Why side sleepers need a tailored mattress- Insights and recommendations?

by Jennifer Janelle
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If you’re a side sleeper, you know the struggle of trying to get comfortable at night. Your shoulders, hips, and arms go numb. You toss and turn to find that sweet spot but never quite find it. What gives?  Side sleeping is the most common position, with around 70% of people spending part of their night on their side. This position aligns your spine naturally and reduces acid reflux symptoms. However, your weight has a different distribution, which requires targeted support.

The widest parts of your body, like your shoulders and hips, support most of your weight while side sleeping. Without enough cushioning here, pressure points emerge leading to discomfort. Your mattress ends up pushing back against your shoulders, hips, and arms causing numbness, restricted blood flow, and next-day pain.  Additionally, if your mattress is too soft, your heavier body parts will sink into it throwing your spine out of alignment. Waking up with back pain is no fun. Pressure points across the side of your body can be caused by a mattress that is too firm.

What to look for in a mattress for side sleepers?

A mattress made for side sleepers should keep your spine straight while alleviating pressure on your shoulders, hips, and arms.

Mattress type

Certain mattresses are better suited for best mattress for side sleepers due to their construction, materials, and ability to conform. Memory foam and latex mattresses work well because they mold closely to the curves of your side sleeping position. Hybrid mattresses have both responsiveness and contouring to support side sleepers.  Innerspring mattresses don’t always have pressure-relieving abilities. And, airbeds that you adjust may reduce pressure points, but they don’t offer full-body support. Carefully read mattress specs with your sleeping position in mind.

Responsiveness refers to how quickly a mattress adapts to your body as you change positions. As a combination sleeper, you’ll likely change positions a few times a night. Choose a mattress that responds rapidly to those shifts in weight so you stay properly supported all night long.  Latex and hybrid beds bounce back faster while memory foam has a slower response. See how fast a mattress regains its shape when evaluating options.

For tailored comfort, you want a mattress that conforms close to your body, specifically in areas that harbour extra weight like your shoulders and hips. This cushioning is essential for eliminating painful pressure points so you wake up feeling good. Mattresses made from memory foam or latex conforms more closely than pocketed coil, innerspring, or air mattresses. Since side sleeping mainly distributes weight around your bed’s perimeter, edge support is essential. Sturdy edges prevent you from feeling like you’ll roll right out of bed all night long. Innerspring and hybrid mattresses typically excel here while foam beds struggle to match the reinforced borders. If you share your sleep space, prioritize edge support so you both can utilize the full mattress surface.

Firmness & thickness

The right firmness and thickness combination depends on your:

  1. Body type – Petite, average or plus size
  2. Preference – Plush to extra firm
  3. Weight – Light, average or heavy

Heavier individuals need a thicker, firmer mattress for support while petite people feel most comfortable on plusher beds. Most sleepers do best with a medium feel, but personal trial is key.