August 2020

Side Sleeper Mattress Advice & Guidance

Sleeping on your side is the most popular sleeping position with most sleepers choosing this sleep preference over any other. Whether you like to get into the foetal position or sleep like the running man this position has a number of benefits for the sleeper. This guide will help explain exactly how to choose the best mattress is you're a side sleeper.

The fact side sleepers are the most common of all sleeping positions in Britain must say something about the effectiveness of side sleeping!

Side sleeper mattress advice

We delve deeper into the considerations you need to be aware of if you’re a side sleeper to get the very best night sleep possible.

Sleeping on your side mattress guide

Benefits of sleeping on your left or right side

Sleeping on your back has long been recommended as the ideal sleeping position however side sleeping has a number of benefits over back or stomach sleeping positions.

Side sleepers benefit from:

When you sleep on your side with proper body alignment, and the right mattress, sleeping in this position can help reduce lower back and joint pain. Sleeping on your side has the additional benefit of reducing nighttime snoring and sleep apnoea. You may have heard of people rolling over their partners during the night and onto their side to stop snoring. This helps as it helps open up the airways reducing the vibrations from partially closed airways that causes snoring.

Side sleeping can really help reduce obstructive breathing during the night. If you want to learn more about sleep apnoea then check out our detailed guide here.

A braemar bedframe

Drawbacks from sleeping on your side

Side sleepers may complain about excess stiffness in the shoulders or hip pain. Most of the time this is down to the mattress comfort layers not being flexible or reactive enough for these pressure points.

Side sleeping drawbacks:

  • Sore shoulders
  • Hip pain
  • Dead arm
  • Excess movement during the night
  • Excess heat on the sleeping side
Side sleeping is the most common sleeping position
Side sleeping is the most common sleeping position
Side sleepers require slightly softer mattress upholstery compared to other sleeping positions
Side sleepers require slightly softer mattress upholstery compared to other sleeping positions

Does sleeping on your side cause shoulder pain?

Sleeping on your side shouldn’t cause you shoulder pain if you choose the correct mattress and upholstery. The right mattress should be tailored to your exact weight and height then layered with various upholstery to create the right matress comfort for your individual preferences. In the case of side sleepers, you will need a softer set of upholstery layers when compared to a back or front sleeper. Most side sleepers choose a soft to medium feel in the mattress comfort layer to help give more forgiving support and comfort during the night. If you’re struggling with shoulder pain when sleeping you should always seek medical advice and well as undertake a health check of your current mattress.

The biggest issue side sleepers have with their mattress is excess pressure being put on the shoulders or hips. This is especially true if the mattress is too firm. Which means the mattress is battling against you and not helping comfort you during the night.  If you find yourself waking up at night with sore shoulders or hips then you may have a mattress that’s too firm in both the upholstery and the spring support layer. Mattress spring tensions are based on weight ranges. if you’ve mistakenly been sold a firm spring gauge then it may mean that the mattress is providing too much support for your body weight. This is why choosing the correct pocket spring tension when you first buy a new mattress is essential.

BodyweightSpring tension
Upto 16 Stone / 50-101kgMedium (1.4mm)
16 Stone / 101kg UpwardsFirm (1.6mm)
Available in Bespoke Products (Please Call)Soft (1.2mm)

Best type of mattress for a side sleeper

The best type of mattress for a side sleeper is one that has a deep top comfort layer and the right mattress support for your body weight. If you choose a mattress that’s too firm then it can cause unnecessary pressure on your shoulders and hips forcing them out of alignment during the night. You need this deeper comfort compared to a back or front sleeper as your hips and shoulders will need to sink further than your sides and torso. If not this is where potential pain during the night can come from.

Natural fibre mattresses, like Wool, Cotton or Bamboo are ideal for side sleepers as they offer far better more forgiving comfort compared to memory foam or synthetic mattress fibres. Natural fibre mattresses are also far cooler to sleep on and regulate night time-temperature much more effectively.

We recommend three mattresses that are ideal for side sleepers at different price points depending on your mattress budget.

Origins Pocket 1500 Mattress

The Origins Pocket 1500 mattress is one of our best selling entry-level pocket sprung hand made mattresses. It offers a forgiving medium support which is ideal for side sleepers. Our most popular man-made, natural fibre mattress combines a 1500 pocket-spring unit with 1550gsm of luxurious fillings, for a soothingly satisfying sleep experience. Read more about this side sleeper mattress.

Origins 1500 Mattress
The Origins Pocket 1500 is a true medium and perfect for side sleepers.

Artisan Naturals Mattress

Our Artisan Naturals mattress is our most popular model of all time, and for good reason. This 85% Natural fibre mattress combined with the ultimate vanadium coated calico encased pocket spring unit leads the way in comfort for side sleepers. Offering supportive yet comfortable upholstery layers in this hand made model. It features a 1600 hand-tied pocket springs and 3950 GSM of mattress upholstery. Find out more on this ultimate side sleeper mattress.

Artisan Naturals in a bright room
View more on our most popular side sleeper suitable hand made mattress model. The Artisan Naturals.

Artisan Luxury

If you’re a side sleeper and looking for the ultimate in softer fibres then our Artisan Luxury mattress could be the perfect bed for you. Packed with layer upon layer of soft sinking fibres it offers those who prefer a softer feel mattress the best in 100% natural fibres. Featuring 1476 hand-tied calico pocket springs which are vanadium coated in 3 tensions based on your bodyweight. It combines Wool and Luxury Horsetail for that softer feel and uses 4600gsm of 100% Natural Fibres. Discover more on this luxury soft feel side sleeper mattress.

The Soft Artisan Luxury Mattress from John Ryan By Design
The Artisan Luxury is the ultimate in soft feel mattresses for side sleepers. Click to view more.

Best mattress upholstery for a side sleeper

If you’re a side sleeper then understanding which mattress fibres and upholstery layers are best is key. As a guide, we have a table below that shows the softer and medium feel fibres which will allow a side sleeper to sink suitably into a mattress.

Upholstery LayerFibre TypeHow it will feel?Price Point
White FibreSyntheticSoft/MediumCheap
PolycottonSynthetic/Natural BlendSoft/MediumMid Price
Wool (Pure)NaturalSoft/MediumHigh-End
Cotton (Pure)NaturalSoftHigh-End
BambooNaturalSuper SoftExpensive / Exclusive
AlpacaNaturalSoftExpensive / Exclusive
Cashmere (Pure)NaturalSoftExpensive / Exclusive
VicunaNaturalSuper SoftExpensive / Exclusive

Other Sleeping Positions Explained

You may also be interested in reading about the other two popular sleeping positions and mattress choices:


As a side sleeper, you’re going to need a more forgiving comfort layers for your hips and shoulders when compared to a back sleeper. However, by understanding the mattress choices you can ensure you get the very best nights sleep. Choosing the correct mattress spring tension is essential and then its a case of picking the fibres that will suit your sleeping position the best.

If you’re still a bit unsure why not get in touch with our small expert mattress team to assist? We can help compare any mattress models you may be looking at and provide additional reassurance and guidance.

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