Let’s talk about sleep position. Are you a back sleeper? Stomach sleeper? Side sleeper? A sleeper that doesn’t actually know because you’re, well, sleeping? Chances are you fall into the “side sleeper” category, mainly because 41% of adults prefer this sleeping position – more specifically, the fetal position.
Not only does the fetal position promote healthy airway circulation, but it also aligns the spine, shoulders, and pelvis (which helps relieve pressure points in the neck and lower back). If you don’t sleep in the fetal position, then you’re probably either in the yearner, log, or sprinter position – essentially, just variations of the beloved fetal position.
So, why does your sleeping position matter so much, anyway?
Well, it matters because it determines which type of mattress you choose – at least it should. Though all mattresses serve the same, universal purpose (sleep), we want to break down the best mattress for side sleepers, specifically.
What to Prioritize in Finding the Right Mattress
Sure, there are a lot of things you could consider when choosing a mattress (i.e. pricing, durability, allergens, etc.) and while these things are equally important, we want to focus on what will specifically maximize a side sleeper’s bedtime experience.
When it comes to firmness, side sleepers should look for a mattress with soft to moderate firmness levels. In fact, there’s a firmness 1-10 scale that can be tested against any mattress – 1 being the least firm, and 10 being the firmest. Most sleepers assume that an extra firm mattress is the most supportive (it is in the case of pushing yourself up to a seated position), but a plush mattress will actually better support a slide sleeper.
When you’re sleeping on your side, you want your mattress to contour to the curves of your body so as to not dig into the mattress. Your body and the mattress shouldn’t act as two competing forces, but rather mold together. That being said, no one likes the feeling of sinking so deep into a mattress that it’s difficult to breathe. So, what makes a decent plush mattress?
What Constitutes a Plush Mattress for Side Sleepers
- On the firmness scale, the mattress should come in at about a 5 out of 10 (with 6.5 being moderately firm). These are the best mattresses for side sleepers because they offer even support.
- It offers enough pressure relief and support to sensitive areas like the hips, neck, and shoulders.
- Provides deep – but not overwhelmingly deep – sinkage to relieve pressure points along the spine.
Based on a study that compared mattresses specifically for lateral sleepers, no side sleeper should be sleeping on a mattress that is too soft or too firm. Basically, we’re searching for Goldilocks’ mattress.
For starters, support is not the exact same as firmness. A softer mattress can have just as good of support as a firmer mattress. Every sleeper – side sleeper or not – would be smart to look at the support of a mattress. If you’re sleeping on your side, you may wind up in a strange position throughout the night that leads to unhealthy spine alignment. A mattress with high-quality support can mold to your body no matter your shape or weight.
A Supportive Mattress will…
- Again, contour to your body’s shape.
- Support your shoulders and hips as you shift throughout the night
- Alleviate tension and pressure across all sensitive areas without “drowning” you in its structure.
Types of Supportive Mattresses
The material itself matters. An innerspring mattress with steel coils will provide a much different experience from that of a foam or latex mattress. But we want to highlight foam mattresses, specifically. A good memory foam mattress will offer different levels of firmness and support, but universally, a good foam mattress should feature a high-density polyfoam support core. High-density foam translates to a high-quality mattress.
Foam mattresses are particularly the best mattresses for side sleepers because that plush memory foam will hug a sleeper’s pressure points, and they’re particularly useful in providing pressure relief. Additionally, the extra sinkage will give you more space for your shoulders – thus, correcting your spine while you sleep.
Lastly, let’s go over pelvic rotation. This happens when you twist or curl your legs up in the opposite position of your upper body. Picture this: an individual who leaves one leg somewhat straight while the other is bent. This position tends to naturally twist the person’s upper body, turning them onto either their stomach or back, while their lower body remains on the side. This rotation is brutal on the lower back and can also lead to neck pain.
While there aren’t really ways for you to prevent pelvic rotation (unless you have some sort of device that forces you to change your sleeping habits), there are still some things you can do to reduce the pain that makes it hard to get out of bed the next morning.
- Use a pillow in-between your legs for proper spinal alignment.
- Before falling asleep, try to actively train yourself to sleep in a position that won’t harm your spine.
- Above all, find a proper mattress with the right levels of support and firmness.
Not All Side Sleepers are Side Sleepers Alike
Just because you’re in the “side sleeper” category doesn’t necessarily mean you have identical sleeping habits to another side sleeper. As we’ve said, there are even different positions within the “side sleeper” category. Here, we want to go over some different circumstances that may alter your mattress search.
Sharing a Bed
If you’re married or sharing a bed with someone, you know just how tricky it is to share your precious, personal space – especially when it comes to bedtime. Whether it’s the incessant snoring or constant moving, your partner can keep you up for hours. If you’re the cause of the problem (or want to eliminate the problem), you must choose a mattress that can withstand motion transfer.
What do we mean by this? Motion transfer takes place when one sleeper moves and this action disturbs the other’s sleep cycle. Because of the energy that the mattress material carries, the “victim” of a motion transfer can even be startled awake. To prevent this, opt for a mattress made from memory foam, polyurethane, or latex. These materials absorb energy directly and very rarely transmit the energy to the opposite side of the bed. This is ideal if you or your spouse are side sleepers because chances are, there’s a lot of movement each night.
Side note: steer clear of beds with flexible coil springs because they are the most notorious for a disruptive motion transfer. Can you hear the springy sounds now?
Lower Back or Shoulder Pain
You’ll want a hybrid mattress if you have lower back or shoulder pain because it aligns the spine. This is another great mattress for side sleepers because a typical hybrid mattress blends the plushness of a foam mattress with a coil system for extra support. You get the support and cradling all out of one mattress – a match made in heaven designed specifically for side sleepers with lower back pain.
In addition, shoulder pain is common among side sleepers. While poor posture and weight can contribute to shoulder pain, a lot of it has to do with your sleep position alone. If you tend to sleep with your hands under your pillow, your muscles will naturally tighten throughout the night, increasing the pain. If this is the case, you’ll also want a hybrid mattress as it will offer the same relief your lower back might receive from the smart construction of foam and springs.
Overheating in the Night
Perhaps overheating is your nightly battle. Maybe you sleep on your side so you can swing a leg out from under your covers to cool your body down. Whatever the reason, there are mattresses that work to cool you down while you sleep. Technology, right?
Most hybrid mattresses are able to slow down the transfer of body heat to the mattress through an advanced material (like graphite, copper, or gel) that produces a low heat conductivity. So, if you’re a side sleeper used to getting sweaty throughout the night, say goodbye. It’s time to try out an advanced mattress that wicks moisture away.
Back/Side Combo Sleepers
Let’s not discredit the “back/side combo” sleepers here. Not all side sleepers are strictly side sleepers. Some sleepers have changed positions up to 36 times in just one night! If this is where you find yourself, let’s talk about mattresses that will best accommodate your subconscious choices to switch sleeping positions in the middle of the night.
If you’re a combination sleeper, you’ll want a mattress with ample support for all sleeping positions, enough softness and comfort for each position, and easy movement – so as to not create a motion transfer. In this case, the best mattress for side sleepers is either made of memory foam, latex, or an innerspring.
How Hero Bed Accommodates Side Sleepers on All Fronts
Listen up, side sleepers. Now that you know what to look for in a mattress, why don’t we just tell you about the mattress that takes care of all your needs?
Here at Hero Bed, we offer 2-inch “Hero Foam” that relieves pressure points (4x more than traditional memory foam) for your hips, shoulders, back, and any other sensitive areas. Our mattresses also feature 1-inch zoned Talalay Latex – a material that will lift your body and relax your muscles, 1-inch heavy-duty polyurethane base foam to provide solid support, and lastly, our mattresses include over 1,300 comfort coils to stop and reduce motion transfer. If you’re a side sleeper, these things are sure to improve your sleep quality (or your partner’s).
So, if you want to try out a highly-durable mattress designed to outlast old-fashioned mattresses, and accommodate your sleeping position…Hero Bed offers the best mattress for side sleepers. Sweet dreams, you side sleepers.