Sleeping on your side is one of the most common and recommended sleep positions. Side sleeping aligns your spine and can reduce snoring, acid reflux, and back pain. However, without the proper mattress, side sleeping can lead to pressure point pain in your hips, shoulders, and neck.
If you feel like your current mattress isn’t cutting it for side sleeping comfort, there are several easy ways to modify your bed so you can rest more soundly. This article will explain tips and tricks to make your mattress more comfortable for side sleepers.
Evaluate if Your Mattress is Right for Side Sleeping
Before making changes, assess if your current mattress is suitable for side sleepers or if the discomfort stems from the mattress itself.
Most mattresses need replacing every 7-10 years. If your mattress is older, the materials may be worn out and lack proper support or pressure relief.
Check if your mattress sags significantly around the areas where your body weight concentrates in the side position. Sagging indicates the mattress materials are breaking down.
Medium soft to medium firm mattresses work best for side sleepers. If your mattress is too soft, too firm, or uneven, this can lead to discomfort.
Look at what materials your mattress is made from. Certain types like memory foam or latex provide better pressure relief for side sleepers.
If your mattress is older, sagging unevenly, or the wrong firmness, adding toppers likely won’t resolve the issue. A new mattress made for side sleepers may be needed.
Add a Topper to Make Your Bed Softer
One of the easiest ways to make a mattress more comfortable for side sleeping is adding a mattress topper. Toppers add an extra layer of cushioning to soften the surface and better contour to your body’s curves.
Memory foam toppers provide excellent pressure relief for side sleepers. Look for a 2 to 3 inch topper made from high-density, temperature-regulating memory foam. Adding a plush featherbed topper is another option to create a softer surface.
Be aware that while a topper can make your mattress feel more comfortable initially, it won’t fix issues like sagging or lack of support. Toppers also compress over time. But they can extend the life of a mattress that’s still in fairly good shape.
Use a Body Pillow for Cushioning Support
Sleeping with a body pillow between your legs, tucked under your waist, and supporting your neck and shoulders helps align your spine and cushion pressure points. This allows you to rest more comfortably on your side.
Look for a body pillow that is about 5 to 6 feet long and fills in space under your top shoulder, waist, and knees. Body pillows improve comfort and support for side sleepers.
Down alternative and memory foam fill body pillows contour well to the shape of your body. Some body pillows have curves to cradle your neck, waist, and legs. Using a body pillow along with a suitable mattress enhances side sleeping relaxation.
Adjust Your Pillow Type and Loft
Modifying your pillow may also improve comfort and spinal alignment as a side sleeper. The right pillow accommodates the downward shoulder slope and provides an even surface for your head and neck.
Choose a low loft pillow about 3 to 5 inches thick. High loft pillows tilt your head upwards and strain your neck. Avoid super soft pillows that flatten out. Memory foam, latex, feather, or buckwheat hull fill all work for side sleepers.
You can also experiment with pillow positioning. Placing a thin pillow between your knees helps align your hips. An additional slim pillow under your waist fills in the gap between your lower back and the mattress. Tweak pillows until you find the optimal alignment.
Try a Mattress Pad or Mattress Enhancer
Mattress pads and enhancers are thicker than mattress covers and toppers. They add cushioning over your entire mattress to create a softer, more comfortable feel.
Look for mattress pads made from materials like memory foam, latex foam, wool, or cotton. Quilted mattress pads with extra stitching prevent filling from shifting or bunching up. You want consistent comfort across your whole mattress.
Mattress enhancers like the Bed Band provide an adjustable layer to target pressure points. Some enhancers have cutouts over the shoulder zone to relieve stress in this high pressure area for side sleepers. Test different pad placements until you maximize comfort.
Switch Out Your Foundation
Replacing your box spring, slatted base, or bed frame with a more suitable foundation can also help if your current setup is not adequately supporting you as a side sleeper.
Solid wood, metal, or adjustable foundations offer enhanced support and may relieve pressure points. Just make sure the new foundation works with your mattress type – for example, latex and memory foam beds work better with solid platforms versus box springs.
You can also try placing plywood between your mattress and weak box spring for added reinforcement. But if your foundation is severely sagging or broken, replacement is the better solution for optimal side sleeping.
When to Consider a New Mattress for Side Sleepers
While toppers and accessories can extend the comfort of your current mattress, sometimes a new mattress is the only fix for improving side sleeping. Consider a mattress replacement if:
- Your mattress is over 7 years old and materials are worn down.
- You consistently wake up with stiffness, numbness, and pain on your side.
- Your mattress has visible, uneven sagging or soft spots.
- You’ve tried toppers and added support but discomfort persists.
- Your mattress lacks bounce, produces odors, or feels hot.
Don’t just turn your mattress – rotating extends comfort but can’t compensate for lack of support in a worn out mattress. Invest in a new mattress designed specifically for side sleepers.
Choose the Right Mattress for Side Sleepers
If it is time for a new mattress, look for these features ideal for side sleeping comfort:
Mattress Type – Memory foam, latex foam, and hybrid mattresses work well for side sleepers. Coils or latex provide bounce while foam cushions pressure points.
Medium Firmness – Medium soft to medium firm mattresses offer the best mix of contouring and support. Soft beds lack support while firm beds are uncomfortable.
Conforming Top Layer – At least 2-3 inches of soft memory foam or latex contours around your shoulders and hips without sagging.
Supportive Base Layer – A firmer support core reinforced around the edges keeps your spine aligned.
Zoned Construction – Strategic cutouts under the shoulders/hips with firmer foam around the waist maximizes comfort.
Strong Edge Support – Reinforced edges allow you to sleep towards the side of the bed without collapse.
Minimal Motion Transfer – Limiting motion transfer ensures you don’t feel your partner move during the night.
Take advantage of sleep trials to test out mattresses at home. Be sure to sleep in your usual side position to evaluate comfort and support.
FAQs About Optimizing Your Mattress for Side Sleeping
What type of mattress is best for side sleepers?
Memory foam and hybrid mattresses tend to work very well for side sleepers. Memory foam cushions pressure points while hybrid coils provide lift. Look for zoned construction to maximize support and comfort.
What firmness level is best for side sleeping?
Medium soft to medium firm mattresses offer the ideal blend of contouring and support. Softer causes sagging while firmer leads to pressure points. Medium accommodates most side sleepers.
How thick should a mattress be for side sleepers?
10-12 inches thick is ideal. This allows for enough cushioning top foam layers with firmer base foam below for support. Under 8 inches can be insufficient for side sleepers.
Can I make my firm mattress softer for side sleeping?
Adding a thick mattress topper or pad can help soften a too firm mattress surface. But lack of underlying support can still create issues for side sleepers. A new softer mattress would be better.
What pillow density should side sleepers use?
Side sleepers usually prefer a low loft pillow around 3 to 5 inches thick. Medium density between the softness of down and the firmness of memory foam keeps the head and neck aligned.
Adjusting your pillows, adding a body pillow or topper, and ensuring you have a supportive foundation can help enhance side sleeping comfort. But if your mattress materials are worn down or uneven, a new mattress designed for side sleepers is the best solution.
Be sure to look at mattress type, firmness, and construction when shopping for a mattress optimized for side sleepers. Investing in a high-quality mattress made for side sleeping will give you the restorative rest you need.
Ready to wake up refreshed and pain-free? Check out our top mattress picks ideally suited for side sleepers. We also offer sleep accessories like body pillows and toppers to enhance your comfort. Get the peaceful night’s sleep your body needs by optimizing your setup today!