Which mattress to choose for side sleepers?

If you sleep on the side you need a mattress that can reduce the pressure points on the hips and shoulders, in this guide I will help you choose the right mattress to rest on your side.

If you sleep on the side, choose the right mattress

Resting on your side is considered the most common position. Sleeping on the side also has important benefits, as it reduces back pain, promotes better breathing and digestion. Side sleepers, however, often experience shoulder problems and even when the mattress does not offer good support.

People who sleep on the side in most cases prefer a mattress that, given its lift, adapts well to the shape of the body and provides cushioning, as well as relief at pressure points.

How does sleeping on your side affect rest?

The medical community has highlighted the benefits of sleeping alongside. Not only does this pose improve breathing, but it reduces snoring and sleep apnea. It can also prevent some neurological problems and counteract acid reflux. People who sleep on the side can also usually keep the spine well aligned, as long as not too much pressure is put on the neck, shoulders, and back.

Alignment of the spine

When the spine is misaligned during the night, it is normal to experience back pain and other problems upon waking. While resting on your side is the most recommended position to avoid various discomfort, there are a number of precautions to be taken to ensure alignment of the spine.

The ideal would be to opt for a mattress that can offer cushioning on the hips and shoulders. For added benefit, it is also advisable to stand on the side but with the legs extended and a high pillow under the head or between the knees. In any case, don’t forget to keep the neck high to avoid bending the chin. These good habits will help maintain proper symmetry of the spine.

Sleeping on your side and shoulder pain

A side rest puts pressure on the shoulder and it is possible that they feel pain on the affected side, especially if the mattress does not offer sufficient cushioning. In these situations there is a tendency to push the shoulder towards the neck, with consequent misalignment of the spine.

Buying a mattress with the right stiffness, taking into account your body weight, proves to be decisive for reducing shoulder pain. The mattress should in fact cushion and prevent the shoulder from sinking too much.

Sleeping on your side and back problems

When a mattress does not fit the shape of the body or provides good support it can cause a misalignment of the joints and spine. As a result, the muscles cannot relax and will be overstressed.

A mattress with a good level of firmness keeps the hips and shoulders aligned and at the same time relieves joint pain. In this regard, there are mattresses with differentiated support to offer the necessary support in the points where there is greater stress, depending on the non-homogeneous distribution of body weight.

The simplest way to know when back pain is caused by the mattress is to pay attention to what happens after you wake up. Those who get up with lower back pain, which then tends to disappear throughout the day, are most likely resting on an unsuitable bed. A reactive material, such as memory foam, is able to cushion pressure points and at the same time provides the necessary support to prevent back pain.

Which mattress firmness is best for side sleepers?

Mattresses are generally classified on the basis of a stiffness scale from 1 to 10, therefore with values ​​ranging from extremely soft to very firm. Models with medium stiffness are the most common. For side sleepers, the stiffness of the mattress determines how far the shoulders and hips sink into the mattress.

In addition to personal preferences, the rigidity of the new mattress will have to be chosen considering body weight and materials. Memory foam generally adapts well to the shape of the body, while latex offers more rebound. The presence of springs, on the other hand, could affect the stability of the entire structure which over time will be less subject to failure.

Which type of mattress is best for side sleepers?

The best mattress for side sleepers must ensure constant support and enveloping comfort. The mattresses available on the market today vary above all for the selected materials, as well as a whole series of characteristics that may or may not adapt to specific needs.

Hybrid mattresses

Hybrid mattresses are those that combine a spring support with memory foam or latex sheets. These patterns usually cushion the pressure points and keep the spine aligned. Unlike mattresses made entirely of memory foam, which limit the flow of air and retain heat, the hybrid ones favor the passage of air thanks to the presence of internal springs. For those who sleep on the side all this translates into greater comfort without overheating even in the summer months.

Spring mattresses

Equipped with a variable number of springs, which in most cases are individually bagged, pocket sprung mattresses can also combine more or less thick sheets of foam to maximize comfort. These are models generally offered at more affordable prices than those made entirely with memory foam or latex. In many cases the springs are enclosed within a box which serves to keep the structure stable and to provide support along the edges, so as to ensure good postural support when sleeping on the side.

Latex mattresses

Made from the sap obtained from the rubber tree, natural latex mattresses can be processed with the Dunlop or Talalay method. In the first case a more resistant latex is obtained, while in the second a softer material. On the market there are also mattresses with variable percentages of synthetic latex.

This material conforms to body shapes, while relieving pressure points and preventing the feeling of sinking excessively. For side sleepers, this reduces shoulder and back pain. There is also more airflow around the body and better temperature regulation.

Memory foam mattresses

Memory mattresses can be made with viscoelastic memory foam, open cell or gel. The support base is usually constructed with high density polyfoam for added support and durability.

The memory foam adapts to the shape of the body by responding well to pressure, while cushioning the hips and shoulders. For side sleepers, these aspects promote proper spinal alignment and reduce muscle pain.

Important accessories for sleeping on the side

You can always customize your mattress with accessories that make resting on one side healthier and more relaxing. In this regard, it is possible to choose cushions and toppers suited to specific needs.


When sleeping on your side, it is always preferable to choose a shaped neck pillow with a medium or high stiffness, capable of raising the head sufficiently, so as to keep it aligned with the neck and spine.

In addition, it is good to use thin pillows to be placed between the knees, which will serve to counteract muscle pain and promote blood circulation. Side sleepers also benefit from bringing their legs slightly towards their chest. This helps keep the spine aligned with the hips.


A topper to be placed on top of the mattress turns out to be an additional layer for more comfort. This accessory is usually made of memory foam or latex and cushions pressure in critical points, so as to avoid back and joint pain.

Buying a memory foam topper does not allow you to experience all the advantages of a mattress made of this material, but it can still offer an idea of ​​the pleasant sensation you get. In all cases, a topper guarantees good results only when placed on a new mattress, therefore it is not used to repair sagging and sagging of the structure.

What characteristics should the mattress have for side sleepers?

Due to the increased pressure exerted on the shoulders and hips, there are specific considerations that side sleepers should make when purchasing a mattress.

It is therefore recommended to buy a model that offers support for the whole body, breathable and able to guarantee good isolation from movement, as well as the necessary attenuation on the pressure points.

The quality of the materials used is also very important, which directly affects the duration of a mattress. Side sleepers will also find it comfortable to sleep on a mattress with medium firmness.

Tips for sleeping comfortably on your side

  • To sleep better on your side, a pillow can be placed between the knees to reduce pressure on the lower back.
  • The pillow that will go under the head must be thick enough to support the chin.
  • A memory foam topper comes in handy for making mattresses with a high level of firmness more comfortable.
  • When the edges of the mattress do not offer the necessary support, it is advisable to sleep in the center.

Frequently asked questions of side sleepers

What types of mattresses are best for side sleepers?

People who are used to sleeping on their side are better off with hybrid or all-memory foam mattresses. These models offer support and in many cases prevent pressure sores. Latex can also be a valid alternative, as long as it is sufficiently rigid to avoid sinking.

How stiff should a mattress be for side sleepers?

Side sleepers should focus on mattresses between medium-soft and medium-firm, but the choice should always be made taking into account their own weight. People weighing less than 70 kilograms need a softer mattress, while those over 100 kilograms need firmer support.

What is the best mattress for side sleepers with back pain?

Spinal alignment is especially important for side sleepers who have to deal with back pain. Hybrid mattresses and mattresses with different zones with differentiated support can provide targeted support to critical points, such as above all the pelvis and shoulders.

Which mattress is best for side sleepers with shoulder pain?

Side sleepers usually experience shoulder pain, especially when the mattress cannot relieve pressure as it is too soft or rigid. In these situations the suitable bed should gently wrap around where the shoulder presses on the mattress to allow for proper back alignment. In this regard, a hybrid mattress, composed of a layer of memory foam and pocket springs, relieves pressure and thus counteracts shoulder pain.

What is the best mattress for side sleepers with hip pain?

Hybrid mattresses are a good choice for side sleepers with hip pain. The springs in fact provide support and promote the correct alignment of the spine, while the memory foam layer relieves pressure, counteracting lower back pain. Placing a pillow between the knees will reduce hip pain in any case, regardless of the stiffness of the mattress.


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