Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers in 2024, According to Sleep Experts

Firmness: Is the mattress soft enough to contour to the neck, shoulders, and hips, but firm enough to support the spine and keep it in alignment? (More on the best firmness for side sleepers below!)

Pressure relief: Research connects sleeping on your side with pain in your shoulders and hips, because those areas dig into the mattress. We use a pressure-mapping mat to determine whether these sensitive body parts get enough cushion while you snooze.

Materials: We literally cut them open to see what’s inside. Memory foam or hybrid (meaning, made from both foam and coils) mattresses are generally the best for side sleepers because they can offer pressure relief.

For more intel on how, exactly, we test for these factors, along with more details about what goes into our mattress testing for all sleepers, check out our sleep products methodology page.

What mattress firmness level do side sleepers need?

When it comes to firmness, the name of the game for side sleepers is balance: A too-firm mattress won’t conform to your body, which can put extra pressure on your joints that come into contact with the bed (namely your hips and shoulders) and lead to an achy, uncradled lower back . A too-soft mattress, on the other hand, may throw your spine alignment out of whack. “For side sleepers, mattresses with some amount of give can be optimal to alleviate pressure through the hip and shoulder,” Dr. Baxi says.

In other words, you don’t want to sink into your mattress like it’s a beanbag chair, but you also don’t want to feel like your body is pushing against its surface. Finding a bed that strikes that balance for you will come down to personal preference and body shape and size, but as Gerard Girasole, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, previously told SELF, a medium-firm mattress is a good place to start for side sleepers.

What materials are best in mattresses for side sleepers?

An all-foam or hybrid (foam and innerspring) mattress can work well for side sleepers, so long as its firmness suits you, Dr. Baxi says. Because the right choice for you comes down to your specific sleeping habits—Do you share your bed? Do you overheat at night?—it’s helpful to know the key differences between the two types.

All-foam: These tend to be softer and feel like they’re cradling your body. This can be a win for people who share their bed because the extra cushion means you’re less likely to feel rumblings if your partner tosses and turns. However, foam mattresses also often trap body heat; so if you get night sweats but love a squishy bed, we recommend you look for a mattress made with cooling-gel memory foam.

Hybrid: These are made of both foam and innersprings: The top foam layer contours to the body while the supportive coils beneath prevent you from sinking too far into the bed. Hybrid mattresses are usually a safe bet for hot sleepers because the coils allow for air to flow through the mattress, keeping things cool.


TL;DR? Listen, we get that sometimes you just want fast facts to help you make a quick choice. Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about the best mattresses for side sleepers; if you skip everything else, read this:

What type of mattress should I get if I’m a side sleeper?

The best type of mattress for side sleepers has enough cushion to ease pain and pressure, but firm enough to help your spine stay in a neutral position. Hybrid and all-foam mattresses are typically the best beds for side sleepers, thanks to foam comfort layers that cradle pressure points.

Is a softer or firmer mattress better for side sleepers?

The right level of mattress firmness for side sleepers depends on body size and general comfort preferences—but you’ll want to start your search with a medium-firm option.

Is memory foam good for side sleepers?

It sure can be. Many side-sleeping testers and online reviewers love the way foam molds to the body and cushions their joints, which research shows can ease or prevent pain caused by added pressure on the shoulders and hips in the side-sleeping position.

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

A hybrid or memory foam mattress is a great choice for side sleepers who need pressure relief and comfort from back pain, so we recommend the Bear Elite Hybrid if you wake up with an achy spine. Scroll up to learn more about it!

What are the best bed-in-a-box options for side sleepers?

Many online mattress brands, including a number of selects in this roundup, ship their beds compressed in boxes—but that doesn’t mean they’re all thin and flimsy. Many feature thick, pressure-relieving comfort layers side sleepers love. These include the Brooklyn Bedding Aurora Luxe, Helix Midnight, Nectar, and Nolah Evolution.

With reporting from Sara Coughlin

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