nectar mattress

Get a Better Night's Sleep with the 10 Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers

It’s possible to alleviate shoulder pain and numbness without changing your preferred sleep position.
By Jennifer Walker-Journey
August 21, 2020
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Related Content

If you're a side sleeper, take comfort in knowing you're not alone. In fact, most people sleep on their side. It's one of the better sleeping positions because it keeps your spine aligned and reduces joint and low back pain. Side sleeping also reduces snoring and episodes of obstructive sleep apnea, a serious condition that causes disruptions in breathing.

But you won't reap the benefits if you're not resting on the best mattress for side sleepers. Sagging mattresses with inadequate support throw your body out of alignment and can disrupt your sleep. 

We partnered with the expert review team at Mattress Advisor to put together a list of the 10 best mattresses for side sleepers. They put each mattress through a series of tests (14 to be exact) to ensure each scored high on important criteria for side sleepers like spine alignment, pressure relief, and responsiveness. Below, we break down all of the factors you should consider in your mattress search to help you get your best night of side sleeping yet. 

Our recommendations for the best mattresses for side sleepers:

How to Shop for the Best Mattress for Side Sleepers

While side sleeping is considered a good sleep position, it can also cause you to wake with shoulder pain, lower back pain, or a numb arm if you're not sleeping on the right mattress. The best mattresses for side sleepers are ones that promote pressure relief, spine alignment, and a medium firmness level that delivers proper support. Comfort is key, but so is getting ample support to alleviate aches and pains. Here are some factors to look out for when choosing the best mattress for side sleepers: 

Spine Alignment

Keeping the spine aligned while you sleep on your side reduces the likelihood that you'll wake with back, head, or neck pain. A mattress that helps maintain a straight spine reduces the chances of experiencing back pain. Good spine alignment also works to promote a healthy posture, so it's a crucial factor to look for all the way around.

Pressure Relief

When you lie on your side, most of your weight falls onto your hips and shoulders. Because of this, side sleepers are prone to waking with hip or shoulder pain, or with a numb arm. A mattress with pressure-relieving qualities offers more softness and contouring at the hips and shoulders to cradle those sensitive pressure points, while still providing more firmness at the head and waist for proper support. That way, your pressure points are nice and cushioned, and your head and waist are elevated with no fear of sinkage.

Firmness

Mattress firmness is a personal preference, but if you're a side sleeper, a medium to medium-firm mattress will offer plenty of cushioning with enough support to reduce strain on your joints. A medium-firm mattress hits that sweet spot of not too hard and not too soft, so you can still feel comfortable without sacrificing support.

What to Know About Mattress Materials

Memory Foam 

Memory foam molds to the body in response to heat and pressure, evenly distributes body weight, and cradles your body for cushy comfort. This material works especially well for side sleepers who want to feel hugged by their mattress. Because they're softer in nature, memory foam mattresses are able to provide the sort of deep contouring side sleepers need to mitigate pressure. One downside is that memory foam tends to absorb body heat and can sleep hot. But you can use cooling sheets to help mitigate the heat.

Hybrid Mattresses

A hybrid mattress combines the best qualities of two different mattress materials, typically innerspring coils and memory foam. The result is a nice balance of support and contouring comfort, which translates well for side sleepers. Side sleepers benefit from the sturdy base layer of coils, which helps to keep their spines aligned, while the comfort layers on top allow them to gently sink into the surface, cushioning their hips and shoulders. 

Latex

Natural latex is harvested from rubber trees and whipped into a foam that makes it comfortable and pressure-relieving. Latex feels more buoyant than memory foam and hybrid mattresses, so you feel less of a sinking feeling and more like you're floating on top of the mattress. This type is a good fit for side sleepers who want the pressure relief of memory foam, but the responsiveness of innerspring coils. 

Innerspring

Innerspring beds are constructed from a bed of coils topped with a thin layer of foam. This mattress type isn't ideal for side sleepers, who need more cushioning on the surface to hug their hips and shoulders.

Accessories

Besides swapping out your mattress, side sleepers can also consider trying out bedding accessories like mattress toppers and pillows to further customize their bed. Mattress toppers can change the firmness level of the mattress by softening up a too-firm bed (and adding a thick layer of contouring comfort for pressure points to sink into), while pillows can assist with keeping the head and neck aligned with the spine. The best pillows for side sleepers have a medium to high loft that keeps the head lifted while relieving pressure on the neck. This helps side sleepers avoid neck and shoulder pain.

The 10 Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers

We've taken the above factors into consideration for you with our top picks. If you're ready to find the best mattress for side sleeping based on your unique sleep preferences and budget, keep reading.

Related Items

best RV mattresses
Credit: Helix

Best Overall Mattress: Helix Midnight

Buy It, Helix Midnight Mattress ($1,099 for a Queen, Helix)

Helix offers a variety of mattresses, but there's a reason the Midnight model is the most popular. Not only does it offer near-perfect scores in motion transfer, edge support, and durability, this hybrid mattress is also one of the coolest on the market. The Helix Midnight is made up of individually wrapped pocket coils for breathable support, a transitional polyfoam layer for contouring and ergonomic design, and a memory foam comfort layer for optimal pressure point relief. And, unlike many other mattress brands, the Helix Midnight's foam is CertiPUR-US certified to be free of harmful chemicals. All that is topped with a mattress cover optimized to promote airflow. 

But how is it good for side sleepers? The Helix Midnight features a special layer of comfort foam designed to relieve pressure points from undue stress. This helps limit any stiffness or body aches, so you can wake up feeling rejuvenated. And with a medium firmness level, the Helix Midnight offers great support and a balanced feel, too. 

  • Mattress Type: Hybrid (foam and coil)
  • Mattress Advisor Score: 8.9/10
  • Firmness: Medium (5.5/10) 
  • Trial Period: 100 nights
Mattress Lifestyle Photos
Credit: Courtesy of Saatva

Best Hybrid Mattress: Saatva

Buy It, Saatva Classic Mattress ($1,574 for a Queen, Saatva)

Hybrid mattresses bring together the best of both mattress types, and the Saatva Classic is no exception. The Saatva has many attractive features, but its phenomenal spinal alignment stood out to our testers. You can thank the dual support coil system and the contouring memory foam layer for the Saatva Classic's near-perfect spine alignment score. This ensures you wake up feeling refreshed each morning and free of neck or back pain. 

With three different firmness levels, you can customize the Saatva Classic based on your personal preference, but we'd recommend the plush-soft option for side sleepers in need of some serious contouring and pressure point relief. The luxury-firm selection would work for side sleepers, too; it just comes down to how soft or firm you like your mattress to feel. The Saatva Classic also scored a perfect 10 in durability, meaning you can count on your Saatva mattress to maintain its superior support for more than a decade. While the Saatva Classic is a bit pricier than some other beds, the mattress is made to order in the U.S.A. with eco-friendly materials, and free white-glove delivery makes setup a breeze.

  • Mattress Type: Hybrid (memory foam and coils)
  • Mattress Advisor Score: 8.7/10
  • Firmness: Plush-soft (3/10), luxury-firm (6/10), firm (8/10)
  • Trial Period: 180 nights
GhostBed Luxe Mattress
Credit: Courtesy of Ghostbed

Best Cooling Mattress: GhostBed Luxe

Buy It, GhostBed Luxe Mattress ($2,245 for a Queen, GhostBed)

A mattress that touts itself as "the coolest bed in the world" really has to keep you chill all night, and the GhostBed Luxe mattress backs up that claim with some of the coolest construction on the market. The bed's first layer is made of cool-to-the-touch fabric, a cooling fiber that boosts airflow, and a layer of cooling gel memory foam that hugs your body—a plus for side sleepers. 

Underneath that top layer, a thermo-sensitive material ups the cool factor, while layers of memory foam, a bounce layer that mimics the responsiveness of latex, and a high-density support base provide the pressure point support side sleepers need. In fact, testers at Mattress Advisor told Better Homes & Gardens the GhostBed Luxe scored near-perfect 9.25/10 scores in both spine alignment and responsiveness, as well as a 9/10 in cooling. 

  • Mattress Type: Gel memory foam
  • Mattress Advisor Score: 9/10 
  • Firmness: Medium-firm (5.5/10)
  • Trial Period: 101 nights
Mattress Lifestyle Photos
Credit: Casper

Best Soft Mattress: Casper

Buy It, Casper Mattress ($1,095 for a Queen, Casper)

The Casper Original is a classic memory foam mattress with super-soft layers perfect for cradling side sleepers. With three dense layers of foam, the Casper Original cushions your curves and hugs your body for maximum coziness. Besides being squishy soft, the Casper Original mattress offers exceptional support and pressure relief.

The bed received near-perfect scores in the Mattress Advisor test lab in spinal alignment as well as in edge support, meaning you can roll right to the edge of the bed without feeling like you might fall off. The Casper Original's zoned support layer evens out body weight to provide softer support under the shoulders and firmer support under your waist and lower back, alleviating pressure off of problem areas and providing extra structure where it's needed. Testers gave this mattress a perfect 10 out of 10 score in responsiveness, meaning it adapts quickly to your movements if you change positions in the night. What's more, you won't feel that sinking feeling that some less responsive memory foam mattresses have. Because it's a memory foam bed, it retains heat more than hybrid or innerspring models, so the Casper Original may not be the best choice for hot sleepers.

  • Mattress Type: Memory foam
  • Mattress Advisor Score: 9.1/10 
  • Firmness: Medium-firm (6/10)
  • Trial Period: 100 nights
Mattress Lifestyle Photos
Credit: Birch

Best Organic Mattress: Birch by Helix

Buy It, Birch Mattress, ($1,699 for a Queen, Birch)

Sleep comfortably—and green—with the Birch by Helix mattress. Birch by Helix is the mattress company's premium organic mattress made with materials that come from nature. The Birch is one of the only hybrid mattresses on the market that can boast all-natural construction, incorporating wool sustainably sheared from New Zealand sheep, latex tapped from rubber trees in Southeast Asia, and cotton plucked in the United States. The mattress is also CertiPUR-US certified, meaning it meets rigorous standards for emissions, content, performance, and durability. And because the Birch hybrid offers top-notch spine alignment and pressure point relief, it's also a great choice for side sleepers. Because the Birch is handmade with eco-friendly materials, it does carry a higher price tag than some other mattresses.

  • Mattress Type: Hybrid (Wool, latex, and coils)
  • Mattress Advisor Score: 8.7/10
  • Firmness: Medium-firm (5/10)
  • Trial Period: 100 nights
Winkbeds GravityLux mattress
Credit: Courtesy of Winkbeds

Best Memory Foam Mattress: WinkBeds GravityLux

Buy It, WinkBeds Gravity Lux Mattress ($1,799 for a Queen, WinkBeds)

Most memory foam mattresses have an issue with retaining heat, but not the WinkBeds GravityLux. The bed is made with four layers of foam designed to provide the support and pressure relief that side sleepers need while maintaining air flow. 

A top layer of gel foam wrapped in a breathable Tencel cover wicks away body heat and moisture, while the second layer of foam is infused with air capsules that eliminate motion transfer and heat buildup. The bed's third layer offers targeted support for the back, hips, and shoulders, relieving pressure points for side sleepers. At the heart of the GravityLux, the mattress' core foam base provides pushback and increases the bed's durability—one of the reasons this bed comes with a lifetime warranty, a rarity in the mattress market. The only drawback? The GravityLux is a bit more expensive than traditional memory foam beds. 

  • Mattress Type: Memory foam
  • Mattress Advisor Score: Coming soon
  • Firmness: Soft (4/10), medium (5/10), and firm (7/10) 
  • Trial Period: 120 nights
Mattress Lifestyle Photos
Credit: Nectar

Best Budget Mattress: Nectar

Buy It, Nectar Mattress, ($1,298 for a Queen, Nectar)

At $1,298 for a queen-size bed, the Nectar rings in as the best bang for your mattress buck on our list. For that price point, you get the contouring comfort of gel memory foam with pressure-relieving qualities that rival far more expensive brands. The experts at Mattress Advisor told Better Homes & Gardens that the Nectar earned high marks in responsiveness (8.5/10), pressure relief (8.5/10), and edge support (9/10)—all key factors for side sleepers. The Nectar also comes with a quilted memory foam cover for added softness and cushioning that's also designed to keep dust mites out. Add in Nectar's year-long sleep trial, lifetime warranty, and special discounts and offerings, and you have a deal that's hard to turn down. 

  • Mattress Type: Memory foam
  • Mattress Advisor Score: 8.7/10
  • Firmness: Medium-firm (6/10) 
  • Trial Period: 365 nights
Mattress Lifestyle Photos
Credit: DreamCloud

Best Luxury Mattress: DreamCloud

Buy It, DreamCloud Premier Mattress, ($1,598 for a Queen, DreamCloud)

There's a reason this mattress has the word "premier" tacked onto its name: the DreamCloud Premier luxury mattress is truly a cut above the rest and will have you feeling like you're sleeping on cloud nine. This high-quality hybrid mattress is made up of six layers, including a breathable and responsive coil support layer; a pressure point-relieving, high-density memory foam layer; a body-contouring Euro pillow top; and a cashmere cover that offers a touch of decadence and is naturally resistant to bed bugs. You'd expect to pay thousands for a mattress of this quality, but the DreamCloud Premier has a modest price point compared to other luxury beds on the market. White-glove delivery and removal of your old mattress are also available at an additional cost. 

As far as pressure relief goes, the DreamCloud Premier earned a near-perfect score of 9/10 in the Mattress Advisor test lab. Its premium point-activated foam technology cradles your body while still providing necessary support and spine alignment. If you're a side sleeper looking to spoil yourself with a high-end, five-star-hotel-quality bed, look no further than the DreamCloud Premier.

  • Mattress Type: Hybrid (memory foam and coils)
  • Mattress Advisor Score: 9/10 
  • Firmness: Medium-firm (6.5/10)
  • Trial Period: 365 nights
Bear hybrid mattress
Credit: Courtesy of Bear

Best Mattress for Athletes: Bear Hybrid

Buy It, Bear Hybrid Mattress ($1,695 for a Queen, Bear)

If you lead an active lifestyle, choosing the right mattress means finding a bed that supports and adapts to your body as it recovers from activity. The Bear Hybrid was designed to do just that. 

Marrying the benefits of individually wrapped coils and multiple layers of memory foam, the bed offers such exceptional support that earned it a near-perfect 9.5/10 score from the experts at Mattress Advisor for spine alignment. Layers of comfort and transition foam cradle the body and adapt to all sleep positions, while the gel-infused foam layer keeps you cool and comfortable. But the Bear Hybrid doesn't absorb motion transfer as well as some other mattresses, so it might not be the best choice for couples. 

  • Mattress Type: Hybrid (memory foam and coils)
  • Mattress Advisor Score: 9/10 
  • Firmness: Medium-firm (6.3/10) 
  • Trial Period: 100 nights
Mattress Lifestyle Photos
Credit: Courtesy of Layla

Best Mattress for Side Sleepers with Back Pain: Layla

Buy It, Layla Mattress, ($1,099 for a Queen, Layla)

The Layla Memory Foam is one of the few mattresses on the market that infuses its memory foam with copper, a mineral that can transfer heat, repel bacteria, and even reduce inflammation. It's a great choice for people with back pain and arthritis, because the support foam works with the copper to mitigate tension on high-pressure areas like your back. What makes the Layla a good pick for side sleepers specifically is its pressure-relieving qualities and remarkable responsiveness. The foam layers melt away pressure off your hips and shoulders for a night of easy sleeping. It also comes with a removable mattress cover made with a proprietary softening process that makes it incredibly soft to the touch. And unlike most mattresses, the Layla Memory Foam is also flippable: One side is medium-soft and the other is medium-firm. It's like having two mattresses in one. Both options work well for side sleepers, but the medium-soft side offers more cradling and close contouring.

  • Mattress Type: Memory foam
  • Mattress Advisor Score: 8.8/10
  • Firmness: Flippable, medium-soft (4/10) and medium-firm (7/10)
  • Trial Period: 120 nights

Mattress Advisor's Review Process

Each mattress on this list was put to the test (literally) in Mattress Advisor's lab, which is located in Raleigh, North Carolina. Bedding experts spent over 1,200 hours evaluating and comparing mattresses using a 14-point testing methodology to locate the best mattresses for side sleeping. 

While some of the factors tested are tied directly to performance, like responsiveness, edge support, and pressure relief, others are based around brand operations, such as customer service, shipping policies, and trial period. The Mattress Advisor team combines this proprietary methodology with in-depth interviews and customer experience to arrive at a weighted score out of 10.