If you prefer sleeping on your side, you’re in good company. Most of the population prefers this position, and doctors recommend side sleeping for its many health benefits, including relieving heartburn and reducing sleep apnea. Sleeping on your side can reduce back pain, prevent snoring, and even improve your digestion.
Sleeping on a mattress that’s not designed for side sleepers can keep you from experiencing these benefits and may even cause unnecessary pain. Read on to learn about how to choose the best mattress for side sleepers and why these models are top performers.
- BEST OVERALL: Tuft & Needle – Original Queen Adaptive Foam Mattress
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Linenspa 12 Inch Memory Hybrid Plush
- UPGRADE PICK: Casper Sleep Original Hybrid Mattress, Queen
- BEST FOR PAIN RELIEF: Zinus 12 Inch Gel-Infused Green Tea Memory Foam Mattress
- BEST FOR COUPLES: Zinus 10 Inch Gel Memory Foam Pocket Spring Hybrid Mattress
- BEST COOLING: Classic Brands Cool Gel 2.0 Ultimate Gel Memory Foam
- BEST HYBRID: Nod Hybrid by Tuft & Needle, Adaptive Foam
- BEST MEMORY FOAM: Ashley Chime 12 Inch Medium Firm Memory Foam Mattress
- BEST LATEX: Pure Green Natural Latex Mattress – Medium Firmness
- BEST INNERSPRING: Modway Jenna 14″ Quilted Pillow Top Innerspring Mattress
Popular Types of Mattresses for Side Sleepers
Mattress manufacturers made significant improvements on the stiff and noisy spring mattresses of times past. Today, consumers can choose from different varieties of mattresses. Knowing the differences between each is an essential first step in choosing the best mattress for you. Each of the following mattress types has specific characteristics that affect side sleeping.
Consistent favorites among side sleepers, foam mattresses are designed to provide just enough “give” to conform to the body’s shape without sagging and compromising spinal alignment. This flexibility can help prevent pain in the specific areas that side sleepers typically experience, such as the shoulders and hips.
Foam mattresses are available in two forms: standard polyurethane foam and memory foam. While polyurethane foam is the most common and least expensive type of mattress foam, memory foam—a polyurethane foam with added compounds to make it more durable and elastic—is typically better for side sleepers. While it may be more expensive, memory foam can last considerably longer and provide more support and comfort than polyurethane foam.
Memory foam offers a lot of benefits for side sleepers, but it also has some downsides. First, it takes some time for the foam to completely contour to the body because it relies on body weight and heat to shape the foam. Secondly, it often traps heat, which can make staying cool at night difficult. However, some memory foam mattresses use additional compounds, such as gel, to prevent excessive heat buildup.
Side sleepers also usually like latex mattresses: They combine the contouring abilities of memory foam with the supportive features of an innerspring mattress. They’re more responsive than memory foam, so they adjust to the body’s shape faster when pressure is applied and relieved. This means sleepers don’t feel “stuck” in the mattress when they move or change sleeping positions as sometimes happens on a foam mattress.
The latex in mattresses ranges from 100 percent natural—derived from rubber tree sap—to fully synthetic; some manufacturers use a blend of the two materials. Completely natural varieties are usually much more durable, but they also are the most expensive. Natural latex is completely chemical free, a characteristic that environmentally-conscious or chemical-sensitive sleepers prefer.
Innerspring mattresses, the oldest type of mattress, are the type many people remember from childhood. Traditionally, they’re composed of interconnected spring coils with a thin top layer of padding. Innerspring mattresses provide a firm level of support for the body, but they’re typically too firm for the average side sleeper.
Different types of springs can influence the firmness and feel of an innerspring mattress. Individually wrapped coils that move independently—called “pocket coils”—are better at relieving pressure and contouring to the body than standard spring coils. However, they may still be too firm for side sleepers, with one exception: when manufacturers combine the coils with a top layer of foam or latex, which results in a product called a “hybrid” mattress.
As the name implies, a hybrid mattress is the combination of two or more different types of mattresses. Most often, this combination consists of an innerspring base with a top layer of foam or latex. Combining these different materials emphasizes the advantages and minimizes the disadvantages of each one. For example, the foam or latex top conforms to the body, while the innerspring base provides additional bounce and spinal support. This combination often results in an ideal product for side sleepers who prefer the contouring qualities of the top material but don’t want to sink too deeply into the mattress.
An innerspring base also makes hybrid mattresses more responsive than traditional memory foam or latex, which means this type of mattress adjusts more easily to the body’s position. Sleepers who struggle to keep cool at night find an innerspring base often allows better air circulation than pure memory foam or latex.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Mattress for Side Sleepers
Now it’s time to learn about mattresses’ specific characteristics regardless of type. All these factors play a pivotal role in how much quality rest side sleepers achieve, so keep all this information in mind when choosing a mattress.
Density and Firmness
Different types of mattresses have varying levels of density and firmness. In fact, this one single factor—firmness—plays a critical role in comfort level. Generally, side sleepers prefer mattresses with a medium level of firmness, since it provides enough “give” to relieve the pressure from their shoulders and hips, but not so much that they sag into the mattress, compromising their spinal alignment.
However, individual body weight can influence firmness. Side sleepers who weigh less than 120 pounds often prefer a softer mattress that contours to their bodies. Heavier side sleepers, such as those who weigh more than 220 pounds, may need a firmer mattress that doesn’t allow their bodies to sink too deeply into the mattress. Foam, latex, and hybrid mattresses—all are available in varying levels of density and firmness to help side sleepers find their preferred level of firmness.
Pressure and Pain Relief
In every sleep position, certain areas of the body press more deeply into the mattress than others. When this pressure lasts too long in a specific region, the sleeper may develop pain in those areas. Side sleepers typically experience this type of pain in their shoulders and hips. Waking up with pain or numbness in these areas may indicate the need for a mattress that supports a side-sleeping position.
Memory foam mattresses usually provide the most pressure and pain relief, and latex mattresses come in a close second. These two materials help evenly distribute body weight and keep the pressure from building up at points of contact. Hybrid mattresses with memory foam or latex tops also are effective, but side sleepers seeking a comfortable night’s sleep should generally avoid pure innerspring mattresses. When selecting a hybrid mattress for pain relief, stick with pressure-relieving pocket coils.
Motion isolation describes a mattress’s ability to absorb movement in one part of the bed while leaving the rest of the mattress undisturbed. For those who sleep with their partner or a pet, this is often a critical feature, especially if their co-sleeper moves around during the night.
Luckily, most of the materials that side sleepers find comfortable also offer excellent motion isolation. Both memory foam and latex naturally provide adequate motion isolation since they respond only to those areas directly affected by heat and pressure. Some innerspring mattresses feature coils designed specifically to provide effective motion isolation, but traditional innerspring mattresses with interwoven coils don’t offer much in this area. Hybrid mattresses that use pocket coils or motion-isolating springs also can provide good motion isolation.
Along with motion isolation, proper edge support is an important consideration when sharing a mattress, especially if the nighttime companion takes up a lot of space in the bed. Without good edge support, sleeping close to the edge of the bed may result in the mattress’s edges sagging enough that the sleeper falls out. Without proper edge support, simply sitting upright on the mattress edge can feel precarious and unstable.
Innerspring mattresses often provide the best edge support since the interconnected coils help maintain firmness and rigidity throughout the bed, including the edges. Foam mattresses—particularly the softer varieties—usually have the least amount of edge support unless their edges are reinforced with rigid foam or gel. Latex and hybrid mattresses generally only offer moderate edge support, but both also may include reinforced edges.
For side sleepers, a mattress’s ability to contour itself to the body plays an important role in the level of comfort that the sleeper experiences. If the mattress can’t contour to the body, it probably puts too much pressure on the shoulders and hips, often resulting in pain and discomfort. Along with firmness and density, the mattress’s composition also impacts its ability to contour.
Designed specifically to mold to the body’s shape, memory foam and latex mattresses typically perform well in these areas. Traditional innerspring mattresses often provide the least amount of contour, but innerspring mattresses made with pocket coils are slightly better. Finally, the amount of contour a hybrid mattress provides depends on both the type of springs in the base and the mattress’s outer layer. A hybrid mattress with a pocket spring base and soft memory foam top usually provides the best contour.
Side sleepers who get overheated at night may experience a bit of a dilemma: Some of the mattress features that best accommodate side sleeping also contribute to heat trapping. The most notable example is memory foam because it can hold heat.
Some memory foam mattresses have additional features that counteract this heat-trapping tendency, such as open-cell walls and cooling gels. Since most latex is aerated to promote air circulation, latex mattresses don’t usually trap as much heat as memory foam. As with memory foam, some latex manufacturers include additional cooling features during the manufacturing process to dissipate trapped heat. Innerspring mattresses are generally the most cooling because the air gaps between the springs allow for the greatest amount of air circulation. Hybrid mattresses, once again, typically fall somewhere in between memory foam and traditional innerspring mattresses in their cooling ability.
Essentially, a mattress’s comfort level comes down to how all these characteristics interact with an individual’s personal needs and preferences. For example, those who struggle with nighttime pain may prefer a memory foam mattress that contours perfectly to their body. Other people, on the other hand, may feel mildly claustrophobic at the thought of sinking into a foam mattress and prefer a mattress with a little more bounce. For hot sleepers, a hybrid mattress with cooling innersprings may be a better option than a memory foam mattress that traps in heat. It may take some experimentation, but finding the most comfortable mattress is worth the effort.
Sleep Trial Period
Purchasing a new mattress represents a significant financial investment, so of course, consumers want to ensure they’ve made the right choice. Fortunately, many mattress manufacturers offer a risk-free sleep trial period to test a new mattress at home.
These sleep trial periods usually last 100 days to ensure their customers’ complete satisfaction with the mattress. If, after the trial period, the individuals decide it isn’t the right mattress for their needs, they can have the mattress company pick it up or send it back to the manufacturer with the cost of return shipping typically covered. These trial periods differ among manufacturers, so do your homework before you commit to a trial.
Our Top Picks
These recommendations reflect some of the best mattresses for side sleepers on the market. One of the comfortable, good quality mattresses on the list should help you get a better sleep.
Tuft & Needle’s Adaptive foam mattress offers exceptional comfort and pressure relief for all types of sleepers. A foam mattress with medium firmness, it has the comfort and support that side sleepers require. Instead of conventional memory foam, the mattress features the company’s proprietary adaptive foam, which combines the responsiveness of latex with the contouring ability of memory foam. Adaptive foam also incorporates gel beads and graphite to promote air circulation, reducing the likelihood of overheating at night.
This mattress’s primary drawback is that it doesn’t offer additional edge support, so it might not be the best choice for those who hug the edge of the bed as they sleep, either by choice or by necessity.
For a mattress with features that side sleepers need at a relatively affordable price, Linenspa’s hybrid mattress is hard to beat. This 12-inch version uses a top layer of comforting memory foam and a base of pocket coils for the support, firmness, and contouring that side sleepers require.
The naturally cool innerspring base on this mattress is complemented by a 2-inch top layer of cooling gel foam to prevent overheating. Its reinforced edges and motion-isolating coils make it ideal for couples. With all these features, Linenspa’s hybrid mattress represents a logical purchase for any budget.
Casper Sleep’s hybrid mattress offers features suited perfectly for side sleepers. It provides both the contouring comfort of a memory foam topper, along with multiple areas of the company’s proprietary zoned support to maintain proper spinal alignment. It also has a softer foam layer on the top of the mattress to rest the shoulders to relieve upper body pressure and firmer foam layers near the location of the hips, waist, and back for support.
Hot sleepers will appreciate this mattress’s proprietary blend of breathable foam that promotes airflow and circulation. In addition to the innerspring base, the breathable foam material helps ensure a cool night’s sleep. While it’s one of our pricier picks, Casper Sleep offers a 100-day sleep trial period, so consumers can try it out without incurring any financial risk.
Those who struggle with aches and pains throughout the night may find the Zinus 12-inch memory foam mattress ticks all the boxes. It offers three layers of comforting foam to provide unmatched pressure relief for side sleepers. The top layer is a soft poly cover that sits atop a 2-inch layer of cooling gel foam, followed by a 2-inch layer of soft foam, and a 7-inch supportive base constructed with high-density foam.
This mattress’s CertiPUR-US certification means it’s free of chemicals that could negatively impact indoor air quality. Instead of chemicals, this mattress uses a combination of green tea extract and charcoal to absorb odors and keep the mattress smelling fresh. This mattress is quite affordable, an important consideration for the budget-minded.
Zinus’s combination 10-inch memory foam and pocket spring hybrid mattress is ideal for couples regardless of their sleeping position. The top foam layer features cooling gel memory foam with the company’s proprietary ViscoLatex foam. This pairing provides a high level of comfort, springiness, and heat reduction that both couples and side sleepers will appreciate.
The base of individually wrapped pocket springs contributes additional spinal support, motion isolation, and air circulation. Whether your partner likes to toss and turn or cuddle, you won’t be disturbed by the excess motion or heat. Along with all the essential features for side sleepers, its moderate firmness likely accommodates your partner’s sleeping position as well. Zinus’s hybrid mattress ensures neither partner has to compromise on sleep quality.
This cool gel memory foam mattress from Classic Brands is an ideal option for side sleepers who have trouble staying cool at night. While some memory foam manufacturers may incorporate a thin layer of gel foam, this mattress uses 100 percent gel-infused memory foam specifically intended to keep sleepers cool.
In addition to the open cell composition of Classic Brands’ standard memory foam mattresses, the addition of gel particles makes it even more efficient at circulating air throughout the mattress. Since it’s considered a medium-firm mattress, it’s a logical choice for side sleepers who love the contouring comfort of a traditional memory foam mattress but don’t want its heat-trapping tendencies. With this memory foam mattress, you won’t have to choose between coolness and comfort.
Tuft & Needle’s proprietary adaptive foam and innerspring hybrid mattress is the perfect blend of contouring comfort and innerspring support. Its top layer of adaptive foam is more responsive than regular memory foam, with an additional layer underneath of slow recovery foam to buffer the bounciness of the innerspring support base.
This mattress also features a layer of dense foam beneath the innerspring base to further enhance the overall comfort. All these features make this a unique hybrid mattress customized for side sleepers. For a mattress that helps bridge the gap between foam and innerspring mattresses, look no further.
If the feeling of slowly sinking into the bed while being comfortably cradled throughout the night appeals to you, Ashley Chime’s 100 percent memory foam mattress may be the perfect mattress. Its 12 inches of medium-firm memory foam contours to the shoulders and hips as it evenly distributes bodily weight throughout the mattress. It also provides a high-density support core to prevent the sagging that can accompany pure memory foam. It’s CertiPUR-US certified, so environmentally-conscious consumers can “rest assured” that it contains no harmful chemicals.
The primary disadvantage of this mattress is that it doesn’t have extra cooling features—like open-cell or gel foam—to reduce nighttime overheating, so it’s more suitable for side sleepers who like warm support. This is a high-quality, no-frills memory foam mattress option that keeps side sleepers warm and cozy.
Pure Green’s natural latex mattress is well suited to the needs of side sleepers. It’s composed of a top layer of a soft, organic cotton-wool blend, followed by two layers of natural latex. The top latex layer provides comfort and pressure relief, while the base latex layer provides durability and spinal support. Together, these two latex layers create a mattress with medium firmness that’s equally responsive and contouring.
Pure Green added air chambers throughout the foam to promote air circulation, so it keeps sleepers cooler than most standard latex mattresses.
It’s difficult to find an innerspring mattress that meets the needs of side sleepers, but the Jenna innerspring mattress from Modway may meet all the requirements. Its individually-wrapped pocket coils offer better contouring ability than a traditional innerspring mattress to help reduce pressure on the shoulders, hips, and back. It also features a 3-inch foam top layer that adds more contouring comfort than most innerspring mattresses.
Those seeking a higher degree of firmness and responsiveness than the other types of mattresses may find this innerspring mattress is the logical choice. It’s also a solution for couples who have different firmness preferences and need a middle ground between medium and firm. While it may not be ideal for some side sleepers, the Modway Jenna innerspring mattress offers more advantages for side sleepers than most other innerspring mattresses on the market.
FAQ About Mattresses for Side Sleepers
Finding a new mattress can be difficult. With so many factors and options to consider, it’s only natural to have some questions. Here are some of the most common questions side sleepers ask about a mattress along with their corresponding answers.
Q. What firmness level is the best for side sleepers?
A mattress with medium firmness is usually best for side sleepers.
Q. What type of mattress do chiropractors recommend?
To minimize pressure and pain, chiropractors usually recommend a mattress that offers a correct balance of spinal support and contouring.
Q. Is a pillow-top mattress good for side sleepers?
A pillow-top mattress (i.e., an innerspring mattress with a pillow top) is usually too firm for side sleepers. A better option may be a hybrid mattress with a top layer of foam or latex.