How To: Pick a Mattress for Side Sleepers

Baby sleeping on side
Photo by Peter Oslanec on Unsplash

How to: Pick a mattress for side sleepers


A little less than half the population are side sleepers and most want to know “left or right”, “should I use a pillow between my knees”, “how do I pick out a good pillow?”, and of course “how do I pick out a good mattress?”.

Left vs Right When Side Sleeping

If you’ve ever been pregnant or known someone who was, then chances are you might have heard them talk about sleeping on their left side. This is since most of your organs are located on your left side, such as the heart, stomach, small intestine meeting large intestine, spleen, and pancreas. When you are growing another human, space gets limited, so you must always be looking for ways to maximize what you’ve got. Hence, sleeping on your left side when pregnant.

This is also good for people who struggle with stomach and GI (gastrointestinal) issues. If you suffer from heartburn, gas, and bloating then you may notice that you get more relief from sleeping on your left side.

Should I put a pillow between my knees?

This one is easy, YES! Placing a pillow between your knees when side sleeping is good for maintaining spinal alignment because your hips are a part of your spine. Many people don’t realize that the hips are the base of the spine and considered part of the spine. Your sacrum sits between your hip bones and guess what nerves stem from the sacrum?? The sciatic nerves! Yes, so many people suffering from pains going down one or both legs even into the feet may be suffering from sciatic nerve related pains and need to try a pillow. You need to place it between your thighs or knees but it must keep the thighs separated enough to help keep your hips neutral.

How do I pick out a good pillow?

I did a whole article on picking out a pillow, but for the sake of this post, we’ll cover it quickly. Your pillow should have enough support to keep your head in line with your spine. Your head shouldn’t be at an angle in either direction, meaning it shouldn’t be up or down. Most people find that they have a stiff neck or issues with their shoulders when they sleep at an angle all night long. So you should test your pillow before you buy it or make sure that your pillow has a return policy or exchange policy.

Also, take into consideration the size of your head. The average woman’s head weighs 10-12 lbs whereas the average man’s head weighs 12-15lbs, this is strictly based on anatomy and not opinion. Therefore, you may need to purchase a more firm pillow if you are a man with a larger head with more filling and perhaps a smaller pillow but still firm for a petite woman.

How do you pick out a good mattress for side sleepers?

Side sleepers are the goldilocks of sleepers because it can’t be too firm or too soft. A stomach sleeper needs extra soft and a back sleeper will like extra firm. The side sleeper is in the middle of the scale when it comes to mattress purchases. The side sleeper needs between a 5-6 out of 10 on the firmness scale (yes there is a scale) 1 = super soft and 10 = super firm. The reason being you do not want the mattress to press on sensitive areas and leave you sorer in the morning. Furthermore, if it’s too firm then it will contort your spine and potentially lead to more problems that are way more expensive than a mattress. So beware about compromising on your mattress.

amzn_assoc_placement = "adunit0"; amzn_assoc_search_bar = "true"; amzn_assoc_tracking_id = "slumbersmart-20"; amzn_assoc_search_bar_position = "bottom"; amzn_assoc_ad_mode = "search"; amzn_assoc_ad_type = "smart"; amzn_assoc_marketplace = "amazon"; amzn_assoc_region = "US"; amzn_assoc_title = "Shop Related Products"; amzn_assoc_default_search_phrase = "mattress"; amzn_assoc_default_category = "All"; amzn_assoc_linkid = "77adcdfa4bb3f9d2670c218964b11193";