Healthy Sleeping Habits

If You’re a Side Sleeper, You Should Be Sleeping on One of *These* Mattresses—According to a Mattress Expert

Photo: Getty Images/ BDLM
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If you’ve been waking up with sore muscles or joints, feeling hotter than usual at night, struggling with worsening allergies or asthma, or just dealing with poor sleep overall, your mattress might be to blame. And if your mattress is sagging or has gotten noisier or looks worn, it’s definitely time to ditch it. If you sleep on your side, certain features make some options the best mattresses for side sleepers like you, so don’t rush to buy a replacement without knowing what to look for first—especially if you’re buying online.

Here’s some good news: Side sleepers shouldn’t find it hard to find a mattress they love. “Side sleeping is the most common sleeping position,” says Derek Hales, founder and editor-in-chief of NapLab, which tests and reviews mattresses, pillows, and other sleep products. “As a result, most mattress brands design around the needs of side sleepers.”

Which level of mattress firmness is best for side sleepers? 

“To get appropriate pressure relief and the correct spinal alignment, side sleepers need a mattress that is somewhere between slightly soft and medium firm,” says Hales. He adds, “Sleeping on your side has more areas of potential pressure point buildup than on your stomach or back. The combination of your body, pillow, and mattress must work together to get your spine into the correct alignment.”

When you’re deciding on a firmness option, you should take your body weight into account, as Hales explains. “In general, the heavier you are, the closer to the medium firm you'll need, especially if you're 250+ [pounds],” he says. “Lighter-weight side sleepers, especially 130 pounds or less, tend to need a mattress that's closer to the slightly soft feel.”

Is it worth buying a mattress online? 

If you’re worried about buying online instead of trying out mattresses in person, you should be reassured by most companies’ policies that decrease your risk of ending up stuck with a mattress you’re not happy with. (Plus, online mattress shopping means you don’t have to deal with any pressure from salespeople.)

Most of the brands below offer home trials of 100 to 365 days, plus free returns. Their product descriptions are extremely thorough (more than you’ll even want to know!), the sites feature a ton of customer reviews, and the mattresses come with multiple-year or lifetime warranties.

To help you stop tossing and turning and make it easier for you to wake up refreshed, we’ve asked Hales to share his recommendations for some of the best mattresses for side sleepers.

The best mattresses for side sleepers

nest mattress
Nest Bedding Sparrow Signature Mattress (“Medium” Firmness) — $1,799.00

What may be the best feature of this mattress from Nest Bedding is the dual firmness option. If you and your partner disagree on the ideal mattress firmness, no worries: With both the King and California King sizes, you can choose a different one—Plush, Medium, or Firm—for each side of the bed! Hales says that “most side sleepers will go with the medium version; if you weigh less than 130 pounds then the soft is also an option.”

Here’s another great feature: THERMIC® technology keeps this mattress from overheating by absorbing and releasing energy (heat) as needed. OK, one more: You can unzip the sides to exchange the inner foam layer for one with a different firmness. Plus, while some companies might subtly refer to a mattress’ performance during quality time with your partner, Nest comes right out and says it, noting that the mattress “provide[s] a supportive surface for sex and sleep.”

Nest’s mattresses are made in the USA and include a 365-night free trial, a lifetime renewal exchange, and a lifetime warranty.

nectar
Nectar Premier Copper Memory Foam Mattress — $1,500.00

Nectar is pretty confident in this mattress: The company offers a 365-day home trial and a “forever warranty.” The mattress’ comfort features include copper fibers that draw heat away from your body, and five layers of premium materials, including an inch of “dynamically adjusting” foam and four inches of pressure-relieving gel memory foam. The “ActiveCool” feature is designed to adjust to your body’s changing temperature needs.

Hales calls this model “Nectar’s top performing mattress” and likes its “classic memory foam feel with good contour and hug.” The many positive reviews include the following praise: “the most comfortable mattress I have ever slept on,” “super comfortable,” “amazing,” and “a miracle” (and who doesn’t want a miracle mattress, right?).

Bonus: Nectar’s mattress production is 100 percent carbon neutral.

saatva
Saatva Classic Mattress — $1,492.00

Saatva includes a couple of extras when you order a mattress: Their free White Glove delivery includes setup—including the bed frame and foundation, if you buy those—and free disposal of your old mattress. While the company offers a 180-day home trial, be aware that it charges a $99 “processing fee” for returns.

Hales calls this mattress “a high-end, more traditional coil-on-coil mattress with a Euro-style pillow topper—[a] solid all-arounder for many types of sleepers.” He adds, “Most side sleepers should go with the Luxury Firm; lightweight side sleepers may like the Soft best.”

This mattress, which comes with a 15-year warranty, has Saatva’s Lumbar Zone® Technology, which provides proper spinal alignment and back support, no matter how you sleep. (It received a seal of approval from the Congress of Chiropractic State Associations, in fact.) The breathable, hypoallergenic sleep surface has undergone the Guardian® botanical antimicrobial treatment to guard against bacteria, mold, and mildew.

wink bed
The WinkBed Luxury Firm Mattress — $1,500.00

This mattress is designed for people who want comfortable cushioning and deep support, folks who sleep hot, and those dealing with pain in their back, hips, or shoulders. No matter what kind of mattress frame you have (adjustable included), this mattress is compatible.

Four firmness levels are available, but Hales recommends the Luxury Firm if you sleep on your side. “The vast majority of side sleepers will be more comfortable on [it]. If you weigh less than 130 pounds then the Soft is also an option.”

This eco-friendly mattress is made in the US, and has a full lifetime warranty. WinkBeds offers a 120-day risk-free trial and an easy exchange process if you end up wanting to switch to a different firmness.

layla
Layla Hybrid Mattress — $1,500.00

Hales recommends this mattress because it “blends excellent memory foam hug, medium feel, and tons of pressure relief.” (Also, Layla’s website points out that the mattress has “undeniable swagger,” so there you go.) If you need more proof, SleepFoundation called it the best hybrid mattress in 2020. But if you try it and disagree, no worries: Layla provides a money back guarantee within 120 days of purchase.

The mattress’ “Flippable Firmness” is an interesting feature: One side is soft and plush while the other is firmer and has more support. So if you and your partner have different preferences for firmness and can’t agree on a mattress, this might be a solution! (Hey, each of you would be happy … 50 percent of the time.) Plus, people who tend to sleep hot, take note: The copper infused in the memory foam transfers heat away from your body. It’s also naturally antimicrobial.

Layla offers a 100 percent refund during your first 120 days of use.

purple hybrid mattress
Purple Hybrid Mattress — $2,400.00

A bit pricier than the other mattresses on our list, this mattress from Purple features the company’s unique technology that it also uses in its popular seat cushions, pillows, pet beds, and other products. “The Grid” is made from a flexible, stretchy material called GelFlex, which Purple describes as “an instantly adapting and rebounding comfort layer” that allows air flow and lets your body heat escape. Another feature that helps keep you cool is the super breathable side panels that let air circulate.

Hales recommends this mattress for its “exceptionally good cooling, arguably the best we’ve tested to date” and adds that “the Purple grid material works fantastic for side sleeping.”

The materials in this hypoallergenic, nontoxic mattress are CertiPUR-US and Clean Air GOLD certified, and the mattress is made in the U.S.A. Purple offers a 100-night trial, free returns, and a 10-year warranty.

leesa
Leesa Legend Mattress — $2,000.00

Designed to be a super comfortable option for all sorts of sleepers, this hybrid mattress gives side sleepers “a happy medium between a traditional memory foam mattress and a classic spring style mattress,” as Leesa’s website explains. Hales says it’s a “fantastic all-around mattress” with a “medium feel, good cooling, [and] excellent build quality.”

This mattress’ six layers include an inch of comfort foam that’s hole-punched for breathability, as well as a sustainable, hypoallergenic cover that’s made from organic cotton and merino wool and is resistant to bacteria, mold, and mildew. Customers say that the mattress “feels like I’m on a firm cloud” and that it’s “great for sleeping, and other bed activities” (you know they don’t mean scrolling Instagram). However, if you’re not happy with it, you can return it after the first 30 days of the 100-day home trial.

Bonus: Leesa is a Certified B Corp (for its positive social and environmental impact), and its mattresses are made in the US, and feature a 10-year warranty. The company has also donated almost 40,000 mattresses to families in need!


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