Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers of 2023
Jan 26th, 2023 •
As a side sleeper, you need a mattress that cushions and supports pressure-sensitive areas including the shoulders, hips, and lower back. The good news is that since most people are side sleepers, you have many great options to choose from.
To help you narrow down your choices, we’ve selected our best mattresses for side sleepers. Compare our top picks and learn what to look for in our buyer’s guide.
Best Mattress for Side Sleepers: Our Top Picks
- Best Budget Mattress – Nectar
- Best Mattress for Hot Sleepers – Helix Midnight Luxe
- Best Hybrid Mattress – Brooklyn Signature Hybrid
- Best Mattress for Shoulder Pain – Saatva Classic
- Best Mattress for Back Pain – WinkBed GravityLux
- Best Mattress for Combination Sleepers – Nolah Signature 12″
- Best Mattress for Kids – Helix Kids
- Best Mattress for Athletes – Bear Pro
- Best Mattress for Heavy People – Plank Firm
- Best Mattress for Couples – Puffy
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When we evaluate mattresses for side sleepers, we expand our review process to put additional focus on two factors of special importance to the side sleeping position:
- Pressure Relief. Alleviating pressure in the shoulders, hips, and lower back
- Spine Alignment. Promoting neutral alignment from the neck to the base of the spine
See our recap to find out how our featured mattresses stack up against these criteria.
Best Budget Mattress
- Budget shoppers
- Edge support
The original Nectar Memory Foam’s quilted gel memory foam comfort layer provides great pressure relief (8.5/10 Mattress Advisor score) at a competitive price point that frugal side sleepers will appreciate. How competitive? You can currently get a queen-size Nectar for $999.
The original Nectar provides the the trademark “hugging” feeling of memory foam so that you can sink gently into the mattress. It also has an 8.5/10 score for responsiveness, a good sign for restless side sleepers who toss and turn. Nectar also offers a lifetime warranty and 365-night sleep trial, which puts the company among the top industry leaders in both categories.
While this product offers a cooling cover and breathable foam layers, its 7.5/10 cooling score illustrates a common problem with all-foam mattresses. Also, side sleepers with neck pain or lower back pain might prefer a mattress that scores higher in the category of spine alignment.
Helix Midnight Luxe
Best Mattress for Hot Sleepers
- People who get night sweats
- Restless sleepers
- Shoppers who value durability
Medium firm: 6/10
In addition to being a good mattress for side sleepers, the Helix Midnight Luxe earns a positively chilly 9.5/10 cooling score in Mattress Advisor testing. Helix’s Soft Touch Design technology is designed to provide maximum breathability for optimal airflow and a cool night’s sleep.
A top layer of Helix’s Memory Plus Foam is designed to be pressure-relieving for your hips and shoulders, something side sleepers need in order to avoid aches and pains. Beneath the memory foam layer is a layer of high-grade polyfoam for ergonomic support and body contouring. We give this mattress an 8.5/10 pressure relief score, and an even better 9/10 score for spine alignment.
As great as the Helix Midnight Luxe is for couples, people with aches and pains, and hot sleepers, it’s not ideal for the bargain hunter. Regular price for a queen-size is nearly $2,100.
Brooklyn Signature Hybrid
Best Hybrid Mattress
- People who like a foam/coil mattress
- Sleepers who need edge support
- Hot sleepers
Choose your preference: Available in soft, medium or firm
Side sleepers who like the pressure relief of foam and the springy support of coils might find their ideal combination in the Brooklyn Signature Hybrid. Two of its three firmness options should work well for side sleepers—the 4/10 Soft if you’re 130 lbs or less, or the 6/10 Medium if you’re between 130 and 200 lbs.
Side sleepers will likely appreciate this Brooklyn Bedding hybrid’s performance in pressure relief (9.5/10 score) and spine alignment (8.5/10 score). We give it an 8.5/10 cooling score, thanks in part to the airflow provided by the layer of individually encased coils. Of the three firmness options, we recommend Soft (4/10) for side sleepers below 130 lbs and Medium (6/10) for people closer to average weight.
The Brooklyn Signature Hybrid’s 7.25/10 motion transfer score is a potential red flag for couples who are prone to disturbing their sleep partners by tossing and turning. Brooklyn Bedding’s 10-year warranty and 120-night sleep trial are only average by industry standards.
Best Mattress for Shoulder Pain
- Side sleepers with sore shoulders
- Fans of foam-coil hybrids
- Hot sleepers
Side sleepers tend to put a lot of strain on their down-side shoulder, but the Saatva Classic has the materials and design to offer some much-needed relief. As one of our best mattresses for shoulder pain, this supportive foam-innerspring hybrid provides exceptional spine alignment. In this critical category for side sleepers, our testing process gives it a perfect 10/10.
Two of the Saatva Classic’s three firmness options can fit side sleepers, although we recommend Luxury Firm (6/10) over Plush Soft (3/10) for average-weight people. With two coil layers helping to promote airflow, the Saatva scores 9/10 for cooling in our sleep lab. Free white-glove delivery service means you can leave the set-up to your delivery person, an especially nice perk for seniors (or anyone with an upstairs bedroom).
With a 7.5/10 motion transfer score, the Saatva Classic doesn’t offer couples the best motion-isolating capabilities. Since Saatva makes all its mattresses to order, you could have to wait 9-21 days for your new mattress to arrive at your home.
Best Mattress for Back Pain
- People with lower and upper back pain
- Multiple firmness options
- Fans of memory foam
Soft, medium, and firm options
A key feature that the WinkBeds Gravity Lux uses to address back pain is the layer of Progression Foam, designed to provide targeted support in the hips and lumbar region. This all-foam bed scores 9/10 for both pressure relief and spine alignment, two important performance categories for side sleepers with back pain.
This mattress offers three firmness options. We would recommend either the Soft (4/10) or Medium option (5/10) for side sleepers, who typically find the most comfort when they can sink slightly into their mattress. The Gravity Lux also has outstanding edge support (10/10 Mattress Advisor score), which is great news for couples or anyone who likes to sleep near the edge of the mattress.
A queen-size Gravity Lux runs about $1,800, so budget shoppers will need to take advantage of holiday sales or discounts to get a lower price. Since your mattress will be built to order, it could take about 2 weeks to receive it.
Nolah Signature 12''
Best Mattress for Combination Sleepers
- Side/back combination sleepers
- Restless sleepers
- Pressure relief
If you’re primarily a side sleeper but sometimes roll onto your back for brief periods during the night, you might be a part-time combination sleeper. Fortunately, the versatile Nolah Signature 12” has qualities to support combination sleepers like you.
The Nolah Signature uses proprietary AirFoam designed to be more pressure-relieving than regular memory foam. Our testers give it a 9.25/10 pressure relief score, which is great news for the side sleeper’s shoulders, hips, and lower back. It’s when you change sleeping positions during the night that you’ll really appreciate this bed’s responsiveness, thanks to a near-perfect 9.5/10 testing score.
If you have serious back or neck pain, the 7.75/10 spine alignment score could be less than ideal. Also, people who like a medium-firm feel should take note of the Nolah Signature’s 4.5/10 firmness rating— not plush, but a bit below average.
Best Mattress for Kids
- Hot sleepers
- Pressure relief
Firm and Soft options
The Helix Kids is an outstanding youth mattress that works excellently for children in all sleeping positions. Supporting the top layer are foam and innerspring coil layers designed to provide balanced support and body contouring, two key factors for kids who sleep on their side.
Scoring 9/10 in our pressure relief test, this mattress is more than a great option for children who are side sleepers. Perhaps the most outstanding feature is that the Helix Kids mattress is flippable. There’s a soft side (4.5/10 on our firmness scale) and a firm side (6.5/10). While many side-sleeping children will gravitate towards the soft side, it can be flipped to the firmer side as they grow or if they change sleeping habits.
The Helix Kids comes in twin and full sizes only, so a mattress available in twin XL might be a better fit for teenagers over 6 feet tall. Comparable twin XL options include Saatva Youth and Nolah Nurture.
Best Mattress for Athletes
- Athletes and active lifestyles
- Hot sleepers
Bear calls the Bear Pro a mattress “for the athlete in all of us.” The breathable cover uses Celliant fiber designed to speed up muscle recovery. The Bear Pro is also billed as the company’s most advanced cooling model, which is great news for athletes since their body temperature tends to run hotter than average.
From top to bottom, each layer of the Bear Pro has a specific purpose. The design includes a foam layer infused with naturally antimicrobial copper, a memory foam layer infused with cooling gel, and a responsive transition foam layer. The transition layer is also designed to alleviate pressure and promote neutral spine alignment, both of which are important considerations for side sleepers.
As you might expect given the quality of materials, the Bear Pro is a bit on the pricey side. You’ll probably need to take advantage of a holiday sale to get a queen-size for less than $1,500. Since it’s an all-foam mattress, you might notice an off-gassing odor for a while after unpacking.
Best Mattress for Heavy People
- Side sleepers weighing 230+ lbs
- People who like a firmer mattress
- Easy unpacking and set-up
The Plank Firm is a good candidate for heavier side sleepers trying to solve the firmness dilemma—how do you find a firm mattress that doesn’t put too much pressure on the hips? This Brooklyn Bedding mattress is flippable with dual firmness, but side sleepers should stick with the 7/10 side and let the memory foam’s pressure-relieving qualities do the rest. We give it a 9/10 pressure relief score.
The layer of TitanFlex foam, a latex alternative, is designed to provide the pressure relief of memory foam with a firmer feel. The Plank Firm also earns an 8.75/10 spine alignment score in Mattress Advisor testing. It can support up to 950 lbs total, or 475 lbs per side for two people sharing a queen-size or larger. As for ease of set-up, our testers give it a 9.5/10.
As you might expect with an all-foam bed, the Plank Firm is good but not great for cooling (8/10 cooling score). Very hot sleepers should consider adding the optional Glaciotex cooling cover, although it will cost an extra $100-$200 depending on mattress size.
Best Mattress for Couples
- Couples and co-sleepers
- Fans of memory foam
- Ease of set-up
The original Puffy mattress is a great choice for couples (and sleepers who occasionally share space with their kids or pets) because of its superior testing results for motion transfer. In fact, we give it a sparkling 9.25/10. That score is a promising sign for people who’d rather not wake up every time their sleep partner tosses, turns, or gets out of bed early.
This mattress is also a solid choice for side sleepers thanks in part to its performance in spine alignment (8.75/10) and pressure relief (8/10), as well as its dual memory foam layers. We give the Puffy a 9.5/10 score for ease of set-up. The 101-night sleep trial is standard for the industry, but the lifetime warranty puts Puffy in the gold standard category.
Some customers have reported that the Puffy classic is prone to sag from the soft and cradling comfort layer. If that’s a concern for you, you may want to consider a foam/innerspring hybrid that’s more likely to resist sagging.
How to Choose the Best Mattress for Side Sleepers
If you sleep on your side, you’re far from alone. Side sleeping is the most common sleeping position—in humans and animals—and is generally recognized as the second-healthiest position, after back sleeping.
Each sleeping position has unique characteristics that create the need for a mattress with specific qualities, and side sleeping is no exception. In this guide, we’ll offer expert advice on choosing the best mattress for side sleepers and share some tips on sleeping comfortably in the lateral position.
- Best Type of Mattress for Side Sleepers
- What to Look for in a Mattress for Side Sleepers
- Tips for Side Sleepers
Here’s a look at how certain types of materials and designs make the best mattress for side sleepers, and which type of mattress you should avoid.
✓ Memory Foam
The best side sleeper mattresses use some type of memory foam, whether it’s standard memory foam or gel-infused foam. The top and middle layers are made for comfort and the base layer is often made of high-density polyfoam to add durability.
Some mattresses use foam infused with copper, gel, or graphite to provide extra cooling and pain relief benefits. Memory foam does a great job of providing even weight distribution and gently contouring around pressure points. It also supports the natural curve of your spine.
Latex mattresses use latex foam as their main feature. Latex foam can be derived from either natural latex or synthetic latex; regardless, the material is cooling, buoyant, and pressure relieving. Organic latex foam provides a good base for some of the best organic mattresses for side sleepers.
Latex foam and gel-infused foam quickly bounce back to their normal shape when people shift positions at night, better than regular memory foam—great for side sleepers who also find that they are back or stomach sleepers.
A hybrid mattress may be a good choice if you’re a side sleeper who likes the feel of an innerspring mattress. The best hybrid mattresses for side sleepers provide the supportive bounce of an innerspring core layer with other materials in the upper layers for comfort and contouring.
Hybrid beds often have layers of high-quality foam (either latex foam, memory foam, or both) that cradle the hips and shoulders for pressure relief and pain relief.
While they’re great at providing bounce and overall support, innerspring mattresses tend to fall short in pressure relief. Generally, the coiled spring systems don’t provide the kind of contouring cushion you get from memory foam and latex.
If you’re a side sleeper looking at an innerspring mattress, we recommend you consider adding a memory foam mattress topper to provide additional contouring—or look for an innerspring hybrid that has foam or latex upper layers anchored by a coil system.
Everyone has unique needs that must be met in the mattress they choose. Whether you’re a heavy sleeper, hot sleeper, part of a couple, or sleeping alone, there’s some component of your lifestyle or sleeping environment that you should consider when choosing a mattress.
For side sleepers, it’s important to find a mattress that meets your unique need for a balance in comfort and support. Sleeping on your side can be great for your sleep and health, or it can be a nightmare if you don’t sleep on a surface that properly supports body alignment and contouring in the necessary zones.
Here’s how we see the ideal mattress for side sleepers:
- A memory foam or memory foam hybrid
- Medium-soft, medium, or medium-firm on the firmness scale (4.5/10 – 6.5/10)
- Excellent spine alignment and pressure relief
The previous section describes how memory foam’s pressure-reliving and contouring properties make it the best material for side sleeping. Below, we’ll take a deeper dive into pressure relief, spine alignment, and firmness.
Side sleepers naturally put more weight on their hips, thighs, and shoulders as they lie down, causing those areas to be pressure-sensitive over time. That’s why side sleepers should search for a pressure-relieving mattress to keep away morning aches and pains—especially if you’re prone to hip pain and shoulder pain.
The right amount of pushback in your mattress will help distribute your body weight more evenly, meaning your hips, thighs, and shoulders won’t sink in more than the rest of your body. This also helps to prevent aches and soreness in those high-pressure areas.
For every mattress we test at Mattress Advisor, we measure how well a mattress performs at relieving pressure using a pressure mapping device. Below you will see an example of a mattress that performed well in our pressure relief test and one that did not, for the side position. The cooler the color, the lower the pressure. Look for these diagrams on our individual mattress reviews.
Read More: Why is Pressure Relief so Important?
It’s important for side sleepers to select a mattress that will hug their bodies in the right places but not cause them to sink into the mattress too far. A mattress that pushes back just enough when you lie down will support your body’s natural curves and keep your spine aligned.
This is especially helpful for side sleepers with lower back pain. When your spine is out of alignment, gravity pushes down on the unsupported area, causing a similar result as having poor posture while standing. Over time, misalignment leads to back pain and trouble sleeping. Side sleepers should look for a mattress that can keep their spine in a healthy, neutral alignment as they sleep, from their neck all the way to their lower back.
Read More: Why Spine Alignment is Important
Choosing the ideal firmness according to sleeping position is pretty straightforward for side sleepers. You should avoid an extremely firm or extremely soft mattress and instead look for one that falls within the medium-soft to medium-firm range of the firmness scale, between 4.5/10 and 6.5/10.
If the mattress is too firm, you’re likely to feel joint pain and tension. But a mattress that’s too soft won’t provide enough support. Look for a mattress that’s supportive but also soft enough to minimize stress on the hips and shoulders.
As great as memory foam is at pressure relief, traditional foam also has a tendency to sleep hot. Fortunately, cooling performance has improved in recent years through the use of semi-liquid gel and other materials infused into the foam.
You can also make a memory foam mattress feel cooler by choosing an airflow-friendly foundation and accessorizing your bed with cooling sheets and pillows.
Price and Value
Unlike rent or wedding rings, there’s no rule of thumb for how much you should spend on a mattress. For perspective, some of the mattresses featured on this page cost less than $1,400 a queen size—objectively reasonable for a top-rated mattress.
Keep in mind that direct-to-consumer online mattress shopping eliminates salesperson commissions and other costs associated with brick-and-mortar retail stores. You can also look forward to no-risk sleep trials, generous warranties, and other perks that increase the overall value.
Tips for Side Sleepers
While sleeping on the right mattress is one of the most important factors in getting quality sleep, there are other things you can do as a side sleeper to help ensure you wake up feeling well-rested and pain-free.
Sleep on your Left Side
Many doctors and researchers recommend sleeping on your left side instead of your right. Benefits of left-side sleeping include:
- Reducing snoring
- Reducing pressure on the stomach and digestive tract
- Promoting healthier blood flow
- Reducing acid reflux and heartburn
- Alleviating conditions that contribute to sleep apnea
Sleeping on your side—particularly your left side—is also the recommended sleeping position during pregnancy. Side sleeping’s benefits for expecting mothers include more comfort and improved blood circulation.
Related: Best Mattresses for Pregnancy
Use Pillows Wisely
We’ve mentioned how critical it is that your mattress supports your body’s natural alignment, but your pillows play a huge role in this as well. If your neck is too high or too low, the cervical vertebrae of the spine will be in misalignment. Average pillows typically fall too flat, so side sleepers should look for a thicker, firmer pillow.
Related: Best Pillows for Side Sleepers
A good rule of thumb when selecting a pillow for side sleeping is to look for one that is thicker or higher under the neck than the head in order to keep your spine aligned.
Dr. Nate Vogan, DPT at Stewart Physical Therapy, tells us: “If you are a side sleeper, it’s important to make sure your neck is square to your shoulders and not sagging to one side. The implications of this is a muscular issue. It can create impingements of the joints in your neck. These impingements cause pain and tightness in the neck and under the arms.”
You can also use a knee pillow placed between your knees to reduce strain on your hips.
Choose a Good Mattress Topper
Side sleepers can also benefit from using a mattress topper with their bed. Mattress toppers add an extra layer of cushion and comfort to the surface of the mattress and are a good option for side sleepers looking to make their mattress softer.
The best mattress toppers for side sleepers are made of either memory foam or latex foam. These foam accessories offer contouring pressure relief for the shoulders and hips. If you find that memory foam sleeps hot (as some do), we recommend a cooling mattress topper that uses gel-infused foam or open-cell design.
In evaluating our best mattresses for side sleepers, we put additional emphasis on two testing categories that are especially important to those who sleep on their side: spine alignment and pressure relief. Here’s a look at how our picks performed in the Mattress Advisor Sleep Lab:
|MATTRESS||AVERAGE SCORE (OUT OF 10) FOR PRESSURE RELIEF AND SPINE ALIGNMENT|
|Helix Midnight Luxe||8.8|
|Brooklyn Signature Hybrid||9.0|
|Nolah Signature 12″||8.5|
Note: The testing categories we focus on in this chart don’t reflect overall performance. Depending on your needs and preferences, you might put more or less value on particular qualities.
Side Sleeper FAQs
Is sleeping on your side bad for you?
Not generally, no. Back sleeping is widely recognized as the healthiest sleeping position, but side sleeping comes in second.
Despite the fact that it can put strain on your down-side shoulder, side sleeping does have some well-documented health benefits. Reducing the incidence of snoring is probably the best known. Some research suggests that side sleeping also helps the glymphatic pathway more efficiently remove waste from the brain, possibly reducing the risk of neurological disease.
Because of the way your digestive organs are arranged inside your body, sleeping on your left side aids in digestion. It’s also the recommended position for pregnancy.
Still, if you want to make a change to the healthiest sleeping position, check out our How to Sleep on Your Back guide.
Which mattress is best for side sleepers with back pain?
For side sleepers with back pain, spine alignment is a critical component of a mattress. Memory foam and latex mattresses are well-known for providing great spine alignment. Foam or latex hybrid mattresses with a layer of pocketed coils also provide support in key areas, such as your hips and shoulders, and help keep you aligned through the night.
You should also consider a medium-firm mattress. Our featured mattress for side sleepers with back pain is the WinkBed Gravity Lux, which offers the Luxury Firm option (6.5/10 on the firmness scale).
For side sleepers dealing with different kinds of discomfort:
- What is the best mattress for side sleepers with shoulder pain? Side sleepers with shoulder pain need a mattress that provides exceptional pressure relief. The best mattresses for this type of pain use memory foam to cradle sensitive pressure points around the shoulder and other areas. One example is the Saatva Classic hybrid, although you can also get great pressure relief with an all-foam memory foam mattress.
- What is the best mattress for side sleepers with hip pain? Foam-innerspring hybrids are some of the best. When combined with layers of memory foam, a hybrid’s innerspring layer creates a strong foundation to support the body. The pressure-relieving foam cradles around the hips and prevents them from sinking too deeply into the mattress. The foam/innerspring hybrid Leesa Legend is a good example.
Is it safe for children to sleep on their side?
The consensus from medical experts is: not until the child is 1 year old, at the earliest. Back sleeping is recognized as the safest sleeping position for newborns and infants to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Children will gravitate toward their preferred sleeping position as they get older, and side sleeping should be safe for your child from ages 1 and up. If you have concerns, talk to your family doctor or pediatrician—or check out our sleep guide for parents.
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