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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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Buying guide for best mattresses for side sleepers

Last Updated September 2019

Side sleeping is the most popular sleeping position among adults, with nearly 55% of the population choosing to sleep in this position. The benefits of sleeping on your side include minimized neck and back pain and easier breathing – which decreases the likelihood of snoring.

If you’re a side sleeper in search of a new mattress, the buying process can feel overwhelming – especially since hundreds of mattress brands claim to sell the best bed for side sleepers. If this sounds familiar, then you’ve come to the right place.

More than 100 different mattresses were reviewed and compared on qualities that are favorable for side sleepers. This guide will make it easy for you to find the best mattress for your side-sleeping style and help you get the quality sleep you deserve.  

First, let’s take a look at important considerations for buying a mattress when you sleep on your side.

Pressure relief is one of the most important qualities in a mattress for side sleepers because hips and shoulders are more prone to joint pain in this position.

Key considerations

Materials

Side sleepers need a mattress that is both supportive and responsive, meaning it adjusts to the natural curve of your body and responds to your movements if you shift around or change positions throughout the night.

The types of mattresses that accomplish this best are usually made with at least one layer of memory foam, whether that’s standard memory foam, latex foam, or gel memory foam.

Memory foam also distributes body weight evenly throughout the mattress, which alleviates pain and discomfort around pressure points.

Pressure Relief

Pressure relief is an important consideration for all sleepers, but it’s especially crucial for side sleepers who put added pressure on their hips and shoulders. If you’re a side sleeper, you’ll want a mattress that will hug your body to help support these high-pressure points while keeping the rest of your body elevated. This will also help keep your spine in a natural position while you sleep and prevent you from waking up with aches or pains.

Firmness

Most mattress retailers describe the firmness of their mattress on a scale from one to ten, with ten being extremely firm. Side sleepers tend to prefer mattresses that fall in the middle of that spectrum (four to six) – not too firm, and not to soft. Some may even prefer something a bit softer to help cradle pressure points.

If you’re a side sleeper, you’ll likely be uncomfortable on the extreme ends of the firmness scale. You might sink in too deeply on a mattress that is very soft, and you might experience joint pain or tension on a mattress that is too firm.  

Size

Choosing the best mattress size is a personal preference that depends on three main factors:

  • The size of your bedroom. While a king mattress might sound tempting, make sure you’re choosing a mattress that can comfortably fit in your bedroom and still allow the appropriate amount of space to move around or open closets and doors freely.

  • The size of the people who will be sleeping on it. If you’re sharing your bed with someone, a queen mattress is probably the smallest you’ll want to buy. A king mattress offers more width for people who want some extra space or sleep with a pet. California kings offer more length, which is ideal for taller people.

  • Your budget. The larger the mattress, the more expensive it will be. If you’re on a tighter budget and can still sleep comfortably on a smaller bed, a full or even a twin-sized mattress might be the way to go. Keep in mind that if you upgrade the size of your mattress, that also means an investment in new sheets and bedding, as well as a new bed frame.

Here are the standard sizes for mattresses measured by width and length. Mattresses tend to differ most in height, but they usually range from 9” to 12”.

  • Twin: 38” x 75”

  • Twin XL: 38” x 80”

  • Full: 53” x 75”

  • Queen: 60” x 80”

  • King: 76” x 80”

  • California king: 72” x 84”

EXPERT TIP

Investing in a good mattress can pay off. Quality mattresses can last up to 15 years with proper care and use.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

If your new mattress doesn’t feel comfortable at first, give it some time. It can take up to 30 days to break in a new mattress.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

If you buy a new mattress with a different feel or firmness level than your previous mattress, you may need to invest in a new pillow to complement the new feel.


Staff  | BestReviews

Trial period and return policy for mattresses

While it might sound strange to buy a mattress without ever lying down on it, almost every mattress you can buy online comes with a generous risk-free trial period, typically around 100 days. This means you’ll have time to actually sleep on the mattress in your own home to determine if you like it or not. If it turns out the mattress isn’t for you, you can return it for a refund.

All of the mattresses we’ve included in this guide offer a full refund if you decide to return your mattress. If your mattress is shipped in a box, you won’t need to worry about trying to get it back in – a representative will come pick it up from your home in its full size.

After sleeping on a mattress for 100 nights, you should have a pretty good idea if the mattress is right for you. Sometimes it can take up to 30 nights to fully break in a new mattress, so make sure you look for a mattress that offers at least 30 nights – and don’t forget to keep track of how many days are left in your trial period in case you do need to return it.  

 

Like sleeping on a cloud

The Leesa mattress is made with a proprietary LSA200 Foam Technology™ that contours the curves of your body and makes it feels like you’re floating on air.

Mattress prices

The price of a mattress can have a pretty wide range depending on the materials used in the mattress and where you buy it from. Buying a mattress online from a retailer who ships directly to the consumer is going to be significantly less expensive than buying a mattress from a bricks and mortar store. The price ranges listed below reflect online, direct-to-consumer mattresses.

Keep in mind that many mattress retailers offer discounts or promotions around holidays like New Years, Black Friday/Cyber Monday, Memorial Day, Labor Day, President’s Day and Independence Day.

Inexpensive

You can pay as low as $500 to $700 for an inexpensive queen mattress. Typically, these will be memory foam mattresses. Mattresses that cost less than $500 for a queen might feel comfortable at first, but they usually won’t last long.

Mid-range

A majority of online mattresses cost between $800 to $1,200 for a queen. These are great quality mattresses offered in different firmness levels and materials.  

Expensive

Luxury mattresses can cost as much as $1,500 to $2,000 for a queen. These are usually mattresses that come with all the bells and whistles to provide a comfortable night’s sleep with added benefits, like high-end organic materials or superior cooling technology.

A clean sleep

Nectar’s proprietary cover is specifically designed to keep out dust mites. The cover can also be unzipped completely and spot cleaned with mild detergent.

Tips

  • If you’re buying a mattress online, look for brands that offer a risk-free trial period so you can test out the mattress and be sure it works for you.

  • Avoid mattresses that are very cheap (less than $500 for a queen). This usually means they’ve cut corners on quality and durability.

  • Avoid mattresses that are extremely firm or extremely soft. Side sleepers tend to prefer mattresses that fall in the middle when it comes to firmness.

  • If your mattress comes in a box, make sure you let it air out for at least a few hours before putting sheets or bedding on it. If you’re able to open a window, that’s even better.

  • Remember that most mattresses have an adjustment period – it can take up to 30 days to get used to a new mattress.

  • If you’ve slept on your mattress for a few weeks and feel like it’s too soft or too firm for your taste, you can try adding a mattress topper to adjust the firmness before you resort to returning it.

  • Keep in mind that if your new mattress is a different firmness level or is made of different materials than your old mattress, you may need to change the pillow that you use to better compliment your new mattress and provide the right level of support for your head and neck.

  • A good rule of thumb when selecting a pillow for side sleeping is to look for one that is thicker or higher under the neck than the head in order to keep your spine aligned.

DID YOU KNOW?

Side sleepers need a mattress that will keep the spine in its natural alignment. This helps your body get proper rest and prevent you from feeling achy in the morning.

Side sleepers usually prefer mattresses that are a medium on the firmness scale. This firmness level provides a good balance between comfort and support.

FAQ

Q. Which type of mattress is best for side sleepers?
A. 
Mattresses that are made with at least one layer of supportive memory foam and are medium-firm tend to be the best options for side sleepers. Side sleepers also want a mattress that relieves pressure, particularly in high-pressure areas like hips and shoulders.  

Q. Is it better to buy my mattress online or in a store?
A.
You can expect to save a significant amount of money by buying a mattress online versus in a store. You aren’t paying for most of the overhead fees that brick and mortar stores tack onto their prices. While you won’t have the opportunity to lie down on a mattress before buying it, you should have a trial period to test out the mattress in the comfort of your own home.

Q. How will I know if my mattress is right for me?
A.
The easiest way to tell if you’re sleeping on the right mattress is to pay attention to how you feel when you wake up. If you wake up feeling refreshed and pain-free, that’s a good sign that your mattress is doing its job. You’ll also want to pay attention to how often you wake up in the middle of the night. If you find yourself tossing and turning trying to find a comfortable position, then your mattress might actually be harming your sleep.

Keep in mind that it might take up to 30 days to break in a new mattress. Your body will need time to get used to the new feel of your mattress and the materials in your mattress will need time to fully settle.

 

The team that worked on this review
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jacob
    Jacob
    Editorial Manager
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Steph
    Steph
    Web Producer

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