To Firm Or Not To Firm: The Ultimate Guide For Side Sleepers In Search For the Perfect Mattress

Article by Lewis Hugh

Should I get a firm mattress if I sleep on my side? 

Hopefully we can answer that question today! It’s crucial to understand that the level of firmness directly affects sleep quality and spinal alignment. It’s imperative to choose the right firmness to avoid discomfort and increased pressure points, which adversely affect overall well-being.

Did you know that sleeping on your side has an added benefit of promoting good digestion? 

It’s common for side sleepers to face a dilemma undecided on the best firmness level for their mattress. A firm mattress offers proper spine alignment but can lead to discomfort and increased pressure points for side sleepers. Conversely, a too-soft mattress can lead to body sinkage, which lacks spinal support, leading to long-term discomfort and chronic pain.

This article Dream HQ will shed light on these factors to help you select the right mattress firmness that provides optimal support and pressure relief, leading to a restful and comfortable sleep.

Misconceptions About Mattress Firmness

A prevailing fallacy contends that firmer mattresses provide ideal support for the back. However, this belief is based on a flawed notion that a harder surface guarantees better alignment, ignoring important subtleties.

In actuality, mattress firmness is a complex and multi-faceted decision that should align with one’s preferred sleeping position and body mass. Too-firm mattresses may exert pressure on pressure points, leading to restless nights and morning aches. Selecting the proper firmness level is critical to avoid these problems.

A pair of hands touching a mattress.

Importance Of Mattress Firmness For Side Sleepers

Side sleepers face a perplexing decision in selecting the best mattress that provides adequate support and comfort. Opting for a too-soft mattress can cause dips in the surface that misalign the spine and lead to persistent pain in the neck, shoulder, and hip regions. Meanwhile, a too-firm mattress can impede circulation, leading to discomfort in the body’s pressure points.

The process of selecting the correct mattress firmness level requires careful consideration of various factors, including your preferred sleeping position and body mass. 

A well-informed decision can promote healthy spinal alignment, improve the quality of sleep, and reduce the likelihood of daytime fatigue and pain.

What Causes Discomfort For Side Sleepers?

  1. Side sleeping can create undue pressure on specific points of your body, namely the hips, shoulders, and arms, resulting in pressure points and overall discomfort during slumber.

  2. It’s essential to choose the right mattress when sleeping on your side to ensure a healthy spinal alignment, or else you risk discomfort or worse, chronic pain that keeps you up at night.

  3. Sleeping in an incorrect position while on your side can lead to uncomfortable sleeping postures. Sticking your arm under your head, for example, can intensify shoulder pain and lead to fitful sleep. So it’s crucial to choose a mattress that properly supports your sleeping position to wake up feeling rejuvenated and refreshed.
A woman in a white shirt on a sofa touching her back in pain.

Pain Points For Side Sleepers

  1. Hip pain can put a damper on a side sleeper’s night, making it challenging to get the restful sleep needed to wake up feeling good. Hip pain is a direct result of pressure on the hips caused by prolonged side sleeping.

  2. Shoulder pain is another drawback of being a side sleeper. The entirety of the body’s weight can become concentrated in one area, causing unwanted pressure. The shoulders can become particularly vulnerable, leading to a night of fitful sleep and pain.

  3. Even minor discomfort in the neck area can lead to significant problems, making it difficult to get the proper restful sleep needed for an energetic day. Sleeping with your head and neck unsupported or on too many pillows can cause neck pain, leading to discomfort that can affect your entire body.
A woman on a sofa is holding a cushion and she looks sad.

Importance Of Spinal Alignment

Did you know that choosing the correct mattress for side sleepers goes beyond simply providing spinal alignment? It’s essential to find a mattress that minimises motion transfer to avoid waking up your partner when you flip from one side to another.

The importance of spinal alignment can’t be overstated for people who prefer sleeping on their side. It’s critical to select a mattress that provides optimal support for spinal alignment, promoting increased comfort and reducing potential pressure points.

By choosing the right mattress, you’ll enjoy peaceful nights of proper rest, enlivening you for energised days ahead.

The Skinny On Mattress Firmness

If you’re yearning for some quality shuteye, you undoubtedly know how crucial mattress firmness is to make or break your sleep quality. One person’s definition of ‘firm’ may differ vastly from another’s, adding to the complexity. 

In this section, we’ll delve into the various considerations for selecting the ideal mattress firmness you seek. Be it your sleeping position, body mass, or preferred personal inclination; rest assured, we’ve got all bases covered.

a white mattress with no covers and blanket.

Explanation Of The Firmness Scale

Did you know the majority of mattresses fall on a firmness scale ranging from 1 to 10, with 1 being the softest and 10 the firmest? Selecting the right level of firmness is a decision not to be taken lightly, with an extensive range of options available to match individual preferences.

On the lower end of the scale, mattresses with a rating between 1-3 are categorised as soft, providing a cushioned and plush-like feel. These mattresses are ideal for individuals who sleep on their sides, seeking extra support in areas of pressure points.

A rating between 4-6 represents medium-soft mattresses, offering an optimal balance of comfort and support. These mattresses provide a luxurious and cosy sleeping surface, perfect for those who value a good night’s sleep.

A hand touching a white mattress

Mid-range mattresses with a firmness rating between 6-7 fit most sleepers’ needs. They offer an ideal combination of support and pressure relief, suitable for those who sleep on their back or stomach.

Lastly, mattresses with a rating between 8-10 are classified as firm, providing the ultimate level of support and stability. If you suffer from back pain or discomfort, these mattresses offer much-needed relief to support sleeping comfortably.

Different Types Of Mattresses

When it comes to mattress selection, it’s crucial to consider the variety of options available in today’s market. Picking the right mattress can be overwhelming, and it pays to know the pros and cons of different types before making your final decision.

  • Innerspring Mattresses: Sporting a tried-and-tested steel coil support system, innerspring mattresses offer a firm sleeping surface for excellent value. If you require sturdy support for a good night’s sleep, these mattresses are for you.
A spacious and well-lit mattress store showroom with neatly arranged rows of comfortable mattresses, ranging from king size to twin size. The store is full of customers who are trying out different mattresses by lying on them. The walls are painted in a dark colour and the store is well-organised with clearly labelled sections for different mattress types.
  • Memory Foam Mattresses: With the ability to provide excellent support and relieve pressure, memory foam mattresses are a popular choice for sleepers. Its unique contouring properties offer a custom fit to your body, delivering superb support where it’s needed most. If you require extra cushioning and comfort at bedtime, these may provide the perfect sleeping solution.

  • Latex Mattresses: Looking for a mattress that possesses supreme longevity and durability? A latex mattress is worth considering. These mattresses are ideal for those in need of firmer support and who require motion transfer isolation. Achieving optimal restful sleep is possible with the right mattress -and a little careful consideration never hurts.

Do Side Sleepers Need A Firm Mattress?

Do you ever feel like finding the perfect mattress firmness is like finding a needle in a haystack? Well, for side sleepers, the search is even more complex, with many factors to consider.

  • Dismissing misconceptions: The common belief that a firm is always better doesn’t apply across the board. Side sleepers require a mattress that combines firmness with cushioning to support pressure points and provide ample spinal alignment.

  • The balancing act: Finding the right balance between firmness and softness when selecting a mattress may sound paradoxical, but it’s worth pursuing. A medium-soft mattress is a perfect fit for most side sleepers seeking a sweet spot of comfort and support.

A woman sitting in front of a laptop, she has a confused expression.
  •  A personalised approach: There is no one-size-fits-all solution in the quest for the ideal mattress. Personal preferences, body weight, and sleeping positions all play a role. A personalised approach is key to finding your perfect match for dreamy slumber.

Tips For Choosing The Right Soft Mattress

When selecting a softer mattress for side sleeping, it’s essential to consider a myriad of factors. After all, a good night’s sleep is worth the effort.

  • Achieving balance: A soft mattress isn’t everything for side sleepers. Look for a mattress that balances plush comfort along with pressure relief and spinal support.

  • Personalisation is key: Your sleeping position and body weight play a pivotal role in mattress selection. Opt for something that caters to your unique needs, such as memory foam, latex, or hybrid.
Man wearing a blue shirt in a mattress store touching a bed.
  • Thicker is better: Looking for enhanced comfort and cushioning? Choose a thicker mattress to alleviate pressure points effectively.

  • Mindful material choices: Investigate the mattress’s materials to find your perfect match. Soft memory foam or latex foam can offer the dreamy soft feel you seek.

  • Firmness rating considerations: Pay close attention to the firmness rating of your mattress selection options. A rating between 3 to 5 works best for side sleepers needing extra plushness.

  • Guarantees matter: Choose wisely and opt for a mattress with an extended warranty period and a favourable return policy.

Benefits Of A Softer Mattress For Side Sleepers

Did you know that a restful night’s sleep is vital to our overall health and wellbeing? The type of mattress you use can make all the difference, especially if you tend to sleep on your side and require tailored body support.

  • The softer, the better: Opting for a softer mattress might be a smart choice if you’re a side sleeper. Softer options offer the necessary cushioning to support subtle contours while providing spinal alignment.

  • Pressure relief matters: Choosing a softer mattress doesn’t mean sacrificing support. These mattresses can deliver ample pressure relief to reduce aches and pains on sensitive points, allowing for quality sleep.
  • Finding the sweet spot: Balancing firmness, cushioning, and support is crucial to finding the perfect softer mattress. A rating between 3 to 5 works best for side sleepers and ensures the plushness you require.

Mattress Options For Side Sleepers

Did you know that the quest for the perfect mattress type can leave you feeling like a kid in a candy store? The good news is that the process can be less daunting when you explore the three most popular models that people swear by-memory foam, hybrid, and latex mattresses. 

But which one is right for you? Let’s find out in this section of the article.

A mattress store in a well lit and spacious room

Memory Foam Mattresses

What’s not to love about memory foam mattresses for side sleepers? They’re touted for delivering just the right balance of support and cushioning. And the reason for that is their ability to respond to body heat. They’re manufactured with high-density foam that adjusts to your body’s curves for unbeatable pressure point reduction.

Not only that, but the material’s adaptable properties also offer the right spinal alignment, lessening discomfort and chronic back pain. But there’s a bonus- memory foam mattresses are popularly known for their superior motion isolation, perfect for couples with different sleeping habits that want uninterrupted rest.

Comfortable queen size bed with blue headboard and wooden frame, dressed in white linens, pillows and blankets, located in a modern, bright bedroom with hardwood flooring and ambient lighting.

Hybrid Mattresses

Let’s talk about hybrid mattresses! These are the unicorns of sleep surfaces, combining the best of two worlds – coils and foam – to deliver a heavenly sleep experience. The coils ensure a classic support structure while the foam materials conform to the body’s contours, offering pressure relief features that are crucial for side sleepers.

 A match made in mattress heaven, don’t you think? These mattresses offer a unique blend of bounce and pliability that’s a winning combination for those who need a little more support than a memory foam bed can offer.

A king size bed in a spacious and well-lit room, there is a grey throw on the bed.

Latex Mattresses

Wanna know a little secret that’ll change your mattress game forever? Latex mattresses are a game-changer for side sleepers! You get the best of both worlds – softness and responsiveness – that perfectly conform to the contours and curves of your body. Say goodbye to morning stiffness and joint pain because the latex material sympathetically adjusts to your pressure points, offering optimal spinal alignment every time.

A queen size bed in a well lit room with a moss like wall behind the bed.

Wanna know a little secret that’ll change your mattress game forever? Latex mattresses are a game-changer for side sleepers! You get the best of both worlds-softness and responsiveness – that perfectly conform to the contours and curves of your body. Say goodbye to morning stiffness and joint pain because the latex material sympathetically adjusts to your pressure points, offering optimal spinal alignment every time.

Mattress Firmness And Body Weight

Did you know that selecting a mattress with the ideal firmness level can spell the difference between the ultimate sleep experience and endless toss-and-turning? And with body weight as one of the crucial determinants of mattress choice, it’s essential to consider this factor in mattress selection.

Here’s the thing – a too-soft mattress won’t offer ample support, leaving you sinking and uncomfortable, while a too-firm option will lead to pressure buildup at contact points, leaving you feeling stiff every morning. 


A woman sleeping on her side in cosy room.

That’s why it’s essential to understand how body weight impacts your mattress firmness selection process. Let’s take a closer look at how different weight categories fare in finding the ideal mattress. From lightweight sleepers to average-weight sleepers, to heavyweight sleepers, we’ll unlock the secrets to real sleep quality.

Lightweight Sleepers

For lightweight sleepers, we recommend a softer mattress with a rating ranging between three and five on the firmness scale. This type of mattress guarantees enhanced support and cushioning, ensuring that you wake up feeling refreshed and energised for the day. So, what are you waiting for? Give your body the gift of a perfect sleep surface today!

A woman is side sleeping on a mattress in a dark room

Average-Weight Sleepers

Did you know that finding the perfect mattress for average-weight sleepers is all about striking a balance between cushioning and support? Choosing the wrong type of mattress can result in an improper sleeping position, leading to chronic muscle aches and back pain.

If you lean towards the soft side of things, a mattress with a four to six on the firmness level is ideal. With adequate pressure-point relieve, you’re in good hands. And if you’re more of a firm believer in firmer is better, opt for a rating of six and seven on the firmness scale.

A man sleeping on his side, he look comfortable

But suppose you’re more of the Goldilocks type, and none of the above seems quite right. In that case, a medium-firm mattress offers the perfect mix of support and cushioning that’ll work seamlessly with your sleeping position, ensuring you wake up feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on the day. Sounds dreamy, right?

Heavyweight Sleepers

Did you know that being a heavyweight sleeper requires a specialised type of mattress to support your sleeping needs? A too-soft surface is a big no-no, as it’ll cause you to sink too deeply into the mattress, resulting in improper spinal alignment. Ouch!

To remedy this, we recommend a firmer mattress with a rating between six and eight on the firmness scale. This type of mattress will provide ample support and cushioning, ensuring the pressure is evenly distributed, and you wake up free of pains and aches. By promoting proper spinal alignment, you’re guaranteed a quality sleep experience every night. Dream big and sleep soundly!


Mattress Firmness And Pain Points

Did you know that choosing the ideal mattress firmness level hinges on your body’s pain points? Pain points refer to specific areas on the body that may experience discomfort and pain during sleep, such as the shoulders, hips, and back.

Here’s the deal – a too-firm mattress can exacerbate your pain points, leading to tossing and turning, while a too-soft mattress doesn’t provide enough support, leaving these areas unsupported and cramped. That’s why it’s critical to understand how different pain points impact your mattress firmness selection process. With a closer look at shoulder, hip, and back pain, we’ll unlock the myths and power your sleep game.

A man in pain on a bed

Shoulder Pain

Did you know that mattress firmness plays a significant role in relieving shoulder pain? Sleep on a too-hard mattress, and your shoulders become the latest victims of pressure points. Say hello to a world of unbearable discomfort and pain. And a too-soft mattress can spell spinal alignment disaster, causing your shoulders to sink too deep into the mattress. Yikes!

So, what’s the solution for those experiencing shoulder pain? A medium-firm mattress, rated four to six on the firmness scale. This mix of support and cushioning offers customised pressure point relief to the shoulders, ensuring you wake up feeling rejuvenated and refreshed every morning. No more struggles with stiff and painful joints. Get ready to give your shoulders the rest that they deserve!

shoulder pain

Hip Pain

Did you know that choosing the right mattress firmness is crucial in achieving optimal hip pain relief? Sleeping on a too-firm mattress is a recipe for hip pain disaster that can mess up your spinal alignment. And that’s not all. A too-soft mattress can lead to unbearable discomfort and pressure buildup at the hips due to over-sinking.

So, what’s the way forward? Opt for a medium-firm mattress rating between four to six on the firmness scale. This type of mattress guarantees uniform weight distribution, customised pressure point relief, and optimal support- ridding you of all that hip pain and allowing you to enjoy a well-rested night’s sleep. Wake up feeling refreshed and pain-free!

Hip pain

Back Pain

Did you know that sleeping on the wrong type of mattress can be a real back pain in the neck – or, in this case, in the back? A too-firm mattress? Say goodbye to your spine’s natural curvature, leading to pressure points and chronic aches. A too-soft mattress? Get ready for a world of under-supported, worryingly crooked spinal alignment.

That’s why we recommend a medium-firm mattress with a rating of five to seven on the firmness scale for individuals experiencing back pain. The perfect mix of cushioning and support, this type of mattress significantly reduces the pressure points on your back, providing customised pressure point relief and optimal spinal alignment for a comfortable sleep. Say goodbye to frustrating back pain and hello to a new, pain-free day.

Back Pain


What is the best mattress for side sleepers with back pain?

The best mattress for side sleepers with back pain should provide a balance between comfort and support, ensuring proper spinal alignment and pressure relief for hips and shoulders. 

Remember that individual preferences and needs may vary, so it’s essential to test different mattresses to find the one that works best for you.

Should side sleepers opt for a softer mattress?

Side sleepers should generally opt for a medium-soft to medium mattress, as it provides the right balance between comfort and support. These mattresses are plush enough to relieve pressure on the shoulders and hips while maintaining proper spinal alignment. 

What mattress type is best for side sleepers?

The best mattress types for side sleepers are memory foam, latex, and hybrid mattresses. These options provide essential support to key pressure points, such as knees, hips, and shoulders, while promoting proper spinal alignment. 

Does mattress firmness impact sleep quality?

Mattress firmness does impact sleep quality, as it plays a crucial role in providing comfort and support based on an individual’s weight, body type, and preferred sleep position. For example, side sleepers need a mattress that offers pressure relief for their hips and shoulders, while maintaining proper spinal alignment.

How to find the perfect mattress firmness for side sleepers?

To find the perfect mattress firmness for side sleepers, consider the following guidelines:

  1. Opt for a medium-soft to medium mattress: Side sleepers typically feel most comfortable on a mattress that is plush enough to relieve pressure on the shoulders and hips, but supportive enough to maintain proper spinal alignment.

  2. Consider your weight: Heavier side sleepers may prefer a medium-firm mattress for additional support.

  3. Choose the right material: Memory foam, latex, and hybrid mattresses are suitable for side sleepers, as they offer pressure relief and contouring support.

  4. Test different mattresses: It’s essential to try out various mattresses to determine the ideal firmness level for your individual preferences and needs.

  5. Balance support and comfort: The best mattress firmness for side sleepers strikes a balance between support for the spine, hips, and shoulders, and comfort to prevent joint discomfort.

    Remember that personal preferences and sleep needs vary, so it’s crucial to test different mattresses and firmness levels to find the perfect fit for you.


Listen up – here’s the deal. Selecting the right mattress firmness level is the ultimate secret to unlocking the full potential of quality sleep. And who doesn’t want a comfortable and relaxing sleep experience? Say goodbye to those restless nights and hello to rejuvenating slumber, thanks to the perfect balance of support and cushioning.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There are a few crucial factors to consider when selecting mattress firmness. For starters, your body weight plays a significant role in determining the ideal level of firmness. Also, don’t forget about your pain points- they could make or break your mattress selection. Last but not least, your sleeping position- some of us love pampering our backs while others prefer to cuddle up on their side. Bottom line? The perfect mattress firmness awaits you- are you ready to embrace it?

Final piece of advice

Let’s be honest here – selecting the ideal mattress firmness is no easy task, folks. While reading online reviews is always an excellent starting point, it’s crucial to roll up your sleeves and test different options physically. After all, you wouldn’t purchase a car without taking it for a test drive, right? So why should your mattress be any different?

But wait, there’s more! Don’t forget to consider crucial factors when selecting mattress firmness – we’re talking about your sleeping position, body weight, pain points, personal preferences – the works. It’s the perfect formula for a customised sleep solution that guarantees endless nights of rejuvenating slumber.

And hold your horses – the ultimate hack for an uninterrupted sleep experience is right here- learning when to replace your mattress. That’s right- an old mattress can wreak havoc on your sleep quality, leading to discomfort, pain, and poor sleep hygiene. The experts recommend a replacement every 8-10 years- it’s a small investment that’ll make a massive difference in the way you sleep. Now, let’s get mattress hunting, folks!

One last thing before you go.  We understand finding the perfect mattress can be a real uphill battle, but fear not! Our expert tips and tricks are designed to make your life a little easier. Say goodbye to those long, restless nights and hello to a peaceful slumber. So why wait? Check out our mind-blowing article now and set your sights on a world of sweet dreams!

Useful Links:
Check out this article by sleepfirm.
Check out this article by mattressadvisor.

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