Best and Worst Mattresses for Side Sleepers

For something as simple as sleeping, it isn’t an easy thing to do unfortunately – especially if you bring in the mattress choice into the mix. Sleeping has been linked to several health problems, such as obesity, dementia, and heart disease. All these are often due to the amount of time you spend on sleeping. But there’s another factor that affects your quality of sleep and that’s your sleeping position, which can actually play a role on heartburn, snoring, and even your facial wrinkles. There are three main positions for sleeping and each has its own variables.

  1. Back Sleeping Position

Snoozing in this position is a good choice for your neck and your spine. This is because your back remains in its natural straight position and you’re not contorting it. If you’re shopping for a mattress and this is your favorite sleeping position, you’ll find it easy to choose because most mattresses support back sleeping. Mattresses do their job of providing support for the spine if you sleep on your back.

What’s more, you’re sleeping with your face out in the air, which can actually lead to fewer wrinkles. In a perfect world, sleeping on your back doesn’t require a pillow to leave the neck in its neutral position. But most of us use pillows and there are some who spoil themselves with a lot of pillows. This can actually make breathing a little bit difficult.

While back sleeping does have a lot of benefits, it is not good for people who snore a lot and those with sleep apnea in which it is closely linked to the latter. Doctors prescribe another sleeping position as treatment for sleep apnea which is discussed below. When you sleep on your back, the base of the tongue collapses into the airways as forced by gravity. As a result, this hinders breathing and snoring noises happen.

It is also important to note that having your spine supported all night doesn’t necessarily mean you’re having a good quality of sleep. There’s a study that compared good and poor sleepers and it discovered that those who had worse quality of sleep spend their nights mostly on their backs.

  1. Stomach Sleeping Position

If you’re a snorer or your partner is keeping you up all night with his/her snoring noises, this sleeping position is the most suggested. Stomach sleeping actually relieves snoring problems and in some cases, it may alleviate sleep apnea.

Out of the three main types of sleeping positions, stomach sleeping is widely considered the worst position. What it does is it flattens the curve of the spine, which can result to lower back pain. Additionally, you can’t sleep with your face on the mattress, so you turn your head to one side, which also causes neck strain. But if this is your preferred sleeping position, the best thing that you can do is to use pillows to slowly train your body to sleeping on one side. If you keep experiencing lower back pain, have one pillow under your hips as well as your lower abdomen, which will give your spine a boost in support.

  1. Side Sleeping Position

Although this isn’t completely accurate since everyone is unconscious as they sleep, side sleeping is considered the most popular and the most preferred position out of all three. Whether you’re curling up in a fetal position or you are lying straight on your left or right side, many people have reported that this is how they sleep at night.

Doctors actually encourage individuals to sleep on their sides, particularly on the left side, especially those who are pregnant as this can improve circulation of blood to the heart – which greatly benefits the baby and the mother. So if you’re pregnant, side sleeping should definitely be your sleeping position. Plus, your back won’t hurt that much if you sleep on your side because it removes the pressure on the lower back caused by the additional weight.

But side sleeping isn’t just for pregnant women because this can also help those who experience frequent acid reflux and heartburn. Sleep on your left side to alleviate the problem and you can sleep better at night.

Side sleeping isn’t perfect though as it also has some cons. As a matter of fact, sleeping on your side, particularly on your left, can put more pressure to the lungs and the stomach. The best solution is to alternate sides so you can prevent strain on those organs.

Also, if you have been sleeping on this side most of the time, you probably woke up a few times with your arm numb. Some side sleepers also put their arm behind their heads, but this can affect nerves and muscles. Additionally, if you’re sleeping on a single arm, this can restrict blood flow while pressing down on nerves, which can give you those painful pins and needles. Since you’re also resting your body weight on one shoulder, this can constrict the muscles in your shoulders and your neck, leading to shoulder and neck pain.

The UK Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service conducted a survey with 1,000 participants and this is what they discovered:

Despite the variations of side sleeping, this still remains to be the most common position as we sleep through the night. So if you’re a side sleeper, you’re in the majority. But that doesn’t mean that your hunt for a new mattress is easier than people who prefer other sleeping positions. One thing that is really important with side sleeping is pressure relief. Because of the curvy profile of this position, you want to avoid sleeping on your bony prominences – those body parts of yours that are pointier than others, including your hips and shoulders.

Mattress Myths for Side Sleepers

Pressure relief may sound like something so simple, but it is not, especially if this is your first time to buy a mattress for yourself. Add to that is the fact that there are many myths and beliefs when it comes to choosing a mattress that works for your preferred sleeping position. You’ve probably heard about them from your family or friends or even read about them online. But you shouldn’t get confused over what’s real and what’s not. It’s time for you to know which are true and which are just myths.

“A firm mattress is the best mattress.”

Regardless of your favorite sleep position, you’ve probably heard that a firm mattress is the best choice for you. However, this isn’t true in most cases, including those who are side sleepers. The truth is back sleepers are the ones who truly benefit from a firm mattress. The reason behind this is that their bodies are evenly distributed over the bed – unlike those who sleep on their side or stomach.

So, here’s the solution for this confusing myth. If you’re a side sleeper and you’re small to average in size, you should go for a mattress that’s medium to soft. When you’re on your side, the pressure tends to be on the hips and the shoulders, which mean pressure is just in a small surface area. If you start feeling shoulder pains, you have a very firm mattress. Another reason is that your pillow is too low.

“Side sleepers require a very soft mattress.”

You’ve probably heard about this one too. Since you’re sleeping on your side, you may think that your body should sink into the mattress. But this isn’t recommended because if the bed is too soft, you are not getting the support your body needs. Instead, you are subjecting your body to a slumping position that is not only awkward, but also causes you to feel aches and pains when you wake up.

“The more expensive the mattress is, the better you’ll sleep.”

The price is not a real determining factor when it comes to the quality of the mattress. Sure, there are many expensive mattresses that offer more than cheaper ones. However, you can actually find some mattresses that not only guarantees quality, but won’t put a dent on your budget as well. Overpaying for your new mattress isn’t a warranty for a better night’s sleep. You’ll probably sleep less and will keep tossing and turning because of the money you spent.

The most important thing is your own comfort. Before you go shopping, have a budget and consider your preferred sleeping position. While you’re at it, jot down any physical problems as well, such as back or neck pain and obesity.

What’s The Best Mattress for Side Sleepers?

As mentioned above, it is important that side sleepers look for a mattress that offers excellent pressure relief. To understand this, you should know about pressure points, which are any area on the body that are more sensitive to pressure than others. This is why they are usually the surface of the body.

Some health conditions, such as fibromyalgia, may cause you to be more sensitive and this is why careful assessment of mattresses is required before you buy. Sleeping on the wrong mattress can cause discomfort due to the pressure points. You will certainly spend the night tossing and turning and when you wake up in the morning, you’ll have some body aches. You’ll also feel tired throughout the day and will be unable to function. As you can see, a good night’s sleep can have a positive effect on you, while lack of sleep can cause these physical pains and can even affect your mood and your health.

When you select a mattress based on pressure relief, you should choose one that can evenly distribute your weight on the bed. If the mattress is too firm, pressure points will be pushed and you’ll be out of your alignment. But if it’s too soft, you will not get the support you need, causing your body to flop back. Before we take a look at different types of mattresses and how they respond to pressure points, side sleepers should bear this in mind:

Side sleepers shouldn’t go for firm or soft mattress. The best mattress for this sleeping position is a medium soft mattress, which means that the mattress is not too firm and not too soft either, but more on the softer side. Foam density is important as well and the mattress should have at least four inches of it.

The characteristics mentioned above allow the mattress to support pressure points and therefore providing adequate pressure relief. At the same time, it cradles the curves of your body and this is important for a side sleeper such as yourself.

Now let’s take a look at some of the popular types of mattresses and how they can help side sleepers reduce pressure points:

Type of Mattress Pressure Relief Information
Spring Mattress Each coil in this type of mattress bounces back, which means that it could give you the illusion that you’ll be comfortable on your side as you sleep. The reality is that the coils will spring back and they do so with the same force. As a result, they put pressure on the sensitive areas of the body. You may want to avoid this type of mattress since it will not just spread your weight uniformly, but will also leave your tender points more aggravated.
Memory Foam There are many memory foam mattresses these days since they seem to be a favorite of consumers quite recently. But only good quality memory foam mattresses can aid in distributing body weight evenly on the surface of the bed. What’s really great about this type of mattress is that it springs back gradually as it returns to its original shape.

Remember though that memory foam relies on your body heat to contour. So to benefit from its pressure relief, high-density foam is required. At the same time, it should have a good airflow system, so you don’t feel warm as you sleep.

Latex Latex, unlike memory foam, will instantly adapt to the shape of your body. Additionally, it doesn’t have the gradual spring back of memory foam; rather, it will return to its normal shape fairly quickly. But just like memory foam mattresses, latex mattresses are also excellent for pressure relief.

What Type of Mattress is the Best for Side Sleepers?

As noticeable in the table above, latex and memory foam are the best types of mattresses for people who sleep on their sides. Ultimately, it’s a choice between the amounts of time for springing back. As mentioned, latex immediately springs back to its original form, while memory foam takes a little bit more time. But both are guaranteed to provide pressure relief.

What Type of Mattress is the Worst for Side Sleepers?

Any mattress that molds the body, while being so stiff or so soft, should be avoided by side sleepers. These mattresses can cause achy muscles, back and joint pains, and not to mention a fidgety night. Two of the mattresses you should definitely stay away from are waterbeds and spring mattresses. These two will not give you the support your body needs as they will contort your body and will cause you to slump or be stiff respectively.

Spring mattresses have springs that will not hold your body evenly, causing the heaviest parts of the body to push up. As a result, lumbar region is not supported. You don’t only get improper support from the spring mattress, but being a side sleeper can also cause strain on the springs. Your mattress will not last because of the pressure.

Meanwhile, waterbeds often create an effect on the sleeper as if he/she is on a hammock. Aside from that, they don’t provide enough support, just like a spring mattress. Your weight won’t be distributed evenly as well and so you’re better off with either a latex mattress or a memory foam mattress.

Top 5 Mattresses for Side Sleepers to Choose From

If you’re still confused as to which mattress to go for, here are the best choices that would definitely meet your requirements as a side sleeper:

  1. Amerisleep Liberty – $999
  2. Nest Bedding Alexander – $1,099
  3. Tempurpedic AlluraBed Mattress – $6,448.50
  4. Purple – $1,099
  5. Loom & Leaf – $1,399

More about Our Top 5 Mattresses for Side Sleepers

First, let’s talk about the number one on the list: Amerisleep Liberty. If you’re looking for high-quality memory foam mattress with a very affordable price, nothing can beat Amerisleep. They are a trusted company that has been providing top-notch products that has almost the same qualities as other expensive mattresses, but they will not charge you with the same price. Instead, they target those who are on a budget. But what’s really great about this mattress and the other ones offered by Amerisleep is that they are not only budget-friendly, but they are also beneficial to your health.

Amerisleep is one of the very few companies that use green foam in the world. This mattress promises that you will be comfortable as you sleep on your side – or even any position. So you can share the bed with your partner who may have other preferred sleep positions.

You will certainly love Amerisleep Liberty because:

  • It’s not expensive.
  • It has the right firmness for side sleepers.
  • It doesn’t smell during the first few nights.
  • It has the right density with 12 inches of mattress consisting of three separate layers of foam.
  • It has a trial period of 100 nights and 20 years warranty, longer than your usual warranty.

Why Side Sleepers Should Choose Amerisleep Liberty

Aside from being inexpensive, it has a lot of great features that you can find in costly mattresses. But what really sets it apart is that it is Celliant-infused. Celliant is a technology of materials that allow Amerisleep to utilize less petroleum. What’s more, this provides some health benefits, including better blood circulation.

Amerisleep is very comfortable, particularly for side sleepers. Its Bio-Pur memory foam allows it to relieve pressure points without causing you to sink so much into the mattress. This is great for beginners in memory foam because they won’t feel that they are stuck since they can freely move. The mattress is also soft to the touch and can even be ideal for people who are a little heavier.

Because it is of the right firmness, you will not feel any pain on your shoulders and your other parts of the body even though it may be a little firm for some people. It has a Bio-Core layer that can keep the hips and shoulders in their natural position, so you don’t wake up feeling sore. Aside from this layer, there’s a transitional layer that provides even more support, so the mattress doesn’t fail at providing pressure relief.

Now, for the next mattress, let’s talk about the Nest Bedding Alexander Mattress. It’s a little more expensive than the Amerisleep Liberty, but it is still not too pricey. It consists of four layers of 13 inches of mattress. This mattress comes in three different firmness levels: soft, medium, and firm. Since you’re a side sleeper, the best mattress for you is the medium one, but you can also go for the firm mattress as it is not too firm. Here’s a summary of the things you will like about the Nest Bedding Alexander mattress:

  • It won’t make you spend more than other mattresses.
  • It uses mostly organic and natural materials.
  • It offers 101 nights of trial and you can get a full refund if you don’t like it – no questions asked.
  • Buyers are allowed to make monthly payments instead of paying for the whole cost in one go.

Why Side Sleepers Should Choose Nest Bedding Alexander

Choosing the medium firmness will actually give you a soft feel – it’s immediate since the quilted cover has a padding of two inches of foam. As you lie down on the mattress, you will instantly feel the supporting layers. Lying on your back will give you the sensation that your weight is evenly distributed on the surface of the mattress.

But since you prefer to lie on your side, you will most likely feel that there is a deeper sinkage than when you lie on your back. The sinkage will be two inches at the most for a person with average weight. What does this mean? The Alexander mattress from Next Bedding has a slight hug and will moderately contour to your body. Compared to Amerisleep Liberty mattress and most other memory foam mattresses out there, Alexander mattress doesn’t have similar deep contours, but you will feel a substantial hug. As a result, you will experience great pressure relief.

The third option is the AlluraBed Mattress from Tempurpedic. The price alone will probably make you do a double take, but if you’re not watching your budget, this mattress is for you. Tempurpedic is a company known for its notoriety in pricing its products. Rest assured though that this very expensive mattress is not only recommended for your comfort as a side sleeper, but also for every penny you spend.

Here’s what you will definitely like from the AlluraBed:

  • It is a luxurious mattress.
  • It uses patented HD memory foam from Tempurpedic.
  • It is soft, but has great support that will give your body a nice hug as you sleep on your side.
  • The mattress offers a 20-year warranty.

Why Side Sleepers Should Choose Tempurpedic AlluraBed Mattress

Out of all the Tempur-HD collection from Tempurpedic, the AlluraBed is considered the softest. But don’t let this discourage you if you’re looking for something somewhere in the middle. Most other people think it is medium-firm. But its fine thick pillow top with a density of 7.2lbs, you will certainly have a lot of softness from this mattress. The pillow top is made of Tempur-HD memory foam, making this mattress one of the best when it comes to providing incredible pressure relief.

The mattress has one layer of foam for support, which is almost three inches thick. This particular foam has a density of 5.3lbs, which makes it a good mattress for people who may be a bit heavier than average. The mattress also has two base layers, but these two are less dense yet you will feel how soft the mattress is as you lie on your side.

This mattress is recommended for those who are overweight and pregnant since those who are carrying a baby normally sleep on their sides.

The fourth choice in the list is the Purple Mattress. It is not as plush as the other three mattresses that have been already mentioned as it only has 9.5 inches of thickness. However, it does come with three layers of foam and polymer. Here’s what you will definitely like about the Purple Mattress:

  • This mattress is especially designed for pressure relief.
  • It is a unique mattress that uses non-traditional materials.
  • You will never sleep hot in this mattress.
  • This mattress has the right firmness, especially for side sleepers.
  • It offers a 10 year warranty and 100 nights for full refund within the said period.

Why Side Sleepers Should Choose the Purple Mattress

The Purple mattress is neither soft nor firm, which makes it ideal for those who sleep on their side. It has a unique feel as well and is actually designed to fit the requirements of most people. The support it provides is great and as you lie down on your back, you will not feel any substantial pressure point – which is important for side sleepers. This is thanks to the efficiency of the top layer, which is comprised of two inches of hyper-elastic polymer, making the mattress perform an excellent job of spreading pressure between the mattress and the body of the sleeper.

For those side sleepers who are lighter or less than 130 pounds, they might feel as if they are floating on the surface of the mattress and there’s not much contouring. Meanwhile, those who are about 130 to 150 pounds will sink a bit deeper and there’s a slight hug from the mattress. If you’re heavier, there will definitely be a more pronounced sinkage and contour and some may even engage the layer that offers transitional support prominently. But all in all, this mattress can provide support and sinkage level in a balanced way.

Finally, we have the Loom & Leaf Mattress, which is a new mattress manufacturer that sells mattresses online. The mattress comes with four different layers, creating 12 inches thick of mattress that will make you feel comfortable and at the same time, it is durable and can provide you with the support you need as a side sleeper.

Here’s what you will also like about the Loom & Leaf Mattress:

  • It has a soft, breathable cover made from organic cotton and natural thistle.
  • The mattress contains a cooling gel that will help you sleep cool even during warm nights.
  • It offers a warranty of 15 years and a trial period of 75 days.
  • It has very little smell and will usually disappear in less than 24 hours.
  • It has the right firmness and if you want it to be a little softer or firmer, they have other choices.

Why Side Sleepers Should Choose Loom & Leaf Mattress

Loom & Leaf has a relaxed firm version, which is just right for people who sleep on their sides. The relaxed firm offers just the right level of firmness for side sleepers, so they don’t wake up feeling sore in the morning. But as mentioned, there are other options for firmness in case the flagship model is soft or firm for you.

As for comfort, the specialty memory foam used on top of the support foam base provides great cooling. It is also soft when you first lay down on it, since it has a quilted cover that has a thick foam layer. You will feel the support layers of the mattress sensing your pressure on them and they will react accordingly. This makes the mattress very balanced in terms of hugging and sinking. It is not like memory foam as it doesn’t really hug the body, but you will notice that it contours to your body in a nice way.

So, to recap, here are the things you need to look for in a mattress:

  • Provides great support
  • Contours to the natural curves of your sides as you sleep
  • Is soft to moderate firm

Additional Tips

You should also be concerned about pelvic rotation as you choose a mattress. The support provided by the mattress will help prevent or at least limit pelvic rotation. This is important in people who sleep on their side. Pelvic rotation happens when the lumbar spine and the back muscles experience misalignment. As you twist or you curl your legs up to a direction that is opposite of your upper body, this causes pelvic rotation. Thankfully for you, the five mattresses mentioned above are great at providing adequate support and softness. They give you pressure relief, so when you sleep on your side, pelvic rotation wouldn’t affect you.

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