Sleeping on your side is thought to be one of the healthiest ways to sleep, and nearly half of all Americans consider themselves side sleepers. So it’s good news that here are a few benefits that come with sleeping on your side. For example, sleeping on your side promotes better spinal alignment and helps reduce lower back pain. Side sleeping can also stop snoring and prevent symptoms of sleep apnea. Sleeping on your right side, specifically, promotes a healthy heart, whereas sleeping your left side can lead to increased blood pressure, a higher heart rate, and thus, more interrupted sleep. When it comes to reaping all the benefits of side sleeping, it’s necessary you’re sleeping on a mattress compatible with your body and sleep style. In this guide, we’ll discuss the three main things side sleepers should look for before buying a new bed. Then, we’ll touch on our recommended best mattress for side sleepers and its two runner-ups.
The Amerisleep AS3 is our Editors’ Choice as the best mattress for side sleepers because it contains a targeted support technology specifically designed to promote a healthy spine and relieve pressure points, two things side sleepers need from a comfortable bed.
1. Support for a Healthy Spine
To get the best sleep, side sleepers need a mattress that will support neutral spinal alignment and relieve pressure points. It’s essential to find a bed that won’t allow your torso to sink too far into the mattress, as it can put extra stress on the spine. However, your mattress still needs to let your shoulders and hips to sink a little because if it’s too firm the resistance will cause painful pressure points. Typically, memory foam mattresses are great for side sleepers because they can contour to your body in a way most materials can’t; this helps release pressure and tension while maintaining a healthy spine.
2. Body Type & Firmness
Firmness refers to how firm or soft a mattress is, and body type plays a significant role in how firm a bed is perceived. If you have a petite build and do not weigh much, most mattresses will feel firm; so it’s best to get a plusher bed that’ll be comfy for your body. On the other hand, people who weigh 250 pounds or more will need more support from their mattress to prevent them from sinking unhealthily far into the bed, therefore, heavier sleepers should choose firmer mattresses.
In general, side sleepers are usually most comfortable on medium to medium-firm mattresses because they’re soft enough to allow them to sink into the bed to relieve pressure points but still supportive enough to promote a healthy spine.
Before deciding how firm your bed should be, also consider your preference for firmness. If you like a more cradling, “in the bed” feel from your mattress, choose a softer mattress. Alternatively, if you prefer a firmer feel from your mattress, choose a more supportive option.
How quickly a bed responds to movement is a good indicator of how “sinking” the bed will feel. For those who like a cradling, or hugging, feel from their mattress usually want a bed that is slower to respond. However, it’s important for side sleepers to pick a mattress that is quick to respond to pressure so they can easily switch from side to side while they sleep. Plus, faster response times detract from the feeling of being “stuck” in the mattress, and offer a more “lifting” feeling instead.
When searching for your new mattress, we encourage you also to consider the sleep trial that comes with your potential new mattress. Mattresses aren’t cheap, and the last thing you want to do is drop a thousand dollars on an uncomfortable bed. Whether you’re buying in-store or online, it’s hard to get a good feel of how comfortable a bed is before purchasing it. To help shoppers feel more confident in their purchase, many mattress brands started offering risk-free sleep trials with their beds. A sleep trial lets you buy your new mattress and then try it in your home for a period of time commitment-free. If you decide against keeping the mattress, most brands will arrange for your unwanted bed to be picked up and returned for you free of charge. On the other hand, if you feel the bed you bought is the best one for you, then you’re set! Always be sure to read the fine print regarding the sleep trial information before buying, so you’re aware of how the process works and whether or not you’d be responsible for any fees.
Beyond the sleep trial, the warranty your bed comes with plays a significant role in the overall value of the mattress. If your mattress comes with a warranty that only lasts for a couple of years and doesn’t cover much, you’re ultimately out of luck if something were to happen to your mattress. Buying a mattress with at least a 10-year warranty is the best way to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth from your new bed. Before buying, read the warranty information to have an understanding of what all is covered and what the warranty process entails, so you’re not surprised years down the road, should you ever have to submit a warranty claim.
In the next section, we’ll be discussing our Editors’ recommended best mattress for side sleepers as well as our two runner-ups.
What’s the Best Mattress for Side Sleepers?
The Editors at Sleep Junkie like the Amerisleep AS3 as the best mattress for side sleepers. Amerisleep sells five different memory foam mattresses; each is tailored to a specific sleep style and range in firmness. Their beds include the AS1, AS2, AS3, AS4, and S5; ranging from ultra firm to ultra plush. Their AS3 is their medium mattress and it’s built to be an even mix of comfort and support. Amerisleep uses state-of-the-art materials in their mattresses, but because they sell direct-to-consumer, can sell their beds for a competitive price. Plus, their beds come with free shipping, free returns, a 100-night sleep trial, and a 20-year warranty. Below, we’ll talk about the materials in this bed and why we’re a fan of this brand.
Amerisleep’s AS3 is their most versatile and best-selling model; because it’s so adaptable, it can mold and contour to most body types, making it comfortable for a majority of sleepers. The top layer of every Amerisleep mattress is their Bio-Pur® foam, a plant-based memory foam. Bio-Pur® has a response time of 3-4 seconds, in comparison to traditional memory foams 20-30 seconds— meaning it’s great for side sleepers who change positions during the night. Another perk to using Bio-Pur® is it’s enhanced breathability. Usually, a major concern with memory foam is whether or not it’ll trap heat, and by using their open-cell plant-based foam, Amerisleep eliminates that concern.
Let’s look at the the support technology within this mattress. Harnessing Intelligent Ventilation & Energy, otherwise known as HIVE® technology, is the second layer of the Amerisleep AS3. In fact, all of their mattresses have this same support layer, besides their AS1. HIVE® is integrated into this mattress to offer support for a healthy spine. In this technology, hexagonal cutouts are made into a foam layer and spaced in five strategic comfort zones; in areas where you need more support, such as your lower back and neck, these hexagons feel firmer to offer more stable support. However, in other places such as your shoulders and hips, these hexagons are spaced further apart and feel softer, allowing the body to compress in the mattress. This technology is designed to help support a healthy spine for back, stomach, and side sleepers alike, but encompasses everything a side sleeper would need from their support technology.
If you’ve been searching for a new mattress, you’ve probably heard the name Casper tossed around on different mattress blogs. Casper is one of the most well-known online mattress brands today. When they debuted, they only sold one mattress, but as their popularity quickly grew, started designing and selling two other mattresses. In 2019, Casper redesigned their three top-rated beds to be more comfortable and offer better support. Then, they released hybrid versions of their two most popular mattresses, the Casper and the Wave. Now, Casper sells three different all-foam beds and two hybrid mattresses. For side sleepers, we recommend choosing Casper’s all-foam Wave mattress.
Let’s talk about why the Wave is great for side sleepers.
Casper’s Wave stands at 13 inches tall and combines the comfort of five different foam layers. Casper’s beds have a unique design where they place a layer of memory foam below the top layer of the mattress— which in this case, is latex foam— instead of using memory foam as the first comfort layer. Using this design alone is beneficial for side sleepers because latex foam is more responsive than memory foam; when you lay on the Wave, it should feel bouncier and suspend your body in a neutral position instead of allowing you to sink down in the layer.
To continue, below the layer of latex foam is the layer of memory foam, which allows for deep compression of your shoulders and hips, ideal for side sleepers. This memory foam layer will provide pressure relief for your muscles and joints, preventing morning aches and pains. Another perk of placing memory foam below latex foam is it reduces the chance of the memory foam trapping heat.
Next, is a layer of poly-foam built with Zoned Support gel. Casper infuses firm gel into the lumbar and torso region of this mattress to help align your spine and prevent your midsection from sinking unnaturally far in the bed.
The bottom layer of the Wave is where the hyper-targeted support technology lies. Casper cuts precise contoured channels into this layer to healthily align your body at 33 key points. The base of this mattress can be credited with maintaining a healthy spine and easing aches and pains.
If you’re a side sleeper who commonly experiences back or hip pain, the Casper Wave could be the best fit for you; but, if you’re still on the fence, Casper offers a 100-night sleep trial with each of their beds, so you have an opportunity to test it out. Casper also includes a 10-year warranty with each of their mattresses, protecting your investment against visible indentations for the next decade.
The last mattress on our list is Nolah 10”, which on their website mentions is actually designed and built specifically to cater to back and side sleepers. In this mattress, Nolah uses their proprietary Nolah AirFoam™ instead of memory foam or latex to offer the sleeper a contouring but cool sleeping environment. Their Nolah AirFoam™ is also built to reduce pressure points four times better than comparable materials, which is crucial for side sleepers.
Let’s talk about the design of the Nolah.
The layers of the Nolah are constructed to alleviate pressure in the shoulder and hip region, furthering its benefits for side sleepers. The first layer of this bed is Nolah’s AirFoam™ material. When you lay on this layer, it should contour to your body and feel as memory foam would, but it is more responsive and holds you up in the mattress. The next layer is a high-resilience foam designed to be as responsive as latex; it gives the bed a bounce and reinforces the AirFoam™ above.
On their website, Nolah ranks this bed a 5 or 6 out of 10 in regards to firmness, putting it right in that middle spot perfect for side sleepers. If you’re not a fan of memory foam or latex and are interested in trying a different sleeping solution, Nolah offers a 120-night sleep trial to test out their unique bed. If you don’t like it, they’ll return it for free, and if you do decide to keep it, it’s backed by a lifetime warranty.
Did You Find Your Next Mattress?
Because side sleeping is such a popular sleep position, there are a variety of mattresses sold today specifically tailored to side sleepers. When you’re searching, keep your budget and personal sleep preferences in mind, and it will help guide you towards the right bed for you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and read online mattress reviews during your search to make sure you’re making the best decision towards better sleep.