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What Is the Best Mattress for Side Sleepers with Back Pain? Ultimate Guide


Aoife O.
Nov 02, 2020

In This Article

In this article

Side sleeping is widely accepted as beneficial to physical health and sleep health. Sleeping on your left side eases acid reflux, reduces snoring and sleep apnea, aids digestion, opens the airways, and eases back and neck pain.

It’s comfortable and cozy but if you’re suffering back pain as a side sleeper due to illness or injury, you may be wondering if you can continue sleeping on your side? Here, we talk about how to find comfort as a side sleeper suffering back pain.

Choosing the Best Mattress for Side Sleepers

The best mattress for side sleepers allows the body to be cradled in a supportive hug, without sinking or pushback. A pressure relieving mattress is ideal for side sleepers as the most sensitive areas of hips and shoulders are supported and comforted. Fortunately, Nolah Mattress specializes in side sleeper mattresses!

Are Innerspring Mattresses Good for Side Sleepers?

An innerspring mattress is of coil spring construction with a fabric or foam top layer. A hybrid mattress is of similar design but more modern and comfortable with latex, memory foam, or foam comfort layer and edge support. Which could prove more comfortable for side sleepers than an old fashioned spring mattress.

Are Latex Mattresses Good for Side Sleepers?

Natural latex mattresses are pressure relieving and durable with a firmer feel than innerspring, memory foam, and foam mattresses. They provide ample support to keep a side sleeper's spine aligned.

Are Memory Foam Mattresses Good for Side Sleepers?

A memory foam mattress for side sleepers could see hip and shoulder sinkage. Memory foam reacts to body heat, moulds to your body, and retains body heat for a hot sleep. Memory foam is typically slow to react and creates sinkholes, therefore, may not provide adequate pressure relief to the sensitive hip and shoulder regions.

Memory Foam Alternative

The best mattresses for side sleepers with back pain is pressure relieving. A pressure relieving mattress, such as AirFoam™, cradles the body in a supportive hug without sinkage or pushback. Airfoam™ is also 100% temperature neutral (cooling), so perfect for hot sleepers who are tired of hot memory foam. The Nolah Signature is one of our best-selling mattresses for side sleepers.

Side sleepers need a pressure-relieving mattress that cushions sensitive areas like your shoulders and hips.

Are Hybrid Mattresses Good for Side Sleepers?

Hybrid mattresses are modern and can be a comfortable choice for side sleepers with back pain. The individually wrapped coils allow air to ventilate, however, be mindful of the material of the comfort layer (topper) as memory foam could sleep hot and create sinkholes, which may not provide enough pressure relief to the hips and shoulders. That's why Nolah's hybrid mattresses use advanced AirFoam™ or natural latex for the comfort layers, not memory foam.

What Is the Best Mattress for Side Sleepers with Back Pain?

Side sleepers need a special type of mattress that gives comfort to the sensitive hip and shoulder areas. When managing back pain, it’s vital to keep the spine aligned and head propped up on a pillow for maximum comfort. Opt for a pressure relieving mattress that will cradle the body, without the sinkage of many memory foams or too-firm feel of some latex.

Mattress Material

The most comfortable mattress will be made of temperature neutral, durable, pressure relieving material.

  • Memory foam sleeps hot and creates sinkholes for many
  • Innerspring mattresses can be too bouncy and lacking in pressure relief
  • Natural latex is temperature neutral and provides excellent pressure relief and support
  • AirFoam™ is cooling, pressure relieving and provides long-lasting comfort

Pressure Relief

The best mattresses for side sleepers provide unequivocal pressure relief. This is one of the defining elements of a comfortable mattress. Pressure relief allows the body to almost glide on the mattress, no sinkage, no hard push back, no discomfort, just a mattress that sleeps cool and cradles the body in a supportive hug all night.

Neck Support

The best mattress for side sleepers is improved with a supportive pillow under your head. Ensure the pillow is high enough to keep the spine aligned. For side sleepers, we recommend an adjustable pillow like the Nolah Squishy Pillow which is the best pillow for side sleepers.

What Firmness Is Best for Side Sleepers with Back Pain?

A top rated mattress for side sleepers will be of medium firmness. But, mattress firmness comes down to personal taste. As a side sleeper, your hips and shoulders are your most sensitive areas, a mattress that is too soft will sink your body putting your spine out of alignment. A too-firm mattress pushes your hips and shoulders into your body creating much discomfort and pain. Not ideal when you’re managing back pain. A 5-6/10 medium firmness ought to provide excellent sleep comfort to side sleepers with back pain.

Tips for Alleviating Back Pain for Side Sleepers

  • Memory foam sleeps hot and creates sinkholes for many
  • Put a pillow between your knees for added comfort
  • Use a bolster or body pillow to minimize twisting your hips
  • Ensure the hips and spine are aligned
  • Try gentle stretching every morning and evening
  • Adopt a sleep hygiene routine that is relaxing and sleep-inducing
  • Try strength training to keep healthy and make your back muscles stronger
  • Sleep on a top rated mattress made for side sleepers

What’s causing that shoulder pain? Find out here.


Is Side Sleeping Bad?

Sleeping on your side has enormous health benefits, especially if you have recurring back pain or sleep apnea. Ensure you’re sleeping on a pressure relieving mattress with a quality pillow under your head. This keeps the spine aligned and can improve back pain by allowing restorative sleep. Put a slim pillow between your knees for added comfort.

What Is the Best Pillow for Side Sleepers?

The best pillow for side sleepers allows the head to rest comfortably without distorting the spine. Correct spine alignment is crucial to sleep comfort and ensures restful sleep all night. Whether you enjoy a soft or firm pillow that’s up to you, as long as it’s tall enough to keep your spine aligned and you feel comfortable.

Where Should Your Arms Be When Sleeping on Your Side?

Wondering how to sleep on your side without hurting your shoulder? Ensure your arms are by your sides or in front of you (in a boxer position). You could put the hand closest to the mattress slightly under your pillow with the other hand resting on your bicep.

What Is the Best Mattress Brand for Side Sleepers with Back Pain?

Of the many mattress brands available today, Nolah is an industry leader of side sleeper mattresses. They spent years developing their proprietary AirFoam™ that offers superior comfort to the delicate needs of every side sleeper. 100% temperature neutral, 4 times better pressure relief, and more durable than the most expensive memory foam mattresses. AirFoam™is the most comfortable and reasonably priced.

What Is the Best Mattress for Side Sleepers with Severe Back Pain?

The best mattress for side sleepers with severe back pain will allow the body to almost float on the mattress. It won’t sink like many memory foams or provide too much push back like some ultra-firm latex mattresses. Your body will feel gently supported and comfortable. Most importantly, your spine will remain aligned all night.

How to Choose a Mattress

Choosing the best mattress for your needs comes down to sleep space, sleep needs, and affordability. Start by measuring your sleep space to find the best size, then choose a mattress material that is most comfortable for you, and consider your sleep style. If you’re a side sleeper, opt for a pressure relieving mattress of cooling and durable construction.

Which Type of Mattress Is Best for Side Sleepers?

The best mattresses for side sleepers are not only affordable but pressure relieving, cooling, durable, and comfortable. As a side sleeper, you need targeted support in the hips and shoulders. A too-soft mattress will sink your body, a too-firm mattress will push back causing discomfort and pain. Opt for a pressure relieving mattress designed with side sleepers in mind.

What Type of Mattress is Best for Someone with a Bad Back?

If you’re managing back pain or recovering from surgery or injury, you want your bed to be at knee level to easily get in and out of bed. Side sleepers should sleep with a pillow between the knees and back sleepers with a pillow under the knees. A pressure relieving mattress provides optimal comfort for those suffering a bad back.


The most comfortable side sleeper mattress is pressure relieving, cooling, durable, and reasonably priced. It will be constructed of modern material and crafted with side sleepers’ comfort in mind. A one-size-fits-all mattress is not ideal for side sleepers as you have sensitive areas (hips and shoulders) that require targeted support.

When managing back pain, recovering from illness, or injury, a comfortable mattress allows you restorative sleep that could improve recovery. Quality sleep every night is vital to your health and mental wellbeing. A pressure relieving mattress is the best bed for side sleepers who are managing pain and discomfort.

Disclaimer: Nolah does not provide medical advice. All resources on the Nolah blog, including this article, are informational only and do not replace professional medical counsel. Talk to your doctor about any health, mental health, or sleep-related issues.


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