Editor’s Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. For full details visit the disclosures page.
There’s something really comfortable about curling up on your side, which, perhaps, explains why the vast majority of adults sleep this way. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 15 percent of adults sleep on their side with their legs outstretched, while another 41 percent sleep in the fetal position, with their back hunched and their legs bent. Side sleeping is particularly common among pregnant women, who might otherwise struggle to accommodate their growing baby bumps. With the right mattress, side sleeping can provide superior rest, all while improving circulation and preventing snoring.
Benefits of Side Sleeping
Side sleeping just feels natural. It just feels nice to curl up in the fetal position and drift off to sleep. For pregnant women, this position is particularly beneficial, as it prevents the fetus from pressing up against the liver. Side sleeping is also a good option for those who tend to snore. If the spine is kept elongated, this position can minimize sleep-associated neck and back pain. Some side sleepers also report fewer acid reflux symptoms, as compared to other positions. Side sleeping may also be the most beneficial for the brain; research from Stony Brook University indicates that lateral (side) sleepers are more effectively able to rid their brain of the waste that contributes to Alzheimer’s disease. This waste is discarded via the glymphatic pathway, which is most efficient at night, and especially while the body is in a lateral position.
Challenges Faced By Side Sleepers
Side sleeping can be incredibly comfortable, but there are a few notable drawbacks. When sleeping in a fetal position, breathing can be restricted. Those worried about the visual signs of aging tend to avoid side sleeping, as spending so many hours with the face crunched up on a pillow can lead to wrinkles. For side sleepers of all ages — but particularly those above the age of 50 — curling up in the fetal position can lead to soreness in the morning. This can be prevented to some extent by placing a pillow between the knees, but a supportive mattress is also important.
Best Mattresses For Side Sleepers
Side sleepers typically prefer a softer surface, as this allows them to sink into the mattress while they are curled up on their side. Ideally, a softer mattress will also accommodate the natural curve of the spine and maintain proper alignment throughout the night. Memory foam’s superior contouring makes it an especially wise option for side sleepers, who require as little pressure on the shoulders and hips as possible.
Best Overall Mattress for Side Sleepers
The Tomorrow Sleep mattress (medium soft) is an excellent choice for people that prefer a mostly foam mattress but still want a little bounce in their bed. The Tomorrow sleep is extremely well built, especially given it’s price point at $990 for a queen. This mattress is made with a base layer of pocket coils although the dense foam on the top layers gives you maximum contouring. I find it to be the best overall for side sleepers as you get all the contouring of foam and support that springs provide. It’s a side sleeper’s dream!
Best Luxury Mattress for Side Sleepers:
Brentwood Home Oceano
The Oceano Mattress from Brentwood Home sells itself. The quality of materials and construction make it a thing of beauty and it feels as good as it looks. You get great hug with this mattress but also quick recovery due to its pocket coil base layer and a layer of micro coils on top of that. Throw in the the 2 inch gel foam layer, natural wool fire barrier and hand tufting and you have a mattress that sets the bar for quality at this price point. I have had the Oceano in the Sleep Sherpa showroom for the past 6 weeks and everyone gravitates to it. A large portion of side sleepers end up purchasing it as well.
Get the full Oceano Mattress Review
Best Natural Mattress for Side Sleepers:
Saatva, the parent company of Zenhaven uses the revolutionary Talalay method to transform liquid latex into elastic layers for its Zenhaven mattresses. This method ensures an even mold, which, in turn, leads to superior contouring. Side sleepers with Zenhaven mattresses report a springier, more buoyant feel. The mattress accurately conforms to every curve of the body, thereby providing greater pressure relief. These minimal pressure points lead to improved circulation and blood flow — and a significant reduction in that aggravating pins and needles feeling that occurs when nerves or capillaries are pinched. What I especially like about Zen Haven is that they are one of the few companies I have found with a free trial period for a latex mattress. Taking this risk out of the equation really tips the scales in their favor.
Get the full Zen Haven Mattress Review
Best all foam mattress for side sleepers:
Cocoon Mattress by Sealy
Specifically designed for softness, the Sealy Cocoon appeals greatly to side sleepers who prefer the feeling of sleeping “in” and not “on” their beds. This “in” feel is subtle, however, and the mattress retains a certain buoyancy that prevents sleepers from feeling as if they are sinking. The mattress provides a nice mix of softness and support, making it a good option for those who switch between sleeping on their side and on their back. The Cocoon comes in both soft and firm settings, but soft is the better choice for side sleepers. Also worthy of consideration: the Cocoon is one of Oprah’s Favorite Things for 2016.
Get the full Cocoon Mattress Review
Best Spring Mattress for Side Sleepers:
For those struggling to choose between the contouring abilities of memory foam and the greater support and resilience of innerspring mattresses, there is a third and arguably better option: hybrid mattresses. These feature a unique combination of foam and innerspring construction. Winkbeds combine these two distinctive sleep technologies to great effect, thereby ensuring that side sleepers enjoy both the plush feel of foam and the extra support associated with spring mattresses. Side sleepers tend to gravitate towards the outer perimeter of their mattresses; Winkbeds addresses this with its dense perimeter of high-ILD foam, which is designed to prevent the sagging that might occur over time with a lower-quality mattress.
No one mattress is perfect for every type of sleeper — even preferences among side sleepers can vary considerably. In general, however, side sleepers do best with slightly softer mattresses that avoid placing pressure on the shoulders or hips. No matter your preferred position, the right mattress can have a huge impact on your health and happiness, so choose carefully.
Get the full Winkbeds Review
Best Performance Mattress for Side Sleepers:
The Layla mattress offers two types of firmness. Just flip it over to adjust and put the cover back on and you can make your mattress firmer or softer. However, the Layla skews towards the softer end of the spectrum which is ideal for side sleepers. This is an excellent choice for side sleepers that sleep hot and want to enjoy all the benefits of the world’s first copper infused mattress. The foam in the Layla recovers quickly which makes it easy to adjust positions at night.
Get the full Layla Mattress Review
Best Budget Mattress for Side Sleepers:
Zinus Green Tea Mattress
Do not be misled by Zinus‘ claims that its eight-inch memory foam mattress is ideal for back sleepers — it’s actually a bit softer than the typical back sleeping bed, but perfect for side sleepers. The mattress is made up of three layers, including a two-inch memory foam layer on top, a pressure-relieving middle layer, and four inches of high-density foam for the base. Zinus also manufactures ten and twelve-inch memory foam mattresses, which, like the eight-inch mattress, provide a sufficiently plush feel for side sleepers.
Get the full Zinus Green Tea Mattress Review
Best Overall Mattress for Side Sleepers:
Alexander Signature Select
The Alexander Signature Select from Nest Bedding is one of the highest rated mattresses online. It consistently gets high marks for quality and comfort. Side sleepers will especially appreciate the pillow top like feel of the mattress. This mattress hugs you as you sleep giving you a cozy experience without overheating. Side sleepers should look at purchasing the medium firm or soft version of this mattress for maximum pressure relief and comfort.
Get the full Alexander Signature Select Review
As always contact me direct at: [email protected] if you need any further guidance.