With the variety of brands and mattress models out there, it can be difficult to pinpoint the best mattress for side sleepers. While sleeping on your side has plenty of health benefits, if you’re sleeping on the wrong mattress, it can lead to neck and back pains.
To help make your search for a new mattress a little easier, we’ve compiled a guide of the common problems side sleepers experience, how to combat those, and how to find a mattress that fits your preferences.
- Common Problems Side Sleepers Experience
- What Side Sleepers Should Look for in a Mattress
- Top 7 Mattresses for Side Sleepers
- Our Editors’ Choice
- Overview of Best Mattress for Side Sleepers
Common Problems Side Sleepers Experience
If your mattress is too firm, it can create too much pressure on your shoulders and hips; this can misalign your spine resulting in shoulder and lower back pain. If your mattress is too soft, your hips will sink into the bed putting pressure on your spine.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” option when it comes to mattresses, every person will have different preferences to consider when making this decision. We believe our 3-step system to narrow down which mattress best suits YOU is a great place to start your search.
What Side Sleepers Should Look for in a Mattress
Step 1: Choose Your Mattress Materials
Mattresses are made from a variety of materials. Below we will go over the six main types of mattresses available and how they generally work with a side sleeper.
Latex, a bouncier material, offers excellent support for your shoulders, hips, and spine. It is naturally cooling and resistant to bed bugs, bed mites, and other allergens. For side sleepers, latex is a great choice because it provides a great balance of cushion and support. If you’re somebody who shares the bed with a partner, latex may not be the best choice given its bouncy feel.
Memory foam is a popular choice for side sleepers; it’s natural ability to contour to your body offers a unique supportive feel other materials don’t provide. This “cradling” feel takes the pressure off your shoulders and hips while still providing your body with adequate support. Memory foam mattresses are very adaptive and score well in the motion isolation department; this makes them a great choice for side sleepers who are sharing the bed with a partner. A common complaint associated with memory foam is “sleeping hot” due to limited airflow and the foam trapping heat. Some companies have made changes to how they manufacture their mattresses to combat the potential of sleeping hot.
Gel-Infused Memory Foam
Combining gel particles with traditional memory foam creates wider cells, allowing better airflow and temperature control. The added gel beads work to wick away excess body heat to create an overall cooling sleeping environment. Not only is gel-infused foam cooler than traditional memory foam, but it is also more responsive, making it a comfortable option for sleepers who find themselves changing positions throughout the night.
Plant-Based Memory Foam
Plant-based foam is both healthier and more eco-friendly than traditional memory foam. Traditional memory foam is made with petroleum products whereas the manufacturing process of plant-based foam cuts a portion of petroleum products and replaces it with plant-based ingredients such as castor oil. In addition to being healthier, plant-based memory foam is more breathable which allows for better airflow through the material.
The godfather of all mattresses, innerspring mattresses have been around for decades. Through the years they’ve undergone many changes, innovations, and improvements to their structure. There are now four different coil systems to choose from in regards to innerspring mattresses:
Bonnell Coil: Typically found in lower-end mattresses, Bonnell coils are inexpensive to manufacture. They tend to lack in quality and are usually the least recommended coil system on the market; made from hourglass shaped steel wire springs; they lack in durability and longevity.
Pocketed Coils: Otherwise known as Marshall, Wrapped, Pocketed, or sometimes even Encased coils, pocketed coils are the priciest and most effective coil system on the market. As you can guess, pocketed coils are individually encased in fabric pockets; this allows them to move independently and provide targeted pressure relief and great motion isolation.
Offset Coils: Offset coils are similar to the Bonnell coil but instead have flat tops connected by a helical wire. This improved design gives offset coils improved stability, support, and ability to contour than their predecessor. Though they are an improvement to the Bonnell coil, they still lack the pressure relief and increased motion transfer of pocketed coils.
Continuous Coil: The firmest of the bunch, a continuous coil system is one, continuous wire bent into many S-shapes throughout the bed. This design simulates separated coils and provides a very flat, firm mattress surface. Continuous coils are commonly found in low-end hybrid mattresses and usually very inexpensive to manufacture.
Hybrid mattresses aim to capture the benefits and mitigate the cons of multiple materials. The most common Hybrid is a combination of memory foam and innersprings; this design combines the bounce of innersprings with the contouring abilities of memory foam. A high-quality hybrid is a great option for side sleepers; however, many come with a subpar warranty and have an approximate lifespan of only six years.
Step 2: Choose Your Firmness and Support
Side sleepers usually find themselves comfortable on a medium mattress. When you sleep on your side, your shoulders and hips end up pressed against the bed. A medium mattress allows your hips and shoulders to gently sink in a little while the rest of your body has the support to keep your spine correctly aligned.
Step 3: Consider Your Body Type
When it comes to mattresses, firmness is subjective; what may feel soft to one person, may be too firm to the next. Ultimately, your body type is going to dictate how you perceive the firmness of a mattress.
For those with a smaller build and are under 130 pounds, What’s The Best Bed recommends choosing a soft or medium-soft mattress. Light body weight will create very little pressure on the mattress surface, without adequate pressure, side sleepers will not be able to sink in enough to cradle their joints. If you weigh between 130-230 pounds, a medium mattress should be your most comfortable option while a medium-firm option will be better suited for individuals above 230 pounds.
Top 7 Mattresses for Side Sleepers
Amerisleep AS3 Mattress
Made by one of the most eco-friendly manufacturers on the market, Amerisleep’s AS3 is made of breathable, plant-based memory foam; making it not only comfortable to sleep on but healthy, too.
Their unique Bio-Pur® foam is manufactured using a Variable Pressure Foaming (VPF) chamber, preventing any harmful chemicals from entering the air. They also substitute a large portion of petroleum oil typically used to manufacture memory foam with castor oil; these two methods of manufacturing reduce their footprint on the environment and exceed the requirements of the Clean Air Act.
The cover of every Amerisleep mattress is FDA-determined Celliant® fabric. Celliant® uses 13 thermoreactive minerals to recycle your body’s natural heat into infrared light, this process improves local blood circulation and helps keep your body temperature regulated through the night.
The first layer of all Amerisleep models is open cell Bio-Pur® foam. Amerisleep’s manufacturing process makes their Bio-Pur® foam five times more breathable than traditional memory foam, working in conjunction with the Celliant® cover to create an overall cooling sleeping environment.
Below the layer of Bio-Pur® is their Affinity Layer with HIVE® Technology. HIVE® is hundreds of hexagonal cutouts grouped into five zones- the head, shoulders, back, hips, and feet; HIVE® offers targeted pressure relief throughout the whole mattress. This layer quickly adapts when you change sleeping positions and assists with airflow through the bed.
The bottom layer of Amerisleep mattresses is their durable Bio-Core® foam. This layer supports the layers above, holding your body in position and preventing you from sinking into the mattress.
Why We Chose It
The Amerisleep AS3 is our top choice for side sleepers because it has the perfect amount of support and versatility, and their foam is designed to keep you sleeping cool. The HIVE® layer offers precise support, so it’s firmer where you need it, and softer where you want an extra cushion. A clinical study done on HIVE® found it reduces pressure points up to 49% which is especially crucial for side sleepers.
Amerisleep offers a 100-night sleep trial beginning on the date your mattress is delivered. This sleep trial lets you try your new Amerisleep in your own home for up to 100 days; if you find yourself unhappy with the mattress within the sleep trial, you have the option to return it for a full refund or exchange it for a different one of their models.
Original Purple® Mattress
Described by Purple as the world’s first no-pressure mattress, the Original Purple® mattress, including their Smart Comfort Grid™, is scientifically-engineered to provide relief for your pressure points and support your body’s natural shape.
The custom cover of all Purple® mattresses is made from a super-soft, super-stretchy knit material. Its breathable design allows air to flow through the cover, promoting a cool sleeping environment.
Purple’s® exclusive Smart Comfort Grid™ lies just below the cover and makes up the first layer of the mattress. The purpose of the Smart Comfort Grid™ is to relieve pressure points, create a temperature-neutral sleeping environment, and prevent motion transfer throughout the bed. Made with Hyper-Elastic Polymer, their grid is designed to last for years without any deterioration or sagging.
Below the Smart Comfort Grid™ is a layer of Plush Comfort Foam. This polyurethane foam is CertiPUR-US certified and designed to promote the responsiveness and support of the grid above. This layer helps the mattress gently contour to your body. Lastly, the base of the Original Purple® is their medium-firm support foam; the core maintains the shape of the mattress and supports the layers above.
Why We Chose It
The Original Purple’s® innovative grid cushions your hips and shoulders as they sink into the mattress, making it an excellent choice for side sleepers. Their Smart Comfort Grid™ also promotes airflow through the mattress and prevents you from waking up hot and uncomfortable throughout the night.
Purple® mattresses come with a 100-night sleep trial, taking the fear out of buying online. They require you try their mattress for a minimum of 30 nights; however if you are unhappy after the 30 night period, you can return it for a full refund.
The Tomorrow Sleep Hybrid Mattress
Tomorrow Sleep combines the benefits of Marshall coils with four different types of memory foam, creating the perfect balance of comfort and support recommended for side sleepers. The pocketed coils relieve pressure in your hips and shoulders while the memory foam gently cradles your body.
The Tomorrow Sleep Hybrid is available in both medium-soft and medium-firm firmness, making it optimal for side sleepers.
The top layer of the Tomorrow Sleep Hybrid is Cooling Open-Cell memory foam infused with phase changing material designed to regulate your body temperature while you sleep. The layer below consists of pressure relieving gel memory foam, this layer provides a cooling effect throughout the mattress. This design creates a temperature-neutral sleeping environment, preventing you from overheating in the layers of foam.
Below the first two layers of foam lies the Supportive Dynamic Response memory foam layer; this layer provides adequate pressure relief for your hips and shoulders while you sleep and allows your body to sink deeper into the mattress. This layer also acts as a motion separation layer to absorb energy throughout the mattress, preventing motion from transferring throughout the bed.
The base layer consists of 6-inch pocketed steel coils that sit atop of a high-density foam frame. The foam frame surrounding the coils improves the edge support of the mattress. The coils stand individually, creating a targeted support system. Additionally, the gaps between the coils allow for air to move throughout the bed, maintaining a breathable sleeping environment and improving motion isolation.
Why We Chose It
The Tomorrow Sleep Hybrid mattress makes our list of best mattresses for side sleepers because it’s design combines the support of the pocketed coils with the cushion of memory foam side sleepers need for their hips and shoulders. As mentioned earlier, it is available in both medium-firm and medium-soft, making it an ideal firmness for side sleepers and accommodates those who prefer a softer mattress and those who prefer a firmer feel.
Tomorrow Sleep provides you with a risk-free 365-night sleep trial to try their hybrid mattress. During this year, you can try the mattress in your own home, and if you decide you don’t like it, return it for a full refund.
To read about other great hybrid mattresses, check out our other guide with information specifically about the best hybrid mattresses in the market.
The Nolah Original 10 Mattress
Designed specifically for side sleepers, the Nolah Original 10 is scientifically proven to alleviate pressure points in your hips, shoulders, and back four times more effectively than traditional memory foam. It has just enough cushion so your shoulders and hips can sink into the mattress, but enough support so you aren’t stuck feeling as if you’re sinking into your bed.
Nolah created their material called Nolah AirFoam™ to replace traditional memory foam or latex traditionally used to build mattresses. This innovative material is 300% more durable than memory foam. Additionally, it is not temperature sensitive, so it sleeps cooler and contours better to the shape of your body.
The soft to the touch cover of the Nolah Original 10 mattress is Viscose, whose primary function is to wick away moisture and keep your body temperature regulated while you sleep.
Below the cover lies the first layer of the mattress, the Cooling Nolah AirFoam™ layer. The AirFoam™’s unique pressure relieving properties help eliminate lower back pain and “kinks” in your neck and shoulder; this is especially important for side sleepers.
Next lies a layer of Supportive High-Resilience Foam. This support layer creates a bit of a bounce for the sleeper above, similar to latex, however, is stronger and more durable than latex.
The core of the Nolah Original 10 is a high-density base foam that provides ample stability for the rest of the mattress. This layer is all about durability; their website states it is the best foam made in the U.S. and is guaranteed to last for years to come.
Why We Chose It
The Nolah Original 10 earned its spot on our list because their unique AirFoam’s™ pressure relieving properties. Side sleepers commonly experience lower back pain as a result of their mattress, whereas the Nolah Original 10 works to eliminate aches and pains, specifically lower back pain. When reading customer reviews for the Nolah mattress, you’ll find many customers love their mattress sleeps cool and does not transfer motion throughout the bed. Some have complained about the softness of the mattress, stating it doesn’t provide them with enough support.
If you commonly experience lower back pain, check out our other guide to find the best mattress for lower back pain.
After your Nolah Original 10 gets dropped off at your door, you have 120 nights to test it out in your home. During this risk-free trial period, you have the option to return it for a full refund. Nolah does require you keep the mattress for a minimum of 30 days, or through the duration of the adjustment period, before deciding to make the return.
The Spindle Mattress
The Spindle Mattress is great for side sleepers because it is entirely latex. Side sleepers find themselves comfortable on latex because it has the right amount of cushion for hips and shoulders, but also has enough bounce back to ensure you don’t feel like you’re sinking into your mattress. Additionally, latex is traditionally more breathable than memory foam, so if you’re somebody who sleeps hot, a latex mattress may be worth looking into.
Spindle is made from all-natural materials, as Spindle puts “eco-friendly” at the forefront of their business model. On their website, you have the option to choose your desired level of firmness, side sleepers should opt for medium firmness. Once you purchase, your mattress is delivered to you in three separate latex layers, allowing you to build your mattress yourself.
The cover of the Spindle mattress is a blend of natural wool and organic cotton; the wool acts as a natural flame barrier and wicks away moisture while you sleep, keeping your temperature regulated. Both the wool and organic cotton are produced without any added pesticides, pigments, bleach, or fire retardant chemicals.
The first layer of latex is the mattress’ comfort layer, depending on the level of firmness you choose, this top layer should be medium or medium-soft in feel. The next layer is a transitional layer with the exact composition of the layer above. The bottom layer, or core layer, is a tad firmer than the two above because its job is to provide durable and stable support for the rest of the mattress.
Why We Chose It
The Spindle mattress was an easy addition to our list because latex is great for side sleepers because it has the cushion and pressure relief side sleepers need. The natural latex foam provides excellent support in your hips and shoulders and keeps your spine in place. The few downfalls associated with latex are poor motion isolation and less than satisfactory edge support.
Spindle also gives you a whole year to try their mattress in your home. They require you to test their mattress for a minimum of 60 days, after those 60 days are up, they will work with you to swap out layers of latex to find your perfect combination. If you decide you would like to return your mattress within the year, Spindle will issue you a full refund.
The Layla Mattress
The Layla mattresses includes one unique ingredient no other mattress on our list does, copper. Copper is supportive, antiviral, antibacterial, and naturally cooling. Side sleepers can benefit from a copper-infused mattress as it will compress together under pressure points and provide extra support in areas such as your shoulders and hips. Because of its antiviral and antibacterial properties, copper will combat any germs in your bed keeping you overall healthier.
Furthermore, the Layla mattress is the only flippable mattress on this list. Each side has different levels of firmness; they score their soft side as a 4.5/10 in firmness and their firm side as a 7/10. For side sleepers, you are going to find yourself most comfortable on the soft side.
The cover of the Layla mattress contains polyester, viscose, poly/lycra and is infused with ThermoGel®; this makes it soft to the touch and cools your body while you sleep.
The top layer of the Layla mattress is their copper-infused memory foam. This layer keeps you cool, supported, and free of germs. Because copper is a conductive element, it attracts your body heat and transfers it away from you; this keeps you from waking up hot throughout the night.
The next layer is convoluted Air-Flow-Foam; it’s “egg-tray” design keeps air flowing through the mattress and prevents hot air from sticking around. Below the layer of breathable foam lies the core of the Layla. The core provides stability to the layers above, and in this case, below, and also minimizes motion transfer throughout the bed.
The bottom layer of the Layla mattress is another layer of their copper-infused memory foam, having copper-infused memory foam on both the top and bottom layers allows you to sleep on either side of the mattress comfortably. What differentiates the “soft” from “firm” side is the height of the copper-infused layer. The soft side has 3 inches of copper-infused memory foam while the firm side has 1 inch of copper-infused memory foam, creating different levels of firmness.
Why We Chose It
Layla’s flippable design and copper-infused memory foam gives their brand “edge” and earns them a spot on this list. The benefits of copper-infused foam include better body alignment and increased comfort under pressure points, important for side sleepers. Additionally, it’s firmness level on the “soft” side is almost ideal for side sleepers.
Layla offers a 120-night sleep trial with their mattress; if you order it and find yourself uncomfortable, you can return for a full refund. On their website, it states they will arrange for your mattress to be donated to a local charity and issue you a refund once it has been donated.
Our Editors’ Choice
After weighing the pros and cons of each mattress on this list, we landed on the Amerisleep AS3 as our most recommended mattress for side sleepers. The reason we chose the AS3 is that it offers impressive shoulder and hip support, and scores well in regards to temperature control.
The Amerisleep AS3 is more versatile and adaptive than other options on this list; its versatility comes from its composition, specifically the inclusion of Bio-Pur®, HIVE®, and Celliant® in their mattresses.
Bio-Pur®, a plant-based memory foam, has an open cell structure and cushions your shoulders and hips and eliminates any chance of off-gassing from the mattress. HIVE® reinforces the cushion above with it’s targeted zoned support for your head, shoulders, back, hips, and feet. Lastly, the AS3 cover is woven with Celliant® material, FDA-determined to increase comfort and promote restful sleep.
Overview of Best Mattress for Side Sleepers
We hope our guide has helped narrow down your search for a more comfortable mattress. If you’re still undecided, read our other guides to find the best mattress to meet all your sleep needs. Please let us know your thoughts and how you’ve achieved a restful night’s sleep in the comments below.