In this article

Sleep positions are sacred and we often can’t fall asleep on a mattress that doesn’t accommodate our favorite. Side sleeping happens to be most popular one, with a whopping 74% of people saying it’s their most dominant position. The best mattresses for side sleepers are ones that contour to the shape of your resting body, providing ample pressure relief and alleviating back pain, hip pain, and shoulder pain. I’ve found the best mattresses for side sleepers tend to be in the medium to soft range, depending on the amount of support you’re also looking to get. 

With so many beds in the market to choose from, narrowing your choice down to even just a few models can be tough. The CNET sleep editors have tested over 100 different beds, giving us a feel (literally and figuratively) for the mattresses that suit side sleepers the best. The beds chosen below were top-rated among the editors during testing. We analyzed firmness, pressure relief and overall comfort while laying on our right or left side in order to determine the performance of each mattress. Continue on below in our best mattress for side sleepers review to see the picks we think are worth your money. 

Video: The best mattress for side sleepers

Watch our very own CNET Video Producer, Owen Poole, review the best mattress for side sleepers. 

8 best mattresses for side sleepers

My fellow sleep editor and I personally slept on more than two dozen models to find the best mattress for side sleepers, and here are our findings. We update this side sleeper mattress review list periodically as we test new products. Prices listed are for queen sizes, though they frequently change.  

A soft mattress is a side sleeper’s haven and the Casper Nova Hybrid bed among the cream of the crop. It feels like a big fluffy cloud, with the additional support of pocketed coils in the foundation layer and a zoned support layer in the center of the mattress. It’s a comfort layer made of soft and breathable Airscape foam split into three zones. The top and bottom thirds are soft to provide pressure relief to the shoulders, while the middle is firm to help support your back and spine. 

I rate its firmness around a medium-soft or a three out of 10 on the firmness scale. It’s ultra plush, and really nestles your body as you become engulfed in the soft foam layers. Like I said, it’s one big airy and fluffy cloud. The foam is also quick to respond to pressure, unlike dense memory foam which can take a few moments to morph back to its normal shape. 

The Casper Nova Hybrid doesn’t sleep cool, but it does help regulate temperature. The top layer is made with perforated Airscape foam to allow air to pass through, while the pocketed coils in the lower layer also promote more airflow. And thanks to its supportive hybrid, it’s accommodating for all body types. It is a bit expensive, but I think it’s worth it for side sleepers looking to splurge on a new mattress. 

The Casper Nova Hybrid comes in twin XL to California king and prices range from $1,795 to $2,895.

Saatva is a luxury online mattress brand who delivers on high-quality, cozy beds. Its model Saatva HD is designed to provide heavier sleepers with adequate support and plenty of comfort, and it really pulls out all the stops. And even though it’s a hybrid mattress like many of the others on this mattress review list, it didn’t arrive in a box (and the new mattress came with free white glove delivery).

For starters, the first layer of this mattress is a small foam slab to support a 12.5-inch offset innerspring system of recycled steel coils that Saatva says are 25% stronger than average hybrid mattresses. This layer also includes special Lumbar Zone Active Spinal Wire meant to help with lower back support, and 6-inch dense foam borders for improved edge support. It seems Saatva went above and beyond to ensure maximum support at every turn. 

The comfort layers are made with various types of foams including memory foam, 5-zone latex foam for increased back support and a luxuriously fluffy Euro-top. The cover is even designed with a special antimicrobial treatment to prevent mold, mildew and bacteria from growing. It’s one of the most impressive beds I’ve ever seen, and it takes luxury to a new level. The one downside is that Saatva recommends buying its foundation to support the bed, as it says Saatva HD isn’t compatible with other frames. 

Side sleepers over 230 pounds will really enjoy its medium firmness level. It’s soft enough to contour around your hips and shoulders for pressure relief, but it’s strong enough to keep your back and spine in a straight alignment with your neck. If you want to save money on a Saatva mattress, the Classic model is also a viable choice for heavy sleepers. Read more in our Saatva mattress review

The Saatva HD comes in sizes twin to split king and prices range from $1,725 to $3,750. 

For side sleepers looking for a safe, reliable soft mattress, the Helix Sunset is a great choice. It’s an affordable hybrid mattress among Helix’s catalog of soft to firm mattresses that sits on the soft end of the spectrum. If you marked the side sleeper check box in the Helix sleep quiz and said you like soft beds, the company will match you with this mattress because it’s a perfect fit.

The Sunset mattress from Helix has a simple but comfortable hybrid mattress design that combines pocketed coils with reinforced edges for stronger edge support and two layers of comfort foams. Helix uses memory foam and its own special Dynamic Foam to create a soft foam blend that is pressure relieving, but quicker to respond to pressure than the Amerisleep AS5 or the Nectar Premier mattress. It’s cozy, plush and easy to switch positions on because the memory foam doesn’t give you resistance. 

One of the good things about Helix is its hybrid design and affordable price tag. As you can see by comparing the prices of other beds on this list, the Helix Sunset is a nice bed that offers a great value. It’s also accommodating for all body types from small to large. Read more about this bed in our Helix mattress review

The Helix Sunset comes in sizes twin to California king and prices range from $899 to $1,549.

Nolah is an animal-friendly bed-in-a-box mattress brand that donates proceeds from its mattresses to the Defenders of Wildlife, an organization whose mission is to help protect American wildlife. It’s not just a good cause, however, because its Original mattress is a great soft mattress for side sleepers who want airy pressure relief. 

I think this bed feels like neutral-foam but with traces of memory foam underneath. This makes it plush, airy and pressure-relieving, but also quicker to respond to pressure than your typical memory foam. The secret is Nolah’s cooling AirFoam. It isn’t physically cool to the touch, but it does help regulate temperature so you don’t sleep as hot. 

Overall, I’d rate this mattress in between a medium to medium-soft on the firmness scale, or a 4 out of 10. It’s ideal for people who weigh under 230 pounds who want an affordable foam mattress that isn’t going to break the bank. You also sleep well on the Nolah Original 10 knowing you helped donate to a good cause.

Other side sleeper mattresses we’ve tested

The CNET Sleep editors have tested more beds than the average sleeper. Around 100 different ones, in fact, and we’ve dedicated hundreds of hours to the craft. The beds on the list were among some of the best we came across, but there are several mattresses that also stood out and deserve some of the spotlight. 

WinkBed mattress: The luxurious and Pinterest-perfect WinkBed mattress comes in three firmness levels, and the soft model would be a perfect fit for side sleepers looking for a plush, supportive hybrid mattress. The WinkBed is made with several layers of comfy foam, strong pocketed coils, and a fluffy pillow top that makes it look as good as it feels. I think side sleepers of all body types would enjoy the WinkBed. 

Original Layla mattress: We mentioned the Layla Hybrid on this list, but if you want to save some money and are willing to give up the pocketed coil base layer, then the Original foam Layla mattress is a great option. It’s also flippable, and features one very plush and soft side perfect for side sleepers. Though, this Layla mattress is going to suit sleepers under 230 pounds better because it’s not as supportive as the Hybrid model. 

How we tested the best mattresses for side sleepers

CNET editors pick the products and services we write about based on editorial merit. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Read more on how we test mattresses.

What to consider when buying a mattress for side sleepers 

The qualities that side sleepers want in a mattress are different from stomach or back sleepers. Here are the main features to keep an eye out for if you favor your side when you sleep. 

best mattress for side sleepers graphic showing shoulder and hip pressure points

Soft beds are typically best for side sleepers because they provide more contour underneath shoulder and hip pressure points. 

  • Pressure relief: As we’ve touched on in this best list already, the best mattresses for side sleepers cradle the hip and shoulders to provide optimal pressure relief. That’s why soft mattresses tend to be the best — they give under your weight allowing the foam to mold around your shoulders and hips. 
  • Firmness: Soft mattresses are typically more pressure-relieving than firm ones. If you had a firm mattress, it would press into your hips and shoulders, throwing off the alignment of your spine with your neck. This is a recipe for back pain. 
  • Weight: Keep in mind that the heavier you are, the softer a mattress is going to feel. Heavier sleepers over 230 pounds can afford to get a firmer mattress because it’ll feel a notch softer than what’s advertised. The same rule applies in reverse to petite sleepers under 150 pounds. Smaller side sleepers may want an extra-soft mattress so it doesn’t feel too firm. 
  • Health concerns: If you suffer from back pain, side pain or joint pain, take that into consideration when choosing a mattress. People with back pain may want a side sleeper bed that offers a balance of pressure relief and support, like the Purple, which lands at a medium on the firmness scale. If you suffer from hip or shoulder pain, a softer mattress that will take the pressure off your joints will usually fare better than a firm bed. 

How does sleeping on your side affect your sleep? 

Besides being comfortable, there are also countless health benefits to side sleeping as well. Helping reduce the risk of sleep apnea, improving the health of your brain and even improving gut health and function are included among the benefits of sleeping on your side. And the best mattress for side sleepers can improve your comfort while you get a good night’s sleep.

It’s also recommended to side sleep during pregnancy. It promotes better quality sleep by keeping pressure off your belly, and sleeping on the left side promotes ample blood flow from the inferior vena cava. This is a crucial vein that pumps blood through your heart and also your baby. 

However, sleeping on your side can have some adverse effects if you’re not using the right mattress. It can put undue pressure on your shoulders and hips and lead to joint pain and discomfort. 

FAQs

What type of mattress is best for side sleepers?

Memory foam is one of the best types of mattresses for side sleepers. It contours to your body shape, relieving pressure points and keeping your spinal alignment when you’re lying on your side. Side sleepers should also consider a soft mattress because it provides pressure relief to your shoulder and hip joints. 

What type of firmness is best for side sleepers?

There’s not a single right answer to this question, but in general, side sleepers tend to prefer a soft to medium mattress. Mattresses in this range have enough give to alleviate pressure in the shoulders, hips and knees when you’re sleeping on your side, but also hold their shape to keep your spinal alignment so you don’t wake up in pain.

Are firm mattresses bad for side sleepers?

Firm mattresses can be bad for side sleepers, especially ones under 150 pounds. If your mattress firmness is too hard, it might not have enough give and cushioning for your pressure points. Lack of pressure relief can disrupt your sleep and cause pain and even numbness and tingling in your extremities. Ultimately, a lot comes down to personal preference and how you feel on the mattresses, but most side sleepers do best with medium or softer mattress options.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.