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The Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers

December 09, 2020 5 min read

Sleeping woman

For the longest time, sleeping on one’s back was a highly recommended sleeping position to avoid waking up in pain. However, side sleeping has been found to provide some health benefits.

But to reap the benefits of side sleeping, you need to sleep in the correct position where the shoulder and hips get pressure relief while keeping the spine properly aligned. You must also have a good quality mattress that provides the necessary support.

Pros and cons of side sleeping

When done correctly, you can reap the following benefits regardless of the side you sleep on:

  • It can reduce joint pain and low backaches.
  • It can alleviate chronic pain related to health conditions like fibromyalgia.
  • It helps reduce snoring.
  • It facilitates brain waste removal or glymphatic transport.
  • It can improve gut health and soothe gastrointestinal issues.

Left side sleeping

Sleeping on your left side offers unique advantages and is recommended for:

  • Pregnant women to help with efficient blood circulation to the placenta
  • People with acid reflux, as this condition usually gets worse if you sleep on the right side
  • Better digestion as the stomach and pancreas are naturally located on the left side
  • Those with sleep-related disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) as sleeping on the left side opens up the oropharynx
  • People with bradycardia or slow heart rate because sleeping on the left side can help increase the heart rate
  • Vagal arrhythmia as sleeping on the left is known to calm an overstimulated vagus nerve

However, there are some downsides to sleeping on your left:

  • It can strain certain internal organs, such as the heart, kidneys, spleen, and pancreas.
  • Internal organs found in the thorax can shift, leading to pressure on the heart from the lungs.

Right side sleeping

Right side sleeping is generally recommended for heart health, which is probably why people with heart conditions instinctively sleep on their right side.

There are other reasons why you should sleep on your right:

  • To improve breathing or prevent shortness of breath
  • To ensure optimum cardiac performance
  • To help ease heart palpitations

Then again, sleeping on the right also poses certain disadvantages. It is not recommended for:

  • People suffering from heartburn
  • Those with pulmonary conditions — when the heart shifts toward the lungs, it adds pressure and reduces lung volume

Left or right?

Generally healthy individuals are advised to sleep on their right side so fewer internal organs are strained in the process. People with heart conditions will also find right side sleeping to be the most comfortable position. However, those who have gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD and OSA will benefit more from left side sleeping.

Your mattress matters

Sleeping on the side, whether on the left or right, adds pressure on the shoulders, neck, and hips. This added stress builds up pressure points and leads to pain in the joints and hips. It’s also not uncommon to experience a tingling sensation in the legs and arms.

The best way to reduce the disadvantages of side sleeping is ensuring you have a reliable mattress. The best mattress for you should support the natural alignment of your spine. This means that while lying on your side, the imaginary horizontal line running from the tip of your head through to your nose should be aligned with the rest of your body.

When choosing the most comfortable mattress for side sleeping, you should also consider your build or body type. In general, heavyset individuals should go for something firmer and thicker than slighter people. However, the unique elastic properties of organic latex rubber allow almost everyone to choose based on your own comfort rather than arbitrary firmness requirements.

However, these are general tips, and what might work for one person might not work for another. To ensure you end up with the best mattress, always check the comfort level and test the mattress by lying on it for a few minutes in your natural side sleeping position. Our Hevean mattresses are made with loose layers allowing you to fine tune your mattress by re-arranging the existing layers or by exchanging layers with our 120 Day Layer Exchange program.

Other factors to consider include the following:

  • It should be supremely comfortable and ideally with a higher density to be extremely supportive.
  • It must have body contouring abilities so you get maximum support and maintain a correct posture while lying on your side.
  • It should have a comfortable, soft upper layer for soothing, relaxing sleep.

The best mattresses for side sleepers

There are many types of mattresses in the market. But for side sleepers, the ones listed below are recommended:

Latex mattresses

Natural organic latex mattresses top the list of highly recommended mattresses for side sleepers. These mattresses are naturally elastic and remain supportive at softer levels. This allows for superior pressure relief, especially in the shoulders, neck, and hips, and ensures correct lumbar alignment so you wake up feeling fresh and energized the next day.

As an added plus, natural latex mattresses are very durable, eco-friendly, and resistant to mould, mildew, dust mites, bed bugs, and other microorganisms. They also do not trap body heat, so you can sleep comfortably through the night.

Memory foam mattresses

Memory Foam mattresses are typically best suited for back sleepers, but some side sleepers can find them comfortable. Although you have be careful about choosing the right firmness to maintain proper alignment. Memory Foam mattresses have excellent motion isolation but tend to trap heat.

Innerspring mattresses

Innerspring mattresses come in a wide array of firmness levels, so you can choose the best one for your preferred position. They also don’t trap body heat as much as memory foam mattresses, so you can sleep comfortably.

Side sleeping the right way

To fully reap the benefits associated with side sleeping, implement the following tips:

  • In general, a medium to medium-firm latex mattress is best suited for side sleepers.
  • A proper fitting pillow is essential for side sleepers. Even the best mattress can’t solve an ill-fitting pillow.
  • If you suffer from shoulder pain — whether you sleep on the left or right side — you can use a firm mattress and pillow to keep your head aligned with your shoulders.
  • When lying down on your side, ensure your ears are aligned with your shoulders and that your chin is in a neutral position. To maintain proper spinal alignment, avoid keeping your head down or tucking in your chin toward your chest.
  • As much as possible, keep your arms and hands parallel to the sides or below your face and neck to discourage crouching.
  • Place a firm pillow between your knees to prevent the collapse of the hip and knee joints.
  • To reduce pressure on the spine, gradually shift your knees up slightly toward your chest.

Sleeping on your side can provide a number of health benefits — but only if your body is in correct alignment. To better facilitate this, make sure you have a mattress that's both comfortable and provides adequate lumbar support. Thankfully, organic Dunlop latex is ideally suited for side sleepers when properly fitted.


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