Should Side Sleepers Have a Softer Mattress?

Side Sleepers Softer Mattress Or No?

Side sleepers often face unique challenges when finding the perfect mattress. As the most common sleeping position, side sleepers need a mattress that offers support and pressure relief to ensure a comfortable night’s sleep.

One of the most frequently debated topics among side sleepers is whether they should choose a softer mattress, as the right level of firmness is crucial for reducing pain and promoting overall restorative sleep.

Understanding the needs of side sleepers involves considering factors like their body weight, sleep posture, and the impact on pressure points, such as the shoulders and hips. With these aspects in mind, assessing the role of mattress firmness and its effects on alignment and support is essential.

An array of opinions, expert recommendations, and mattress brands can make the decision-making process even more challenging; however, this article aims to tackle some critical considerations in determining if a softer mattress is the better option for side sleepers.

Key Takeaways

  • A suitable mattress for side sleepers must provide support and pressure relief.
  • Factors like body weight and sleep posture play a role in determining the ideal mattress firmness.
  • Choosing the right mattress involves assessing alignment, support, and personal comfort preferences.

Understanding Side Sleepers

Side sleepers have unique needs when it comes to choosing a mattress. This sleep position has been known to reduce back pain and improve breathing and digestion. However, an uncomfortable or unsupportive mattress can lead to issues such as shoulder or hip pain for side sleepers.

The ideal firmness level for a mattress depends on the individual’s preference, body type, and weight. A medium-soft to soft mattress may be more suitable for petite side sleepers who weigh under 130 pounds. This allows the body to sink in comfortably and relieves pressure on the shoulders and hips. On the other hand, heavyset side sleepers might require a mattress with a touch of firmness to prevent sinking too deep, causing back pain and discomfort.

It is essential for side sleepers to select a mattress that provides an adequate amount of conforming and cushioning. A mattress that is too firm can create pressure points on the shoulders and hips. Conversely, a mattress that is too soft can cause improper spinal alignment, leading to discomfort and potential long-term issues.

In addition to finding the right mattress firmness, side sleepers should pay attention to their pillow selection. Choosing a pillow with the correct height and firmness can help maintain proper spinal alignment and relieve pressure on the neck and shoulders.

It is crucial to recognize that each side sleeper is different, and finding the perfect mattress and pillow combination may require some trial and error. By understanding the particular needs of side sleepers and addressing factors like firmness and pillow support, individuals can enjoy restful sleep free of pain and unnecessary pressure on their bodies.

Importance of Mattress Firmness for Side Sleepers

Mattress firmness is crucial for side sleepers, as it directly affects their comfort and spinal alignment throughout the night. The right firmness level can significantly reduce the risks of developing aches, pains, and pressure points while sleeping.

Various firmness levels are available in mattresses, ranging from soft to firm. Typically, side sleepers benefit the most from a medium to medium-firm mattress. This firmness level balances support and contouring, allowing the sleeper’s body to sink in just the right amount for optimal spinal alignment.

A soft mattress might offer extra cushioning but may also lead to excessive sinkage for side sleepers. When the body sinks in too much, it can cause poor spinal alignment and discomfort in the hips and shoulders. On the other hand, a firm mattress may not provide enough contouring, resulting in pressure points and insufficient support for the body’s natural curves.

The ideal firmness level also depends on the sleeper’s body weight. Lighter individuals may find a medium-soft mattress more suitable, as it can provide adequate contouring without causing them to sink in too much. Conversely, heavier individuals may benefit from a slightly firmer mattress, which can offer the necessary support to prevent excessive sinkage.

In conclusion, for side sleepers, choosing a mattress with the right firmness level is essential to ensure optimal comfort, support, and spinal alignment. A medium to medium-firm mattress is generally the best choice, but individual preferences and body weight should also be considered. It’s important to test different firmness levels and pay close attention to personal comfort and support needs when selecting a mattress for side sleepers.

Types of Mattresses

When choosing the best mattress for side sleepers, understanding the different types of mattresses available is essential. Four main types are commonly found in the market: foam mattresses, memory foam mattresses, innerspring mattresses, and hybrid mattresses.

Foam Mattresses are made entirely of foam layers and can provide excellent support and comfort for side sleepers. They come in various densities and firmness levels, allowing sleepers to find one that suits their preferences. They can also conform to the body, effectively redistributing pressure and helping to maintain proper spinal alignment.

Memory Foam Mattresses have a memory foam layer, which gives a unique contouring feel as it molds to the sleeper’s body. This contouring effect can relieve pressure points and help side sleepers with hip and shoulder pain. However, memory foam can sometimes retain heat, so it’s essential to look for options with cooling properties if you sleep hot.

Innerspring Mattresses consist of steel coils that provide support and durability. Depending on the coil count and construction, these mattresses can offer excellent spinal support for side sleepers. Nonetheless, they might not provide the best pressure relief, as they don’t conform as closely to the body as foam or memory foam mattresses.

Hybrid Mattresses combine elements of both innerspring and foam mattresses, creating a balanced sleeping surface. Typically, these mattresses feature a coil support system topped with foam or memory foam layers. Hybrid mattresses can provide a good balance of support, pressure relief, and contouring, making them a popular choice among side sleepers.

Latex Mattresses are another option for side sleepers. These mattresses are crafted using natural or synthetic rubber, providing a unique, supportive, and conforming feel. Latex mattresses often have a bouncier feel than an all-foam model, but they can still offer adequate pressure relief and support for side sleepers.

Each type of mattress has its pros and cons, so side sleepers need to consider their personal preferences, requirements, and budget when selecting a mattress. Finding a mattress that balances support and pressure relief will help side sleepers achieve a night of comfortable and restorative sleep.

Impact on Pressure Points

When selecting the right mattress for side sleepers, it is essential to consider the impact on pressure points. A softer mattress can benefit side sleepers because it provides better pressure relief to the body’s pressure points. These pressure points, typically located at the shoulders, hips, and knees, bear the most body weight when sleeping on one’s side. As a result, they may experience a higher risk of discomfort and pain if not adequately supported by the mattress.

Pressure relief is crucial for side sleepers, as an unsupportive mattress can lead to issues like shoulder or hip pain. A softer mattress offers better pressure-relieving properties that can alleviate these pains. This is particularly relevant for individuals who weigh less than 130 pounds, as they place minimal force on the mattress surface, causing it to feel firmer. Consequently, a softer mattress may be more suitable for this group to provide adequate pressure point relief.

Moreover, pressure points play a significant role in maintaining sleep quality. When those points consistently contact the bed’s surface without sufficient pressure relief, it can negatively impact sleep quality and increase pain. Therefore, side sleepers must have a mattress that effectively addresses these pressure points to help improve their sleep quality.

However, it is important to note that a softer mattress may not always be the best solution for everyone, as personal preferences and sleep needs vary. The ideal firmness level for each side sleeper will depend on their body weight and comfort preferences. Generally, a medium-firmness mattress (around a 5 on the firmness scale) offers most side sleepers the right balance of support and pressure relief. So, while a softer mattress can provide excellent pressure point relief, it is essential for side sleepers to consider their individual needs and preferences when selecting a mattress.

Alignment and Support

Side sleepers must balance comfort and support to maintain proper spinal alignment and avoid waking up with aches and pains. A mattress that is too soft or too firm can cause discomfort and strain on the body, particularly on the hips and shoulders.

A medium-soft to medium-firm mattress is generally recommended for side sleepers. This firmness provides enough cushioning for pressure relief on prominent body parts like the hips and shoulders while offering the necessary support to keep the spine aligned. This is crucial, as proper spinal alignment helps prevent common issues such as lower back pain and stiffness.

Edge support is another important factor to consider, as it can contribute to the overall support and durability of the mattress. Good edge support allows side sleepers to utilize the full surface of the mattress without feeling like they are about to roll off. This is especially important for individuals who shift closer to the edge while sleeping.

It is worth noting that individual weight can also influence the appropriate mattress firmness for side sleepers. Heavier people might need a slightly firmer mattress for adequate support, while lighter people prefer a softer feel. For example, a 125-pound person may find a medium-soft mattress comfortable, while a 300-pound person would likely need a medium-firm mattress to avoid sinking in too much.

In summary, side sleepers should opt for a mattress that offers a balance of comfort and support to ensure proper spinal alignment, relieve pressure on the hips and shoulders, and provide adequate edge support for a comfortable night’s sleep. When choosing the ideal mattress firmness level, individual preferences and body weight should also be considered.

Role of Body Weight

Body weight plays a significant role when selecting the appropriate mattress firmness for side sleepers. A person’s body weight affects how firmness levels feel and the support needed to maintain proper spinal alignment and reduce pressure points.

Heavier people prefer firmer mattresses because soft foams may cause them to sink too much, compromising comfort and support. On the other hand, lightweight sleepers usually find sleeping on a softer mattress more comfortable, as it offers better contouring and cradling of the body at the right pressure points.

For side sleepers, the weight is mostly concentrated on the hip and shoulder regions, making these areas more prone to pressure points. A mattress that addresses these pressure points, provides proper support to the spine and maintains alignment can lead to a more comfortable sleep experience.

It is essential for side sleepers, regardless of their body weight, to avoid a substantial mattress, as this can exacerbate pressure points on the hips, shoulders, head, and ankles. A mattress with the appropriate level of firmness, based on an individual’s body weight and preferences, will facilitate better sleep quality and reduce the chances of developing pain or discomfort.

In conclusion, side sleepers should consider their body weight when choosing the ideal mattress firmness. Heavier individuals may benefit from a firmer option, while lighter individuals might prefer a softer mattress. Ultimately, selecting a mattress that caters to one’s body weight and offers the right balance between support and comfort will make all the difference in ensuring a good night’s sleep for side sleepers.

Addressing Pain

Side sleepers often experience various types of pain, such as back, shoulder, hip, and joint pain. Selecting a mattress with the appropriate firmness and support is crucial in alleviating these discomforts.

Back pain, for instance, can be reduced when the spine is properly aligned. A mattress that provides adequate support and conforms to the body’s curves may help maintain optimal spinal alignment. The Nolah Evolution 15 mattress is an example of a product that offers proper spinal alignment support.

Moving on to shoulder pain, side sleepers may require a cushioning mattress that allows the shoulders to sink slightly while providing pressure relief. The Layla Hybrid mattress is designed to cater to side sleepers who experience shoulder pain, as it balances support and comfort with its dual-sided firmness options.

Hip pain is another common issue faced by side sleepers, often resulting from insufficient pressure relief around the hips. The Brooklyn Bedding Signature Hybrid, with its soft firmness option, may be suitable for addressing hip pain as it allows the hips to sink in without compromising overall support.

Lastly, joint pain can be exacerbated by an unsupportive mattress that doesn’t evenly distribute body weight. Side sleepers should seek a mattress that adapts to the body and provides pressure relief to prevent additional strain on the joints. The Bear Elite Hybrid mattress is known for its pressure-relieving properties and might be a suitable choice for those experiencing joint pain.

Combining softness, support, and pressure relief can significantly improve the sleep quality for side sleepers and minimize discomfort such as back, shoulder, hip, and joint pain. Various mattresses on the market cater to these specific needs, ensuring side sleepers can find the perfect match for their preferences and requirements.

Benefits of Specific Mattress Brands

Saatva Classic is a well-regarded option for side sleepers because it combines innerspring coils and memory foam, offering excellent pressure relief and a supportive feel. The mattress comes in three firmness options, with the Luxury Firm option being the most suitable for side sleepers due to its balance of comfort and support.

Helix Midnight is another popular choice for side sleepers as it has a medium firmness level that provides the necessary pressure relief for the hips and shoulders while sleeping on the side. The mattress also features a combination of memory foam and pocketed coils, offering excellent movement isolation and edge support.

Nectar mattress is a notable option for its high-quality memory foam that contours the body well and provides pressure relief for side sleepers. The mattress is medium-firm and offers a good balance of support and comfort.

DreamCloud is a luxury hybrid mattress offering side sleepers a comfortable sleep surface. With foam layers and pocketed coils, this mattress provides good pressure relief, support, and motion isolation.

WinkBed, available in multiple firmness levels, caters to the varied preferences of side sleepers. The softer options provide a plush feel while cradling the hips and shoulders, and firmer choices offer adequate support for spinal alignment.

Brooklyn Bedding Signature is a hybrid mattress customized based on different firmness levels to cater to various sleep preferences. The medium firmness option best suits side sleepers, offering necessary pressure relief and support.

Layla Hybrid is a flippable mattress, with one side being soft and the other firm. Side sleepers can benefit from the soft side, which features memory foam, providing excellent pressure relief for shoulders and hips while maintaining proper spinal alignment.

Tempur-Pedic is well-known for offering high-quality memory foam mattresses in different firmness levels. Side sleepers may prefer the softer Tempur-Pedic mattresses to enjoy the benefits of body contouring and pressure relief on their hips and shoulders.

  • Best Overall Mattress for Side Sleepers: Helix Midnight
  • Best Soft Mattress for Side Sleepers: Layla Hybrid
  • Best Firm Mattress for Side Sleepers: Saatva Classic Luxury Firm
  • Best Memory Foam Mattress for Side Sleepers: Nectar mattress

While these mattress brands provide excellent options for side sleepers, it’s also important to consider accompanying pillows.Using a pillow that supports the neck and head while aligning with the mattress and shoulder is crucial for side sleepers.

Important Mattress Features

When considering a mattress for side sleepers, paying attention to certain features that will ensure a comfortable and supportive sleep is crucial. The following paragraphs will discuss some of these essential mattress elements.

Materials play a significant role in determining the comfort of a mattress. A medium-soft to medium-firm mattress is often ideal for side sleepers, providing the right balance of support and pressure relief. Memory foam and hybrid mattresses, made with combinations of foam and coils, are popular choices. Memory foam cradles the hips and shoulders, alleviating pressure points, while coils offer ample support for spinal alignment.

Coils in a mattress can come in various types, such as steel coils or pocketed coils. Steel coils are interconnected springs that provide firmness and support to the mattress. Pocketed coils, also called individually wrapped coils, are encased in separate pockets, which allow for better motion isolation and contouring support. Although both types of coils can be useful for side sleepers, those with a higher concentration of pocketed coils are often preferred for their ability to reduce motion transfer and conform to the sleeper’s body shape.

Temperature regulation is another vital feature in a mattress for side sleepers. A cooling mattress that maintains a comfortable sleeping temperature is beneficial for uninterrupted sleep. Some mattresses utilize advanced foams or gel-infused memory foam to help dissipate heat, while other cooling mattress options include breathable and moisture-wicking materials. Proper temperature regulation and adequate support can improve side sleepers’ sleep experience.

Motion isolation is also essential, especially for those who share a bed with a partner. A mattress with good motion isolation prevents disturbances caused by movement during sleep. This characteristic is often found in mattresses that combine foam and pocketed coils, resulting in minimal motion transfer and a stable sleeping surface.

In conclusion, selecting a mattress for side sleepers involves considering the materials, coil types, temperature regulation, and motion isolation. By considering these factors, side sleepers can find a mattress that offers the required support and comfort for a restful night’s sleep.

Considerations When Choosing a Mattress

When side sleepers are in the market for a new mattress, several factors must be considered. One crucial aspect to consider is the contouring and cradling ability of the mattress. A mattress that contours well can mold to the body’s curves, providing support and reducing pressure points. This is particularly important for side sleepers, who experience more pressure on their shoulders and hips.

High-density foam can be a great option for side sleepers, offering superior contouring and pressure relief. However, it’s essential to remember that a mattress’s feel may vary, and one person might prefer a softer or firmer mattress. The firmness scale could help potential buyers understand the level of support a mattress offers. Side sleepers usually benefit from a mattress within the medium to medium-soft range on the firmness scale.

Pricing is always a significant consideration when purchasing a new mattress. Shoppers should establish their budget and look for affordable options that provide the desired level of contouring and firmness. It’s also essential to evaluate any warranties and trial periods offered by the mattress companies.

A 10-year warranty is standard in the mattress world, but some brands may offer a forever warranty. This type of warranty can help ensure the quality and durability of the mattress and provides peace of mind to the buyer. Along with warranties, trial periods are essential, as they allow customers to try the mattress in their homes before making a long-term commitment. Typical trial periods range from 90 to 120 days.

Lastly, savvy shoppers can use seasonal sales, such as Labor Day mattress sales, to save money on their purchases. These sales events offer discounts on various mattress brands and models, allowing buyers to find a high-quality mattress at a more budget-friendly price.

In conclusion, side sleepers should prioritize contouring, cradling, and an appropriate firmness level when choosing a mattress. By considering factors such as high-density foam, pricing, warranties, trial periods, and sales events, buyers can confidently select a comfortable and supportive mattress suited to their needs.


When selecting the best mattress for side sleepers, the consensus is that a softer mattress is preferable. This is because a soft to medium-firm mattress can conform to the body’s natural contours, which in turn helps to alleviate pressure in the shoulders and hips. As side sleepers generally experience less back pain and improved breathing and digestion, ensuring that their chosen mattress caters to their specific sleeping position is important.

However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and personal preferences, as well as individual body types, should be taken into account when selecting a mattress. Lightweight side sleepers, for example, might find that a soft mattress is the most comfortable, while heavier side sleepers may require a medium-firm mattress to provide the necessary support.

Ultimately, the choice of mattress for side sleepers should be based on their specific needs and comfort preferences. It is always recommended to test out various mattresses before making a final decision, ensuring that the chosen mattress provides the right balance of comfort and support for a restful night’s sleep for every side sleeper.

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