coils for added temperature control, so the mattress is a good option for hot sleepers and anyone who lives in exceptionally warm or humid locales.
The Premier’s price-point falls well below that of the average hybrid and DreamCloud will ship the mattress free of charge to any customer in the contiguous U.S. The company’s 365-night sleep trial is one of the longest in the industry, and those who keep their Premier also receive a lifetime warranty against certain structural defects.
Sleeping on your side is highly regarded within the medical community, and its benefits are compelling. Not only does side sleeping open your airways and reduce snoring and symptoms of sleep apnea, but it may also improve brain health and help prevent certain neurological issues. For people with heartburn, and especially for pregnant women, sleeping on your left side has been shown to reduce acid reflux. This sleeping position is also best for keeping your spine aligned, though there are measures you should take to ensure your body and spine get the proper support when sleeping on your side. Putting too much pressure on your neck, shoulders, and back can result in aches and pains.
When the spine is aligned, it is in a straight, neutral position. If the spine is misaligned during sleep, this can result in back pain and other issues. Though side sleeping is the least likely position to exacerbate spinal pain and other symptoms, there are still precautions that should be taken to ensure the spine is aligned as you sleep.
A contouring mattress responds proportionately to pressure points, cushioning the hips and shoulders. This helps keep the spine in neutral alignment. Side sleepers who maintain a symmetrical position are less likely to have back pain. This means sleeping on your side with your legs stretched out, and a higher loft pillow underneath your head. To keep your hips square, you may choose to sleep with a thinner pillow between your knees. The neck is part of the spine, so it is also important to keep your neck supported and resist tucking in your chin. These measures will help your spine maintain a neutral position.
Since side sleepers put pressure on one shoulder as they sleep, they are more likely to experience pain on the side that they sleep on. The added weight on the shoulder, especially if the mattress does not offer enough cushioning or contouring support, can result in neck and shoulder pain. Those who sleep on their side are also more likely to push one shoulder up towards their neck, which causes the spine to be misaligned.
Purchasing a mattress with the right firmness is an essential step towards reducing shoulder pain for side sleepers. It is also important to keep in mind your weight, as lighter people will not press into the mattress as much, and heavier people will put more pressure on the mattress. The mattress should cushion the shoulder and prevent it from sinking in too deeply, or not enough. The right pillow can also make a difference. The loft of the pillow should be high enough to keep your head and neck in line, and help prevent your shoulder from pushing up towards your neck.
For side sleepers with back problems, the right mattress can make all the difference. If a mattress does not contour to the shape of the body and provide ample support, this can cause a misalignment in the joints and the spine. As a result, your muscles can’t relax and have to work overtime to keep everything aligned. A contouring mattress, on the other hand, keeps the spine aligned and relieves joint pain. This keeps the hips and shoulders aligned as well. Some mattresses also have customized support for the lumbar region.
The simplest way to determine if your back pain is caused by your mattress is to pay attention to your back pain throughout the day. If you wake up with back pain that subsides or lessens as the day goes on, your mattress is likely the culprit. The best mattress for side sleepers will provide a flat, even surface without any sagging or indentations. A responsive material, like memory foam, will cushion pressure points and keep the spine aligned. The mattress should provide full-body support to prevent back pain.
Mattress firmness is a subjective measure of comfort, so whether you choose a soft or firm mattress for sleeping on your side will depend on several factors. Mattresses are usually rated on a firmness scale of 1 to 10, or extremely soft to extremely firm. Medium soft to medium firm mattresses are most common.
For side sleepers, mattress firmness determines how cushioned the pressure points are. It affects how much the shoulders and hips sink into the mattress, which helps keep the spine aligned. A comfortable mattress will alleviate aches and pains.
There are a few factors to consider when deciding on mattress firmness, including personal preferences, body weight, and mattress type. Heavier people press deeper into the mattress, so the same mattress may feel different to people depending on their weight and body type. The comfort layers affect the firmness and feel of the mattress. Memory foam conforms closely to the shape of the body, while latex offers gentle contouring with more bounce. Innerspring coils can add firmness to a mattress. Of the several types of mattresses available, each has benefits and drawbacks for side sleepers.
The best mattress for side sleepers will offer consistent support and contouring comfort. Most mattresses fall into one of the following categories. These are the most common mattress types on the market today, and understanding the difference between each type is key to determining which mattress is right for you. Though specific mattress models will vary in materials, construction, and unique features, there are commonalities within each category that will help you decide what type of mattress best suits your needs.
Definition: A hybrid mattress has an innerspring support system with thick comfort layers of memory foam or latex. Combining elements of these different types of mattresses into a hybrid design maximizes the benefits of each, with fewer drawbacks. A hybrid mattress may include a transition layer of polyfoam or micro coils beneath the foam comfort layers. The base of innerspring coils adds airflow and support to the mattress.
Highlight: Contouring support with temperature regulation. Since a hybrid mattress has substantial comfort layers, it tends to provide contouring support that relieves pressure points and keeps the spine aligned. While an all-foam mattress can restrict airflow and retain heat, a hybrid mattress typically has better temperature regulation due to the innerspring coils. For side sleepers, this means conforming comfort without overheating.
Definition: An innerspring mattress has a support base of steel coils, with thin comfort layers of fiber or foam. This traditional mattress style is minimalistic and offers less contouring than a hybrid or foam mattress. Widely available and easily recognizable, innerspring mattresses also tend to be affordable.
Highlight: Enhanced edge support. The steel coil support base of an innerspring mattress can be reinforced for better edge support. This increases the supportive surface area of the bed, ensuring side sleepers who sleep near the edge of the bed experience consistent support. It also prevents sagging along the edges over time.
Definition: A latex mattress is constructed with latex comfort layers and a latex support base. This type of mattress is most often made with natural latex, which is manufactured with sap harvested from rubber trees. The sap is then processed with the Dunlop or Talalay method. Dunlop latex is dense and durable, while Talalay latex is lighter and softer. Synthetic latex can also be used; this type of latex is made with petrochemicals.
Highlight: Responsive. Latex gently contours to the shape of your body, alleviating pressure points while preventing the feeling of sinking in too deeply. For side sleepers, this reduces shoulder and back pain. There is also more airflow around the body and better temperature regulation.
Definition: In an airbed mattress, the support comes from internal rubber chambers that are inflatable. The firmness is adjustable by filling the chambers with air, or removing air as needed. Airbed mattresses are often remote-controlled or can be paired with a smartphone app. The built-in pump adjusts the chambers to your preference. This type of mattress usually has comfort layers of foam, latex, wool or other fibers.
Highlight: Customizable Firmness. For side sleepers who are unsure of what their preferred firmness level is, or for those who find their needs change, an airbed mattress offers customizable firmness. Some airbed mattresses include two air chambers, so people who share the bed and have different preferences can adjust their sides individually. Certain models even include adjustability for different parts of the body. For side sleepers, this can mean adjusting the firmness under the shoulders and hips to keep the spine aligned.
Definition: A foam mattress has comfort layers and a support base of foam. The comfort system is often made with memory foam layers, and can include traditional viscoelastic memory foam, open-cell foam, or gel-infused foam. The support base is usually constructed with high-density polyfoam for added support and durability.
Highlight: Cushions pressure points. Memory foam contours closely to the body, responding to pressure and cushioning areas like the hips and shoulders. For side sleepers, this promotes proper spinal alignment and reduces aches and pains.
A mattress that offers full-body support and contouring is the most important purchase for side sleepers. Further customizing the mattress with sleep accessories, including pillows and mattress toppers, can make side sleeping more comfortable. Pillows ensure the head and neck are aligned, while mattress toppers can change the comfort system of the bed. Understanding what to look for in these sleep accessories is important for both comfort and support.
When sleeping on your side, a pillow for your head is necessary for spinal alignment. A medium or high loft pillow should lift your head enough to keep both your head and neck aligned with your spine. This relieves pressure on the neck and shoulders. The following table outlines the ideal pillow loft based on sleeping position.
|Sleeping Position||Pillow Loft Recommended|
|Side||Medium or High|
In addition to having a comfortable pillow under your head, knee pillows (or regular pillows) can be used to further customize your sleeping position and alleviate aches and pains. Side sleepers will benefit from drawing their legs up slightly toward their chest, and placing a pillow between their knees. This helps keep the hips square and spine aligned.
A mattress topper is a comfort layer that sits on top of your existing mattress. Toppers are usually made with memory foam, latex, or other common comfort layer materials. Adding a thicker comfort layer to your current mattress can increase the level of contouring and pressure point relief your mattress provides. This helps to alleviate back and joint pain.
Selecting a memory foam mattress topper gives you the chance to try out this material without committing to a new memory foam mattress. While you will not experience the full advantages of a memory foam mattress from just a topper, it is less expensive than purchasing an all-new mattress. It can also be a stepping stone to buying a new mattress if you decide you like the material.
Before purchasing a mattress topper, be sure to evaluate the current condition of your mattress. A mattress topper will enhance the comfort of a mattress, but it will not offer support or fix a broken mattress. If your mattress is sagging or unsupportive, it is time for an all-new mattress.
Due to added pressure put on the shoulders and hips, there are special considerations that side sleepers should keep in mind when shopping for a mattress. Mattress companies can often use misleading terminology, or exaggerate some of the benefits of unique features. The following factors are the most important to consider when shopping for a new mattress.
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.
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.
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 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.
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