Sleeping on your side is by far the most popular position to take a snooze in.
That’s right. Nearly 74% of Americans report sleeping on their side, according to one study.
This is good news for most of us. That’s because sleeping on your side is said to be one of the best sleeping positions and is highly recommended my doctors and chiropractors. In fact, this popular sleeping position helps limit snoring, relieve pressure put on joints, and improves circulation.
What most people don’t realize is that sleeping posture is just as important as our posture during waking hours. The problem with sleeping posture is you have limited control over your body when you are unconscious. While we can sit up straighter, roll our shoulders back, or lengthen our spine during the day, we don’t have that ability during the night. Sure, we can do our best to fall asleep in a healthy sleeping position, such as on our back or side, but at the end of the day we lose all musculoskeletal function once we fall asleep, leaving us to the mercy of our mattress.
A quality mattress plays a huge role in making this sleep position kind to your body, helping you feel well-rested and pain free. This begs the question, is your mattress taking care of your body the way it should?
The good news is most mattresses are designed with side sleepers in mind. However, it’s still up to you to find the right mattress for your body type and sleeping position. The problem is most people don’t know what they should be looking for.
If you are reading this post, it’s highly likely you are a side sleeper. Good! We are glad you are here.
While we’ve got your attention, here are four things side sleepers should look for in a mattress:
One of the biggest complaints from side sleepers is a mattress that is too firm. People who sleep on their side typically prefer a medium to medium-soft mattress. That’s because firm beds don’t provide as much give around the hips and shoulders, which need to be cradled. Firm beds can make it difficult for side sleepers to get comfortable enough to fall asleep. However, side sleepers beware! A mattress that is too soft won’t provide the proper support to keep your spine in alignment. You’ll want to find a happy medium to wake up pain free.
2. Responsiveness and Contouring
This all feeds into responsiveness.
Although it may sound like a fancy mattress word, all responsiveness means is how well a mattress adjusts or responds to changes is body position while you sleep. Responsiveness is important for all types of sleepers, but especially side sleepers.
Firm mattresses typically aren’t as responsive as softer mattresses, although this is not always true. This primarily has to do with mattress construction and materials, but more on that later.
As mentioned before, side sleepers will want a mattress that cradles and adapts the curvatures of their body while still keeping their torso elevated and supported. A responsive mattress does not mean it provides a “sinking” feeling. Rather, a mattress with good responsiveness “hugs” you in the right places without causing you to sink too far down.
In a word, a responsive mattress is one that that pushes back just enough when you lay down that it supports your body’s natural curves while also keeping your spine aligned.
3. Pressure Relief
You might be wondering what pressure relief even means.
All pressure relief mean as it pertains to mattresses is how well your bed relieves tension in areas that are prone to high pressure, such as the hips, shoulders, and thighs.
When sleeping on your side, your body weight may not be as evenly distributed as in other positions, for example, the back. Unevenly distributed body weight can causes more pressure on different areas of the body, most commonly the hips and shoulders. This can cause you to wake up with aches and pains.
With that being said, side sleepers need to find a mattress that does a good job cradling pressure points, rather than a mattress that puts stress and strain on the body and its joints.
Here is a side-by-side comparison of good versus bad pressure relief. These scans were taken with Mattress Advisor’s pressure mapping film, which they use on every mattress they test. Source: Mattress Advisor.
4. Quality Construction
At this point, you are probably wondering how in the world to know if a mattress does a good job providing pressure relief. A mattress’ pressure relieving abilities are achieved through the construction and materials used in the mattress.
Most mattresses designed for side sleepers are made with some blend of memory foam: standard, latex, or gel memory foam. Memory foam is known to be an excellent material for evenly distributing weight and minimizing pain at pressure points, while also supporting the natural curve of your spine. Latex memory foam and gel memory foam are known to quickly bounce back to shape when users change position throughout the night, more so than with standard memory foam.