Dr. Keith Poorbaugh is a licensed physical therapist and physical therapy clinic owner in Alaska. Dr. Poorbaugh is a member of our Sleepopolis Expert Network.
For many folks, there’s no cozier sleeping position than one in which they’re curled up on their side with a cuddly blanket or pillow. So the best mattress for side sleepers should greet their bodies with a mixture of pressure relief and support, ensuring a comfortable drift to dreamland free of any tension or pain.
Unfortunately, many mattresses aren’t actually built to meet the side sleeper’s specific needs. They’re either too firm (thereby inducing pressure at the shoulders and hips) or too soft (resulting in an overall lack of support). So what are these Goldilocks snoozers supposed to do?
Thankfully, it’s not all bad news for those who doze primarily on their sides as there are a TON of fantastic mattresses out there designed specifically for their slumber preferences. Below, we’ll highlight some of our favorites and dive into all the factors that contribute to a sound side-sleeping experience.
The Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers
- Editor’s Pick – Helix Midnight
- Best Innerspring Mattress for Side Sleepers – Saatva
- Best Value Mattress for Side Sleepers – Nectar
- Best Mattress for Heavy Side Sleepers – WinkBed
- Best for Side Sleepers with Back Pain – Casper Wave Hybrid
- Best Pillow Top Mattress for Side Sleepers – DreamCloud Premier
- Best Hybrid Mattress for Side Sleepers – Bear Hybrid
- Best Soft Mattress for Side Sleepers – Leesa Hybrid
- Best Mattress for Hot Side Sleepers – GhostBed Luxe
- Best Mattress for Side Sleepers with Hip Pain – Brooklyn Bedding Signature
How I Chose These Mattresses
Each mattress in this roundup has been through a series of our specialized sleep tests and has been tested by sleep experts like myself and my colleagues. As I discuss each of my picks, I’ll make sure to explain why I selected them for this list and will share my expert tips for getting amazing sleep on your side.
At the end of this article, we’ll also dive deeper into the methodology behind this list. If you’re still not sure of the right mattress at the end of this article you can take our mattress quiz to be shown a selection of mattresses that are curated to your sleep preferences.
But enough chat! Let’s get into these mattresses.
If you are a side sleeper, you know that finding the perfect mattress can be a tough task. You need a balance of support in the lower back, but also enough cushion for the shoulders and hips to be cradled and not jamming into the mattress surface. The Helix Midnight mattress is my top pick for side sleepers because it was specifically engineered with those needs in mind. It isn’t every day I find a mattress that I think just about every side sleeper would be comfortable sleeping on, theHelix Midnight comes the closest of any.
While Helix makes several models, the Midnight is a side-sleeping-specific model that features a memory foam comfort layer that lets you sink into the mattress and enjoy some nice pressure relief. At the same time, all of these mattresses also feature support from pocketed coils, which help promote healthy spinal alignment to protect against back pain. My one hesitation is that if you are a heavier sleeper (over 250 pounds) you may sink into his mattress too much, but there is a luxe version of this bed that may provide you with that extra support.
The Helix Midnight comes with a 100-night sleep trial and 10-year warranty.
Want to learn more about my Editor’s Pick? Check out my full Helix Midnight mattress review.
The Helix Midnight has a medium support level that will appeal to a wide range of sleep preferences!
Best Innerspring Mattress for Side Sleepers
If you’re a side sleeper who prefers more of a traditional innerspring vibe, then you may want to consider the Plush Soft model of the Saatva mattress. Built with sturdy coil-on-coil construction, this bed provides plenty of lift (and relief!) at the shoulders and hips.
One of my favorite things about the Saatva is how well it supports a neutral spine alignment. What this means is that the bed is able to position the hips in line with the shoulders, creating an even line across the body. This alignment isn’t just good for the back — it’s also fantastic for alleviating tension at the shoulders and hips as you press into the structure. I should also add that the Saatva is available in three different firmness levels, which allows folks to really hone in on the comfort level that’s going to be best for them. Side sleepers should opt for the Plush Soft model to ensure they choose an innerspring bed that isn’t be too firm for their needs!
The Saatva comes with a 180-night sleep trial and 15-year warranty.
Learn more in my full Saatva mattress review.
The Saatva mattress combines a luxurious pillow-top layer with two sections of coils for that classic innerspring feel.
Best Value Mattress for Side Sleepers
Side sleepers on a budget, listen up! Of all the great value mattresses you could buy to support your dreamy lateral ambitions, my all-time favorite is the Nectar. Built with thick top layers of memory foam, this bed is designed to relieve all kinds of pressure… without breaking the bank.
The star here is memory foam, which Nectar employs amply in both the comfort and transition layers. This material has a super slow response to pressure, so provides the sleeper with a ton of contouring relief as they sink into the bed. If you switch from you’re a back and side sleeper, you could benefit a lot from this level of support. And what’s especially great about the Nectar mattress is that it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. In fact, when compared to other memory foam options on the market, it’s much more affordable.
The Nectar comes with a 365-night trial and lifetime warranty.
Curious to learn more? Then you better check out my full Nectar mattress review!
Sleepers will sink deep into the Nectar mattress for some soothing pressure relief, something that side sleepers will particularly appreciate! Click here to get $399 of free accessories with every mattress purchase!
Best Mattress for Heavy Side Sleepers
Looking for soft comfort but don’t want to feel swallowed up by a mattress? Then you might want to consider a pillow top bed such as the WinkBed. The soft foams in the pillow top offer some nice pressure relief for side sleeping, while the bouncy coils beneath the pillow top provide plenty of support and mobility.
The WinkBed is a bed-in-a-box hybrid mattress that comes in three firmnesses: Soft, Luxury Firm (medium firm), and Firm. Each of these models has a Tencel cover, which helps the mattress sleep cool. They also feature a gel-infused, super-soft foam pillow top over a coil-on-coil system that offers zoned support (meaning it makes room for some sinkage around the shoulder while elevating the hips). I’ve personally tested the Luxury Firm model and think it could be a great option for people who shift between their back and sides during the night. Strict side sleepers, however, might prefer the Soft version, which offers even more pressure relief.
The WinkBed comes with a 120-night trial and lifetime warranty.
Will the WinkBeds give you the feel you crave? Find out in our comprehensive WinkBed mattress review.
Built with a plush pillow top and a buoyant coil-on-coil structure, the WinkBeds is a great option for a wide range of sleepers! Just enter your email to save
Best for Side Sleepers with Back Pain
Casper Wave Hybrid
If you suffer from back pain as a side sleeper, don’t lose hope! It is possible to sleep on your side, but also get the hips, shoulders, and spine in line to avoid waking up with aches and pains. No matter if you have back pain from an injury, or if your back pain stems from an unideal sleeping position, you are likely in need of a mattress with a great deal of support and one that actively works to relieve pressure. Enter the Casper Wave Hybrid, a luxury mattress that is sure to remedy stubborn back pain.
The Casper Wave Hybrid has a zoned support layer in addition to the foam and coils, meaning the parts of your body that need more support have more and the parts that need less have less, where most mattresses have the same amount of support across the entire surface. This is also an excellent mattress for couples or combination sleepers because it is very easy to move around without feeling a lot of the motion from a partner or pet.
The Casper Wave Hybrid comes with a 100-night trial and 10-year warranty.
If you think you may be ready to invest in this luxury mattress, check out my full Casper Wave Hybrid mattress review to learn more!
Using layers of soft foams for incredible pressure relief combined with pocketed coils for bounce and support, the Casper Wave Hybrid is a great choice for those looking for a plush luxurious feel.
Best Pillow Top Mattress
A pillow top mattress is a great option for sleepers who need pressure relief around the shoulders and hips. The DreamCloud Premier’s cushioning pillow top will provide just that to side sleepers. A combination of gel memory foam and a pillow top offers plenty of pressure-relieving sinkage for these folks.
This medium-firm mattress also features pocketed coils, so it’s fairly responsive. That means side and back combination sleepers should also feel comfortable on this bed. If you sleep on your side at any point during the night and enjoy the pillow-top feel, I’d recommend checking out the DreamCloud Premier.
The DreamCloud Premier comes with a 365-night trial and a lifetime warranty.
Read our full DreamCloud Premier mattress review to learn more
This tall hybrid mattress combines foams with pocketed coils for a luxuriously supportive sleeping experience.
Best Hybrid Mattress for Side Sleepers
Like a soft mattress but don’t want to sacrifice bounce? Then a hybrid mattress such as the Bear Hybrid could be a great choice. This bed-in-a-box mattress features ultra-soft memory foams over pocketed coils, giving you the best of both worlds when it comes to pressure relief and mobility.
In addition to its soft feel and nice bounce, the Bear Hybrid offers several other benefits. It has a Celliant cover and incorporates a gel infusion into its memory foams, both of which help the mattress sleep cool. There’s also some evidence that Celliant might help with athletic recovery, so this could be a good choice for active folks. (Though it’s a smart idea to do your own research on this point!) Finally, the Bear Hybrid could appeal to couples. It does a great job of isolating motion and features strong edge support, which lets partners utilize the full surface of the mattress.
The Bear Hybrid comes with a 100-night trial and 20-year warranty.
Could the Bear Hybrid be the mattress you need? Learn more in my full Bear Hybrid mattress review.
Specifically designed for athletes, the Bear Hybrid is a great supportive option for active sleepers.
Best Soft Mattress for Side Sleepers
Soft mattresses can be fantastic options for folks who like to doze on their sides. They typically provide ample pressure relief to the shoulders and hips, especially as they press into the structure overnight. And of all the soft mattresses on the market, my favorite for side sleepers is the Leesa Hybrid.
This hybrid mattress scored a 6 out of 10 on the firmness scale from me (keep in mind that 6.5 is the industry standard for medium-firm). So, you should get plenty of pressure relief on this hybrid bed.
The Leesa Hybrid comes with a 100-night trial and 10-year warranty.
Learn more in my full Leesa Hybrid mattress review.
- Nice Bounce
- Great for Side Sleepers
Best Cooling Mattress
Many of the soft mattresses designed for side sleepers use thick layers of foam that do a great job of relieving pressure at the joints. But these dense foams have a tendency to trap heat, insulating the sleeper in their own body heat and causing them to kick off the covers during the night. On the other hand, the all-foam GhostBed Luxe has a plush feel that I love for side sleepers but still sleeps super cool.
The GhostBed Luxe uses gel memory foam for pressure relief, which means it offers a contouring feel without trapping heat. The Luxe also uses a super cooling cover made of a blend of polyester and phase change material. Phase change material has a cool to the touch feel that really helps dissipate heat. These cooling properties make the GhostBed Luxe a great cooling option for side sleepers.
The GhostBed Luxe comes with a 101-night trial and 25-year warranty.
Learn more in our GhostBed Luxe mattress review.
Designed with cooling in mind, the Ghostbed Luxe is fantastic for those who sleep hot at night.
Best Mattress for Side Sleepers with Hip Pain
Brooklyn Bedding Signature
Because of the fact that side sleepers end up concentrating their weight over their shoulder and hips they often end up having issues with a build up of pressure in those areas. If a mattress is too firm for side sleeping it can lead to aches and pains in the joints, so it’s important to find a softer feel.
The Brooklyn Signature is a hybrid mattress that comes in three different support levels, offering you a choice of how firm you want your bed to be. I would recommend that side sleepers go with the soft version, which can help relieve the pressure build up at the hips that can plague them throughout the day. Along with nice pressure relief the Signature has nice edge support and does a good job isolating motion transfer, making it a good option for couples.
The Brooklyn Signature comes with a 120-night trial and 10-year warranty.
Find out more in our Brooklyn Bedding Signature mattress review
Resilient, latex-like foam offers sleepers of all styles great, pressure-relieving support!
What to Look for In A Mattress for Side Sleepers
After reading through our picks, you might be wondering: How in the world did Sleepopolis land on these mattresses as the best of the best for side sleepers? It’s a great question and one I’m happy to answer!
First, I’ll start with a few features side sleepers should make sure they look for in a mattress. Next, I’ll share which firmness is best, what mattress types are ideal for side sleepers, and some mattress accessories side sleepers might want to add to their beds.
Side Sleeper Support
While support is an important factor for all sleepers to consider, it’s perhaps especially so for side sleepers, who tend toward nighttime contortions that aren’t necessarily conducive to healthy spine alignment (think fetal position). A mattress with fantastic support will adapt to the body no matter the shape, bringing the “musculoskeletal chain,” as Dr. Poorbaugh describes it, into a comfortable synergy.
It’s important to note that support is not the same thing as firmness: A softer mattress can still provide great support. When looking for a new mattress that will meet your side sleeper needs, you’ll want to:
- Look for one that contours to your body’s unique shape.
- Find a bed that supports your hips and shoulders as you move and change sleep positions.
- Choose a mattress that alleviates tension across all parts of your body without leaving you feeling “swallowed” by the structure.
Similar to support, contouring is especially important for side sleepers. When you sleep on your side, you’re creating uneven space between your hips and shoulders. Rather than leaving this space unsupported, you’ll want a mattress that’s going to fill it in — that’s where contouring comes in. A mattress with good contouring will give you a little boost of support where you need it and will help you feel as if the mattress is cradling you rather than pushing up against your hips and shoulders.
The mattresses with the most contouring are going to be memory foam mattresses. Memory foam has a slow response to pressure and is known for adapting to your body’s unique shape.
Pressure Relief and Pain Relief
When you sleep on your side, you’re putting more pressure on your hips and shoulders than you would by resting on your back or stomach. This added pressure is fine — as long as you have the right mattress. You’ll want a mattress that’s going to both support you and relieve pressure at your hips and shoulders, which should help prevent pain from developing or worsening if you already have it.
The best mattresses for pressure relief are soft mattresses. These mattresses are especially good for side sleepers because they have the give necessary to allow hips and shoulders to really sink in.
The best mattress for side sleepers with shoulder pain is going to be one that’s decidedly soft — a 5.5 out of 10 on the firmness scale or lower. Side sleepers put more weight on their shoulders, and if you have pain in that area you’re going to want a mattress that cushions it as much as possible.
Similar to shoulder pain, those who suffer from hip pain also want a plush mattress. They need a bed that’s going to cradle their sensitive joints. Again, a mattress that’s a 5.5 out of 10 or lower on the firmness scale is going to be best for these individuals.
If you’re a side sleeper who suffers from back pain, your main focus should be finding a bed that helps you achieve a neutral spine alignment. Keeping your spine in a straight line is key to preventing and alleviating pain, since straight is the spine’s natural position. The right mattress for you is going to be one that allows your hips and shoulders to sink at a level that helps you achieve that ideal neutral spinal alignment. I’d recommend seeing if a mattress has zoned support. Mattresses with zoned support are typically a bit firmer at the hips and softer at the shoulders, which helps keep your spine in a nice straight line.
What is the Best Mattress Firmness for Side Sleepers?
In terms of firmness, side sleepers will want to look for something soft to moderate on the firmness scale. While many folks assume firmer mattresses are the most supportive (including Dr. Poorbaugh), a special exception needs to be made for those who spend most of their slumber time on their sides. Per Poorbaugh:
“A firm mattress gives better support for pushing yourself up to a seated position. However, if you need pressure relief [as most side sleepers do], a plush mattress will have more cushion for those sensitive areas.”
So what exactly constitutes a plush mattress? In my opinion, a plush mattress:
- Comes in at a 4.5-6 out of 10 on the firmness scale (with 6.5 being medium firmness).
- Provides ample pressure relief and support to the neck, hips, and shoulders.
- Allows for deep sinkage to buffer against the formation of pressure points along the spine.
Firmness is perhaps the most important attribute for side sleepers due to the very nature of the position. (1) In order to provide proper support, the mattress must be able to contour to the curves of the body so the sleeper’s not “digging” into the structure.
What is the Best Type of Mattress for Side Sleepers?
I could make the argument for any type of mattress to be the best type for side sleepers, it really all depends on the sleeper’s body type, body weight, special concerns / preferences and what they really need out of a mattress.
Memory Foam Mattresses
Memory foam can be a good option for side sleepers because it really cradles the areas that can sometimes feel “jammed” into a mattress. Memory foam is the best material for contouring to the body (think filling in where your body naturally lifts and sinking where your body applies more pressure) which can be great for people who have certain pain concerns and are looking for some relief. Memory foam can get tricky for side sleepers if the bottom layer of foam is too soft that there is nothing to stop the body from sinking all the way to the bed frame. This is usually a more common problem for heavier side sleepers.
Hybrids are one of the most universal options for most sleeping positions, and side sleeping is no different. A hybrid mattress is a combination of a coil base with either a foam or latex layer(s) on top. This construction results in a mattress that can be very supportive, but also has that cushioning, cradling feeling that a lot of side sleepers are looking for. Memory foam hybrid mattresses are also a great option for couples because the coils make them easy to move around on but the foam absorbs a lot of the movement. The coils also allow for additional airflow, making these mattresses more breathable than solid memory foam beds.
Most latex mattresses on the market are technically “latex hybrids” meaning they have a coil base with a layer of latex on top. Latex beds are known for their bouncy surface, and their tendency to be more natural. If you are a strict side sleeper, you’ll want to make sure the latex has enough give for your hips and shoulders, but you should find plenty of support on latex mattresses. Latex mattresses are also a good option for combination sleepers who move between being back sleepers, side sleepers, and stomach sleepers all in one night.
Innerspring mattresses are the most traditional type of mattress. The majority of their materials are made of innerspring coils, which are typically made from steel. These coils give the mattress a bouncy feel and provide plenty of responsiveness (think the opposite of memory foam). However, side sleepers beware — these mattresses tend to be on the firmer side. If you’re a fan of that classic innerspring feel and sleep on your side, I’d check to make sure the mattress is going to be soft enough to prevent jamming at your shoulders and undue pressure at your hips.
Mattress Accessories for Side Sleepers
Good pillows are just as important as a good mattress. You may have an exceptionally well-made and comfortable mattress, but without a good pillow, you may still find that your sleeping experience is less than ideal.
A high quality pillow is critically important for side sleepers due to their increased — and somewhat more complex — support needs. (3) Pillows made from latex, shredded foam, memory foam, or other poly foams can help provide consistent and stable support by responding to the varying pressures of your head and neck. Additionally, you’ll want to look for a pillow that is tall enough to cradle your head and neck but not so tall that you introduce a new form of pressure.
“Improved [spinal] alignment… can be easily achieved inside lying with proper pillow positioning,” explains Dr. Poorbaugh. “Pillow placement at the head and neck can reduce an irritating kink in the neck, while a pillow between the knees should help keep the lumbar spine in neutral alignment.”
For more, check out our breakdown of the absolute best pillows for side sleepers.
Mattress toppers can be a great way for side sleepers to add some plushness to their mattress. If your mattress is slightly firmer than you’d like, a quality mattress topper can create a softer overall feel, helping you achieve that perfect side sleeper firmness.
I’d recommend going for a taller profile mattress topper if you’re a side sleeper. A lower profile topper won’t soften your mattress, and can actually make it feel firmer, especially if it’s made from dense foam. One of our best soft mattress toppers is a good place to start.
I also particularly like memory foam mattress toppers for side sleepers. This is because memory foam toppers are typically made to provide more pressure relief, and tend to have a soft, squishy feel. Memory foam is a great material for those who doze on their sides because it offers plenty of contouring, which helps cradle side sleepers’ shoulders and hips and fill in the space between.
Check out our best mattress topper roundup for even more options.
What is the best type of mattress for side sleepers?
Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to this question! The best mattress for side sleepers is mostly a matter of personal preference. That said, your preferences can help guide you to the right mattress for you. For instance, side sleepers who like a bouncy bed might want to look at a hybrid or innerspring mattress. People who like to sink deep into their mattress might consider an option with memory foam or thick foam layers. And people who want a mattress made from natural materials might prefer latex options.
How firm should a mattress be for side sleepers?
For the most part, side sleepers are generally going to prefer softer mattresses. This helps protect against jamming at the shoulders or hips. At the same time, it’s important to look for a mattress that’s still supportive enough to promote healthy spinal alignment.
Where should your arms be when sleeping on your side?
While a lot of side sleepers keep their arms pulled up near their chins, it’s actually optimal to keep the arms further down to avoid feeling “jammed up”. Another side sleeping alignment tip? Consider tucking a pillow between your legs to support healthy spinal alignment.
Recap: Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers 2021
|Mattress||Best For||Price (Queen Size)||Coupon||Review|
|Helix Midnight||Editor's Pick||$1,099||Helix Coupon||Read Our Review!|
|Saatva||Innerspring||$1,499||Saatva Coupon||Read Review|
|Nectar||Value||$1,198||Nectar Coupon||Read Review|
|WinkBeds||Heavy Sleepers||$1,599||WinkBed Coupon||Read Review|
|Casper Wave Hybrid||Back Pain||$2,695||Casper Coupon||Read Review|
|DreamCloud Premier||Pillow Top||$1,998||DreamCloud Coupon||Read Our Review!|
|Bear Hybrid||Hybrid||$1,695||Bear Coupon||Read Review|
|Leesa Hybrid||Soft||$1,799||Leesa Coupon||Read Our Review!|
|GhostBed Luxe||Cooling||$2,245||GhostBed Coupon||Read Review|
|Brooklyn Bedding Signature||Hip Pain||$1,124||Brooklyn Bedding Coupon||Read Review|
- Leilnahari, Karim, et al. “Spine Alignment in Men during Lateral Sleep Position: Experimental Study and Modeling.” BioMedical Engineering OnLine, vol. 10, no. 1, 30 Nov. 2011, p. 103., doi:10.1186/1475-925x-10-103.
- Herrington, Lee. “Assessment of the Degree of Pelvic Tilt within a Normal Asymptomatic Population.” Manual Therapy, vol. 16, no. 6, 11 June 2011, pp. 646–648., doi:10.1016/j.math.2011.04.006.
- Gordon, Susan, et al. “A Randomized, Comparative Trial: Does Pillow Type Alter Cervico-Thoracic Spinal Posture When Side Lying?” Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, 17 Aug. 2011, p. 321., doi:10.2147/jmdh.s23028.