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What Type of Mattress is Best for Side Sleepers?

What Type of Mattress is Best for Side Sleepers

If you’ve been reading some content here at Side Sleepers Paradise, one thing that you’ll quickly notice is that I am constantly looking to help myself and many others get a better quality of sleep. As a side sleeper myself, one of the main questions I often get asked a lot is:

What type of mattress is best for side sleepers?

I’ve done a very thorough breakdown of what the best mattress for side sleepers are, but in this article, I dig deeper and provide an overview of what are some of the factors that make a mattress ideal for side sleepers. I’ll be going over each type of mattress – innerspring, memory foam, latex and hybrid – and discussing what are the pros and cons for each of these mattress types. Note that I’m NOT sleep doctor or a sleep expert, but I have tried out a bunch of different mattresses and I definitely know a thing or two about how to pick out a mattress for side sleepers.

Why is Picking the Right Type of Mattress Important?

First off, I’d like to go over what sleeping on a WRONG type of mattress can do to you as a side sleeper.

Having a wrong type of mattress as a side sleeper can cause immense shoulder pains.  These shoulder pains are often a result of shoulder bursitis (the inflammation of the bursa) or rotator cuff injury (the inflammation of the tendons). Generally speaking, shoulder pains affect more individuals who sleep on their sides when compared to individuals who sleep in other sleeping postures. This is especially true if you sleep on the same side (left or ride) throughout the night.

Besides shoulder pain, sleeping on the side can also result in hip pain, or hip bursitis (the inflammation of the hip joint). Like shoulder pains, hip pains is a result of exerting too much stress and pressure on your hips when sleeping on the side.

Of course, both types of pain are also a result of not having the proper support in your mattress. For example, an extremely firm mattress is often thought of as providing the best support. While this is true in providing a good back support, it exerts unnecessary stress on pressure points for side sleepers. Ideally, the mattress for side sleepers should not be too soft that it doesn’t provide any support, but at the same time, it shouldn’t be too firm as well. For side sleepers, I’ve found that medium firmness mattresses work the best.

You can read more about shoulder pains and hip pains for side sleepers here and here.

Types of Mattresses and How They Affect Side Sleepers

Without further ado, here are the different types of mattresses and how each one affects a side sleeper’s sleep quality.

Innerspring Mattress

Innerspring mattresses are the “oldest” type of mattresses there. They make use of a steel coil support system. Different innerspring mattresses have different spring shapes, coil gauge, designs and number of coils. The idea is that the greater the number of coils, the more points of support and a greater weight distribution and better support. Innerspring mattresses typically have different foams and fibers on the top to provide a comfortable sleeping surface. Because this type of mattress has been around for the longest period of time, they are also often the cheapest type of mattress around. However, this type of mattress often sags within 3 years of usage. Compared to other types of mattresses as you’ll see below, I have found that innerspring mattresses to be the least suitable for side sleepers. The reason for this is that innerspring mattresses usually do not have good contouring features for side sleepers. When I say contouring, I am referring the the ability of the mattress of change its shape and “wrap” around your body.

Memory Foam Mattresses

Unlike innerspring mattresses, memory foam mattresses are highly known for their durability and ability to resist sagging. They are also made of high density polyurethane foam which allows it to provide contouring features. Providing an excellent job in contouring to the shape of the sleeper’s body directly translates to a decrease in stress exerted on pressure points along the body. An example of a pressure point when you’re side sleeping is your hip. Traditional memory foam mattresses have been very popular lately and have definitely been more affordable in recent years.

While memory foam mattresses have good contouring features, they are better at retaining heat over time as you sleep. This can cause discomfort if you like to sleep in a generally cool environment. Another con that some individuals have reported is that certain memory foam mattresses lose their “memory” after several months of continuous use.

The good news is that certain types of gel-infused and plant-based memory foam mattresses have been introduced into the market recently, both of which do a better job in dissipating heat.

Latex Mattresses

Similar to memory foam mattresses, latex mattresses do an excellent job in contouring to the shape of the body and is ideal for side sleepers. Latex mattresses are usually made of material that are all-natural, which means being naturally hypoallergenic, dust mite resistant as well as mold and mildew proof. Aside from that, this mattress are also known for a long lifespan; averaging between 8 to 12 years. In comparison, other mattresses average out to about 8 years.

Their excellent contouring features make it a good type of mattress for side sleepers to have. The downside is that latex mattresses can get pretty pricey for those who are shopping on a tight budget.

Hybrid Mattresses

This has got to be my favorite mattress type as a side sleeper. Hybrid type mattresses are not made of only one primary material – memory foam, latex – but are made of two primary materials. The combination of two types of material in the construction of hybrid mattresses allows the mattress to showcase the benefits of each material, and at the same time, reduce the cons of each primary material. Going back to the example used in this article, hybrid mattresses are better in dissipating heat when compared to memory foam mattresses. I also found that hybrid type mattresses provide the most comfort during sleep.

Closing Words

In short, I’d highly recommend hybrid type mattresses like the Turf & Needle mattress. Memory foam and latex mattresses also provide good contouring features; however, be sure to be aware that some memory foam mattresses retain heat and can cause discomfort for some while sleeping. Latex is good mattress type for side sleepers, however, because of their all-natural material, they often cost a little bit more. Innerspring mattresses can work well for side sleepers if you are prepared to change your mattress every 3-5 years. While innerspring type mattresses are generally the cheapest type of mattress around, they have a greater tendency to sag if you continuously sleep on the same area.

For more information on which specific mattresses out there that are best for side sleepers, head on over here.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, be sure that you do not pick out a mattress that is too firm or too soft – somewhere in between will not only provide support, but also comfort to side sleepers.


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