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Best mattresses for side sleepers

Best Mattresses For Side Sleepers UK (2021)

Nicky

Last updated: 24.07.2021 8 Min.

Did you know that over 70% of adults sleep on their side?

It's certainly the most comfortable position - even if it isn't the healthiest.

Many side sleepers struggle with back, hip, and neck pains as a direct result of their sleeping position.

But, luckily, this is often because they've chosen the wrong mattress.

Sleep Hero is here to come to the rescue 🦸‍♂️

In this guide, we'll tell you exactly how to choose your new mattress and what to look out for if you're a side sleeper.

We'll even recommend some of the best mattresses for side sleepers in the UK!

Let's get to it 🥳

  • Overview
  • Side sleepers
  • Health
  • Spinal alignment
  • High point elasticity
  • Pressure distribution
  • Firmness
  • Materials
  • Pillows
  • Mattress toppers
  • Conclusion

Advantages

  • Side sleeping allows for optimal spinal alignment.

  • It helps aid digestion.

  • It reduces snoring and decreases the effects of sleep apnoea.

  • Left side sleeping improves blood flow.

Disadvantages

  • An incorrect mattress can lead to shoulder and back pain in the side position.

  • Side sleeping can cause or worsen the appearance of wrinkles.

  • Pressing your cheeks down into your pillow can worsen acne.

    Top points to remember

    • Side sleepers need a mattress that provides enough support and enough sinkage, allowing for optimal spinal alignment.

    • Medium-firm mattresses are often a good choice.

    • Also pay attention to high point elasticity and even pressure distribution to avoid a build-up of tension.
    Our favourite
    Nectar memory foam mattress

    Nectar
    Price from £ 466 (804 )

    Nectar

    The Nectar Mattress is a luxurious memory foam mattress that comes with a 365-day trial period.

    This luxurious memory foam mattress is suitable for most people and sleeping positions and comes with a revolutionary 365-day trial period.

    All about the Nectar

    Nectar memory foam mattress

    The Nectar memory foam mattress features 3 layers of high-quality foam for optimal spinal alignment, pressure relief, and comfort.

    It has 7 contour zones to enhance its ergonomic design and keep your body in a healthy sleeping position.

    The Nectar mattress also has a removable, breathable cover to provide for a cool & comfortable sleep.

    It comes with free delivery & returns, a revolutionary 365-day trial period, and a 'forever warranty'.

    Nectar memory foam mattress

     

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    Excellent quality
    Simba Hybrid Mattress

    Simba Hybrid
    Price from £ 421 (649 )

    Simba Hybrid

    The Simba Hybrid mattress is a high-quality pocket sprung mattress with multiple layers of foam.

    This award-winning and five-star-rated original mattress by Simba Sleep is a unique hybrid mattress that combines polyfoam, high-definition foam, and pocket springs.

    All about the Simba Hybrid

    Simba Hybrid

    The Simba Hybrid is an award-winning hybrid pocket sprung foam mattress.

    It features a comfort layer of Simba-Pure open-cell polyfoam and a core of Aerocoil pocket springs and high-definition foam. 

    The Simba Hybrid is a great choice for a wide range of sleepers.

    It comes with free delivery and a 200-day risk-free trial period.

    Simba Hybrid Mattress

     

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    Eve Mattress

    Eve Original
    Price from £ 300 (429 )

    Eve Original

    The Eve Original is the original best-selling memory foam mattress by Eve Sleep.

    This high-quality medium-firm mattress by Eve Sleep is suitable for most body types and sleeping position. 

    All about the Eve Original

    Eve Original

    The Eve Original mattress consists of three different high-quality foam layers and a machine-washable cover.

    The mattress has a high level of elasticity and provides great support, promoting optimal spinal alignment and reducing pressure points. 

    It is a medium-firm mattress that has been specifically designed to suit most body profiles and sleeping positions.

    The Eve Original comes with free delivery & returns and a risk-free trial period.

    Eve Original Mattress

    30% OFF EVE ORIGINAL

    Silentnight Mirapocket 2000 Deluxe Box Top Mattress

    Silentnight Mirapocket 2000 Deluxe Box Top Mattress
    Price from £ 699

    Silentnight Mirapocket 2000 Deluxe Box Top Mattress

    The Silentnight Mirapocket 2000 Deluxe Box Top Mattress is a traditional hand-tufted pocket spring mattress with 2000 zoned springs and a luxurious pillow top.

    This mattress has a depth of 39 cm (15 inches), making it a luxurious choice for elegant bedrooms, box springs, and the elderly. 

    All about the Silentnight Mirapocket 2000 Deluxe Box Top Mattress

    Silentnight Mirapocket 2000 Deluxe Box Top Mattress

    The Silentnight Mirapocket 2000 Deluxe Box Top Mattress is a luxurious pillowtop mattress with a height of 39 cm (15 inches).

    The advanced zoned Mirapocket spring system offers zoned support, exceptional edge-to-edge support, and superior comfort.

    It offers superior pressure relief to alleviate aches and pains.

    The mattress has a medium-soft feel. 

    It comes with free delivery to the room of your choice within 14 days.

    Delivery is available within the UK mainland and Northern Ireland. 

    Silentnight Mirapocket 2000 Deluxe Box Top Mattress

    BUY MIRAPOCKET 2000

    What is a side sleeper?

    There are all kinds of sleepers in this world 😴

    Some lie flat on their stomachs, cheeks pressed down into the mattress. Others lie on their backs, sprawled out across the bed.

    A side sleeper is someone who sleeps on their side.

    Side sleeper
    There are many different types of side sleepers.

    There are many subcategories of side sleeping positions, like the foetal position, where side sleepers crawl into a ball, or pillow huggers, where side sleepers cuddle with a pillow.

    Sleeping on your back is often deemed the healthiest position as it creates the least tension for your body, but most adults sleep in the side position.

    This can create a fair bit of tension, which is why it's so important to choose the right kind of mattress.

    Stomach sleepers struggle the most with neck and shoulder tension. Therefore, this sleep position is not recommended. However, if you can't sleep in any other position, look at our article on the best mattresses for front sleepers to ensure the healthiest sleep in this position.

    How sleeping on your side affects your health

    There are numerous health benefits to sleeping on your side.

    But, there are also quite a few drawbacks as side sleeping creates tension in certain parts of your body - which is why choosing the right mattress is so important 📢

    Here, we'll give you an overview of how side sleeping affects your rest before deep-diving into what to pay attention to when buying a new mattress for side sleeping.

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    Health benefits of side sleeping

    There are numerous health benefits associated with sleeping on your side.

    These include 👇

    Reduced snoring

    Sleeping on your side allows your airways to remain open.

    This helps reduce snoring.

    It also helps control the effects of sleep apnoea, which can be detrimental not only to your sleep but also to your overall health and quality of life.

    Better digestion

    Numerous health studies show that sleeping on your left side helps digestion and decreases heartburn 🍔

    Our organ placement is largely asymmetrical, and sleeping on the left side helps gravity take over in transporting waste through the colon.

    Comfort during pregnancy

    Side sleeping is generally recommended for pregnant women as it allows for increased blood flow and is thought to result in better foetal health.

    But, it's also much more comfortable 😴

    Look at our article on mattresses and pillows for pregnant women for tips and tricks on the best sleep while pregnant.

    Optimal spinal alignment

    If you have the right mattress, side sleeping results in optimal spinal alignment.

    This is better for your health and eliminates the causes of back and neck pains.

    Drawbacks to side sleeping

    Despite the above-mentioned health benefits, there are also a few drawbacks to side sleeping.

    These include 👇

    Improper spinal alignment

    Side sleeping on the right mattress allows for optimal spinal alignment.

    But, sleeping on your side on a mattress that's not perfectly designed can lead to improper spinal alignment.

    This results in tension and lower back pain 😩

    The right mattress will allow your hips and shoulders to sink in more deeply, allowing your spine to remain straight at all times.

    Shoulder pain

    Side sleeping places more pressure on your shoulders, which can lead to or worsen shoulder pains.

    This is only if you don't have the right mattress.

    If your mattress doesn't allow your shoulders to sink in deeply enough, it will push your shoulders up towards your neck, resulting in a misalignment of your anatomy.

    Similarly, if your mattress is too soft, your shoulders will sink in too deeply, again resulting in misalignment.

    The right mattress, together with the right pillow, can assist in creating alignment and leaving you tension-free.

    Pillow for side sleepers
    The right pillow can help prevent tension

    Back pains

    Side sleeping shouldn't cause back problems - but sleeping on a bad mattress can cause or worsen existing back pain.

    How do you know if your mattress is at fault?

    If you wake up with back pain that generally disappears within an hour of getting up or after some stretching, then your mattress might be to blame.

    It could be too firm or too soft, both of which lead to improper spinal alignment.

    Buying a new mattress can help, but you could also get away with simply purchasing a mattress topper, especially if your back pain is caused by a mattress that's too firm. Why not try the luxurious but well-priced Eve mattress topper? We also recommend a few other options further down.

    Pelvic rotation

    Side sleepers may suffer from the effects of pelvic rotation.

    This results from the displacement of the back muscles and the lumbar spine.

    A rotation happens when you turn the upper body in the opposite direction of the lower body.

    This can be quite painful 😱

    You can prevent pelvic rotation by clamping a pillow between your legs while you sleep.

    Choosing the right mattress with the proper support structure can also help.

    Choose the right mattress for side sleeping

    Luckily, all the negatives to side sleeping are usually caused by an incorrect mattress or pillow 🥳

    The right mattress will alleviate these drawbacks and ensure a tension-free sleep in the side position.

    Let's look at what you should pay attention to when buying the right mattress for side sleeping 👇

    Focus on optimal spinal alignment

    Any ideal mattress - regardless of sleeping position - has to offer good stability and support.

    Stability should not be confused with firmness. A soft mattress can offer as much stability as a firm mattress can.

    The ideal mattress has to offer the right amount of stability regardless of sleeping position.

    This is because the exact sleeping position of a side sleeper can change every night 🌌

    Sometimes you'll bend your legs; other times, you'll sprawl them out to the side. Or maybe you'll only bend one leg.

    The right mattress will be able to support you well in every position.

    So what do stability and support even refer to?

    In a nutshell, a mattress with good stability and support will help keep your spine straight.

    This is necessary to prevent lower back pain and unnecessary tension 👍

    Achieving this is relatively easy for back sleepers but a little more difficult for side sleepers.

    This is because most of your body weight will be concentrated in your shoulder and hip areas.

    These heavier parts of your body will need to be able to sink into the mattress a little more deeply while the rest of your body remains adequately supported.

    Only this will allow your spine to remain optimally aligned.

    Ultimately, it's a fine balance of offering the right kind of support - enough to keep your feet and head lifted but not too much to still allow your hips and shoulders to sink in.

    You need the Goldilocks of mattresses - not too soft, not too firm, but just right 👩

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    Spinal alignment for side sleepers
    Focus on optimal spinal alignment

    Zoned mattresses

    Very often, you'll find mattresses with integrated comfort or contour zones.

    Zoned mattresses allow for greater support in some areas and more sinkage in others, keeping your spine in its optimal alignment.

    You'll often find high-quality foam mattresses, such as memory foam, latex foam, and gel foam, combined with a stable zoned support layer of cold foam or PUR foam to achieve this effect.

    The construction of the base layers often also influences the mattress's durability, so it's generally a good idea to make sure you purchase the best quality you can afford.

    All of the mattresses we recommend are high-quality, durable choices with a long guarantee period.

    Most high-quality bed-in-a-box mattresses come with a 10-year warranty, but the Nectar memory foam mattress even comes with a lifetime guarantee!

    If you choose a zoned mattress, you can also choose a bed frame where the slats match the zoning - this will help enhance the mattress features.

    Our favourite bed frames:

    Choose a mattress with high point elasticity

    If you've done some reading on mattresses, you'll have seen the term "point elasticity" thrown around.

    But what exactly does this mean?

    Point elasticity measures the ability of materials to compress at a specific point without affecting the rest of the mattress.

    If a mattress has high point elasticity, for example, it means that you can put a very heavy dumbbell at one point and only have the mattress sink in at that point - the rest of the surface will remain unaffected 🏋️‍♀️

    If you've read the above section on stability and support, you'll know that this is exactly what you need if you're a side sleeper.

    Your hips and shoulders (the dumbbells in this scenario) will need to sink in more deeply, but the rest of the mattress should remain unaffected.

    Point elasticity is influenced by the materials used and the composition of the mattress.

    But, you can rest easy in knowing that all the mattresses we recommend have exceptional point elasticity.

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    Motion transfer
    Low motion transfer means you won't feel your partner toss and turn

    Great for couples

    Mattresses with high point elasticity also generally have low motion transfer.

    This means that you can happily share your bed with a partner and not be disturbed by any tossing and turning.

    That said, we still recommend that couples choose larger mattress sizes to ensure both partners have enough space to sleep comfortably.

    Mattresses in king or super-king sizes are preferable 👌

    READ OUR MATTRESS SIZE GUIDE

    UK mattress sizes

    Make sure pressure is evenly distributed

    We've already mentioned that your body weight in the side position will be more concentrated in your shoulder and hip areas.

    But, you don't want this to create unnecessary pressure points, which could result in a build-up of tension and awful aches and pains.

    This is why you need to look for a mattress that offers even pressure distribution across the mattress.

    This will help relieve pressure points, meaning that your muscles can relax fully while you sleep 💤

    Luckily, pressure relief is related to point elasticity, and a mattress with high point elasticity will allow weight to be more evenly distributed.

    Best mattress firmness for side sleepers

    If you have a mattress that offers good stability and support, has high point elasticity, and allows for pressure relief, then you've already made a good choice.

    The degree of firmness you choose is often simply a matter of personal preference.

    But, your size, body weight, and sleeping position influence which level of firmness will be more suitable for you.

    Degrees of firmness

    Firmness for side sleepers

    In general, we would recommend a slightly softer mattress for side sleepers.

    This would be any mattress with an average firmness of about 4 - 6 (where 1 is the softest and 10 is the firmest) on our Sleep Hero firmness scale.

    These are generally softer or medium-firm mattresses.

    Firmer mattresses often don't allow for sufficient sinkage in the hip and shoulder areas, which will prevent optimal spinal alignment.

    Firmness according to sleeping position

    Consider your size and body weight

    Your build, size, and body weight will also influence which level of firmness is the best.

    If you are a bigger or heavier person (above 90 kg and especially if you're above 130 kg), you should choose a slightly firmer model.

    Mattresses with a firmness level of 6 - 8 on our scale will work well.

    This is because people who are slightly heavier will sink into the mattress more deeply, and will need a mattress that's firm enough to still offer sufficient support.

    Spring mattresses are particularly well-suited to heavier people as they offer greater firmness and stability.

    You can always choose a hybrid mattress that features top layers of memory foam, a mattress with a quilted pillow top, or a spring mattress with a memory foam mattress topper to achieve the same comfort level as with a foam mattress.

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    Make use of risk-free trial periods

    The only way to really determine whether a mattress's firmness is right for you is by trying it out.

    This is where risk-free trial periods are so handy 💵

    Most bed-in-a-box mattress brands, which we recommend, offer a minimum of a 100-night trial period.

    Some, like the Simba Hybrid, come with a 200-day risk-free trial period.

    The Nectar mattress even offers a revolutionary 365-night trial!

    If you're not fully satisfied, you can return the mattress - free of charge - and receive a full refund.

    This way, you'll be guaranteed to find the most comfortable mattress for you.

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    Risk-free trial period

    Different mattress materials for side sleepers

    Side sleepers need a mattress that's not too soft and not too firm but provides just the right amount of body contouring for optimal spinal alignment.

    Any mattress material that allows for body contouring can be well-suited to side sleepers.

    We go over the most common mattress materials below 👇

    Different mattress materials

    Innerspring mattresses

    Spring mattresses consist of a core of coils with layers of foam or latex on top.

    These mattresses are generally firmer, but they can still be suitable for side sleepers as long as the cushioning top layers allow for enough softness.

    Spring mattresses are also an excellent choice for heavy sweaters.

    This is because the springs create natural ventilation channels and allow for greater air circulation.

    Additionally, spring mattresses are among the best mattresses for heavy side sleepers as they offer greater stability and more support.

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    Mattress springs
    Innerspring mattresses feature a coil core

    Hybrid mattresses

    Hybrid mattresses rely on a composition of two or more materials and usually consist of pocket springs with memory foam or latex.

    This results in a mattress that offers the best of both worlds - support, stability, pressure relief, and cushioning.

    They're a great choice for side sleepers.

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    Eve Premium Hybrid
    A hybrid mattress combines foams with springs

    Latex mattresses

    Latex mattresses are known for their soft, springy feel, great breathability, and long lifespans.

    Latex conforms well to the shape of the body, making latex mattresses an excellent choice for side sleepers.

    You can choose natural or synthetic latex mattresses.

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    Latex foam
    Latex foam adapts well to your body

    Memory foam mattresses

    Memory foam mattresses allow for optimal body-hugging support.

    This is because memory foam moulds so well to your body shape.

    The unique body-contouring abilities of memory foam are due to the memory effect of the foam.

    When you apply pressure to the foam, it leaves an imprint that will remain visible for a few seconds.

    Look at the images below that demonstrate this memory effect 👇

    Memory foam mattress

    Hand squeezing memory foam

    Memory imprint

    The downside is that memory foam can be too soft.

    This is why memory foam mattresses often feature a more supportive base layer, like zoned cold foam.

    A zoned memory foam mattress is an excellent choice for side sleepers.

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    The best pillow for side sleepers

    In addition to choosing the right mattress, side sleepers will also need to pay attention to their choice of pillow.

    Even the best and most expensive mattress will be useless if your head isn’t properly supported 🤷‍♀️

    A bad pillow can easily result in severe neck pain.

    For side sleepers, the best pillow will cradle the space between your neck and the mattress while still offering sufficient comfort and support for your head.

    The pillow's height plays an important role here.

    Look at the below table as a general guideline:

    Pillow loft Best suited to
    Low Stomach sleepers
    Medium Back sleepers
    High Side sleepers

    Side sleepers generally require a high-loft pillow that allows for upper spinal alignment.

    Pillow for side sleeper
    Side sleepers need a high-loft pillow

    You also want a pillow that supports your head and neck well but isn't too firm, as this will create unnecessary pressure and tension.

    Pillows made of latex or memory foam are particularly suitable ☁️

    These materials ensure that the pillow adapts well to the shape of your head and that pressure is distributed well.

    Sleep Hero Tip: A pillow can also help in avoiding pelvic rotation. Simply clamp a pillow between your legs while you sleep. This helps keep your spine in a healthy alignment.

    Height-adjustable pillows

    We really like pillows with interchangeable layers.

    These give you some playroom and allow you to adjust the height and firmness of the pillow to suit your specific needs.

    We've recommended some of our favourite customisable pillows below.

    The best mattress topper for side sleepers

    If you've purchased an almost perfect mattress that's just a tad too firm, you'll benefit from investing in a mattress topper.

    Mattress toppers provide a thin layer of extra padding and allow for increased comfort and softness.

    This extra cushioning top layer may be just enough to allow for optimal spinal alignment if you're a side sleeper.

    This can easily turn a too-firm mattress into the perfect haven for side sleepers.

    Our recommended mattress toppers:

    Which mattress is best for side sleepers?

    Side sleepers need the right mattress to provide optimal comfort and support.

    Mattress material may play a role.

    Latex mattresses and memory foam mattresses are particularly good choices, you can also opt for a firmer spring mattress with ample cushioning to provide the right feel.

    Ultimately, what's important is that the mattress is firm enough to support your body but soft enough to allow your hips and shoulders to sink in more deeply, resulting in optimal spinal alignment.

    Medium-soft is generally the way to go.

    Also, pay attention to stability and support, high point elasticity, and pressure distribution.

    Luckily, all of the mattresses we recommend meet these criteria.

    This ensures that you'll find the best side sleeper mattress and enjoy a good night's sleep, night after night.

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    Frequently asked questions

    • Does side sleeping cause shoulder pain?

      Yes.

      Unfortunately, side sleeping can be related to increased bodily aches and pains, including shoulder pain.

      However, this is often because the wrong type of mattress is being used.

      The right mattress will allow for enough stability and support but will still be soft enough to avoid causing pain.

    • Which side is best to sleep on, left or right?

      Interestingly, it is often said that sleeping on your left side is healthier.

      This is because your organs are thought to be freer in this position, enabling them to remove toxins more efficiently.

      But, it's normal for side sleepers to change position quite frequently, and you're likely to shift from the right to the left side (or vice versa) while you sleep.

    • Can sleeping on your side help with snoring and sleep apnoea?

      Yes, it is advised that snorers or people who struggle with sleep apnoea sleep on their side.

      Sleeping in the side position can help keep your lungs and airways open.

      We recommend you check out our article on dealing with sleep apnoea for guidance. 

    • Are there different side sleeping positions?

      Yes, there are actually several side sleep positions.

      These include:

      • Foetal position: Here, the sleeper curls up like a newborn baby.
      • Log: Log sleepers lie on their side with both arms down.
      • Yearner: Yearners sleep on their side with both arms out in front.
      • Hugger: Huggers sleep while embracing a pillow.
      • Thinker: Variation on the foetal position, where sleepers lie with their chin resting on their hand.

      Apparently, your preferred sleeping position says a lot about your personality. 

      FIND OUT WHAT YOUR SLEEP POSITION SAYS ABOUT YOU

    Nicky

    My mum calls me "bear" because I like to sleep so much. I never knew that, one day, that would be a very useful skill. Can you tell that I've found my calling? 

    Try these

    We can highly recommend these best-selling mattresses.

    Simba Hybrid
    Simba Hybrid Simba Hybrid Mattress
    Simba Price from £ 421 (£ 649 )

    Get 35% off the Simba Hybrid mattress, a high-quality pocket sprung memory foam mattress.

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