Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers

These innerspring, foam, and adjustable air mattresses offer the best support for side sleepers in CR's tests

By Tanya A. Christian

Haniya Rae

If your go-to sleeping position is to snooze on your side, you are among the more than 60 percent of adults who say that’s what they prefer, at least for part of the night. But with so many mattresses on the market today, finding the best mattress for your sleep style can be a challenge.

To make the search easier, we’ve put together a list of recommended mattresses that are especially supportive for side sleepers, according to our rigorous lab tests. But we also know that if you have a sleep partner, that person may prefer to sleep in another position. Here, you’ll find information about how other sleeper types will fare, too. (But be sure to also check out our article on the best mattresses for couples.)

How CR Tests Mattresses for Side Support

To calculate a support score for side sleeping, we use people of small and large statures. As they lie on their side, we observe several points along each subject’s spine and measure how much they diverge from a straight line. For a test model to score well, the points must remain fairly parallel to the surface of the mattress. We then average the results of both small and large subjects to produce the score for average-sized sleepers.

Beyond support, there’s the comfort factor. That’s why the firmness level of the mattress is also worth considering—especially if you’re a side sleeper looking for pressure relief for your shoulders and hips. To that end, we use an objective industry test standard, in which we apply a load of up to 1,000 newtons (4.4 newtons equal about a pound) to each mattress and measure the surface displacement. We then plot the results on a scale of 1 to 10 (10, being the firmest) so that we can accurately compare the firmness of one mattress with that of another.

The trick to finding a side sleeper’s mattress is to balance adequate spinal support with the amount of pressure relief that feels comfortable to you. And that’s not always a super-soft mattress. In fact, "the average firmness of the models on this list was right around 5 out of 10," says Chris Regan, the engineer who oversees CR’s mattress testing.

Of course, comfort varies from person to person. But it’s still useful to know what a critical mass of people think about a mattress before you buy one. That’s why we also provide scores for comfort and owner satisfaction. These scores are based on data from recent surveys on CR members’ experiences with nearly 70,000 mattresses purchased in the past decade. We asked them to rate the comfort of their mattress and used the data to generate ratings by brand and type of mattress. Owner satisfaction is based on a member’s overall judgment of such factors as firmness/softness, value, quality of sleep, and more.

CR members can read on for ratings and reviews of a few standout models that provide great support for side sleepers of all sizes and that perform well overall in our tests. For even more options, see our complete mattress ratings, and check our mattress buying guide as you shop.

Best Innerspring Mattresses for Side Sleepers

Innerspring mattresses consist of a layer of steel coils topped with fiber padding or (in the case of hybrids) foam. The coils offer contouring support and a buoyant feel, while the padding or foam provides some level of pressure relief for a side sleeper’s shoulders and hips.

Best Foam Mattresses for Side Sleepers

If you like the feeling of sinking a little (or a lot) into your mattress, instead of sleeping on top of it, then you might consider mattresses consisting completely of foam. These mattresses tend to have high stabilization scores, which means you’re less likely to wake up your partner when you shift positions.

Best Adjustable Air Mattresses for Side Sleepers

These mattresses tend to be pricey, but they may be worth it if sleep partners prefer to adjust the feel of their own side of the bed.

How to Choose a Mattress

If your mattress is keeping you up at night, it may be time for a new one. On the "Consumer 101" TV show, CR expert Chris Regan shares tips on what to look for when mattress shopping.

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