Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers in 2022
If you find yourself sleeping on your side throughout most of the night, then your sleeping habits are in line with the majority of adults, according to Northwestern Medicine. While experts say side sleeping comes with a slew of benefits—like improved digestion, better breathing, and neutral spine alignment—using the wrong type of mattress can negate all of the positives. That's why it's important to choose a mattress specifically designed for side sleepers.
"Aches and pains in pressure points like your hips, shoulders, [and] upper and lower back can often be aggravated, or even caused, by a mattress that doesn't support side sleeping well," said Timothy Canty, MD, who specializes in treating pain disorders and serves as the chief medical officer at Manhattan Restorative Health Sciences. "The best mattress for side sleepers will provide pressure relief for joints and contouring support to promote proper spine alignment. In particular, a memory foam mattress or hybrid mattress with a soft top layer can help equally distribute your body weight to help prevent soreness and provide a comfortable sleep surface."
While there are many elements to consider when searching for a mattress, a lot of great options cater specifically to side sleepers. The expert review team at Mattress Advisor evaluates hundreds of mattresses by putting them through a 14-point test. Their top 9 beds for side sleepers, listed below, aim to improve the quality of your shut-eye.
- Best Overall Mattress: Helix Midnight
- Best Mattress for Pressure Relief: Saatva Classic
- Best Hybrid Mattress: DreamCloud
- Best Cooling Memory Foam Mattress: GhostBed Luxe
- Best Value Mattress: Nectar
- Best Affordable Luxury Mattress: The WinkBed
- Best Flippable Mattress: Layla
- Best Mattress for Shoulder Pain: Brooklyn Bedding Aurora
- Best Mattress for Back Pain: Puffy Lux
The best mattresses for side sleepers
Best Overall Mattress: Helix Midnight
Best Mattress for Pressure Relief: Saatva Classic
Best Hybrid Mattress: DreamCloud
Best Cooling Memory Foam Mattress: GhostBed Luxe
Best Value Mattress: Nectar
Best Affordable Luxury Mattress: The WinkBed
Best Flippable Mattress: Layla
Best Mattress for Shoulder Pain: Brooklyn Bedding Aurora
Best Mattress for Back Pain: Puffy Lux
Why you should trust us
Each mattress on this list was put to the test (literally) in Mattress Advisor's lab, which is located in Raleigh, North Carolina. Bedding experts spent over 1,200 hours evaluating and comparing mattresses using a 14-point testing methodology to find the best beds for side sleepers available online.
While some of the factors tested are tied directly to performance, like responsiveness, edge support, and pressure relief, others are based around brand operations, such as customer service, shipping policies, and trial period. The Mattress Advisor team combines this proprietary methodology with in-depth interviews and customer experience to arrive at a weighted score out of 10.
How side sleeping affects your rest
The lateral nature of this position helps keep airways open. Studies have shown that side sleeping can even help clear brain waste, permitting you to have clear and efficient thinking.
Along with back sleeping, side sleeping is the best position to alleviate neck pain, especially if you have the right pillow to support your neck. Sleeping on the left side in particular may help lessen heartburn and acid reflux. Finding a mattress that offers the right balance of support and comfort will positively impact the way you sleep—and how you feel when you wake up.
Choosing the best mattress for side sleepers
Buying a mattress is a big investment, so it's important to know what to look for as it relates to your sleep position.
Mattress type and materials
What type of mattress is best for side sleepers? The best mattresses for side sleepers should have at least one layer of memory foam because the texture supports the natural curvature of the spine, minimizing the risk of waking up with aches and pains. These types of pressure-relieving mattresses also excel at distributing body weight evenly in the side sleeping position.
Some of the mattresses we recommend for side sleepers, like the Saatva Classic, are made with layers of memory foam and pocketed spring coils, or innersprings. While traditional innerspring mattresses aren't typically ideal for side sleepers, hybrid mattresses combine traditional innerspring coil systems with layers of foam to get the best of both worlds. These hybrid mattresses with memory foam tops produce the contouring support and pressure relief side sleepers need. The layers of coils help keep the spine aligned throughout the night.
Latex mattresses are another good option for side sleepers. The pressure-relieving material has a supportive, buoyant feel and holds up well over time.
What's the right firmness level for side sleepers? Most side sleepers find that mattresses with medium-soft to medium firmness provide just enough support without feeling too rigid. A mattress that's too soft won't give you the structure needed to maintain proper spine alignment, but one that's too firm could cause joint tension and soreness.
If you're a side sleeper, you'll want to choose a contouring mattress that cradles your body's natural curves and cushions spots that may dig into the bed, like your hips and shoulders. Without adequate pressure relief, you risk waking up with aches and pains.
If you're a side sleeper, it's key to find a mattress with ample support that will contour to the shape of your body for complete comfort while still pushing back enough to keep your spine in proper alignment. It's also important to have enough pushback to keep pressure points, like your hips, thighs, and shoulders, from settling farther into the bed than the rest of your body. If these spots sink below the rest of your body, it can throw your spine out of alignment and cause back pain.
How to shop online for the best mattress
There are certainly benefits to testing out a mattress in a store because qualities like firmness and comfort are highly subjective. Still, in-store models can be deceiving: Since many customers have sampled them, they are often softer than the new bed that arrives at your door. Online mattress companies typically offer generous sleep trials—some up to 365 nights—so that you can try out the bed in your own home. Examples of brands with lengthy trial periods include Nectar and DreamCloud.
Best accessories for side sleepers
Whether you've always been a side sleeper or are looking to make a switch, here are some tips on the best accessories to improve your rest.
Choose the right pillow
Side sleepers benefit from a pillow with a high loft that fills in the space between their head and the mattress. If the pillow is too thin, then the neck becomes crushed against the shoulder, leading to neck pain. There are special side sleeper pillows, such as this Eli & Elm pillow, that are U-shaped to help keep the spine aligned throughout the night.
Add even more pillows
Placing a pillow between your knees not only prevents your bony knee joints from pressing together, but it can also help alleviate pressure near the sacrum, which is located at the base of your spine. Meanwhile, hugging a pillow keeps the chest open and stops your shoulders from collapsing forward, thus decreasing shoulder pain.
Try a mattress topper
If you're experimenting with sleeping on your side, a mattress can feel especially hard on your pressure points, including the knees, hips, and shoulders. Pressure relief is a key consideration for side sleepers. To add cushion to your bed, try layering on a soft, thick mattress topper. Mattress toppers help to evenly distribute weight across the surface of the bed and increase contouring around your most sensitive spots to reduce achiness in the morning.
Hopefully now you have a good idea of what makes a bed the best mattress for side sleepers. Be sure to take stock of the most important factors to you before you start browsing (like cooling if you're a hot sleeper, or motion isolation if you sleep with a partner). Luckily, there's something on this list for virtually every nighttime need. Happy shopping!
What mattress type is best for side sleepers with back pain?
To alleviate back pain (regardless of sleep position), the spine must maintain its natural "S" curve throughout the night. Side sleepers have a particular need for pressure relief at their hips and shoulders and lateral support along their spine. Hybrid beds achieve this balance perfectly by combining supportive innerspring coils at their core with pressure-relieving foam comfort layers on top.
What mattress type is best for side sleepers with hip pain?
It's not surprising that side sleepers with hip pain may have a hard time getting comfortable. If the mattress is too firm and doesn't have enough cushion, the bed will curve a sleeper's hips upward, forcing the spine out of alignment. If the bed is too soft, the opposite can happen: Their hips will dip too deeply into the mattress. The solution? A hybrid bed with a pressure-relieving layer of memory foam that allows the hips to sink just far enough into the surface so as not to negatively impact posture. Memory foam beds also work well for side sleepers with hip pain as long as the foam is a firm high-density blend that offers both pressure relief and support.
Jillian is a wellness and lifestyle writer for Mattress Advisor.