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Best mattress for side sleepers in 2021

Best mattress for side sleepers in 2021

If you’re a side sleeper (or the person you share a bed with is), do you have the right mattress for your needs, or is it time to look into buying one online? The wrong mattress — whether too hard or too soft — can sabotage your sleep, but the best mattress for side sleepers offers an ideal balance of softness and support for your sleep position.

The mattress market is more saturated today than ever, which is both a blessing and a curse. Who has time to sleep on every memory foam mattress, gel memory foam mattress, innerspring mattress, hybrid mattress and everything in between to determine which is the best for a particular sleep position?

I do. I personally slept on over two dozen models to find the the best mattress for side sleepers — here are my findings.

Lindsay Boyers/CNET

I’m pretty sure I morphed into the heart-eye emoji as soon as I saw the Saatva Classic mattress coming off the truck. It was thick, it looked plush, and even though it’s a hybrid mattress like all of the others on this list, it didn’t arrive in a box (and it came with free white glove delivery). I chose the ultra plush mattress option, which is marketed toward side sleepers who want more contouring, and it was everything I hoped for and more. 

It didn’t have the cloud-like feeling I expected — even though it totally looked the part — but I’ve come to realize that what I think I want and what my spine actually wants are two different things. The first couple of nights were just okay, but after sleeping on the mattress for a few weeks, I fell in love.

The Saatva mattress combines innerspring coils with high-end latex mattress foam and cushioning that goes a step above your standard pillow top. It’s also designed with special lumbar technology and extra support in the center of the mattresses. This combo keeps your spinal alignment just right when you’re sleeping on your side so that you can wake up pain-free. I’ve been dealing with some neck, hip and ankle pain and it’s almost gone after sleeping on this mattress regularly.

Each Saatva mattress is also made to order, which I thought was really cool. You can choose from three firmness level options — ultra plush, luxury firm and firm — and two different mattress heights — 11.5 inches and 14.5 inches. I went with the 14.5-inch mattress and while I really like the extra height, it’s taller than I expected. The sheets I had kept popping off the corners of the Saatva mattress, so I had to buy a new set specifically designed for deep mattresses, so keep that in mind if you go with the thicker mattress type option.

The Saatva Classic comes in sizes twin XL to split California king and prices range from $799 to $1,999.

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The Layla Hybrid mattress is the only flippable mattress type on this list, and really one of the only flippable hybrid mattress options out there. But it’s not just flippable so that you can move it around and break it in evenly. It actually combines two different mattresses in one. One side is soft and the other is firm, the perfect combination sleeper solution for you if you can’t make up your mind about what mattress firmness level you want in a new mattress.

The soft mattress side, which is rated a four out of 10 on the firmness level scale, has a plush feel that hugs and contours your body at all of your pressure points. The firmer mattress side, rated a seven out of 10, offers more support with less sink to keep your spine aligned as you snooze. Both the soft mattress side and firm mattress side are equally great for a side sleeping position.

On days that I felt sore and tense, the soft mattress side had just enough give to alleviate pressure on my shoulders and hips, but still provided the support I needed so I didn’t wake up in pain. On the days where I felt like I wanted a little more support, the firm mattress side propped me right up. 

As for mattress construction, the Layla’s mattress material makes it a true hybrid mattress, combining layers of memory foam with individually wrapped pocketed coils. The foam layer is also infused with copper, which pulls heat away from your body as you sleep. I tend to sleep cool anyway, but this is a great feature for a hot sleeper who gets a little sweaty at night, especially since memory foam is notorious for trapping heat.

The Layla Hybrid mattress comes in twin to California king and prices range from $1,249 to $1,849.

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The star of the Tuft and Needle Hybrid is an adaptive memory foam that alleviates pressure from your shoulders and hips by expertly contouring your body and hugging you in all the right places. To make things even more comfortable, T&N combines that memory foam with individually wrapped steel coils and ceramic gel, so in addition to softness, you also get the right amount of support so you don’t feel like you’re sinking. And it works. 

The mattress was soft enough to take the pressure off my shoulders and hips, but I didn’t feel like the middle of my spine was sagging. I woke up pain-free and, after a little stretching, my body felt nimble and ready to go. This mattress also has graphite, gel beads and open air channels that work together to wick away moisture and improve air flow, so it kept me nice and cool. 

The only downside is that it seemed to have more bounce than others. While there’s no squeakiness like with a traditional spring mattress, the motion transfer from my boyfriend tossing and turning was enough to wake me up in the middle of the night. That’s why I recommend it for those of you who sleep alone.

The Tuft and Needle Hybrid comes in twin to California king and prices range from $895 to $1,745.

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When I got on the Purple Hybrid Premier 4 and rolled over to my side, my first thought was: this feels weird. The grid technology, which is exclusive to Purple, is definitely different than anything else I’ve tried and I felt like the mattress was trying to force me forward onto my stomach.

But after a few nights on the mattress, I got used to it and the Purple quickly became one of my favorites. The grid is designed with lots of open air channels, so it’s able to fully adapt your body, contouring your shape perfectly. The end result is a zero gravity feel that really takes the pressure off your hips and shoulders and feels remarkably soft and comfortable.

The Purple also seemed to offer better motion isolation than any other on the list, so this mattress type is a great option if you sleep with someone else who tosses and turns.

The Purple Hybrid Premier 4 comes in sizes twin XL to split king and prices range from $1,999 to $3,998.

Lindsay Boyers/CNET

If you’re more of a mostly-side sleeper who tosses and turns and sometimes ends up on your back, then the Leesa Legend is for you. With two layers of springs and two layers of specialized memory foam, the mattress was designed to provide the right amount of comfort and support for any sleeping position, whether you’re a side sleeper or stomach sleeper.

I was especially impressed with the edge-to-edge support. Even when I found myself teetering on the very edge of the bed, an inch away from rolling onto the floor, I felt safe and supported. The motion isolation was another one of my favorite things about the Leesa mattress. This memory foam mattress held up to some serious tossing and turning, staying relatively still the whole time. 

The Leesa also had the most high-end look and feel, with the exception of the Saatva. Just by looking at it, you can tell that it’s a high-quality mattress that was built with comfort and durability in mind.

The Leesa Legend comes in sizes twin XL to California king and prices range from $1,699 to $2,499.

Lindsay Boyers/CNET

The Helix Midnight LUXE is undoubtedly one of the best mattresses for side sleepers, but I  thought it was a really great mattress for any kind of sleeping position. Its mattress type is technically classified as a medium firm mattress by Helix, but it’s soft enough that it has some give for your hips and shoulders so you don’t wake up in pain or with tingling arms and hands, like you might with firmer mattresses.

Like most hybrid mattresses, the Helix mattress is made of different foam and gel layers combined with innerspring mattress coils, but it’s finished off with a pillow top comfort layer that really gives it an edge over its competition.

Because it’s comfortable in any sleeping position, it’s also a great option for couples with different sleeping position styles. Whether you sleep on your side or your back, the Helix adjusts to you and supports you in all of the right places.

The Helix Midnight LUXE comes in sizes twin to California king and prices range from $999 to $2,199.

Sweet dreams

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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