The Best Mattress For Side Sleepers in 2023

Written by
Purple Staff
Last Updated
January 26, 2023
min read

Are you a side sleeper looking for the comfiest mattress for your sleeping position? Side sleeping is one of the most common sleeping positions and comes with many health benefits, such as reduced snoring and heartburn. However, it also has some drawbacks that can lead to uncomfortable nights and increased joint pain.

Getting the right mattress can help side sleepers be comfortable and enjoy a good night's sleep. Read on to learn about the best mattress types for side sleepers. We'll also tell you what our mattress recommendations are and how they can improve your sleep.

What Is A Side Sleeper?

A side sleeper is a person who prefers to sleep on the left or right side of their body. Side sleepers sleep in a position similar to the fetal position, except their legs aren't pulled in towards their chest. If you dislike sleeping on your back and your stomach, chances are you're a side sleeper.

Side sleepers tend to hug a pillow while they're sleeping for extra comfort. They may also have a pillow between their shoulders and head to support their neck.

Facts About Side Sleepers

How common is it to sleep on your side? Does this sleeping position have different needs? Here are some fun facts about side sleepers that may pique your interest and help you sleep better.

  • Side sleepers are one of the most common sleeper types. Over 60% of adults prefer sleeping on their side.
  • If you're a side sleeper, sleeping with a pillow between your knees can be more comfortable. That additional pillow will provide extra support for your hips.
  • Side sleepers ought to take care when stretching their back and shoulders in the morning. These areas are the typical stress points of side sleepers. Stretching these parts, especially your lower and upper back, will alleviate tension and ease the pain.
  • Side sleepers may prefer higher, plumper pillows than back or stomach sleepers. The increased elevation provides extra cushioning to reduce neck pain and keep your spine in a neutral position.
  • Sleeping on your side with both arms down is the least popular sleeping position. This position is also called the "log". A Better Sleep Council survey found that only 6% of sleepers prefer to rest in this position.
  • Sleeping on your side may lead to wrinkles. Because your skin is compressed on one side, this increases pressure and stress and causes wrinkles.
  • Rest on medium-soft to medium-firm beds if you're a side sleeper. These are the recommended firmness options for side sleepers. A mattress that's too soft may not support your spine adequately. However, a mattress that's too firm may not provide adequate levels of pressure relief, so your body might feel tense while you sleep.

Benefits Of Sleeping On Your Side

While sleeping on your side may have some cons, there are also many health benefits. Here are a few reasons why you might prefer to sleep on your side.

  • Sleeping on the left side of one's body is recommended for people suffering from heartburn. Sleeping on the left side is good for people with GERD, as it reduces the likelihood of acid reflux.
  • Side sleeping reduces snoring and sleep apnea. If you sleep on your back, your tongue is more likely to fall back into your throat. This obstructs breathing and could lead to sleep apnea.
  • Side sleeping will relieve back pain. Lower back pain is a common complaint for a variety of sleepers, especially stomach sleepers. However, studies indicate that side sleeping is generally protective of spinal symptoms.
  • Sleeping on your side is highly recommended for pregnant women. Experts have suggested that this position may make it easier for your heart to pump blood despite increased body weight. This can potentially help you sleep more comfortably.

Are you a back sleeper? Learn more about mattresses for back sleepers.

Choosing The Best Mattress For Side Sleepers

Choosing a mattress is an important decision because it will be your main sleeping surface for an average of seven years before it needs replacing.

There are many mattress options for side sleepers, each with different benefits. Whether it's a mattress topper, an innerspring mattress, or a hybrid mattress, the best type of mattress depends on your personal preferences. We’ll break down the key features and considerations below.

Important Mattress Features for Side Sleepers

Different sleeping positions have different sleeping needs. Here are the most important mattress features for someone whose preferred sleeping position is on their side.

Postural Support & Flexibility

Studies have shown a strong correlation between poor sleep posture and issues like spinal stiffness and neck pain. Side sleepers might prefer to look for a mattress with a good balance of softness and flexibility. Ideally, a mattress will be able to support spine alignment and let high-pressure points sink in comfortably.

Spinal Alignment

Neutral spine alignment refers to maintaining the spine’s natural curve. Studies have found that improper spine alignment can cause back pain, making it hard to get a good night’s sleep. If you’re sleeping on your side, look for a mattress that will support your spine’s natural alignment. Responsive, flexible materials can provide a balanced surface to help you sleep soundly.

Pressure Reduction

As we sleep, our body weight digs into our mattress. Some points on our body build up a lot of pressure, making these areas painful. This can make some sleepers toss and turn in their sleep to find a comfortable position.

A comfortable mattress will redistribute your body weight evenly, alleviating that built-up pressure. This feature is known as pressure point relief. Each sleeping type requires a different combination of firm, soft, and responsive mattress materials to address this.


Comfort and pressure relief are two interrelated features. The more pressure a mattress alleviates, the more comfortable it can be for a side sleeper. Comfort can be influenced by factors such as mattress firmness, breathability, and flexibility.

Side sleepers may prefer mattresses that have a thicker comfort layer on top. These extra layers allow your torso to sink comfortably into the mattress while you sleep.

Best Mattress Types For Side Sleepers

different types of mattresses

We’ve put together a guide to the best mattress types for side sleepers. Mattress models from different brands have different features such as materials and construction. However, they will have commonalities between types that will help you choose the best one for your needs. The type of mattress you prefer from this list will depend on your sleep preferences.

GelFlex Grid Technology

Definition: GelFlex Grid mattress is made from hyper-elastic polymer. Using Purple’s GelFlex technology, this mattress-type cushions and cradles the body during sleep.

Key features: Adapts to your body and cradles pressure points.

Side sleepers in the market for a breathable mattress that contours around their body might consider a GelFlex Grid mattress. These mattresses are flexible and responsive, helping you get a good night’s sleep.

Memory Foam Mattresses

memory foam mattress

Definition: Memory foam mattresses are made with several comfort layers of memory foam, with a firmer foam support layer at the base. Memory foam comfort layers can be made from gel memory foam, open-cell foam, or traditional viscoelastic foam to provide a dense, thick sleeping surface.

Key features: Contour to your body

Side sleepers may consider a memory foam mattress because it can feel plush and cozy against their body. Memory foam adds more support to the hips and shoulders. 

All-Foam Mattresses (Memory Foam + Polyfoam)

Definition: All-foam mattresses have top layers made from a mix of different foam types, and a base layer is also made of foam. Typically, their top layers are made of polyurethane foam a.k.a. polyfoam or gel memory foam, while their base layers are made of polyfoam.

Key features: Contouring support and durability

The comfort layers of an all-foam mattress come in a variety of firmnesses, so you can choose one that best suits your sleeping preferences. This mattress type’s extra cushioning is flexible and can contour close to your sleeping body.

Hybrid Mattresses

hybrid mattress

Definition: Hybrid mattresses are multi-layer beds that combine innerspring coils with layers of memory foam or latex foam. Some hybrid mattresses have an additional layer of micro coils or polyfoam for extra support under the foam comfort layers.

Key features: Temperature control and pressure point relief

If you're a side sleeper or back sleeper, you might consider getting a hybrid mattress. These mattresses combine a firm, supportive layer of steel coils with a thicker foam layer for additional comfort. The coils provide extra airflow, so they can reduce heat-trapping while you sleep.

Multi-Layered Mattresses

Definition: Multi-layered mattresses are made of separate foam layers that can be stacked in different ways to suit your tastes. Typically, the softer foam layer is placed at the top to provide the feeling of a softer mattress. The base layer is made of the firmest foam type for support.

Key features: Customizable firmness levels

If you’ve recently shifted sleep positions and are uncertain which firmness level is most comfortable for you, try sleeping on a multi-layered mattress. You can rearrange the foam layers until you get a sleeping surface that feels coziest for your sleeping preferences.

Pocketed Coil + Memory Foam Mattresses

Definition: Pocketed coil and memory foam mattresses combine memory foam tops with pocketed coil layers. Pocketed coils aren't wired together, as each coil is covered in its pocket or casing. This makes the layer of steel coils very durable and flexible. Memory foam is then used as the top layer to create a more comfortable mattress.

Key features: Flexibility and comfort

Co-sleepers might want to try a mattress made with pocketed coils and memory foam, as it’s a comfortable combination for a sleeping surface. The cradling sensation of memory foam can feel very soft and cozy to restless sleepers, helping them drift off to sleep.

Learn more about mattresses for cpuples.

Latex + Pocketed Coil Mattresses

Definition: Latex and pocketed coil mattresses are made of a combination of latex foam with a pocketed coil support core.

Key features: Temperature control and comfort

The latex foam layer of this mattress type promotes a comfortable level of increased airflow, helping you cool down when you're asleep. It's also a soft, plush material that hugs your body. Side sleepers can see if this combination provides them with pressure relief while they snooze.

Best Mattress For Side Sleepers With Hip Pain

Hip pain can be caused by injuries or health conditions. In some cases, an old, worn mattress is the culprit. If you’ve had your mattress for over seven years or it’s torn and sagging, consider getting one of Purple’s GelFlex Grid mattresses. They come in a variety of thicknesses and depths, so you can choose the one you find most comfortable.

Best Mattress For Side Sleepers With Lower Back Pain

Back pain is a common problem for many sleepers. Side sleepers suffering from back pain might like to see if they can get pressure relief from a hybrid mattress. The supportive coils can give an extra push and firmness, while memory foam creates a soft, cradling surface.

Best Mattress For Side Sleepers With Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain may be caused by poor spine alignment. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for improving spine alignment in sleeping. Instead, we suggest trying different kinds of mattress firmness levels, types, and toppers to provide a supportive and comfortable surface.

Best Mattress For Athletic Side Sleepers

Side sleepers may wake up with aches if they don’t sleep with proper spinal alignment. This is even more concerning for athletes who put significant strain on their neck, back, and other body parts during vigorous physical activity. Athletic side sleepers may want to look for a mattress with excellent pressure relief and support, as these qualities may relieve body pain and help them recover after long workouts.

A hybrid mattress with a thick foam layer could provide athletes with the much-needed comfort and support to soothe their tired bodies. 

Best Mattress For Side Sleepers With Osteoporosis

Studies have shown that poor sleep quality may be a key factor in osteoporosis, a disease that significantly weakens your bones. If you’re a side sleeper with osteoporosis, it’s important to find a mattress with high-pressure relief and support to cushion your fragile pressure points.

Try a GelFlex or hybrid mattress with memory foam to see if these mattress types offer sufficient. Purple’s GelFlex Grid technology contours around your pressure points and cushions the body, helping you maintain neutral spine alignment and potentially improving sleep quality.

Choosing The Right Mattress For You

Picking the right mattress is an investment in your physical and mental health. It can improve sleep posture and reduce overall body tension, so you wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day.

Different sleeper types have different preferences for mattress firmness levels, materials, and temperature. By finding a comfortable, supportive mattress that addresses your sleep concerns, you can help yourself get a full night's sleep. Talk to your preferred mattress companies about your sleeping preferences and needs so you can get the best one for you.

Rest Easy On A Purple Mattress

Purple mattresses have special GelFlex grids, and their gel material is designed to cradle a sleeper’s shoulders and hips. This cushioning feel is balanced with responsiveness and flexibility, providing both softness and support. Side sleepers can try resting on a Purple mattress to see if it can help their sleep posture or back pain problems.

Purple mattresses also come in varying firmness levels, so side sleepers of varying body frames and weights can choose the best one for their needs.

If you're a side sleeper, a Purple mattress is one of our mattress recommendations for maximum comfort. Side sleepers may prefer a Purple mattress with a thicker comfort layer to cradle the hips and shoulders.

All Purple mattresses come with a 10-year warranty and a 100-night sleep trial to ensure customers are happy with their purchases. Try one out and see the difference it makes to your sleep!