Almost three-quarters of the population are side sleepers. If your jam is spooning a pillow or sprawling out on your side, it’s probably hard to imagine sleeping any other way.
While side sleeping can be a healthy, sustainable sleep position, it also comes with some unique postural challenges. Have you ever woken up with a crick in your neck or a sore lower back? Your side sleeping may be to blame.
However, choosing the right mattress can ensure you’re well-supported throughout the night.
So what mattress type should side sleepers purchase? This is your guide to customizing your bed for your sleep posture.
Before getting to the details of mattresses, first let’s get clear on the specific challenges faced by side sleepers. Ideally, you should sleep with your spine in a straight line. This helps to ensure you don’t develop muscular imbalances as a result of your sleep. Spinal misalignment while snoozing can affect your posture, compress your organs, and even cause acid reflux!
While sleeping with a straight spine is no big deal for back sleepers, side sleepers’ spines can be misaligned in myriad ways. Making sure you’re sleeping in a comfortable position is essential to getting better sleep.
No matter your unique side sleeping position, you may face the following issues:
All of this can be alarming if you’re only able to sleep on your sides. Do you need to start trying a different sleep position?
There are numerous health benefits to getting sufficient rest, and if sleeping on your side is the best way to get shut-eye, there’s no reason to panic. Instead, you should look for a mattress whose firmness level helps support your spine.
We’ve already covered some common mattress pitfalls. Finding the right mattress might seem like a bit of a goldilocks situation:
How can you find a mattress that’s just right?
By purchasing a memory foam mattress, or a hybrid mattress with a memory foam layer.
The type of support you need depends on your individual body.
For example, if you have wide hips, you may want a softer mattress that allows your pelvis to sink in so that your spine remains in better alignment (rather than laterally flexed). At the same time, you don’t want your shoulder to sink in, too! A soft mattress alone won’t work, but memory foam will. The heavy weight of your pelvis sinks further into the memory foam, while your lighter shoulder girdle experiences firmer support.
Since memory foam conforms to the shape of your individual body, it provides more support where you need it most. This maximizes the chances of maintaining a healthy, straight spine.
Which is best for side sleepers: a memory foam mattress, or a hybrid mattress?
It all comes down to individual preferences and needs.
Dense, durable memory foam has a soft to medium texture. It conforms to your body to provide support where you need it most, without compressing your limbs. There are several kinds of memory foam:
While all three conform to your body, open-cell and gel memory foam have additional cooling properties that bring comfort to hot sleepers.
Whatever your choice, your memory foam mattress can provide support to your hips, shoulders, and spine. There are a few additional pros and cons:
Thanks to spring support, hybrid mattresses are medium firm (and somewhat firmer than memory foam). Many people find these mattresses more supportive than their memory-foam-only counterparts.
They come with a few other benefits:
If you tend to switch between different sleep positions, a hybrid mattress supports you on your back and on your sides. Likewise, it can be ideal for couples with different sleep positions and firmness needs.
Finally, if you don’t like the feeling that you’re sinking into your memory foam mattress, you may enjoy the feel of a hybrid mattress.
Choosing the perfect mattress is only part of the side sleeping equation. Don’t forget to finish outfitting your bed with the other sleep accessories you need.
How can you make sure your neck stays in an optimal position during sleep? Choose from the following options:
Depending on your individual needs, you may also want to sleep holding a pillow, or with a pillow placed between your knees. Don’t be shy—use all the pillows you need to get comfy!
Since side sleepers rest with their face close to the mattress, it’s imperative you keep your mattress clean and free of allergens, which can negatively impact your sleep quality.
Finally, if you find yourself tossing and turning all night, consider other ways to get cozy. Natural fiber sheets can help you keep cool, while weighted blankets can help you calm your body and, with it, your mind.
Do you really need a new mattress just because you’re a side sleeper?
The short answer is that it depends. If you regularly get eight hours of sleep and rarely wake up feeling sore or fatigued, your current setup may work fine.
However, keep in mind that our resilience diminishes over time. The muscular imbalances we develop as young people may be imperceptible until later on in life, when wear and tear begins to show itself more fully. Your sleep habits now can definitely have an impact on how you’ll feel in five years (and beyond).
If you’re looking to make small changes in your sleep habits, use pillows to improve your spinal alignment. Notice any small imbalances if you’re stretching or doing yoga, and make a note of any aches and pains that arise in the night. Adjust your sleep setup as needed.
When you’re ready to buy your next mattress, do a little research on the best time of year to buy. Then, purchase the perfect memory foam or hybrid mattress for your side sleeping needs.
In the end, the best mattress for side sleepers is one that supports its user. Are you looking for a hybrid or memory foam mattress to support your spinal alignment? Casper’s mattresses utilize state-of-the-art sleep technology including zoned support. All of our mattresses feature at least three zones of density so that your shoulders, back, and hips have the support they need.
Experience relief for sore joints and other injuries thanks to additional ergonomic zones on our hybrid mattresses.
With free U.S. shipping and a 100 day trial period, we’re on your side as a side sleeper.
Cleveland Clinic. Is Your Sleep Position Causing You Back Pain? https://health.clevelandclinic.org/sleep-position-causing-back-pain/
Harvard Health Publishing. Say ‘Good Night’ to Neck Pain. https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/say-good-night-to-neck-pain