Did you know that not only is side sleeping the most common sleeping position, but it’s also the most recommended by sleep specialists? If you’re a side sleeper, consider yourself in good company!
Pros and Cons of Sleeping on Your Side:
Supports spinal alignment:
With the right mattress, the side sleeping position supports healthy spinal alignment from your hips to your head.
Prevents snoring and sleep apnea:
Sleeping on your side makes it easier for your organs to breathe and keeps your airways open, ideal for those who snore or are prone to sleep apnea.
Sleeping on the left can prevent acid reflux and heartburn.
Supports fetal health:
Sleeping on the left improves heart circulation, an especially important consideration for pregnant women.
Causes facial wrinkles:
Side sleeping can contribute to wrinkles since you’re smushing one side of your face into the pillow.
Affects arthritis and deep breathing:
If you curl up too tightly in the fetal position, it can hamper deep breathing and worsen your arthritis. But as long as you have an open curl, side sleeping generally a very healthy sleep position.
According to The Better Sleep Council, 47% of sleepers sleep in the fetus position, with their knees up curled up towards their chest. Other common side-sleeping positions include: the log position, preferred by 15% of sleepers who rest on their side with both arms down by their side; and the yearner position, preferred by 13% of sleepers who sleep on their side with their arms out in front of them.
47% of sleepers
15% of sleepers
13% of sleepers
When choosing a mattress, side sleepers should look for how the mattress supports spinal alignment (specifically, how horizontal the spine stays when lying in the bed on your side). Additionally, side sleepers should consider the following questions:
- Does the mattress contour to your body, and how much? Is it too much or just right?
- Will it provide pressure point relief?
- Does the mattress retain heat, and to what extent?
Consider these questions as you read through the rest of this guide to find the best mattress for you as a side sleeper.
Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers
|BRAND||MODEL||TYPE OF MATTRESS||FIRMNESS/FEEL||PRICE|
|Nest Bedding Signature Series||Memory foam||Soft, Medium, Firm||$1,199 (Queen)|
|Leesa||Memory foam and Avena foam||Medium Firm||$940 (Queen)|
|GhostBed||Memory foam and latex foam||Medium Firm||$895 (Queen)|
|Spindle||All-latex||Soft, Medium, Firm||$1,349 (Queen)|
|Winkbed||Hybrid||Medium Firm||$1,299 (Queen)|
What Do Side Sleepers Need In a Mattress?
When it comes to choosing the best mattress for side sleepers, firmness matters most of all. If your mattress is too firm, it will add pressure to your pressure points, instead of relief. Your hips and shoulders need to sink deeper into the mattress in order to keep your spine straight. A too-firm mattress prevents this from happening. On the other hand, if your mattress is too-soft, your body will sink too deeply, creating an uncomfortable arc in your spine.
As a side sleeper, finding the right mattress depends in large part on choosing the right firmness.
Ideal Firmness for Side Sleepers
Side sleepers should look for mattresses that fall in the upper middle of the firmness scale (a 6-7 on a range of 1-10, with 10 being the most firm). A mattress with this level of firmness will keep your spine in alignment by contouring to the curves of your body without letting them sink down, or pushing them up, too far.
Does Body Weight Change the Firmness Scale?
In a word, yes. Heavier side sleepers weighing over 230 pounds should look for a firmer mattress, while lighter side sleepers weighing less than 130 pounds should look for a softer mattress.
After firmness and support, side sleepers should be looking at contouring ability when selecting a new mattress. It’s important that a mattress conform (or contour) to your body shape to allow your spine to stay in alignment. Let’s review the pros and cons of different mattress types in relation to their contouring ability so you can choose the best one for you.
What Types of Mattresses Are Good for Side Sleepers?
|Mattress Type||Innerspring/Coil||Memory Foam||Hybrid||Latex||Airbeds|
|Durability||3 years||7 years||4 years||8 years||8 years|
|Side Sleeper Grade||D||A+||C||B||F|
Innerspring mattresses are a traditional type of mattress. They use coils in their support core with foam and fabric on top for comfort.
- Pros: Widely available, inexpensive, better edge support, bounciness suitable for sex
- Cons: Poor contour ability, poor motion isolation, prone to sagging and collect dust
Memory foam mattresses are made of polyurethane foam. These mattresses are known for their ability to contour to and “hug” the sleeper’s body.
- Pros: Superior contour ability, long lifespan, excellent motion isolation
- Cons: Below-average temperature regulation, initial offgassing odor, inferior edge support
Hybrid mattresses are a hybrid of innerspring with foam mattresses. They use coils in their support core and memory foam, gel foam, or latex foam in their comfort layers.
- Pros: Provide support without fully enveloping the body, great edge support, superior temperature regulation
- Cons: Shorter lifespan, more expensive
Latex mattresses are made of latex foam, which can be all-natural organic latex, synthetic latex, or a combination of natural with synthetic latex.
- Pros: Extremely durable, bounciness suitable for sex, fully organic and hypoallergenic option in the case of all-natural latex
- Cons: Heavy construction and difficult to move, limited availability in stores, initial offgassing odor
Airbeds rely on air to provide support with foam comfort layers on top. The bed is inflated to the sleeper’s desired firmness level using an electric or hand-powered air pump.
- Pros: Adjustable firmness, above-average longevity if parts are replaced as needed
- Cons: Tend to lose air during the night, don’t support heavier sleepers
Now that you’ve decided on a mattress, what else should you be thinking about?
Best Pillows for Side Sleepers
No mattress is complete without a pillow (or a few). Pillows play a key role in spinal alignment for side sleepers. It’s important to keep your neck supported to avoid any kind of back or shoulder pain from sleeping. Because you are on your side, there is a greater distance between your head and the mattress. This is where a good, firm pillow comes in.
If you prefer something softer, consider a memory foam pillow that’s extra thick – it will provide the necessary support while feeling more cushiony. Ideally, you want to keep your neck in alignment without tilting it upward or downward, as demonstrated by the image below:
To find the best pillow height for you, measure the distance from the base of your neck to your shoulder, and find a pillow that matches that height.
Many side sleepers benefit from a back or stomach pillow, too. These will keep your spine and legs aligned by preventing you from leaning into your back or your stomach, which can be an especially important consideration for pregnant women. Look for a large pillow that’s very firm with thick padding.
Mattress prices can vary widely, from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the size and type of mattress, the quality, and where you buy it. Generally, you can find a good mattress around the $1,000 range.
As a general rule, latex mattresses are the most expensive, followed by memory foam or hybrid mattresses, with innerspring mattresses being the cheapest. Learn more about mattress costs in our Buyer’s Guide.
Typically, mattresses you buy directly from a manufacturer tend to cost more than those you’ll find online or in stores.
Trial Periods and Return Policies
Recognize that the five minutes you spend in the store isn’t a great proxy for how the mattress will feel to sleep in for several hours a night. Mattresses require some break-in time, so give yourself at least a month to adjust to the mattress before you decide to return it. Make sure the return policy and trial period allow for break-in time.
Most retailers offer at least a 30-day trial period to allow this process to happen. Many online mattress sellers offer extended trial periods of 100 days or more as a way to ease concerns for people who prefer to try out their bed in-store first.
Review the warranty of any mattress before you purchase it. A warranty will cover physical defects like sagging, broken coils, or foam bunching.
The warranty will also inform you what voids the coverage. Stains void the warranty, so it’s important to regularly clean your mattress. Using the wrong support for your mattress also voids the warranty. Mattress warranties will tell you what kind of base is required, such as a box spring, or a slatted or solid base.
Top-5 Mattresses for Side Sleepers
In no particular order, here are our top picks for the top-rated mattress for side sleepers.
The Nest Alexander Signature Series is a memory foam mattress available in three firmness levels: a 3-4, a 5-6, and 8 on a scale of 1-10. All three models contain amounts of support foam, transition foam, and gel-infused memory foams – but in different amounts depending on the firmness level selected. The 1.5-inch quilted cover lends a pillow top feel to the otherwise all-foam bed. Nest offers a 100 night sleep trial with free shipping.
- Why? At 20 years, the warranty is longer than most memory foam beds. The bed’s construction from high-quality foams bodes well for its longevity.
- Why Not? At $1,199 for a Queen, the Nest Alexander Signature Series is more expensive than comparable mattresses. And while the three firmness levels provide options for sleepers of various body weights and firmness needs, there is no true medium firm option, which is best for most side sleepers.
- The Bottom Line: The Next Alexander Signature Series is a great option for side sleepers who want the contour of a memory foam mattress, but prefer the ultra-plush feel of a pillowtop.
The Leesa mattress is a foam bed containing 6 inches of support foam, 2 inches of memory foam, and a 2-inch comfort layer of their proprietary Avena foam (which has a similar feel to latex). The Queen costs $940. The Leesa bed comes with a 100 night sleep trial and 10-year warranty.
- Why? The foam construction of the Leesa mattress provides enough give for side sleepers, but the Avena top layer makes the bed more resilient and bouncy than a typical memory foam mattress. The Avena foam also helps keep the mattress surface cool and prevents the sleeper from sinking too deeply into the mattress. The company has a good reputation for customer service.
- Why Not? The Leesa bed is only available in one firmness option, which is slightly firmer than medium firm. While this is an ideal firmness for most side sleepers, those who prefer a plusher feel may not enjoy the Leesa bed. While some sleepers prefer the bounciness of the Avena foam, it also means the bed offers less motion isolation that most memory foam mattresses.
- The Bottom Line: The Leesa mattress offers a good mix of bounce and contour that caters to side sleepers who prefer a cooler mattress surface that’s responsive enough to be suitable for sex.
The Ghostbed is a mixed foam mattress that uses high-quality foams, including 7.5 inches of support foam, 2 inches of gel-infused memory foam, and a 1.5-inch layer of aerated synthetic Dunlop latex foam. A Queen costs $795. Ghostbed offers a 101 night sleep trial and guarantees to ship within 24 hours, which is faster than most.
- Why? The Ghostbed’s use of higher-quality foams predict long-term durability. The inclusion of latex foam and aeration of that layer help keep the mattress surface cooler than a traditional memory foam bed.
- Why Not? The Ghostbed is only available in a medium firm level, which is best suited to side sleepers of average weight, but may not work for heavier or lighter side sleepers.
- The Bottom Line: The GhostBed contains memory foam and latex foams, offering side sleepers the contour and pressure point relief of memory foam, with the coolness and bounce of a latex mattress.
The Spindle bed is available in four firmness levels. Each model contains three 3-inch layers of natural Dunlop latex within a 1-inch wool cover, although the density of the foam layers differs depending on the firmness level selected. A Queen costs $1,349.99.
- Why? As an all-natural latex bed, the Spindle mattress is naturally hypoallergenic and organic, making it a good fit for hot sleepers and those with allergies. The foams are all high-quality.
- Why Not? All-latex beds are more expensive, although this one is more affordable than others since it’s sold online. Also, consumers must actually construct the bed once it arrives, inserting the layers into the mattress cover. Although it offers a 1-year sleep trial, full refunds are not available and switching out comfort layers does come at a cost.
- The Bottom Line: The Spindle mattress is a solid choice for side sleepers who want some contour, but prioritize the cool sleeping surface and long-term support of an all-latex mattress.
The WinkBed is a hybrid mattress that uses a coil-on-coil design with multi-layer construction. The mattress contains two inches of support foam, a pocketed coil layer, a cotton pad for lumbar support, another innerspring coil layer, one inch of gel-infused foam, and a comfort layer of softer foam. A Queen costs $1,299, and white glove delivery, installation, and removal of your old mattress is available for an added fee. WinkBed offers a 101 night sleep trial and 10 year warranty.
- Why? The coil-on-coil construction of the WinkBed offers more contour than an innerspring bed, while keeping the mattress cool by minimizing the memory foam layer. It’s available in a medium firmness level, a 6, which is ideal for side sleepers. The WinkBed offers strong edge support by encasing the coil within support foams, making it a good fit for couples or those who like to sleep on the edge of the bed.
- Why Not? Although it contains foam, the bulk of the mattress is innerspring coils, so the WinkBed will offer less contour for side sleepers than a traditional memory foam bed.
- The Bottom Line: The WinkBed’s hybrid design and strong edge support is a nice option for couples with varying sleep needs who use the entirety of the mattress surface.