This article contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Many individuals find that sleeping on their side is the best way for them to get comfortable. In fact, this is the most common sleeping position. However, with the wrong mattress, sleeping on your side can bring the spine out of alignment and put too much pressure on different areas of your body. A misaligned spine coupled with increased pressure can lead to back, neck, shoulder, or hip pain.
Side sleepers need to choose a mattress that is able to conform to their body shape to alleviate pressure point pain and to ensure their spine stays in alignment. When these goals are met, individuals can comfortably enjoy some of the many benefits associated with sleeping on your side. These benefits include reduced joint pain, decreased snoring, and improved gut health.
Deciding which mattress to purchase can be difficult if you’re a side sleeper. Many manufacturers may claim that their mattresses are perfect for side sleepers, but is this accurate? In the next few sections, we’ll take a deeper look at what materials, mattress types, and firmness levels are ideal to help you select the best mattress for side sleepers. Whether you’re looking for the best hybrid mattress for side sleepers or the best memory foam mattress for side sleepers, you should be able to find the right mattress to keep you comfortable with our top picks shared below.
Spine Alignment and Pressure Points for Side Sleepers
Keeping the spine in a straight or neutral position during sleep is essential. If the spine is not aligned while you sleep, it can lead to back pain and other discomfort the following day.
The right mattress for side sleepers should provide sufficient contouring support to keep the spine in alignment. Contouring refers to how well the mattress conforms to each person’s individual body shape. Mattresses with greater contouring will help ensure that a side sleeper’s spine remains in the proper position.
If you need to determine whether your spine is in a neutral position, then you can lie on your side and ask a friend or loved one to take a picture of your back. When the spine is alignment, your body should appear straight. Also, you should be able to draw a line from the midpoints of your ears, through your shoulders, and down to your hips. If it appears that your hips or shoulders are sinking farther into the mattress than your head and legs, then the mattress is too soft to keep your spine in alignment.
Pressure point relief is also important when choosing a mattress for a side sleeper. Sleeping on your side can place a lot of stress on the hips and shoulders. Choosing a mattress with a softer top layer that will cradle these areas of the body to alleviate pressure points can prevent you from waking up with shoulder or hip pain.
Do Side Sleepers Prefer Soft or Firm Mattresses?
Generally speaking, side sleepers prefer a softer mattress. However, as we shared above, side sleepers can experience pressure point pain if the mattress they sleep on isn’t soft enough to conform to their body to alleviate pressure point pain.
The firmness of a mattress is rated on a 10-point scale, with 1 indicating a very soft mattress and 10 indicating a very firm mattress. Most side sleepers tend to prefer a mattress with a firmness level between 5 and 7.
However, keep in mind that other factors, such as body weight and comfort preferences can impact which firmness level will be ideal for you. For example, individuals who are larger or more muscular may find that a mattress with a firmness level around 5 is too soft to properly support their body weight and allows their hips and shoulders to sink too low to keep the spine aligned.
The Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers
After a lot of research and testing, we selected the following mattresses as our top picks for side sleepers looking for pressure relief and all-night comfort. Continue reading to learn why we recommend each of these options.
The Nolah Evolution 15” is a great mattress option to help relieve back and neck pain. It features a seven-layer hybrid design that combines Nolah's proprietary foam with a coil support system. AirFoamICE™ offers gentle contouring and exceptional pressure relief. The HDMax™ Tri-Zone™ coils have targeted back support and respond to movement and weight distribution to provide even spinal alignment which reduces back pain.
The Nolah Evolution 15” mattress comes in three different firmness levels so you can choose the perfect firmness for your sleep position and body composition. It also features cooling properties like a breathable organic cotton cover and graphite infused AirFoamICE™ to draw out heat.
You will be able to try your Nolah mattress in the comfort of your own home during the 120-night trial period. Also, all Nolah mattresses are made in the USA, ship free, and have a lifetime warranty.
Memory foam mattresses are popular among many side sleepers due to their ability to contour and cradle a body. The Nectar Memory Foam Mattress is a great choice to consider if you’d like to take advantage of the contouring properties of memory foam to relieve pressure points on your hips and shoulders.
The 6.5 out of 10 firmness rating for this mattress ensures that it is both soft, yet supportive enough to keep a side sleeper’s spine in alignment.
This memory foam mattress offers five layers that work together to provide a restful and cool night’s sleep. The cover is made from a poly-blend material that, in addition to being soft and comfortable, is also designed with cooling technology to pull heat away from individuals as they sleep. An additional 3-inch cooling layer can be found directly below the cover. This gel-infused memory foam layer features phase-change materials that help individuals better regulate their body temperature. These special phase change materials work to pull heat away from individuals that are too hot, and release heat back to warm up individuals that are too cool.
Nectar added a 2-inch dynamic support layer next. This foam layer helps the mattress adjust to each body to provide the right amount of support. The Stay-Stable Base layer is next. This 7-inch foam layer offers additional stability to the mattress and supports the top three layers to help them keep individuals comfortable. Finally, a shift-resistant lower cover ensures that the mattress stays in place and doesn’t slide around on its frame.
All Nectar Mattresses ship for free and include free returns. The company’s 365-night sleep trial gives you the opportunity to try out the mattress to see whether it delivers the right mix of contouring and support to keep you in alignment and alleviate pressure points. Nectar also backs their products with a ‘Forever Warranty’ against defects in materials, construction, or quality.
This mattress is compatible with all bed frame types including box springs, traditional frames, platform beds, divan bases, and adjustable bed frames. It is available in six different sizes: twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, and California king.
We also really like the GhostBed Classic Mattress for side sleepers. This is an 11-inch mattress featuring four layers with gel memory foam and aerated latex that will contour to a side sleeper’s body while also keeping them from getting too hot overnight. With a firmness rating between 7 and 8, this mattress is a bit firmer than some of the other options on our list. This can make it a good option for side sleepers who prefer a little more support from a mattress or for those with a heavier body weight.
The 4-layer design of this mattress starts with a breathable and soft polyester and viscose cover. Following the cover is a 1.5-inch layer of non-allergenic aerated latex. GhostBed added this layer to the mattress since latex is known for its ability to keep individuals cooler as they sleep by pulling heat away from the body. Latex is also springier, making it more responsive to movement than all-foam mattresses.
Next up is a 2-inch layer of exclusive gel memory foam that ensures proper contouring and pressure point relief. GhostBed selected a large-cell gel memory foam to offer additional cooling properties and prevent the mattress from trapping heat like traditional memory foam materials.
Finally, a 7-5-inch high-density foam core rounds out the mattress. This layer adds support to keep the spine in alignment, but isn’t overly firm to make the mattress feel too hard.
GhostBed offers their Classic Mattress in twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, California king, and split king sizes. Your purchase will be protected by GhostBed’s 101-night sleep trial and 20-year warranty. GhostBed offers free shipping, often within 24 hours, so you’ll be able to begin enjoying your new mattress almost immediately.
Side sleepers will enjoy the cradling comfort of the Sunkiss Cooling Gel Memory Foam Mattress from Sweet Night. The mattress features a flippable design with a softer side for side sleepers and a firmer side for stomach and back sleepers. The softer side of the mattress has a firmness rating of about 5 out of 10, while the firmer side’s rating is about 7 out of 10.
In addition to being designed to offer the contouring needed to keep side sleepers comfortable overnight, this mattress will also help ensure that individuals don’t become too hot as they sleep. Beneath the breathable and hypoallergenic cover is a layer of cooling gel-infused memory foam that pulls heat and moisture away from individuals as they sleep.
Sweet Night’s Ventilate Comfort Foam and 3-Zoned Air-flow Open-Cell Comfort Foam layers are next. These materials work to allow greater air flow within the mattress and prevent heat from becoming trapped, as is common with many other memory foam mattresses.
The final layer of this mattress is a 4-inch Air-flow foam base. This base foam enables the mattress to offer superior contouring, pressure-point relief, and support for each body.
Sweet Night’s mattresses include a 100-night trial and a 10-year warranty. The company also offers free shipping and states that most orders are delivered with 7 to 15 business days. You can purchase the Sunkiss Cooling Gel Memory Foam Mattress in a 10-inch twin, full, queen, or king size or a 12-inch queen or king size.
Last, but not least, take a look at the Puffy Lux Hybrid Mattress. This mattress features a 6-layer design with a medium-plush firmness that can help side sleepers drift off to dreamland and rest comfortably throughout the night.
The top layer of this mattress is a patented hypoallergenic and stain-resistant cover with a soft and plush feel. 1.5 inches of Puffy’s exclusive Cooling Cloud foam sits right beneath the cover to ensure individuals don’t get too hot as they sleep.
Below the Cooling Cloud foam is a 1.5-inch layer of Plush Dual Cloud foam. This layer of foam is what makes this choice a top contender for the best hybrid mattress for side sleepers; the Plush Dual Cloud foam allows the mattress to alleviate pressure points as people sleep.
The next layer is the Climate Comfort foam. This 2-inch-thick foam resists humidity and wicks moisture away from sleepers for ultimate temperature regulation and comfort. A 7-inch layer of high-density foam with a coil base offers superior edge support and stability to the mattress while also providing support to the spine to keep it in alignment. Finally, Puffy added a grip base cover to prevent the mattress from slipping and sliding when you move.
The Puffy Lux Hybrid Mattress is suitable for use with any flat surface including slats, box springs, and adjustable bed frames. There are six different size options available: twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, and California king. If you purchase a Puffy mattress, your order will include a 101-night sleep trial and a lifetime warranty. Puffy also works hard to ship all orders quickly. In most cases, your mattress should be delivered within 7 to 10 business days.
What Features Should Side Sleepers Look for in a Mattress?
Every sleep position comes with its own set of criteria to consider when shopping for a mattress. When you’re looking for the best mattress for side sleepers, keep the features detailed below in mind to help you make a selection that will keep your spine in alignment and relieve stress on your joints for a comfortable night’s sleep.
Contouring and Pressure Relief
As we mentioned above, selecting a mattress with sufficient contouring is essential when side sleepers shop for a mattress. Mattresses that don’t contour to the body won’t offer pressure point relief and can cause the spine to be misaligned. When either of these situations happen, individuals are much more likely to wake up with pain the following day or to develop joint issues over time.
There are many different types of mattresses on the market including hybrid, foam, latex, innerspring, and air mattresses. As we shared above, finding a mattress that will contour to your body shape is essential for alleviating pressure points and for preventing pain.
Memory foam is known for its contouring properties and is often a very popular choice for side sleepers. Softer latex mattresses can also deliver similar contouring to alleviate pressure point pain for side sleepers.
Hybrid mattresses feature a multiple-layer design, and often include one (or more) memory foam or latex comfort layers. They can also be a good choice for side sleepers because hybrid mattresses include pocketed coils, which can allow for greater support and airflow. Foam mattresses can trap heat, so a hybrid mattress can be a good compromise for side sleepers looking to stay cool overnight.
Airbed mattresses allow side sleepers to customize the mattress’ firmness to match their specific support and contouring needs. These mattresses are also designed with a comfort layer above the air chambers that may be made from foam, wool, or latex.
Innerspring mattresses are typically not a good option for side sleepers. They have a much thinner comfort layer than a hybrid mattress, and, because of this, won’t conform as much to a sleeper’s body throughout the night.
For most side sleepers, a mattress with a medium-soft to a medium firmness level will provide the support and contouring needed to ensure all-night comfort, provide pressure point relief, and keep the spine aligned. However, a mattress’ firmness level can be subjective and can be impacted by other factors such as body weight or an individual’s body proportions.
If you tend to get warm when you sleep, then looking for mattresses designed to keep you cooler overnight should also be a priority. While all-foam mattresses can be very contouring, they also trap heat. Choosing a hybrid mattress with pocketed coils for increased airflow or a latex mattress that dissipates heat better than foam may be a better option for hot sleepers. Some manufacturers also integrate additional cooling features into the design of their mattresses, such as phase-change fabrics and moisture-wicking materials.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is an adjustable base a good option?
Yes, adjustable bases for your mattress can be a great option. I go more in-dept on adjustable bases here, I would encourage anyone looking to the optimal mattress set-up to check it out. Even is you do not go with an adjustable base, it can be helpful to see what is on the market when making your decision.
What is the best mattress firmness level for a side sleeper?
Firmness can be subjective as a mattress can feel different to each individual based on their body weight, body proportions, and other factors. However, as a general rule, most side sleepers tend to be more comfortable on a medium-soft to medium mattress that will provide sufficient contouring to alleviate pressure points.
Is a hybrid or memory foam mattress better for side sleepers?
Hybrid and memory foam mattresses can both be good choices for side sleepers. Both of these mattress types are designed to contour to a body, which is essential for keeping a side sleeper’s spine in alignment and relieving pressure point pain.
Hybrid mattresses can be a better choice for side sleepers who tend to get too warm when they sleep. Their pocketed coil design allows more air to flow, which can keep individuals from getting as hot. Memory foam mattresses trap heat, which can cause bodies to get too warm at night.
Which mattress type is best for side sleepers with back pain?
Keeping the spine aligned while sleeping is key in reducing back pain. Hybrid mattresses are typically the best option to achieve this goal. Many hybrid mattresses are designed with zoned coils that can provide the right amount of support for each area of the body to ensure an individual’s spine stays in alignment when sleeping on their side.