11 Best Mattresses For Side Sleepers in 2021
Jennifer Miller, PT, DPT
Dr. Jennifer Miller is an outpatient physical therapist. She earned her Doctor of Physical Therapy from Elon University, and a Bachelor of Science in Health Science from Minnesota State University-Mankato. She now specializes in Neurological, Geriatric, and Vestibular Physical Therapy and works in the medical field as a primary care provider treating neurological conditions. Dr. […]
Sleeping on your side is one of the healthiest ways to sleep. Side sleeping promotes better spinal alignment, reduces lower back pain, lessen snoring, and can prevent symptoms of sleep apnea. Despite all of its benefits, side sleeping comes with a few drawbacks, such as the potential for neck pain (though generally that signals you’re sleeping on a pillow that is too thin or too thick for your head).
To get a good night’s sleep, side sleepers should look for the best mattresses and pillows to support neutral spinal alignment, alleviate pressure, and prevent pain points— especially since side sleepers are more prone to pressure points in the shoulders and hips than back or stomach sleepers.
In this guide, we discuss our recommended best mattresses for side sleepers and touch on the main things side sleepers should look for before buying a new bed.
Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers
Amerisleep offers a line of 9 different mattresses, each ranging in firmness from soft to firm. Using your sleep style and body type, it is easy to determine which Amerisleep mattress is right for you. For side sleepers, we recommend the Amerisleep AS4 because it offers unbeatable cushioning for the shoulders and hips.
While yes, the AS4 is soft and cloud-like, it’s also supportive to promote proper spinal alignment. Customer reviews of the AS4 note that this mattress cradles sensitive areas like the hips and shoulder, but that it also limits sinkage so the spine is never forced to bow unnaturally.
The first layer of the AS4 is 4 inches of pressure-relieving Bio-Pur®, a plant-based memory foam. When you lay down on the AS4, the layer molds to your body and offers immediate comfort. Because it’s 4 inches thick, it allows the shoulders and hips to receive plenty of cushioning comfort—you won’t have to worry about pressure points with the AS4. Plus, Amerisleep designs Bio-Pur® to be ultra-responsive, so while it allows you to sink, it won’t cause uncomfortable sinkage.
Below the layer of memory foam is the Affinity layer featuring HIVE® technology. HIVE® is a surface modification technology used to offer dynamic support. Under your torso, head, and feet, HIVE® is fashioned to feel firmer and maintain healthy sleeping positions; this prevents your midsection from dipping below your hips. Oppositely, HIVE® is softer and allows for deeper compression beneath your hips and shoulders to prevent pain and pressure build-up.
The third and final layer of the AS4 is durable Bio-Core® to serve as a supportive base. Bio-Core® reinforces the two layers above and prevents sagging, indentations, and premature wear and tear.
- Features plant-based, pressure-relieving memory foam
- HIVE® technology prevents pain points and promotes healthy sleep styles
- Medium-soft feel is comfortable for side sleepers who need some cushioning and support
The Zoma Mattress is specifically designed to help athletes get deeper sleep, so they can recover faster and perform better. Because this memory foam mattress is engineered to nurture a healthy spine and alleviate pain points, it’s perfect for side sleepers.
Zoma offers a total of two mattresses, along with other products such as a standard head pillow, a body pillow, a platform bed, an adjustable bed, and a mattress topper. The other mattress is the Zoma Hybrid, which shares many similarities with the original Zoma Mattress. What mostly sets the hybrid model apart from the Zoma Mattress is its base of pocketed coils, which can give the Zoma Hybrid a more buoyant feel with a touch of extra firmness.
Quite a few customer reviews on the Zoma website note that the reviewer invested a lot of time, sometimes months, searching for the right mattress and ultimately settling on one of Zoma’s mattresses. They then went on to note how happy they were with Zoma’s affordable prices, full-body support features, and the bed’s gel-infused cushion that gives the mattress a pillow-like feel. Many noted their sleep quality dramatically improved after switching to a Zoma mattress.
The Zoma Mattress contains three unique, sleep-enhancing layers.
The first layer is 2 inches of gel-infused memory foam with Triangulex™ technology. When you lay down on this mattress, the memory foam molds to your curves to offer instant cushioning comfort. The cooling gels infused in this layer combat body heat and promote a cooler sleeping surface. Side sleepers will feel a refreshing chill when they first lie down, helping their bodies relax and drift off to sleep.
Triangulex™ comes into play to offer zoned support. The foam near the midsection of this layer feels a bit firmer to offer extra support for your torso. Around your shoulders and hips, this layer has triangle-shaped cutouts to offer better contouring. These cutouts also boost this layer’s breathability, preventing heat build-up.
Triangulex™ technology is perfect for side sleepers because it prevents pain in your shoulders and hips in addition to offering better spinal support. A side sleeper lying down on the Zoma Mattress can feel a responsive hug that supports their body’s most sensitive areas. Even heavier side sleepers will feel supported and should wake up free of back pain, thanks to the consistently supportive surface under the torso.
The second layer of the Zoma Mattress is dense Reactiv™ foam— a latex-like poly-foam offering reinforced support. Reactiv™ is designed to feel more responsive than memory foam, so it offers cushioning comfort while still feeling bouncy. This layer holds you more “on top of” the mattress and prevents uncomfortable sinkage. It also increases the overall “bounce” of the bed, making it easier to adjust sleeping positions.
The third and final layer of the Zoma is the Support+ foam, a durable poly-foam core. The Support+ foam offers structural support for the layers above and prevents premature sagging. Zoma also backs their mattress with a 10-year warranty, should your bed develop a sag greater than 3/4 inch.
The Zoma Mattress comes with a 100-night sleep trial, too.
- Features gel memory foam to combat body heat
- Triangulex™ technology promotes a healthy spine and eases pressure points
- Includes a latex-like layer to boost the bed’s overall bounce
The Vaya Mattress is a budget-friendly option for side sleepers avoiding night sweats. We love the Vaya Mattress because it allows for superb pressure relief while preventing heat retention—its breathable construction keeps hot air flowing out of the mattress.
People who have left reviews on the Vaya website have called it “comfy” and “one of the softest beds I’ve ever laid on.” One person noted it matched the experience of lying on their previous bed, a plush pillow-top mattress, while another confessed they worried it would be too soft to sleep on but was still sufficiently supportive.
However, another reviewer noted the mattress has little to no edge support, which can leave a person feeling as if they’re about to roll off the edge of the bed. This usually isn’t a problem unless you sleep close to the side of the bed, although people with movement difficulties might want a bed with firmer edge support.
The Vaya Mattress has two layers and is 12 inches thick. The comfort layer is 3 inches of cushioning Vaya Foam to contour to your body, distribute your weight, and keep you lifted. Vaya Foam is different than memory foam because it’s a bit bouncier, so it doesn’t have a “cradling” feel. The thickness of this layer is perfect for side sleepers because it allows the hips and shoulders to sink just enough to total comfort.
The core of the mattress is 9 inches of sturdy poly-foam to resist sagging and prolong the bed’s lifespan. In addition to using high-quality core foam, Vaya backs their mattress with a 10-year warranty.
If you want a bed with more bounce or firmer sides, Vaya has another model, the Vaya Hybrid. The hybrid is a newer model and contains a base of pocketed coils instead of sturdy foam. Both mattresses are advertised as suitable for all sleep styles.
The Vaya is sold online only and comes with a 100-night sleep trial. If you don’t absolutely love it after a couple of months, you can return it for free.
- Affordable design for pure comfort and support
- Features pressure-relieving foam
- Designed with breathability in mind
From Amerisleep’s line of mattresses, the AS5 is their softest mattress. Now, they offer the AS5 as a hybrid. This mattress combines a plush memory foam comfort layer and pocketed spring coil base. The AS5 Hybrid is a luxuriously soft mattress designed to offer incredible comfort for the shoulders and hips, perfect for side sleepers. We also love the AS5 Hybrid because it’s a great option for plus-size sleepers who prefer a softer mattress. With the slight bounce of the spring coil base, heavier sleepers are less likely to experience excess sinkage and spinal misalignment.
The AS5 Hybrid is Amerisleep’s softest hybrid, but despite its softness, this bed is responsive and supportive. It contains bouncy Active Flex foam and pocketed coils to deter uncomfortable sagging and keep you side sleeping in a healthy position.
The first layer of the AS5 Hybrid contains 3 inches of pressure-relieving Bio-Pur® and 2 inches of Active Flex. Active Flex serves two purposes: it gives the bed a little bounce and it allows for better pressure relief under the shoulders and hips. Side sleepers will love the extra cushion Active Flex offers.
Below the comfort layers lies the 8-inch pocketed coil system, designed to deliver targeted support. These coils act a little like the HIVE® technology we discussed with the AS3. Under the head, torso, and feet, these coils are firmer, whereas these coils are softer and allow for more pressure relief under the shoulders and hips.
At the base of the AS5 Hybrid, Amerisleep includes a thin core layer of foam for added support, and around the edge of the bed is a foam perimeter to reinforce the sides of the mattress. Plus, Amerisleep backs their mattress with a 20-year warranty, too.
The AS5 Hybrid can be bought in the Amerisleep showroom or online—no matter how you buy, it comes with a 100-night sleep trial.
AMERISLEEP AS5 HYBRID
- Offers extra pressure relief for the shoulders and hips
- Soft but responsive to maintain healthy alignment
- Provides zoned support to ease back pains
The next mattress on our list is the Nolah Original 10”, designed specifically to cater to back and side sleepers. In this mattress, Nolah uses their proprietary Nolah AirFoam™ instead of memory foam or latex to offer the sleeper a contouring but cool sleeping environment.
Their comfort layer, Nolah AirFoam™, is also built to reduce pressure points four times better than comparable materials, which is crucial for side sleepers.
The layers of the Nolah are constructed to alleviate pressure in the shoulder and hip region, furthering its benefits for side sleepers. The first layer of this bed is Nolah’s AirFoam™ material, which contours to your body as memory foam would, but it is more responsive and holds you up on the mattress’s surface.
The next layer is a high-resilience foam designed to give latex-like bounce, which reinforces the AirFoam™ above.
On their website, Nolah ranks this bed a 5 or 6 out of 10 in regards to firmness, putting it right in that middle firmness level perfect for side sleepers.
Nolah allows you to sort customer reviews by features such as “comfort,” “support,” “cooling,” “pressure relief,” and more, so it’s easy to see how each part of the bed holds up. Prominent phrases include how the mattress is “like waking up in a gentle hug” or “like sleeping on a cloud.” One reviewer jokingly complains the original Nolah mattress does its job too well, as now they’re afraid guests won’t want to leave their home in a timely manner.
Nolah offers two other mattresses, the flippable Signature 12 with soft and firm sides and the luxury mattress Evolution 15. Both are designed to provide a more upgraded sleep experience than the original Nolah bed, though naturally, both are more expensive options.
Nolah offers a 120-night sleep trial, which you can remove for a lower price. We recommend the sleep trial because it lets you thoroughly test out the mattress; no one wants to spend a lot on a mattress only to experience buyer’s remorse. If you decide not to keep your mattress within that time period, they’ll pick it up for free and give you a refund. If you do decide to keep the mattress, it’s backed by a 15-year warranty.
NOLAH ORIGINAL 10"
- Designed specifically for side and back sleepers
- Features Nolah’s AirFoam™, which offers 4x more pressure relief traditional memory foam
- Medium firmness
The last mattress on our list is the budget-friendly, luxury-firm Tuft and Needle mattress, or T&N. If you’re looking for a top-rated mattress at a lower price point, this bed is excellent, as it costs under $800 for a queen.
The T&N is soft and pressure-relieving without pulling the user too far into the mattress, making it perfect for side sleepers. The two-layer design of this bed is relatively simple compared to other mattresses on our list. “Comfortable” was a word often echoed by many who reviewed the original Tuft & Needle mattress.
The top layer of the Tuft and Needle is their T&N Adaptive™ foam, a poly-foam designed to feel like a combination of memory foam and latex foam. It offers better pressure-relief than either material and feels cushioning but bouncy, soft but supportive.
Plus, the T&N Adaptive® foam is infused with cooling gels to keep you at a comfortable temperature all night long. All in all, it creates a more “on the bed” feeling while still allowing your shoulders and hips to compress the mattress for pressure relief.
The base layer is a solid high-density poly-foam to support the T&N Adaptive® foam and sleeper above.
The original Tuft & Needle mattress is officially classed by the company as a medium-firm mattress, so it might feel a touch too hard for certain side sleepers. Tuft & Needle is aware of this and notes that they designed their other foam mattress model, The Mint, to offer more pressure relief and support. The edges of the Mint also feel more supportive and it absorbs far more heat than the original due to the increased amount of graphite and ceramic gels.
For a few years, T&N beds were sold only online. However, now you can buy their beds both online and at various mattress retailers. Every T&N mattress comes with a 100-night trial period and a 10-year warranty.
TUFT & NEEDLE
- Features pressure-relieving T&N Adaptive® foam
- Gel-infused foam helps keep you cool
- Budget-friendly yet luxurious choice
Many hybrid and pure foam mattresses have a top-to-bottom construction that prevent them from being flippable. The Layla Hybrid does not, offering a firm side and soft side for sleepers to experiment with their preferred styles. We recommend the plush side only for side sleepers since the firm side can cause pressure to build up, leaving the sleeper sore in the morning.
The hybrid’s cover is soft, breathable fabric and removable for easier care. The mattress has handles along the side to make flipping the bed a simpler task.
The soft side has a 2.5-inch layer of copper-infused memory foam. The copper not only wicks heat away but prevents bacteria and other microbes from inhabiting the mattress, ensuring a cool and clean night’s rest. The copper also helps the mattress smell fresh after extended use.
Next is 2 inches of Max Airflow Support foam, with cooling channels and targeted support. The bed’s core is 6 inches of motion-controlling pocketed coils with edge support. The reverse firm side consists of thinner layers of Max Airflow Support foam and copper-infused memory foam.
Layla also offers a flippable memory foam mattress that’s a few inches thinner and more affordable, though less buoyant. You will sink more into the memory foam version, and the bed’s thinner profile means you will have an easier time flipping the mattress. However, the memory foam mattress doesn’t feature the same edge support as the hybrid, so the surface may feel overly soft if you sleep near the side.
Skimming the customer reviews, we noted that many owners stated the Layla Hybrid helped them wake up free of the aches and pains that had previously bothered them.
The Layla Hybrid is packaged with a 120-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty. Shoppers can also add on a pillow, foundation, or sheets for further savings.
- Choice of soft and firm side for different styles
- Edge support allows sleepers to sit on the side
- Flexible coils adapt well with an adjustable bed
Purple® is a popular bed-in-a-box brand that specializes in selling an exceptionally pressure-relieving mattress. In fact, the Purple® was created as the world’s first “No-Pressure” bed.
Featured as the top layer in every Purple® mattress is their Smart Comfort Grid™. The founders of Purple® patented a whole new mattress material, hyper-elastic polymer, to create this grid. On their website, they boast the benefits of their innovative mattress technology.
The Smart Comfort Grid™ is adaptable to most body types, so it’s a great fit for side, stomach, or back sleepers. Plus, its grid shape promotes airflow through the bed and prevents hot air from being trapped within. The grid limits motion transfer throughout the bed, so it’s a great mattress for couples, too. However, the most important sleep-promoting benefit this bed offers to side sleepers is its ability to relieve pressure points under your shoulders and hips while maintaining a healthy posture.
When shopping with Purple®, we recommend choosing their flagship all-foam model. The original Purple® mattress features only three layers, including the Smart Comfort Grid™.
While the original Purple® mattress is thinner than many of our recommendations, it packs a lot into its low-profile design. Plenty of customer reviews have called Purple®’s mattresses life-changing, explaining how they helped them live with serious medical conditions.
Below the Purple Grid™ in this bed is a transition layer of cushioning poly-foam to act as a barrier between the comfortable grid and the core of the mattress. The last layer of the Purple® is a high-density poly-foam in place to give the bed shape and structural support.
The original Purple® mattress is the only mattress from the company with foam support. Their mattress models are hybrids, with the main difference between models being you can choose whether you want a hybrid with a 2-inch, 3-inch, or 4-inch comfort layer. Purple® also offers a twin size mattress specifically for children, aptly known as the Kids mattress.
You can buy a Purple® mattress on their website or at select Mattress Firm locations. Every Purple® bed comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
PURPLE HYBRID PREMIER 4
- Features a thick layer of their Smart Comfort Grid™
- Designed to provide a weightless, zero-gravity experience
- Temperature regulating design
Shoulder pain is a common issue for side sleepers because it’s one of the areas that bear the brunt of their body weight. Many mattresses feature extra cushion or contouring in the mattress’s head to prevent shoulder pain, such as the Helix Midnight Luxe does. The bed’s pillow top is covered with ventilated Tencel™ fabric for a cool night’s rest.
Underneath the pillow top is medium-feel Memory Foam Plus, ready to conform to a side sleeper’s body for pressure and pain relief. Next is gel foam and transitional poly-foam to improve the mattress’s compression.
The support core is numerous pocketed coils, with the coils providing a plusher feel under the shoulders than elsewhere across the mattress. The base layer of DuraDense foam keeps the coils straight and bouncy.
Because of its temperature-neutral fabric cover, the Midnight Luxe is also a good choice for side sleepers who possess high body temperatures or live in a hot or humid climate.
As the name suggests, the Luxe is the upgraded version of the original Helix Midnight, which lacks this mattress’s zoned support and cooling Tencel™ cover. Although many customer reviewers said they enjoyed the feel of the improved mattress, some confessed they were still unsure if the comfort they had experienced was enough to justify the Luxe model’s increased price.
You can buy a Helix mattress online at their website or through select showrooms across the USA. The Helix Midnight Luxe includes a 100-night sleep trial and a 15-year limited warranty.
HELIX MIDNIGHT LUXE
- Breathable Tencel™ cover ensures airflow and removes heat
- Certified by CertiPUR-US® and OEKO-TEX® Standard 100
- Coils arranged for more contouring in the shoulders
Some side sleepers enjoy the feel of a pillow top mattress that cushions their joints. The WinkBed possesses a Euro top for a seamless look, with all the comfort of a luxurious hybrid. The WinkBed is covered in Tencel™ fabric for a temperature-controlled surface, ensuring side sleepers won’t wake up in an overheated sweat.
The Euro top contains gel-fused foam for pressure relief and cooling cushion. The gel foam features SleepCalm™ motion isolation technology, keeping a person’s restless sleep habits from disturbing their partner’s rest.
Underneath the foam is a layer of pocketed coils to isolate motion and provide buoyant support. The coils are arranged to provide targeted “push back,” ensuring a firm feel in areas that need support and a gentle feel in more sensitive areas, while also offering edge support. The WinkBed website notes that a person can sleep near the edge without feeling as if they’re about to roll off the bed.
WinkBed’s reviews are fairly easy to skim through since it’s set up to let shoppers sort by their desired firmness and qualities such as pain relief and durability. A person can even sort by unusual features such as “value for dollar” where some owners compared the ordeal of shopping for a mattress in a box store with simply purchasing a WinkBed online. Some reviewers noted the length of time and the number of guests who slept comfortably on a WinkBed mattress, as a testament to the bed’s durability and versatility.
The company also offers a memory foam bed known as the GravityLux and a latex hybrid mattress known as EcoCloud.
The WinkBed is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a lifetime limited warranty. Shoppers can further save and upgrade their bedroom by adding on a protector, pillow, and an adjustable bed base.
- Euro pillow top cushions the shoulders, hips, and back
- Gel foam paired with dynamic, responsive springs
- Available in four different firmnesses
Bear is a memory foam mattress designed to help athletes sleep better and wake up pain-free, but we like this mattress for side sleepers because it contains extra pressure-relieving foams to prevent discomfort and promote better rest. Many reviews of the Bear Mattress mention it feels on the firmer end of medium and doesn’t allow for much sinkage. If you’re a side sleeper who prefers a firmer mattress, Bear could be right for you.
The Bear mattress has three layers: a comfort layer of cooling graphite-infused memory foam, a cushioning transition layer of poly-foam, and a high-density support core. Bear also uses Celliant® fabric in the cover of their mattress to promote deeper sleep and prevent night sweats.
Bear’s graphite-infused memory foam contours to your body while dissipating body heat, offering instant, cool-to-the-touch comfort. If you’re a hot sleeper, the graphite infused within this foam will be especially helpful in warding off night sweats and keeping your temperature neutral. The thickness of this layer allows for just enough cushioning of the hips and shoulders but isn’t so thick that it offers a notable “cradling” feel. We recommend sleepers seeking a more cloud-like mattress choose something a bit softer than the Bear.
The second layer of foam (the cushioning transition layer of poly-foam) further relieves pressure points by distributing your weight evenly across the mattress. This layer also gives the bed a bit of bounce, as it’s more responsive than traditional memory foam.
The third and final layer of the Bear is durable poly-foam to prevent sagging and extend the life of the mattress.
There are two other mattresses offered by Bear, the Bear Pro and the Bear Hybrid. Both mattresses are improved versions of the original Bear bed, with extra features such as springs that support the body and copper-infused foam. The Bear Hybrid is considered by the company to be the softest mattress they offer with its medium feel.
Many customer reviews noted that the Bear mattress was the first online bed they bought and that they were inspired to do so by previous reviews.
Bear sells their mattresses online-only, offering a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty with each bed.
- Features cooling gels to prevent night sweats
- Uses Celliant® fabric to promote deeper sleep
- Best for side sleepers seeking a firmer bed
Side Sleeping Positions
Side sleeping is the most popular sleeping position, but not every side sleeper is the same. In fact, the term side sleeping usually refers to one of four positions.
- In the fetal position, both legs are bent at the knees, and the back is curled down to the legs. 40% of side-sleepers sleep this way, making it the most common sleeping position. For those with arthritis or other chronic pain issues, this position can leave the sleeper with morning soreness.
- The log is the next most common side sleeping position. In the log position, the arms and legs are stretched out from the body and the spine is straight.
- In the yearner position, the arms are stretched out, whereas the back and legs are straight. Only about 5% of the population sleeps like this.
- In the sprinter position, the sleeper is posed with the arms and back straight, and one leg bent at the knee and the other straight. This is the least common side sleeping position.
While none of these sleeping positions are worse or better than the other, the positions requiring extended legs can induce misalignment by shifting the hips out of place. Using pillows to keep the hips aligned will reduce the sleeper’s risk of developing sciatica and arthritis. Dr. Jennifer Miller, Physical Therapist, says, “I recommend sleeping with a body pillow to my patients with joint pain. It helps to relieve pressure on the joints by placing the body pillow between the knees and having the top arm rested on the pillow.”
Is Side-Sleeping Healthy?
Side sleeping is healthy because it improves your breathing. Side sleepers also snore less and face fewer instances of lower back pain.
Those with sleep apnea can benefit from side sleeping because it opens the airways and alleviates sleep apnea symptoms. This position can also improve acid reflux when sleeping on your right side. However, the Editors of Sleep Junkie suggest sleeping on the right side as it takes undue pressure off the heart, alleviates heartburn, and improves blood pressure.
However, side sleeping also has drawbacks. Side-sleepers have a higher risk of acne breakouts thanks to being in consistent contact with their bedding. They can get premature wrinkles on one side due to sleeping with their face pressed up against the pillow, as well.
Side sleepers also have more pressure points than other sleeping positions. The pressure builds up on their sides, causing sore muscles and stiff joints.
|Reduced snoring |
May alleviate lower back pain
Increases proper lymph node drainage
|Increased acne breakouts |
More pressure points on the side
What to Look for in the Best Mattress for Side Sleepers
As a side sleeper, you should keep three main points in mind when mattress shopping: support, pressure relief, and spinal alignment. Maintaining an aligned spine and pressure relief through sufficient support will improve your quality of sleep.
Visualize this: you’re sleeping on your side with your arms in front of you. Your hip furthest from the mattress is rotated forward, twisting your lower back. To balance out your spine, you rotate your shoulder in the opposite direction of your hips. While this position is comfortable, it can produce negative medical results in the future.
Paying attention to your pelvic rotation and ensuring your spine is in alignment will reduce your risk of developing bursitis, sciatica, arthritis, and other chronic pains.
A mattress with a plush firmness or a Euro or pillow-top will envelop the hips and shoulders and allow them to sink, maintaining spinal alignment.
You can’t maintain spinal alignment without a supportive sleeping surface. Side sleepers need softer mattresses; however, if the mattress is so plush their body bows, than an unhealthy spine will result in shoulder and hip pain.
Side sleepers need a mattress with enough support in the hips and shoulders to prevent them from sinking too far into the mattress and keep the spine in its natural shape. Zoned mattress technologies give customized support to the sleeper. In the hips and shoulders, a firm transitional layer will offer support and prevent the spine from arching, while the other areas of the body will receive softer support and better pressure relief.
If you share your bed with a partner, look for a mattress with edge support to ensure you don’t roll to the middle of the bed or get “stuck.”
If you feel or notice your mattress sagging, we recommend buying a new bed (or, if you’re within your warranty period, having your mattress repaired or replaced) to avoid pain in the hips and lower back. While a sagging mattress might not feel terribly uncomfortable, it does more harm to your quality of sleep than you may initially notice. Sagging mattresses often offer uneven or lumpy support and create pressure points, something side sleepers are already prone to. To get the best sleep and prevent pain, make sure your mattress offers healthy support.
Pressure Point Relief
While side sleeping can eliminate snoring and ease symptoms of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, it does come with its drawbacks. The most common problem many side sleepers face is pressure points, resulting in hip pain, shoulder pain, and sometimes neck pain, too. That’s why it’s important to find a mattress that’s compatible with your body type and includes zoned support.
When you sleep on your side, your hips and shoulders bear most of your body weight. If your mattress is too firm, the excess weight on your shoulders and hips can cause painful pressure points under those joints; this can cause you to toss, turn, and wake up to resituate yourself in an effort to get comfortable— ultimately, disturbing your night’s rest.
A mattress designed for pressure relief, such as memory foam, is best for side sleepers. These mattresses contour to the body, closing the gaps between your body and the bed, and alleviate tension. Memory foam mattresses are also superb at isolating motion and evenly distributing weight, too.
Memory foam distributes your weight evenly across the mattress to further prevent pressure points, pain, or soreness; this also helps prevent uncomfortable sagging in just one area of the mattress.
These mattresses also promote undisturbed sleep, as memory foam responds to each sleeper individually, isolating motion. If you share the bed with a partner, a bed offering good motion isolation prevents their tossing and turning from keeping you up at night.
What’s the Best Bed in a Box for Side Sleepers?
Most beds we covered in this guide are bed in a box mattresses. Deciding which one is best comes down to personal preference. Really, the only difference between a “bed in a box” and a traditional mattress you’d buy in a store is the method of delivery. So there’s no way to answer “what’s the best bed in a box for side sleepers?” accurately, as there’s no “one-size-fits-all” mattress out there.
If you prefer the convenience of shopping online and don’t want to arrange delivery times, a bed in a box mattress is right up your alley. However, if you’re looking for mattress removal or set-up services, you’ll want to shop with a brand offering White Glove Delivery, as this delivery method includes the set-up of your new bed and removal of any packaging as well as your old bed.
As you can probably imagine, the type of mattress you buy plays a significant role in your overall comfort. Different mattress types have different pros and cons, so it’s best to educate yourself on your options and choose which mattress type you’re interested in before you get too deep into your search.
Whether you’re shopping in-store or browsing online bed-in-a-box reviews, there are four main types of mattresses on the market today: memory foam, latex, hybrid, and innerspring.
Memory foam mattresses are regarded as some of the best for pain relief. These cushioning beds mold to your body to offer unsurpassed pressure relief and disperse body weight, which is ideal for side sleepers who need cushion under the shoulders and hips. If you experience frequent pains, a memory foam mattress is perfect for you.
Typically, we recommend memory foam mattresses of medium firmness to side sleepers, as these beds offer a good amount of cushion to alleviate pressure yet are still firm enough to facilitate healthy side sleeping and prevent uncomfortable sinkage.
Often people associate a “cradling” feeling with memory foam because it hugs your body and creates a more “in the mattress” feel.
Latex mattresses are excellent for eco-friendly shoppers, or those looking for a hypoallergenic mattress. Latex is more buoyant than memory foam, so it keeps you more lifted on top of the mattress rather than cradled. A latex bed usually feels more bouncy and responsive than other foams.
Hybrid mattresses combine cushioning foam layers with a pocketed coil system to offer a responsive but conforming bed. If you’re interested in a foam mattress but don’t want to sacrifice the bouncy feel of an innerspring system, a hybrid mattress is a great option as it combines the best of both. Because hybrid materials require a variety of high-quality materials, they are often a bit pricier than all-foam or innerspring mattresses.
Innerspring mattresses are centuries old but have stood the test of time because they offer a bouncy, comfortable sleep surface. Innerspring beds can’t mold to and cushion your body like foam beds, so they’re not the best for pain or pressure relief— which is something side sleepers need. Instead, quality innerspring beds are usually better suited for back or stomach sleepers because they promote neutral spinal alignment and are typically firmer.
To get the most comfortable sleep and wake up every morning pain-free, read our guide on finding the best mattress for back pain.
What Should Side Sleepers Consider Before Buying?
Before deciding on your next bed, there are a few things to take a step back and consider to ensure you’re getting the most comfortable mattress at the best value. These factors include your sleeping position, mattress type, and different firmness options.
It’s essential to find a bed that won’t allow your torso to sink too far into the mattress, as it can put extra stress on the spine.
However, your mattress still needs to let your shoulders and hips sink a little because if it’s too firm, the resistance will cause painful pressure points. Typically, quality memory foam mattresses are great for side sleepers because they can contour to your body in a way most materials can’t; this helps release pressure and tension while preventing the misalignment of your spine.
Body Type & Firmness
Firmness refers to how firm or soft a mattress is, and body weight determines how firm or soft a bed feels.
If you have a petite build and do not weigh much, most mattresses will feel firm, so it’s best to get a plusher bed for comfort. On the other hand, people who weigh 250 pounds or more will need more support from their mattresses to prevent them from sinking far into the bed; therefore, heavier sleepers should choose firmer mattresses. Side sleepers of average body weight are typically most comfortable on a medium mattress, as soft mattresses can feel too sinking and firm mattresses can cause pressure points.
|Side Sleeper Weight||Best Mattress Firmness||Why?|
|Petite: Less than 130 pounds||Medium-soft||Medium-soft mattresses will offer better contouring for lightweight sleepers, improving comfort and preventing pains.|
|Average: 130-230 pounds||Medium||Medium mattresses offer a good balance of comfort and support for average-weight sleepers, so the bed will never feel too soft or too firm.|
|Heavy: 230 pounds or more||Medium-Firm to Firm||Plus-size sleepers need a firm mattress to prevent uncomfortable sagging and maintain healthy spinal alignment.|
In general, side sleepers are usually most comfortable on medium to medium-firm mattresses because they’re soft enough to relieve pressure points but still supportive enough to promote a healthy spine.
Before deciding how firm your bed should be, consider your preference for firmness. If you like a more cradling, “in the bed” feel from your mattress, choose a softer mattress. Alternatively, if you prefer a firmer feel from your bed, choose a more supportive option.
How quickly a bed responds to movement is a good indicator of how much the bed will sink. Those who like a cradling, or hugging, feel from their mattress usually want a bed that is slower to respond.
However, it’s important for side sleepers to pick a mattress with quick pressure response so they can easily switch from side to side while they sleep. Plus, faster response times detract from the feeling of being “stuck” in the mattress, and offer a more “lifted” feeling instead.
Cooling and Airflow
As hot sleepers probably already know, temperature control is an important thing to look for in a new mattress. It’s not uncommon for people to report overheating or experiencing night sweats, which can throw a wrench in your sleeping schedule.
As we just mentioned, side sleepers are best suited for medium mattresses because they have adequate cushioning under the shoulders and hips. Because a side sleeper’s shoulders and hips sink down into the mattress and are surrounded by foam, there is a greater risk of their bed becoming a heat trap. This is why it’s especially important for side sleepers to find a bed with cooling technologies.
When looking for a cooling mattress, keep an eye out for gel swirls, gel beads, plant-based or latex foams, and ventilated air channels. All of these features contribute to temperature regulation, and ultimately, sound sleep.
Getting a quality side-sleeping mattress will require a budget between $1000 and $2000.
Certain mattress types and materials cost more simply because of their manufacturing processes and durability. For instance, if you want organic materials in your mattress, you’ll be looking to spend closer to $2000 than $1000. We advise against purchasing a mattress less than $500 since most of the materials will be synthetic and low-quality.
When searching for your new mattress, we encourage you to consider the sleep trial that comes with your potential new mattress. Mattresses aren’t cheap, and the last thing you want to do is drop a thousand dollars on an uncomfortable bed.
Whether you’re buying in-store or online, it’s hard to get a good feel for how comfortable a bed is before purchasing it. To help shoppers feel more confident in their purchase, many online mattress brands have started offering risk-free sleep trials with their beds.
Sleep trials let you buy your new mattress and try it in your home commitment-free for a period of time. If you decide against keeping the mattress within the sleep trial, most brands will refund you.
On the other hand, if you feel the bed you bought is the best one for you, then you’re set! Always read the fine print regarding the sleep trial information before buying so you’re aware of how the process works and any fees you’re responsible for.
Beyond the sleep trial, the warranty your bed comes with plays a significant role in the overall value of the mattress. If your mattress comes with a warranty that only lasts for a couple of years and doesn’t cover much, you’re ultimately out of luck if something were to happen to your mattress.
Buying a mattress with at least a 10-year warranty is the best way to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth from your new bed. Before buying, read the warranty information to have an understanding of what is covered and what the warranty process entails, so you’re not surprised years down the road should you ever have to submit a warranty claim.
Best Pillows for Side Sleepers
As side sleepers are vulnerable to shoulder and hip discomfort, they need extra help alleviating pressure and maintaining a healthy sleeping position. Pillows are often the best way to eliminate these concerns.
For instance, a proper side sleeping head pillow will sport a higher loft in the neck area than the head. This varied loft will alleviate stress in the neck and allow for muscle relaxation. The correct pillow can be pricey— around $50 to $150— although a good contoured memory foam pillow is worth the extra cost.
A knee pillow is a small pillow with an indentation on the pillow’s surface. It pulls the hips into alignment and prevents the hips from rotating awkwardly. Knee pillows come in a range of materials and firmnesses and often can be bought for less than $50. Some knee pillows even offer a cooling effect, which can help sleepers who run hot.
A body pillow can substitute for both head and knee pillows and gives extra support to the sleeper so they don’t stress out their back muscles to keep balance on their side. Body pillows are often used to switch from one sleeping position preference to another or by pregnant women to support their bellies.
Morning and night stretching is another way to alleviate muscle and joint soreness. Stretching irons out muscle knots. After stretching nightly, you’ll find your mobility in the morning is far greater than usual. Stretching in the morning can increase your mobility even more for the rest of the day.
Best Mattress Toppers for Side Sleepers
Even if your new mattress isn’t comfortable and has lost its cushion, you might not be ready to replace it. People who need to improve their sleep quality on a tight budget might want to try a mattress topper for side sleeping. A mattress topper usually costs only a few hundred dollars, a fraction of what a quality mattress costs. Side sleepers should seek thick toppers, between 2 to 4 inches tall, with soft to medium feels.
Companies produce mattress toppers with a variety of materials. Memory foam is a common fill, along with latex foam, poly-foam, and gel foam. Eco-conscious side sleepers might want to try a natural latex topper, although it often costs more than a synthetic foam topper. Memory foam mattress toppers are a great choice for budget shoppers.
As with a regular mattress, a topper should include an extensive warranty. We suggest looking for toppers that are protected for at least 5 years.
A mattress topper is also convenient to keep on hand for visitors, allowing you to dress up a guest room mattress or pull-out bed. You can store a mattress topper rolled up in a protective cover and bring it out when you need it.
Frequently Asked Questions
What mattress is best for a side sleeper with back pain?
Side sleepers with a stiff back often find relief on a supportive mattress with a medium feel. Extra support features such as targeted back support and pressure relief can increase the bed’s ability to reduce back pain. Side sleepers experiencing back pain may also want to pair their mattress with an adjustable bed, allowing them to elevate their bodies and ease pressure on their lower backs.
What mattress is best for side sleepers with hip pain?
If you just experience occasional discomfort or pressure points, you can avoid hip pain by sleeping on a mattress soft enough to contour to and take pressure off of your hips. However, if you have a pre-existing condition causing your hip pain or you’ve recently had surgery, there might not be any magic trick to easing hip pain immediately. If a doctor recommends, it may be better to sleep on your back for a while and give your hips a break. That’s not to say you’ll have to ditch side sleeping forever, though.
What mattress is best for side sleepers with shoulder pain?
Side sleepers often experience stiff shoulders when their mattress is too firm and unable to cushion their heavy joints. Many mattresses for side sleeping include targeted cushion in the shoulder area for extra pressure relief. This feature reduces the sleeper’s chances of waking up in pain.
What mattress is best for side sleepers with neck pain?
Neck pain and shoulder pain are often related due to how these parts of the body are connected; therefore, a mattress with extra cushion in the shoulder area often helps prevent morning neck pain. Side sleepers should also consider their pillow and ask themselves if it offers proper neck support. A high-loft pillow with a firm feel usually does the best job of maintaining a side sleeper’s cervical spine.
How firm should a mattress be for a side sleeper?
Side sleepers are going to want a bed with some cushion to alleviate pressure under the shoulders and hips. Most side sleepers like mattresses that are medium in firmness for their mix of comfort and support. That said, heavier side sleepers like firmer beds and petite side sleepers usually opt for something softer.
Is memory foam good for side sleepers?
Many side sleepers love memory foam because of its pressure-relieving abilities. Memory foam mattresses mold to your body and distribute your weight evenly, preventing pressure build-up under one particular area. Sleeping on a memory foam mattress is an easy way to avoid pressure points and pain as a side sleeper.
Can a side sleeper sleep on a firm mattress?
We don’t recommend firm mattresses for side sleepers because they don’t provide adequate cushion for the shoulders and hips. Side sleepers over 230 pounds will need a firmer bed to receive proper support and maintain alignment, but even then, very firm mattresses aren’t necessary. Usually, plus-size side sleepers find medium to medium-firm mattresses best.
What kind of pillow should a side sleeper use?
Side sleepers usually find mid-loft pillows the most comfortable. When it comes to materials, memory foam, buckwheat hulls, down, and feathers are good options. As we mentioned above, many side sleepers love contoured memory foam pillows, as well.
Did You Find Your Next Mattress?
Because side sleeping is such a popular sleep position, there are a variety of mattresses sold today specifically tailored to side sleepers. When you’re searching, keep your budget and personal sleep preferences in mind, and it will help guide you towards the right mattress. Don’t be afraid to ask retailers questions and read online mattress reviews during your search to make sure you’re buying the best mattress for a good night’s sleep.