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Best Mattresses for Shoulder Pain – Top Picks and Buying Guide

Written by Tuck Staff

Quick Overview

Many people live with chronic shoulder pain due to a past injury, joint inflammation, chronic illness, and other root causes. Persistent aches and discomfort can affect many aspects of daily life, including sleep quality and duration. People with shoulder pain may be able to mitigate their shoulder pain by sleeping on a mattress that conforms to the body, aligns the spine, and provides consistent support throughout the night.

This guide will discuss common sources of shoulder pain and explain how the right mattress can alleviate these symptoms. We’ll share our top mattress picks for sleepers with shoulder pain. These selections are based on verified customer and owner experiences, along with our own product research and analysis.

Best Mattresses for Shoulder Pain
First Time Buying a Mattress?

Hop down to our Buyer’s Guide for a crash course on finding the best mattress for shoulder pain.


Best Mattresses for Shoulder Pain – Reviewed

Best OverallBrooklyn Bedding Signature

Best Overall – Brooklyn Bedding Signature


  • Multiple firmness options (3.5, 5.5, 7.5)
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • 10-year warranty
  • Consistent airflow keeps the bed cool
  • Quilted cover for extra padding
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Best OverallBrooklyn Bedding Signature

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The Brooklyn Bedding Signature is a standout mattress for people with shoulder pain for several reasons. This hybrid model is constructed with a quilted polyfoam and cotton top layer. This component cushions the sleeper’s shoulders and conforms closely to alleviate aches and pains. The bed also contains two polyfoam comfort layers measuring 4 inches thick for added reinforcement.

The Signature is available in three firmness settings: ‘Soft’ (3.5), ‘Medium’ (5.5), and ‘Firm’ (7.5). This range should accommodate most sleepers regardless of their preferred sleep position or body weight.

The support core features pocketed coils and a high-density polyfoam base. Air circulates freely throughout the coils, keeping the mattress at a comfortable temperature, while the base layer helps reinforce the bed against sagging in the sleep surface and sinkage along the edges.

At less than $1,000 for a Queen size, the Signature is priced much lower than the average hybrid. Brooklyn Bedding also offers free shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S., and backs the mattress with a 120-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.

The Bottom Line.

The Brooklyn Bedding Signature offers premium pressure relief for shoulder pain, at a price-point that’s well below average. With three firmness settings to choose from, most sleepers should be able to find a model that matches their comfort preferences.

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination). Comfort layers of polyfoam cushion and relieve pressure points as needed for each sleep position, while the pocketed coil core provides additional contouring and support.
  • Sleepers in any weight group. Lighter individuals may find more comfort from the ‘Soft’ setting, while heavier individuals may prefer the ‘Firm’ setting.
  • Hot sleepers. The pocketed coil layer allows for strong airflow, enabling the mattress to maintain a cooler temperature overall.
  • Value seekers. The Brooklyn Bedding Signature is priced significantly below comparable hybrid models, making our Editor’s Choice a top value pick as well.

Not Recommended for:

  • Those who prefer a traditional memory foam feel. The Signature provides excellent pressure relief, but it does so without creating the body-hugging cradle of an all-foam mattress.
  • Those looking for a more responsive feel. The pocketed coil layer lends the Signature a decent amount of bounce, but it’s not as responsive as a true innerspring bed.

Best ValueTuft & Needle T&N Original

Best Value – Tuft & Needle T&N Original


  • 'Medium Firm' (6.5)
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 10-year warranty
  • Top layer infused with cooling graphite
  • Consistent conforming and even weight distribution
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Best ValueTuft & Needle T&N Original

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The average mattress of any type costs more than $1,000 in a Queen size. The T&N Original from Tuft & Needle is available at a below-average price-point. However, the mattress offers the same comfort and support for sleepers with shoulder pain as many of its higher-priced competitors.

The T&N Original is an all-polyfoam model. The 3-inch comfort layer is infused with graphite, which helps the material absorb less body heat and sleep cooler. A 7-inch support core of high-density polyfoam reinforces the sleep surface to prevent sagging and deep indentations from forming.

With a ‘Medium Firm’ (6.5) feel, the T&N Original conforms to a moderate yet consistent extent. This makes it most suitable for sleepers who weigh at least 130 pounds. Other benefits include excellent motion isolation and no noise when bearing weight.

In addition to its low price, the mattress also qualifies for free shipping within the contiguous U.S. Tuft & Needle backs the mattress with a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.

The Bottom Line.

The all-foam design of the T&N Original delivers excellent pressure relief for sleepers with shoulder pain. The quality construction, combined with an almost unbelievably low price-point, makes it a clear Best Value mattress pick.

  • Back and stomach sleepers. The ‘Medium Firm’ feel of the T&N Original is ideally supportive for these sleep positions, providing good cushioning without allowing them to sink too deeply into the mattress surface.
  • Sleepers in the average and heavy weight groups. The bed’s ‘Medium Firm’ feel is most comfortable for sleepers who weigh 130 pounds or more.
  • Couples. The all-foam construction absorbs motion very well, resulting in a sleep surface that stays still despite movements from a nearby sleep partner.
  • Those who normally sleep hot on all-foam beds. The low-density comfort layer absorbs less body heat than higher-density foams, with additional cooling provided by the graphite infusion.

Not Recommended for:

  • Those looking for a more responsive feel. Due to its all-foam construction, the T&N Original is less bouncy than innerspring and hybrid models and may be less conducive to sex.
  • Those looking for strong edge support. As is the case with many foam beds, the edge support with the T&N Original is minimal, so sinkage may occur after sitting on the edges of the bed for long periods of time.

Best LuxuryLuxury Firm WinkBed

Best Luxury – Luxury Firm WinkBed


  • ’Medium Firm’ (6)
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Zoned pocketed coils offer targeted support to the midsection
  • Polyfoam-quilted Euro-top offers a plush surface feel
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Best LuxuryLuxury Firm WinkBed

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The Luxury Firm WinkBed is a luxury innerspring mattress, offering a supportive, multi-layered design that can be very beneficial for sleepers with shoulder pain. The comfort system features a gel polyfoam-quilted Euro-top that closely contours the body and a denser polyfoam transitional layer to limit excessive sinkage. Both layers help evenly distribute weight to promote spinal alignment and prevent aches and pains.

The pocketed coil support core has a zoned design to provide targeted support. Thicker coils line the perimeter, giving the Luxury Firm WinkBed very strong edge support. Like many other hybrid models, this mattress’ coil core facilitates airflow to keep sleepers cool. The mattress is encased in a cover made from a breathable Tencel fabric.

WinkBeds offers free shipping to customers in the contiguous U.S., as well as White Glove delivery for a reasonable upcharge. The mattress is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a lifetime warranty, both of which are longer than average.

The Bottom Line.

The Luxury Firm WinkBed features a high-quality construction that offers superior relief for shoulder pain. Beyond the pressure-relieving comfort layers, the thick pocketed coil system ensures durable support for a variety of sleepers.

  • Back and stomach sleepers. The zoned support system provides targeted pushback for the midsection, which is especially important for these sleeping positions.
  • Sleepers who weigh up to 230 pounds. The medium firm (6) feel and pocketed coil support core should be supportive enough for back and stomach sleepers who weigh up to 230 pounds.
  • Those who prefer high-profile beds. The 14.5-inch profile of the Luxury Firm WinkBed appeals to those who like the look of a thicker mattress, as well as those who need it for the ease of getting in and out of bed.
  • Hot sleepers. In yet another of the Luxury Firm WinkBed’s impressive design features, the bed sleeps very cool. This is thanks to a breathable Tencel lyocell knit cover, gel-infused foam layers, and an airflow-promoting pocketed coil core.

Not Recommended for:

  • Very lightweight side sleepers. The Luxury Firm WinkBed may feel too firm for sleepers under 130 pounds, creating more pressure in the shoulders.
  • Shoppers who want to be able to return their mattress quickly if they don’t love it. The 120-night sleep trial includes a mandatory 30-night break-in period.

Best for Lightweight SleepersLeesa

Best for Lightweight Sleepers – Leesa


  • 'Medium' (5)
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 10-year warranty
  • Isolates motion transfer for couples
  • Close conforming and consistent pressure relief
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Best for Lightweight SleepersLeesa

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Many lightweight sleepers with shoulder pain prefer mattresses with softer firmness settings. This is particularly true for side sleepers, who often need extra cushioning beneath the shoulders and hips for complete spinal alignment.

A solid pick for this weight group is the Leesa, a memory foam mattress with a contouring ‘Medium’ (5) feel. The comfort layers conform closely to minimize shoulder pain and prevent new aches and pressure-points from developing.

The mattress also has a high-density polyfoam base to help maintain a sag-free sleep surface. Additionally, the Leesa is a good pick for couples because it isolates most motion transfer and does not make any noise.

The Leesa has a very reasonable price-point compared to other memory foam mattresses. The company also offers free shipping to all 50 states, along with a 100-night sleep trial and 10-year warranty.

The Bottom Line.

The Leesa close-conforming, true ‘Medium’ feel is perfect for lightweight sleepers, especially those who sleep on their side or back. With an all-foam construction, the mattress also relieves pain and pressure in the shoulders and other sensitive areas.

  • Side and back sleepers. Foam comfort layers conform closely to the body, creating a body-hugging sensation that relieves pressure and improves spinal alignment for the side and back sleeping positions.
  • Sleepers who weigh less than 230 pounds. The ‘Medium’ feel of the Leesa is optimal for lightweight sleepers in any position, but it can feel just as comfortable for sleepers of average weight who sleep on their side or who prefer a softer surface.
  • Couples. Thanks to the bed’s all-foam construction, the Leesa virtually eliminates motion transfer, creating a sleep surface that stays silent and still throughout the night.
  • Value seekers. The Leesa is more affordable than comparable all-foam models, making it a value pick as well.

Not Recommended for:

  • Couples where one person weighs more than 230 pounds. The ‘Medium’ feel of the Leesa will not be sufficiently supportive for sleepers in this weight group and may result in sagging.
  • Those looking for a more responsive feel. The Leesa is less bouncy than an innerspring or hybrid mattress, due to its foam construction, although it does offer good traction and can allow for more discreet sex.

Best for Average Weight SleepersBear Star Hybrid

Best for Average Weight Sleepers – Bear Star Hybrid


  • 'Medium Firm' (6)
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Exceptional cooling
  • Innovative, pain-relieving Celliant cover
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Best for Average Weight SleepersBear Star Hybrid

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Most people in the average weight group (130 to 230 pounds) prefer mattresses that offer a balance of body-cushioning and overall support. The Bear Star Hybrid is an excellent selection for sleepers in this weight group. The bed’s cover is made from Celliant fabric, a cutting-edge material that improves circulation, regulates sleep temperature, and promotes muscle recovery – all of which benefit people who experience shoulder pain.

The mattress is also constructed with a Euro-top cover over copper-infused memory foam that conforms to the body. Underneath is a polyfoam transitional layer that prevents you from sinking too deeply into the mattress. The Bear Star Hybrid has a ‘Medium Firm’ feel that’s best suited for side and back sleepers.

A pocketed coil support core and high-density polyfoam base reinforce the mattress very well. Air circulates through the coils to cool off the interior and help the surface maintain a comfortable temperature, an attractive feature for those who tend to sleep hot.

Bear ships mattresses free-of-charge to customers in all 50 states. The Bear Star Hybrid is also backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a lifetime warranty.

The Bottom Line.

With its Celliant fabric cover and gel-infused foam, the Bear Star Hybrid provides cooling, targeted pressure relief for sleepers with shoulder pain. And with a ‘Medium Firm’ feel, the mattress is perfect for sleepers of average weight.

  • Side and back sleepers. The bed’s hybrid construction balances comfort with support for the side and back sleeping positions, providing conforming without too much sinking.
  • Sleepers of average weight. The ‘Medium Firm’ feel of the Bear Star Hybrid is most comfortable for sleepers who weigh between 130 and 230 pounds.
  • People with poor circulation. The Celliant fabric cover absorbs body heat before transmitting it back into the sleeper’s skin as infrared energy, a process which may boost oxygenation and recovery and further relieve shoulder pain.
  • Hot sleepers. Another benefit of the Celliant fabric cover is that it helps cool down the mattress surface temperature, resulting in a cool night’s sleep for hot sleepers.

Not Recommended for:

  • Sleepers who weigh more than 230 pounds. The Bear Star Hybrid may be too soft for sleepers in this weight group, depending on their firmness preferences.

Best for Heavyweight SleepersSaatva Classic

Best for Heavyweight Sleepers – Saatva Classic


  • Multiple firmness options (4, 6, 7.5)
  • 180-night sleep trial
  • 15-year warranty
  • Exceptional coil-on-coil support
  • Consistent temperature neutrality
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Best for Heavyweight SleepersSaatva Classic

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Although preferences vary, many heavier sleepers prefer firmer, more responsive mattresses that will alleviate aches and pains without sagging too deeply. For this reason, the Saatva Classic is a great choice for sleepers in this weight group with shoulder pain. This premium coil-on-coil innerspring is available in three firmness settings, including a ‘Medium Firm’ (6) option for those who prefer some body-conforming and a ‘Firm’ (7.5) setting that feels quite responsive.

Customers can also choose from 11.5-inch and 14.5-inch profiles, both of which are thicker than average. Heavier sleepers tend to feel more comfortable getting on and off the bed with thicker profiles.

The Saatva Classic’s comfort system consists of polyfoam, memory foam, and pocketed microcoil layers that provide supportive, consistent contouring and even weight distribution. The support core contains durable bonnell coils made from recycled steel. Air circulates through the two coil layers, making the Saatva Classic suitable for hot sleepers.

Saatva offers free White Glove delivery anywhere in the contiguous U.S. This service includes in-home assembly and old mattress removal. The mattress is backed by a 180-night sleep trial and a 150-year warranty.

The Bottom Line.

Either of the two firmer firmness settings offered by the Saatva Classic may sleep comfortably for heavier sleepers, while the bed’s thick comfort layers and supportive coil-on-coil design offer enhanced pressure relief for shoulder pain.

  • Any type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination). Side and back sleepers may prefer the ‘Medium Firm’ model while stomach sleepers may prefer the ‘Firm’ model.
  • People who prefer high-profile beds. The Saatva is available in 11.5- and 14.5-inch profiles, either of which is taller than the average mattress.
  • Hot sleepers. The Saatva Classic sleeps exceptionally cool, thanks to its innerspring design and good airflow through both coil layers.
  • Value seekers. The Saatva Classic has a very reasonable price-point despite its premium construction and included White Glove delivery service.

Not Recommended for:

  • Couples. The Saatva Classic has a responsive surface that, while conducive to sex, allows for a noisier mattress that may wake up a light sleeper during the night.
  • Those who prefer a traditional memory foam feel. The Saatva Classic offers significantly more conforming and pressure relief than a standard innerspring bed, but it can’t compete with the body-hugging cradle of an all-foam mattress.

Buying Guide – How to Choose a Mattress for Shoulder Pain

Chronic shoulder pain is a common problem among adults in the U.S. Daily activities can compound this issue, leading to discomfort during the night that can impact sleep. Fortunately, the right mattress can make a significant difference for sleepers with shoulder pain.

This guide will discuss common sources of shoulder pain. We’ll also cover different mattress types and explain which ones provide the most (and least) relief for shoulder discomfort.

Please note: Tuck Sleep is not a medical website. Our mattress tips should never replace the advice of a licensed medical professional.

Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

According to the Mayo Clinic, shoulder pain often occurs due to problems with the shoulder joint and/or issues with surrounding muscles, tendons, or ligaments. Many different diseases and conditions can cause and contribute to shoulder pain for sleepers, including:

  • Previous Injury: Old injuries often lead to lingering aches and pains. Separated or dislocated shoulders, sprains, injured rotator cuffs, and a broken arm or collarbone can all cause chronic shoulder pain.
  • Arthritis: Arthritis is a disease characterized by painful swelling and tenderness in the joints. The most common form is osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition that wears down cartilage that protects the bones and joints. Rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic autoimmune disease, breaks down lining in the joints to create painful sensations throughout the body.
  • Joint Inflammation: Joint inflammation around the shoulder can cause intense, persistent discomfort. One common form of joint inflammation, bursitis, irritates the fluid sacs that pad bones and muscles surrounding the joints. Tendinitis, another common condition, irritates the tendons, connective tissue between muscles and bones.
  • Frozen Shoulder: Though somewhat rare, this condition can cause intense discomfort for sleepers. Frozen shoulder is characterized by aches and stiffness around the shoulder joint that gradually worsens over time. Many people develop this condition while recovering from surgery or a medical condition (such as a stroke) that hinders their range-of-motion.
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: Thoracic outlet syndrome occurs due to compressed blood vessels or nerves in other parts of the body around the collarbone and ribs. Common symptoms include pain and numbness in the shoulders. Most people experience this condition after a serious injury, such as a vehicle accident, or during pregnancy.
  • Shoulder Impingement: Some people experience shoulder pain due to abnormalities in the bones that make up the shoulder blade. These abnormalities may include bone spurs, projections that arise along the bone surface, or an unusual bone shape. The painful condition known as shoulder impingement occurs when bone abnormalities narrow the gap between rotator cuff tendons and surrounding bones.

In addition to these root causes for shoulder pain, Physiopedia also identifies several risk factors that can exacerbate symptoms:

  • Age: The strongest incidence rates of shoulder pain have been found in adults aged 45 and older.
  • Being Female: Though shoulder pain commonly affects both sexes, women are more likely to develop symptoms.
  • Lack of Exercise: A sedentary lifestyle may contribute to existing shoulder pain. It’s also important to note that routine exercise can alleviate shoulder discomfort, as well as help you sleep better.
  • Work-Related Factors: Daily activities can exacerbate shoulder pain. This is especially true for those with jobs that require heavy lifting, operating machines, and other tasks involving frequent shoulder movements.

For many people, shoulder pain symptoms improve with time and care. However, severe discomfort may necessitate surgery, medication, and other more intensive treatments.

Choosing the Right Mattress for Shoulder Pain: Features to Look For

Before we discuss different types of mattresses, let’s look at a few important mattress qualities for sleepers with shoulder pain.

  • Conforming Ability

    Most of today’s mattresses are designed with top layers (also known as comfort layers) made of foam, latex, and other cushioning materials. These layers contour to the sleeper’s body in order to alleviate pressure points and align the spine.

    A bed’s conforming ability does not refer to how closely it conforms, but rather how evenly it contours to different parts of the sleeper’s body and distributes their weight. Sleepers suffering from shoulder pain can benefit from thicker comfort layers and beds with higher levels of conforming ability.

  • Support

    When dealing with mattresses, ‘support’ refers to the bed’s ability to maintain an even surface that doesn’t sag or develop indentations. The bottom layers of the mattress – collectively known as the support core – reinforce the bed against these issues.

    Due to their structure and materials, some beds offer better overall support than others. Lower-quality foam beds for instance, can be prone to sagging after a number of years, while the innerspring coils in innerspring mattresses can break down.

    Generally, a bed made from quality materials should deliver good support for several years, as long as you choose one with a proper firmness setting for your body type. (We explain ‘Mattress Firmness’ in a later section.)

  • Durability

    The average mattress needs to be replaced every seven years. However, a bed’s lifespan will vary based on its comfort and support components. Less durable mattresses begin to sag in the middle and sink along the edges, which affects sleeper support and the bed’s body-conforming abilities.

  • Temperature Neutrality

    The comfort layers of some beds absorb body heat from sleepers, causing the surface to feel somewhat warm. Excessive temperatures can hinder sleep quality and duration, compounding the effects of shoulder pain.

    Other beds have gel-infused comfort layers (like the WinkBed or Bear Star Hybrid), cooling covers (like the Bear Star Hybrid), and/or coil layers that circulate air throughout the interior (like the Saatva, WinkBed, and Bear Star Hybrid). These components allow the bed to feel cooler and more comfortable for sleep.

  • Motion Isolation

    Whenever someone gets into or out of bed, or shifts positions while sleeping, their movement generates transfer that may travel across the bed and wake up their sleep partner.

    Many mattresses today address this issue with thick foam layers, which absorb and minimize transfer. Since people with shoulder pain frequently toss and turn, so a bed that eliminates motion can be highly beneficial.

  • Noise

    Some mattresses – particularly those with coils or adjustable air chambers – produce noise when bearing weight, which can disrupt sleep. By comparison, beds made from other materials like foam produce little to no noise.

What Kind of Mattress Is Good for Shoulder Pain?

Most mattresses sold today fall into one of five categories: foam/memory foam, latex, innerspring, hybrid, and airbed. The table below lists ratings for these five mattress types based on different criteria for sleepers with shoulder pain.

Our research indicates that foam and hybrid models, as well as innerspring models with thick comfort systems, are the best mattresses for shoulder pain. We provide the pros and cons of each of these mattress types below.

Foam Mattresses

  • Foam mattresses are known for their body-hugging cradle, which offers superior pressure relief for chronic pain sufferers and encourages good spinal alignment
  • All-foam construction absorbs noise and movement, allowing for couples and light sleepers to enjoy fewer sleep disruptions
  • Very affordable price-points

Cons for Sleepers with Shoulder Pain

  • Thanks to their high conforming, foam beds can absorb a certain amount of body heat, which may be uncomfortable for hot sleepers
  • If made from lower-quality foams, sagging and indentations may develop over time, especially with more heavyset sleepers
  • Reduced edge support can be a problem for those who sleep close to or spend a lot of time sitting on the edges of their bed

Innerspring Mattresses

  • Innerspring mattresses provide even, distributed support which can ensure good alignment for back and stomach sleepers
  • The coil support layer promotes excellent airflow, resulting in a cooler sleep surface for hot sleepers
  • Very affordable price-points

Cons for Sleepers with Shoulder Pain

  • The coil-based support layer results in minimal motion isolation, so these beds may creak or make noise whenever someone shifts positions in the bed
  • Innersprings tend to have shorter lifespans and can be prone to sagging within a handful of years, especially with heavier sleepers
  • Unless they have thick comfort systems, like the Saatva, these beds typically will not provide sufficient pressure relief for sleepers with shoulder pain

Hybrid Mattresses

  • Hybrids combine the pressure relief of all-foam beds with the cooler sleep and bounce of an innerspring model
  • Typically feature zoned support systems, as seen with the WinkBed, which provide additional pressure relief for chronic pain sufferers
  • Polyfoam perimeters provide excellent edge support, reducing the chance of roll-off or increased shoulder pain when sleeping near the edge of bed

Cons for Sleepers with Shoulder Pain

  • Due to the combination of a thick comfort system with a pocketed coil layers, hybrid beds have thicker profiles and can be heavier and more difficult to move
  • Hybrid mattresses have less motion isolation than all-foam models, which may disrupt very light sleepers who share their bed with a partner
  • More expensive price-points

Important Considerations for Sleepers with Shoulder Pain

In addition to material composition, sleepers with shoulder pain should take the following factors into account when choosing a mattress:

  • Their sleep position
  • Their body weight
  • Their mattress firmness preferences

We review each of these below.

How Should I Sleep With Shoulder Pain?

Sleep position can be crucial for those with shoulder pain. Most people sleep on their side with their legs tucked in or outstretched. This is considered the healthiest sleep position because it aligns the spine, inhibits snoring, and generally leads to fewer aches and pains. However, for people with shoulder pain, side sleeping may actually cause more discomfort, depending on which side they prefer.

For that reason, many people with shoulder pain prefer sleeping on their backs. Although this position increases the risk of snoring, it can alleviate aches and pains from shoulder-related issues.

Stomach sleeping is also an option, though many doctors discourage this position. Because so many people carry weight in their stomachs, sleeping face-down can lead to uneven weight distribution and shoulder strain.

For individuals with shoulder pain, finding the most comfortable sleep position takes some trial and error. The following table lists recommended sleep positions that may help alleviate your shoulder pain.

Best Sleep Positions for Shoulder Pain
Sleep Position How It Works Recommended Mattress Firmness
If you only have pain in one shoulder, sleep on your side with your bad shoulder facing up.

Hug a pillow between your arms in front of your stomach.

Place a thin pillow between your knees.

By sleeping on your good shoulder, you avoid putting additional pressure on your bad shoulder and increasing the aches and pains you might feel upon waking up.

The pillow between your arms relieves any pressure on your arms, which can lead to increased shoulder pain.

The pillow between your knees reduces pressure in your lower back and ensures good spinal alignment through your hips.

Soft to Medium Soft

Generally, side sleepers prefer softer mattresses. The extra cushioning beneath the shoulders and hips helps align the spine and prevent pressure points from developing.

If you have pain in both shoulders, sleep on your back.

Place a thin pillow between your shoulder blades.

Place a thin pillow between your knees.

The back sleeping position naturally supports a straight spine, while removing pressure from either of your shoulders.

The thin pillow can further relieve shoulder pain by filling in the gap between your shoulder blades and the mattress surface and providing support to your spine.

The pillow between your knees further reduces pressure in your lower back and ensures good spinal alignment.

Medium Soft to Medium Firm

The back sleeping position aligns the spine on its own. These sleepers often need moderate firmness settings to ensure their bodies won’t sink too much.

Body Weight

Along with sleep position, the sleeper’s body weight is important for determining the best firmness setting for a mattress.

Sleepers in the lightweight group (less than 130 pounds) typically softer prefer beds that conform to their bodies. Excessively firm mattresses may not conform enough, resulting in uneven support and inadequate pain relief.

Those who are considered average weight (130 to 230 pounds) often find mattresses with moderate firmness settings most comfortable. The surface conforms to a noticeable extent without sagging too much, but the sleeper still experiences pain and pressure relief.

Most sleepers in the heavyweight group (more than 230 pounds) need firmer beds with minimal conforming. Softer beds often sink too much, and this can significantly worsen shoulder pain.

Mattress Firmness

Firmness refers to how closely the mattress cushions and conforms to the sleeper’s body. Mattress firmness is rated on a 1-10 scale, with 1 being the softest and 10 the firmest. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • Extra Soft (1-2): The mattress conforms very closely and sinks deeply beneath the sleeper’s body.
  • Soft (3): The mattress conforms closely and sinks to a noticeable extent.
  • Medium Soft (4): The mattress conforms somewhat closely, but there is minimal sinkage.
  • Medium (5): The mattress conforms to a moderate extent with little to no sinkage.
  • Medium Firm (6): The mattress offers minimal conforming and won’t sink unless the sleeper is exceptionally heavy.
  • Firm (7-8): The mattress conforms little, if at all, and support is flat and even across the surface.
  • Extra Firm (9-10): The mattress has a hard, flat surface that does not conform or sink to any noticeable extent.

It’s important to note that ‘Extra Soft’ and ‘Extra Firm’ mattresses are extremely rare. The majority of beds sold today fall between a 3 (soft) and 8 (firm) on the 1-10 firmness scale.

A sleeper’s preferred firmness largely depends on two factors: their sleep position and body weight. The table below lists optimal firmness settings for sleepers in different weight groups. However, please note these ratings are subjective and may not be accurate for some individuals.

What Type of Pillow Is Best for Shoulder Pain?

People with shoulder pain can also alleviate symptoms by optimizing their pillow settings. Loft – or thickness – is one of the most important considerations. Pillows sold today fall into one of three general loft categories:

  • Low Loft: Less than 3 inches
  • Medium Loft: 3 to 5 inches
  • High Loft: More than 5 inches

The ideal loft for depends on the sleeper’s body weight, head size, and shoulder width, as well as their bed’s firmness setting. The next table lists optimal loft settings based on these criteria.

In addition to loft, pillow shoppers should also take pillow composition into account. Some fill materials, such as buckwheat hulls, memory foam, and latex, provide consistent conforming and even support. Others, such as down and down alternative, tend to sink more, resulting in deeper conforming to some areas than others.

For more information about choosing a pillow, please visit our Best Pillows for Shoulder Pain guide.

Sleep Trial and Warranty Considerations

Most mattresses sold today come with a sleep trial, which allows customers to test out the mattress for a predetermined length of time. If they are dissatisfied with the mattress before the sleep trial ends, they may return the bed for a full or partial refund. Some brands also offer mattress exchanges during the sleep trial.

In most cases, the sleep trial will span at least 90 nights, but some brands offer trials that last 365 nights or longer. Sleep trials allow sleepers with shoulder pain to determine whether or not a bed is suitable for long-term use. However, they should make sure to read the fine print, as some brands level expensive shipping and/or return fees.

Warranties are also important. Most mattress warranties consider excessive sagging a defect, and will repair, replace, or refund beds that develop significant indentations. Specific sagging depth is the key factor for people with shoulder pain. Some brands cover sagging that measures as little as half an inch deep, while others only cover sagging that measures one to two inches deep.

More pain and discomfort is associated with sagging that measures one inch or deeper. For this reason, people with shoulder pain should carefully read the warranty policies for any model they are considering.

It’s also important to note that mattress warranties almost never honor repairs or replacements based on changing owner preferences. If someone with shoulder pain decides a mattress is too firm or too soft after the sleep trial has expired, they will most likely need to purchase a new bed. However, some brands offer prorated exchanges as part of their warranty coverage.

Mattress Shopping FAQ for Sleepers with Shoulder Pain

  • How Much Do You Weigh?

    The most popular firmness settings for people of average body weight (between 130 and 230 pounds) ranges from ‘Medium’ to ‘Medium Firm.’

    Individuals who weigh less than that tend to sleep more comfortably on softer mattresses, particularly if they sleep on their side. Heavier individuals prefer firmer mattresses because they prevent them from sinking too deeply out of spinal alignment, which can lead to increased shoulder pain.

  • What Is Your Mattress Budget?

    The cost of a quality mattress ranges from $1,000 to $2,000, on average, for a Queen size model. Foam and innerspring models tend to fall on the more affordable end of that range, while hybrid, latex, and airbed models are more expensive.

    If you’d like to enjoy a better deal on your mattress, consider waiting to purchase during a holiday. Mattress sales commonly occur during President’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

  • Do You Share Your Bed With Another Person?

    If you and your partner have different firmness preferences, a bed with higher levels of conforming, like an all-foam bed, can be ideal. The foam comfort layers in these mattresses adapt to the sleeper’s body, which may provide a more comfortable sleep experience for you both.

    Foam models provide another benefit for couples: great motion isolation. These beds absorb noise and movement very well, which can minimize sleep disruptions during the night.

    For couples who prefer using their mattress for amorous activities, hybrid models can be another good alternative. These beds offer similar levels of conforming, but with a more responsive feel.

  • What Is Your Preferred Sleep Position?

    Back sleepers tend to find ‘Medium Soft’ to ‘Medium Firm’ mattresses the most comfortable, depending on their body weight. Lighter individuals will likely prefer a mattress on the softer end, while heavier individuals will prefer something firmer to enjoy adequate support.

    Side sleepers prefer softer mattresses, as these tend to offer more conforming. Stomach sleeping is not recommended for shoulder pain, but firmer mattresses are most comfortable for people who choose this sleep position.

  • How Can I Relieve Shoulder Pain at Night?

    Beyond choosing the right mattress and pillow, there are other things you can do to improve your shoulder pain and sleep (and feel) better. These include:

    • Avoid sleeping on your stomach or on your bad shoulder. Either of these sleep positions can exacerbate shoulder pain. Instead, try sleeping on your back or side (with your bad shoulder facing up).
    • Perform daily stretching exercises. Gentle stretches of the shoulder, triceps, and chest can strengthen your muscles and relieve shoulder pain. Try these exercises recommended by Harvard University.
    • Pay attention to your posture. Avoid slouching when you sit or walk. Use pillows in your chair to help you sit up straight, and walk with your shoulders back and your neck straight.

Additional Resources

For more information about mattresses for people with chronic pain and other medical conditions, please visit the following Tuck Sleep guides.

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