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Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers (2020)

For many folks, there’s no cozier sleeping position than one in which they’re curled up on their side with a cuddly blanket or pillow. So the best mattress for side sleepers should greet their bodies with a mixture of pressure relief and support, ensuring a comfortable drift to dreamland free of any tension or pain.

Unfortunately, many mattresses aren’t actually built to meet the side sleeper’s specific needs. They’re either too firm (thereby inducing pressure at the shoulders and hips) or too soft (resulting in an overall lack of support). So what are these Goldilock snoozers supposed to do?

Thankfully, it’s not all bad news for those who doze primarily on their sides as there are a TON of fantastic mattresses out there designed specifically for their slumber preferences. Below, we’ll highlight some of our favorites and dive into all the factors that contribute to a sound side sleeping experience.

What Is the Best Mattress for Side Sleepers?

The best mattress for a side sleeper is one that aligns the spine and relieves pressure points at the hips and shoulders. Here are some recommendations to help get you started.

Ten Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers

Best Value Mattress for Side Sleepers

Nectar

Nectar

Sleepers will sink deep into the Nectar mattress for some soothing pressure relief, something that side sleepers will particularly appreciate! Use this link to check the current discount offer!

Best Innerspring Mattress for Side Sleepers

Saatva

Saatva
Saatva

The Saatva mattress combines a luxurious pillow-top layer with two sections of coils for that classic innerspring feel. Save $100 with the Sleepopolis discount!

Best Mattress for Side Sleepers with Back Pain

Helix

Helix
Helix

Whether you choose the standard or luxe edition, Helix mattresses have something to offer every style of sleeper! Enjoy $75 off the standard Helix mattress and $125 off the Helix Luxe mattress by using our exclusive discount codes!

Best Memory Foam Mattress for Side Sleepers

Layla

Layla
Layla

The Layla mattress is made with high quality memory foam, perfect for relieving pressure on the shoulder and hip when side sleeping. The Layla mattress also has two firmness options (it’s flippable), so you can try out both sides at home to see which one works best with your personal sleep preferences.

Best Mattress for Heavy Side Sleepers

WinkBed

WinkBed
WinkBed

Some people may sleep in other positions in addition to sleeping on their side – and Winkbeds does great in addressing those issues. While being great for side sleepers, the Winkbed offers great support and comfort for back sleepers as well.

Best Soft Mattress for Side Sleepers

Leesa Studio

Leesa Studio
Leesa Studio

Using high quality memory foam for comfort, the Leesa Studio Mattress offers a softly balanced feel that’s great for a wide range of sleepers! Enjoy 15% off your purchase with our exclusive discount!

Best Foam Mattress for Side Sleepers

Nolah

Nolah
Nolah

The Nolah mattress is specifically designed for side sleepers, and delivers one heck of a sleeping experience for the price. The pressure relief per dollar on this mattress is off the charts.

Best Hybrid Mattress for Side Sleepers

Bear Hybrid

Bear Hybrid
Bear Hybrid

Specifically designed for athletes, the coils in the Bear Hybrid allow sleepers to change position easily, without any stuck feeling. Enjoy 20% off your purchase with code SLEEPOPOLIS.

Best Mattress for Hot Side Sleepers

Purple

Purple
Purple

Designed with contouring hyper-elastic polymer, the Purple mattress is great for those in need of pressure relief. This material is unlike anything else on the market, definitely worth a look for side sleepers!

Best Mattress for Side Sleepers with Shoulder Pain

Casper

Casper
Casper

The memory foam, latex, and heavy-duty poly foam work together to offer sleepers a beautifully balanced feel! US customers can use code SLEEPOPOLIS to save $100 on your purchase!

What Makes These the Top Mattress Picks For Side Sleepers?

While each choice is based on my personal preferences and biases, I’ve endeavored to select mattresses that support different kinds of side sleepers, from those who sleep hot to those who need a little extra pressure relief at the shoulders and hips. As I discuss each of my picks, I’ll make sure to explain why I selected them for this list and will share my expert tips for getting amazing sleep on your side. At the end of this article, we’ll also dive deeper into the methodology behind this list. If you’re still not sure of the right mattress after this list you can take our mattress quiz to be shown a selection mattresses that’s curated to your sleep preferences.

But enough chat! Let’s get into these mattresses.

Best Value Mattress for Side Sleepers

Side Sleeping on the Nectar

Nectar

Side sleepers on a budget, listen up! Of all the great value mattresses you could buy to support your dreamy lateral ambitions, my all-time favorite is the Nectar. Built with thick top layers of memory foam, this bed is designed to relieve all kinds of pressure… without breaking the bank. 

The star here is memory foam, which Nectar employs amply in both the comfort and transition layers. This material has a super slow response to pressure, so provides the sleeper with a ton of contouring relief as they sink into the bed. If you switch from you’re a back and side sleeper, you could benefit a lot from this level of support. And what’s especially great about the Nectar mattress is that it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. In fact, when compared to other memory foam options on the market, it’s much more affordable. 

Curious to learn more? Then you better check out my full Nectar mattress review!

Save $399

Nectar Mattress

Nectar Mattress

Sleepers will sink deep into the Nectar mattress for some soothing pressure relief, something that side sleepers will particularly appreciate! Click here to get $399 of free accessories with every mattress purchase!

Best Innerspring Mattress for Side Sleepers

The Saatva mattress in the Sleepopolis bedroom

Saatva

If you’re a side sleeper who prefers more of a traditional innerspring vibe, then you may want to consider the Saatva mattress. Built with a sturdy coil-on-coil construction, this bed provides plenty of lift (and relief!) at the shoulders and hips. 

One of my favorite things about the Saatva is how well it supports a neutral spine alignment. What this means is that the bed is able to position the hips in line with the shoulders, creating an even line across the body. This alignment isn’t just good for the back — it’s also fantastic for alleviating tension at the shoulders and hips as you press into the structure. I should also add that the Saatva is available in three different firmnesses, which allows folks to really hone in on the comfort level that’s going to be best for them. Plus, it gives side sleepers the option to choose an innerspring that won’t be too firm for their needs! 

Learn more at my full Saatva mattress review.

Save $100

Saatva Mattress

Saatva Mattress

The Saatva mattress combines a luxurious pillow-top layer with two sections of coils for that classic innerspring feel. Save $100 with the Sleepopolis discount!

Best Mattress for Side Sleepers with Back Pain

The Helix Twilight in the Sleepopolis bedroom

Helix

The best way to avoid back pain while sleeping is to find a bed that offers the proper level of support and comfort for your sleep style. You’ll maximize your chances of doing just that by considering a Helix mattress. That’s because Helix makes a wide range of hybrid mattresses, including several models designed with side sleepers in mind: namely, the Sunset, Midnight, and Twilight. 

Each of these side-sleeping-specific models features a memory foam comfort layer that lets side sleepers sink into the mattress and enjoy some nice pressure relief and body-contouring. At the same time, all of these mattresses also feature support from pocketed coils, which helps promote healthy spinal alignment to protect against back pain. If you have some extra cash in the bank, you might also consider Helix’s Luxe line, which features a more solid build and zoned lumbar support for extra protection against aches and pains.

Hoping the Helix will ease your back pain? Learn more in our full review.

Save $125!

Helix Mattress

Helix Mattress

Whether you choose the standard or luxe edition, Helix mattresses have something to offer every style of sleeper! Enjoy $75 off the standard Helix mattress and $125 off the Helix Luxe mattress by using our exclusive discount codes!

Best Mattress for Side Sleepers with Hip Pain

Layla mattress with the soft side up

Layla

Memory foam mattresses can be excellent beds for side sleepers. Why? Well, the material’s slow response to pressure provides plenty of room for the sleeper to sink in for pressure relief at the shoulders, hips, and lower back. For a great memory foam primer, let’s take a peek at the Layla mattress, a flippable memory foam option with both a “Firm” and “Soft” side.

Though you’re free to snooze on whichever configuration you prefer, I think side sleepers will probably enjoy the “Soft” orientation most as it features a 3” comfort layer of copper-infused memory foam. In true memory foam fashion, this section allows sleepers to sink into the bed for satisfying pressure relief and body-contouring. The foam also does a great job of minimizing motion transfer, which means this could be a fantastic choice for anyone who sleeps with a restless partner. And while conventional memory foam has a tendency to trap heat, the copper infusion helps the Layla sleep cooler.

Looking to laze on the Layla? Read up on this mattress here.

Save $160 on your order!

Layla Mattress

Layla Mattress

A flippable design makes the Layla mattress a truly customizable bedroom accessory. Get $160 off your purchase using code SLEEPOPOLIS.

Best Mattress for Heavy Side Sleepers

The WinkBed Mattress

WinkBed

Looking for soft comfort but don’t want to feel swallowed up by a mattress? Then you might want to consider a pillow top bed such as the WinkBed. The soft foams in the pillow top offer some nice pressure relief for side sleeping, while the bouncy coils beneath the pillow top provide plenty of support and mobility. 

The WinkBed is a bed-in-a-box hybrid mattress that comes in three firmnesses: Soft, Luxury Firm (medium firm), and Firm. Each of these models has a Tencel cover, which helps the mattress sleep cool. They also feature a gel-infused, super-soft foam pillow top over a coil-on-coil system that offers zoned support (meaning it makes room for some sinkage around the shoulder while elevating the hips). I’ve personally tested the Luxury Firm model and think it could be a great option for people who shift between their back and sides during the night. Strict side sleepers, however, might prefer the Soft version, which offers even more pressure relief.

Will the WinkBeds give you the feel you crave? Find out in our comprehensive review.

Save $200!

WinkBeds Mattress

WinkBeds Mattress

Built with a plush pillow top and a buoyant coil-on-coil structure, the WinkBeds is a great option for a wide range of sleepers! Enjoy $200 off your order with the code SLEEPOPOLIS200!

Best Soft Mattress for Side Sleepers

Leesa Studio

Soft mattresses can be fantastic options for folks who like to doze on their sides. They typically provide ample pressure relief to the shoulders and hips, especially as they press into the structure overnight. And of all the soft mattresses on the market, my favorite for side sleepers is the Leesa Studio. 

This all-foam mattress scored a 5.5/10 on the firmness scale from me (keep in mind that 6.5 is the industry standard for medium firm). Long story short, if you really want to cuddle down into a soft mattress, this is the one for you.

Save $400

Leesa Legend Mattress

Leesa Legend Mattress

The Leesa Legend has a soft feel that I love for side sleepers and great bounce so you won’t feel stuck in bed. Save up to $400 on your purchase of a Leesa Legend when you click this button!

Best Foam Mattress for Side Sleepers

The Nolah mattress in the Sleepopolis bedroom for review

Nolah Mattress

If you’re a side sleeper who wants a soft, all-foam mattress, give the Nolah a look. It’s a gentle bed that uses a proprietary memory foam substitute called AirFoam. Like memory foam, this material  allows you to sink deeply into the bed for some nice body-contouring. However, unlike conventional memory foam, it’s open-celled, which helps defend against stuff heat retention. 

In addition to providing a soft, contoured feel, the Nolah also does a great job of isolating motion transfer. That could be good news for side sleepers who share their bed with a partner. If you’re willing to spend a little more, you might also consider the Nolah Signature: It’s a taller mattress, which means it offers even more room to sink into the comfort layer for maximized pressure relief. 

Need the Nolah in your life? Learn more in our full-scale review.

Nolah Mattress

Nolah Mattress

A soft, supportive construction makes the Nolah mattress especially good for side sleepers. Enjoy $135 off your purchase now! 

Best Hybrid Mattress for Side Sleepers

Side sleeping on the Bear Hybrid

Bear Hybrid

Like a soft mattress but don’t want to sacrifice bounce? Then a hybrid mattress such as the Bear Hybrid could be a great choice. This bed-in-a-box mattress features ultra-soft memory foams over pocketed coils, giving you the best of both worlds when it comes to pressure relief and mobility. 

In addition to its soft feel and nice bounce, the Bear Hybrid offers several other benefits. It has a Celliant cover and incorporates a gel infusion into its memory foams, both of which help the mattress sleep cool. There’s also some evidence that Celliant might help with athletic recovery, so this could be a good choice for active folks. (Though it’s a smart idea to do your own research on this point!) Finally, the Bear Hybrid could appeal to couples. It does a great job of isolating motion and features strong edge support, which lets partners utilize the full surface of the mattress. 

Could the Bear Hybrid be the mattress you need? Learn everything about this mattress here.

Save 20%

Bear Hybrid Mattress

Bear Hybrid Mattress

Specifically designed for athletes, the Bear Hybrid is a great supportive option for active sleepers. Enjoy 20% off your purchase with code SLEEPOPOLIS.

Best Mattress for Hot Side Sleepers

The Purple Mattress

Purple

Looking for a mattress that offers plenty of sinkage and pressure relief without enveloping you in hot foam? Then consider the Purple mattress. It uses a comfort layer made from a proprietary hyper-elastic polymer grid that allows for great air flow throughout the structure and is designed to remain temperature-neutral through the night. This material is also extremely bouncy, which helps ensure you sleep on top of the mattress and enjoy plenty of air flow around your body.

Sleeping cool isn’t the only benefit you’ll enjoy on the Purple. Its unique polymer is set up in a grid structure, so the walls of the grid collapse in the areas where you need the most pressure relief and remain upright in the places where you need support. This leads to a unique-feeling mattress that should offer side sleepers adequate pressure relief around the shoulder and hip — without sacrificing the support necessary to maintain healthy spinal alignment.

Is your Purple interest piqued? Find out more in our full review.

Purple Mattress

Purple Mattress

The Purple has nice bounce as well as a medium mix of support and pressure relief that makes it a great pick for the combo sleepers out there.

Best Mattress for Side Sleepers with Shoulder Pain

The Casper in the Sleepopolis bedroom

Casper

If you’re sick of feeling jammed up around the shoulders while side sleeping (but don’t want a mattress that’s too soft), the Original all-foam Casper might offer an effective solution in the form of Zoned Support. This system provides extra pressure relief around the shoulders for sinkage and body-contouring and firmer support at the hips for a little bit of lift. This creates a medium firm feel that strikes a pleasant balance between comfort and support while setting the spine in a neutral alignment.

Along with the Zoned Support, the all-foam Casper also features super soft, open-cell foam over memory foam. These foams allow you to sink into the bed a little, while the open-cell construction helps defend against the heat trap that is common among memory foam mattresses. And thanks to the extra support around the hips, side sleepers can enjoy their shoulders sinking into the mattress without feeling stuck in the bed.

Can’t stop thinking about the Casper? Learn more in our comprehensive review.

Save $100

Casper Mattress

Casper Mattress

The memory foam, latex, and heavy-duty poly foam work together to offer sleepers a beautifully balanced feel! US customers can use code SLEEPOPOLIS to save $100 on your purchase!

The Ins & Outs of Side-Sleeping

After reading through our picks, you might be wondering: How in the world did Sleepopolis land on these mattresses as the best of the best for side sleepers? It’s a great question and one I’m happy to answer!

When thinking about what sorts of beds are going to be best for those who doze in good ol’ fashioned lateral recumbence (fancy talk for side sleeping), there are a few things to keep in mind, namely 1.) Firmness, 2). Support, and 3). Pelvic Rotation.

In case you’re unfamiliar with any of the above, I’m going to go point by point and break down exactly what I mean.

Best Mattress Firmness for Side Sleepers

Firmness for Side Sleepers

In terms of firmness, side sleepers will want to look for something soft to moderate on the firmness scale. While many folks assume firmer mattresses are the most supportive (including physical therapist Dr. Keith Poorbaugh, a member of our Sleepopolis Expert Network), a special exception needs to be made for those who spend most of their slumber time on their sides. Per Poorbaugh:

“A firm mattress gives better support for pushing yourself up to a seated position. However, if you need pressure relief [as most side sleepers do], a plush mattress will have more cushion for those sensitive areas.”

So what exactly constitutes a plush mattress? In my opinion, a plush mattress:

  • Comes in at a 4.5-6 out of 10 on the firmness scale (with 6.5 being medium firm).
  • Provides ample pressure relief and support to the neck, hips, and shoulders.
  • Allows for deep sinkage to buffer against the formation of pressure points along the spine.

Firmness is perhaps the most important attribute for side sleepers due to the very nature of the position. (1) In order to provide proper support, the mattress must be able to contour to the curves of the body so the sleeper’s not “digging” into the structure.

Support

While support is an important factor for all sleepers to consider, it’s perhaps especially so for side sleepers, who tend toward nighttime contortions that aren’t necessarily conducive to healthy spine alignment (think fetal position). A mattress with fantastic support will adapt to the body no matter the shape, bringing the “musculoskeletal chain,” as Dr. Poorbaugh describes it, into a comfortable synergy.

It’s important to note that support is not the same thing as firmness: A softer mattress can still provide great support. When looking for a new mattress that will meet your side sleeper needs, you’ll want to:

  • Look for one that contours to your body’s unique shape.
  • Supports your hips and shoulders as you move and change positions.
  • Alleviate tension across all parts of the body without leaving you feeling “swallowed” by the structure.

Mattress Firmness and Spine Alignment

Foam mattresses offer many advantages for side sleepers, but well-built and well-designed innerspring mattresses can be effective also, as you can see in my picks above.

Pelvic Rotation

And finally, let’s chat a bit about pelvic rotation, which results from the misalignment of the back muscles and lumbar spine. It is caused when sleepers twist or curl their legs up in opposition to the position of the upper body. (2) Take, for example, an individual who sleeps with one leg fairly straight and the other bent, which tends to rotate their upper body into a stomach-sleeping position while the lower body remains on the side. This type of rotation can lead to or worsen any lower back and neck pain, so it’s important to take preventative measures before it starts hurting.

There aren’t any perfect solutions to preventing pelvic rotation, but there are a few things you can do to help:

  • Try to train yourself to sleep in positions that keep your spine in alignment.
  • Use a pillow between your legs to maintain spinal alignment (see below).
  • Buy a good mattress with proper support and softness. That will help to prevent pressure points that might be currently causing you to sleep in positions that cause more pelvic rotation.

Side Sleeper Pillow Needs

Good pillows are just as important as a good mattress. You may have an exceptionally well-made and comfortable mattress, but without a good pillow, you may still find that your sleeping experience is less than ideal.

A quality pillow is critically important for side sleepers due to the increased — and somewhat more complex — support needs. (3) Pillows made from latex, shredded foam, memory foam, or other poly foams can help provide consistent and stable support by responding to the varying pressures of your head and neck. Additionally, you’ll want to look for a pillow that is tall enough to cradle your head and neck but not so tall that you introduce a new form of pressure.

“Improved [spinal] alignment… can be easily achieved in side lying with proper pillow positioning,” explains Dr. Poorbaugh. “Pillow placement at the head and neck can reduce an irritating kink in the neck, while a pillow between the knees should help keep lumbar spine in neutral alignment.”

For more, check out our breakdown of the absolute best pillows for side sleepers.

FAQs

What is the best type of mattress for side sleepers?

Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to this question! The best mattress for side sleepers is mostly a matter of personal preference. That said, your preferences can help guide you to the right mattress for you. For instance, side sleepers who like a bouncy bed might want to look at a hybrid or innerspring mattress. People who like to sink deep into their mattress might consider an option with memory foam or thick foam layers. And people who want a mattress made from natural materials might prefer latex options.

How firm should a mattress be for side sleepers?

For the most part, side sleepers are generally going to prefer softer mattresses. This helps protect against jamming at the shoulders or hips. At the same time, it’s important to look for a mattress that’s still supportive enough to promote healthy spinal alignment.

Where should your arms be when sleeping on your side?

While a lot of side sleepers keep their arms pulled up near their chins, it’s actually optimal to keep the arms further down to avoid feeling “jammed up”. Another side sleeping alignment tip? Consider tucking a pillow between your legs to support healthy spinal alignment.

Recap: Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers

  • Best Value Mattress for Side Sleepers – Nectar
  • Best Innerspring Mattress for Side Sleepers – Saatva
  • Best Mattress for Side Sleepers with Back Pain – Helix
  • Best Memory Foam for Side Sleepers – Layla
  • Best Mattress for Heavy Side Sleepers – WinkBed
  • Best Soft Mattress for Side Sleepers – Leesa Studio
  • Best Foam Mattress for Side Sleepers – Nolah Mattress
  • Best Hybrid Mattress for Side Sleepers – Bear Hybrid
  • Best Mattress for Hot Side Sleepers – Purple
  • Best Mattress for Side Sleepers with Shoulder Pain – Casper

References

  1. Leilnahari, Karim, et al. “Spine Alignment in Men during Lateral Sleep Position: Experimental Study and Modeling.” BioMedical Engineering OnLine, vol. 10, no. 1, 30 Nov. 2011, p. 103., doi:10.1186/1475-925x-10-103.
  2. Herrington, Lee. “Assessment of the Degree of Pelvic Tilt within a Normal Asymptomatic Population.” Manual Therapy, vol. 16, no. 6, 11 June 2011, pp. 646–648., doi:10.1016/j.math.2011.04.006.
  3. Gordon, Susan, et al. “A Randomized, Comparative Trial: Does Pillow Type Alter Cervico-Thoracic Spinal Posture When Side Lying?” Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, 17 Aug. 2011, p. 321., doi:10.2147/jmdh.s23028.
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Logan Block

Logan is the content director of Sleepopolis, which means he not only reviews new mattresses every week, but also curates all the comparisons, best of pages, and video guides on the site. He takes a straightforward, honest approach to his reviews and endeavors to give viewers an objective look at each new product he tries out. Logan has perfected his method by personally testing over 200 different mattresses, so he’s not only able to discern the overall vibe of a specific bed, but to contextualize its feel within the bed-in-a-box market as a whole. When he’s not hopping on a new bed or working with our editorial team to whip up an engaging sleep education guide, you can find him reading books on world history, walking his dog Pepper, or searching for the best cheeseburger in New York City.

Logan Block

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