Mattress Guides

The 5 Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers

Most people have a sleep position they prefer. Sleep experts say almost 70% of us sleep on our sides. Every sleep posture has its pros and cons but sleeping on your side is generally a healthy sleep posture for most body types and may benefit those suffering from certain medical issues.

Your sleep position should be a primary factor in your choice of mattress. In addition to sleep posture, your body weight and body shape will affect your sleep experience. Knowing which materials perform better for side sleepers is key.

We’ve developed this comprehensive guide for side sleepers including top mattress selections with detailed reviews. We also look at the pros and cons of sleeping on your side, how to side sleep the right way, and top tips to find your best side-sleeping mattress.

Our Mattress Recommendations for Side Sleepers

Category Winner Mattress Company Model What Type of Mattress? How Firm? How Much? (Queen)
Best Value Layla Memory Foam 5 (medium) or 7 (firm) $899
Best Pressure Relief Leesa Memory Foam 5-6 (medium-firm) $995
Best Luxury Zenhaven Latex 4.5 (medium-soft), 7.5 (firm) $1,899
Best Overall Purple Original Foam 6.5 (medium-firm) $999
Editor's Choice Novosbed Memory Foam 3 (soft), 5 (medium), 7 (firm) $1,099

Best Side Sleeper Mattress Reviews

The Best Value – Layla Mattress

Layla Mattress
Construction:

The Layla is a 10” four-layer memory foam mattress that’s flippable for dual firmness. The dual support core is 4.5” polyfoam under 2” convoluted polyfoam. The softer side has a 3” comfort layer of high-density copper-infused cooling memory foam. The firmer side has 1” copper-infused cooling memory foam. The cover is temperature-regulating Thermogel®.

Pros and Cons:

The Layla’s flippable design is rated 5 (medium) on one side and 7 (medium-firm) on the other. Most side sleepers prefer the softer. Another plus is the copper in the foam that helps dissipate heat and sleep cooler. The main drawback with Layla (and any foam mattress) is that the edge support isn’t exceptional, so if you’re sharing the bed with a partner and sleeping towards the edge of the mattress, you won’t feel very supported. As well, Layla is a newer company and still building its reputation, so it’s harder to know how these beds stand the test of time.

Why Layla Is Our Best Value Choice:

For side sleepers, the soft side of the Layla is a top choice and at a price of less than $900 represents a value for your mattress-buying dollar. The copper in the memory foam cools and promotes blood circulation. Side sleepers will appreciate the hug and pressure relief of the well-made memory foam mattress that doesn’t sleep hot.

The Best Pressure Relief – Leesa Mattress

Leesa Mattress
Construction:

The Leesa is a 10” three-layer foam mattress rated 5-6 in firmness. The support core is 6” high-density support foam with dual comfort layers. The first comfort layer is 2” of contouring memory foam designed for pressure relief. The second comfort layer is 2” of Avena® cooling foam for bounce and airflow. The cover is a cooling Poly/Lycra blend.

Pros and Cons:

The Leesa’s medium-firm foams are excellent for side sleepers needing pressure relief at the hips and shoulders. A plus of this mattress is the top layer of proprietary Avena® foam that dissipates heat away from your body. The cons of the Leesa is edge support typical of foam beds, and it’s not great for very heavy people.

Why the Leesa Is Our Best Pressure Relief Choice:

With a price tag of less than $1k, Leesa is well-made and features quality memory foam. It delivers excellent pressure relief side sleepers require. It’s got a nice bounce for sex, and the memory foams won’t leave you with a stuck in the bed sensation. It’s got broad appeal for many people and lots of excellent reviews from buyers.

The Best Luxury – Zenhaven Mattress

Zenhaven Mattress
Construction:

The Zenhaven is a 10” all-natural Talalay latex mattress with four layers. It features flippable firmness with dual support cores and two outer comfort layers. Both cores are 3”, one firmer and one less firm. The two outer comfort layers are 1.5” with one plusher. The bed rates medium-soft (4-5) on one side and medium-firm (7-8) on the other. The cover is organic cotton.

Pros and Cons:

One pro is it’s not a bed-in-a-box and never compressed. The flippable design is a top choice for side sleepers so you can adjust your comfort. However most side sleepers prefer the softer side. Other benefits are the cooling sensation of the latex, and its pressure relief zones. The cons of the Zenhaven are few, chief among them that it costs almost $1,900.

Why Zenhaven Is Our Best Luxury Choice:

The Zenhaven latex is an excellent material for side sleepers, particularly on the softer side of the flippable bed. In addition to superb pressure relief, it’s all-natural, sustainably sourced, and OEKO-TEX certified. The 20-year non-prorated warranty speaks to quality, as do their legions of satisfied buyers.

The Best Overall – Purple Original Mattress

Purple Mattress
Construction:

The Original Purple is a 9.5” three-layer foam mattress rated (6.5) medium-firm. The support core is 4” high-density polyfoam. The lower comfort layer is 3.5” high-density polyfoam. The upper 2” comfort layer is the namesake purple material, the high-tech patented Smart Comfort Grid™. The cover is responsive knit made of Viscose, Polyester, and Lycra.

Pros and Cons:

The primary advantage of the Purple is the heavily trademarked grid material that the company touts as a no-pressure bed. For side sleepers, it lets your shoulder and hip sink into the grid as it cradles without pushing back. One downside is for very lightweight side sleepers. They may still feel some pressure because they don’t have enough body weight to engage the grid tech fully.

Why the Purple Original Is Our Best Overall:

The Purple original should satisfy a wide array of side sleepers from average up to heavyweight. At a price of less than $1k, Purple offers comfort, pressure relief, and a unique sleep experience at a modest cost. The foams are CertiPUR-US certified, and the materials conform as well as memory foam but with more bounce and sleep much cooler than standard foam.

Editor's Choice – Novosbed Mattress

Amerisleep AS1 mattress
Construction:

The Novosbed is an 11” three-layer memory foam mattress in soft (3), medium (5), or firm (7) options. The support core is 6” of premium foam in the soft and 7” of foam in the medium and firm. One comfort layer is 3” of high-density memory foam in the soft and 2” in the medium and firm. The other is 2” airflow memory foam with gel infused in the soft. The cover is moisture-wicking Tencel®.

Pros and Cons:

The Novosbed is a must-consider for side sleepers because of the high-quality foam and the option for a softer model. Side sleepers usually prefer the soft or medium models. Another plus is they have been around more than a decade and have built an excellent reputation in the market. One con is that the 120-night trial has a 60-day break-in before returns are allowed, but they work with you.

Why Novosbed Is Our Editor's Choice:

The Comfort+ program is an excellent feature of Novosbed. After 30 nights, if you’re not sleeping perfectly, the company works with you to adjust your sleep experience by providing a kit for adjusting the comfort level and get you happy on your Novosbed. For side sleepers with pressure relief sensitivities, this customization is ideal, and the price is modest at just over $1k.

What You Need to Know About Sleeping on Your Side

Side sleeping is the most common nocturnal position and is the healthiest option for most people. Side sleeping comes in three styles. Yearning sleepers reach out with arms while on their side. Fetal sleepers curl up to some extent. Log sleepers keep their arms tucked close to the body as they side sleep.

Check out some pros and cons of side sleeping and some tips for getting the most out of your favorite sleep position.

Pros of side sleeping:

  • Lessens chronic snoring – Because side sleeping keeps your airway unobstructed, you’re less likely to make a racket and wake yourself and others.
  • Uninterrupted sleep – With less snoring and breathing issues, you’re less likely to wake in the night and disrupt your sleep.
  • Eases lower back pain – Side sleeping helps elongate your spine at night which can relieve middle and lower back pain.
  • Promotes spinal alignment – Side sleeping is the easiest posture to keep your spine in a neutral position which reduces back pain.
  • Benefits sleep apnea – As it keeps your air pathway open and your tongue out of your throat, you may find a lessening of sleep apnea symptoms.
  • Brain benefits – Scientists found side sleeping helps your brain clear out the glymphatic pathways and may reduce risks of brain-degenerating diseases.
  • Left side sleeping offers additional benefits:   
    • Heartburn relief – Snoozing on the left prevents stomach acid from seeping up into your esophagus and causing heartburn.
    • Toxicity filtration – Sleeping on the left lets the thoracic duct drain lymph toxins efficiently out through the heart.
    • Pregnancy – Sleeping on the left throughout gestation aids circulation to your growing fetus and keeps your uterus from compressing your liver.

Cons of side sleeping:

  • Pressure sensitivity – Your shoulders and hips push into the mattress when you side sleep and inadequate mattress comfort layers can cause pressure and discomfort.
  • Neck discomfort – If you don’t have proper pillow support under your neck while side sleeping, you can have some tension and pain on waking.
  • Shoulder and arm pain – Depending on how you hold your shoulders and arms while you sleep, you might reduce circulation and cause numbness or pain.
  • Aesthetic concerns – Side sleeping can encourage wrinkles and acne where the pillow pushes against your face, and you could see décolletage lines form.

How to side sleep the right way:

  • Keep a neutral head position – Harvard University researchers suggest a feather or memory foam pillow that’s higher under your neck than head for best results.
  • Be mindful of pillow placement and size – The same research says pillows shouldn’t be too tall or firm and should conform to your neck while you sleep to keep it properly positioned.
  • Maintain a neutral spine posture - Ideally, your spine from head to buttocks should be in a straight line while you sleep if your mattress aligns you properly.
  • Prevent spinal rotation – Using a pillow between your knees prevents the upper leg from pushing your top leg and knee forward which rotates and pulls your spine out of position.
  • Elongate the body - Stretch out rather than curling into a tight fetal position. The straighter on your side you sleep, the better the air quality as your lungs and diaphragm are uncompressed.
  • Use wrinkle preventers – You can prevent a “crinkle” in your chest from side sleeping with a sticky silica pad and consider a satin pillowcase to ease the odds of facial wrinkling.
  • Stretch on waking – If you tend to curl up on your side, allowing yourself a slow and luxurious stretch on waking can work out kinks and lessen any muscle tension.
  • Choose your mattress wisely – Side sleepers need a mattress supportive enough to keep the spine aligned but also with rich enough comfort layers for pressure relief at hips and knees.

What Should Side Sleepers Look for in a Mattress?

Side sleepers have two primary concerns when choosing a mattress – proper alignment and adequate pressure relief. Different components of a bed address each of these factors. Every mattress has two parts: the support core and comfort layer(s).

The support core is what supports your weight and keeps your spine aligned as you lie down on your side. Ideally, your spine should be in a straight line from neck to bottom so that you could hold a yardstick along your back and see it line up to your spine.

The comfort layer(s) is critical for pressure relief and is the part of the mattress that you sink into and contours your body. Side sleepers require more cushion on the hips and shoulders where your body weight presses most heavily into the bed.

Side sleepers should look for mattresses that:

  • Is firmness rated no greater than 7, but preferably 4-6, for average weight sleepers
  • Is firmness rated at around 3-5 for lightweight sleepers
  • Is firmness rated at about 6-7 for heavier weight people (but may need fine-tuning)
  • Has thicker comfort layers totaling at least 3” altogether
  • Has a total height of at least 10”  
  • Offers the feeling of sleeping in the bed rather than on the bed, for average and lightweight
  • Contouring materials that hug and relieve pressure rather than push back

Look at the major mattress type and how they perform for side sleepers:

Innerspring

An innerspring mattress features steel coils and a comfort layer(s). Coils may be standard, or pocket coils housed in fabric sleeves. The comfort layer of an innerspring bed is often polyfoam. Innerspring beds are known for sleeping cool but have issues with motion transfer and may be noisier than other materials. Traditional innerspring beds are usually more rigid.

Side sleepers should be cautious with innerspring beds. Without plush comfort layer(s), this material may be far too firm. Coils often push back rather than conforming and dig into your pressure points. Be sure to check reviews from side sleepers before buying an innerspring bed and if you want springs, consider a hybrid mattress instead.

Hybrid
Latex
Foam