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Expert-Reviewed by Dr. Navin Ramchandani, MD.
Did you know that almost 70 percent of adults sleep on their sides for at least a portion of the night? For many, myself included, there’s no cozier position than side sleeping. Whether you like to extend your legs fully, keep one straight, or revert to the fetal position, curling up on one side is certainly a comforting way to rest.
Much like back and stomach sleepers, side sleepers need a mattress that supports their unique needs. A mattress that allows the pelvis to sit too high or low can place undue pressure on the spine, which translates to pain in the hips and shoulders.
In this guide, we’re covering our top mattresses for side sleepers along with a detailed list of qualities to look for and the benefits of sleeping on your side. Alternately, click here if you want to see our best mattresses overall or here to see our best mattresses for back sleepers.
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Saatva is one of the first direct-to-consumer online mattress companies. The Saatva mattress is a little different from the other “bed-in-a-box” companies out there because this one doesn’t come in a box at all. It’s a regular innerspring mattress delivered to your door by delivery professionals.
High quality and custom firmness options
The Saatva is our pick for the best innerspring mattress for side sleepers. It is customizable (both firmness and height), meaning that it can work well for almost any sleeper, regardless of body weight or sleeping style. Firmness options include Plush Soft (4), Luxury Firm (6), and Firm (7.5), and you can choose from 11.5- and 14.5-inch profiles. Keep in mind that the Saatva’s responsiveness may make it unpleasant if you wake easily at the movements of a partner, as it doesn’t shine in the motion isolation department.
Read our full Saatva mattress review to learn more!
Luxury zoned support made for side sleepers
The Helix Midnight Luxe is our pick for the best mattress for side sleepers with back pain. It’s a well-rounded mattress that is good for every sleeping position, for couples, for cooling, for plus-size sleepers, for anything you could want– Helix makes their mattresses with preferences in mind.
The Helix Midnight Luxe is especially good for side sleepers with back pain because its zoned support helps with spinal alignment, while still being soft enough to provide good pressure relief for your shoulders. It also has sufficient cushion for your neck and hips, without sacrificing proper support.
All Helix mattresses are hybrids, which means they’re a mix of foam and coils. Coils mean more support, but the Midnight and Midnight LUXE models are made with contouring foam and support specifically for side sleepers. The hips, shoulders and neck have targeted support while the Comfort Foam keeps your spine aligned, which is essential for waking up without pain and stiffness.
Read our full Helix mattress review to learn more.
Competitively priced memory foam mattress that doesn’t compromise on quality. Great for motion isolation.
Best Bed-in-a-box on a budget
The Nectar is a memory foam mattress with a cover of cooling Tencel, one inch of gel memory foam for a plush feel on top, a transitional layer with quick response time, and a supportive, durable base layer at its foundation. While appropriate for any sleep position, this is an affordable option for side sleepers.
The Nectar comes in at a very friendly price point without sacrificing any of the features side sleepers need. It delivers pressure relief throughout the entire body for exceptional value, with a queen size coming in just shy of $800. Bolstering its appeal, the company offers a 365 night trial period, free shipping and returns, and their Forever Warranty.
Read our full Nectar mattress review to learn more!
Advanced comfort and support
The Leesa Hybrid is an excellent option for many groups of sleepers. Obviously, one of our favorite matches for this mattress are side sleepers with shoulder pain. This mattress has a great balance of give and support, so you will not feel like your shoulders are jamming against the mattress when you lie down, and you will also still feel like the rest of your body is aligned.
This is also a great option for couples, even couples who have different sleeping positions from one another. The Leesa Hybrid performs above average for all sleeping positions, so if you and your partner have differing concerns about a mattress you may find this one is a happy medium. Since it is a hybrid, you will get a nice amount of airflow to keep you cool throughout the night.
Read our full Leesa Hybrid review for more info!
Made with proprietary AirFoam, the Nolah is soft and pressure relieving. Its responsive layers are desirable for side sleepers.
Unique AirFoam that cradles the hips and shoulders
The Nolah Original mattress is a medium-soft, polyfoam mattress that features three layers of foam and an organic cover. The 2.5” top layer is made of Nolah’s cooling, extra-deep AirFoam, which creates motion isolation, especially on the soft side (related: best soft mattresses).
The fact that this mattress is not memory foam bears reiterating. In fact, Nolah claims that the AirFoam sleeps cooler, provides four times the pressure relief, and is 300% more durable than memory foam. It is a great mattress for side sleepers, hot sleepers, and couples, due to great motion transfer reduction, meaning you won’t be bothered by your partner’s movements throughout the night.
Check out our full Nolah mattress review!
A unique combination, the GhostBed Luxe can provide pressure relief for side sleepers while still remaining firm enough to support the spinal alignment of back sleepers.
Top-of-the-line cooling technology
For a memory foam mattress, the GhostBed Luxe has some of the qualities of a latex mattress. This makes it easier to move around on the mattress and stay comfortable in multiple positions. In the middle of the firmness scale, the GhostBed Luxe can support back sleepers and cradle side sleepers.
Both types of sleepers will find their weight evenly distributed across the mattress. Lightweight and average weight back and side sleepers will sleep soundly on the three firm layers that balance comfort and support. Another plus to the GhostBed Luxe is the Ghost Ice layer dedicated absorbing heat that is often trapped inside memory foam mattresses.
Read our GhostBed Luxe Mattress Review for more information.
Easy-to-remove cover and cooling gel
The 5 layers of the Idle Gel Foam are designed to provide contoured support around the shoulders and hips of side sleepers. Advanced comfort foams make up the 12″ mattress and work to prevent the pain associated with pressure points.
While it is firmer than other contouring mattresses, the Idle Gel Foam adjusts the sleeper’s body to provide more support where needed. The three different layers of polyfoam each serve a function to curve around the natural shape of the sleeper’s body and evenly distribute their weight, helping to prevent hip pain and protect pressure points.
For more information, check out our Idle Sleep Gel Foam Mattress Review.
Comfier, plusher version of Bear's original cooling all-foam mattress
Bear mattresses are known for helping sleepers stay cool. The Bear Pro is no exception, made of gel memory foam and a Celliant cover designed to wick away excess heat from the body. The Copper infused foam also contributes to an overall neutral temperature feel, while still soft enough to protect the pressure points of side sleepers.
The memory foam will contour around the body but has enough bounce for sleepers to change positions as needed. There is also a two-layer comfort section that contours around the shoulders and hips, an appreciated addition for many side sleepers.
See our Bear Pro Mattress Review to learn more.
Striking the perfect balance between the contour of memory foam and the bounce of pocket-coils, the Casper Hybrid offers the best of both worlds when it comes to superior comfort and support.
Zoned comfort and the addition of a coil layer
This hybrid mattress takes features from the original Casper, an all-foam mattress, and marries them to other materials sleepers desire in a mattress. Pocketed coils steal the spotlight in its makeup and add extra bounce. Other materials include latex, memory foam, and poly foam, a winning combination for support and comfort.
Casper aims to provide a balance of comfort and support with this hybrid, and we think they nailed it. If you’re a side sleeper who occasionally sleeps on your back, we recommend this option because it’s supportive enough for both positions but feels softer when you’re on your side. While some sinking will occur in the top foam layers, it should be just enough to provide satisfying relief for side sleepers while distributing body weight evenly throughout the mattress.
Read our full Casper Hybrid review to learn more!
The Layla is a copper-infused memory foam mattress that’s double-sided, allowing you to choose from two firmness levels in the same mattress. The medium-soft side is pressure-relieving, and the firm side provides more support.
Regardless of which side you choose, the cover design on this bed will keep you cool and makes flipping the bed a cinch. We recommend the medium-soft side for most side sleepers, but heavier individuals may enjoy the firm side. As an added bonus, the foam in this mattress is copper-infused, which keeps you cool by drawing heat away from the body. The copper also kills bacteria naturally, helping extend Layla’s lifespan.
Read our in-depth Layla Mattress Review!
According to Dr. Navin Ramchandani, “Every sleeping position creates zones of pressure along the body. For side sleepers, these occur at naturally contoured areas that press deeper into a surface when you’re lying laterally (on your side): the shoulders and hips.”
If you’re sleeping on your side and have the wrong mattress, one of the first red flags is pain or numbness in these areas upon waking. A mattress that’s healthy for side sleeping will contour to the body and provide just enough give to allow these areas to relax throughout the night.
Most shoppers think of firmness only in terms of preference, but the firmness of a mattress will impact how it sleeps. Side sleepers need a mattress that’s soft enough to contour to their body’s curves. A lack of contour means a lack of support, creating pressure points that lead to back, neck, and shoulder aches and pains.
For the majority of side sleepers, soft to medium-firm mattress strikes a balance, but keep in mind that this will vary by size. If you’re on the heavier side or have a large build, you’ll sink further into the mattress and may find better support in a firmer setting. If you’re petite, a softer mattress may feel supportive enough for you.
“For side sleepers, it’s important to find a mattress that is soft enough to contour to your body’s curves. A lack of contouring means a lack of support, which can lead to other issues like creating pressure points that lead to the back and neck. This can lead to shoulder pains and aches,” according to Dr. Navin Ramchandani.
We recommend memory foam mattresses for side sleepers because they are known for their ease in contouring to the body and the slow return back to the original form once the pressure is released. Hybrid versions of innerspring mattresses will offer a greater degree of contouring than traditional innerspring styles. To some, latex mattresses surpass even memory foam in their ability to contour. Natural latex has a less pronounced contour than memory foam, meaning that sleepers will feel supported even if they move throughout the night.
When you’re lying on your side, the ideal alignment for the spine is straight. This often surprises people who imagine sinking deeply into a mattress to sleep. “While the spine has a natural ‘S’ curve when viewed from the side, it should be completely straight from an anterior (front) or posterior (back) view. Bending to the side occasionally is completely normal, but remaining in that position for more than a few seconds, much less throughout the night, isn’t healthy,” says Dr. Navin Ramchandani, MD.
It’s crucial to side sleepers’ long-term health to find a mattress that encourages proper spinal alignment. It needn’t be excessively firm but should prevent exaggerated bending of the spine.
There’s no single mattress type that will suit side sleepers across the board. From innerspring to hybrid, memory foam, and latex, each type has benefits. Whether or not a mattress is ideal for an individual is dependent upon the mattress’s construction and the sleeper’s preferences, size, and build.
We can, however, find commonalities in materials used in the top-ranked beds for this sleeping type. For example, memory foam is often used for pressure relief in the top layers of these mattresses. Additionally, we noticed that mattresses with inner springs that support body weight yet allow for body contouring were common.
There’s no single “right” material, but be on the lookout for these two. Beyond them, it’s up to preference: pocketed coils reduce motion from a partner, memory foam can have a firmer base, latex is eco-friendly, and so on.
Side sleeping is the second most recommended sleeping position by doctors, and it offers many health benefits when done properly. It’s gentler on the neck than stomach sleeping, which is known to cause snoring, sleep apnea, and back problems and, for many, more comfortable than back sleeping.
If you think sleeping on the left or right side is little more than the flip of a coin, think again. It’s been proven that sleeping on the left is more beneficial. Sleeping on the right side can aggravate acid reflux and heartburn, both of which left-side sleeping alleviates. Due to the location of the body’s organs, sleeping on the left also boosts digestion, improves circulation, assists brain waste filtering, and stimulates lymphatic drainage.
While there are many benefits to sleeping on your side, there are also some notable issues that side sleepers may face. One of the most common problems for side sleepers is shoulder pain. When you are sleeping on your side, your body weight can put a significant amount of pressure on your shoulders, which can result in shoulder pain over time. As a result, we typically recommend softer mattresses for side sleepers to help with pressure relief.
Another common problem that side sleepers face is lower back pain and neck pain. This is usually caused by pelvic rotation, which results from the misalignment of the back muscles and lumbar spine. While this can’t necessarily to remedied completely, there are some preventative measures you can take, such as choosing a mattress that offers proper support and softness or keeping a pillow in between your legs while you sleep.
Still need guidance in your mattress buying journey? Check out our ultimate mattress buying guide!
|Saatva||Best Innerspring Mattress for Side Sleepers|
|Helix Midnight Luxe||Best for Side Sleepers with Back Pain|
|Nectar||Best Memory Foam Mattress|
|Leesa||Best for Side Sleepers with Shoulder Pain|
|Nolah||Best for Pressure Relief|
|GhostBed Luxe||Best Mattress for Side & Back Sleepers|
|Idle Gel Foam Mattress||Best Mattress for Side Sleepers with Hip Pain|
|Bear Pro||Best Mattress for Hot Side Sleepers|
|Casper Hybrid||Best Hybrid Mattress for Side Sleepers|
|Layla||Best Mattress for Heavy Side Sleepers|
See the best latex mattresses sold online and learn the benefits of sleeping on a natural Talalay or Dunlop mattress.
Check out the best memory foam mattresses online and learn the benefits of sleeping on memory foam.
Dr. Navin Ramchandani is a Medical Doctor/ Diagnostician and Owner of R&R Medical Centre in Barbados. He is also an Advanced Paediatric Life Support (APLS) International instructor with the Advanced Life Support Group (ALSG), and a Paediatric BASIC (Basic Assessment and Support in Intensive Care) international instructor. His passion is diagnosing and treating/helping people with complicated health issues to improve their overall health and quality of life.