There are three types of sleepers, depending on sleeping position assumed. These are the side sleeper, back sleeper, and stomach sleeper. A fourth type goes through all these positions. In general, people spend most of their sleep time on their side, making this the most common type of sleeping position.
What happens during sleep?
A WebMD article, “The Best Mattress for a Better Night’s Sleep”, quoted a sleep specialist, Michael Decker, on what happens to the portion of the body people sleep on. He stated that the weight of the body on the part people rest on slows down blood flow. This reduces the nutrients and oxygen that go to that part of the body. The resulting discomfort causes the person to change position, interrupting sleep briefly. Based on this, he indicated that the fewer times a person has to change position during sleep, the better his or her sleep will be.
What is the Best Mattress for Side Sleepers?
For a side sleeper, the shoulder and the hips bear most of the body’s weight. Mattresses that relieve pressure from these areas are the ones that side sleepers usually find giving them a good night’s sleep. Although the WebMD article pointed out that choice of mattress is a personal one, there are some mattress characteristics that might prove helpful in finding that “ideal” mattress or best mattress for side sleepers:
1. Relieves pressure from hips and the shoulders
2. Soft enough to allow the body to sink into the mattress
3. Firm enough to support the spine in its natural alignment
These traits are just a guide to help narrow which mattresses side sleepers might like. Only trial and error will really tell which would be ideal for a particular person. Because most people sleep on their side, choosing from the top-rated mattresses to test will further narrow down options. Of course, even if a person is a side sleeper, a good mattress will still be comfortable in the other sleep positions, since no one sleeps exclusively in one position every night.
Top-Rated Mattresses by Viewpoints Readers
The following mattress brands and mattresses received the best ratings and comments from Viewpoints readers who have tried them. The specific mattress models mentioned here are the top ones that satisfy the criteria listed above.
The mattresses under this brand received consistently high scores among Viewpoints readers. Six of the 16 mattresses reviewed got scores of 90 and above. Only one received a rating of 76; the rest were 80 or higher.
“I like to sleep on my side, which can be a problem on other mattresses, since I lose neck support. The [Tempur-Pedic], though, formed a depression in the mattress, so my body was on its side, but my head was still level with the pillow! This was very comfortable. In fact, it felt a bit like getting hugged. While it did conform to my body, it seemed to sense when to firm up, as well. I’m not a fan of too-soft mattresses, as I don’t feel supported. The [Tempur-Pedic], though, has just enough give and then provides a firm support before going too far.” —coreyhaines on the Tempur-Pedic Weightless Collection Mattress
“It’s like sleeping on a cloud. I can hardly sleep on any other mattress. I love the way it takes the shape of your body as if it swallows you.” —LaylaRay on the Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Cloud Luxe Mattress
There are seven mattresses of this brand reviewed by Viewpoints readers, and all of them got ratings between 90 and 99. The mattresses below were tested by side sleepers who found them great.
“The memory foam recovery (spring back) is perfect in my opinion. It is slow enough to allow you to feel the “sinking” of the memory foam as it cradles your body, but not so slow that it creates a “hole” for you to roll back into if you switch from your back to your side… I do not have any pressure on my shoulder when I lay on my side, and I have changed to sleeping that way. This has eliminated my back pain and improved my posture.” —djphydoux on the BedInABox.com Natural Silk Elegance Memory Foam Mattress
“I sleep on my side and this is great. My wife is a stomach sleeper and it is great for her also. I have not found an uncomfortable position yet” —brandonpharmd on the BedInABox.com Serenity Gel with Outlast Technology Mattress
Bottom line on mattresses for side sleepers
The type of mattresses that most side sleepers like relieve pressure on the shoulders and hips. Such mattresses are soft enough to conform to the body’s natural contour when sleeping on one’s side, yet it has an underlying firmness that keeps the spine supported and in good alignment. Because choice of mattress differs from person to person, being able to test the mattress would be ideal.