Side sleeping requires the right firmness to maintain a neutral spine and support your neck and shoulders, and mastering this position has potential benefits. When properly supported, side sleeping may help reduce back pain, and research shows it can help prevent snoring.
To help you achieve better sleep, we’ve gathered our picks for the best pillows and the best mattresses for side sleepers, verified by our integrity team.
Pillows for Side SleepersView All
Research shows that pillow shape and height can impact cervical alignment. If it’s too flat or too high, it can increase pressure on the shoulders or misalign the neck.
Because side sleepers need a supportive height, an adjustable pillow may be a good option, and one with gussets may help the pillow remain supportive for longer.
Explore pillows with adequate height and neck support for side sleepers.
Coop Home Goods Body Pillow
Starting at $69.99
The Coop Home Goods Body Pillow is longer and wider than standard body pillows, making it suitable to a wide range of body sizes. Add or remove some of the medium-density fill — a cross-cut blend of memory foam and microfiber — to find the right level of support for you.
Leesa Hybrid Pillow
Starting at $119.00
The Leesa Hybrid Pillow has a clever two-in-one design. One side has a cool-to-the-touch ventilated gel layer if you tend to sleep hot, while the other has a quilted, down-like design that never needs fluffing and stays supportive and comfortable no matter how you’re sleeping.
MedCline Reflux Relief Pillow System
Starting at $269.99
The MedCline Reflux Relief System uses a patented design to deliver relief from symptoms of esophageal reflux. It’s not a single pillow, but a true system designed to elevate the head and support your body. The design is specific to side sleeping on both the right and the left.
Mattresses for Side SleepersView All
While there are many potential benefits to side sleeping, it requires proper support and alignment.
Contouring mattresses designed for pressure-point relief are good options for side sleeping. They help cradle the shoulders and support a neutral spine.
Explore mattresses that may help you feel supported when sleeping on your side.
Amerisleep AS5 Mattress
Starting at $1949.00
The Amerisleep AS5 is the company’s softest mattress, with an innovative design that blends pressure-relieving foam with targeted support. It’s good for side and combination sleepers and comes in an all-foam option or an upgraded hybrid design featuring foam and coils. The Amerisleep AS5 is the company’s softest mattress, with an innovative design that blends pressure-relieving foam with targeted support. It’s good for side and combination sleepers and comes in an all-foam option or an upgraded hybrid design featuring foam and coils.
Casper Original Mattress
Starting at $695.00
The Casper Original mattress is the brand’s most popular mattress, engineered for balanced support and cooling. It’s available in a choice of CertiPUR-US certified foam or a hybrid made with foam and springs, which adds support, extra lift and bounce, improved airflow, and extra durability.
Frequently Asked Questions
Left or right, whichever side you sleep on comes down to your comfort levels. However, some research shows that sleeping on your left side may have the most benefits to your overall health, as your organs are freer to get rid of toxins. Regardless, sleeping on one side or the other will not provide significant benefits.
There are many potential benefits to sleeping on your side, such as:
reduced joint and low back pain, as well as chronic pain associated with long-term conditions like fibromyalgia
reduced snoring, a common symptom seen in obstructive sleep apnea
increased digestive system functions, which could alleviate heartburn, constipation, and bloating
increased safety for fetuses in people who are pregnant
A drawback to sleeping on your side may be an increased risk of shoulder pain, as the shoulder you sleep on may sink into the mattress and up toward your neck, creating misalignment and pain. Likewise, it may also lead to jaw tightness.
Regardless of whichever side you find most comfortable to sleep on, switching between the two sides is recommended. Alternating the side you sleep on may alleviate pressure on your muscles and prevent morning aches and pains. Putting a pillow between your lower legs may also help better align your hips to avoid low back pain.
Good pillow options for side sleepers may be firm or extra firm, with filler materials that don’t flatten readily, such as memory foam or latex. Look for a pillow that keeps your head about 3 to 4 inches above the mattress to allow for proper head, neck, and back alignment. Pillows that have wide side gussets are designed to maintain this height over time.
Look for a mattress that’s made with materials, like hybrid or latex, that are designed to provide pressure point relief. Consider a medium firmness that may offer support and promote proper alignment while still having enough comfortable give. If the mattress is too soft and doesn’t offer the right support, it may cause shoulder or lower back pain.
Read More from our Sleep Experts
Medically reviewed by Deborah Weatherspoon, Ph.D., R.N., CRNA - Written by Kristeen Cherney on September 25, 2019
How to Sleep on Your Side Without Waking Up with a Sore Back or Neck
When done correctly with the proper body alignment, sleeping on your side can reduce both joint and low back pain, as well as chronic pain associated with long-term conditions like fibromyalgia.
Medically reviewed by Gregory Minnis, DPT - Written by Sara Wilson on February 3, 2021
The 9 Best Hybrid Mattresses for Side Sleepers
When it comes to choosing a mattress for a side sleeper, you’re going to want a combination of pressure-relieving contouring and responsive support. This will make sure your spine, shoulders, and hips stay in a neutral position.
Medically reviewed by Deborah Weatherspoon, Ph.D., R.N., CRNA - Written by Corey Whelan and Steph Coelho on October 26, 2021
11 Best Pillows for Side Sleepers
You may not think of posture as something to consider during sleep. But as a side sleeper, it’s important to keep your head, neck, and back aligned in order to avoid pain and stiffness.
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