Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers in 2022


Side sleeper mattress FAQs

A hand presses down on a mattress to show how much it sinks during testing for Insider's guide to the best mattresses for side sleepers.

James Brains/Insider

What should side sleepers look for in a mattress?

Sleeping on a mattress for many nights in your preferred environment is the only way to know if a mattress is right for you. We consider a long, risk-free trial period your primary consideration when picking a mattress.

Dr. Rebecca Robbins, PhD, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and associate scientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, suggests trying out several mattresses in person. 

Our mattress picks come with sleep trials of at least 90 nights, so you can return your mattress if you find it unsuitable for your preferences.

What types of mattresses are best for side sleepers?

The four main mattress types are hybrid/innerspring, foam, adjustable airbeds, and latex. Each has its positives and negatives, but memory foam, with its body-contouring properties, tends to appeal more to side sleepers.

Here are more details about each mattress type:

Hybrid/innerspring: Featuring metal coils that add durability, airflow, and support, hybrid and innerspring mattresses are hit or miss for side sleepers. Their suitability will depend on the model, but consider a bed with a pillowtop for the added softness that side sleepers typically need.

Foam: Foam mattresses feature layers of viscoelastic memory foam, open-cell foam, or gel-infused foam. The best foam mattresses adjust to the contours of your body to relieve pressure and keep your spine aligned. All-foam mattresses are affordable but tend to trap heat.

Adjustable or airbeds: Adjustable airbeds feature air chambers to which you can add or remove air to fit your comfort needs. Though they’re expensive, adjustable mattresses are ideal for couples with different firmness preferences since you can typically adjust the air of the two sides independently.

Latex: Natural latex mattresses are usually eco-friendlier. Look for OEKO-Tex or Greenguard Gold certification. Latex is more responsive than other materials. It quickly contours to your body to relieve your pressure points. Plus, the responsiveness makes it easier to move around. You can also count on a cooler sleep.

Is memory foam good for side sleepers?

The best memory foam mattresses conform to your body’s contours to keep your spine aligned and relieve pressure. This benefits side sleepers most. Tempur-Pedic’s “Tempur material” is especially good at contouring to your body.

What type of mattress is best for side sleepers, firm or soft?

Dr. Luis Javier Peña-Hernández, a sleep health specialist at the Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Disorders Institute, suggests looking for a not-too-firm mattress. He said the bulk of research points to the benefits of a medium-firm mattress.

Are firm mattresses bad for side sleepers?

Both experts we talked to said medium-firm mattresses are best for side sleepers. Your shoulders and hips don’t sink enough on firm mattresses, equating to discomfort.

Yet, if you are a heavier individual, you may still sink into a firm mattress and get the spinal alignment you need.

What if I’m a side sleeper and my partner is not?

Robbins recommended putting a mattress topper on one side of the bed if you and your partner have different comfort preferences. She is also a strong proponent of couples sleeping apart to improve sleep quality. 

We recommend an adjustable air bed to independently customize the firmness of each side of the bed. The Sleep Number 360 i8 Smart Bed has 20 firmness options and is our pick for the best adjustable airbed.

Is it bad to sleep on your side?

No. Sleeping on your side may be your best option. You can experience spinal problems when your head is forced to the side with stomach sleeping. And, back sleeping leaves you susceptible to breathing issues and snoring.

When sleeping on your side, you experience several benefits, including reduced risk of back pain, acid reflux, and sleep apnea.

How do you clean a mattress?

Stains on your mattress should be treated as quickly as possible. And you should deep clean your mattress every 3 to 6 months with baking soda and a vacuum. For more details, check out our article on how to clean a mattress.

For more answers to your mattress questions, check out our guide to the best mattresses.

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