The Best Mattress for Side Sleepers (2019)
Did you know that a whopping 74% of people sleep on their side? This makes side sleeping the most popular sleeping position! With such a big percentage of side sleepers, are these people actually sleeping on a mattress that best suits them?
Slightly Softer Mattresses for the Side Sleepers
In general, side sleepers need a slightly softer mattress than back or stomach sleepers do. This is mainly due to their hips and shoulders directly touching the mattress, which potentially causes painful pressure points.
However, in reality, the softness or firmness of a side sleeper’s mattress comes down to their body weight. This factor alone affects the amount you sink in or stay atop a mattress.
Finding The Best 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.
Here is a general weight guideline for side sleepers:
Below 198 pounds*
Medium-soft to Medium
Above 198 pounds*
Medium-firm to Firm
*Rounded-up estimate from the American average weight of 195.7 lb for males and 168.5 lb for females.
Mattresses Are Not All Made The Same
The flaw in the body weight guideline is that mattresses can sometimes be unsupportive despite their firmness level. A medium-firm mattress that’s badly-made for example, still won’t benefit you. This is the reason other factors apart from firmness are important to consider when you buy a mattress.
READ MORE: How to Pick A Mattress for Yourself
It’s also very important to understand the most common pressure points for a side sleeper, so they can pick the best mattress for themselves.
A Side Sleeper’s Pressure Points
Pressure points are the sensitive parts of the body that can be directly hit by external pressure or force (e.g. a mattress). Even though all sleeping positions affect a considerable share of pressure points, side sleeping affects the most. This is because side sleeping tends to concentrate weight and pressure in one area, which leads to discomfort.
For side sleepers, the shoulders are a common area of discomfort. Blood circulation can be limited by a very firm mattress that pushes against the shoulder. However, a very soft mattress can make the shoulder or arm area sag; especially for sleepers who have broad-shoulders.
Try to aim for a mattress that offers comfort by cradling the shoulder. It should feel as if a hand is catching your shoulder socket without squeezing or suffocating it.
QUICK FIX: You can prop your shoulder on a slightly higher pillow to reduce the pressure.
The heaviest area of the body is a person’s middle section. A mattress that’s unsupportive will cause the midsection to sink more than the other areas of the body. This is especially challenging for pregnant women who are mostly side sleepers. These women need a supportive mattress that can give them support from all angles to avoid any pregnancy discomfort.
RELATED ARTICLE: What’s the best sleeping position for pregnancy?
QUICK FIX: As hip pain is mostly a spine misalignment issue, you may correct this by placing a pillow in between your legs. This reduces the pressure from the other leg to the midsection of the body.
Back and hip pain are often related. This is because your spine alignment is also compromised when your midsection sinks. Having a soft mattress can cause some sections of the body to collapse, while a mattress may feel uncomfortable. Finding a midpoint - a mattress both comfortable and supportive - is key!
QUICK FIX: Similar to hip pain, back pain is also a misalignment issue. Therefore placing a pillow between the legs may still work. But we do suggest that you look for a long-term option - a new mattress.
Even the neck is affected by misalignment since it is, after all, a part of your spine! Just remember that when your back gets compromised, your neck may follow. Stiffness and discomfort may be created through side sleeping. This is because it may concentrate too much weight on your neck. Getting an appropriate pillow can help in this case.
QUICK FIX: Side-sleepers tend to need thicker pillows to keep their head and neck in-between their shoulders. Use a thick pillow to prop yourself up, which helps to keep your spine elongated and air passages open while you sleep.
RELATED ARTICLE: How to Sleep With Neck Pain
Which Mattress Type is the Best for Side Sleepers? (Ranked from worst to best)
Even though innerspring mattresses are the most traditional and popular mattresses, they’re 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 as there are spaces
Just like innerspring mattresses, latex mattresses are great for air flow. They’re often perforated (with holes) to maximize breathability.
However, latex doesn’t have any conforming properties. Even though it’s bouncy and quick to respond, it doesn’t have the same pressure-relieving properties like foam.
This type of mattress is the best option for side sleepers as it has pressure-relieving and body contouring properties. The structure of memory foam mattresses allows body weight to be evenly distributed. This gives side sleepers a suitable amount of sinkage they need. It lets the midsection and shoulders sink a little, while also keeping the rest of the body on top of the mattress.
Memory foam can also gently hold or cradle your shoulders. However, this type of mattress is well-known for sleeping hot. Don’t stress though - this has been fixed with many mattress technologies over the years. There are now a variety of cooling mechanisms that have been used on mattresses to keep them from sleeping hot.
Our Pick: A Slightly Soft or Medium-Firm Memory Foam Mattress
A memory foam mattress gives all side sleepers a balanced feel. This offers them both the support and comfort they need. It also contours to the body’s shape, while letting sensitive areas sink a little. This is essential if you want to avoid shoulder, hip, neck and back pain.
Still unsure about which mattress is right for you? Don’t fall for the 10-minute trials on an in-store mattress. Choose a mattress-in-a-box with three firmness layers in one instead! This will leave you with more chances of winning at a good night’s sleep at your preferred firmness level with free shipping and returns!