Whether you’re dealing with shoulder pain, or you just favor sleeping on your side, this is the list for you. After posting 75+ mattress in a box reviews, we’ve boiled it all down to our top rated picks online. We included a memory foam mattress, several hybrid and innerspring options, and even options for people with back pain.
Sleeping on your side is the best, just ask any side sleeper. A lot of our team members are side sleepers and, collectively, we’ve tested dozens of online mattress in a box products. In this post, we’ll cover what we think are the best mattresses for side sleepers and anyone that needs maximum pressure point relief.
Please keep in mind that we are not physicians or chiropractors and this is not an offering of health advice. That said, we did consult with a chiropractor to help us firm up our opinions and select this list.
At the bare minimum, this should serve as a starting point for you. We won’t be offended in the slightest if you do some extra research, but I do think that you’ll get a lot out of this post. And with that out of the way, let’s take a look at our review, which for the record includes both king and queen size mattresses.
So what is the best firmness level for side sleepers? Do you want a firm mattress or a plush mattress? That completely depend on the person. If you’re heavy, you need something firmer. If you’re petite, you need something softer. Now, that’s all relative and changes based on your personal preferences. But, in general, the heavier you are, the firmer the bed should be, even if you’re a side sleeper.
The right mattress firmness is really based more on you and your body type than anything else. Sure, petite side sleepers generally go with a mattress firmness that’s on the soft side, but not always. You need to think about what fits with your preferences.
Additionally, the type of mattress you’re looking at will influence what the perceived firmness level is. For example, hybrid mattresses will often have so much support that, absent several comfort layers, they will feel firmer. That’s why you will see plenty of pillow top hybrid mattresses for side sleepers that around 14″ or more thick.
Even more, if you’re sharing a mattress with someone else, the perceived firmness level will most likely be different for the both of you—regardless of whether you’re sleeping on a queen or king size mattress.
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Memory Foam Mattress
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|Layla is a flippable online mattress that uses copper-infused memory foam and is quite affordable. It has both a Soft and a Firm side. The Soft side is perfectly suited for people would shoulder pain because it offers plenty of pressure relief. Layla is basically a soft mattress and firm mattress, all in one, making it a fantastic mattress for side and back sleepers.|
Hybrid Innerspring Mattress
|Nest Alexander Hybrid is a premium, innerspring mattress that is available in multiple firmness options. This is perhaps the most comfortable pillow top mattress that we've ever tried. But wait, there's more. It has two layers of coils, making it highly supportive and idea for side sleepers with back pain. This is just flat-out one of the nicest mattresses in a box available today. And if you share a king size mattress, they can even split that bed down the middle.|
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|Purple makes unique beds that use a patented material called Hyper-Elastic Polymer, which provides a good amount of pressure relief, support, and airflow. For a lot of people, Purple is a new concept that can help side sleepers with back pain.|
Soft Foam Mattress
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|Tuft & Needle Mint is a plush soft foam mattress for side sleepers in particular. The pressure point relief is unbelievable, especially for a plush foam mattress in a box. Also, all T&N beds are compatible with adjustable base bed frames. It's definitely a nice mattress for side sleepers with shoulder pain and people that want that plush foam feel.|
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|Nolah is an online bed in a box mattress that feels unique and sells at an approachable price point, especially for the queen size. It's also really soft and plush, and should be a highly comfortable mattress for side sleepers.|
Pillow Top Mattress
|The Oceano is a thick and comfortable hybrid mattress that has a soft, luxurious pillow top and two layers of coils. Oceano is a fantastic mattress for anyone that wants a supportive, yet soft and pressure relieving mattress, including side sleepers with back problems.|
Side And Back Sleepers
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|Casper is a 12" thick bed in a box mattress that uses a special zoned support layer. Casper is able to handle back and side sleepers as well as stomach sleepers. If you're open to a foam mattress, this is surely one of the most accommodating and comfortable.|
Number of Contributors
We spend countless hours testing, researching, and reviewing beds every week, not to mention the hundreds of hours spent filming, editing, and writing about them. We’ve made beds our business here at the Slumber Yard, and we obsess over them.
To that point, we have an entire team of individuals (men and women) who help us test beds—and we’re all different. We have some folks that are over six foot and others that are in the low five foot territory. We have some around 200 lb and at least one person who is (barely) 100 lb soaking wet.
This allows us to form a thoughtful opinion of each of these beds. Additionally, we perform our own tests related to softness/firmness, responsiveness, motion transfer, and more. Of course, these aren’t scientific by any means, but they give us a good idea of what to expect—and we do anticipate that they’ll be helpful for the average mattress shopper. If you read any of our individual mattress reviews, we usually go item by item, discuss each one of our tests and subsequent findings. I mention this because if you have any questions from this post, you should read our full reviews, as those provide a lot more context and information. This is especially important for anyone that cares about pressure points due to health conditions such as shoulder pain.
In regards to the best type of mattress for side sleepers, here’s our list:
For the record, we left off hybrid/spring/coil because that just refers to the support base of the mattress.
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If you are a medium or petite sized side sleeper, who likes the idea of a flippable mattress with different firmness levels on either side, Layla is a great option and is one of the top rated beds out there. You will get more of a memory foam feel with the “Soft” side, and that is the side that we would prefer you start on if you are having shoulder or back pain.
The “Firm” side is suitable for side and back sleepers as well as stomach sleepers. In other words, the black/grey side ends up being a nice firm mattress for side sleepers, given that it still has a nice amount of cushion.
This flippable mattress features a “Soft” and a “Firm” side, so the consumer can decide which is more comfortable for them. The “Soft” side is most preferable for strict side sleepers, although, the “Firm” side isn’t a bad option either. The “Soft” side is about a medium-soft and the Firm side sits in between a medium and medium-firm.
In addition to being our pick as the best memory foam mattress for side sleepers, Layla is also our top pick for back and side sleepers because of the fact that it has two sides. The vast majority of beds we’ve reviewed do not have two sides and therefore technically are not two mattresses in one.
Layla, on the other hand, is able to appeal to side and back sleepers simultaneously with the “Soft” and “Firm” side depending on your weight and preferences. For instance, if you’re petite and sleep on your back and side, the “Soft” part of the bed will serve you just fine. Likewise, if you’re a medium size person, the “Firm” side will work if you’re rotating between side and back sleeping throughout the night. You kind think of Layla as perhaps the best firm mattress for side sleepers given that it has that “Firm” option.
All things considered, Layla is a very nice mattress with some interesting features that, we think, sets it apart from the myriad other bed in a box mattresses out there.
There is very little that we don’t like about the Nest Alexander Hybrid mattress. It will be comfortable for people of all shapes and sizes thanks to its mix of pocketed coils, memory foam, and Energex foam. It actually reminds us a lot of the Brentwood Home Oceano, only the Alexander Hybrid is available in more than one firmness profile.
We recommend strict side sleepers stick to the Medium firmness, as it is soft enough to provide ample pressure relief, but still has a decent amount of support. The Luxury Firm isn’t overly firm either, but it’s not necessarily our pick for the best firm mattress for side sleepers.
If you sleep with a partner, this bed is a great choice as well. It features good edge support and will be comfortable for a variety of sleeping positions, so both partners can get comfy. We also like that consumers can sleep easy knowing this bed is backed by a lifetime warranty.
It really comes down to pressure relief and support. The bed has a giant, comfy cover that feels like a fluffy pillow, and yet it still has a layer of pocketed coils / springs. You get bi-directional support and the super plush pillow top. All in all, it was just a no-brainer pick as the best hybrid mattress for side sleepers.
In addition to all of that, Nest also now offers split firmness mattresses, meaning they have a soft and firm side. It’s not like Layla where the side are on the top and bottom, however. They actually split the mattress down the center to make one side firmer than the other. As such, Nest is definitely a great king mattress for side and back sleepers, and more. As someone that sleeps on a king mattress, I highly recommend it, and the split firmness just takes things to another level. In terms of our best rated mattresses, Nest Alexander is darn near off the charts, all things considered.
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Purple is one of the most unique, top rated mattresses on the market right now. The top of the mattress is covered with a pressure relieving, proprietary material called Hyper-Elastic Polymer. The material looks like a grid and allows for good airflow. This is great for people who tend to sleep hot and need a bed that does a great job of dissipating body heat.
Technically, there are four versions of the Purple mattress—the Purple Original and 2/3/4—and we think all of them will work for side sleepers, although, if we had all of the money in the world Purple 3 or 4 would be our favorite. Although it’s on a case-by-case basis, given how unique Purple beds are, we could see them being a great solution for side sleepers with back pain. They’re just so unique that we can almost guarantee that you’ve not tried a bed like this before.
Regardless, however, all of the beds offer pressure relief and are a wonderful solution for hotter sleepers. It really comes down to your budget and whether or not you’re open to a new style of mattress. The original Purple is their most affordable model and the new models do climb in price. If you’re under 230 lb, you might want to start with the original model, as it will save you some money.
The interesting thing about Purple is that you can’t rate it by the same mattress firmness that you do many of the other beds. It’s around a medium on our firmness scale, but that depends in large part on your body type and weight. We just think that for the average American, the mattress firmness of Purple is ideal for side sleepers.
If you’re dealing with back pain, the support level of your mattress is of great importance. We discuss this point in more detail later in the post, but the reason we picked Purple Hybrid is the fact that it has pocketed coils, meaning it’s superb in the support arena. And it’s not just that, if you’re sleeping on your side and have back pain, you still want pressure relief from this type of mattress might be exactly what the doctor ordered.
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Tuft & Needle Mint will be a really comfortable mattress for strict side sleepers who need plenty of pressure relief around the shoulders and hips. The bed also doesn’t use any memory foam, which means it has an overall neutral feel, a bit like the original Tuft & Needle mattress, only softer. We’d put the Mint at a medium to medium-soft on our firmness scale, so you can expect to sink it, but not feel trapped.
Despite the fact that this is a thicker foam mattress, we still contend than T&N Mint is best for medium and petite individuals. And while we think petite sleepers can get by sleeping in any position, anyone that weights 180 – 250 lb should probably sleep exclusively on their side with T&N Mint. At the end of the day though, this is a comfy, neutral, soft mattress—if that sounds like what you’re looking for, T&N Mint might be your mattress.
It’s also fairly budget friendly. The queen size mattress is usually around $1,000 before any discounts.
Many of these mattresses are ideal option for people with shoulder pain, so why did we single out T&N Mint? Great question. We selected this bed in particular because it is really good at limiting motion transfer and still offers a heck of a lot relief for your pressure points, particularly in your shoulders. You will sink into T&N Mint without feeling stuck. It’s also quite soft, meaning it will contour to your body’s shape, especially where you have curves (i.e. your shoulders). Again, you can pick just about any bed on this list if you’re a side sleeper with shoulder pain, but T&N Mint is a great place to start.
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The Nolah Original 10 is flat out one of the best foam mattresses for side sleepers. In fact, we consider it to be up there with Layla, but it has less of a memory foam feel, which could be a positive or negative depending on what you’re looking for in a mattress.
You still get ample pressure relief and can feel the foams conforming to your body, but at no point will you feel stuck in the Nolah mattress. We often times refer to the feel of the bed as a blend between poly foam and memory foam.
As is the case with the majority of 10″ all-foam beds, we wouldn’t suggest Nolah for heavy or obese sleepers, but if you’re under 230 lb, Nolah should make for a really nice bed.
One of our favorite things about Nolah as a company, though, is that they sponsor wildlife. When you purchase one of their mattresses, you get to choose an animal to sponsor at check out. We think that’s a nice way to give back.
As we mentioned above, Nolah Original 10 has a soft foam feel, and is our top pick as the best foam mattress for side sleepers that are on a budget.
At the end of the day, it’s soft, pressure relieving, outrageously comfortable, and a great value. It’s not the cheapest bed in a box mattress on the market, but it is affordable. Typically, a queen size sells for around $900 after-discount. As such, if you want a really nice bed in a box for side sleepers, Nolah is a darn good option.
The Brentwood Oceano mattress is plush and features a luxuriously soft pillow top that hugs your body. This provides both comfort and pressure relief to side sleepers. The mattress is about 15″ thick and will be a good choice for people of all sizes with its pocketed coils for support and foam for comfort.
This mattress is also a good choice if you sleep with a partner or a pet. Not only does it do a good job of isolating motion, but it provides an adaptable surface, comfortable for multiple sleeping positions. This bed has a longer-than-average warranty, at 25 years. We also like that Brentwood Home makes an effort to use eco-friendly materials and manufacturing practices. Overall, we find this to be a super comfortable and accommodating bed.
Ultimately, however, we selected Brentwood Home Oceano because it has dual coil layers and is highly supportive. If you’re overweight, you need a supportive bed, and Oceano is just that. It’s not the cheapest bed you can buy, but it’s fairly affordable all things considered. If you just look at the queen size mattress, it’s not out of reach for the typical consumer, that’s for sure.
Two very close alternatives are Saatva and WinkBed. We really had to make a tough call here. While we absolutely love Saatva and WinkBed, we felt that Brentwood Home was the quintessential pillow top mattress for side sleepers. Saatva and WinkBed are two phenomenal beds that are on par with Oceano, but we could only choose one. Interestingly enough, Saatva and WinkBed both are innerspring mattreses with two layers fo coils as well.
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Casper is pretty much the bed in a box mattress online, especially for side and back sleepers. It’s constructed with foam and, while it uses memory foam, it doesn’t give you that stuck-in-the-mud feeling. In fact, we’d actually say it has a more soft foam feel to it, which we’ve found a lot of sleepers quite like.
Overall, this bed finds a nice balance between pressure relief and support. We can see why it’s become so popular over the last several years and we think it’s a great option for side sleepers or anyone that needs to think about getting enough pressure relief while they sleep. And, if for some reason, you find it to be too firm from the get-go, remember that all beds soften with use. You’d rather start with too firm of a bed than too soft of a bed.
The main reason we selected Casper is because it’s so accomodating. It is a mattress that the vast majority of people are really happy with—and not only that, the firmness level is such that it can handle all sleeping positions, including (of course) side and back sleepers. Also, because Casper has the Zoned Support design we anticipate that you’ll be plenty happy switching between side sleeping and back sleeping.
There are several elements that are important to look for if you’re a strict side sleeper. Most bed companies will tell you that their mattress accommodates all types of sleepers. For the most part, they’re not lying, but it’s a little more complicated than that. Let me explain.
First and foremost, you need a bed that offers pressure points relief. What you don’t want is to put too much pressure on your shoulders, neck, and hips. You shouldn’t feel like there’s a space under your stomach, either. You should feel as though your entire body is supported equally. This will ensure that your spine is straight. If you feel excess pressure under your hips and shoulders, you’ll more than likely end up with shoulder pain and possibly even back or hip pain. That’s because there’s not enough to relieve pressure points and you’re not sinking into the bed enough.
For side sleepers with back pain, you should first look at the support level of your mattress and identify the specific area of pain. You will probably end up with a dense foam bed or a hybrid innerspring mattress for your back pain. Now, when it comes to your mattress, you want to make sure the bed is supportive so that you’re not “melting” into the bed. That can put your back at an odd angle. You want to make sure that they’re a straight line from your hips to your head, ensuring that your neck is in ideal alignment.
Keep in mind that everyone is different and all beds will soften over time, but in general, you should be thinking of pressure relief, which actually has more to do with the plush top layers of the bed than with the support foams or coils.
The majority of this list has been centered around strict side sleepers, but what if you split time between your back and side? If this is the case, you want to play to your dominant sleeping position. In other words, if you’re 73% a side sleeper, you’ll likely need a bed that’s about a medium on the firmness spectrum. If you’re 73% a back sleeper, you will want something in the medium-firm tier. In either case, you need the mattress to be firm enough that you feel well supported when sleeping on your back, but pressure relieving enough when you’re sleeping on your side.
The impetus for us saying that you should play to your dominant sleeping position is that you don’t want the exception to dictate the rule. You want to program around what is most likely going to happen while you’re sleeping. We’ve covered plenty of mattresses that are great for side and back sleepers alike.
Support is another extremely important factor, especially if you are like most people and plan to keep the bed for many years. The two most common forms of support systems are coils and foam.
Usually you’ll see either innersprings or pocketed coils. They’re both durable, bouncy, responsive, supportive, and allow for plenty of airflow. If you’re 200 lb or more, you should probably look for some sort of spring or hybrid mattress. For the record, there is no difference between a coil and spring mattress, but there is a technical difference between innerspring and hybrid. Hybrid just denotes that a bed has two dissimilar materials. Innerspring mattresses are just beds with coils even though historically innerspring has meant a bed with standard springs not pocketed coils.
If you don’t get a coil or spring mattress, you should look into a foam mattress that’s at least 11” thick if you’re a heavier individual. Typically, they’ll start with a 5-6” dense layer of polyurethane support foam. It is important to note that the level of support you need hinges on how heavy you are. For example, if you’re 300 lb, you’ll need a heck of a lot more support than if you are 95 lb. If you’re a side sleeper dealing with back pain, you really need to pay attention to support.
Now, for the average weight side sleepers that wants a foam mattress, you really just need something softer. It’s pretty much that simple. Just make sure to iron out what type of foam mattress you prefer most, whether that’s memory foam or a classic soft foam.
The feel of the mattress has a lot to do with your weight. If you’re heavier, you’ll generally regard the mattress as softer, while if you’re lighter you’ll contend that the same bed is firmer. Two of our team members are 165 lb and 180 lb, respectively, and they always differ on their opinions of softness/firmness. We say that to demonstrate (a) this is subjective and (b) small differences in weight definitely affect your interpretation of softness/firmness. In general, though, side sleepers prefer soft to medium-firm mattresses.
That’s obviously a very large range so you’ll have to find your sweet spot. We’d suggest that you start a little more firm than you think you actually want simply because all of these beds soften over time. We’d hate for you to get a bed and realize that it’s too soft after a few months. Another thing that you should do is walk on your new bed for one minute per day in order to properly and evenly soften up the mattress. This is especially important for couples since you can get a really uneven bed if you have two different people of different weights sleeping on it at night.
Normally, we would go over the support systems for the bed first and while that’s still important, let’s begin by discussing the top layers since they provide the immediate pressure relief on those sensitive points. Memory foam is one of the better materials for pressure relief. It comes in varying levels of density and softness/firmness. Density refers to how supportive the material is. Softness or firmness refers to its Indentation Load Deflection (ILD) rating. You’ll probably be looking for memory foam in the 18-30 range. Anything higher than 30 will be a little too firm for you. It is important to remember that memory foam softens as you lay on it and whenever it’s exposed to heat.
It can provide great pressure points relief, but it can also leave some people feeling like they’re stuck in the mattress. It can therefore heat up, disrupt sleep, and piss you the heck off. We’d recommend that if you aren’t familiar with memory foam, you test out a few beds in person because you may hate it or love it. One clever design twist that mattress companies are doing to get away from the typical memory foam feel is to use it as the middle layer instead of the top layer. This helps eliminate that stuck-in-the-mud feeling and can help prevent the sleeper from getting too hot.
Memory is a bit of a hit or miss, though. It can be a wonderful addition to a mattress, or it can ruin a bed for some people. Memory foam also tends to feel softer in the warmer months and firmer in the colder months. Sounds completely crazy, but a lot of mattresses will change their firmness level based on room temperature.
Gel memory foam is the “next generation” of memory foam, if you will. It’s basically the same thing with the same advantages, but it is quite a bit more efficient than standard memory foam in temp regulation thanks to the addition of gel materials. You’ll typically see micro-beads or a gel slab on the mattress, which try to actively try to regulate your temperature. The idea is that the gel will counteract the heat you may experience as a result of sinking into the material. We’ve found it is indeed a bit better than standard memory foam, but is not the best material for airflow. Still, much better than regular memory foam.
Proprietary foams are becoming increasingly popular. You’ll see proprietary foams on the Casper Wave and Leesa mattress, as well as many others. There isn’t anything that we can broadly state about these foams other than they usually make an effort to help regulate your sleeping temperature. Probably because most of the time, proprietary foam accompanies memory foam, which as we’ve said, can be quite warm.
Gel-like materials are pretty rare to see on a bed, but there are a few we really like. For example, the New Purple 2/3/4 mattresses uses a proprietary Hyper-Elastic Polymer material that has plenty of advantages. It’s a unique material that’s not for everyone, but we really do like it. Gel-like materials tend to be great for temperature regulation and pressure relief.
Air beds are generally regarded as camping equipment, but there are a few brands out there (mostly Sleep Number) that make fantastic mattresses. They’re usually adjustable and unbelievably comfortable. They also happen to be quite pricey, but if you have the cash, they’re definitely worth checking out.
If you’re sleeping with someone else, you should get a king size mattress. And if you’re both in the same weight range and are both side sleepers, well then, you lucked out! Pick a bed and it will probably be fairly easy for you two to come to an agreement.
For everyone else, though, finding the right mattress will require compromise. You can either (a) customize your bed, (b) get a split king or spit California king, or (c) make some sort of concession to your partner. You may think firstly about support and then about softness/firmness.
You can also now go with a bed that has a split firmness option. This basically takes your king size mattress to the next level. It turns one bed into two, and helps to serve two different types of sleepers.
Other areas that are important for couples are motion isolation and edge support, which we highlight in almost every review. Motion isolation refers to how much motion travels across the bed. If you fall asleep, but are constantly woken up by the movement of your partner, that’s no good. All-foam beds tend to be the best here. Edge support is very important if you’re sleeping on a small size bed where space is cramped and one person inevitably ends up near the edges. If you get a roll-off sensation, then you’re dealing with a bed with poor edge support.
In nearly all of our mattress posts, we make sure to mention trial periods and returns. These are incredibly important since you’re trying to evaluate if you can sleep on this bed for the next seven to 15 years of your life. Most bed in a box mattress brands offer 100-night trial periods where you can sleep on the bed to form your own opinion. You should think critically about whether this is the bed for you. In the event that you don’t ultimately love the mattress, that’s where the return policy comes in. Most of these online brands offer completely free returns where they’ll dispatch someone to your house to pick up the bed, free of charge. Typically, it’s a local charity or junk removal business, but the result is the same: you get all of your money back. Brick-and-mortar retailers tend to be a little less accommodating with returns. Generally, they require you to exchange the bed and they’ll limit how many exchanges you can make. Still, shopping in-store definitely has its advantages, even though returns/exchanges aren’t as consumer friendly as with online mattress brands.