Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers – 2019 Reviews and Buyer’s Guide
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Side sleeping is the most popular sleep position – and according to most sleep experts, also the healthiest. Spinal alignment is one reason; side sleeping aligns the shoulders, spine, and pelvis, which helps minimize pressure points in the neck, lower back, and other sensitive areas. Side sleepers also have better airway circulation, which can be beneficial for people with sleep apnea (as well as heavy snorers). The side sleeping position has been linked to healthier hearts, as well.
In order to enjoy these health benefits, side sleepers must invest in a mattress that will provide adequate support. Most side sleepers prefer mattresses that are on the softer side because they cushion the shoulders and hips, which is essential for proper alignment. However, heavier individuals who sleep on their sides may prefer a firmer mattress that won’t sink too deeply. Material composition is also important, as some mattress types provide more cushioning and better support than others.
Read on to learn more about important considerations for side sleepers, as well as our picks for the best mattresses for side sleeping that are sold today. Our picks are based on verified customer and owner reviews, as well as intensive product research and analysis.
Many side sleepers have firmness preferences that change night to night. The Layla Mattress addresses these needs with a flippable design that features a different firmness on each side. One side is ‘Medium Soft’ (4 on the 1-10 firmness scale), and the other side is ‘Firm’ (7).
Both sides of the mattress have copper-infused memory foam comfort layers. This material conforms closely to the sleeper’s body in order to improve spinal alignment and minimize pressure points. The copper element also helps improve circulation for sleepers, and the ‘Medium Soft’ side has an additional layer of convoluted polyfoam for extra cushioning. The shared middle layer made of high-density polyfoam ensures an even, supportive sleep surface.
The Layla Mattress also minimizes and reduces motion transfer to a significant extent, and is virtually silent when bearing weight. For these reasons, the mattress is suitable for couples – particularly if one or both of the sleepers awaken easily due to movement or noise. The mattress is also quite light, making it easy to flip for most people.
Layla Sleep ships mattresses anywhere in the U.S. and Canada, and customers in the contiguous U.S. qualify for free delivery. The mattress is backed by a 120-night sleep trial, which is longer than average, as well as a lifetime warranty.
Side and back sleepers
Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
Innersprings are notoriously hard on side sleepers. Most are constructed with thin foam comfort layers that do not conform very closely, which can result in poor spinal alignment and added aches and pains. The Saatva – our Best Value pick – is a notable exception. This innerspring is constructed with comfort layers of memory foam, polyfoam, and pocketed coils that cradle the body and target pressure points in the sleeper’s most sensitive areas. A Euro-top layer is also included for extra padding. The support core contains bonnell coils, which help reinforce the bed and prevent sinkage around the edges.
The Saatva also offers multiple designs to accommodate different types of side sleepers. The bed is available in three firmness settings: ‘Medium Soft’ (4), ‘Medium Firm’ (6), and ‘Firm’ (7.5); this range should be suitable for those in any weight group. The bed also comes in 11 1/2″ and 14 1/2″ profiles; the thicker option may be the best option for exceptionally large sleepers. Additionally, the Saatva offers strong airflow through the coil layers that helps cool off the surface of the bed, making it optimal for those who tend to sleep hot.
Saatva offers free White Glove delivery – including in-home mattress assembly and old mattress removal – to all customers in the contiguous U.S. The Saatva is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a 15-year warranty, both of which are longer than average.
Our Best Luxury pick is the Brooklyn Bedding Aurora, a hybrid mattress that offers a cool, comfortable experience for side sleepers who are willing to spend a little extra. The Aurora is available in three firmness settings: ‘Soft’ (3), ‘Medium Firm’ (6), and ‘Firm’ (8). This range is suitable for most side sleepers regardless of their weight; the softer option provides deep conforming and improves spinal alignment for lighter individuals, while the firmer options offer sturdy support and moderate yet consistent conforming for heavier people.
The Aurora also sleeps exceptionally cool, even by hybrid standards. This is due in part to its cover made of phase-change material (PCM), which absorbs body heat until the sleeper’s body reaches a certain temperature and allows the bed to remain cool and comfortable for most. The PCM is also infused with copper, which can promote bloodflow in sleepers with poor circulation. Good airflow through the pocketed coil layer also helps the bed stay temperature-neutral. Another strong point is edge support; the 8″ coil layer provides strong reinforcement to the entire bed and helps minimize sinkage around the perimeter.
The Aurora has a current price-point of $1,699 in a Queen size; this is higher than the cost of the average mattress, but a relatively low price-point for hybrid models. Brooklyn Bedding offers free shipping in the contiguous U.S., and backs the Aurora with a 120-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination)
Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
Though preferences vary, most side sleepers who weigh less than 130 pounds typically prefer mattresses with thick foam layers that conform closely, improve spinal alignment, and target aches, pains, and pressure points throughout the body. Our pick for side sleepers in this weight group is the Tuft & Needle Mint, an all-polyfoam bed with a ‘Medium Firm’ (6) feel and a 12″ profile. The mattress offers moderate, yet consistent conforming that should be sufficient for most people who are considered lighter than average.
The Mint also uses innovative materials to enhance the sleep experience. These include a gel-infused polyfoam comfort layer and charcoal-infused cover, both of which allow the bed to sleep fairly cool. The bed also has transitional and base layers made from high-density polyfoam, giving the Mint better support than many of its all-foam competitors. The Mint is a good choice for couples, as well, since it isolates motion transfer very well and does not make any noise when bearing weight.
The Mint has a low price-point compared to beds made from other materials, such as memory foam or latex. Tuft & Needle offers free shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S. The Mint is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
Side and back sleepers
Sleepers in every weight group (light, average, heavy)
Side sleepers in the average weight group (130 to 230 pounds) often prefer mattresses that fall between ‘Medium Soft’ and ‘Medium Firm.’ This range ensures the sleep surface will provide some body conforming and pain/pressure relief without sagging too deeply beneath their weight. The Nectar is our top pick for side sleepers in this weight group because it offers the same benefits as other memory foam mattresses at a price-point that is significantly below average.
The bed is designed with comfort layers of gel memory foam and standard memory foam, which provide a consistent hug throughout the sleeper’s body and can help improve spinal alignment. The Nectar also features a dual-layer support core with high-density polyfoam layers; these materials reinforce the bed to help maintain an even surface. Unlike many of its competitors, the Nectar also sleeps fairly cool, due in part to its breathable cotton/lyocell cover. Other benefits include great motion isolation and no noise when bearing weight.
Nectar offers free shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S., as well as White Glove delivery for an additional charge. The mattress is backed by a 365-night sleep trial – one of the longest trial periods available anywhere – as well as a lifetime warranty.
Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination)
The Helix Nightfall – our Best for Heavyweight Sleepers pick – is one of the few mattresses sold today that is specifically designed for larger, heavier people. This hybrid model accommodates these sleepers with a thicker-than-average 12″ profile, as well as a ‘Medium’ feel that balances body conforming and support. The Nightfall also has a transitional and base layers of high-density polyfoam for added reinforcement around the pocketed coils. This helps prevent sagging and minimizes sinkage around the edges.
The Nightfall is also ideal for side sleepers who normally feel hot during the night. The coil layer offers strong airflow that cools off the entire bed, and a breathable stretch-polyester cover also helps make the mattress feel temperature-neutral. Thick comfort layers of polyfoam and memory foam also absorb motion transfer to a significant extent and help muffle squeaks and creaks from the coils, allowing the mattress to be fairly quiet compared to other hybrids.
The Nightfall has an exceptionally low price-point compared to the average hybrid mattress. Helix offers free mattress shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S. The Nightfall is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
Roughly two-thirds of adults in the U.S. prefer side sleeping positions. The term ‘side sleeping’ usually refers to one of these four positions:
Fetal: Both legs are curled at the knees and the back is hunched to create a ‘curled up look’ similar to babies in the womb. This is the most common position among side sleepers, and represents roughly 40% of the population.
Log:Arms and legs are extended, and the back is straight. Roughly 14% of adults sleep in the log position.
Yearner:Arms are stretched out, and back and legs are straight. Approximately 5% of sleepers choose this position.
Sprinter: Arms and back are straight, and one leg is curled at the knee while the other is fully extended. This is the least common side sleeping position, representing roughly 2% to 3% of the population.
None of these positions are ‘correct’ or ‘better’ than the others. However, positions like the log and yearner that require full leg extensions can reduce pelvic rotation during the night. This may lead to spinal misalignment, which increases the potential for pain and pressure points.
What You Need to Know about Sleeping on Your Side
You’re in luck if side sleeping is your preferred position. Most sleep experts agree side sleeping is healthier than sleeping on one’s back or stomach. Health benefits of side sleeping include:
Spinal alignment: Sleeping with your back and pelvis aligned can help reduce pain and pressure throughout the body.
Improved airway circulation: People who sleep on their side tend to snore less, making this position suitable for people with sleep apnea. It may also be helpful for people who experience acid reflux.
Better heart health: Sleeping on one’s left side avoids putting pressure on the heart, which can alleviate heartburn and improve blood circulation.
Choosing the Best Mattress for Side Sleeping
Side sleepers require a mattress that provides the support and contouring needed to keep their spine aligned. Firmness is one of the most important factors for choosing a mattress. Firmness is assigned using a 1 to 10 scale, with 1 being the least firm and 10 being the firmest. Most mattresses sold today range from 3, or ‘Soft,’ to 8, or ‘Extra Firm.’
For most side sleepers, a ‘medium’ or ‘medium firm’ mattress will be most comfortable. These surfaces will provide even support, which is necessary for spinal alignment, and also conform to the sleeper’s body in order to alleviate pain and pressure points.
However, each sleeper should take his or her body weight into consideration when choosing a mattress based on firmness. Please check out the table below for more information.
Side Sleeper Weight
Most Suitable Firmness Range
Less than 130 pounds
Medium Soft or softer
People who are lighter than average do not sink as deeply into their mattress. Beds that are overly firm may experience discomfort because the sleep surface doesn’t conform closely enough.
130 to 230 pounds
Medium to Medium Firm
People with average body weight often prefer ‘happy medium’ mattresses that are neither too soft nor too firm.
More than 230 pounds
Medium Firm or firmer
Heavier individuals may sink too deeply into mattresses that are overly soft. This can cause spinal misalignment and lead to more aches and pains. They tend to sink less on firmer sleep surfaces.
The diagram below illustrates the most preferred firmness settings for side sleepers in all three weight groups.
Which Mattresses Are Best/Worst for Side Sleepers?
In addition to firmness and sleeper weight, the material composition of a mattress is also important for side sleepers. A mattress with steel coils in the support system will provide a much different sleeping experience than one with foam, latex, or air chambers.
The next table compares the five most common mattress types and explains which ones are most suitable for side sleeping.
At least one layer of polyfoam or memory foam in the comfort layer High-density polyfoam support core
At least one layer of natural or synthetic latex in the comfort layer Latex or high-density polyfoam support core
Polyfoam comfort layer Evenly spaced steel springs in the support core, plus base polyfoam layers
At least 2″ or latex and/or memory foam in the comfort layer Pocketed coils in the support core, plus base polyfoam layers
Foam comfort layer Individual, adjustable air chambers in the support core that can be manually or remote-controlled.
Average Price (Queen)
5 to 6 years
7 to 8 years
4 to 6 years
6 to 7 years
7 to 9 years
Pros for Side Sleepers
Close conforming and good pressure relief Above-average motion isolation and no noise Widely available
Close conforming and good pressure relief Above-average motion isolation and no noise Sleeps cooler than foam
Strong edge support Inexpensive Widely available Sleep cool for most
Strong edge support Better conforming than innersprings Sleep cool for most
Close conforming and good pressure relief Adjustable firmness settings Highly durable
Cons for Side Sleepers
Sleeps hot for some Some sagging reported Minimal edge support
Above-average price Some sagging reported Minimal edge support
Minimal conforming and pressure relief Shorter-than-average lifespan Noise potential
Above-average price Noise potential
Above-average price Temperature neutrality issues for some Noise potential
Tips for Buying a Mattress
Once you have chosen a suitable mattress type, here are a few important points to remember before purchasing a new model.
Prices vary significantly. The average mattress costs more than $1,000, but costs per model range from less than $100 to more than $5,000. After selecting a mattress type, calculate an optimal price range based on the averages listed above, as well as your personal budget. Be sure to include shipping costs if you live in a remote location or outside the contiguous U.S.
Sleep trials can be helpful — and expensive. Most mattress brands offer sleep trials that last at least 90 nights in length. As part of a sleep trial, customers can test out the mattress at home and return it before the trial period ends if they are not satisfied. Sleep trials are ideal for mattress shoppers who are unsure about what to buy — but not all brands offer free returns and shipping the mattress back can lead to additional costs.
Read the fine print on product warranties. Most mattress warranties cover the product against defects for at least 10 years, and many extend beyond the 20-year mark. However, the overall length is not as important as the length of nonprorated coverage, which allows customers to repair or replace defective mattresses at little (if any) extra cost. Prorated coverage, on the other hand, requires owners to pay a percentage of the original product price for repairs or replacements. Be sure to note these periods in different warranties; in some cases, warranties lasting 10 years or longer will only offer one or two years of nonprorated coverage.