Aside from your weight, the way in which you sleep is detrimental when choosing a mattress. It essentially changes the pressure points, dictating different models, materials and manufacturing technologies.
Before we start describing the mattress requirements of each sleeping style, let’s familiarize ourselves with the 4 different brackets:
- Side sleepers
- Back sleepers
- Stomach sleepers
- Combined position sleepers
The best mattress for side sleepers is not necessarily the best mattress for someone with different sleeping preferences. More often than not, it is in fact the complete opposite. What is comfortable and recommended for one group of people, is usually problematic for others.
Firm or soft – what do you need for each sleeping position?
Following the advice from many doctors and organizations, such as the National Bed Foundation, sleeping on your back may be the healthiest habit. But most of us, however, have personal preferences strongly maintained throughout the years. My wife, for example, cannot imagine sleeping on her back – she struggles with firm mattresses every time we are going on a vacation, but the side position is the only way she can actually fall asleep.
Luckily though, knowing the different model requirements, we got ourselves the right mattress years ago.
The back sleeper, however, would enjoy a medium firm mattress – something that provides adequate support against their lower back. Those who sleep on their stomach, on the other hand, would need a firm and stiff mattress – the heavier the person, the firmer the surface. That’s usually the safest bet.
Sleeping on the side, you will need a medium soft mattress – a cushioned variety that is also supportive enough to keep your spine leveled. If you are switching from one position to another, pocket coils and dense memory foam are going to do the job.
But let’s focus on the side position, and discuss the side sleeper mattress.
Sleeping on your side – what is the best mattress?
The most common position is the side position, which in fact creates the highest number of pressure points. Pressure points, like your hips, shoulders, elbows, and thighs, are body parts that come in contact with the surface, unevenly distributing your weight.
Side sleepers need a medium to soft firmness. The reason behind this is because weight and therefore pressure tend to be focused on the hips and shoulders. If you experience shoulder pain, it’s probably because your mattress is too firm.
The side sleepers would need a medium-soft mattress, which doesn’t put stress on the hips and shoulders, but instead alleviates pressure from these points of contact. It needs to be softer, providing a sinking feeling. Memory foam layers are therefore installed, and they can vary in thickness. The density, though, is cushy, providing the necessary softness.
However, the side position still requires the natural curve of the body to be maintained, with the spine in perfect alignment. This can be achieved with a strong base, with high quality responsive coils, or most commonly a zonal support system with micro-pockets, allowing each area of the surface to react differently to pressure and weight.
The best mattress for side sleepers is therefore not an open coil model. It is either a zone support system, with pocket coils, or a spring variety with thick and soft memory foam.
Some people mistake the medium-soft tag with a cushy model that is too soft to provide the necessary support. In this case, the body sags into the mattress, with different body parts avoiding points of pressured contact against the surface altogether. Needless to say, discomforts would usually manifest quickly, followed by issues with the spine, neck and lower back.
Do note, also, that most side sleeper mattress models are one sided, which means that you don’t have to flip them. Rotation, however, is recommended.
The list below features the most popular side sleeper mattress in the UK collection, with relatively affordable models that ensure both comfort and durability. We tested them separately, trying to write the best mattress reviews, covering both the pros and cons of each model.