Last Updated on January 1, 2023
Everyone has their preferred sleeping positions and way of reaching comfort throughout the night. However, not everyone realizes that sleeping on the wrong type of mattress can cause long-term damage to your spine, enhance back problems, or increase joint pains.
In this post we discuss the best mattresses for the most common sleeping positions and why they are a better option than others:
Whether you like sleeping on your back, side or stomach, it’s important to remember that not every mattress is recommended or can cater appropriately to those needs. For example, sleeping on your stomach puts pressure on the breasts and lungs so isn’t the ideal sleeping position.
A latex mattress has a springy “push into you” type feel so this would be no good as it will increase the pressure on your stomach and other organs. Therefore, in this case, the best mattress for stomach sleepers would be a plush or soft memory foam mattress because of the way it can mold and contour to your body shape without being too firm and causing discomfort. So, for example, a person can lay flat on their stomach, and the foam will sink in lower to form a cushion around the downwards protruding body parts.
The optimum sleeping position is one which provides a level spinal alignment which means the spine should be as straight as possible at all times throughout the night. The average person sleeps for 8 hours per night, which is 1/3 of a day where potentially you may be causing damage to your spine and increasing the chances of future back problems.
Similarly to the stomach sleeper, side sleepers also require level of support. Imagine lying down on a flat and hard surface on your side; there will be gaps between you and the surface near your neck and waist. This is not good because due to gravity, the constant downwards pull and spinal misalignment will cause neck pains. Also, where your spine is misaligned (not straight) near your waist, it will eventually lead to lower back pain. So, for this type of sleep position, the best mattress for side sleepers is a soft-to-medium firm memory foam mattress. If the mattress is too firm it will still create the scenario mentioned above, whereas if it was too soft, although there will be good coverage and cushioning of the body contours, there may be a lack of proper support. Therefore a balance of medium firmness is most recommended.
A hybrid mattress that consists of multiple layers of varying density foam is also an excellent option for the side sleeper. For example, the top comfort layer could be a comfortable plush memory foam, whereas the layer beneath could be a slightly more supportive and dense layer of latex.
Sleeping on your back is the most common and recommended position by doctors because the spine is most likely to be straight. Also, other body parts are not forced into any dramatic bending and flexing, so the likelihood of joint pains and future back problems are reduced.
Again, similar to sleeping on your side, back sleeping also requires adequate support to avoid issues that will gradually start to come through such as lower back pain. If you study the natural shape of the human body from a side-on perspective, you’ll see that usually, the overall back arches inwards towards the lower back, and then the buttocks protrude again to create a somewhat valley-like or concave shape in the lower back area. If this part of the spine is bent while laying down, eventually, there will be spinal damage which will lead to all sorts of problems.
To counter the issue of a bent back throughout the night you’ll need a supportive, cushioning yet not too soft sleep surface. Therefore the best mattress for your back is a latex mattress which has the cushioning yet springy action in its properties that provide an adequate level of orthopedic support. Alternatively, you could opt for a memory foam mattress which is also suitable for filling natural gaps in the human body shape due to its surface contouring ability. Specialists highly recommend both over an air bed, or the more common spring mattresses, however, which one you opt for is generally based on the budget due to the varying degree of price between the two.
Lindsay is a contributor and the senior editor of all content posted on this site. She is in this role due to her somewhat unrivaled expertise through previous retail experience in the mattress and bedding industry.
8 thoughts on “Mattresses For Different Sleeping Positions”
Great tips here!
I’m a side sleeper myself and found that sleeping on soft-medium firmness mattress means better sleep quality.
I currently sleep on a hybrid Tuft and Needle mattress and have nothing but good words to say about it.
A good choice of mattress; many people share your positive views towards a great all-rounder product, it’s great for side sleepers and also back pain too due to the perfect conformation and pressure point relief.
I currently sleep on a Tempur Flex Elite, however, it’s way to soft, and has a sag.
I am an all over sleeper, but mostly on my side. Can’t decide between the Flex Prima, or the Flex supreme… Agh
Thanks for pointing out that the best mattress for stomach sleepers would be a plush or soft memory foam mattress because of the way it can mold and contour to your body shape. I am looking for a new mattress because I’ve had my old one for a long time and it’s just time to get a newer, better one. I think since I sleep on my stomach a lot it would be smart to a plusher mattress that I also won’t completely sink into. Thanks for the tips on choosing a mattress.
No problem, glad to be of help.
Thank you so much for bringing up the latex mattress and how much support it can give to people who sleep on their back. I’ve always had the feeling that my back problems are not stemming from my poor posture, but it had something to do with the bed I sleep on, which has never been replaced ever since I arrived at my condominium. It’s about time I got these mattresses replaced, so now that I know which one to look for, I’ll make sure I ask about latex options when browsing for bedroom furniture.
What would be the best (Queen size) mattress profile for a couple of 1 back-sleeper + 1 side-sleeper?
No foam mattress, though. We bought our first 3 years ago, and we found it very hideous. Hot, the top became mushy and the edges extremely weak-soft.
Hi Joseph, a latex mattress would be good for you both. Perhaps check our article https://www.choosemattress.com/latex-mattresses/ for some recommendations. I’d personally opt for the Awara, our top pick.