Sleep positions are usually different for each sleeper, and having a specialized mattress to match your sleep habits can help your sleep quality, comfort, and overall health. If you’re a side sleeper, you might not have realized that there are mattresses designed specifically for you and your sleep position. The best mattresses for side sleepers are ones that contour to the shape of your resting body, providing ample pressure relief and alleviating back pain, hip pain, and shoulder pain.
With so many beds on the market to choose from, narrowing your choice down to even just a few models can be hard. Trust us, we get it. Which is why the CNET sleep editors have tested over 100 different beds, giving us a feel (literally and figuratively) for the best mattresses that suit side sleepers.
Our pick: What’s the best mattress for side sleepers?
My fellow mattress testers and I slept on more than two dozen models to find the best mattress for side sleepers, and here are our findings. We update this side sleeper mattress review list periodically as we test new products.
The beds chosen below were top-rated among the editors during testing. We analyzed everything from firmness, feel, motion isolation, edge support and temperature. We also take overall comfort, versatility and special features into account. After testing we found the Layla Hybrid mattress to be the best mattress for side sleepers, but there were plenty of other beds that also stood out as good picks.
Prices listed are for queen sizes, though they frequently change.
Video: Best mattress for side sleepers
Watch CNET Video Producer Owen Poole review the best mattress for side sleepers.
Best mattresses for side sleepers in 2023
Mattress Price Scale:
Reflect MSRP prices* sales might push a mattress to a lower threshold, but they are always changing.
Other side sleeper mattresses we’ve tested
The CNET Sleep editors have tested more beds than the average sleeper. Around 100 different ones, in fact, and we’ve dedicated hundreds of hours to the craft. The beds on the list were among some of the best we came across, but there are several mattresses that also stood out and deserve some of the spotlight.
- WinkBed mattress: The luxurious and Pinterest-perfect WinkBed mattress comes in three firmness levels, and the soft model would be a perfect fit for side sleepers looking for a plush, supportive hybrid mattress. The WinkBed is made with several layers of comfy foam, strong pocketed coils, and a fluffy pillow top that makes it look as good as it feels. I think side sleepers of all body types would enjoy the WinkBed.
- Original Layla mattress: We mentioned the Layla Hybrid on this list, but if you want to save some money and are willing to give up the pocketed coil base layer, then the Original foam Layla mattress is a great option. It’s also flippable, and features one very plush and soft side perfect for side sleepers. Though, this Layla mattress is going to suit sleepers under 230 pounds better because it’s not as supportive as the Hybrid model.
How we tested the best mattresses for side sleepers
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The main consideration we take into account when we look for the best mattress for side sleepers is firmness and the amount of pressure relief a mattress offers. When testing mattresses, we lay in each sleeping position (including side) and determine how well they accommodate our primary pressure points.
When we’re on our side, it’s crucial our hips and joints feel properly cradled. If a bed’s too firm, it can press into your pressure points and cause soreness or pain.
Read more on how we test mattresses.
How to pick a good side sleeper mattress
The qualities that side sleepers want in a mattress are different from stomach or back sleepers. Here are the main features to keep an eye out for if you favor your side when you sleep.
- Pressure relief: As we’ve touched on in this best list already, the best mattresses for side sleepers cradle the hip and shoulders to provide optimal pressure relief. That’s why soft mattresses tend to be the best — they give under your weight allowing the foam to mold around your shoulders and hips.
- Firmness: Soft mattresses are typically more pressure-relieving than firm ones. If you had a firm mattress, it would press into your hips and shoulders, throwing off the alignment of your spine with your neck. This is a recipe for back pain.
- Weight: Keep in mind that the heavier you are, the softer a mattress is going to feel. Heavier sleepers over 230 pounds can afford to get a firmer mattress because it’ll feel a notch softer than what’s advertised. The same rule applies in reverse to petite sleepers under 150 pounds. Smaller side sleepers may want an extra-soft mattress so it doesn’t feel too firm.
- Health concerns: If you suffer from back pain, side pain or joint pain, take that into consideration when choosing a mattress. People with back pain may want a side sleeper bed that offers a balance of pressure relief and support, like the Purple, which lands at a medium on the firmness scale. If you suffer from hip or shoulder pain, a softer mattress that will take the pressure off your joints will usually fare better than a firm bed.
How does sleeping on your side affect your sleep?
Besides being comfortable, there are also countless health benefits to side sleeping as well. Helping reduce the risk of sleep apnea, improving the health of your brain and even improving gut health and function are included among the benefits of sleeping on your side. And the best mattress for side sleepers can improve your comfort while you get a good night’s sleep.
It’s also recommended to side sleep during pregnancy. It promotes better quality sleep by keeping pressure off your belly, and sleeping on the left side promotes ample blood flow from the inferior vena cava. This is a crucial vein that pumps blood through your heart and also your baby.
However, sleeping on your side can have some adverse effects if you’re not using the right mattress. It can put undue pressure on your shoulders and hips and lead to joint pain and discomfort.
Tips for sleeping on your side comfortably
Use the right pillow
A pillow can make or break your sleeping experience, especially for a side sleeper. Side sleepers need tall, lofty pillows that properly support the head and cervical spine. A flat pillow causes the head and neck to bend out of alignment with the spine, which can promote pain.
Add more cushion
If you need it, utilize pillows for some extra padding and support where you may need it most. Keep a soft and fluffy pillow between your knees to relieve pressure on you back and promote better alignment. You can also keep a pillow under the armpit if you live with shoulder pain for added pressure relief.
Consider a mattress topper
If your mattress is too firm but it hasn’t yet reached its expiration date, use a mattress topper to make it softer without having to buy a whole new bed. Mattress toppers can change the entire firmness profile of your bed, so side sleepers should look for a soft and plush topper.