Side sleeping—lying in bed while asleep on the right or left side of the body—comes naturally to some people. For others, it’s the ultimate discovery after unpleasant experiences with sleeping on the stomach, back, or in other unsuitable postures.

If you’re a side sleeper, keep in mind that some discomfort may arise from the pressure on your shoulder and hips while sleeping. Without proper support, back and neck issues are also common.

Sleeping on either the left or right side of your body is highly recommended, but you need to know your body well and provide sufficient support to get the most out of this sleep posture. Your choice of mattress and accessories matters a lot.

Things to Know

Although it does have many proven benefits, side sleeping may also trigger some health issues and discomforts, such as:

  • Facial wrinkles– The constant pressure on your face from sleeping on the side every night may gradually cause uneven facial wrinkles and sagging of your facial skin. This side effect may get more pronounced as you age.
  • Shoulder, neck, and hip pain– These body parts may push too hard against the mattress when you sleep on your side, resulting in strain and aching.

That said, using protective cushioning while you sleep can alleviate common side-sleeping discomforts. 

If you wake up with back pain when you sleep on your side, you may have a spinal alignment problem. To fix this issue, consider improving your sleep posture and finding a mattress that helps align the spine with the shoulders and neck.

If your main concern is alleviating hip and shoulder strain, then memory foam is the best type of mattress for you. It has the right texture to support the natural curvature of your spine, minimizing the risk of waking up with aches and pains.

Most side sleepers prefer medium firmness to get the support they need while still having some softness. With this level of protection, your body won’t sink too deep into the mattress, which can cause spinal misalignment. Similarly, medium-firmness memory foam isn’t too hard on your shoulders and hips, so there won’t be any soreness in these areas when you wake up.

Consider the Pillow

A pillow can be an excellent resource for avoiding excessive shoulder pressure when sleeping on one’s side. You may need it to fill the gap between the shoulder and ear and adequately support the neck. It should be just thick enough to keep key parts in perfect alignment, especially your head, neck, and spine.

Besides the pillow under your head, consider placing another between your knees when sleeping on your side. It can help align your spine, pelvis, and hips, alleviating pain in these areas.

When it comes to choosing the best pillow for side sleepers, you may prefer memory foam for medium-firmness and proper spinal alignment. If necessary, consider breathability for the cooling feel you need to sleep better all night.

Mattress Matters

Choose a cushy mattress to eliminate shoulder and hip strain when you sleep on your side. You want to be sure you’re using the best type of mattress for side sleepers. Some options include :

  • Memory Foam- The most popular choice, featuring contouring comfort that provides proper spinal alignment. A medium-firm memory foam mattress will provide adequate pressure relief at key points, like the hips and shoulders.  
  • Hybrid (Innerspring and Foam)- This design incorporates foam and innerspring coils to improve sleep posture and alleviate lower back pressure.
  • Latex with Memory Foam- This mattress structure utilizes soft memory foam around a latex core to cushion your pressure points during sleep. 

You should also consider these factors when selecting the right mattress for quality side sleep:

  • Cost- You’ll want to strike a balance between value and price. A durable product with a lifespan of at least 10 years is ideal. 
  • Firmness- Go with medium-firmness to both support and protect key pressure points.
  • Material- The best mattresses for pressure relief incorporate memory foam technology. This material contours perfectly around your spine’s natural curvature, preventing common side-sleeping discomforts.
  • Temperature- High body temperature can compromise your sleep quality. Select options with an extra cooling layer for ultimate comfort all night.
  • Moveability- High-quality memory foam mattresses respond to your body movements for maximum support even when you change your sleep position and they don’t transfer movement across the mattress, which is great if you share your bed with a partner.

Sleeping on the Side

The correlation between side sleeping and quality sleep is undisputed. However, if you sleep on your side, you do need to watch out for shoulder, hip, or neck discomfort. Find a medium-firm mattress for adequate body support and proper spinal alignment. Incorporating the right sleep accessories and techniques can help maximize side sleeping benefits.

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