If you sleep on your side and have the wrong mattress, it can lead to shoulder pain or hip pain. A good mattress for side sleeping should conform to your body, taking the pressure off your hips and shoulders and aligning your spine so that your muscles can relax.
What’s hard about choosing the best mattress for side sleeping is that every mattress feels great in the store, and you won’t feel the aches and pains from misalignment until you sleep on a mattress for a few nights. The body’s trunk (or “core”) has over 30 individual muscles, and excess tension in any of them can cause pain or soreness over time.
Thus for side sleepers specifically we recommend buying a mattress online. Don’t get roped in by a two-minute test in a store — that will tell you nothing about ultimate feel and durability in the long run.
Online companies typically have a trial period (up to 100 nights in some cases) where you can return the mattress for a full refund if it doesn’t suit your preferences. You should definitely do your research before buying, but at least this trial process takes away the risk of you being stuck with a mattress for years that actually isn’t a great fit.
I have reviewed a number of mattresses that claim to be good for side sleepers, however I’ve narrowed down my top 4 for the purpose of this review. My top 3 are:
These mattresses are not necessarily #1 in my overall mattress reviews, but they do rate the highest when considering side sleepers. Note these are all high-quality mattresses that I consider very durable, with GhostBed as an option for those with a little less of a budget.
Amerisleep is very high quality memory foam and ranks at the top of my memory foam mattress list as well. They have a few models, for side sleepers I would go with a softer option (their Liberty, Colonial, or Independence are good choices).
Amerisleep in general is very comfortable (in my opinion) and very good value (get an extra $50 off here).
They also have some unique cooling features in their foam and some very cool features in general, learn more in my full Amerisleep review.
Layla is a relatively small and unknown memory foam mattress mattress company, but we need to mention them due to their great specs and price. Layla easily compares to models that are 3x expensive in stores (see more details on their website).
The mattress is flippable, with two relatively soft options for sleepers. Read my Layla mattress review for a full analysis of the specs.
Layla also delivers only online, passing on some of the savings of not having retail stores to buyers. Layla stands out from the competition in my mind because the memory foam is copper infused, so it sleeps cooler than most memory foam mattresses.
Loom and Leaf is designed to be a luxury memory foam mattress at an affordable price (see more HERE). The mattresses is sold only online, so it can compete with some of the top memory foam brands in terms of specs (think Tempur-pedic) at a fraction of the price. They’re not marking up the product by a huge margin just to fund retail locations.
The company uses very high quality memory foam that offers side sleepers great support. Learn more about this mattress in my full Loom & Leaf review.
Loom & Leaf is made by an online innerspring mattress company (Saatva) that has been in the game a long time. They wanted to take on the high-end of the memory foam market, and Loom & Leaf is doing just that.
The mattress comes in three firmness settings: soft, medium, and firm. For side sleepers, we definitely recommend either the soft or the medium. The great thing about memory foam (especially quality memory foam like you get with Loom & Leaf) is that it has the best tradeoff between comfort and support while providing great orthopedic benefits. People often tell us their backs feel better after sleeping on these mattresses.
GhostBed is similar to a lot of medium tier mattresses on the market (think Casper competitors), however they have made a few key changes that makes them one of my preferred mattresses in the price range, and a good fit for side sleepers.
They added an extra inch of comfort layer foam (the mattress is 11 inches total), which as discussed is good for pressure relief and spinal alignment. They also invested in higher quality foams throughout, which gives me more confidence in the durability.
Finally, GhostBed comes out of Nature’s Sleep, a company that’s been doing large volume in the mattress game for a long time. Nature’s Sleep appears to have leveraged their volume to edge out even the biggest online players in terms of price. Get the full read on this mattress in my GhostBed review.
Nolah is a unique mattress because it does not use latex or memory foam in its comfort layer. The very top layer is a new concept called Air Foam. This mattress was designed with side sleepers specifically in mind. Testing shows that this mattress relieves pressure than memory foam does (see more on that testing HERE).
From my personal experience, the pressure relief really stood out to me as the best quality of the mattress. The mattress is also temperature neutral, so the pressure relief doesn’t come at the cost of sleeping hot. If you want to take a shot on a cool, new concept, Nolah is certainly worth taking a look at.
Read our full Nolah review for more information.
If you sleep on your side, you are going to be naturally putting a lot of pressure on your hips, shoulders, and neck, which can cause tension throughout the spine. To sleep comfortably, you want a mattress that is soft enough to relieve those pressure points. Foam mattresses tend to be great at relieving pressure points and can be ideal for this aspect of sleeping on your side. If a mattress is too firm, it will cut off a lot of the blood circulation in your body, and it will potentially cause major aches and pains because it doesn’t contour to the widest points in the hips and shoulders. It could lead to waking up in the middle of the night a lot, as well as a significant amount of tossing and turning as your body struggles to find a supportive position. A mattress that is too firm is something you want to avoid if you spend most of your time sleeping on your side. As I mention in my Tempur-Contour Supreme review, not all mattresses are suited for side sleepers.
It is critical for your health that you find a mattress that contours well to your body and supports the natural alignment of your spine. If you sleep on your side and the mattress is too firm, your neck won’t be properly supported and your spine will be thrown off its natural alignment. This could lead to back and neck pain fairly easily, which may compound over time. That’s yet another reason why purchasing online from a company with a 100 night free trial can be so beneficial. You truly get to test to see what works for you!
If the mattress is too soft, you could sink in too much and your spine will be too curved. This could similarly lead to pain across your body. A mattress that is too soft is not ideal either.
There is no one best mattress brand or type for sleeping on your side. A spring mattress with a pillow top can be a fine solution. Something unique like the Purple mattress can be great too, especially with their new models that have recently come out. A higher density memory foam mattress can be great, too, as it contours very well to your body and still relieves the pressure points on your hips and shoulders. Latex mattresses also can be good options. There is more than one way to skin a cat in this scenario. I recommend starting with the brands I recommended, see what you like or don’t like, then use that as a starting point for making your final decision.
This post was last updated on April 2nd, 2018 at 5:37 pm
Joe is the editor of Mattress Clarity. When he isn't testing sleep products, he enjoys working out, reading, and playing classical piano.