Sleeping on your side is the most popular sleeping position. In fact, a whopping 74% of people sleep on their side! While side sleeping has many advantages, there’s also a downside: Side sleepers who choose the wrong mattress can sometimes experience shoulder pain and lower back pain.
So what is the best mattress for side sleepers? Let’s take a look at some of the most important criteria to consider if you’re a side sleeper in need of a new mattress:
Side Sleepers Often Prefer Softer Mattresses
Generally speaking, side sleepers need a slightly softer mattress than back or stomach sleepers do. This is because their hips and shoulders directly hit the mattress – creating potentially painful pressure points.
In reality, the softness or firmness of a side sleeper’s mattress boils down to their body weight. This determines how much you’re going to sink in or stay atop a mattress.
Finding A Firmness Level Determined by Your Weight
Imagine being a heavyweight side sleeper on a soft mattress; you’re only bound to sink and be hugged by the mattress – which may not be the most comfortable scenario. Conversely, if you’re a lightweight sleeper on a firm mattress, it can only lead to pain on your shoulders or hips.
Below is a general weight guideline for side sleepers.
|Below 90 kilograms*||Medium-soft to Medium|
|Above 90 kilograms*||Medium-firm to Firm|
*Rounded-up estimate from the Australian average weight of 85.9kg for males and 71.1kg for females.
Not All Mattresses Are Made The Same
The flaw in the body weight guideline is that mattresses can sometimes have poor support, regardless of their firmness level. A badly-made medium-firm mattress won’t give you the comfort you need. This is why other factors are important to look at when buying a mattress – not just firmness.
READ MORE: How to Pick A Mattress for Yourself
Which Mattress Type is Best for Side Sleepers? (Ranked from worst to best)
Despite innerspring mattresses being the most traditional and popular of the bunch, they are not the best for side sleepers. Spring is known for concentrating weight on certain areas that can worsen uneven sinking.
Spring is great for breathability and airflow because there are spaces in between the coils. However, the coil system is unable to mould to a person’s unique contours and cannot distribute weight evenly on the mattress.
Like innerspring mattresses, latex mattresses are great for air flow. They are often perforated (with holes) to maximise breathability.
Latex, however, does not have any conforming properties. While it is bouncy and quick to respond, it does not have the same pressure-relieving properties that foam has.
The best mattress for side sleepers is a premium memory foam mattress. The pressure-relief and body-contouring properties deliver the support you need to sleep better on your side. The makeup of a memory foam mattress allows it to evenly distribute weight – giving side sleepers the right amount of ‘sink’ to feel optimum comfort.
If you’re worried about getting hot at night on a memory foam mattress, don’t worry. New technologies are now in place to make memory foam mattresses much cooler. There are various cooling mechanisms that are employed on mattresses to prevent it from sleeping hot.
Our Pick: A Slightly Soft or Medium-Firm Memory Foam Mattress
Memory foam creates a balanced feel for all side sleepers – offering both support and comfort. It contours to the body’s shape while letting sensitive areas sink a little. This is vital to avoid shoulder, hip, neck, and back pain.
Side sleepers are also advised to trial a mattress to find what’s right for them. The Ecosa memory foam mattress comes with a 100 day trial. If it’s not the best sleep of your life, we’ll pick it up and give you a full refund. Try it now.
A Side Sleeper’s Pressure Points
Pressure points are sensitive parts of the body that can be directly hit by an external pressure or force (e.g., a mattress). While all sleeping positions have their fair share of affected pressure points, side sleeping has the most. This position tends to concentrate weight and pressure in one area – leading to sleep discomfort.
The shoulders are a common area of discomfort for side sleepers. A very firm mattress can push against the shoulder – limiting blood circulation around the area. On the other hand, a very soft mattress can make the shoulder/arm areas sag (especially for broad-shouldered sleepers).
Aim for a mattress that offers comfort by cradling the shoulder. It should feel like a hand catching the socket of your shoulder without squeezing nor suffocating it.
QUICK FIX: You can prop a slightly higher pillow to reduce pressure on your shoulder.
A person’s middle section is the heaviest area of the body. An unsupportive mattress will allow the midsection to sink more than other areas of the body would.
This is especially a challenge for pregnant women who sleep mostly on their side. They need a mattress that can support them from all angles to avoid any pregnancy discomfort.
RELATED ARTICLE: The Best Sleeping Position for Pregnancy
QUICK FIX: Since hip pain is mostly a spine misalignment issue, you may place a pillow in between your legs to correct this. By doing this, the pressure is reduced from the other leg to the body’s midsection.
Back pain is often related to hip pain. When your midsection sinks, your spine alignment gets compromised as well.
A soft mattress can cause some sections of the body to collapse, while a firm mattress may feel uncomfortable. Find the midpoint between the two: a mattress both comfortable and supportive!
QUICK FIX: Like hip pain, back pain is a misalignment issue. In this case, placing a pillow between the legs may still work. We do advise that you seek the long-term option – a new mattress.
A misaligned spine affects even the neck. It is, after all, a part of your spine! So remember that when your back gets compromised, your neck may soon follow suit.
Sleeping on your side may concentrate the weight too much on your neck – creating stiffness and discomfort. In this case, getting an appropriate pillow can be of help.
QUICK FIX: Side-sleepers generally need thicker pillows to keep the head and neck in-between the shoulders. Prop yourself up with a thick pillow to keep the spine elongated and the air passages open while sleeping.
RELATED ARTICLE: How to Sleep With Neck Pain
Is There a Mattress That Can Help a Side Sleeper Be Sure of Achieving Proper Spinal Alignment?
Yes! According to research published in the Sleep Health journal, your ideal mattress for optimal spinal alignment is a medium-firm mattress that can be custom inflated (self-adjusted). Look for a mattress that rates in the range of 6-7 on the firmness scale.
In this situation, we recommend sleeping on the Ecosa mattress, which is easily adjustable and conforms to the curve of your spine. You can adjust it to be medium-firm by placing the G-7 memory foam layer at the top. This will allow you to achieve optimal spinal alignment for side sleeping.
Still unsure? Don’t fall for 10-minute trials on an in-store mattress. Instead, choose a bed-in-a-box with three firmness layers in one. It leaves you with more chances of winning at your preferred firmness level with free shipping and free returns.