Side sleepers may deal with troublesome pressure points more than any other type of sleeper. Most of these pressure points build up in their hips and shoulders since they bear the brunt of the body’s weight. If left alone, the pressure points tend to escalate into stiffness and pain. The best mattresses ease pressure points so that a side sleeper feels rejuvenated.
Hybrid mattresses can be an ideal choice for side sleepers. The bed has thick foam layers that let the shoulders and hips sink in, relieving pressure. And the supportive coils prevent excess sinkage, maintaining neutral spine alignment.
Our Recommendation: Zoma Hybrid
Our new Zoma Hybrid is similar to our classic memory foam mattress. We paired our unique foams with bouncy coils, combining support with cushioning. The 11-inch mattress has four layers, all wrapped in a soft and breathable mattress cover.
The top layer is 2 inches of gel memory foam with Triangulex™ technology. The gel foam has triangular cutouts in the head and foot of the mattress for greater contouring. The foam molds closer to your shoulders and legs because of these cutouts, relieving more pressure points than otherwise.
Triangulex™ technology also improves the bed’s natural cooling abilities. The cutouts create more paths for airflow through the mattress, wicking away excess body heat.
Next is a 2-inch layer of Reactiv™ foam, a sensitive and bouncy material. Reactiv™ improves the bed’s adaptability, preventing you from feeling stuck in the mattress. The springiness can also help promote neutral spine alignment.
Supporting the mattress is 6 inches of pocketed coils. What are pocketed coils? They are springs wrapped in packets to allow each coil to react independently. This design prevents motion transfer, unlike a traditional innerspring setup.
At the base is 1 inch of high-density foam. The foam prevents the coils from sagging down, keeping the mattress in good condition.
Every Zoma Mattress comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty. If you’re not satisfied with our hybrid mattress during your trial period, we will pick it up and donate it.
Benefits of Side Sleeping
Side sleeping is perhaps the healthiest sleeping position. Its benefits include:
- Improved breathing. Sleeping on your side prevents the collapse of soft tissues at the back of your throat. When these tissues block your windpipe, they cause snoring or symptoms of sleep apnea.
- Reduced acid reflux. Your stomach is positioned below your esophagus when you lie on your side. Other sleeping positions may place your stomach above your esophagus, letting the contents of your stomach escape.
- Less pressure on the heart, specifically when you sleep on your right side. Sleeping on the left side of your body presses the heart against your chest cavity.
- Reduced sympathetic nervous system activity. The sympathetic nervous system governs your “flight or fight” response.
- A cleaner mind. The glymphatic system is a recently discovered system that clears waste compounds out of your brain. It works mostly while you sleep, and side sleeping promotes more activity than other positions.
Why a Hybrid Mattress?
A hybrid mattress combines the support of an innerspring with contouring foams. Usually, a hybrid mattress is topped with memory foam, but you can find latex or poly-foam hybrids.
Because a true hybrid has at least 2 to 3 inches of foam, they’re an excellent choice for a pressure-relieving bed. The foam can also conform to you for full-body support, preventing spinal misalignment.
A hybrid mattress improves upon a foam mattress’s design with its breathable coil support. A traditional foam mattress does not always promote airflow, trapping body heat that can cause you to sleep hot. Air can circulate around the springs, wicking away accumulated heat to reduce sleep disturbances.
Hybrid mattresses do come with a couple of drawbacks, the biggest of which is the price tag. They’re one of the more expensive mattress types on the market. Most quality models cost more than $1,000.
And while hybrids do have more cooling features than a traditional foam mattress, they aren’t immune to overheating. It’s possible one made with a lower-quality foam can absorb too much heat and disturb your sleep.
Other Types of Mattresses
A hybrid mattress isn’t your only choice when it comes to choosing a mattress. You can also consider a memory foam, latex, or innerspring mattress. Not all mattresses are well suited for side sleepers, so we will look at them from most suitable to least.
Best: Memory Foam
Memory foam is poly-foam processed to be sensitive to heat and pressure. So when you lie down on a memory foam mattress, it responds to your body heat and weight, which is why memory foam conforms so well to your body.
By molding to your body, memory foam eases and prevents the pressure points that can build up from a lack of support. It’s an excellent choice for side sleepers who benefit from a mattress that relieves pressure in their shoulders and hips.
A traditional memory foam bed does possess one drawback, and that’s a tendency to retain too much body heat. Traditional memory foam was such dense material that it was difficult for air to move through and carry off heat. The heat would build-up, causing the mattress to grow warm enough to disturb a person’s rest.
To counteract memory foam’s natural heat retention, many manufacturers mix in cooling agents such as gels, copper, graphite, charcoal, and titanium. Conductive materials help move heat away from your body. Other companies replace specific petrochemicals with plant-based oils during production to create a more breathable memory foam.
Latex is often compared to memory foam. Both are materials that conform to a person’s body for pressure relief. However, the two are not identical. Latex tends to feel cooler, firmer, and more responsive than memory foam.
Are you considering a latex mattress? Be sure to check if it’s made with natural or synthetic latex. Natural latex foam is whipped from rubber tree sap. Synthetic latex imitates natural latex through a combination of organic compounds.
Natural latex is usually considered a better choice since it’s more durable. A natural latex mattress may last as long as 15 years, while a synthetic latex mattress is unlikely to last more than a handful of years. However, synthetic latex can be a good option for anyone with a latex allergy.
If you’re a side sleeper considering a natural latex mattress, you might want to invest in an added pillow top. Otherwise, latex’s natural firmness can prevent you from achieving a good night’s rest.
Many people consider an innerspring mattress the traditional bed. Innersprings are more than a century old, and their design has remained mostly consistent. Innerspring beds possess a coil support system sandwiched between thin layers of foam and fabric.
The popularity of innerspring mattresses has declined over time. Where once they were the only type of mattress a store might stock, now there’s a variety of alternatives to choose from instead. That said, many people continue to choose innerspring mattresses because they are affordable and familiar.
While innerspring mattresses can be a good choice for many, we do not recommend them for side sleepers. A side sleeper needs to have a mattress that provides full-body pressure relief and space for the heavier parts of their body to sink in. Otherwise, they risk waking up with a bad back or stiff joints.
Innersprings usually lack the thick comfort layers required for adequate pressure relief, and many owners have registered complaints about this trait. If you want a bed with a bouncy yet conforming feel, a hybrid mattress is the better choice.
More Sleep Positions
Not everyone sleeps on their side, though side sleeping is a popular position in most polls. Still, there’s a fair amount of people who prefer sleeping on their back or stomach instead. Some people switch between two or all three sleeping positions during the night.
Back sleeping has its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, it’s an excellent position for maintaining spinal alignment. Your body weight is distributed across your body instead of focused on a few key spots. A good mattress for back sleeping should have a medium-firm to firm feel to encourage neutral alignment.
However, back sleeping has been linked to developing or worsening sleep apnea and acid reflux:
- For sleep apnea, the reason is that when you lie flat on your back, gravity pushes down on your throat’s soft tissues.
- For acid reflux, it’s the lack of gravity that’s the problem. Lying flat allows your stomach contents to flow up your esophagus, causing heartburn and other symptoms.
Scientists have also found that back sleeping increases your chances of sleep paralysis. If any of these conditions are a concern for you, you might want to pair your mattress with an adjustable base. Sleeping with your upper body elevated, like an adjustable bed lets you do, can reduce symptoms.
Many sleep experts refer to stomach sleeping as the least healthy sleeping position. Lying on your stomach carries an increased risk for chronic back and neck pain.
When you sleep on your stomach, gravity tends to press down on your belly and push it deeper into your mattress. Your stomach sinking into the bed causes your spine to overextend, misaligning your back. Additionally, stomach sleepers have to twist their heads to the side to breathe throughout the night, which leaves your cervical spine (the spine in your neck) at an unnatural angle for hours on end.
We recommend switching to back or side sleeping if you’re a stomach sleeper. If you find yourself rolling onto your stomach while you sleep, try surrounding yourself with firm pillows to hinder your movements.
Is lying on your stomach the only way you can fall asleep? Then we suggest choosing a firm mattress to limit sinkage, keeping your belly on top of the bed. Slipping a pillow under your abdomen can further decrease your chances of waking up with a sore back.
Combination sleepers can switch between two or even all three positions in the night. If you fall asleep in one position and wake up in another, you’re likely a combination sleeper.
We suggest a medium feel mattress for combination sleeping, to best support all sleep positions. Combination sleepers should also shop for a responsive bed with motion isolation to prevent sleep disturbances.
A hybrid is a good choice for combination sleepers. The bounce from the coils keeps a person on top of the mattress, limiting any sinkage that could cause them to feel stuck.
Additional Buying Considerations
While your sleeping position and preferred type of mattress are important considerations, you have more to think about when you’re mattress shopping. You should also consider how your body weight might affect what your ideal firmness is. Also, you will want to review the attached policies of any mattress you plan to buy.
Mattress Firmness and Body Weight
We’ve already discussed how sleeping position affects what firmness option is right for you. Another factor you should consider is your body weight. Body weight affects how much pressure you put on a mattress, changing how it feels to you. Firmer mattresses need more pressure to feel soft, while soft mattresses offer less resistance.
Do you weigh more than 230 pounds? Then you might want a firmer mattress for a heavy person. Firm mattresses tend to withstand more pressure better than a softer mattress, remaining supportive and preventing your spine from bowing into the mattress. Side sleepers who are overweight should shop for a mattress with a medium feel.
However, it’s not impossible to find a mattress that’s both soft and supportive enough for a plus-sized person. It can take some careful shopping to find one with responsive transition layers that limit sinkage, but many find the soft feel worth it.
Do you weigh less than 130 pounds? A softer mattress might be your best choice for a good night’s rest. Since smaller sleepers place less pressure on a mattress, even a medium mattress can feel too firm. A softer bed can conform better to the body for pressure relief.
If you weigh between 130 to 230 pounds, you are considered average weight. Your weight shouldn’t affect how your mattress feels too much, so your focus should remain on finding the right firmness for your sleeping position.
Sleep Trial, Warranty, Return Policy
A quality mattress should always include a sleep trial and a warranty. A sleep trial can give you the certainty that you chose the right mattress and the security of being able to return the bed if it’s not for you. A warranty protects you from manufacturing defects, saving you from buying a new bed before you’re ready.
A sleep trial is the home trial period companies offer to test out a mattress after buying. A sleep trial is a common staple of the online mattress industry, since you may not have a chance to try a mattress before purchasing it. Some online brands have select brick-and-mortar stores, but many do not live close enough to take advantage of their showrooms.
Most sleep trials last 90 to 120 days, although a few companies let you try out a mattress for a whole year. If the mattress isn’t right for you, the mattress company will allow you to exchange for another model or return the mattress for a full refund.
Most mattress warranties cover the first 10 years of ownership, as per industry standard. If a mattress comes with a warranty with less than 10 years of coverage, it may signify the bed was made with low-quality materials.
Other companies may include warranties that stretch for 15, 20, or 25 years. These warranties are typically prorated. A prorated warranty means that after a set time, you will pay part of the costs to repair or replace your mattress.
Most high-quality mattresses made today include a sleep trial, which replaces the standard return policy. However, if you’re choosing a budget mattress, you might have to settle for a shorter return policy.
Be sure to read through the return policy carefully, as some may come with conditions. A company may only accept back a mattress that’s been unopened or arrived damaged. Others may charge you a restocking fee, docking a percentage of what you originally paid.
Frequently Asked Questions
We do not recommend flipping a hybrid mattress. A hybrid mattress has a layered design with the comfort foams on top and support coils at the base. Flipping the mattress can flatten the comfort layer and reduce the mattress's support.
If you want to even out wear and tear on your hybrid, try rotating it every three to six months.
We recommend soft to medium mattresses for side sleeping. Side sleepers usually need more pressure relief than back or stomach sleepers, and a bed with more cushion can typically mold better to the body. Foam and hybrid mattresses are a good choice for side sleepers, while we suggest staying away from innerspring mattresses.
There’s a wide variety of bed frame options available for a hybrid mattress. Wooden slatted foundations, platform beds, and traditional panel beds are all excellent bases.
While it is an expensive choice, you might want to consider purchasing an adjustable bed base for your hybrid mattress. Adjustable beds can make it easier to cope with health conditions such as:
Another benefit of an adjustable bed is customizable comfort. You can sit up to read by pressing a button, and resume lying down by pushing it again. Some higher-end models include massage features, a perfect way to unwind after a long day.
Whether a hybrid or a memory foam mattress is the better bed is something only you can answer. Both types have their pros and cons.
If you’re shopping on a tight budget, a memory foam mattress may be your ideal choice. You can find plenty of memory foam mattresses for under $1000, while few quality hybrids cost less than $1,000.
It’s also possible that a memory foam mattress is naturally more durable than a hybrid mattress. Memory foam mattresses seem to be less likely to sag with care and can last a decade. A hybrid’s coil support may lose its effectiveness within six or seven years.
A memory foam hybrid can feel like a standard memory foam mattress. However, you will often notice more bounciness when you lie down on a hybrid. Many people prefer to feel lifted when they sleep. Others might enjoy the slight sink and hug-like feel of a memory foam mattress.
Hybrid mattresses usually feature edge support, while most memory foam mattresses have edges that yield under pressure. The firmer foams that make up a bed’s edge support can make it easier to get in and out of bed. However, edge support shrinks the mattress’s sleeping surface.
How long a mattress will last can depend on what type of mattress it is. The expected lifespans for each mattress type are:
- Innerspring: 5 to 6 years
- Hybrid: 6 to 7 years
- Memory foam: 7 to 10 years
- Natural latex: Up to 15 years
We recommend checking if your mattress is still comfortable once it’s eight years old. If not, it’s time to shop for a new mattress. Signs that your mattress should be replaced include:
- Lumps, tears, or sagging
- Not getting a good night’s rest, even if you sleep a full 8 hours
- An increase in allergy symptoms when you wake up
- A funky smell, often the result of mold or mildew
Did We Help?
A hybrid mattress is a great choice for most side sleepers. The responsive coils will evenly support the body and keep the spine aligned. The foam eases pressure points that could cause a painful awakening.
If you’ve never tried a hybrid before and are hesitant if it’s right for you, shop for one with a sleep trial. You will be given a few months to decide if it’s your next mattress or if you need to look elsewhere.
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.