Updated on April 1, 2023
Experts recommend that sleeping on your back makes for a better night’s sleep. But many people are known to prefer sleeping on their sides. Did you know that older adults, and people with a higher BMI, are common side sleepers?
Side sleepers are a category of people who rarely sleep on their stomach or back. Instead, they sleep with their hips and shoulders pressed into the mattress surface, either on the left or the right, or a combination of both.
Not all mattresses are good for side sleepers, and for this reason, mattress toppers are an excellent alternative to changing the whole mattress. Additionally, some people may already have a mattress topper, but simply want to find a new one that would be suitable for a side sleeping position.
You can sleep well in any position, provided you have the right mattress (or topper). Any wrong sleeping surface can result in a painful spine, joints, and neck. For this reason, side-sleeping individuals should ensure that they’re using the best mattress topper for side sleepers. This article will look at the top 10 best and most popular on the market.
Buying Guide For Side Sleepers
What Is A Mattress Topper?
A mattress topper is an extension of your mattress. It is a thin layer of material that you place on top of your bed to provide extra cushioning and support. People often use the mattress topper as a cost-effective alternative to buying a new mattress.
So if your bed has lost its plumpness or is too firm, you should consider buying one.
Below we will discuss more on how to choose the best mattress topper for side sleepers.
Mattress Toppers vs. Mattress Pads
Most mattress toppers and pads have the function of protecting as well as offering comfort to your existing mattress. That means they’ll protect our mattress from wear and tear, thus, giving it a longer life. For this reason, many people confuse the two terms. But technically, they are not the same.
A mattress pad is a thin layer of material (1-3 inches) that protects your mattress from moisture, bacteria, and mites. Pads are generally made of cotton, wool, synthetic fibers, or feather, and are covered by a quilted fabric. They are more like a duvet or quilt that you place over your mattress and sleep on. Cushioning is not the primary purpose of a mattress pad. However, it makes your bed feel soft.
On the other hand, a mattress topper is usually thicker (2-4 inches), and it enhances or alters the feel of your bed. Typically, it adds higher comfort levels than a pad, and they are a good option if you are looking to make a softer mattress a bit firmer. Most toppers are either memory foam (of some sort) or latex.
Side sleepers demand more than any other type of sleeper. This can make choosing a mattress topper somewhat tricky because you have to go over multiple products. However, you can consider the factors below to make it easier for you.
Types Of Mattress Toppers Available
- Memory foam: These are either soft, medium, or firm, and offer an excellent balance of support and comfort. Essentially, memory foam toppers conform to sleeper’s body shape and distribute the weight evenly. Thus, an excellent option for side sleepers. The better options have a cooling mechanism such as gel or copper infusion, or ventilation holes. In terms of price, they range from very low to very high.
- Latex: These are great at offering support. They are responsive, but quite expensive compared to others. Their main benefit is that they are natural and possess hypoallergenic properties. Additionally, they are resistant to dust mites, bed bugs, mold, and mildew. This all adds to the extreme resilience and long-lasting nature of the product.
- Cotton & Polyester-Blend: They are cheap and mimic a featherbed feeling. So they are breathable and soft. However, they wear out rather fast.
- Wool: They are an expensive option, courtesy of their high-end features. They are soft and highly breathable, but not the best for side sleepers.
- Feather: If you need a soft topper, choose the feather fill. Actually, they feel like a feather-filled duvet. However, they aren’t ideal for side sleepers due to a lack of supportive properties.
The hips and shoulders of side sleepers are continually in contact with the mattress. These are the common pressure points. Therefore, such sleepers need a thicker mattress topper. A thicker profile conforms to the shape of your body, and it covers all pressure points easily. As a result, the spine remains properly aligned. The best size is a 3 or 4 inch mattress topper.
Firmness is down to personal preference. Also, depending on the existing mattress firmness, certain toppers will act differently. A hard mattress with a soft topper will create a medium feel and vice versa. A soft mattress with a soft topper will create an even softer sleeping surface. Choose carefully based on logic and your current mattress firmness.
Generally, most best-selling mattresses are medium-firm. Based on this, lightweight people (less than 130 pounds) should use soft mattress toppers. Such toppers closely conform to the shape of their body. In comparison, medium-weight sleepers (i.e.,130 to 230 pounds) should use a medium-firm setting. Those weighing above 230 pounds should use firmer toppers.
Memory foam memory toppers usually retain heat, making it a bit uncomfortable to use in hot climates. Nonetheless, modern types come with cooling technology. The technology ensures there is improved airflow and ventilation. That implies that the mattress topper can release heat easily and quickly. Gel-infused mattress toppers are most common and distribute body heat evenly over the surface, reducing stuffiness while you sleep.
Density is another crucial aspect for side sleepers. Mattress toppers that have a high density provide better cushioning, withstand sagging, and conform better to the body than lower density counterparts. The measurement for density is usually in pounds per cubic foot (PCF).
The average lifespan of a mattress topper is about 5 years. Keep in mind that different materials have a different lifespan, but they generally deteriorate with time. Over time, you will see sagging and indentations on the sleep surface. This compromises the overall support. Some materials (such as latex) last longer than others.
Cleaning is a significant maintenance aspect. However, you can’t clean toppers in the washing machine like you would a duvet or comforter. Such action destroys the structure, making them unusable. The best way is to do spot cleaning. Alternatively, better quality toppers come with a removable and washable cover, thus allowing for better hygiene through cleaning.
The mattress toppers’ size should be the same as the size of your mattress. Select a size that corresponds to your existing (or new) bed.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best mattress toppers for side sleepers?
A 4 inch mattress topper can help buffer the heavier weight of hips, but 2 inches and above would suffice. A memory foam construction can provide the much-needed support to maintain neutral spinal alignment. Also, gel-infused memory foam offers an additional cooler sleep experience. In terms of budget, this type of topper can differ tremendously based on aspects such as warranty, sleep trial, included cover, and more.
A latex topper can also offer excellent service for side sleepers but will cost much more. However, it will last much longer and generally benefits from being organic (unless it’s a synthetic blend).
Is memory foam better for side sleepers?
If you’re a side sleeper with aching hips, stiff neck, or bulging disks in your low back, memory foam might be just the thing to get some relief. When you’re on your side, most of your weight is distributed across your hips, shoulders and elbows. This pressure can lead to pain and stiffness throughout the body. Memory foam toppers are made from a thick layer of visco-elastic foam that molds to your body as pressure is applied. The foam will return to its shape when the pressure is removed.
What should I do if side sleeping is still causing me pain?
If you find that side sleeping causes pain, you might consider switching to sleeping on your back or stomach. This is a good idea if you’ve never slept in this position before. You will likely be amazed at how comfortable it is! If you do switch, give yourself some time to get used to how it feels. If this isn’t a suitable option for you and the pain persists, try a softer mattress from your retailer’s website exchange program. The memory foam will provide pressure relief for your hips and shoulders when you’re on your side.
Are mattress toppers worth it?
Mattress toppers are an effective way to improve your sleep surface for a fraction of the cost of a new mattress. They come in different thicknesses and fill (foam, latex, wool, cotton, & polyester). So it is easy to find the one that suits your needs. Besides, they extend the life of your mattress.
Our Favorite Mattress Toppers For Side Sleepers
- Lucid 3-inch Ventilated – Editor’s Pick
- Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR Supreme – Medium-Firm Feel
- Best Price Mattress Topper – Soft Feel
- Sleep Innovations Dual Layer – Enhanced Support
- Sleep-Joy ViscO2 – Medium Feel
- ViscoSoft Pillow Top – Best For Back Pain
- PlushBeds Natural – Best Latex
- Linenspa Gel Topper – Best Budget Option
- Sleep On Latex Pure Green – Firm Feel
- ISOLUS Ventilated – Best Cooling
Side sleepers have unique needs when it comes to finding a perfect sleeping surface. Finding a mattress that is tailored to your needs can be expensive. However, if using the best mattress topper for side sleepers, it can transform the sleeping surface to meet your exact requirements.
There are numerous brands of mattress toppers; we have evaluated most of them at some point. But not all of them fit side sleepers. What we have shortlisted herein are amongst the best. So, if you are a side sleeper, reward yourself with one for sufficient pressure relief, and your every morning will be refreshing.