Side sleeping is one of the most common and recommended sleep positions, used regularly by over 70% of people. But it can also lead to pressure points and pain in the hips, shoulders and neck without proper support. Adding the right mattress topper designed for side sleeping can help keep your spine aligned and relieve aches. This detailed buyer’s guide reviews the 10 best mattress toppers for side sleepers plus tips for choosing the optimal topper for your needs.
Benefits of Side Sleeping
Sleeping on your side offers many advantages:
- Reduces snoring and sleep apnea
- Ideal for neck and back pain
- Helps digestion and prevents heartburn
- Supports proper spinal alignment
- Reduces facial wrinkles and sleep lines
- May lower risk of stillbirth for pregnant women
However, the uneven weight distribution of side sleeping can also create pressure points in the shoulders and hips. Using an inappropriate mattress can aggravate this discomfort in side sleepers.
Pressure Point Problems for Side Sleepers
Common issues faced by side sleepers include:
Shoulder pain – Too firm of a surface causes uncomfortable pressure on the shoulder and upper arm. This strains the surrounding muscles and joints.
Hip pain – With no support under the midsection to lift hips up, side sleepers can experience pain and numbness in the hips and legs from the pressure.
Spinal misalignment – The spine is knocked out of neutral position by sagging of the body in the middle without proper support. This strains the back.
Arm numbness – Pressure on the nerves in the shoulder can lead to tingling and numbness in the arms and hands. This is often from firm mattresses.
Using the right mattress topper can help provide side sleepers with even support and cushioning to relieve these problematic pressure points.
Choosing the Best Mattress Topper for Side Sleepers
The ideal mattress topper for side sleeping lifts the hips up while cushioning the shoulders and neck. This helps keep the spine properly aligned. Here are key factors side sleepers should consider when choosing a topper:
Look for a 2 to 4 inch thick topper to get proper loft and padding. Thinner toppers under 2 inches may not offer enough pressure relief. Over 4 inches can feel unstable.
Most side sleepers prefer a medium soft to medium topper around 3 to 5 on the 10 point firmness scale. Too firm causes shoulder pain, too soft can sag.
Choose a topper with high-density foam of at least 3 lbs per cubic foot. Lower densities don’t offer adequate support and cushioning.
Memory foam or latex toppers mold closely to cushion the shoulders and hips. Avoid wool, feathers or other fluffy styles with little support.
Look for zoned or contoured toppers designed with cutouts and channels to relieve shoulder and hip pressure points.
Since side sleepers sink in, cooling gels, phase change covers and other technologies can prevent overheating.
Now that you know what to look for in the best mattress toppers for side sleepers, here are my top picks.
The 10 Best Mattress Toppers for Side Sleepers
1. Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Adapt + Cooling Topper
- 3 inches of conforming TEMPUR memory foam
- Advanced cooling cover with phase change material
- Medium 5.5 out of 10 firmness
- High density construction
- Contours precisely to the body
- Pressure relief for hips and shoulders
Tempur-Pedic is the top name in memory foam, using proprietary TEMPUR material perfect for side sleepers. This topper cushions pressure points while keeping you cool.
Buy the Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Adapt + Cooling Topper on Amazon
2. ViscoSoft 4 Inch Gel Memory Foam Topper
- 4 inches thick for maximum loft
- Advanced gel-infused memory foam formula
- Medium-soft feel ideal for side sleepers
- High density and low indention load deflection
- Cradles shoulders, hips and neck
- Stays cool overnight
With an extra thick profile and premium memory foam fill, this ViscoSoft topper excels at cushioning side sleepers’ pressure points for long-lasting comfort and support.
Buy the ViscoSoft 4 Inch Gel Memory Foam Topper on Amazon
3. Layla Memory Foam Topper
- Flippable firmness – soft or medium firm
- 3 inches copper-infused memory foam
- Phase change cover
- Deep contouring and pressure relief
- Antimicrobial copper prevents odors
- CertiPUR-US certified
With the ability to choose your ideal firmness, the Layla topper provides excellent customization for side sleepers. The copper-infused foam also helps dissipate heat.
Buy the Layla Memory Foam Topper on Amazon
4. PlushBeds Organic Latex Topper
- 3 inch natural latex with 5 zone support
- Medium feel ideal for side sleeping
- Highly responsive and bouncy
- Sleeps cool and breathable
- GOLS organic certified
- 25 year warranty
This natural latex topper from PlushBeds provides healthy contouring and buoyant support perfect for keeping side sleepers’ spines aligned.
Buy the PlushBeds Organic Latex Topper on Amazon
5. Sleep On Latex Pure Green Natural Latex Topper
- 3 inches soft Dunlop latex
- Natural hypoallergenic materials
- Medium soft feel
- Zoned shoulders and hips area
- GOLS certified organic
- Naturally breathable open-cell design
This soft organic latex topper provides the gentle cradling side sleepers need. Cooling airflow channels and contouring relieve pressure points.
Buy the Sleep On Latex Pure Green Natural Latex Topper on Amazon
6. Advanced Sleep Solutions 2 Inch Gel Memory Foam Topper
- 2 inches of gel-infused memory foam
- Medium plush feel perfect for side sleeping
- Cooling gel beads pull heat away
- Shoulder cutouts for pressure relief
- High density and low indention load deflection
- CertiPUR-US certified
This affordable memory foam topper uses gel infusion and shoulder cutouts to target side sleepers’ problem areas while preventing overheating.
Buy the Advanced Sleep Solutions 2 Inch Gel Memory Foam Topper on Amazon
7. DreamFoam Ultimate Dreams Latex Mattress Topper
- 3 inches Talalay latex
- Zoned design relieves shoulder and hip pressure
- Buoyant, responsive support
- Naturally breathable
- 5 year warranty
- Made in the USA
Exceptional pressure relief meets healthy bounce with this Talalay latex topper handmade in the USA by DreamFoam. It caters to side sleepers.
Buy the DreamFoam Ultimate Dreams Latex Mattress Topper on Amazon
8. Lucid 3 Inch Lavender Infused Memory Foam Topper
- 3 inches memory foam infused with lavender
- Medium plush feel perfect for side sleepers
- Lavender scent promotes relaxation
- CertiPUR-US certified foam
- Ventilated design for breathability
- 3 year warranty
This calming lavender-infused memory foam topper from Lucid cradles side sleepers to relieve pressure and ensure tranquil rest.
Buy the Lucid 3 Inch Lavender Infused Memory Foam Topper on Amazon
9. ViscoSoft Active Cooling Copper Topper
- 2 inches visco elastic memory foam
- Infused with copper gel
- Phase change cover material
- Medium firm support level
- Copper pulls heat away from the body
- 5 year warranty
This innovative copper-infused topper from ViscoSoft sleeps incredibly cool while providing contouring to support side sleepers.
Buy the ViscoSoft Active Cooling Copper Topper on Amazon
10. LUCID 3 Inch Bamboo Charcoal Memory Foam Topper
- 3 inch ventilated memory foam
- Infused with bamboo charcoal
- Medium plush feel
- Breathable open cell construction
- Bamboo charcoal controls moisture and odors
- CertiPUR-US certified
This moisture-wicking bamboo charcoal infused topper from LUCID keeps you cool and dry overnight. It cushions side sleepers at an affordable price.
Buy the LUCID 3 Inch Bamboo Charcoal Memory Foam Topper on Amazon
What Thickness Is Best for Side Sleepers?
Here is an overview of the benefits of different topper thickness options:
- 1-inch – Very thin but easy to fit sheets over. Okay for mattresses in great shape already.
- 2-inches – Slight contouring and pressure relief with minimal affect on sheet fit. Good for firmer mattresses.
- 3-inches – The most recommended for side sleepers. Balances comfort and support well. Fits most sheets.
- 4-inches+ – Maximum cushioning but harder to find sheets. Can feel overly sinking. Harder to move and rotate.
Many experts suggest 3 inches as the ideal thickness for side sleepers. This gives enough padding to cradle the shoulders and hips without being so thick as to throw the spine out of alignment.
Top 5 Mattress Topper Materials for Side Sleepers
1. Memory Foam
The leading mattress topper material for side sleepers is memory foam. It molds closely to the body’s shape and relieves pressure on the shoulders, hips and neck. Gel-infused memory foam sleeps cooler.
2. Latex Foam
Latex toppers provide responsive lift to the hips and gentle cradling for the shoulders to keep side sleepers properly aligned. Natural latex is hypoallergenic.
Polyurethane and other polyfoam toppers offer firmer support. Softer low density versions can work well for side sleepers when thick enough.
4. Feather and Fiber
Feather and fiber mattress toppers add some cushioning but typically lack the pressure relief and support side sleepers need.
5. Wool and Cotton
Wool or cotton covers over foam can aid cooling and breathability. But wool and cotton alone are too thin and compressible to support side sleepers well.
Memory foam and latex offer the best combination of contouring, support and healthy spinal alignment that side sleeping requires.
Mattress Topper Pros and Cons for Side Sleepers
Pros for Side Sleepers:
- Relieves shoulder, hip and neck pressure
- Allows spine to stay aligned
- Customizable comfort and feel
- Cooling options prevent overheating
- Softer than a firm mattress surface
- Less expensive than a mattress
- Can change sheet fit
- Thicker styles may feel unstable
- Some heat retention still likely
- Prevent full mattress warranty – read policies
- Less durable than a mattress
- Adds height and weight
The right topper can provide excellent pressure relief and support. But lower quality or poorly matched toppers may not adequately meet side sleepers’ needs.
Caring for Your Mattress Topper
Proper care is essential for increasing the longevity of your mattress topper and keeping it clean:
- Use a mattress protector beneath the topper to guard against stains
- Rotate and flip the topper every 2-3 months to prevent impressions
- Spot clean stains immediately with gentle soap and water
- Let the topper air out before remaking the bed to dissipate moisture
- Check manufacturer instructions before washing or drying
- Fold and store carefully during moves or if not in use
- Vacuum occasionally using low suction on the upholstery attachment
With regular care and maintenance, a quality mattress topper can last 2-5 years before a replacement is needed.
When Is It Time to Replace a Mattress Topper?
Signs that a mattress topper needs replacing:
- Visible sagging, flatten spots or misshaping
- Significant loss of loft and cushioning
- Impression of body shape remains after getting up
- Tossing, turning or discomfort while sleeping
- Sliding, lack of grip or difficulty keeping fitted
- Unpleasant odors even after cleaning
Ideally, mattress toppers should be replaced every 2-5 years for optimal comfort and support. Turning and rotating can extend a topper’s usable lifespan.
Improving Your Sleep Environment
Optimizing your sleep environment can further enhance your rest as a side sleeper:
- Keep the room cool around 65°F for sleeping
- Block excess light and noise that can disrupt sleep
- Try a side sleeping pillow for better neck support and alignment
- Use a white noise machine or fan for relaxation
- Limit caffeine, large meals and screen time before bed
- Wind down with calming pre-sleep rituals
Combining the ideal mattress topper fit with healthy sleep habits can help side sleepers wake up feeling refreshed and pain-free.
FAQs About Mattress Toppers for Side Sleepers
Q: What level of firmness is best for side sleepers?
A: Most side sleepers do best with a medium soft to medium firm topper, around 3 to 5 on the standard 10 point firmness scale. Too soft and your shoulders and hips sink. Too firm puts excess pressure on those sensitive areas.
Q: Are memory foam toppers good for side sleepers?
A: Memory foam contours closely to cushion the shoulders, hips and neck. This makes memory foam one of the best options for side sleepers. Look for gel-infused memory foam to help regulate temperature.
Q: Is latex or memory foam better for side sleeping?
A: Both latex and memory foam work well for side sleepers thanks to contouring and pressure relief. Latex feels more buoyant, memory foam molds tighter. Personal preference rules here.
Originally posted on September 18, 2023 @ 6:12 pm