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What Is The Best Mattress For A Side Sleeper?

Many mattress companies would have you believe that their specialized or flagship mattress is the one size fits all solution for everyone's sleep requirements. But that's just probably not the case! I'm not here to tell you which one mattress is the absolute best one for you to buy as a side sleeper. Instead, in this article I will help you understand what you need to know in order to choose the best mattress for yourself, as a side sleeper.

what is the best mattress for a side sleeper? What Is The Best Mattress For A Side Sleeper?

Many mattress companies would have you believe that their specialized or flagship mattress is the one size fits all solution for everyone’s sleep requirements. But that’s just not the case! I’m not here to tell you which one mattress is the absolute best one for you to buy as a side sleeper. Instead, in this article I will help you understand what you need to know in order to choose the best mattress for yourself, as a side sleeper.

Side sleeping is one of the three main positions adults sleep in. There are three main sleeping positions:

  • side sleeper
  • back sleeper
  • stomach sleeper

Each of these positions creates different pressure points when we sleep, and our bodies need to be supported in different ways for the best sleep. Of course, many of us are combo sleepers, meaning we change positions during the night. This is me: I often fall asleep on my side and wake up on my back. And when I was pregnant, I yearned to be able to lie on my stomach, though I never really do that!

So what is the best mattress for a side sleeper? We’ll take a look at some facts about side sleeping, what a side sleeper needs from a mattress (including information on different body weights, as that has an impact on what you should choose), and a rundown of how the different mattress types work for side sleepers.

Side Sleeping Facts

Did you know that sleeping on your side is the most common sleeping position? It is estimated that up to a half of all people sleep on their sides. Due to the way side sleeping supports your spine while you sleep, many experts say it is the best sleeping position.

Pros And Cons of Sleeping On Your Side

Pros

Pros
  • Supports a good sleeping position for your spine
  • Reduces obstruction of your airway while you sleep

Cons

Cons
  • Side sleeping puts a lot of pressure on your neck and shoulder
  • You may experience a numb arm or sore shoulder if your mattress is too firm

This short video from The Sleep Foundation goes into a bit more detail about the most common sleeping positions. Sleeping on your side is discussed second, after sleeping on your back.

What Does A Side Sleeper Need From A Mattress?

A side sleeper needs a mattress that will be very responsive to and supportive of their specific pressure points. Particularly at the hips and shoulders.

Body weight plays a big role here: if you are a side sleeper who weighs under about 200lb, you will need a softer mattress. Even more so if you weigh 130lb or less. Why a softer one? Because you need to be able to sink into it a bit to get the pressure relief. If you are a lighter side sleeper using a firmer mattress, you will probably notice that your shoulder does not feel supported enough, and may even get pins and needles in your arm.

For lighter body weight side sleepers, I recommend a mattress that has a firmness rating of 4-6 on the mattress firmness scale. A perfect example of this is the Nolah mattress (read about it here), with a firmness rating of around 5 and many accolades as being extremely comfortable for side sleepers.

However, if you weigh over 230lb, you will need a firmer mattress than the lighter side sleepers. This is because your body weight needs more support all around. You might sink too much into a soft mattress. You need to find a mattress that is firm enough to support your weight but not so firm as to leave you with shoulder pain. 

For heavier body weight side sleepers, I recommend a mattress that has a firmness rating of 6-7 on the mattress firmness scale.

happy with mattress choiceWhat Is The Best Mattress For A Side Sleeper?

As I said earlier, there is not going to be a one size fits all mattress that suits the needs of all side sleepers.

However, there are some basics that you will want to make sure your mattress has. These are:

  • high quality materials, including a comfort layer that is at least 3 inches thick to provide good pressure relief
  • a firmness level that is right for you
  • a sleep trial of at least 100 nights (this gives you precious, risk free time to test drive the mattress)
  • a warranty of at least 10 years

What about material type? You will find that there are mattresses of all materials that come with a firmness rating that works for you. I do not believe there is one particular material that is better for side sleepers than others. Let’s take a quick look at the properties of some of the most common mattress types.

  • Latex: natural latex is durable, non toxic, and should be sustainably sourced. Latex is known for its ultra responsiveness to pressure,  and bouncy feel. It is naturally good at dissipating body heat.
  • Foam: there are a variety of foam options available. Memory foam is hugely popular, and many companies have created their own foams which are pretty much memory foams, but they will call them “proprietary foams”. Memory foam has a slower response to weight than latex, which creates that well known memory foam “hug”. Some people believe this is the best mattress type for pain relief. Memory foam is not inherently good at dissipating body heat, but technologies such as gel infusions and ventilation systems have made newer memory foams perform a lot better in this regard.
    • One of my favorite memory foam mattresses is the Snuggle-Pedic, because it can be fully customized to the exact needs of the customer (for no extra charge).
  • Hybrid: a hybrid mattress will have a pocket coil support system and a comfort layer made up of either latex and/or memory foam.
    • One of my favorite hybrid mattresses is the Avocado Green Mattress, although it is on the firmer side. This mattress also comes with a pillowtop upgrade, which will make the surface of the mattress feel that extra bit plush.

Watch this space for some reviews of mattresses that are softer (I admit I have mostly reviewed firmer mattresses so far. I apologize to you, my side sleeping reader!) and therefore great options for lighter side sleepers. An example of a great softer memory foam mattress is the Layla mattress. Layla is a great mattress choice because it is double sided: one side is rated 4 out of 10 for firmness and the other side is rated 7.  You can read my full review of the Layla mattress here.

If you are a heavier person, you will find some more options in my thorough run down of the best mattresses for heavy people, many of which are suitable for side sleepers.

Any questions or comments? Or perhaps a mattress you’re curious to know more about? Leave me a comment and I’ll help you out.