What makes the best mattress for side sleepers?

What makes the best mattress for side sleepers?

Aug 28, 2019

Side sleeping is the most common of all the sleeping positions, and we’ve tested and rated the best mattress for side sleepers along with compiling all of the research to help side sleepers understand how to optimize their bedroom for a great night of sleep.

Based on our research, here are some key features that side sleepers should look for in a mattress:

  1. Firm and ample support: ability to keep spine aligned and elongated

A mattress with good support and some give can help align and lengthen the spine and body in a neutral position, which helps prevent back and neck pain for side sleepers. When a mattress is too soft, it can cause the body to sink into the mattress too much, causing the spine to curve.

 2. Soft enough: relief on pressure points

Mattresses for side sleepers need to be soft enough to allow for good circulation and to relieve pressure points in the hips, shoulders, and neck. For example, foam mattresses perform well by taking tension away from pressure points. Also, mattresses with a soft outside layer, like a top or cover, are great for relieving pressure.

 3. Contours: conformity to the body for muscle relaxation

Side sleepers also prefer a mattress that will conform to and cradle the body. The mattress takes away pressure and allows the muscles to relax, which is ideal for getting a good night’s sleep.

 4. Correct thickness and firmness: based on body weight

A mattress with the correct thickness is important for side sleepers, too. Mattress thickness and firmness needs vary for people with different weights. For example, heavier people may have different needs for comfort. If the firmness level is too high for a more petite person, it can cause aches and pains because the mattress doesn’t conform well to the body.

 5. Stays cool and breathes well

Side sleepers may also prefer to have a mattress that has technology built in to cool and breathe well. Many hybrid, foam, and spring mattresses have built-in layers for cooling and breathing.

Firmness and support for side sleepers

It is key for side sleepers to pick a mattress that both:

  • Supports the body enough to keep it in a comfortable position

  • Is soft enough to provide pressure relief

The goal is to find a mattress with support that is rooted in the center of the mattress with soft and firm areas built in for conforming and giving in to the weight and pressure of the body. It is recommended that the comfort level is 5 to 10 (or a soft to medium firm mattress).

What is the best type of mattress for side sleepers?

There are many mattress types and several kinds of mattresses that will achieve both the great support and correct firmness range for side sleepers. Consider these suggested side sleeper mattress varieties below.

The best kinds of mattresses for side sleepers are:

  • Foam mattress (poly and memory foam)

  • Hybrid mattress

  • Innerspring

Foam mattress (poly and memory foam)

  • High-density foam layers (several grades of poly foam) for support

  • Combination of foam layers used for both support and comfort

  • High-density foam layers (several grades of memory foam) for comfort for cradling body of side sleeper for body alignment

  • Cooling technology to avoid heat trapping

  • Consistent support

  • Elasticity of memory foam allows mattress to bounce back to original position (slower response time, however, compared to latex)

  • Excellent conformity and relief for pressure points for side sleepers (allows for horizontal alignment of shoulders, hips, and spine)

  • Consider medium thickness of memory foam (comfort layer) combined with other materials

Hybrid mattress (foam and coil)

  • Combination of both coils and foam(s)

  • Coil support system gives great core support (coil types include: bonnell, offset, continuous, and pocket coil) layered with foam or quilting

  • Support helps keep spine alignment and body in position

  • Foam layers are used for comfort and added support (memory foam, latex, polyfoam, natural fibers)

  • Consider medium thickness of comfort layers to help conform to body to help with spine alignment and pressure relief

  • Good conformity with thick memory foam layer(s)

  • Great support, but may break down over time

Innerspring mattress

  • Steel coil support system (coil types include: bonnell, offset, continuous, and pocket coil) layered with foam or quilting

  • Coils range in thickness from 12.5 to 16 gauges and thinner coils can more easily shape themselves to contour to the body, while thicker layers provide support for holding up the weight of the body

  • Conformity depends on comfort layers (materials like memory foam, latex, polyurethane foam, and natural fibers)

  • Support may breakdown over time

  • Consider medium thickness of comfort layers to help conform to body to help with spine alignment and pressure relief

  • Resilient and durable

What a side sleeper needs to know

  • Side sleeping is the most common of all the sleep positions

  • Choose the best mattress for side sleepers that gives support and conforms to the body to relieve pressure

  • The best mattress for side sleepers with back pain is medium on the firmness scale

  • Look for a mattress that is between 5 and 10 on the comfort scale

  • Best mattresses for side sleepers are usually foam, hybrid, and innerspring mattresses

  • Choosing a pillow is just as important as the right mattress

  • Find a pillow that allows for support of head and neck and encourages spine alignment

  • Consider a pillow between the legs or knees or a body pillow

  • Common issues for side sleepers include: body misalignment, unwanted wrinkles, and saggy breasts

  • Use caution when changing positions or sides and move the entire body as a unit without twisting at the waist


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