Last Updated On October 11th, 2018
Side sleepers need to be very careful when buying a mattress because the wrong type can cause all kinds of problems. It can be a challenge to sift through all of the information out there on various mattresses.
I’ve put together this side sleeper mattress review to concentrate the information on what I think are five of the best options available on the market today. I will end with the number one best mattress for side sleepers overall. I hope this saves you some time and helps you find a mattress that will deliver a great night of sleep.
Top 5 Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers
- Editor’s Pick – Tuft & Needle
- Best For Side Sleepers With Shoulder Pain – Leesa Mattress
- Best Memory Foam For Side Sleepers – Loom & Leaf
- Best Hybrid For Side Sleepers – Saatva Mattress
- Best For Side Sleepers With Lower Back Pain – Helix Sleep
Are You A Side Sleeper?
About half of US adults are side sleepers. If you are unsure whether you fall into this category or not, think about the way you wake up from sleep, not how you fall asleep. Some people fall asleep on their back but naturally, shift to a side sleeping position as they fall into deeper states of sleep.
Side sleepers take several positions, including the fetal position, the “sprinter” (one leg bent and one extended) and the log (both legs extended). The sprinter position can at first seem to be a stomach sleeping position, because of how much the sleeper rotates towards a face and stomach down positioning. However, it is, in fact, a side sleeping position.
Why Side Sleepers Are Different
Side sleepers have to take special care when buying a mattress because the side sleeping position can put a lot of strain on the body if the mattress is too firm. Think about a person lying on his or her side, on a bed. The widest parts of the body are the hips and the shoulders. When the wide parts of the body hit the bed, they should be able to sink into the mattress enough to keep the body, especially the spine, in alignment.
If the hips and shoulders don’t sink into the bed, gravity will cause that area of the body to collapse slightly. For example, you might feel your shoulder pressing into your chest and neck area, or your hip pressing up into your pelvis. In addition to this anatomical collapse, the spine could be out of alignment which might cause back pain.
How The Right Mattress Can Help
The best mattress for side sleepers will minimize compression of the joints by contouring to the body. This means that when the shoulder or hip presses against the mattress surface, the material allows for an indentation in that area, only as much as the joint requires.
This forgiveness gives the joint a soft place to land and allows the joint to remain positioned correctly and not compressed into the body. Finding the right mattress can encourage side sleeping, which has been known to have many benefits including better circulation. Side sleeping is also perfect for pregnant women.
The Right Balance Of Pressure Relief And Support
A common misconception about mattresses for side sleepers is that they should be soft. It is true that you want the mattress to provide pressure relief and forgiveness around the shoulder and hip areas, but you don’t want the mattress to be too soft.
A mattress that is too soft won’t support your spine. Instead of softly indenting around your hip and shoulder, and keeping your spine in alignment, a soft mattress might allow your spine to curve into a “C” shape, sinking in at the middle. This abnormal curvature could lead to back pain in the morning. When looking for a side sleeper mattress, it’s best to stick with something that doesn’t feel soft and plush like a cloud. Contour is good, but sagging is bad.
Is Memory Foam Right For Me?
Memory foam isn’t for everyone. This dense, sponge-like material slowly contours to the body as you lay down on it. The sensation of lying on a memory foam mattress is entirely different than lying on a bed with inner springs. Instead of reacting quickly to your every move, the memory foam gently molds to your body as you apply pressure onto the surface.
A benefit of memory foam is movement isolation, which is excellent for those of us who sleep in the same bed as a partner. Side sleepers in particular often change positions in the bed, moving from side to side unconsciously.
In a coil mattress, all of this movement might wake up the other sleeper in the bed, making the night less restful for both parties. When one person gets up, it is more likely that the other will have disturbed sleep as well! Since memory foam isolates movement, your sleeping partner won’t feel you move from side to side as you sleep.
Give It A Test Run
The amount that a mattress contours to your body will depend on your sleeping position as well as your weight. One of the best things to do when choosing a mattress is to lie down on it in the position that you often find yourself waking up in. See how your body feels. Is your shoulder crunched into your body? Do you feel like you are dropping into the mattress as if it was a hammock?
You might not feel the long-term effects of malalignment, like back and hip soreness, but you can find the immediate signs that something isn’t right. Have someone take a picture of your back while you lay on the mattress. Check out your spine and see if you think it is aligned or not.
In my reviews of each of what I consider the top five mattresses for side sleepers, I’ve included which offer trial periods. This is a very beneficial buying option, in my opinion, because it means that you can try the mattress for yourself, instead of relying on my opinion. Everyone’s body is unique!
Off-Gassing And Eco-Consciousness
Off-gassing refers to the fact that some mattresses emit volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) when you first open them. Because of the way memory foam, in particular, is made, there is a risk that the ingredients will release gas into the atmosphere for some hours after you first set up the bed. This results in an unpleasant smell as well as potential health hazards.
It is essential to look for mattresses (made of foam) that have been certified as CertiPUR-US or Green Guard because these labels mean that the product met off-gassing safety standards. Even if mattresses have been certified, it is a good idea to open them up outside or keep windows open and fans on for a period when it is new.
Eco-conscious customers will also want to look into the materials used in the mattress. Some use natural components such as organic cotton, natural wool, and plant-based fibers, while many mattresses use synthetic man-made materials.
The Top 5 Mattresses For Side Sleepers Reviewed
The Leesa mattress combines three layers of foam, all with different qualities. The top two inches is made of Avena foam. This has holes in it to allow for airflow, which works to keep the body from overheating. It does, however, absorb some body heat throughout the night, which can be seen as a negative if you live in a hot climate and want a cooling mattress.
The layer below the Avena foam is pure memory foam to allow for contouring of the body. The base layer is a solid, stiff core for support and rigidity.
The result of the three layers is a perfect side sleeping mattress with plenty of contouring. For a heavier person, the soft qualities that the combination of layers provides might be too much, and a mattress with more support might be a better fit.
This mattress is ten inches thick. There is also a beautiful cover, which is made of a polyester blend with a nice feel.
One of the good things about Leesa is that it comes with a 100-day sleep trial. Side sleepers can give this mattress a trial run and return it if it doesn’t feel right.
- 100-day sleep trial
- 10-year warranty
- The top two inches of foam is perforated for good airflow
- The thick middle layer of memory foam allows for contouring
- Made in the USA
- The layers provide too much give for some body types, and not enough support
- Due to the materials used, the mattress smells like gas upon opening, which lasts for a few hours
Tuft & Needle
Like the Leesa, the T&N is made of foam, but it is not memory foam. Instead, it is a material that the Tuft & Needles founders had designed just for their mattresses. The T&N Adaptive foam reacts faster than traditional memory foam, which gives it a bouncy feel.
The foam blend is also highly supportive. It is not a squishy as some memory foam mattresses but instead feels firm and stable. It is important to find the best side sleeper mattress so that it contours to the shoulder and hip, yet supports the body, so as not to feel like being trapped in a hole.
This mattress is designed so that it can work on many different kinds of frames. I find this helpful because I like to have the option of putting mattresses on the floor. This one works on the floor, box springs, slatted frames, and even adjustable bed frames.
The T&N mattress is delivered in a cardboard box, vacuum packed and wrapped in plastic within the box. The instructions state that you have to allow for 72 hours for the foam to expand, once it is unrolled. This is quite lengthy in my opinion, but it’s worth the wait.
The T&N foam is made of graphite and gel, both of which you won’t find in many other mattresses. These materials are supposed to help the mattress stay cool while you sleep. I live in a cold environment and love to feel cozy in bed, so this isn’t a top priority for me. However, people that live in hot climates or “sleep hot” due to their body type might like this unique feature of the T&N foam blend.
- The materials include graphite and gel which keep the mattress cool
- Firm and supportive
- Minimal off-gassing smell
- Compact packaging makes it easy to maneuver and set up
- Works on several different kinds of bed frames
- 10-year warranty
- 100-night sleep trial
- Made in USA
- May feel too firm for some
- Need to allow 72 hours for it to expand
The Helix is a hybrid mattress made with a combination of different types of foam and pocket coils known as microcoils. Side sleepers might appreciate this because it delivers the lasting support of innerspring mattresses as well as the pressure relieving qualities of memory foam.
The combination of traditional and new technologies also offers edge support, which many purely foam beds lack. Edge support is helpful when you are sitting at the edge, pushing yourself off of the bed, or being romantic with your partner. This mattress uses sturdy springs around the edges which gives you a great feeling of stability at the side. The coil layers are pocketed, which isolates movement on the surface too.
As for safety, the flame retardant that the company chose to use is chemical free. All US mattresses need to be highly flame resistant, and this one meets those standards. The foam layers are CertiPUR-US certified, which means they’re made without any harmful chemicals of heavy metals, and there will be minimal off-gassing when you first set the mattress up – which is a definite plus!
There are two features of the Helix mattress that allow it to stay cool during the hot and humid times of the year. The first element is that the top layer of Helix Dynamic Foam technology allows for good airflow. The second cooling feature is that unlike mattresses that are composed entirely of foam, this has a layer of coils. The open-air design inherent in the coil structure means that any heat buildup in the foam layers can quickly dissipate in the high air-flow coil layer. More information on cooling techniques of the Helix can be found here. This is probably the best hybrid mattress for side sleepers you can buy.
- Highly customizable mattress
- Good edge support
- Made with eco-conscious materials
- Chemical-free flame retardant
- CertiPUR-US certified means minimal off-gassing
- Hybrid of foam and springs delivers an excellent balance of pressure relief and support
- 10-year warranty
- Free shipping
- 100-night trial
- Made in the USA
- Some people may prefer pure memory foam as opposed to hybrid technology
- A tad firm for some people
Loom & Leaf
The Loom & Leaf by Saatva is, in my opinion, possibly the joint best memory foam mattress for side sleepers on the market today, perfect for people looking for an all-foam mattress option. It is made with a quilted organic cotton top, and natural, chemical-free flame-retardant layer.
Just below the quilted top layer, there is a Spinal Zone Gel layer, which is designed to provide cooling effects. This is good for people who don’t like the “hot” feel of some memory foam mattresses.
The next layer is an L&L specific type of foam that is created in the US and is delivered whole and “stable” meaning it does not need to go through the off-gassing process that many newly delivered memory foam beds go through. I liked the idea that this mattress wasn’t going to leak gasses into my home environment, but I would open the windows just in case.
The base layer has airflow channels incorporated into it so that air can flow through the base and escape instead of building up throughout the night.
The mattress is designed so that it can work with several different kinds of bases, including an adjustable base. Usually, side sleepers don’t want to put mattresses on a foundation that can tilt up at the head or knees, but if you’d like to be able to accommodate a guest who loves an adjustable base this might be a benefit for you.
Customers who want to buy the best bed for side sleepers with a responsible carbon footprint will be happy to hear that the Loom & Leaf mattress is made in the USA. Loom & Leaf is a member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, which is an organization focused on using the earth’s resources responsibly and minimizing the impact on the planet. Their involvement in this membership might give you a sense of peace in knowing that your mattress was sourced ethically and responsibly.
- Made with environmentally responsible materials in a low-impact, low-carbon footprint manor
- Multiple layers for optimal comfort
- Memory foam construction means movement isolation
- CertiPUR US certified and no off-gassing smells
- Made in the USA
- 120-day trial
- Free delivery and setup service
- Free mattress removal service for your old mattress
- No inside coils result in minimal edge support
- Bulky design leads to more difficulty in setup and movement of the mattress
- All memory foam means no bounce
If you don’t like the feel of memory foam but want a bed that will accommodate your side sleeping habits, this might be just the right mattress for you. Instead of a memory foam top layer, the Saatva mattress gets its pressure relieving qualities from a Euro pillow top followed by a layer of pocket coils.
These two layers combined to allow the shoulder and hip to sit comfortably below the rest of the body, yet still feel supported within the mattress. Below the layer of pocket coils, there is a second layer of steel coils for additional support.
This range is said to last 10 to 15 years, and I do feel that it is made of very high-quality materials with a high standard of craftsmanship. They also offer a 120 day in home trial so that customers can see and feel the quality before committing.
Although the Saatva doesn’t compress into a convenient package like some of the other mattresses for side sleepers within this review, the company makes up for it by offering in-home delivery in the US. The mattress can sit on many different kinds of bases, including an adjustable model.
As I said before, many side sleepers won’t use the elevating features on an adjustable bed base, but the Saatva brand gives customers a new reason to cover an adjustable bed. Their Lineal bed base has a massage setting, which can deliver full body massages at three different speeds. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty tempting to me!
I like the fact that this bed can be situated on a base with massage capabilities. Since this mattress is supposed to last for ten to fifteen years, the Lineal option might be the perfect upgrade down the road, while the bed is still in great shape but I am ready to invest more into my night’s sleep.
- Pressure-relief qualities without the use of memory foam
- High quality
- Can be used on an adjustable base with massage capabilities
- Double layer of coils for maximal support
- 120-day trial
- Made in the USA
- Free US shipping
- Free setup and removal of old mattress
- Won’t compress for shipping purposes
- Euro pillow top has less give than memory foam layer would
Of the five I have reviewed here, the best mattress for side sleepers, in my opinion, is the Tuft and Needle. It comes out on top in many categories, including comfort, support, contouring, edge support, and the materials used.
The T&N is made with a minimal yet innovative mix of layers. I like the fact that they use both adaptive foam and support foam because this means that the bed has excellent support and contouring which are essential to side sleepers. Unlike memory foam which can take a bit of getting used to, the T&N delivers the benefits of memory foam, without the drawbacks. The combination also provides a high degree of movement isolation.
As we discussed earlier, side sleepers need to avoid the compression in the shoulder and hip that a firm mattress might produce. A mattress needs to allow the shoulder and hip to sink softly into the surface, which the top layer of adaptive foam provides. A side sleeper mattress also needs to be supportive enough to ensure alignment in the spine. The supportive base layer delivers this necessary support.
It is also made with eco-conscious materials, and the company doesn’t use the toxic flame retardants that many manufacturers do. The T&N has edge support, a slight bounce due to the adaptive comfort layer, and plenty of air circulation to keep the mattress cool thanks to the cooling gel and graphite. It gives the user that localized forgiveness around pressure points, which many mattresses on the market often lack.