The Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Best Mattress For Side Sleepers
Side sleeping is thought to be one of the most common sleeping positions and it has a number of benefits, but it can present some problems when it comes to choosing the right mattress.
This guide is going to summarize the challenges and the benefits of side sleeping while also giving advice regarding what sort of features you should be looking for when choosing the best mattress for side sleepers.
Challenges Faced by Side Sleepers
Side sleepers may face a number of challenges. This first and probably most common is the dreaded numb arm! It can be difficult to find a position that does not result in one of the arms getting squashed and ending up with pins and needles.
One solution is to put one arm behind the head, almost using it as a pillow, but this not only puts strain on the muscles and nerves in the shoulder, but leaning your head on your arm all night can also restrict blood flow.
Some of the other challenges that side sleepers face relates directly to choosing a mattress. Side sleepers need extra support and many mattresses are not able to provide it. In addition, if a mattress is too thin then it can be uncomfortable for side sleepers even if it has the appropriate firmness and support.
Sleeping on your side on a thin mattress can result in bottoming out as you sink into the mattress. Side sleepers are also going to find it difficult to sleep on a spring, water or air mattress as they do not offer the right support or distribute weight evenly.
Side Sleeping & Shoulder Pain
Shoulder pain while sleeping is actually a very common problem and it can be very disruptive to your sleep. Side sleeping can be a great way to alleviate the pain, although it is likely that you will be unable to lie directly on the injured shoulder. However, you can still sleep on your side, just make sure that you use additional pillows to support your shoulder and keep you in a comfortable position as you sleep.
What to Consider Choosing a Mattress for Side Sleepers
When it comes to selecting the right firmness, the best mattress for side sleepers is going to be on the softer side. This allows sinking in and will natural cradle the body and support the curve of the spine. However, it should not be too soft otherwise it is not going to offer enough support.
The best option is going to be a medium-soft mattress so do not opt for the softest choice, but perhaps the next in line that is more of medium firmness. On a scale of 1 to 10 you would be looking for the firmness to rank between a 3 and a 6 depending on your personal preference.
Side sleepers are going to want a mattress that supports the spine and also relieves pressure points at the hips and shoulders. Memory foam is a particularly good options as it will contour to the body and support the spine while also distributing weight evenly so as not to put pressure on the shoulders, hips or neck.
Latex mattresses can also be an option, but innerspring mattresses should be avoided. This is because side sleeping can distort the coils and cause addition strain on the pressure points.
Pelvic Rotation occurs when the muscles in the back and the lumber region of the spine are misaligned. This is something that can often happen when a side sleeper curls their legs or twists slightly in opposition with the upper body.
This can cause or aggravate lower back and neck pain. It may be necessary to try and train your body not to twist, but if you do it unconsciously during sleep it can be difficult to stop.
Having the right mattress could be the answer as it may address the reasons for sleeping in this position by alleviating pressure points and supporting natural spine to alignment. It could be the case that if your mattress is too firm or too shallow it is causing you to curl up or twist to alleviate pressure, but by doing so it puts stress on your spine.
In addition to selecting the best mattress for side sleepers, there are a few other ways that you can alleviate pressure and/or pain caused from improper alignment during sleep.
- When getting comfortable before going to sleep, try to make sure that your hips and pelvis are straight.
- Try to keep your neck and spine in a straight line which is parallel to the floor
- Put a small pillow or cushion between your knees as this will minimize twisting and can improve spinal alignment.
- Consider placing a pillow in front of you to discourage you from leaning forward from the torso.
- Choose a pillow for your head that is not too firm or too high in relation to your spine. Remember you want to keep your spine and neck aligned as much as possible.
- When choosing a new mattress, it can actually take a few nights of sleeping on it to find out if it will be appropriate, so it is worth looking for a mattress from a manufacturer who offers at least a 30 night trial.
- Look for a mattress with a reasonably thick comfort layer since this is what will conform to the body as you are sleeping.
Benefits of Side Sleeping
Side Sleeping is actually said to be the most common position to sleep in and it comes with a number of different benefits. It is especially recommended that you sleep on your left side if possible.
Sleeping on your side can help to improve the circulation to your heart and can alleviate pressure on your lower back and neck by elongating the spine. Sleeping on your left side in particular can ease heartburn and reflux conditions too.
If you suffer from sleep apnoea or are prone to snoring then sleeping on your side can help to open up the airways. Side sleeping is also highly recommended in pregnancy as it alleviates the strain on almost all body parts.
Top 5 Mattresses for Side Sleeping
Amerisleep AS4(formerly Colonial Mattress)
The Amerisleep AS4 is an excellent choice for side sleepers. The mattress has an overall thickness of 13 inches and it offers plenty of pressure relief. The Amerisleep AS4 features the innovative Bio-Pur+ memory foam.
This has the added advantage of relieving pressure and it sleeps very cool thanks to its open cell design. Another benefit of the Amerisleep AS4 is that thanks to the presence of Celliant, a material designed to help regulate the flow of blood, people sleeping on the mattress suffer from fewer aches and pains.
Loom & Leaf Relaxed Firm Mattress
The Loom & Leaf Relaxed Firm mattress is a high-density memory foam mattress which offers excellent support and promotes proper spinal alignment. It features a high-quality memory foam, organic cotton cover and a gel layer to promote cooling.
The primary areas that consumers praise in the Loom & Leaf mattress are that it has excellent motion isolation and it does a great job of minimizing pressure points. Most consumer complaints are related to the lack of edge support which the mattress has especially for heavier people.
One of the main things to note about the Leesa Mattress that it performs especially well in terms of heat retention. This makes it ideal for side sleepers who feel they sleep fairly hot. It also has great motion isolation and little to no off gassing when first opened.
However, one of the downsides is that the Leesa mattress is that at only 8.5 inches it is not particularly thick. The top comfort & cooling layer is just 2 inches thick, but it is designed to be springy and allows air flow for advanced cooling. Some consumers state that they feel they must use a mattress topper with the mattress.
Brentwood Home 13-Inch Gel HD Memory Foam Mattress
The Brentwood Home 13-Inch Gel HD Memory Foam Mattress is another great choice for side sleepers thanks to the medium firmness and great edge support that it offers. The foam is infused with both gel and air to avoid heat retention while also offering additional support.
One of the key benefits that many consumers highlight is that the material reacts well to movement and there is no sinking in feeling. This is great for side sleepers who prefer not to feel that their movement is restricted which can happen with some memory foam if there is any sinking in.
Tuft & Needle Memory Foam Mattress
The Tuft & Needle Memory Foam mattress uses a proprietary type of foam. It is approximately 10 inches thick and is medium firm which is perfect for side sleepers. The mattress features a 3 inch thick comfort layer made from 2.9 pounds per cubic foot poly foam. This is bouncier than regular memory foam and cooler than latex.
This layer really cushions side sleepers and relieves pressure points. The 7-inch support layer minimizes motion transfer and distributes weight more evenly. In terms of downsides, some consumers say that there is very little edge support and that the mattress is not as durable as they hoped.
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