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The Best Mattress for Side Sleepers: How to Choose Wisely

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Couple sleeping on their sides

Side sleepers have several options when choosing the right type of mattress, such as coils, latex or foam

Did you know that a whopping 65% of Americans prefer sleeping on their sides? Even though sleeping on your side is considered the best of all the positions in the quest for a restful night’s sleep, without sufficient support for your spine, you are at risk of experiencing hip, neck and/or back pain.

Top 7 Mattresses For Side Sleepers






Bear Mattress on Sleep Metro Mattress Reviews
Celliant-infused cover. 4 layers proprietary Memory Foam. Cooling. Comfort + support.
Balanced combination of Soft + Firm
Energex + Thermaphase Gel Memory Foam. Great balance of support + comfort. 6-inch Poly foam support layer. CertiPUR certified + Hypo-allergenic Sleeps cool. Great pressure point relief.
Best Mattress for Side Sleepers
Organic latex and memory foam options.  Available in 3 mattress categories: Lifestyle; Performance; and Whole Body Recovery
Soft, Medium, or Firm
Nest Bedding Alexander Signature Series
Pocket coils + Memory Foam = Hybrid. Edge support coils. Cooling. Relieves pressure points.

Best Mattress for Side Sleepers
Proprietary Gel-infused Memory Foam. Body contouring + spinal support. Cooling. Good for all weights + sleeping positions. Great value for money.
Balanced combination of Soft + Firm
Mattress Reviews

Gel Memory foam. Perfect balance of comfort + Support. Sleeps cool.

Medium-firm to Firm

Mattress Reviews

10.25 inches high. Poly foam, Memory foam + Latex. Customizable. Great edge support. Minimal motion transfer. 1,000 night sleep trial.

3-in-1 adjustability: Soft, Medium + Firm

What Is The Best Mattress for a Side Sleeper?

There are many different mattress designs and technologies on the market at present, such as coils, latex or foam. For side sleepers, memory foam technology can provide the most effective level of support and pressure relief for the different parts of your body.

Sleep Metro has shortlisted 8 of the best beds for side sleepers to simplify
your decision-making process. These mattresses provide a solid foundation
and allow for varying degrees of firmness on the upper layers:

best mattress for side sleepers

The right mattress prevents additional stress on your shoulders + neck

For optimal relief, you require a mattress that provides both support and the right amount of firmness without additional stress on your shoulders and hips. With so many mattress options on the market, how do you choose the right one and bring an end to your sleepless nights? What is truly the best mattress for side sleepers? Let’s look at the crucial requirements in choosing a mattress and explore your options.


Not to be confused with support, “firmness” simply refers to the feel of a mattress. A mattress can be soft, and still provide the required support. For side sleepers, the optimal firmness is soft to medium. Your ideal mattress should provide the following benefits:

  • A soft to medium firmness to adequately support your body and prevent involuntary pelvic rotation
  • A posture-hugging design that memorizes your individual sleeping position
  • Be adaptable to the natural contours of your body as you lie on your side


When viewed from the side, the spine has three natural curves that give it a “S” shape.

  • Cervical curve (neck area)
  • Thoracic curve (upper back)
  • Lumbar curve (lower back)

A healthy spine requires the proper support for all of these three areas. When sleeping on your side,
it is vital that your mattress adequately supports your body and maintains your spine in a neutral alignment. Too firm, and it causes excessive pressure on your hips, neck and back. Too soft, and those pressure points are not supported, causing your spine to sag into the mattress and shift out of alignment. Either ends of the spectrum may cause you to wake up with aches and pains the following morning. Back pain may also be a symptom of over-rotation of the pelvis, which is discussed in more detail later in this article.

It’s Interesting To Note That Side Sleepers Fall Into One of Three Categories of Sleep Postures:

  • Fetal: legs curled up + holding pillow
  • Log: legs straight + arms down at sides
  • Yearner: legs straight + arms out in front

Of these three, the fetal position is the most popular among side sleepers in the U.S. -- 41% prefer this posture.

Choosing the Right Pillow for Neck Pain

It’s not only a good mattress that aids in a peaceful and restful slumber, but also the right pillow.

When choosing a pillow, comfort and personal preference should be key features to consider. There are three different types of pillows, and based on the fillings and types of materials used, each one varies in its level of support:

Cervical Pillows, also called orthopedic pillows, have a distinctive shape. The area where the neck is supported is higher; the pillow then dips into a concave shape to cradle the head

Feather Pillows are more easily manipulated

Memory Foam Pillows are designed to conform to the head, holding it in place.

Compared to memory foam pillows or cervical (orthopedic) pillows filled with firmer fillings, most down or feather fillings offer little structural support. To sufficiently support their head and necks, side sleepers typically require firmer pillows, such as cervical or memory foam pillows.

Keep in mind that your body size plays a role in the pillow you choose, but typically it should maintain a height of 4 to 6 inches to support your head and neck.

Choosing the Right Pillow for Pelvic Rotation

Pelvic rotation occurs when the upper leg rotates downward due to a lack of support between the knees. This causes a pull on the hips and distorts the natural alignment of the spine.

Bending the knees and placing one or two pillows between the knees aids in minimizing pelvic rotation and releases strain on the hips and lower back. For this application, a firmer pillow provides the required support and works better than a softer pillow.

Remember that whichever pillow you choose, it should be flexible enough to move with your body. Your body shouldn’t have to adapt to your pillow. Be sure to read my in-depth list of pillow reviews.

The Health Benefits of Side Sleeping

According to researchers at Stony Brook University in New York, side sleepers may more effectively eliminate waste from their brains than those who prefer sleeping on their backs or stomachs. This process is considered important in preventing neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

In addition, and barring any current health issues you may be experiencing, sleeping on your left side is considered best for the following reasons:

  • Relief if you suffer from sleep apnea, snore or are pregnant
  • Relief from heartburn by reducing acid reflux
  • Best for the lymphatic system, which is responsible for draining toxins from the body
  • Relief from back pain by releasing pressure from the spine
  • Keeps airways open for unobstructed breathing
  • Aids in elimination of waste products by easing the movement of food from the small intestine
      to the large intestine


To sum up, the best mattress for side sleepers should:

  • Provide adequate support to keep your spine in a neutral alignment
  • Limit the possibility of pelvic rotation (you can use a firm pillow between your knees to help)
  • Be breathable and sustain a cool temperature
  • Contour to your body and cradle your neck, back and hips
  • Relieve the pressure points
  • Be soft to medium in firmness

Page updated by Sharon Picone on September 1, 2018