The best mattresses for side sleepers

  • Finding the perfect mattress is tough for side sleepers, so we've done the research and some testing to bring you the best of the best.
  • The fully customizable Helix mattress is our top pick because you can actually design it to suit your specific needs.

Side sleepers, it's a tough life we've chosen. Or rather, a tough life that's chosen us. Finding a mattress that allows us to attain that ever-elusive good night's sleep may be difficult, but it's certainly necessary. After all, if back sleepers and even stomach sleepers can find a way to catch some z's, why can't we?

Perhaps the biggest challenge that I've faced in my side sleeping days is finding a mattress that is firm enough to support my contours, but soft enough to avoid feeling pressure - particularly in my hips and shoulders. And while that mattress may feel like a unicorn, I'm here to bear some good news: There are, in fact, quite a few great mattresses for side sleepers that don't cost a fortune. We've put together this buying guide with the best ones you can buy based on research and testing.

When considering a side sleeping mattress, you should keep a few things in mind. First and foremost, you'll want your bed to help with spinal alignment. There's nothing worse than waking up with terrible back pain because you've somehow curled up into a rather unstrategic ball during the night.

You'll also need to find a mattress that alleviates pressure. I often find that I toss and turn because my mattress isn't forgiving enough on my hips, or that my shoulders are sore because my mattress is just a little too firm.

That means that the ideal mattress for us side sleepers is likely a bit softer than you might otherwise want. But be sure that the mattress isn't too supple. After all, you'll need something that will support you across a range of sleeping positions. It's likely that even though you start off on your slide, you ultimately fall asleep on your back or on your stomach, and as such, you'll want a mattress that is as dynamic and flexible as you are.

Regardless of which one you choose from our favorites, we're confident that you'll get a good night's sleep. And if you find that these mattresses don't work for you, rest assured that they come with a sleep trial so you can take these beds for a test run before making a long-term commitment.

Here are the best mattresses for side sleepers:

Updated on 11/5/2019 by Caitlin Petreycik: Updated prices, links, and formatting.

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Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Insider Picks team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at insiderpicks@businessinsider.com.

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The best mattress for side sleepers overall

The best mattress for side sleepers overall
Given that Helix literally designs a bed to suit your particular needs, it's no surprise that you'll be able to get an excellent night's sleep out of this customized mattress.

Helix believes that when it comes to your mattress, there is no such thing as one size fits all. And for side sleepers, that's excellent news. Buying a mattress from this online company starts with a quiz and ends with a customized mattress.

The quiz asks basic questions about your height and weight, as well as how many people are normally in your bed and what size you'd prefer. But then, it also gets into whether or not you toss and turn at night, your sleeping position, pressure points, whether or not you feel hot in the night, how firm your current mattress is, and how much you like it. From there, Helix begins to create a mattress that suits your body and your sleeping preferences.

I found that the Helix is particularly useful for side sleepers because of its relative softness. For years, I was convinced that I was a fan of firm mattresses, only to find that the firmer the mattress, the more pain I felt on my pressure points. But Helix's version of "firm" seems to be a bit less severe than other mattresses. That means that even if you're as overzealous as I am, you'll likely end up with a mattress that won't cause you to wake up stiff or in pain.

The Helix also features a Dynamic Foam top layer, which responds quickly to your movement so you never feel like you're sinking too far into the mattress (which could also affect your alignment). And if you're a hot sleeper, this layer of foam works with the microcoils of the mattress to aid in heat dissipation.

Another important thing to note: Helix can actually personalize a mattress for two people, which means that if you and your partner don't have the same preferences when it comes to your bed, you can still lay on the same mattress. You'll have to stick to your respective lanes quite literally, of course, but at the very least, it allows you to comfortably share a bed.

Pros: Total customization allows for a soft (yet not too soft) mattress, plush feel, great for couples who have different sleeping positions

Cons: Some customers report that the Helix mattress does not age particularly well

The best mattress for side sleeping athletes

The best mattress for side sleeping athletes
The memory foam of the Bear mattress combined with Celliant technology, makes this a great bed for active folks looking for some rest and recovery on their sides.

If your muscles are already tired and sore from hours of sports practice and training, the last thing you need is a mattress that leaves you even tighter than before. Bear is here to ensure that doesn't happen. The mattress is made of a high-density memory foam, which is quick to respond. Because it's relatively soft, it certainly helps to relieve pressure points, and as one happy buyer noted on Mattress Guides, the Bear "doesn't cause too much shoulder or neck tension."

Sleepopolis also created a pressure map to visualize what sleeping in different positions on the Bear did for the body, and happily, there were no dangerous red zones for folks sleeping on their sides.

The real differentiating factor of this mattress, however, lies in its use of Celliant technology, a relatively new innovation that is rarely found in mattresses. All of Bear's mattresses are woven with Celliant's FDA Determined Infrared Yarn Technology, which claims to "harness your body's natural energy to aid recovery time and overall well-being."

As per Celliant's own website, the material applies a blend of minerals and "proprietary ingredients" in order to enhance tissue oxygen levels, improve athletic performance, and perhaps most importantly, improve sleep quality.

While this sounds a bit like magic, don't be so quick to write these claims off. I found that my rest on a Bear mattress seemed to yield better results than sleeping on other products — at the very least, it was easier to go to kickboxing in the morning.

Celliant technology also doesn't seem to result in any overheating (despite its leveraging of infrared energy). In fact, because the mattress utilizes graphite gel-infused memory foam, I found that my body temperature was quite well-regulated, and I didn't have to kick off all the covers in the middle of the night.

Pros: Celliant technology, memory foam support and softness, accessible price point, 10-year limited warranty

Cons: While some side sleepers love memory foam, it's not for everyone. Some reviewers also noted that the bed could be a bit too firm.

The best contouring mattress for side sleepers

The best contouring mattress for side sleepers
The gel memory foam of the Nectar makes it a versatile mattress that conforms to the contours of your body to relieve pressure.

Some of the best things in life have layers, and the Nectar mattress is among them. Nectar's mattresses boast an impressive five layers, topped with a Tencel Cooling cover, the same material that is often used in workout apparel and heralded for its sweat-wicking capabilities.

But heat dissipation aside, the Nectar is a fantastic mattress for folks who have sensitive pressure points in their hips and shoulders. That's thanks to the mattress' layers of memory foam and contouring gel layers. Together, these two materials create a soft yet supportive mattress.

So what exactly are these various layers comprised of? Once you get past the Tencel cover, you'll find a quilted pad of gel memory foam. The next layer is Nectar's patented LushFoam, which promises to distribute weight and heat evenly across your body. Then, there's the Hi Core adaptive foam, which seems to be the key to Nectar's ability to support your weight, and finally, there's a base layer of high-density foam, which contributes to the mattress' overall stability.

When I first lay down on the Nectar, I felt as though I were sinking into my bed in quite a luxurious manner. That's thanks largely to the one-inch quilted top layer, which is the first stage of the mattress' pressure relief. There's actually another inch of gel memory foam that is key to the contouring aspect of the mattress. I found that the Nectar conformed well to the shape of my body, rather than fighting against it (and my sleeping habits).

Underneath these layers is a three-inch layer of memory foam, which Sleepopolis notes is "slow to respond to pressure," which means that you won't meet with a whole lot of resistance when you sink into the mattress for a long night's rest. Underneath these three inches is yet another layer of memory foam, which again adds some pressure relief.

In essence, you're getting a bed whose whole purpose is to ensure that you don't wake up with pain points, which is all I've ever asked for in a bed. As SleepAdvisor says, Nectar "contours to curves and reduces pressure, which works wonders for people who tend to sleep on their sides."

Pros: Provides great pressure relief (particularly to the hips and shoulders), bed bug resistant, great value

Cons: Some customers have noted that the mattress sleeps too hot

The best mattress for spinal alignment

The best mattress for spinal alignment
Casper Wave's Zoned Support will ensure that your core doesn't sink too deeply into the mattress so that your spine is well aligned.

When it comes to bed-in-a-box brands, it often feels as though you're sacrificing luxury for convenience. But Casper is here to prove that just because your bed comes to you rolled up and in the back of the truck, it doesn't mean that it can't be a truly sumptuous experience. The Capser Wave Zoned Support is the company's higher-end mattress, and while it certainly costs more than other mattresses in our guide, it's worth the extra dough.

The key to the Zoned Support mattress is its ability to properly align your body, which is of the utmost importance for folks who tend to sleep on their sides. With the right alignment, your shoulders and hips will receive the support they need to keep your spine in check, but without causing any pressure or pain.

While this is particularly useful for side sleepers, one of the great things about the Casper Wave is its ability to please sleepers of all persuasions, so if you find yourself moving from your stomach to your back to your side throughout the night, you'll still be well-supported and comfortable.

In order to provide proper alignment, this mattress treats different parts of your body. Unsurprisingly, your hips likely do not need the same level of firmness as your shoulders, and Casper's luxury mattress makes these adjustments. The upper half of the mattress (the part where your shoulders ought to go) is made of a softer foam, whereas the lower half is a bit firmer, providing extra support where it's needed.

For this luxury mattress, Casper implemented its Natural Geometry System. The precisely contoured foam actually has grooves cut directly into the material to make it more forgiving, and to provide relief where you might otherwise experience the most pressure.

Pros: Zoned Support is great for side sleepers, but also for other positions, luxury feel, soft yet supportive

Cons: Luxury feel comes at a luxury price

The best mattress for any kind of sleeper

The best mattress for any kind of sleeper
The Leesa mattress is one of the best-designed mattresses that works for everyone, and it's great for side sleepers.

The Leesa mattress has long been one of my favorites. Not only does it provide great pressure relief, but it's also one of the best looking mattresses on the market. I know, I know — Once you put your sheets on and actually get into bed, you're not actually seeing the mattress itself.

But the incredibly soft cover really does go a long way in providing some extra comfort, and in fact, buyers have liked this top layer so much that Leesa even offers a blanket inspired by the design and fabric of its mattress cover.

One of the best things about the Leesa from a sleeping perspective lies in its consistency. I've never had a problem sleeping on the Leesa on my side, but I've also found that during nights when I end up on my front or on my back, I'm still extremely cozy. So if you're a toss and turner or are generally sharing a bed with someone who doesn't prefer the same sleeping position as you do, the Leesa tends to be a good compromise.

When it comes to firmness, Leesa qualifies as a medium, or for some folks, a medium-soft. The amount of give the mattress offers is ideal for folks who often suffer from pressure points, and while most foam mattresses aren't particularly bouncy, the Leesa actually does have a bit of a spring associated with it. That means that you can easily move around the bed without feeling as though you've sunk into your side.

The Leesa also avoids sleeping too hot thanks to its top layer of two-inch Avena foam. This material promotes airflow and cooling, while the pinholes and egg crate-esque surface underneath this layer also ensures that you won't wake up sweating.

And if getting a good night's sleep is contingent upon knowing that you've done some good for the world, Leesa can certainly help out there. For every 10 mattresses sold, the company donates one to the needy. The company also prides itself on other social impact initiatives, including planting trees for each product sold, and volunteer work in its local community.

Pros: Great design; competitive price; innovative use of Avena foam; great social mission

Cons: If you're on the heavier side, this may not be the most supportive mattress

Check out more great buying guides for bedding

Check out more great buying guides for bedding
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So we've made it easy for you: We checked out all the top consumer buying websites, listened to opinions from bed sheet buyers, and tried sheets ourselves to compile our list of the five best bed sheet sets you can buy. Here are our top picks:

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