According to a National Sleep Poll, 74 percent of Americans are side sleepers. And, as far as the side position preferences go, it’s estimated that more than 40% sleep in the fetal position, 15% sleep in the log position, and 13% sleep in the yearner position, with arms facing straight out.
That means that a large percentage of the population needs to be looking for mattresses that have certain properties best suited for sleeping on their sides. It makes perfect sense that side sleepers are interested in finding the best mattress for side sleepers.
What might come as a surprise however, is the fact that side sleepers need different things from mattresses than people who sleep on their backs. Sleep posture can have a significant impact on your overall health as well as the quality of the sleep you get. The right mattress ensures you get a full night’s sleep as well as a comfortable night’s sleep.
Which Sleeping Positions are Healthiest?
Sleeping on your side can provide quite a few health benefits. It can help reduce some types of snoring (which is great for your partner), relieves back pressure, reduces heartburn and/or acid reflux, and it’s a neutral position that’s easier for your joints to maintain while sleeping. While back sleeping provides benefits for preventing pain to joints and helping to reduce acid reflux, it is not, however, good for snoring.
Potential Problems Side Sleepers Face
Support is the number one concern of the average side sleeper. It’s important to find a mattress and pillows that provide adequate amounts of support without putting unnecessary pressure or tension on joints and bones. While firm mattresses provide a great deal of support, if the mattress is too firm, it will not make for a comfortable night of sleep. Don’t overlook the importance of a good pillow, either.
You’re going to need a pillow that’s fairly thick and supportive, so that your neck is able to maintain proper alignment throughout the night. There are special pillows available that are contoured to accommodate side sleepers very nicely. Some side sleepers like to have a pillow between their knees.
Mattress Facts that Impact Sleep
Not only is it important to have the best firm mattress (medium-firm at the very least) to provide an adequate support system for your sleep needs, but you must also use a mattress that’s in good physical condition if your goal is to get quality sleep night after night. It’s not enough to buy a top of the line mattress, and hang onto that mattress twenty years past its prime. You need to take care of the mattress with proper flipping and turning, as necessary, and replace mattresses when needed.
A natural mattress provides a few benefits you might want to consider if you’re having trouble sleeping, or need a little additional support for your aching bones and joints. One of the biggest benefits about natural latex for people who have difficulty with sleep quality enjoy is the fact that it doesn’t hold in the heat from the body. Some other mattress types are notoriously hot, which leads to many other sleep problems.
Finally, latex mattresses may very well be the best mattress for the money for anyone suffering from sleep problems that can be corrected or limited with a mattress—especially when you consider their long lifespans.
No matter how great the mattress you decide to buy happens to be, it can only do so much to help improve your overall health or the quality of sleep you’re getting. If you sleep in certain positions, such as your stomach or in a fetal position, you’re much more likely to have problems with the quality of sleep you’re getting. Keep these things in mind as you look for the right mattress to meet your needs as a side sleeper, and you should be able to find a great mattress at an excellent price.
There are various things to look for in a mattress type as a side sleeper. For instance, pregnant women are often recommended to sleep on their side, but their mattress types aren't as comfortable as they would be if they slept on their stomach or back. Mattress firmness is an important feature to look for. Other features to take into account are:
- Pressure relief
- Back support
- Temperature regulation
- Sleeping position
- Cooling abilities
- Motion isolation
- And more
With all of these and more factors coming into play, it can feel overwhelming trying to determine which type of mattress is the best mattress for side sleepers.
The Health Benefits of Side Sleep
Several experts research results have shown that sleeping on your side is more beneficial for sleep and overall body health. Below are the benefits:
- Spinal alignment
- A healthier heart
- Helps digestion
- Improves brain wellbeing
- Reduces snoring and other sleep disorders
Advantages and Disadvantages of Sleeping on Your Side
Sleeping on your side has its advantages and disadvantages. These can be further categorized according to whether you sleep on your side – whether the left or right side. Some organs are located on each side of the body, and can be affected by hours of compression during sleep hours, not to mention back pain.
A good sleep at night usually overcomes all of these trivial problems associated with side sleeping positions. If you do not snore during sleep, or experience side effects that can change your day - such as chronic neck or back pain - you do not need to panic. If you are worried about any problems, talk to your doctor.
Sleeping on your side can increase your susceptibility to acid reflux and other digestive disorders. Heartburn is also a side effect in this regard. Sleeping on the right side inhibits the natural flow of the intestine.
This increases discomfort, and can cause aches and pains. These happen because your stomach acts against gravity, which worsens the effect of stomach acid.
Sleeping on the right rather than on the left usually has no advantage. It all depends on what is convenient for you - take note of what's comfortable and what's not.
Sleeping on your left side is largely recommended for all side sleepers. It naturally aids digestion, and reduces the risk of heartburn. Most stomach fluids stay below the esophagus, and sleeping on your left side guarantees this, hence making sleep comfortable, and preventing acid reflux.
Most doctors also advise pregnant women to sleep on their left side. This ensures that the uterus does not rest on the liver. It also eases back pain.
Best Mattress Firmness Level for Side Sleepers
In firmness terms, side sleepers are encouraged to opt for something from mild to medium on the firmness level/scale. Although many say firmer mattress types are more helpful, veteran side sleepers are advised otherwise.
So what defines a plush mattress type?
- It is located between 4.5 and 6 on the firmness scale (6.5 is medium firmness).
- Provides sufficient pressure point relief and support for the neck, hips, and shoulders.
- Allows the sleeper a deep descent to inhibit the formation of pressure points along the spinal column.
Firmness is perhaps the most critical characteristic side sleepers should consider due to the nature of the side sleeping position. For the mattress to provide adequate support, it must be able to flow along the curves of the body, so that the sleeper's body does not go into the structure.
Side Sleeper Types
There is a large existing study when considering side sleepers. In general, all types are relatively healthy, if you sleep well.
As the name implies, this side sleeper type rolls into a sleeping position akin to that of a fetus in the womb. The fetal sleeping position is achieved by hugging yourself with your legs in between, and pushing your legs against your chest. This is mainly employed when the sleeper needs warmth, so it would be wise to cover yourself during sleep.
Most neck pain sufferers employ this side sleeping position. The sleeper is in the fetal sleeping position, but without hugging oneself, while clasping your palms and lower arms together as if in prayer. The hands can either be under the pillow, or under the head.
This side sleeping position helps stabilize the head, which can mean its time to get firmer pillows.
Snugglers sleep with pillows close to their stomach, or between their legs. Sleeping and waking up in that position is more likely than not. The reason is usually a need for warmth, or the need for additional stability and support.
Log side sleepers sleep throughout the night on their sides. Arms are laid along the length of the body. If you go to sleep in this position and then wake up in it, it can mean that you enjoyed a good night's sleep. This might induce shoulder pain.
Reacher or Yearner
Reacher sleepers splay out their arms and legs, hence the name. Arms are stretched out ahead and beyond the body, along with their legs. This eases shoulder pain.
What Different Types Of Mattresses Are Available?
The best mattresses manufactured in today's time are made from a variety of materials, including inner springs, memory foam, latex, or even a combination of all these options. Side sleepers can profit from these materials in various ways, so it's vital to understand their unique features.
Memory Foam Mattresses
Memory foam has pressure relief properties, making it one of the best mattresses for side sleepers material. The memory foam mattress hugs your body's natural curves, and supports your body weight over the bed to reduce tension at pressure points.
Although memory foam mattresses generally retain body heat, some layers can be filled with gel beads, or designed to allow air to flow throughout the length of the mattress to keep the mattress cool.
Innerspring is the most popular material use in the manufacture of traditional mattresses. Innerspring mattresses are made of a central layer of pocket steel coils, providing sufficient support and pressure to ensure spinal alignment.
Innerspring mattresses are a good choice for people who desire the feeling of floating on a mattress, rather than hugging the bed surface. An archetypal innerspring mattress does not supply appropriate pressure relief for people who sleep on their side, but covering an innerspring mattress with a contoured memory foam mattress topper can provide a balance between cushion and support.
Latex mattresses are made from joining latex foam layers simultaneously. Latex can be of synthetic or natural origin. Latex also responds very well, which is helpful if you change your side sleeping position regularly throughout the night. Latex mattresses can be very expensive, so if you are budget sensitive, consider a bed made of synthetic latex or a hybrid.
Hybrid mattresses are manufactured by combining spring coils, latex, and foam. Hybrid mattresses are idyllic for those who want a flexible feel a traditional mattress gives while also enjoying the qualities of latex and memory foam, and/or both.
Hybrid mattresses are also suggested for those who want to experience the feeling of a foam mattress without sleeping hot, as the addition of foam impregnated with gel or coils can control the temperature of the foam.
Sleep Accessories for Side Sleepers
A mattress that supports the whole of your body is most important for side sleepers. Further adjustment of the mattress with accessories like mattress toppers and pillows helps ensure a more comfortable sleep on your side. Pillows support head, neck, and spine alignment, and mattress toppers can improve the bed's comfort system. Understanding what to look for in sleep accessories is essential for support and comfort.
When you sleep on your side, you need a pillow to keep the spine aligned. A pillow with a medium or high firmness should raise the head high enough to ensure head and neck, and spinal alignment. This helps to relieve tension on the shoulders and the neck, and eases back pain and shoulder pain.
Additionally, with a pillow placed under the head, you can use knee pillows and regular pillows to adjust your side sleeping position further, relieving you of aches and pains (back pain). As a side sleeper, you will profit if you pull your legs slightly towards your chest, and place a pillow between your knees. This helps balance the hips and shoulders, and also maintains spine alignment.
A contoured side sleeper pillow has ergonomic contours to relieve shoulder pressure, and promote all-night comfort. It’s beneficial for CPAP users, too.
Mattress toppers are comfort layers that are laid over your mattress. Toppers are mostly made of memory foam, along with latex and other common materials for a comfort layer. Adding a comfort layer that is thicker to your current mattress can increase the degree to which the contours and pressure points of the mattress offer better comfort. It helps relieve joint and back pain.
If you choose a memory foam mattress topper, you have the opportunity to try this material, without opting for a memory foam mattress. Although you won't experience all the benefits of a memory foam mattress with just a topper, it is cheaper than buying a brand new mattress. If you decide you like the material, it can also be a springboard for buying a new mattress.
Before buying a mattress topper, make sure you assess the present condition of your mattress. A mattress topper will increase the comfort of the mattress, but will not support a broken mattress. If your mattress sags, it's time for a brand new mattress.
Important Characteristics To Look For In A Mattress For Side Sleepers
Due to the extra pressure on the hips and shoulders, there are special deliberations that side sleepers should have when buying a mattress. Mattress companies mostly use misleading terms, or blow out of proportion some of the benefits of its properties. The following factors should be considered when buying a new mattress.
• Type Of Mattress
Each type of mattress has its advantages and disadvantages, but it is important for side sleepers that the mattress provides contours and support to the whole body. The type of mattress you buy determines other vital components, including temperature control, pressure point relief, and motion isolation. Understanding what you actually need and what you want will help you choose the right type of mattress.
How the mattress reacts to pressure and adapts to body shape controls how well it shapes. A contouring mattress ensures the spine is horizontal, and supports the pressure points that are the basic factors of side sleepers.
• Quality Materials
The quality of the materials used affects the mattress's durability. Although high-quality materials can be costly, they are increasing the life of the mattress, and making it a more valuable asset. Cheaper materials will deteriorate faster, and offer less stability over time.
• Firmness Level
Although seen as an individualistic method of measuring comfort, side sleepers require soft padding for their shoulders and hips, and spinal alignment support. Also, consider your personal preferences and weight as they can influence the necessary firmness level to give maximum comfort and support.
• Pressure Relief
Sleeping on your side presses on your hips and shoulders. Contouring materials such as latex and memory foam relieve pressure points on the mattress and body and reduce shoulder pain and back pain in side sleepers.
Latex mattresses are also good options for side sleepers—the material naturally produces pressure-relieving mattresses - and supports and adheres well over time.
Tips For Side Sleepers
Whether you are an experienced side sleeper or a novice side sleeper, it is vital to know the finest practices. This will allow you to make the most of this side sleeping position, without waking the following day in discomfort:
- When sleeping, use a medium-firm mattress with a firm pillow placed under your head.
- Sleep on your left side first. The ears should be aligned with the shoulders, and the chin should be kept neutral. Avoid tilting your head down.
- Place your arms and hands under your face, preferably aligned with your hips and shoulders.
- Place a firm pillow in-between your knees, especially if you are a side sleeper with back pain. This helps prevent hip pain and knee joint collapse, and creates a better spinal alignment
- Raise your knees slightly toward your upper torso to lessen pressure on your back.
PlushBeds Mattresses for Side Sleepers
PlushBeds mattresses make ideal bed partners for side sleepers. Whether you wanting an organic natural latex mattress, like our most popular Botanical Bliss mattress, or a gel memory foam mattress like the Ocean Mist, you’ll feel heavenly sleeping in one of these luxurious mattresses.
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