Side sleeping is one of the most common sleeping positions, it helps decrease acid reflux, reduces snoring, and alleviates symptoms of sleep apnea. However, it’s not uncommon for side sleepers to experience pain in their shoulders and hips as a result of pressure build-up around those areas. When you sleep on your side, all of your weight is put onto your hips and shoulders, so it’s crucial to find a mattress that can accommodate this sleep style. To find the best mattress for side sleepers, you should look for a bed that offers an even balance of comfort and support.
In this guide, we’ll discuss what to look for during your search for the best mattress for you as well as our Editors’ recommended mattresses for side sleepers.
Best Mattress for Side Sleepers Overview
- Amerisleep AS3 is our recommended top-rated mattress for side sleepers to alleviate shoulder and hip pain. We like Amerisleep because they use pressure-relieving, plant-based memory foam in each of their mattresses to reduce, and even prevent, aches and pains. Plus, each of their beds comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 20-year warranty.
- Zoma Mattress is another great option for side sleepers. It contains Triangulex™ technology, which is perfect for supporting a side sleeper. This technology contains triangle-shaped cutouts around your shoulders and hips for deeper compression and pain relief, yet feels firmer under your torso to offer you extra lumbar support. Triangulex™’s dynamic support can help you get comfortable sleep and wake up everyday feeling refreshed.
Best Mattress for Side Sleepers
|Amerisleep AS3||T3 inches of pressure-relieving memory foam and clinically proven back support.||$1,199|
|Zoma Mattress||2 inches of gel-infused memory foam and zoned support in the top layer.||$750|
|Purple. 4 Premier Hybrid||4 inches of "no pressure" hyper-elastic polymer.||$2,999|
|Nolah 10||Nolah's AirFoam™ is a good substitute for memory foam.||$894|
|T&N Mint||Another non-memory foam that uses graphite to help keep you cool.||$995|
Our Editors’ recommended mattress for side sleepers is Amerisleep’s AS3. Amerisleep makes and sells five mattresses, each range in firmness and is recommended for types of sleepers. On their website, they specify their AS3 is a medium firmness and recommended for side, back, and combination sleepers alike.
Amerisleep designs their AS3 to be an even mix of comfort and support, so it shouldn’t feel too soft or too firm. Plus, because it’s versatile enough to mold to most body types, it’s Amerisleep’s most popular mattress.
We’re confident with the top-notch materials Amerisleep uses in the design of their bed, side sleepers can get healthy, pain-free sleep on the AS3. Let’s talk about why their AS3 is a fit for side sleepers.
The top layer of the AS3 is 3 inches of Bio-Pur®, Amerisleep’s plant-based memory foam. When you lay on this bed, the memory foam should contour to your body and allow your shoulders and hips to compress in the mattress, relieving pressure points. Below the layer of Bio-Pur® lies Amerisleep’s most significant pain-relieving technology, HIVE®.
The HIVE® layer is a layer of zoned support designed to offer extra support to your midsection, feet, and neck, and more cushion to your shoulders and hips; this design reduces pressure points and promotes your spines natural alignment. These layers work in tandem to deliver more comfortable sleep, eliminate existing aches, and prevent you from experiencing new pain points.
When you shop with Amerisleep your mattress comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 20-year warranty, so you have the opportunity to test your bed out and decide if it’s right for you. If so, it’s backed by one of the more generous warranties offered in the mattress industry.
Next on our list is the Zoma Mattress. Zoma is designed to help athletes leverage their sleep to perform better in their day-to-day life. Engineered to facilitate deeper sleep cycles and faster muscle recovery, Zoma can help you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day every day.
Even if you aren’t an athlete, you can reap the sleep-promoting benefits Zoma has to offer. We recommend those with frequent discomfort choose the Zoma because it contains pain-relieving technologies that promote proper posture.
Zoma’s Triangulex™ technology makes it ideal for side sleepers. Triangulex™ feels firmer around your midsection to offer extra lumbar support and prevent your torso from sinking uncomfortably. Then, near your shoulders and hips, Triangulex™ has triangle-shaped cutouts to allow for deeper compression and pressure relief under those major joints. Because your shoulders and hips take on most of your body weight when you sleep on your side, pressure-relieving technologies are needed to prevent pains.
Let’s talk about the rest of this bed’s construction.
Zoma contains three layers: gel-infused memory foam with Triangulex™ technology, a layer of Reactiv™ foam, and the Support+ core.
When you lay down on Zoma, the top layer of memory foam contours to your body and offers instant cushioning comfort. The gel within the foam combats body heat to keep you at a comfortable temperature. Triangulex™ comes into play to offer dynamic spinal support.
The second layer, Reactiv™ foam, gives the Zoma a bit of bounce. Reactiv™ is designed to be more responsive than memory foam, so it prevents you from ever feeling “stuck” in the mattress. Reactiv™’s bounciness also makes it easier to switch sleeping positions and climb in or out of bed.
The third and final layer is Zoma’s Support+ foam, a durable poly-foam. Support+ reinforces the two layers above and prevents sagging throughout the mattress.
Zoma offers a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty with each of their beds.
Purple’s new hybrid mattresses are excellent for side sleepers avoiding pesky pains, especially their Purple.4, their softest model. Purple has been shaking things up since they were launched in 2015, introducing a whole new material to the mattress industry— hyper-elastic polymer.
Purple’s aim was to develop the world’s first “No Pressure” mattress, which is ideal for anybody suffering from aches and pains.
Purple’s founders invented the machine that can fashion hyper-elastic polymer into mattress-size grids, and they use their innovative Smart Comfort Grid™ as the top layer of each of their beds. Their Smart Comfort Grid™ adapts to your body, eliminates pressure points, and helps keep you cool while you sleep, all due to its design.
When you lay on the Purple mattress, the grid will collapse under your weight and act as an instant cushion, but it still maintains its support and keeps your body elevated in the mattress.
When they first launched, Purple only sold one all-foam bed. Then, in 2019, they released 3 hybrid models, too: Purple.2, Purple.3, and Purple.4. The only difference between these models is the thickness of the Smart Comfort Grid™; so the grid is 2 inches thick in the Purple.2, 3 inches thick in the Purple.3, and— you guessed it— 4 inches thick in the Purple.4. You can choose which Purple hybrid is best for you based on your own firmness preferences and sleep needs, but for optimal pain relief, we recommend choosing their Purple.4.
Purple’s .4 hybrid is important for pain relief because it allows 4 inches for your body to compress, resulting in extra pressure relief. Plus, because the Smart Comfort Grid™ is soft but supportive, it promotes your body’s neutral alignment and prevents new pains from forming. The pocketed coil system Purple includes in each of their hybrids gives their beds a more bouncy feeling, but also offers zoned support for the sleeper above, too.
When you buy any one of Purple’s beds, it comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
4. Nolah 10″
The next mattress on this list is the Nolah 10″, a bed that’s actually been designed specifically for side sleepers avoiding pains. On their website, they award themselves the “Best Side Sleeper Mattress 2019” because their bed receives such glowing customer reviews.
The Nolah is an all-foam mattress, and in their beds, they use their proprietary Nolah AirFoam™ instead of memory or latex foam. Let’s talk about what makes this bed stand out.
To begin, Nolah’s AirFoam™ is designed to be four times more pressure relieving than other foams, and pressure-relief is arguably the most important thing people suffering from chronic pains should look for in a mattress. When you lay on the Nolah, it’ll cradle your hips and shoulders and relieve tension instead of feeling firm like some memory foams. Additionally, Nolah’s AirFoam™ is 100% temperature neutral, so it contributes to temperature regulation and shouldn’t trap heat.
Overall, the Nolah is relatively thin, standing only 10 inches tall. The design of the bed is simple, too, with only three layers: 2 inches of AirFoam™, a transition layer of poly-foam, and a core layer of poly-foam. On the website, they rate their mattress a 5-6 out of 10 in regards to firmness, so it’s right there at a medium feel.
When you shop with Nolah their bed comes with a 120-night sleep trial and a 15-year warranty.
5. Tuft & Needle
Tuft & Needle is another popular online mattress company that specializes in making and selling all-foam mattresses. Since they were founded a few years back, they’ve released two mattresses: their flagship T&N bed and a more luxurious version of it called the Mint™.
Both mattresses are great for side sleepers, and the most significant difference between the two of them is that the Mint™ is designed with more cooling technologies to help hot sleepers snooze more peacefully. If you’re prone to sleep hot, we recommend choosing the Mint™. However, if you’re looking for a bed at a lower price point, you can certainly get good sleep on their more affordable T&N bed.
Featured as the top layer in both of their beds is their proprietary T&N Adaptive® foam— a poly-foam designed to be more pressure-relieving than memory foam. In the T&N bed, they feature 3 inches of the T&N Adaptive® foam, and in their Mint, 5 inches. When you lay on either of these beds, this foam will cushion your body to relieve pressure points, but it is a bit more responsive than memory foam, so it’ll provide a more “on the bed” feel rather than a “cradling” feel.
In the Mint, they feature a transition layer between the T&N Adaptive® foam and the core of the mattress for additional plushness. On the other hand, in the T&N, they skip the transition layer and go straight to the supportive core foam. All in all, the Mint® has 3 layers while the T&N has 2.
When you buy either of these beds, it comes with a 100-night sleep trial and 10-year warranty to protect your investment for the next decade.
Mattress Types for Side Sleepers
For the most part, memory foam, latex, and hybrid mattresses are all great for side sleepers— which leaves plenty of options.
Memory foam mattresses are great for side sleepers because they have to cushion characteristics to prevent pressure points. Memory foam got its name because it “remembers” your shape and adapts to your body. Memory foam takes the pressure off your body which helps eliminate tossing and turning.
When shopping for a memory foam mattress for side sleepers, we recommend you stick with medium to medium-soft firmness. If you go too soft, your hips will sink so much and cause lower back pain. But if you go too firm, you’ll free aches and pains on your shoulders and hips.
Hybrid mattresses are excellent for side sleepers who want more bounce from their bed than an all-foam counterpart can provide. Hybrids combine the best of both worlds— with cushioning top layers and a pocketed coil system, these beds are great at offering an even balance of comfort and support. Most hybrids contain a pocketed coil system to offer zoned support and prevent motion transfer, too. Meaning, you can have a bouncy bed without worrying about disturbing a sleeping partner every time you toss or turn.
Latex mattresses are very responsive. Imagine a latex glove. If you pull it tight, the latex glove adapts to your hand and the moment you let the glove go it snaps back into its original shape. This natural characteristic of latex makes it a great option for mattresses. You want a mattress to bend with you and you also want it to snap back and support you.
However, if you are looking for a latex mattress there are a few important things to consider. First, latex mattresses are generally the most expensive mattress type on the market. When looking at a latex bed make sure it’s 100% latex and not a synthetic latex blend. Second, make sure it isn’t too firm. This is especially true for side sleepers who need more cushion from their mattress.
The only type of mattress to be wary of as a side sleeper is innerspring because not all innersprings are built to offer conformity. The most important thing for side sleepers looking to avoid pain is finding a bed that will cushion the shoulders and hips. Unfortunately, not all innerspring mattresses do that. When you lay on an innerspring, it doesn’t mold or cushion your body like memory foam or even latex would. Instead, you’re left adapting to the bed, and not the other way around. If your body doesn’t conform to the mattress, it leaves opportunity for pressure points to form and can lead to increased hip and shoulder pain— which is exactly what most side sleepers are trying to avoid.
If you are mostly interested in a coil mattress, we recommend a medium-soft mattress with individually wrapped coils and a pillow top to provide extra cushion.
What Should Side Sleepers Look for in a New Mattress?
There are a variety of things to consider before settling on a new mattress. For starters, your personal preferences for mattress type and firmness play a significant role. Beyond that, side sleepers should look for a bed that offers pressure relief, zoned support, and is around a soft to medium firmness.
Pressure relief is by far one of the most important things for sleepers who are looking to relieve chronic pains. When you wake up in the morning with a stiff back and sore joints, it’s likely a result of sleeping on a mattress that isn’t providing you with the best support.
When you sleep, it’s your body’s time to recover and prepare itself for the next day. During sleep, your vertebrae have a chance to rehydrate and your back muscles can rest. It’s important your mattress is conducive to recovery— if not, chronic pain can be the result.
Memory foam is regarded as the best material for pressure relief. Developed by NASA in the 1970s, this material was designed for astronauts to alleviate stress during take-off.
With side sleepers, a good supportive layer must back up the softer comfort layer. This design keeps curves of the spine and neck naturally aligned.
Having a supportive mattress is not the same thing as having a mattress of hard firmness. Well-built softer mattresses provide both conformity and support.
Side sleepers can benefit from zoned support, specifically. Zoned support can be achieved with the inclusion of a pocketed coil system, or it can be created using a layer of foam or alternative support technology. The goal behind zoned support is to cushion pressure points and support the spine.
For example, in many zoned support technologies, they feel firmer and offer better support underneath your torso, neck, and feet— this contributes to neutral spinal alignment. On the other hand, these technologies feel softer and offer more cushioning under your shoulders and hips to prevent aches and pains.
The best mattress for side sleepers allows the parts of the body that stick out to comfortably sink in— this allows the neck and spine to be supported on top of the mattress in alignment.
Soft to medium memory foam mattresses do an exceptional job of contouring to the curves and protruding parts of the side sleeping body. Firm and medium-firm mattresses are typically too firm to allow your hips and sides to sink in enough, so it’s usually best to avoid those.
A mattress that contours to your natural curves when you lay on your side prevents, or at least limits, pain caused by pressure points.
The exact firmness of the mattress depends on your personal preference, size, weight and body type. Ideally, look for a mattress somewhere in the range of 3-6 out of 10 on the firmness scale, with the higher numbers being firmer. This should achieve a good balance between support and conformity. More petite people may prefer softer, while heavier people likely need thicker and slightly firmer beds for long-term comfort.
Tips for Alleviating Back Pain for Side Sleepers
Due to prolonged pelvic twist, a side sleeper’s spine may already be misaligned. Sleeping on too firm of a mattress that does not sufficiently absorb pressure points facilitates or worsens lower back and neck pain.
Along with switching to a mattress that complements the side sleeping styles, there are a few other preventative measures that help ease pain and misalignment.
One of the biggest ways to avoid pain? Training yourself to sleep more aligned:
- When first getting comfortable in bed, ensure that your hips and pelvis remain straight.
- Your spine and neck ideally should remain in a straight line, parallel to the floor.
- If needed, make adjustments before falling asleep or if you wake in the night.
- Try keeping a pillow in front of you to avoid leaning your torso forward.
- Use a small pillow between your knees, which helps minimize pelvic twisting. The Mayo Clinic recommends side sleepers do this to prevent back pain.
The pillow you use for your head also proves important. Look for one that supports varying pressures of your head and neck. Overly stiff or tall pillows keep your head too high relative to your spine, creating a new form of pressure. If it is too short, it won’t sufficiently cradle your head and neck. Keeping your neck straight with your spine is the goal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which type of mattress is best for side sleepers?
The best mattress for side sleepers is a medium to medium-soft memory foam mattress that helps take away pressure-points while still offering excellent support. The goal is to cradle your shoulders and keep your hips properly aligned. While other mattress types, such as latex and innerspring, can do this, memory foam is inherently built for this kind of pressure relief and support.
What firmness is best for side sleepers?
The best firmness for side sleepers is medium to medium-soft. Sometimes this is called luxury firm in the mattress industry. Typically, side sleepers need more cushion or softness than a back sleeper. This extra cushion helps fill in the gaps between your ships and your lower back.
What is the best mattress for side sleepers with back pain?
The best mattress for side sleepers with back pain is the Amerisleep AS3. The AS3 has three inches of pressure-relieving memory foam and comes with zoned back support that is clinically proven to help reduce pressure points by up to 49%.
You can find plenty of high-quality mattresses available at a reasonable price, the key is just knowing what to look for. Side sleepers should ensure that the mattress they choose possesses a thicker, softer comfort layer to conform to and relieve pressure points. But, the bed must also provide adequate support so that the spine remains straight and parallel.
We hope this guide has been a helpful tool during your search for a new bed. If you’re still curious about other mattresses or haven’t found all you need here, check out our other guides to learn more.