Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers
So you think you’re a side sleeper? That puts you in the majority. Recent studies have shown that around 74% of people spend their sleeping hours on their side. But how many of that number have a mattress that’s well-suited to side sleeping and encourages a healthy sleeping position? We’d wager that it’s not that many. This is surprising, as there are plenty of mattresses on the market that will ensure side sleepers enjoy a comfortable and rejuvenating night’s rest.
This guide to the best mattress for side sleepers is designed to provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision about which is the right mattress for you. We understand that there’s a lot of industry jargon that can make choosing between a memory foam and latex mattress more difficult than it should be. So we’ve kept it simple while covering everything you need to know.
The different types of side sleeper
Before we take a look at the different models of mattresses available to you, it’s probably a good idea to explore the various types of side sleepers. Though all side sleepers rest in roughly the same position, there are subtle distinctions. These differences can have a big impact on where pressure is applied to your body during the night. Studies indicate that your precise sleeping position can also tell us something about your personality.
The main types of side sleeper include:
We all know this one - it mimics the protective embrace of the foetus in the womb and is associated with comfort and security. The foetus position involves curling up like a baby, with your knees tucked up and your arms close to your chest.
It’s great for ensuring healthy spine alignment and is recommended for those who suffer from back pain. Just make sure you’ve got a good, supportive pillow or you may find yourself with a sore neck.
The log position is pretty much what you’d imagine - long, straight and with your arms stretched down by your sides. Again, it’s fantastic for spine alignment and good for your neck, as long as you have a supportive pillow.
The yearner is much like the log position but, rather than having your arms down by your side, they’re stretched out to the side, as if you’re reaching across the bed. As with other side sleeping positions, this is excellent for your spine and neck, as long as your arms aren’t stretched out above your head. This can put pressure on your shoulder and lead to discomfort.
Recommended mattresses for sleeping on your side
Now that we’ve taken a quick look at the different types of side sleepers, it’s time to move on to the most important part - the mattress. There’s a lot of information out there concerning mattress design and technologies, so we’re going to break it down into digestible chunks based on frequently asked questions. We’ll start by examining the factors side sleepers need to be aware of.
What factors do side sleepers need to be aware of?
If you’re looking for the best mattress for side sleepers, there are a few things to consider. This includes pressure points, spinal alignment and allergies.
In all sleeping positions, pressure is applied to the body wherever it comes into contact with the mattress. For side sleepers, the most common pressure points are the base of the neck, the shoulders, hips, thighs, legs and ankles. Some of these can get pretty sore if too much pressure is applied during sleep, so it may be a good idea to go for a softer mattress if you’re experiencing discomfort in any of these areas.
Generally, sleeping on your side encourages healthy spine alignment and isn’t bad for either your back or neck. However, this is dependent on getting the right firmness rating and matching your mattress with a suitable pillow. We’ll cover both of these topics in greater depth a little later on.
Anyone who is allergic to dust mites or who has asthma knows that the wrong mattress can ruin your sleep and even start to impact your health. To avoid this, you’ll need to look at hypoallergenic mattresses or consider buying a hypoallergenic cover.
Which type of mattress is best for side sleepers?
Several different types of mattresses are well suited to side sleepers. Each has its own advantages, which we’ll study in closer detail below. As a side sleeper, you’re looking for a balance between support and cushioning. However, the perfect mattress is a matter of personal preference, so you’ll need to do a little bit of testing and investigation to ensure you find something suitable for your sleeping habits and position.
The best types of mattresses for side sleepers include the following:
This is the most traditional mattress design out of those on our list and has been in use for just under 200 years. It consists of coiled wire springs that are either mounted in individual fabric pockets or woven into a matrix. While pocket sprung mattresses are a good choice for side sleepers, they’re often a little firmer than other designs. Take a look at our pocket sprung mattresses.
Memory foam was invented by NASA and if it’s good enough for astronauts, it’s definitely a good choice for your home. Made from a dense foam, it responds to those areas of the body where the most pressure is applied. For side sleepers, this is typically the shoulders and hips. Memory foam can be an excellent choice if you find yourself waking with aches and pains in these areas. Take a look at our memory foam mattresses.
If you are a hot sleeper however, memory foam mattresses may not be the right choice for you as the foam doesn't allow the air to circulate freely. Check out our best mattress for hot side sleepers guide, to find out the perfect cooling mattress for you.
As well as being supremely comfortable, latex mattresses are a fantastic choice if you suffer from asthma or allergies. The latex within the mattress keeps mites and dust at bay and will help you enjoy a sounder night’s sleep.
Hybrid mattresses combine elements from the mattress listed above. This usually means that they contain both springs and foam. They may even integrate a latex layer into the design for those with allergies. They’re versatile, affordable, and come in a wide range of firmness ratings.
How firm should a mattress be for a side sleeper?
In most cases, side sleepers prefer a softer mattress. However, those with a heavier build may fare better with a medium firmness rating. Generally, the more you weigh, the more support your mattress will need to provide.
While there’s no hard-and-fast rule on the weight-to-firmness ratio, many manufacturers suggest that you’ll be better suited to a medium mattress if you weigh 14 stone or more. Of course, this is just a guideline and a lot will come down to personal preference and sleeping position.
What size mattress is best for side sleepers?
In most cases, your sleeping position doesn’t affect the size of the mattress you need. Instead, it’s just a case of finding a mattress that fits your bed and your physique. The basic UK sizes are:
|Small Single||75 x 90cm / 30” x 75” / 2’6” x 6’3”|
|Standard Single||90 x 190cm / 36" x 75" / 3' x 6'3"|
|Small Double||120 x 190cm / 48" x 75" / 4' x 6'3"|
|Standard Double||135 x 190 cm / 54" x 75" / 4'6" x 6'3|
|King Size||150 x 200 cm / 60" x 78" / 5' x 6'6"|
|Super King||180 x 200 cm / 72" x 78" / 6' x 6'6"|
|Queen||152 x 203 cm / 60" x 80" / 5' x 6'8"|
|Custom||Made to order|
The one exception to this is when you’re looking for mattresses for couples who are different weights or when one partner moves and fidgets a lot more than the other. In these instances, you want a mattress that provides localised support and isolates and contains movement. This will most likely be a memory foam design or a mattress with individually-mounted pocket springs.
Alternatively, you can go for zip and link mattresses, where two ‘single’ mattresses can be firmly attached using a zip and link system. This allows each of you to choose your own firmness so that you both get a great night’s sleep.
Matching a pillow to your mattress
Back pain can keep you up at night and prevent you from getting the rest you need to face the new day. If you’re looking for the best mattress for side sleepers with back pain, you’ll want to focus on one thing in particular - spine alignment. Keeping your spine in a straight line is the best thing you can do for your back and the most effective way to relieve that pain.
To do so, you want a mattress that allows your hips and shoulders to sink to a depth that puts your spine in a straight line naturally. This means memory foam mattresses are a good choice. You could also consider a mattress with zoned support, as these are usually firmer at the hips and softer at the shoulders. Just remember that you don’t want a mattress that lets you sink in too far. Otherwise, your spine will still be unaligned.
Best mattress for side sleeper with hip pain
If you suffer from hip pain at night or in the morning, there’s a good chance that your mattress is a little on the firm side. Due to the way that side sleeping puts more pressure on the hips, you need something that cushions the joints. This means going for a softer mattress. Again, memory foam is a popular choice among side sleepers with hip issues, as it allows you to sink in, while still providing support.
If you’re a side sleeper and want to ditch that old, uncomfortable mattress for one that gives you a great night’s sleep without all the aches and pains, check out the range of mattresses available online at MattressNextDay. Or alternatively, if you are still unsure on what mattress to buy, read our guide on how to choose a mattress for more information.