Types of Mattresses for Side Sleepers With Back Pain

Types of Mattresses for Side Sleepers With Back Pain

The solution for each person with back pain is always different. Changing day to day habits, making adjustments to how you position yourself while sleeping, or upgrading your mattress are all viable remedies. Although, when it comes to back and shoulder pain caused specifically by side sleeping, there is a new product that more and more people with pain are turning to - the negative space mattress by SONU Sleep.

The most crucial factor to consider when you are a side sleeper with pain is the level of comfort your body can consistently enjoy from the performance of your mattress. Come with us as we tell you more about the best mattress options for side sleepers with back pain — hint: the answer is a lot closer than you think! 😉

How Can I Choose the Best Mattress?

When choosing the best mattress for side sleepers, the most important factor is consistent comfort. The mattress construction is what will provide both your comfort and support your body craves. 

In addition, five main types of mattresses may serve as possible solutions to back pain. From there, you may want to consider various factors when choosing the right mattress for your needs.

Choosing a Mattress: What Should I Consider?

First, there are a few factors you will want to consider when choosing a mattress:

  • A mattress that is too soft will not offer sufficient support.
  • A mattress that is too firm may cause pressure points in your hips, shoulders, and back.

You should also consider what type of mattress you want, such as memory foam, latex, high resilience foam (all three of which are incorporated into the SONU Sleep System), innerspring or hybrid.

During your search for the best mattress, you may come across options that vary in firmness or thickness. Take into consideration your pressure points and weight distribution when making your purchase.

What Is an Innerspring Mattress?

Innerspring mattresses are often more affordable than other types, but they also have a few drawbacks. 

Innerspring mattresses can be very painful for side sleepers with back pain because the coils in this type of bed don't conform to the shape of your body.

If you choose an innerspring mattress, make sure it has a pillow top or padded cover to help reduce uncomfortable pressure points. Also, you should consider what type of coil system is used in the mattress. Individually wrapped coils are best because they provide more support for your back than open-coil systems.

What Is a Memory Foam Mattress?

Memory foam mattresses are made of polyurethane foam that conforms to your body's contours. This distributes your weight evenly, which reduces the pressure on your spine. Memory foam mattresses also provide more support and reduce pressure on your back. So, a memory foam mattress can be a good choice if you have back pain.

Memory foam is also hypoallergenic, meaning it is ideal if you have allergies or asthma that dust mites can exacerbate. Another advantage is that some memory foam designs allows airflow through the mattress. This prevents heat buildup during sleep which helps regulate the temperature throughout the night.

What Is a Latex Mattress?

A latex mattress is a good alternative to an innerspring mattress for people with back pain. Latex mattresses are made of natural rubber. A material that conforms to your body's contours and provides support for your spine.

They also come in a variety of firmness levels, so you can find one that is best suited for your needs. Latex mattresses are durable and last longer than other types of mattresses. They are also hypoallergenic and resistant to dust mites.

When choosing a latex mattress, look for one with at least one layer of natural Dunlop latex. This material is firmer than Talalay latex and provides more support than synthetic latex.

What Is a Hybrid Mattress?

A hybrid mattress combines the best features of innerspring and memory foam mattresses. The coils in a hybrid mattress provide the support of an innerspring mattress, while the memory foam contours to your body like a traditional memory foam mattress. This combination makes for a comfortable and supportive mattress ideal for people with back pain.

Hybrid mattresses come in various firmness levels and are more durable than other types of mattresses. Meaning they last longer than an innerspring mattress would.

When shopping for a hybrid mattress, be sure to ask about the coil system used in the bed. Some beds use pocket coils, which can be good for side sleepers because they are contoured to the shape of your body. The individual pocket coils provide more support than open-coil systems.

Shop around and compare features. You'll need to investigate coil systems, the thickness of the mattress, and the materials used before you decide on any mattress. This way, you can ensure that your new bed will deliver all the comfort and durability you deserve.

What Is a Negative Space Mattress?

The negative space mattress offered by SONU Sleep was specifically designed to relieve pressure points and improve spinal alignment for side sleepers. 

The mattress features a unique design with its patented Comfort Channel, allowing you to immerse your arm into the actual mattress, which helps to reduce strain on the pressure points that are usually irritated by side sleeping. With your arms and upper torso fully supported, cooling layers, sink-in support, be prepared for your most unforgettable sleeping experience. 

Additionally, the negative space mattress is also breathable and cooling thanks to its list of premium materials within each SONU, including memory foam and high resilience foams, all wrapped in a layer of plush cooling Serene that keeps the sleeper comfortable throughout the night. 

What Are the Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers?

The best mattress for you will be one that provides ample support while maintaining the comfort you desire, and the SONU Sleep System is unmatched when it comes to relieving pressure, providing support, and giving your arm a comfortable place to go so you’re not tossing and turning throughout the night.

If you’re not convinced, SONU offers a 100-day trial of their full Sleep System — if you somehow find that the discount innerspring at the big box store is calling your name, you can send the SONU system back for a refund before your trial period ends. 

What Are Some Additional Considerations?

There are several additional topics to consider if you are looking for the best mattress for side sleepers with back pain, including whether or not you need extra support or padding with your mattress. 

Here's a breakdown of additional factors you will want to consider when buying a new mattress:

One Crucial Factor Is Size

You should make sure that you have room on either side of your bed so you can freely move without feeling cramped. Standard king beds are 76 inches by 80 inches. Queen-sized mattresses measure 60 inches by 80 inches. 

If you have back pain, you should consider getting a mattress that is larger than standard so you can stretch out when sleeping on your side.

Pillow Top Mattress

Pillowtops add softness and comfort to your new bed, however, they may increase the heat of the bed, and they aren't as supportive for your back. If you prefer not to purchase a memory foam mattress, you may want to consider a semi-firm pillow top mattress.

If you need extra mattress padding, opt for a pillow top that’s 6 to 8 inches thick. This thickness also applies if you are heavier than average (230 pounds or more). If you prefer a firmer mattress with less padding, choose a pillow top about 4 to 5 inches thick.

If you do not want heat retention from your pillowtop, consider also purchasing a cooling mattress pad or topper to help with this issue. 

Or opt to get started with a negative space mattress that will incorporate cooling layers instead.

Mattress Toppers, Protectors, and More

If you have back pain and need a little extra cushion, a mattress topper or pad can be viable. There are a variety of pads and toppers available. All of them help relieve pressure points by providing additional support where needed.

A mattress protector is an optional purchase for protecting your mattress from stains and wear and tear each day. Mattress protectors can be especially beneficial if you are accident-prone, not to mention that they provide extra protection from bed bugs. 

Anti-Snore and Supportive Pillows

Consider purchasing a foam pillow if you prefer sleeping on your back or stomach. If you're struggling with back pain when you wake up, consider adjusting your pillows or upgrading them to make sure they’re the right match and support height for your body - such as the SONU Top Pillow Deluxe, designed for this issue. These adjustments will help alleviate pressure on your neck and relieve pain in the back.

A memory foam pillow comes in various shapes, sizes, and firmness. Memory foam pillows contour to your head and neck. They can help reduce pressure points as well as keep you cool throughout the night. 

You may also want to look into purchasing an anti-snore pillow if snoring is part of your problem.

How Can I Test a Mattress?

The best possible firmness for side sleepers is one that falls somewhere in the middle (neither too soft nor too hard). Studies identify relationships between sleep posture and spinal symptoms. Test out firmness by sitting on the edge of your bed, and slowly slide down until your weight is on the mattress.

What Is the Goldilocks Rule?

The Goldilocks rule applies when considering firmness. Middle-of-the-road density tends to work best for most people. You don't want a soft mattress that will cause you to sink into it, as you could get pressure points on your shoulders and hips.

You also don't want a hard mattress that will put your back in an uncomfortable position. Which then will leave you with sore pressure points all day long.

Most people find that a medium-firm level provides the best combination of comfort and support.

What Is the Edge Mattress Test?

When you are first testing out the mattress, you should not sit on the very edge of the bed, as this could cause a false reading of its firmness level. However, you should still make sure that it is not uncomfortable to sit on the edge. 

The Mattress Firmness Test

Another way to test the firmness of a mattress is to lie down on your back and put your fist under the lower back area. If it feels like you can hardly feel your hand at all, the mattress is too soft. If you cannot even fit a fist under yourself, or if it hurts to do so, the mattress is too hard for side sleepers with back pain.

What Kinds of Mattresses Are Easiest To Sleep On?

Foam mattresses will initially feel firm due to their slow response to pressure. Once you lie down, the mattress will mold to your body and become softer after a few seconds. 

Memory foam in particular is thicker than regular foam, so it provides better support for your back.

Foam mattresses can be the easiest to sleep on because these types of mattresses are the most conforming to your body. They have a higher level of stability, providing better support for your spine and allows you to sleep pain-free throughout the night. 

Avoid Innerspring Sagging Mattresses

Looking for an innerspring model with more support? 

Make sure to find one with heavier coils like 8-gauge (about 1-inch diameter) coils. This coil size won't sag to the same degree or contribute to pressure points and back pain as much.

You can also create more support by adding a mattress topper to an innerspring model. Even though this is not as ideal as having memory foam, it will help prevent sagging while providing another layer of cushioning to ease discomfort for side sleepers with back pain.

In Conclusion

Different people will require different firmness levels in a mattress. This means you should test out the mattress through in-store and at-home trials to see how it feels, test edge support and motion transfer, and make sure it has support for your needs.

Side sleepers are more likely to suffer from back pain because of issues with their spine’s alignment against a traditional flat mattress.

Memory foam mattresses typically provide better support than innerspring mattresses, and can be a good solution if you have back pain from side sleeping. 

However, the new negative space mattress from SONU finally solves the age-old problems of discomfort and pain caused by flat mattresses. The SONU Sleep System is designed specifically to prevent back and shoulder pain, and provides relief to pressure points that are commonly irritated by all other mattresses. 

Ready for the best sleep of your life? Explore SONU Sleep here and see what sleep innovation really feels like.


Evaluation of position dependency in non-apneic snorers | NCBI PubMed

Identifying relationships between sleep posture and non-specific spinal symptoms in adults: A scoping review | BMJ Open

Identifying relationships between sleep posture and non-specific spinal symptoms in adults: A scoping review | NCBI

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Trusted Reviews From Side Sleepers Nationwide
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Thank YOU! Best mattress out there.
After being a gymnast for 15 years, I haven't felt this much relief from the pain in my shoulders and my hips while sleeping!! Thank you!
Steph C.
Highly recommended!
Creates the perfect space for your arm if you're a side sleeper. Changed the way I sleep forever.
Justin S.
So I actually own one of these. It's AMAZING. Yes it will take you a few weeks to get "used" to it... But that said, you will be AMAZED at how great your shoulders feel in the morning. Just unreal. Like sleep a full 8 hours without waking up type of sleep.
Jason R.
Buffalo, NY
I have very bad neck and back issues and this mattress is a dream! If you are a side sleeper you will love it and even if you like to sleep on you back you will love it! Very comfortable and totally worth the money!
Grace L.
i have suffered from shoulder pain while sleeping for several years, i had just about given up... then i saw this bed and decided one last try. i can't begin to explain what it feels like to sleep through an entire night... for the first time in 20 years the first weekend i had it. I'm so impressed with this bed... because what they are making is making a difference in people's lives.
Crystal G.
Lives up to the hype
This comfort channel they made is next level. I never imagined that I would be able to put my arm in the mattress. Takes all the pressure off my shoulder, which I so so need. YES
Kim J.
Highly recommended!
I’m a side sleeper and I used to wake up with a dead feeling arm from lying on it all night. Finally a mattress with a pocket for my arm. I tried all the pillows and even very expensive mattresses in the past, but nothing cured my circulation problems until I got the sonu sleep mattress. I love it!
Nic D.
Chicago, IL
...Sonu mattresses are in a league all by themselves. This is the most comfortable bed I have ever slept on. I have no more shoulder pain and numbness. I can now sleep through the night and not wake up in pain. If anyone is even thinking about getting a Sonu sleep system don’t think anymore. Pull that trigger. I 100% gaurentee you will not be disappointed.
Christopher B.
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