Top Side Sleeper Beds You Can Find

Side Sleeping

Have you ever watched a baby sleep? They’re all over the place, sleeping in the funniest of positions, and there are times when as adults, we would love to copy them. Still, as we grow older, we tend to favor a certain position, or a combination of two, maximum three positions during our sleeping time. This is usually connected to the way we learn to sleep when we’re children, but it’s also a matter of habit and comfort.

There are several typical positions, but 74% of the population is a side sleeper. This means that most of us prefer the fetal position, or something similar to it and sleep on one side (or both). The position is quite classic and has two versions: one, when you sleep on the side, with the knees and elbows bent and your hands under your head, and the second one, where you sleep on your side, but with the feet and hands straight (like a log).

Each of these versions put more strain on one side of the body, which is why it is recommended to find a bed that fits this position. And, since sleeping on side is one of the most common positions in the world, you can only imagine the variety of designs and models you’ll find. Still, each of us is unique, and a mattress that will fit your particular needs may be a bit more difficult to find.

Since I know the amount of money you have to invest in a new, high-quality mattress, I decided to create a small guide that will help you browse through the plethora of products, by following the features that matter the most.

In the situation of a side sleeper, besides the general level of comfort, you must also consider the firmness of the surface and the back support. The last one is particularly important because the position is quite weird for your spine’s resting time. Side sleepers are among the most prone to back pain because of their position and this is why you need to consider getting a product that supports your back in a special manner.

But let’s take a closer look at the most important features for side sleepers.

What to Look for in Side Sleeping Mattresses

Sleeping on your side

The two features that matter the most for a side sleeper are the firmness and the back support. Still, before I discuss them in more detail, I want to give you a few details about the shopping process. I know this is a complex process that may confuse you, especially if you’re a beginner which is why I put together a short buying guide.

First, you should know that the testing process is very important when you’re buying a mattress. Even if you want to make the purchase online, I recommend paying a visit to a brick and mortar store first. This way, you can actually see the models you liked online and you have the possibility to lie on the surface. By doing this, you make an idea about the surface, the firmness, and the back support. While it’s not a real test, you will be able to tell if the model is a good fit for your needs.

Second, you should find a company that offers a long trial period (up to 100 days with some producers) and guarantees a full refund in the situation you change your mind. This is important because many retailers practice the store credit offer or implement difficult return policies to discourage customers from asking for a new product.

During the trial period, I encourage you to properly test the mattress as this is the surface you’ll be sleeping on for the next 5 to 10 years. If something doesn’t seem right during the trial, it’s best to ask for a new mattress – after all, what annoys you now, will continue to annoy you in the future.

Finally, form one side sleeper to another, I like a memory foam over any other type of mattress. Still, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your testing on other types of surfaces and try other types of back support. This is the only way to find a product that truly meets your needs.

To summarize, when you’re shopping for a great mattress or a topper, it’s important to be patient, test as many products as possible, and look for serious companies that trust their product and offer great warranties.

#1: Firmness

This is an important feature regardless the type of bed you buy, but if you are a side sleeper, you’ll want to pay extra attention to it. If the bed is too firm, you will have problems with increasing the number of pressure points between your body and the mattress. On the other hand, if it’s too soft, you’ll sink in it, and the body weight won’t be distributed regularly.

It was proven that a bed that is too firm, it will only exacerbate any problems you might have with pressure points. This will lead to an increasing in the pain level and a sensation of discomfort during sleep. All these, translate into agitated nights, with little to no sleep, transforming you into a cranky, stressed person. So, if you’re not recommended by a professional to buy a firm mattress, it’s best to stay away from these models.

The best mattress for your needs is soft to a moderate product as it will help align the body and relieve pressure on your neck and back. I recommend a plush product, especially if you start observing that your arms are falling asleep before you manage to. This is a common side effect for those who sleep on their side, and it happens because the weight of your body is pressing on the blood vessels, cutting the supply.

But, as I already mentioned, you must make sure to avoid really soft products. These don’t offer the necessary back support a side sleeper needs which is why I recommend going for mattresses with a medium level of firmness. These are those mattresses that are not too hard and not too soft – they’re just in the middle. And because of their medium softness, they allow the curves of your body to find a more natural resting point when you’re sitting on your side.

But how do you know if a bed is too hard or too soft for your needs? This is a fantastic question as there is no standard rating that defines firmness. Terms like plush, or medium, or even firm don’t mean the same from one producer to another. For instance, what you call medium in one store may actually be soft in another store so it’s absolutely normal to feel confused. But there is a way to determine the firmness of a mattress without a doubt: the ILD or the indentation load deflections.

The ILD is a standard measurement for firmness level and it is directly proportional. This means that the higher the ILD, the more firm the surface will be. You should ask the salesperson about this number or check with the producer if you can’t find enough information in the store.

#2: Back Support

Because many buyers are confused when it comes to these two features, I must specify that there is a clear difference between back support and firmness. The firmness makes reference to the general feeling of the top layer – this can be soft, hard, or medium but it doesn’t influence the back support system. After all, even a soft mattress can provide a good back support!

The back support is that section of the mattress that is responsible for keeping your head, neck, spine, and shoulders aligned. It is usually located under the comforter and is part of the core. With memory foam mattresses, the back support layer is made of lower density foam (2 – 2.5lb) which with the innerspring models, it is included in the inner structure.

The main purpose of this layer is to mold after the curves of your body but, with side sleepers, a perfect alignment of the back regions is almost impossible. This happens because the body has some uneven curves when you’re sitting on the diffrent side. When you’re sleeping on your back, the curves are somehow aligned, but when you’re sleeping on the side the mattress must deal with different curves.

While there are not so many studies on the type of back support one needs to get rid of back pain caused by bad posture during sleep, there is one conclusive research. According to this, the medium to firm mattresses offer the best back support for those of us who prefer sleeping on the side.

Specialists also recommend going with a memory foam mattress because this is the model that will best accommodate your natural curves. However, this is not the only option that works for a side sleeper. A latex mattress may be just as effective (if you like a more firm surface), but there’s also the option of an innerspring product. The memory foam mattress may have its good points, but it’s also one of the hottest surfaces on the market and contains chemicals that sometimes release a pretty powerful smell.

My recommendation is to test as many models as you can before deciding on a certain mattress. It’s also important to find stores that offer an extended trial period so you’ll have the time to form an opinion before you decide to keep or return the product. This is the only way to make sure you’ll find the best mattress for your needs.

Is it Good to be a Side Sleeper?

Mattresses for You

If I were to ask this question to two different specialists, I would get two different answers. The truth is that there are both advantages and downsides to sleeping on your side. However, it is still one of the most popular positions for sleeping in the world. And there are a few good reasons why:

  • It is beneficial for your health (in certain aspects)
  • It is a good position for cuddling, which is a way to get more happy thoughts before you fall asleep
  • It is known to reduce snoring
  • It is a great position for pregnant women
  • It makes you feel comfortable and safe as it is close to the well-known fetus position.

However, as comfy as it may seem, this position also comes with muscles strain and a misaligned spine during your sleep, so you must learn how to adjust it. I did a bit of research and asked a few specialists in the field, and I managed to put together a few useful tips that may be helpful (besides finding the best mattress for this position).

#1: Get the right Pillow

The first thing you can do to improve your comfort is to make sure you have the right pillow. When you’re sleeping on the side, there is a lot of pressure on the shoulder area and the neck. If the pillow is big and fluffy, it will keep your head up, bending your neck upwards and putting a strain on the shoulders. On the other side, if the pillow is small or too thin, your head will hang downwards, pulling the shoulders towards the mattress. All this translates into pain and stiffness at the level of your shoulders and neck.

So, if you want to sleep well when you’re on your side, you need a special pillow that can support the natural curve of your spine. This type of pillow is specially designed to accommodate your head while supporting your neck and keeping the shoulders in line. Even more, it’s easy to recognize it in stores as it implements an unusual and irregular shape that looks like a wave.

#2: Use your old pillow

While the first instinct would be to throw your old pillow as soon as you get a new one, I think it’s best to re-purpose it. When you sleep on the side, it helps to have something between your knees, to keep the spine perfectly aligned.

So, now that you have two pillows you can use one in between your knees, to release the pressure on your spine. Try it and you’ll see the difference in no time!

Now that you know how to make your sleep more comfortable, let’s talk about some Pros and Cons.

The Pros

The Pros of the Bed

There are several great benefits and many are directly related to your health. Just to get you excited about the way you sleep, below you can see some of the most important good aspects explained in detail.

An amazing snoring dampener

People make all sorts of sounds when they sleep but snoring is one of the most annoying ones. So if your sleeping partner is a chronic snorer, try to make him/her sleep on their side. If you are the snorer, then this advice applies to you as well.

I am not going to say that this position will put an end to snoring, but it does have a positive effect on the sound level. Actually, the ones who snore tend to sleep on their back and this allows the tongue to fall back and obstruct the pathways, which leads to snoring. Even more, sleep apnea is another side effect for this position so you must pay attention to the symptoms.

If you sleep on your side, the tongue will maintain its regular position, leaving the airways open and reducing the sound level.

Great Position for Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain can be annoying, but for some people it is debilitating and it hinders them from living a full life. Still, there is a way to release the pressure without taking medication, and this is connected to your sleeping position.

When you sleep on your side, the spine gets elongated and this allows for the discomfort in the lower back area to be relieved. Even more, if you lay in the fetal position (spine curved, arms and feet together in front of your body) with a pillow between your knees, you should notice a rapid decrease in the lower back pain.

Actually, the position is also recommended for people with acid reflux or other gastrointestinal disorders. It seems that by contracting the muscles of your abdominal area and loosening the ones on your back, the effect is good for both sides.

Amazing for Pregnant Women

As your belly grows, you’ll find that the only comfortable position for sleeping is on your side. Specialists recommend lying on your left, but it’s also helpful if you have a pillow to support your body weight. Sleeping on the left side is a benefit for the baby as well as it improves circulation and prevents the uterus from pressing against the liver which can lead to blockages.

Now, for those who tend to sleep on their left side, there are more benefits such as:

  • Some alleviation of the heartburn sensation
  • If you sleep with your stomach full, if you turn on your left side, the digestion will be easier
  • The toxins from the lymph nodes will be faster and better drained during your sleep (according to specialists, the lymph drains toward the left, which is why this position helps)
  • It also seems that sleeping on your left side, improves circulation
  • The brain is stimulated to filter out waste – according to recent studies because the side position stimulated the brain to filter out waster, you have a lower risk of developing conditions like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
  • The heart function is stimulated because the aorta leaves the heart towards the left. This encourages blood flow and distribution of oxygen.

The Cons

Of course, there are two sides of a coin. So, sleeping on your side does come with some negative aspects too. Below I listed some of the most common.

Acne or Premature Wrinkles

This happens if you are not thorough with changing your laundry (or just your pillowcase). When you sleep on your side, your face is pressed against the pillow for 6 to 8 hours and if you sweat (which usually happens during hot seasons) the risk of pimples and acne is greater.

However, even if you’re religious with your laundry being clean and fresh, another issue that affects side sleepers is the formation of premature wrinkles. This happens because of the same reason – the face is being pressed into the pillow for long periods of time. Even more, if you favor one side, you might end up with more wrinkles on one side of the face.

A solution to this would be a silk pillowcase. Silk is known to reduce this sort of wrinkles and it’s even recommended if you usually get out of the bed with frizzy hair.

Uneven Pressure

The main problem with sleeping on your side is with the pressure points that build up. For instance, by sleeping on your left or right side, you put pressure on your shoulders and neck. The result is translated in pain and sore muscles in this area.

But this is not the only side effect. The pressure can also affect the heart and lungs. Even more, prolonged sleeping on one side tends to numb the arm that’s underneath you.

To get rid of stiffness in your neck and shoulders and help your internal organs decompress, it’s best if you switch sides while you’re sleeping.

Breast Sagging

While it’s true that this only affects the ladies, it’s still a side effect that no one wants.  The sagging happens in time, but to prevent this from being too pronounced, you can put a pillow under your breasts to provide support.

Overall, sleeping on your side comes with both pros and cons, but with a bit of patience and attention to your body during sleep, you can prevent or diminish most of the bad side effects. Of course, a great mattress, that is specially designed to support this position, will be of great help!