The Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers in 2019
There is considerable disagreement about the “best” mattress. Two people may try the same exact mattress and have very different perceptions about its comfort and support.
One explanation for these discrepancies is that not everyone sleeps in the same position. Your sleeping position has a huge effect on how your weight is distributed on the mattress, so it’s natural that people who sleep in different configurations would have diverging experiences on the same mattress.
In this guide, we focus on side sleepers. We’ll start by highlighting our top picks for the best mattresses for side sleepers. We’ll then delve into the details about this sleeping position, describe the key shopping considerations, and identify mattress features to look for.
Our Top Picks
You may not have the time or inclination to research and seek out the best mattress models, and if that’s the case, you can confidently shop from among our curated list of the best mattresses for side sleepers.
|Manufacturer||Model||Mattress Type||Firmness||Price (Queen)|
|Nectar||Gel Memory Foam||Medium Firm (6)||$699|
|Leesa||Memory Foam||Relaxed Firm (6)||$999|
|Casper Original||Foam||Relaxed Firm (5)||$995|
|WinkBed||Hybrid||3 choices: Soft (4.5), Luxury Firm (6.5), and Firm (7.5)||$1,599|
|Signature||Foam||3 choices: Soft (4), Medium (6), Firm (7.5-8)||$949|
|Saatva||Innerspring||3 choices: Plush Soft (3-3.5), Luxury Firm (5-6), Firm (8)||$1,099|
Why we like it:
- Mid-level firmness is great for side sleepers
- Great value for money
- Doesn't overheat or over-sink like most foam mattresses.
- Contours and relieves pressure well
- Industry-leading 365 day sleep trial
The Nectar mattress is an all-foam bed made of a blend of memory foams. It features a quilted gel memory foam cover for better cooling, a layer of gel memory foam for even weight distribution, an adaptive memory foam layer for responsive support, and a breathable base layer for support and durability. Despite the premium features, this is an incredibly affordable mattress.
The Nectar is about a 6 out of 10 on the firmness scale, which is ideal for most side sleepers. This level of firmness allows your shoulders to sink in just enough to help the neck align properly, while adequately supporting your hips and back.
Each purchase of a Nectar mattress comes with a 365-night sleep trial, so you will have a full year to test out the bed in your own home. A low-cost lifetime warranty is also available. Shipping is free, and an optional upgrade to in-home delivery and setup is available.
Why we like it:
- Absorbs and isolates motion transfer very well
- Medium firmness is a good fit for most side sleepers
- Conforms well to hips and shoulders for better comfort
- Reasonably priced
- 100-night sleep trial
The Leesa mattress is an all-foam bed made of premium memory foam and polyfoam. Two comfort layers, one polyfoam and one breathable memory foam, help the bed conform to the shape of the sleeper’s body. A denser support foam layer underneath provides the underlying support, creating a durable and comfortable mattress overall.
This is a medium firmness mattress, somewhere around a 5 out of 10. Medium firmness is ideal for most side sleepers, as it allows for just enough give to accommodate your hips and shoulders, while still feeling supportive. Only one firmness level is available on the Leesa.
Each Leesa mattress is protected by a 10-year warranty. It also comes with an in-home sleep trial for the first 100 nights. Shipping is free within the United States, and an additional white-glove delivery and setup service is also available.
Why we like it:
- Zoned support foam accommodates hips and shoulders
- Priced affordably
- 10-year warranty; free shipping & returns
The Casper Original is a popular all-foam mattress that’s affordably priced. It has a few unique design elements that make it a good choice for side sleepers. Most notable is the zoned transition foam, which features varied firmness zones to adequately support your hips and shoulders. The foam is slightly softer near the top, allowing shoulders to sink in a bit more while side-sleeping. The same layer is more firm around the hips, providing extra support to improve spinal alignment.
The rest of the Casper’s construction consists of high density memory foam, durable support foam, and a top layer of open-cell foam for better airflow. This top layer is designed to improve cooling, resulting in a much cooler sleep experience when compared to other all-foam mattresses.
Casper comes with a 100-night sleep trial, a 10-year limited warranty, and free shipping in the United States.
Why we like it:
- Cushioning, bounce, and comfort from coil-on-coil design
- Foam layers improve responsiveness for pressure points
- World-class edge support from reinforced perimeter
- Three firmness options to choose from
The WinkBed delivers side sleepers with top-notch performance thanks to its creative use of coils and responsive foams. It promotes spinal alignment while offering best-in-class edge support.
The bottom layer of the WinkBed is its support core that is made with 7.5” of pocketed innerspring coils. A 2.5” layer of micro-coils sits on top of the support core. Together, these 10” worth of pocketed coils can respond to the body’s weight and movement while keeping a considerable amount of bounce and preventing excessive sinking into the mattress.
Two foam layers make up the comfort layer of the WinkBed. The top layer is 1.5” of a specialty polyfoam that has a springy feel but enough compression to cushion pressure points. The second layer is 1.5” of gel-infused polyfoam that bolsters responsiveness without retaining heat. These layers work together with the coils to offer motion isolation, edge support, spinal alignment, and overall comfort.
The WinkBed is available in three firmness levels: Soft (4.5), Luxury Firm (6.5), and Firm (7.5). The Luxury Firm is the most popular for side sleepers, but the Soft and Firm may be optimal for some customers depending on their body weight and comfort preferences.
The WinkBed Plus is a separate model that is tailored for sleepers who weigh more than 300 pounds. The WinkBed Plus uses latex instead of the layer of micro-coils and can be a good fit for side sleepers with a higher body weight.
The WinkBed is backed by a 120-night sleep trial with a 30-night break-in period. After trying out the mattress for 30 nights, you have 90 more days to test it out and decide if you want to keep it or return it for a full refund.
Why we like it:
- Pressure point relief from specialty foams
- Noticeable bounce and resilience from pocketed innerspring coils
- Soft, Medium, and Firm comfort options
- Brooklyn Bedding has a long track record in the mattress industry
Brooklyn Bedding is an established name in the mattress industry, and the Signature mattress represents the newest updates from the company to offer a high-quality option for side sleepers at a realistic price.
The Signature is a hybrid that puts multiple types of materials to use to achieve a blend of comfort, spinal support, and bounce. The support core is 7” tall and made up of two layers. At the bottom is 1” of support polyfoam on top of which sits 6” of individually-encased innerspring coils. Individually-wrapped coils offer the springy feel of coils while enhancing responsiveness and contouring to the body.
The comfort layer is 4” thick and made with two distinct layers. The topmost layer is 2” of TitanFlex foam, which is a special gel-infused polyfoam used by Brooklyn Bedding. It conforms to the body without too much sink, giving excellent cushion to the pressure points of side sleepers. The second layer is 2” of Energex foam. Energex is more latex-like, providing added bounce in combination with the coils.
The Signature is available in a Soft (4), Medium (6), and Firm (8) model, and the Medium tends to offer the best results for side sleepers.
If you purchase the Signature, you will have 120 nights to test it out in your own home to decide if it is to your liking. While you have to wait 30 days before initiating a return, you have up to 120 nights to request a refund if you aren’t satisfied.
Brooklyn Bedding has been in the mattress industry for more than two decades and has an extensive product line. Customers interested in other models can explore the Bowery, Aurora, and Spartan mattresses from Brooklyn Bedding.
Why we like it:
- Two distinct layers of coils give cushion and bounce to suit side sleepers
- Three firmness choices, including a medium-firm option that is usually best for side sleepers
- Comfortable and elegant euro-style pillow top
- Free white-glove delivery and installation
For side sleepers who want pressure point relief with bounce, the Saatva is a compelling choice. It employs two different types of coils along with foam layers to meet all of the needs of side sleepers.
The Saatva’s support core is made with a layer of steel innerspring coils. These coils are either 4” or 7” tall depending on the model that you select, and they are placed on top of a thin layer of high-density polyfoam.
Sitting on top of this support core is a 4” layer of individually-wrapped micro-coils. This layer maintains the bounce of the core while adding responsiveness. Extra foam is placed around the coils in the mattress to bolster edge support.
Foam layers, including a memory foam lumbar pad, are built into the comfort layer. This layer is stitched in a euro-style pillow top that is sleek and adds softness and contouring to relieve impact points at the hips and shoulders.
Customers can choose between an 11.5” and 14.5” model and can also choose from three comfort options: Plush Soft (3-3.5), Luxury Firm (5-6), and Firm (8). The Luxury Firm is the preferred choice among most side sleepers.
A nice perk of the Saatva mattress is free white-glove delivery that includes setup of the mattress in your bedroom and haul-away of an old mattress. You have 120 nights to try out the mattress and return it if you aren’t satisfied, but if you do make a return, a $99 return shipping fee will be deducted from your refund.
Mattress Buying Guide for Side Sleepers
About Side Sleeping
Side sleeping is the most common sleeping position. Though hard data can be hard to pin down, it is estimated that between one-third and one-half of people are side sleepers.
There are both benefits and downsides to sleeping on your side. The main benefits are that it most naturally supports a neutral spinal position on a proper mattress. . Side sleeping reduces obstruction of the airway that can lead to snoring and sleep apnea, a condition that involves disrupted breathing during the night.
The downside to side sleeping is that it can put excessive pressure on certain points of the body, specifically the neck, shoulders, and hips. Some side sleepers may struggle to find comfortable arm positions or may angle the arm in a way that reduces circulation. If the body isn’t properly supported, the pelvis and back can become torqued while in the side-sleeping position.
Overall, most experts consider sleeping on your side to be the best position; however, to capture the benefits, it is critical to have a mattress that offers the right kind of support.
Side Sleeping and Body Weight
Within the broader group of side sleepers, individual sleepers can have a diverse range of needs from their mattress. One major factor that influences these needs is a person’s body weight.
While all side sleepers will have pressure points at the hips and shoulders, the amount that they sink into the mattress will vary considerably based on how much they weigh. The higher a person’s body weight, the more they will sink into the mattress.
For this reason, a side sleeper who weighs under 130 pounds typically needs a softer and more responsive mattress. A side sleeper over 230 pounds may sink too deeply into that same mattress and often needs a slightly firmer bed.
Side sleepers with a higher body weight tend to get better results if their mattress has a thicker comfort layer. This keeps them from “bottoming out” and putting more pressure on the underlying layers. Bottoming out can reduce support for the spine and diminish the durability of the mattress.
What Are the Most Important Mattress Considerations For Side Sleepers?
To find the right mattress, a person who sleeps on their side should look carefully at the expected performance of a mattress to determine whether it is likely to meet their needs. In particular, side sleepers should be actively thinking about the following elements of the mattress design and performance:
Support describes how well the mattress encourages proper spinal alignment. It is important that a mattress cushions the body in a way that prevents an exaggerated curvature of the spine in any direction.
Side sleepers generally need more support at the shoulders and hips. If the mattress has too much hug, then the shoulders and hips will sink too deeply into the mattress. On the flip side, if there’s not enough contouring, then the hips and shoulders will experience too much impact against the mattress.
In either case, the spine becomes misaligned, which can cause back pain. As a result, side sleepers need a mattress that has a responsive comfort layer that accommodates the hips and shoulders but without too much sink.
Firmness is commonly confused with support, and while the two can be related, it is important to consider firmness independently. Firmness is about how soft the mattress feels and not how well it relieves pressure points. Typically, though, medium to medium-firm mattresses, ranging from 4-7 on the typical firmness scale, provide the most comfortable feel for side sleepers.
Sleepers who weigh 230 pounds or more may benefit from a slightly firmer mattress to reduce the amount that they sink into the mattress. Remember, though, that firmness is subjective, and it’s important to consider your own comfort preferences when choosing a new mattress.
A mattress responds to the body to provide support, but when you move and pressure is removed, the mattress retakes its original shape. Resilience is a way of describing how quickly the mattress does that.
It is easier to adjust your sleeping position on a bed with more resilience, and this can be a benefit to side sleepers who switch from one side to another in the night. Resilience can keep from sleepers from feeling stuck in the mattress.
No one wants a mattress that will wear out quickly. In addition, given the support needs for side sleepers, it’s important that a mattress maintain a high level of performance over time. You can evaluate the likely durability of a mattress based on the quality of its materials and based on reports from other customers.
A demonstrated history of excellent verified reviews from other customers is one of the best indicators that a mattress is likely to deliver on a great night’s sleep. In particular, look for reviews from other side sleepers because their perspective will be most relevant for you.
It may not be part of the mattress, but your pillow is still an important consideration. If the rest of your body is aligned but your neck isn’t, then you’re still likely to suffer from pain and stiffness in the morning. Choose a pillow that conforms with the same spinal alignment supported by the mattress.
What Mattress Features Should You Look For?
Deciding between different mattresses can be daunting, but it can help to know what you should be looking for. This section reviews the key features for side sleepers to analyze when mattress shopping.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the ways that mattress makers try to differentiate their products including fancy mattress names and descriptions. The actual mattress specifications are where the rubber hits the road.
A detailed listing of the mattress layers and composition should be easily found on the company’s website, and this should include information about things like foam density and thickness. A rigorous review of mattress materials can prevent you from buying a mattress that overpromises but underdelivers.
Thick Comfort Layer
We advise looking for a comfort layer, or combination of comfort layers, that is at least 3” thick. This helps to make sure that the weight applied at your key pressure points does not overstress the supporting mattress layers.
A thick comfort layer is even more important for side sleepers of a higher body weight who may put more pressure on the topmost section of the mattress.
Good Price and Value
As a savvy shopper, you want to make sure that you’re getting a great value for your mattress dollar. Comparison shopping can help immensely in making sure that you’re not overpaying. Another way to stretch your dollar is to do a thorough search for promotions, discounts, or coupons before making your purchase.
Mattresses, even when compressed into a smaller box, can be heavy and bulky to ship. If you are responsible for shipping costs, it can add a hefty charge to your total purchase.
Most online mattresses come with shipping included, and we encourage you to look for free shipping whenever possible.
The in-home sleep trial is one of the most customer-friendly innovations to hit the mattress industry in recent years, and it has taken hold largely thanks to online mattress shopping.
An in-home trial gives you a chance to keep the mattress in your own home and try it out for a predefined period, often around 100 days. If you’re not satisfied with the mattress for any reason, you can return it during this time period and get your full purchase price refunded.
We strongly recommend looking for a mattress with this type of no-risk trial. Be sure to read the fine print as some sleep trials have terms that require you to keep the mattress for a period of time -- sometimes known as a break-in period -- or to pay for return shipping.
What Types of Mattresses Are Available?
Virtually all of the mattresses you’ll find in-store or online can be categorized into five types.
- Foam: these use layers of foam to provide support at an affordable price point. Memory foam, in particular, is well-regarded for its supportiveness. Another type of foam, called polyfoam, can be manufactured to exhibit a wide range of characteristics. Foam beds can be found with may different designs that include varied foam types, thicknesses, densities, and firmness levels.
- Latex: latex is a type of rubber that is used in many consumer products, and mattresses made entirely of latex are known as true latex, all-latex, or more simply, latex mattresses. Latex mattresses tend to be heavier than similarly-sized mattresses of other types. This material offers a blend of responsiveness and resiliency as latex is quick to bounce back to its original shape when weight is lifted off of it.
- Innerspring: a very common mattress type, innersprings use an array of metal coils that compress when weight is applied to the bed. Numerous types of innerspring coil designs exist, but the best performance usually comes from pocketed coils, which are able to respond to the body in a more targeted way. Innerspring mattresses usually have a softer comfort layer on top of the coil layer.
- Hybrid: a hybrid, like an innerspring, uses a support core with metal coils. But a hybrid has thicker layers of other materials, like foam or latex, above the coils.
- Airbed: the main support system in an airbed is a chamber of air that can be inflated or deflated using a smartphone app or an attached remote. The amount of air in the chamber determines how firm the mattress feels, and this can be rapidly adjusted to suit the sleeper. Many airbeds add foam or another softer material above the air chamber to provide more comfort and contouring support.
Which Mattress Types Are Best For Side Sleepers?
While it’s not possible to say that one type of mattress is always better or worse for side sleepers, as a general guide, certain types tend to be a better fit than others.
Best: Foam (including memory foam)
Contouring and responsiveness are important characteristics in a mattress for side sleepers because they provide the necessary support to facilitate spinal alignment. Memory foam is extremely effective at this type of pressure point relief. This makes foam mattresses a top choice for side sleepers.
Honorable Mention: Latex, Hybrid, Innerspring
Each of these mattress types can offer a high level of responsiveness. Latex balances this responsiveness with resilience, which is especially important for customers who worry about feeling stuck in their mattress.
Hybrid and innerspring mattresses often have memory foam in their comfort layer and may be able to deliver a considerable amount of pressure point relief while maintaining a solid support core of pocketed coils.