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Admit it. Your arm falls asleep before you do. Frequently. And it’s annoying.

Side sleeping gets a poor rap because old styles of mattresses were poorly suited to doing it. The general advice was to change to your back. Well, you’ve tried that, but it’s just not going to happen.

Enter a new kind of mattress. It takes multiple sleeping positions into consideration and now, you can sleep in your favorite position without losing your arm or waking up with lower back and shoulder pain.

We’ve put together a list of our favorite mattresses for side sleeping, so you can get started right away finding the right one.

What Are the Benefits of Embracing Side Sleeping?

It turns out that there are quite a few reasons you may want to stick with side sleeping. It can help reduce the effects of sleep apnea by reducing the narrowing of your throat as you relax during sleep. Sleeping on your back causes the soft palate and tongue to relax and collapse, making breathing difficult.

It can relieve acid reflux for the same reasons. Sleeping particularly on your left side helps prevent acids from leaking up to your esophagus because the stomach sits a bit lower.

It can also help with neck pain, provided you have proper support with your pillow as well. Side sleeping can prevent neck pain that occurs during stomach sleeping. It keeps your neck straight instead of turned to the side. Better spinal alignment, better sleep.

Pregnant women particularly are better off sleeping on the side. With the extra weight around the middle, back sleeping can restrict blood flow and oxygen to some regions of the body. Pregnant women are instructed to sleep on their side to alleviate this pressure and frequently need props to help maintain positioning.

What Do I Need In A Mattress?

Side sleeping requires a slightly softer mattress than other positions. You have to remove compression at pressure points to prevent that dead arm feeling or long-term shoulder pain.

Conventional mattresses had interlocking springs that did support the body well but also forced it to conform to the surface of the mattress. If you slept on your side, this probably caused you a lot of pain because your shoulders would compress underneath you as you slept, irritating your rotator cuff and triggering joint pain.

The shoulder is one of the most mobile joints in the body, so it doesn’t’ take much to overextend it. If you tried for a softer mattress, mostly what you got was sag.

Mattresses now use layers of contouring and supporting materials to give you the soft give you need for side sleeping without sagging. Memory foam or latex is a common contour material that gives underneath your shoulder while filling in gaps around your lower back and neck. No more shoulder compression.

Underneath, support layers help push back against your weight, so you don’t sag the way you did with old innerspring designs. The surface stays contoured to your body, but your spine is aligned and correctly positioned.

If you’re a combination sleeper, or you and your partner share a bed, a combination support mattress might be a good choice. These aren’t as soft, but they still provide excellent contouring for your pressure points. Medium mattresses on the firmness scale do an excellent job of accommodating position changes or different sleep preferences.

You need edge support as well, particularly if you sleep next to a partner. Mattresses with good edge support don’t collapse towards the sides, so there’s no sweet spot in the middle, and you won’t overcompensate trying to balance as the mattress gives way underneath you.

Motion isolation is also critical because you don’t want to toss and turn, which can cause pain. If your partner doesn’t sleep well, or you’re a light sleeper, motion isolation prevents you from feeling the movements of everyone else on the bed, so you sleep more soundly.

Why Do I Need To Upgrade My Mattress?

If your mattress is old, it has lost support and doesn’t decompress your pressure points well anymore (if it ever did). As the mattress ages, it gives way underneath your whole body, knocking your spine out of alignment and causing pain.

Side sleeping will feel so much better if you have the proper layers underneath you. Memory foam is particularly good at adapting to side sleepers, but that doesn’t mean you can have your innersprings as well.

Innerspring mattresses and hybrid mattresses use a combination of foams plus individually pocketed coils to reduce motion transfer while giving you the response you love. Memory foam, latex, or other contouring materials on top give your shoulder room to straighten out while supporting your legs and torso. No sag.

If you like to change positions frequently, hybrid and new innerspring mattresses can help alleviate the “dead foam” feel of a mattress to make positioning easier.

Memory foam mattresses have almost no motion transfer and really cradle you at your broadest points. They encourage you to find a good position and stay there throughout the night rather than tossing and turning. If you have trouble with your movements during the night, memory foam might be a good choice.

The Best Mattresses For Side Sleeping

And now, our top picks for side-sleeping mattresses.

DreamCloud – Best Overall

DreamCloud

DreamCloud’s construction and layers make it a unique offering. It uses eight different layers of support and contouring materials that cradle you at your broadest points while maintaining your spine.

The top two layers are memory foam. One is gel infused to gently and efficiently disperse heat away from your body to keep the surface of the mattress cool. The other is a quilted layer that provides a soft feel and eases you to a comfortable sleep position.

The next two layers are transition layers intended to ease your body into the support layer. One is latex, which provides an adaptive response and the other is an adaptive foam that responds to your changing position quickly. The foam layers rapidly fill in any gaps so wherever you turn, you’re supported.

The real support layer is a set of individually pocketed coils sandwiched between two one-inch layers of foam. They provide zoned support, giving way underneath the shoulder area, but remaining more firm at your torso and legs.

The cover materials are cashmere blended fabrics that are breathable and allow maximum air flow to the mattress and your body. The mattress stays cool and moisture free.

DreamCloud gives you a full year to try the mattress out, so you have plenty of time to adapt and decide. You should sleep on your new mattress for at least 30 nights to give yourself time to adjust and the mattress time to break in.

You’re also covered by a lifetime limited warranty against mattress defects. If your mattresses is supported correctly, you shouldn’t see any abnormal sagging or lack of support. If you do, DreamCloud will replace your mattress for free during the first ten years and repair or replace it after those ten years have passed.

They don’t offer white glove delivery, but your mattress arrives at your doorstep without an appointment or waiting for the delivery person.

Purple – Runner-Up

Purple aims to be the first zero pressure mattress, and they deliver. The mattress was designed by an actual rocket scientist who was dissatisfied with mattress performance. The result is a zero pressure mattress that maintains spinal alignment and support.

The top layer is an elastic polymer grid that absorbs pressure and reduces it down to almost nothing. If you sleep on your side, this can be a game changer. The layers underneath are foam layers that provide structural integrity and edge support, so your spine stays aligned and straight. It’s covered in an ultra-stretchy fabric that doesn’t hamper the natural contouring of the grid layer.

It’s great if you’re a side sleeper, but if you’re a combination sleeper, it may not have the same type of bounce as the DreamCloud to help make changing positions easier. However, if you sleep exclusively on your side, or have pain in your shoulder already, the zero pressure purple mattress might be a good option.

It comes with a 100-night guarantee, not as long as DreamCloud’s but still plenty of time to give it a full try before deciding. You can give it an entire month or so to allow your body to adjust and to initiate a return if you aren’t happy well before the trial period is over.

It’s covered by a ten-year warranty against mattress defects. As long as the mattress is correctly supported, you shouldn’t see any sag or unnatural give in support. It’s not quite a lifetime warranty, but it should cover you for a good chunk of the mattress’s life.

It also arrives in a box on your doorstep. It’s convenient for your schedule, but make sure you have someone who can help you move the mattress if you aren’t able to.

Here are a few of our recommendations for side sleeping based on more specific criteria. If you fall into one of these categories, you might be better served with one of the following mattresses.

Nectar – Best Budget Mattress

If you need to upgrade your mattress, but you can’t stomach the thought of spending more than $1000, you’re in luck. The Nectar model is an excellent supporting mattress that will cost you $930 or less. Really.

It uses two layers of gel foam, one dense and one quilted, to wick heat away from the body and provide response. The next layer is highly adaptive memory foam that moves as you do. If you change positions, it rebounds quickly to provide support. The bottom layer is a dense foam that gives the mattress structural integrity and support.

The cover materials are Tencel, which is a type of material that conducts heat and wicks moisture better than cotton alone. It’s bed bug resistant as well and doesn’t interfere with any of the Nectar’s contouring capabilities.

Nectar offers a 365-day sleep trial, so you have more than enough time to sleep on it and see if it relieves any pain and improves your sleep quality. You should sleep on it for at least 30 nights to see if it’s genuinely helping. If you decide not to keep it, just initiate a return before your sleep trial is up, and they’ll issue a full refund.

You’re also covered by a lifetime limited warranty for mattress defects. During the first ten years, they’ll replace a defective mattress provided it was correctly supported and used for its intended purpose. After ten years, they’ll either repair it or replace it.

Nectar is going to be best for someone who doesn’t have any existing pain issues but needs a better set up for either side sleeping or combination sleeping.

Puffy – Best For Combination Support

If you know you’re going to change positions frequently, or you’re sleeping next to someone who has a different position preference, the Puffy might be a good option.

It has a simple two-layer system that cushions and aligns your spine. It’s rated as a medium firm (between six and a half and eight on a ten-point firmness scale). The top layer of foam is a proprietary, open cell foam that provides maximum airflow for cooling during the night. It uses conduction to make sure heat doesn’t build up near your body or in the core of the mattress.

The next layer is a core support layer that provides structural integrity and prevents the mattress from compressing too much towards the edges. It’s supportive and responsive, so as you or your partner change positions, you’ll still remain comfortable. You won’t even jiggle each other awake.

Puffy comes compressed in a box, so you don’t have to wait on a delivery person. However, you should make sure that you have someone to help you move the mattress if you aren’t able to do it on your own.

Puffy has a 101-night sleep trial, so you have lots of time to sleep on it and adjust before you decide if it’s the right one. You should give it a few weeks, so the mattress breaks in, but they’ll return it for a full refund if you decide not to keep it.

It’s covered with a lifetime warranty against mattress defects, provided you support the mattress correctly, and you use it for its intended purpose. They may repair or replace the mattress if you notice anything wrong outside the natural wear and tear process.

Ghostbed Luxe – Best For Heavy People

If you’re on the heavier end of the spectrum, you may want a mattress that’s rated for the extra weight. Otherwise, you’ll lose some of the contouring benefits and interact with the support layer much more quickly.

Ghostbeds are created for a combined weight of up to 750 pounds. The Ghostbed Luxe is a slightly softer version of their original mattress. It uses a proprietary Japanese fabric that’s better at wicking heat away from the body and providing a consistently cool surface.

Underneath, it has a cooling and contouring layer that works with the material to provide further temperature regulation. Quilted memory foam underneath that helps with the responsiveness and lessens the dead foam feeling.

A ghost ice layer within the dense support section prevents heat from building up in the core of the mattress. Another gel infused memory foam layer and a bounce layer that behaves a lot like latex eases your body to the dense support foam.

The layers have structural integrity and excellent edge support. You should be free to sleep on the sides on your side without overcompensating for mattress compression.

Ghostbed gives you a 101-night sleep trial so that you can try out the mattress before deciding officially. Make sure you give it a few weeks to break and for your body to adjust. If you choose not to keep it, they will refund your money and pick the mattress up for you.

You’re covered by a 25-year warranty against mattress defects. If your mattress has been adequately supported and you still notice larger than average sag or loss of support, they’ll replace your mattress.

There’s no white glove delivery, so make sure that you have enough help to move it if you need.

Final Thoughts

Sleeping on your side isn’t as much of a disaster now because of changes in the way mattresses are made. They offer more support and more contouring, so you can sleep on your side without your arm going to sleep or causing pain in your rotator cuff. A new mattress can change the quality of your sleep after a few weeks of proper positioning.

We love the DreamCloud’s layers, sleep trial, and warranty. If you’re going to order a mattress online, DreamCloud’s policies give you more confidence that you won’t be stuck with a mattress you hate. Plus, the layers of DreamCloud give you the feeling of a super soft, plush mattress without losing any of the support.

Is your side your primary position or are you a combination sleeper? How about your partner? Let us know in the comments below.

Tim

Remember how your parents told you that you were going to sleep your life away? Well that would be perfectly fine with Tim. He's been in search of the most comfortable nights sleep for years and shares his findings with any willing ear.

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