Do Side Sleepers Need Firm Or Soft Mattresses? The Ultimate Guide

Article by Lewis Hugh

An interesting question we have come across is: do side sleepers need firm or soft mattresses?

Have you ever pondered the classic inquiry that drifts through the minds of countless snoozers? What if I told you that side sleeping is the dominant supine orientation worldwide? It’s true – 74% of individuals prefer cosying up on their side. 

Yet, with such staggering popularity comes the conundrum of finding the matchless mattress to accommodate side slumber. That’s where we come in. We’ve assembled a comprehensive guide brimming with answers to the question of mattress firmness for side sleepers.

In this article Dream HQ, we’ll embark on a journey exploring the pivotal factors side sleepers must consider when selecting a mattress, including nuanced measures like body type, pressure relief, and spinal alignment. 

Furthermore, we’ll delve into related topics, such as pillow placement and the enduring health implications associated with side slumber. So, if you’re a grizzled veteran of side sleeping or entertaining the concept of switching up your snoozing style, this piece is imbued with insights required to seize the soundest slumber of your life.

Do Side Sleepers Need Firm Or Soft Mattresses?

Would you believe that the answer to the age-old inquiry that has long perplexed side sleepers isn’t black or white but lies in the alluring shades of grey? The optimal mattress for side sleepers isn’t too firm or too soft, but instead is a medium-firm one that provides sufficient support to keep the spine adequately aligned, while also enveloping pressure points such as the hips and shoulders in a tender embrace. 

Here is where it gets spicy! Opting for a mattress that is overly firm can result in agonising pressure points as the hard surface suffocates the curves of the body, while a mattress that is too yielding may fail to offer ample support, leading to chronic discomfort, spinal misalignment, and long-term pain. 

The moral of the story? The quintessential mattress for side sleeping is ever-evolving and requires a nuanced approach that takes your unique body type and needs into account.

Are There Risks Of Using A Too-Soft Mattress?

Picture this – a mattress so soft, you could sink into its velvety depths for hours. But little did you know, this slumber haven could be causing insidious damage to your body. Yes, folks, the repercussions of a too-soft mattress are manifold, ranging from insufferable muscle stiffness to lingering numbness and chronic pain. 

Now, let’s zoom in on some gory details. A too-soft mattress provides little to no support, compelling your body to curve unnaturally into an oblique angle, straining your spine and yanking it out of alignment. Sounds gruelling, right? Moreover, the tender, yielding surface offers no resistance, which can result in a lack of proper balance support, leading to enhanced discomfort and persistent agony.

Who knew something as innocuous as a soft surface could cause such harm?

A man sleeping on his side, he look comfortable

Will A Too-Firm Mattress Benefit Side Sleepers?

What’s worse than a mattress that’s too yielding, you ask? The answer’s simple – one that’s too hard! Beware, side sleepers, because this mattress menace can render your slumber painful and excruciating. 

Contrary to popular belief, overly firm mattresses can cause just as many issues as their yielding counterparts, including additional pressure on joints, such as the hips, knees, and even shoulders, leading to unease, discomfort, and persistent throbbing.

Don’t be fooled, either. Even though firm mattresses may be a suitable bet for those who snooze on their back or stomach, side sleepers’ needs are distinct, compelling them to seek the perfect mattress that blends support and cushioning in equal measure. Strike a balance for sound sleep – that’s the hack!

A woman sleeping on her side in cosy room.

How To Choose The Right Mattress Firmness For Side Sleeping?

Elevate your mattress game, folks, because there’s more to it than just picking one at random. Did you know that selecting the ideal mattress is a process that involves complex factors, such as your body type and sleeping posture? Indeed, it’s a sheer science! But don’t you worry, we’ve got some pro tips to help you traverse this tricky terrain and land the perfect mattress for your dreamscape.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Body Type

Listen up, folks, because here’s a lesser-known fact: mattress firmness may vary based on your physique. That’s right – your body type shoulders a considerable weight when it comes to determining optimal support and cushioning. 

If you weigh a feather-light 130 pounds or less, chances are you’ll relish the enveloping softness of a tender mattress that allows you to sink right in, enveloping you in a comforting embrace. 

But wait, what about you, beefier folks weighing over 130 pounds? Fear not! Your mattress needs are unique too, and that’s where a firm mattress comes into the picture, offering the right amount of support required to hold your weight without causing excessive sagging. Find your ideal balance now, and say goodbye to restless nights forever!

Sleeping Posture

Let’s get down to business, side sleepers – the perfect mattress is within your grasp! Say goodbye to uncomfortable pressure points that leave you tossing and turning all night long and embrace the harmonious contours offered by a mattress designed to contour your bodacious curves. 

You should opt for a supportive and cushiony mattress that will keep your spine aligned while providing much-needed pressure relief to those oft-neglected hips and shoulders. It’s the surefire recipe for sound slumber!

Mattress firmness scale

Let’s dive right into the delicacies of the mattress firmness scale, shall we? It’s a potent tool that measures the tantalising tug-of-war between hardness and cloud-like softness. Ranging from eye-rolling spongy 1 to granite-sturdy 10, the scale is an indispensable tool in your quest for the perfect mattress. 

But hey, side sleepers, here’s where it gets interesting – our requisites are distinct, compelling us to seek the hallowed middle ground between supportive firmness and velvety cushioning. A rating of 5 to 7 is the sweet spot, and a medium-firm rating of 6 can bestow precisely the right dose of support and comfort for your slumber extravaganza. 

Go ahead, unleash the snoozer in you, and awaken refreshed!

Choosing the Right Pillow for Side Sleepers

Let’s talk pillows, side sleepers! We know that finding the perfect mattress is the bone of contention for a sound snooze, but the quest doesn’t end there. Pillows are equally crucial, and if you don’t pick the right one, you’re in for a world of pain. Literally. 

Fear not, for I am here with the delectable deets. There are several pillows to choose from, but one powerful contender is the body pillow, designed to cradle your entire body and keep your head, neck, and spine aligned, explaining why it’s the go-to choice for snugglers and leg huggers. 


Next on the list is the knee pillow, a trusty alternative that’s designed to maintain the hip, pelvic, and spinal alignment, banishing lower back pain and making your slumber sweet again. But hold up! How thick should a pillow be for optimal support? Most experts recommend a 4-6 inch thickness, but hey, everybody is unique, so find your game-changer now!


Why is it important for side sleepers to have a suitable mattress firmness?

Hey there, sleep aficionado, did you know that side sleepers require mattresses with the perfect firmness level to ensure their spine stays aligned and their hips and shoulders enjoy targeted pressure relief? That’s right – no one wants to wake up with an aching back or sore joints, so make sure you pay attention to your mattress!

What is the best firmness level for side sleepers based on their body type?

Fun fact alert, side sleepers! Did you know that the perfect mattress firmness is based on your unique body type? Lighter peeps should opt for a softer mattress, enveloping them in a velvety hug, while heavier individuals require a firmer surface to prevent excessive sagging. Trust me, folk – find the right fit, and sweet slumber awaits!

Can a too-soft mattress cause back pain for side sleepers?

Yes, we’re here with a warning – a too-soft mattress can be a recipe for disaster for your back! The uneven support can cause your spine to contort unnaturally, leading to aches and pains. Take care of your precious body and choose a mattress that supports you!

Is a firm mattress better for side sleepers with lower back pain?

Listen up, side sleepers – if you suffer from lower back pain, a rock-hard mattress may not be the answer! Instead, go for a medium-firm mattress that offers targeted pressure relief to your hips and shoulders. Trust us – you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle anything that life throws at you!

What is the risk of sleeping on an unsuitable mattress as a side sleeper?

A warning of utmost importance – sleeping on the wrong kind of mattress could leave you feeling like you got run over by a truck the morning after! You might experience stiffness, chronic pain, or unbearable aches, leading to a ruined sleep and an unproductivity-filled day. Choose wisely friend!


Are you ready to revolutionise your slumber routine, side sleepers? Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of mattress and pillow shopping, shall we? Remember – we crave the divine harmony between comforting softness and supportive firmness, so look no further than the middle ground. Our body type and sleeping style matter too, folks, so don’t neglect these crucial variables in your quest for the perfect mattress. 

And hey, let’s not forget the pillows! From body pillows that caress and cradle your entire body to knee pillows specially designed to foster proper spinal alignment, a good pillow can make all the difference. But wait, what’s the perfect height for a pillow? While most experts recommend a 4-6 inch thickness, don’t be afraid to experiment until you find the ideal pick for your body type. 

Keep your eyes peeled, do your homework, and invest in quality, friends – your slumber will thank you.

Oi, side-sleeping chum, we’ve got a juicy question for you! Do you struggle to catch your beauty sleep, tossing and turning till first light? Fear not, my friend, because we have the antidote! We know the struggle of finding the perfect mattress – it’s a real headache – that’s why we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to serve as your beacon of hope. This guide delves into the mystifying factors that make the ideal mattress thickness and top picks for side sleepers, including your posture, bodily contours, and pressure points. 

Think we’re stopping there? Nope, my friend – prepare to be wowed, for we’ve curated a cornucopia of options that blend snuggly softness with sturdy support, ensuring your spine is aligned to perfection. Whether you seek a cosy plump mattress or a rock-solid one, we’ve got your back. After all, a sound slumber is key to seizing the day like a champ! So what are you waiting for? Check out our guide, catch your ZZZs, and wake up ready to conquer the world!

Useful Links:

  • Check out Sleep Foundation’s article.
  • Check out Sleepopolis’ article.

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