When it comes to different sleeping positions, sleeping on your side is the most common of them all. It is because it is naturally comfortable and, when done right, promotes proper spinal alignment while you sleep. Considering the popularity of this sleeping position, many, if not most of us, could benefit from learning about what type of mattress is best for a side sleeper.
This article explores the most important traits found in the best mattresses for side sleepers, what makes them ideal for side sleepers, and the pros and cons associated with the sleeping position overall. Ideally, this will help you choose a new mattress and help you get a better night’s sleep
Sleeping On Your Side: Comfort and Support
Support and comfort are the two most essential traits provided by a mattress, especially in a mattress for side sleepers. Let’s take a look at why.
Regardless of your preferred sleeping position, comfort is the most important thing when it comes to a mattress. Since comfort is based mainly on individual preference, gauging the level of comfort you receive from a mattress isn’t always so easy to determine. However, it is essential to remember that all of the other traits you seek in a mattress should positively contribute to your comfort level overall.
The back pain brought on sciatica which for me felt worse at times. The physio exercises have stopped that now (so far, touching wood). Found a good mattress and sleeping on my side rather than my back helps for me.
— Spike (@spike071) April 4, 2021
The right level of support is also essential in the best mattress for side sleepers. Support works to evenly distribute your body weight across the surface of the mattress while simultaneously helping keep your spine aligned throughout the night. Proper spinal alignment occurs when your lower back, shoulders and hips are aligned in a comfortable and natural position. It is essential for promoting spinal health and eliminating unwanted aches and pains in the morning.
Support in a mattress is not the same thing as firmness. Different firmness levels may provide other people with entirely different support levels based on their body type and sleeping position.
The Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers
What Mattress Type Is Best For Side Sleepers and Why?
The type of mattress you have is essential when it comes to sleeping comfortably on your side. The best mattress type for side sleeping will provide your body with ample pressure relief and contour for pressure points in your shoulders and hips.
The best side sleeper mattress will also be supportive in the areas you need it most – your hips and shoulders while maintaining a cushioning level. Memory foam is particularly well-suited for this job as it was originally designed by NASA to absorb pressure and relieve shock to the body. Overall, the bed should enable proportional contour for your body type to provide the maximum level of comfort.
The three main different types of mattresses are innerspring, hybrid, and foam.
- Innerspring Mattresses provide a ton of support but lack in the contouring department.
- Foam Mattresses excel when it comes to contour and relieving pressure points. However, they often retain a good amount of heat, especially with memory foam mattresses. Additionally, they don’t always offer the best support without help from a denser material. It can often be achieved with the addition of latex foam which is a bit bouncier and doesn’t allow you to sink into the mattress quite as much as other types of foam. Gel infusions into foam can also help to keep you cool.
- Hybrid mattresses feature a layer of springs and a top layer of memory foam or some other type of foam that establishes the comfort layers of the bed. The memory foam layers enable a hybrid mattress to provide you with the best traits from both an innerspring and foam or memory foam mattress combined.
So, which of these types of mattresses is best if you sleep on your side? We recommend either an all-foam or hybrid mattress. Both of these mattress types will help to relieve pressure points in your shoulders and hips. They also promote proper spinal alignment deterring possible back pain and elevate your comfort level overall. Of course, the final decision on which is the best option lies in your sleeping habits and the level of comfort achieved while you lie in bed and sleep.
What Is the Best Firmness Level for a Side Sleeper Mattress?
Now that we know about the types of mattresses and which ones are best for people who sleep on their side, let’s examine the effects of a bed’s firmness level.
The best mattress firmness for a side sleeper will be somewhere right in the middle of the firmness spectrum, ranging from one to ten, with ten being the firmest. As a general rule, anywhere from 4.5 to 6.5 is thought to be ideal for side sleepers. This mattress firmness is referred to as medium-soft, medium, and medium-firm.
Definitely need the right mattress for you to support side sleeping
— Cory Richerson (@culexknight) September 8, 2018
For side sleepers, if a mattress is too soft, it can compromise spinal alignment. If a mattress is too firm, it can easily cause a side sleeper to develop aches and pains due to excessive pressure in unwanted body areas. Therefore, side sleepers generally avoid a soft mattress or a firm mattress.
You will also want to consider your weight when considering firmness levels and adjust accordingly. If you are average when it comes to weight, a medium firmness should be perfect. If the mattress is for a child or a relatively lightweight individual, a soft mattress may make the best mattress as it will still relieve pressure points.
Can a Side Sleeper Sleep on a Firm Mattress?
Experiment with firmness for mattress. And height for pillows. Sleeping on my side with neutral neck works best for me. All the best with your search!
— Mohit Thatte (@mohitthatte) April 23, 2019
In most cases, a mattress that is too firm may overly compress your shoulder if you sleep on your side, leading to discomfort and pain in the morning. Thus, a firm mattress is not usually recommended. However, an exception should be made when it comes to heavier side sleepers.
Heavier individuals will experience the level of support provided by a mattress differently compared to someone who weighs significantly less. As more pressure is applied to a mattress’s layers by additional bodyweight, it can feel like a softer mattress overall. Heavier couples and individuals may benefit from leaning toward a firmer mattress, even if they sleep on their side.
Side Sleeper Mattress FAQs
Are There Benefits Associated With Side Sleeping?
Sleeping comfortably on your side does come with some potential benefits that have been known to affect your overall health and general well-being in several positive ways.
- For starters, sleeping comfortably on your side can reduce back pain when proper spinal alignment is achieved and sustained throughout the night.
- Side sleeping can also lead to improved digestion.
- Sleeping on your left side has been known to reduce acid reflux and increase comfort in pregnant women or for anyone with heartburn.
- This sleeping position can lead to better breathing by straightening and opening your airway. It helps to minimize snoring and other symptoms associated with sleep apnea.
- Last not but not least, side sleeping is known to cleanse your brain from “interstitial waste.” It reduces your risks of neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease.
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Are There Drawbacks to Sleeping On Your Side?
While sleeping on your side has been known to reduce back pain, and more, sleeping on an old or poorly suited mattress can lead to unwanted back pain and shoulder pain quite easily.
As a mattress is used, it becomes less and less supportive over time. Without enough support, you will likely not get enough pressure relief and have trouble maintaining proper spinal alignment while you sleep. It is not ideal, and if you wake in the morning with any sensations of discomfort, it may be time to consider upgrading your old bed to a new one.
However, the wrong pillow could also be the culprit of developing neck pain in the morning. If you have a new mattress that provides you with a comfortable level of support, but you still wake up feeling sore in your neck and shoulders, you may want to examine your pillow before discrediting the mattress entirely.
Additionally, if you already have hip, shoulder, or back pain from a separate issue, it may be best to sleep in a different position while you recover and heal. It can relieve added pressure and reduce your chances of accidentally making your condition worse, mainly if your mattress is too firm.
Can Side Sleepers Sleep on Innerspring Mattresses?
In general, innerspring mattresses are not considered ideal for side sleepers because they lack a top layer of memory foam for added comfort and contour capability. It does not mean it can not be done, though. While they are not the best mattress for a side sleeper, innerspring mattresses worked well for many years before incorporating foam and other materials into a mattress’s construction.
Innerspring mattresses provide less pressure relief and arent quite as soft on your hips and shoulders, thanks to the lack of a foam layer. However, they can suit a side sleeper when made with quality materials. Innerspring mattresses with pocketed coils that are individually wrapped are our favourite for side sleepers.
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Put Your Knowledge to the Test
What type of mattress is best for a side sleeper? Generally speaking, most side sleepers benefit from sleeping on a foam or hybrid mattress. Mattresses for Side sleepers will also provide comfort and support.
Also, medium-soft to medium-firm firmness levels are generally ideal, depending on your weight and personal preferences. The most important thing to remember is that the mattress must be supportive enough to promote proper spinal alignment while also having enough contour to provide pressure point relief for your hips and shoulders.
Hopefully, all of this information will help you get a better night’s sleep and point you in the right direction when it comes to choosing a new mattress for side sleepers.
Do you already own a mattress designed for a side sleeper? How was your experience? Do you have other info you’d like to add to this article? Let us know what you think in the comments below!