According to a survey we conducted with over 2,000 individuals, about 68% of people report being predominantly a side sleeper. The remaining 30%, on the other hand, is pretty much split evenly between stomach and back sleepers. It’s important to know your sleeper type because it can be a huge factor in determining which mattress firmness is most ideal for you. It’s also fun to think of your sleeper type as like a zodiac sign; what does your favorite sleeping position say about yourself and your personal quirks?

In this post, we’ll review the different sleeper types, their ideal firmness levels and pillow lofts, as well as what your sleeper type could reveal about your personality traits! 

Side Sleepers

For those of you who favor your side when you sleep, check out which type of mattresses and pillows are best for you. 

What Type of Mattress is Best for Side Sleepers?

While there’s no clear trend in terms of which type of mattress is best for side sleepers, a general rule of thumb for firmness level is that side sleepers tend to like softer beds. Now, in an effort to avoid any ambiguity, firmness also depends on your personal circumstances and preferences. 

  • Petite side sleepers — Soft to medium-soft (or ~0 to 3 on the scale)
  • Medium side sleepers — Soft to medium (or ~0 to 5 on the scale)
  • Heavy side sleepers — Medium-soft to medium-firm (or ~3 to 7 on the scale)

How to Know if Your Bed is Too Firm 

You want to make sure that you feel supported by the bed, but not so much that you’re experiencing extra pressure points under your hips and shoulders, in particular. If you’re waking up with numbness in your shoulders or upper back, that might be an indicator that the bed is too firm.

Best Pillows for Side Sleepers

Now that you know the ideal mattress firmness for your sleeper type, let’s discuss the proper pillow type shall we?

When laying on your side, your pillow should be tall (lofty) enough to keep your head and spine in neutral alignment. You should be able to draw an imaginary line from your nose to your belly  button. We suggest you check out our top picks for the best pillows for side sleepers

What Kind of Side Sleeper Are You?

Below are a few common side sleeper sleeping positions, and what your position says about your personality! Sort of like a sleeper type horoscope reading, but a little more silly. 

High Knees

High Knees Sleeping Position

This is when you sleep on your side, and the leg that’s facing the ceiling is bent upwards at a 90 degree angle — it almost looks like you’re practicing high knees in your sleep. For prime spine and neck alignment, sleep in the high knee position with your arms straight down your sides. 

This position says you’re an active go-getter, a social butterfly who’d rather be taking a walk or a hike rather than a nap. 

Cry Baby

Fetal Sleeping Position

As opposed to the high knee position, the cry baby will sleep with both legs tucked in towards the chest or stomach. Sleeping in the cry baby position a.k.a. the fetal position can actually help reduce snoring, ease lower back pain, and help during pregnancy. 

This position says you’re not quick to open up, a little on the sensitive side, but always kind and willing to forgive an apology — just as long as it’s genuine. 

Big Spoon 

Couple cuddling

If you’re the big spoon in your relationship, or you sleep cuddling your big body pillow, we call this the big spoon. For maximum comfort and back support, stretch your arms out in front of you and use pillows to cradle your shoulder and neck if they start to fall asleep or go numb.  

The big spoon position illustrates your overprotective or cautious nature. You enjoy being a leading, supportive figure, but you also love a good cuddle session. 

Stomach Sleepers

For the number of you who sleep on your stomach, here is a guide to help lead you to your ideal mattress and pillow type. 

What Type of Mattress is Best for Stomach Sleepers?

Interestingly, stomach sleepers and back sleepers typically like a similar firmness rating for their mattress. The exact firmness level will be up to you, primarily based on your particular body type.

  • Petite stomach sleepers — medium-soft to medium-firm (or ~3 to 7 on the scale)
  • Medium stomach sleepers — medium to firm (or ~5 to 10 on the scale)
  • Heavy stomach sleepers — Medium-firm to firm (or ~7 to 10 on the scale)

How to Know if Your Bed is too Soft

You want to make sure that you feel amply supported and that your body is not dipping into the mattress excessively. Usually, you will feel some sort of strain in your lower back if the bed is too soft. That’s a pretty good indicator that you need a more supportive or firmer bed, or both. 

Best Pillows for Stomach Sleepers

As opposed to side sleepers, stomach sleepers are most comfortable on pillows that have a low loft (height). They shouldn’t be tall enough to where the stomach sleeper’s neck has an awkward kink in it all night. The goal is to keep the neck and spine in proper alignment. So look for pillows with little loft — like down pillows for example. 

What Kind of Stomach Sleeper Are You?

Here are a few main stomach sleeper type positions, and what those positions say about you. 

Sky Diver

The Sky Diver Sleeping Position

In this position, a person is sleeping on their stomach with their face down (or turned to the side) and their arms down towards their sides. This position, according to Healthline, has the potential to help ease sleep apnea and snoring. Though, to prevent upper back pain and stress on your neck, we suggest sleeping with your forehead facing down rather than to the side.  

This position says you’re a risk-taker and have an adventurous spirit, but you also appreciate a good rest and definitely need a full 8 hours to take on the day with full energy and excitement. 

Army Crawler

The Army Crawler Sleeping Position

Army crawlers will sleep with one leg bent up, and their arms bent behind their pillow — looking as if they’re army crawling through a muddy obstacle course. Like the skydiver, we suggest you sleep with your head facing down towards the floor, as opposed to the side. This is for proper neck and spine alignment, and maximum comfort. 

The army crawler is always up for a good challenge, strong-willed, and quick to think and act when it comes to effective problem solving. 

Back Sleepers

For the remainder of the sleepers who favor their backs during the night, here are our recommendations for the most ideal beds and pillows.

What Type of Mattress is Best for Back Sleepers?

Like stomach sleepers, most back sleepers (unless you’re petite) will prefer beds that range from a medium up to a firm (i.e. 5 to 10) with the midpoint being somewhere around a medium-firm. The big thing you want to watch out for is that you don’t want your hips to dip too far into the bed. 

  • Petite stomach sleepers — medium-soft to medium-firm (or ~3 to 7 on the scale)
  • Medium stomach sleepers — medium to firm (or ~5 to 10 on the scale)
  • Heavy stomach sleepers — Medium-firm to firm (or ~7 to 10 on the scale)

How to Know if Your Bed is too Soft

You want to ensure that the firmness and support of the mattress are such that you keep a neutral spine throughout. If your hips are sinking into the mattress and you’re waking up with a sore bed, your mattress is likely too soft. 

Best Pillows for Back Sleepers

When back sleepers are on the hunt for their perfect pillow, we always recommend they find one with a medium loft. They don’t want it to be as lofty as a side sleeper’s pillow, but taller than what a stomach sleeper usually likes. 

As a rule of thumb, we say the neck should have a proper “C” curve and you should be looking more towards the ceiling than the wall in front of you.

What Type of Back Sleeper are You?

So you’re a back sleeper eh? Here are some of the most common back sleeping positions, and a description on what your position says about your character traits. 

Saluting Soldier or Sleeping Beauty

The Sleeping Beauty or Saluting Soldier Sleeping Position

In this position, you’re sleeping on your back and have your arms out to our sides, or an arm on your chest with the other down towards your side. This is one of the best positions to promote proper spinal alignment and is great for your back. It’s also great for your face, as sleeping on your back prevents pressure lines and wrinkles from setting in. The only issue here is that back sleeping tends to make snoring or sleep apnea worse. 

So what does the soldier/sleeping beauty position say about your personality? It says you’re all about structure and set high standards for not only yourself, but the people around you also. It also probably means you’re a strong, reserved, and driven person. 


The Starfish Sleeping Position

Rather than having your arms at your sides, the starfish sleeper will spread out all limbs — both legs and both arms — so they are all extended outwards. It has similar ramifications as the sleeping beauty position; good for your spine and premature wrinkles, but not great for snorers or those with sleep apnea. It can also cause some shoulder pain if your arms are up too high, in which we’d suggest switching to the sleeping beauty position instead. 

If you sleep in the starfish position, you’re likely a good listener and are there for the people you love whenever they need you. Though, you also like your own personal space and really enjoy some “me-time” every once and awhile

Combination Sleepers 

Some sleepers tend to switch between the three sleeper types we mentioned above. If that’s the case for yourself, here are our main tips in finding the ideal mattress and pillow:

  1. Cater to your dominant sleeper type. For example, if you spend most of the night on your side and only sometimes sleep on your back, go with a slightly softer mattress.
  2. Alternatively, you can choose a mattress in the middle of the firmness scale to receive a nice balance in between supportive, and pressure relieving. Couples who have different sleeping preferences can also go this route. 
  3. Look for responsive or bouncier materials if you don’t want to feel a resistance when you switch positions (like in memory foam for example). 

Closing Thoughts On Sleeping Positions

Thank you for visiting the Slumber Yard and we hope we are able to help you identify the best mattress firmness levels and pillow types for your sleeper type. While our personality readings may not be 100% accurate, we do know a ton about mattresses and bedding accessories. So you can trust our recommendations are rooted in science-based research, our own experience over 3 years, and completely honest. 

Now that you’ve discovered more about your ideal mattress and bedding, feel free to check out our mattress review page and our deals section where we stay up-to-date on all of the current promotions happening in the online mattress industry.