Sleep on your side? Good news – it’s the healthiest sleeping position, experts say.
According to The Better Sleep Council, the most common sleeping position overall is the fetal position, preferred by 41% of the population. Other side sleeping positions include the log position (sleeping on your side with your arms down by your side) and the yearner position (sleeping on your side with your arms stretched out).
What You Need to Know About Sleeping on Your Side
There are many benefits to sleeping on your side, which is why it’s the most recommended sleeping position by health professionals. When you sleep on your side:
- your spine and pelvis stay in alignment, helping to prevent back pain;
- your airways stay open, reducing snoring and your risk for sleep apnea; and
- sleeping on your left side in particular avoids putting pressure on your heart, alleviating heartburn and improving blood circulation.
What Is the Best Mattress for Side Sleepers?
The best mattress for side sleepers is one that keeps your spine in a straight line through proper support, contouring, and firmness.
Ideal Mattress Firmness for Side Sleepers
Side sleepers require a softer mattress because your hips and shoulders need to be able to sink into the mattress just enough to keep your spine straight. A mattress that is too firm will keep your body lying above the bed with uneven support, and one that is too soft will curve your body unnaturally in the opposite way. Either way results in spinal misalignment and uncomfortable aches and pains.
Side sleepers need a mattress that’s soft to medium firm, between a 3-6 on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most firm. Heavier sleepers who weigh over 230 pounds should look for a firmer mattress on the upper end of this scale, while lighter sleepers who weigh less than 130 pounds should look for a softer mattress.
Which Types of Mattresses are Best for Side Sleepers?
Side sleepers need a mattress that promotes spine and neck alignment, prevents pelvic rotation, and provides pressure point relief.
A mattress that conforms to your body prevents pelvic rotation during the night by keeping your hips and shoulders in a straight position. If your hips and shoulders stay aligned, so does your spine.
Because they stick out when you’re sleeping on your side, side sleepers need a mattress that relieves pressure on these areas by allowing them to sink in.
Memory foam mattresses are best equipped to achieve all of these needs for side sleepers. They have superior contour ability, offer long-lasting support, and come in a variety of firmness levels. Learn more about memory foam and other types of mattresses to find the right option for you.
Tuck Mattress Guide for Side Sleepers
|Mattress Type||Memory Foam||Latex||Hybrid||Innerspring/Coil||Airbeds|
|Lifespan||7 years||8 years||4 years||3 years||8 years|
|Side Sleeper Grade||A||B||C||D||F|
Innerspring mattresses are still one of the most popular mattress types among consumers, probably because they have been around for so long. They use coils for support with a foam or fabric comfort layer on top. Despite their ubiquity, they’re not a good choice for side sleepers because they’re prone to sagging after a few years and don’t contour to the body.
- Price*: Starting at $150 for a queen size, average about $1,100
- Lifespan: 3 years
- Pros: Widely available, provide better edge support than all foam bed
- Cons: Poor motion transfer, prone to collect dust and sag, don’t contour to the body, coils can be noisy
Memory foam mattresses are well-known for their ability to contour to the sleeper’s body, thanks to a support core made of polyurethane foam and comfort layers made of visco-elastic foam. Memory foam mattresses are a great choice for side sleepers because they are durable, support the neck and back, and provide pressure relief for hips and shoulders while keeping your spine aligned.
- Price: Starting at $150 for a queen size, average about $800
- Lifespan: 7 years
- Pros: Superior motion isolation and support, long lifespan, excellent contour ability, more affordable, quiet
- Cons: Harder to move, trap heat, initial odor from foam materials, inferior edge support
Hybrid mattresses combine an innerspring coil support core with comfort layers of memory foam, polyfoam, natural fibers, or latex on top. Because they don’t fully envelop the body the way a memory foam mattress does, they’re better equipped to regulate heat, which may be a desirable feature for those who sleep hot.
- Price: Starting at $400 for a queen, average about $1,100
- Lifespan: 4 years
- Pros: Provide solid support without fully enveloping the body, great edge support, don’t trap heat
- Cons: Harder to move, shorter lifespan, more expensive
Latex mattresses are extremely dense and durable, which makes them a good option for side sleepers. However, they have a springier quality than memory foam mattresses, so they don’t conform to the body quite as well (although they do so better than an innerspring mattress). They are made of all-natural latex (a fully organic option) or a combination of natural with synthetic latex, other foams, and possibly innerspring support cores (known as latex hybrid mattresses).
- Price: Starting at $750 for a queen, average about $2,300
- Lifespan: 8 years
- Pros: Can be fully organic, good contour ability, extremely durable, quiet, provide above-average support for heavier people
- Cons: Harder to move, difficult to find in stores, trap heat, initial odor from latex, expensive
Airbeds are inflated using an electric air pump with a foam comfort layer on top. With their lack of contouring ability and tendency to lose air and sag during the night, they’re not a great option for side sleepers.
- Price: Starting at $1,000 for a queen, average about $2,300
- Lifespan: 8 years (but often need to replace a part of the bed within that timeframe)
- Pros: Extended durability as long as individual parts are replaced, adjustable firmness
- Cons: Prone to lose air and sag during the night, not heavy-person friendly, poor contour ability, expensive
*Prices as of 2017. Sourced from over 200 mattress retailers by Tuck research team.ADDLINKHERE
Buying a Mattress
As you research your mattress options, keep an eye out for price, warranty, and trial period information.
Prices can range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars, depending on the type and quality of the mattress you buy and where you choose to buy it. Pro tip: opt to purchase your mattress online or from a store for a lower price tag.
Mattress warranties may not cover everything you expect, so take a moment to read the fine print and review what may void your new bed’s warranty as well as whether things like sagging are covered.
Look for a trial period of 30 days or more, as it typically takes that amount of time for a mattress to fully break in. You want ample time to adjust to the mattress before you return it prematurely.