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Though side-sleeping is highly popular and considered relatively healthy, this position can be problematic on overly firm mattresses. Sleepers need extra cushioning beneath the shoulders and hips in order to align the head, spine, and pelvis. If the spine is not properly aligned, then pressure points are likely to develop. Many sleepers soften their existing mattress with toppers, individual layers of padding that rest on the bed’s surface.
The best mattress toppers for side-sleepers conform to the body without sagging or feeling too firm, resulting in balanced support and consistent spinal alignment. Other important topper qualities include temperature neutrality, durability, and noise potential.
This guide will discuss common topper materials and designs, as well as some important considerations for first-time shoppers. Our topper picks for side-sleepers are outlined below. These selections are based on verified owner and customer experiences, as well as our own product research and analysis.
ViscoSoft Select High Density Mattress Topper
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Birch Plush Pillow Top
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Allswell Copper Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper
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Pacific Coast Feather Company Down on Top Featherbed
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Molecule AirTEC Mattress Topper
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Our Editor’s Pick is the Viscosoft Select High Density Mattress Topper. This 3-inch topper is made from gel-infused memory foam, which retains less heat and sleeps cooler than standard memory foam. A breathable cover and slip-resistant mesh base also help the surface maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the night.
The topper has a medium-firm feel. This makes it most suitable for side sleepers who weigh at least 130 pounds, as well as back and stomach sleepers. The cover can also be washed and dried in any machine for easy and convenient cleaning. Each corner of the cover has an adjustable strap to prevent it from slipping off the foam layer.
The Viscosoft High Density Mattress Topper is available in twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, and California king sizes. Viscosoft backs the topper with a 60-night sleep trial and a three-year warranty. Free shipping and returns are available for all orders in the contiguous U.S.
An excellent choice for eco-conscious sleepers, the Birch Plush Pillow Top is our Runner-Up Pick due in large part to its material composition. The topper is constructed with a top layer of wool batting, which wicks away moisture from the sleeper’s body and also serves a natural fire barrier.
The bottom layer of the topper is made of durable natural latex, which provides an even balance of body-conforming and sleeper support. A quilted organic cotton cover encases the topper for added breathability. With a medium feel, the Plush Pillow Top is ideal for side sleepers who weigh between 130 and 230 pounds, as well as some lighter individuals.
The topper has an above-average price-point, making it a good option for shoppers with bigger budgets. Birch offers free shipping to all 50 states. The topper is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty, both of which are longer than average.
Most toppers are reasonably priced, but a high-quality model made from supportive, durable materials can drive the cost well above $200. Our Best Value pick, the Allswell Copper Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper, is a notable exception. Priced below $160 in all four sizes (twin, full, queen, and king), the topper is cheaper than most competing models, but it does not sacrifice quality or performance.
The topper has a 4-inch profile, giving it extra thickness for those who do not feel properly supported on shorter models. A top layer of memory foam infused with copper gel offers a medium feel that is optimal for side sleepers weighing 230 pounds or less. The copper gel also has cooling properties, and can improve blood flow for people with poor circulation. A supportive base layer of high-density foam prevents excessive sagging.
Allswell offers free shipping within the contiguous U.S., as well as expedited delivery options. Customers receive a 30-night sleep trial for the topper.
Many side sleepers prefer toppers filled with down and feathers. Although these natural materials do not conform as closely as memory foam or latex, they supply exceptional softness that offers good cushioning to the shoulders and hips. For our Best Luxury pick, we’ve selected the Down on Top Featherbed from Pacific Coast Feather Company.
The topper has a chambered design, allowing it to provide better support than many competing featherbeds. The top chamber contains 525 fill power down, which has an ultra-plush feel and also sleeps cool. The bottom chamber is filled with feathers, which are longer and coarser than down. As a result, the featherbed won’t sink excessively. Durable box-stitching houses the down and feathers in tight baffles to prevent the fill from escaping.
Because some people have down and feather allergies, Pacific Coast Feather Company offers an ‘allergy-free’ limited warranty, as well as a three-year warranty for the topper itself. It is also backed by a 30-night sleep trial.
Memory foam is one of the most popular mattress and topper materials for side sleepers because of its consistent conforming ability. However, many people find memory foam traps heat and feels uncomfortably warm. Our Best Cooling pick, the AirTEC Mattress Topper from Molecule, addresses this issue with a temperature-regulating fiber cover and a top layer of breathable, open-cell foam.
The result is a cool, comfortable night’s rest for most. The topper has a medium feel, making it very well-suited for those who weigh 230 pounds or less. A supportive base layer of high-density foam reinforces the other layers to prevent excessive sagging and sinkage. The topper is sold in all six standard mattress sizes.
Molecule offers free shipping and returns anywhere in the contiguous U.S. The topper is also backed by a 30-night sleep trial with full refunds for all returns, along with a five-year warranty.
Despite its popularity, side-sleeping can lead to aches and pains for sleepers if the surface does not provide even support to their body. Because the midsection tends to sag more than other areas of the body, many find that extra cushioning beneath the shoulders and hips results in better alignment.
Fortunately, side-sleepers who find their current mattress unsupportive may not need to purchase a new bed. Using a mattress topper can significantly alter the mattress surface to improve spinal alignment, reduce discomfort, and prevent new pressure points from forming. In this guide, we’ll look at what toppers are and how they work, common designs and material options, and some key considerations for first-time buyers.
Side-sleeping is the most common sleep position among adults in the U.S. There are several variations on the side-sleeping position, including:
Side-sleeping is also considered one of the healthiest positions. Those who sleep on their sides typically experience fewer aches and pains than back- or stomach-sleepers. The position also opens up the airway, making it suitable for heavy snorers and those with chronic conditions such as sleep apnea or acid reflux. Side-sleeping is often the most comfortable option for pregnant women, as well.
There are some disadvantages of side-sleeping, as well. Those who sleep with one side of their face pressed against a pillow are more susceptible to wrinkles. Women may also experience sagging in their breasts. Additionally, there are issues associated with specific positions. The fetal position, for instance, can lead to breathing problems and exacerbate symptoms of arthritis.
Poor spinal alignment can be another drawback. Both the back- and stomach-sleeping positions naturally align the head, spine, and pelvis, which can reduce pain and pressure points in sensitive areas. For side-sleepers, the midsection tends to sag more than other parts of the body, resulting in poor alignment. The hips and shoulders need extra cushioning to level out the sleeper’s body. For this reason, most side sleepers prefer surfaces with a softer feel.
As previously mentioned, a topper can significantly alter the feel of the mattress. Those who own firmer beds may find that a softer topper results in better alignment and less discomfort. In the next section, we’ll look at common topper designs and materials to determine which models are best for side-sleepers.
A topper is, by definition, a layer of padding material that rests on the mattress surface. Owners may tuck their topper beneath a fitted sheet or let it rest freely on top of the bed. Most toppers make beds feel softer, though they can also be used to make an excessively soft mattress feel firmer. Toppers can also be useful for sleep areas with relatively uncomfortable surfaces, such as foldout couches, RVs, or tents.
A topper’s primary purpose is to adjust the firmness of the mattress and provide supplemental comfort. This differentiates toppers from mattress pads and protectors, which are primarily used to safeguard the mattress against stains, dust, and other contaminants.
Below we’ll analyze different topper materials. First, let’s look at three key specifications and features to consider when selecting a new topper:
The ideal firmness, thickness, and density settings are all relative to the side-sleeper’s body weight. The table below lists the most popular settings for side sleepers in different weight groups. Please note that these findings are based on sleeper feedback and are highly subjective.
|Sleep Position||Weight Group||Ideal Topper Firmness||Ideal Topper Thickness||Ideal Topper Density|
|Side||Less than 130 lbs.||Soft to medium-soft||3 1/2″ or higher||2.5 PCF or lower|
|130 to 230 lbs.||Medium-soft to medium||2 to 3 1/2″||2.5 to 4 PCF|
|More than 230 lbs.||Medium-firm to firm||2 1/2″ or lower||4 PCF or higher|
Other important topper considerations include the following:
Based on the criteria listed above, let’s take a closer look at the most commonly used topper materials. The table below lists information and ratings for these materials. For more information about these topper types, please visit the links found in the table’s topmost row.
|Topper Material||Convoluted Polyfoam||Down/Feather||Fiber||Latex||Memory Foam||Wool|
|Description||Topper is made from polyfoam with soft ridges or impressions, creating a textured, 'convoluted' feel.||Topper is filled with down, the soft inner plumage of ducks or geese, and/or feathers, the coarser outer plumage.||Topper is padded with down alternative microfibers, which mimic the softness of authentic down and feathers.||Topper contains a uniform section of latex, a material derived from the sap of rubber trees.||Topper contains a uniform section of memory foam, or viscoelastic polyurethane foam, a material that becomes softer and conforms closer when exposed to body heat.||Topper is padded with sheep or lamb wool batting.|
|Thickness/Firmness Selection||Limited||Somewhat limited||Limited||Somewhat wide||Wide||Somewhat limited|
|Durability||Poor to Fair||Fair to Good||Poor to Fair||Very Good to Excellent||Good to Very Good||Very Good to Excellent|
|Support||Poor to Fair||Fair to Good||Fair to Good||Good to Very Good||Good to Very Good||Fair to Good|
|Conforming Ability||Poor to Fair||Poor to Fair||Poor to Fair||Very Good to Excellent||Very Good to Excellent||Fair to Good|
|Motion Isolation||Good to Very Good||Poor to Fair||Poor to Fair||Fair to Good||Very Good to Excellent||Fair to Good|
|Noise||Very Good to Excellent||Poor to Fair||Fair to Good||Very Good to Excellent||Very Good to Excellent||Very Good to Excellent|
|Typical Weight Range||10 to 15 lbs.||10 to 20 lbs.||5 to 10 lbs.||25 to 40 lbs.||20 to 30 lbs.||5 to 10 lbs.|
|Typical Price Range||$10 to $30||$100 to $150||$60 to $100||$100 to $400||$100 to $250||$150 to $300|
In addition to the topper features and characteristics listed above, first-time topper buyers should research the following as they browse different brands and models.
Most companies offer free shipping for toppers throughout the contiguous U.S., and some extend this perk to customers in Alaska, Hawaii, and/or Canada. However, select brands level additional fees for standard topper deliveries. Expedited delivery may also result in upcharges. Shoppers should investigate shipping rates relevant to their home’s location to ensure the product is still within their budget.
Like mattresses, most toppers come with a sleep trial. This allows customers to test out their topper for a predetermined length of time – usually 30 to 100 nights – and then return it before the trial expires for a full or partial refund if they are not satisfied. Sleep trials can be very beneficial for those who are unsure whether the topper will be suitable for their needs.
However, customers should take time to read the fine print. Some trials are tied to expensive shipping and return fees that can reduce the refund amount by a substantial margin. The customer may also be required to ship the topper to the company in order to collect their refund, which can result in time and financial costs. Comparatively, some brands offer free shipping and full refunds for all returns.
Because toppers have an average lifespan of four to five years, most come with warranties that cover the product for five years or less. Warranties are useful in the event a defect develops with the topper, such as excessive sagging or unusual material deterioration.
Like mattress warranties, some topper warranties guarantee against surface-level sagging to a certain depth. This ensures the owner can have their topper repaired, replaced, or refunded if deep indentations lead to uneven support and discomfort issues. However, many topper warranties do not cover excessive sagging.
Moreover, some warranties require owners to cover shipping and transportation costs for topper repairs, replacements, or returns.
The bottom line: a topper warranty can be invaluable when dealing with a defective product, but owners should still plan to replace their topper after four to five years of frequent use – regardless of the warranty’s length.