Do you sleep on your side? If the answer is yes, congrats — your sleep position is the same as the vast majority of the population. And while it’s certainly not a popularity contest (though we wish it were), there are definite health benefits to side sleeping.
Why is this position so advantageous? For starters, sleeping on your side leads to improved airway circulation, which is extremely important for people who suffer from sleep apnea. This also helps curb snoring and combat acid reflux. Additionally, side sleeping allows you to avoid putting pressure on your heart, aiding blood circulation and alleviating your risk for your heartburn. It can even ease digestion and assist lymph nodes in properly draining their toxins. Many people are also drawn to side sleeping because it provides relief from lower back pain; the position typically means your back and pelvis are aligned so the pressure throughout your body is reduced.
Of course, in order to reap the benefits of side-sleeping, you really need to find the right mattress — one that provides adequate support. We figured we’d do you a solid and compile of list of our top picks:
Queen – $699
You’re not dreaming. Nectar provides total comfort at a very reasonable price point. The mattress itself combines both standard and gel memory foam which perfectly contour to your body without sagging. Indeed, Nectar finds the sweet spot between firmness and softness. It’s also made with a Tencel cooling cover, designed to wick away heat and circulate air as you sleep. Moreover, Nectar offers customers a 180-day risk-free sleep trial. If you’re unhappy you can return the mattress, no strings attached. As if that wasn’t enough, the company also maintains a forever warranty.
- All types of sleepers.
- People with back pain.
- People who sleep hot.
Queen – $595
In desperate need of a quality mattress but don’t have a ton of cash to drop? The good folks at Tuft and Needle have your back (somewhat literally)! Made from high-quality adaptive foam, this mattress offers equals part softness and support. Just as critical, it provides great pressure relief. What’s more, the foam is made with graphite and cooling gel beads to help ensure you won’t overheat during the night. Have a significant other? Well, then you’ll definitely appreciate the localized bounce, which means you won’t feel each other tossing or turning. Of course, you don’t have to take our word for it, Tuft and Needle offers a 100-night trial along with a 10-year limited warranty.
- People who sleep hot.
- Side and back sleepers.
Queen – $999
If you’re sleeping on a Layla mattress, you are bound to wake up feeling well-rested and refreshed. Why? To begin with, it features a unique, flippable design; one side is medium soft and the other is firm. Hence this bed suits all body types and personal preferences. Perhaps more importantly, Layla uses copper-infused memory foam. The copper itself aids in circulation and the overall foam provides the cushioning needed for proper spinal alignment and pressure relief. Indeed, these factors are what make it a great option for individuals with back issues. Additionally, the mattress minimizes motion transfer; you’ll be hard pressed to feel your partner moving around. And if you’re feeling wary, fear not! Layla allows a 120-night sleep trial. If you’re unhappy, they’ll pick up your mattress, donate it to a local charity and provide you with a full refund.
- People with back pain
- All body types
Queen – $1,090
If you or your partner are on the heavier side, you’ll definitely want to check out the Helix Nightfall. The mattress is specially designed for individuals who are big and tall. After all, it’s made with high-density foam for maximum support and pressure relief. Even better, the Nightfall features wrapped coils which both nestle your body and reinforce the bed’s perimeter. Hence you get total edge support as well. And that’s not all, Helix smartly employs a breathable, two cover design which helps increase airflow. Overheating in this bed won’t be an issue.
- People who sleep hot
- Sleepers in the heavier weight group
- Side and back sleepers
Queen – $1,299
Have you ever wanted to know what it’s like to sleep on a cloud? Well, this mattress from Loom and Leaf might be the closest approximation. Made from premium memory foam, it features a quilted, organic cotton top, gel layer for a cooling effect, layers for convoluting and contouring, and a base layer that allows for airflow. The memory foam is also amazing at isolating movement. And, given that Loom and Leaf uses environmentally-friendly materials, you can feel good about purchasing this mattress. Finally, similar to the options mentioned above, the company offers a 120-day sleep trial, though we suspect it will be love at first sleep with the Loom and Leaf.
- People with back pain
- Sleepers in the average and heavy weight groups
Choosing the Best Mattress for Side-Sleeping
Regardless of whether you choose one of the mattresses above or another alternative, it’s important to realize that firmness should be the most critical factor in your decision. This is because, despite the benefits of side-sleeping, the wrong mattress is liable to put undue strain on your body. You really need a mattress that will contour to your shape, thus minimizing the compression of your joints and ensuring your spine stays aligned. Ultimately, you want a bed that is soft enough to have some give for your hips and shoulders but solid enough to provide spine support.
Factor in Size and Weight
For many side sleepers, a medium-firm mattress should suffice. Nevertheless, it’s probably best (and easiest) to think about firmness in conjunction with size and weight:
- If you’re under 130 pounds with a BMI of 19 or less, you’ll likely want a softer mattress. Since you are lighter than average, you won’t sink as deeply. That means that beds that are firmer might not conform to your body enough.
- If you weigh between 130-230 pounds and have a BMI of 19-25, a medium-soft to lightly-firm mattress should do the trick. You’ll receive both the support and cushioning you need for a comfortable night’s sleep.
- If you weigh over 230 pounds and have a BMI over 25, a firm mattress is the way to go. Heavier -set individuals are liable to sink too deeply if the bed is too soft. This can lead to pain and even misalignment of the spine.
Factor in Mattress Type
Of course, firmness also correlates to the type of material from which each mattress is made. Therefore, it’s important to have a basic understanding of what’s available. Mattresses can be divided into four main types:
- Innerspring: Often the cheapest option (and the one with the shortest lifespan), innerspring mattresses are manufactured with steel springs designed to support your core. They also tend to have polyfoam layers for added comfort. Unfortunately, innersprings don’t conform as well as other materials. They do, however, sleep cool.
- Foam: Slightly more expensive than innerspring options, foam mattresses usually have several layers of memory foam, polyfoam or some combination of the two. These mattresses do a good job of contouring to your body and providing pressure relief. However, they have been known to sag over time and can get hot.
- Latex: Pricier than foam but with a longer lifespan, latex mattresses often use natural or synthetic latex for both core support and comfort. These beds also do a good job of contouring and relieving pressure. And if you have a bedfellow take note: latex mattresses are great for isolating movement. Conversely, they can be prone to sagging as well.
- Hybrid: As their name suggests, hybrid mattresses are a combination of latex, memory foam, and coils. They offer great support, especially along the edge of the bed. Their biggest drawback? Hybrid mattresses are sometimes on the pricey side.
Other Factors to Consider
Aside from considering the material, we also recommend testing out the bed. If you are shopping in a physical store, spend at least 15-20 minutes lying on each potential mattress — in the side sleep position of course. This will give your body time to settle. You should also wear loose fitting clothes (unless you sleep in spandex and leather pajamas). And if you have a partner, be sure they come along. It’s vital that the mattress is comfortable for both of you. Plus, this gives you the opportunity to test how much you can feel the other person moving.
Planning to shop online? That’s not a problem. Many companies offer sleep trials. Some even let you test a mattress for an entire year. Be sure you check out all fine print before committing. You want to know if you’ll have to pay added shipping costs, removal fees, etc. It’s no fun being surprised by an unexpected bill.
Finally, we should also note that side sleeping can place added pressure on your neck and shoulders. Therefore, it is critical to find a pillow that provides the necessary support. You don’t want to sleep with something that is overly fluffy or flat. Similar to mattresses, you should purchase a pillow that is able to conform to your natural curves.
Listen, you spend roughly a third of your day in bed (assuming you are clocking your full 8 hours). You need a mattress that you find comfortable and delivers a good night’s sleep. As you search for the perfect option, it’s imperative that take your sleep position into consideration. If it’s not compatible, it’s not the mattress for you.
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