Can’t stand sleeping on your back? You’re not alone. A detailed survey conducted by American home furnishings retailer Anna’s Linens found that 74% of people prefer to sleep on their sides, making side sleeping by far the most popular sleeping position.

Beyond side sleeping’s popularity, it’s also the sleeping position most commonly recommended by doctors that specialise in sleep health. One reason for this is its effects on the spine — when you sleep on your side, your pelvis, spine and shoulders are usually kept in alignment.

Add comfort, improved airway circulation and a potential link to a healthy cardiovascular system into the mix and sleeping on your side is a clear winner (sorry, back sleepers).

If you’re a side sleeper looking for a new mattress, you’ll usually get the best results by picking a mattress that’s tailored for someone with your sleep habits. Below, we’ve listed three features to look for in a mattress if you’re a side sleeper, as well as our recommendations for materials.

A moderate level of firmness

When you sleep on your side, it’s important that your mattress provides enough firmness and support to prevent your hips and back (where most of your body weight is concentrated) from sinking lower than the rest of your body.

On the other hand, it’s important to avoid overly firm mattresses, as these can put excessive amounts of pressure on your shoulders and hips, causing discomfort. For best results, pick a mattress that provides a moderate level of firmness and even, overall support for your body.

Contouring memory foam

While there’s no “best” mattress material for side sleepers, memory foam offers a variety of unique advantages over most other common mattress materials.

First, it’s comfortable and supportive, meaning it’s unlikely to cause you to develop soreness around your hips and shoulders. Second, it provides a contouring effect for your body, giving you an additional level of comfort when you sleep.

Finally, although memory foam has a tendency to retain heat, the small surface area that’s in contact with your mattress as a side sleeper makes this less of an issue.

A larger-than-normal width

Do you sleep on your left side, or on your right side? Or, do you switch from side to side over the course of the night? Most side sleepers toss and turn at least a little bit, making it useful to choose a mattress with enough width to tolerate you switching sides as you sleep.

From a comfort perspective, it’s normally best to choose a mattress size that’s one step larger than what you need. If you usually sleep by yourself, consider a double; if you sleep with your partner, consider the extra space that’s offered by a king.

So, which type of mattress is best?

As we mentioned above, there’s no “best” type of mattress for a side sleeper. However, the key features to look for as a side sleeper are usually found in mattresses with a memory foam, latex or hybrid design.

As a side sleeper, it’s usually best to avoid cheap mattresses, particularly low-cost innerspring mattresses. These mattresses often use a thin foam outer comfort layer, meaning they’re less supportive than other mattress types and more likely to cause pain in your pressure points.

Can’t decide which material is best for you? As specialists in custom mattresses, our team can help you learn more about the best options for you, from mattress sizing to materials that match your sleep preferences.

Claire James