Best Mattress for Side Sleepers

I am a SIDE SLEEPER, so I know a thing about how the last 100 or so mattresses sleep for me.  Find out which mattresses I loved to sleep on.

Best Mattress For Side Sleepers

I’m a side sleeper, so this category is my specialty.  I try to avoid mattresses that are too squishy or too firm.  As a petite person I will end up with lower back pain, sometimes hip pain.  My go to type of mattress would be a medium-firm / medium-soft.  When sleeping you can almost always find me on my side.  You will notice that none of the ones below are innerspring mattresses, as I am small I don’t usually need the extra support of the pocketed coils.

Each of these 3 mattresses can be found somewhere in my house.  Let that sink in for a bit.  I couldn’t possibly keep all of the mattresses that I have tested, but I simply couldn’t live without these three.

#1 Leesa Mattress

leesa mattress on top of Leesa hybrid mattress

The Leesa Mattress is one of the best mattresses you can buy.  You feel great sleeping on a mattress from a company that does so much to support the community.  Leesa donates one mattress and one pillow for every ten they sell.  This means that they have furnished over 35,000 mattresses to those in need.

Leesa has one of the best covers in the business, that coupled with the perfect hug that you get make it a great choice for side sleepers.

The Leesa mattress cover is one of the best in the industry.  Let me add this; if the Leesa cover wasn’t so great, would they have a Leesa Blanket and Pillow made from the same material?

They recently swapped out the top layer of Avena foam with their new foam called LSA200.  This change helped propel the Leesa all the way up to number 1 on our list of best mattresses for side sleepers.  Leesa achieves a nice balance between a soft and a medium firm mattress.

$200 Off Original Leesa
small photo of leesa original mattress
$200 Off the original leesa for cyber monday.$300 off the hybrid and $400 off the Legend
$200 Off the original leesa for cyber monday.$300 off the hybrid and $400 off the Legend Show Less

# 2 Purple Mattress (Original)

Purple mattress on a zero g setting

I actually PAID for my Purple mattress (try to find another reviewer who can say that).  Do I go back to it between testing because I want to get my money’s worth out of it?  Or is it just that I happen to love it?  I view the Purple mattress as my reset button.  After a couple of weeks testing a new mattress, there is just something I love about spending a couple of nights on the Purple.  It is difficult to explain the feeling of the Purple mattress as it is a unique blend of foam and their Hyper-elastic polymer™ Smart-Comfort Grid.  When you buy a Purple Mattress it comes with a cute squishie, so that you don’t have to cut it open like I did.

I can give you an idea of what the polymer layer looks like, but to describe the feel is difficult. As much as I’m sure the people at Purple hate the following; to me it feels kind of like sleeping on a waterbed. If you tap your toe and shake the bed a bit you can feel the vibrations being carried through the mattress. Now that sounds like a bad thing for light sleepers, but I assure you it isn’t. What makes the Purple mattress really sing is that this vibration when coupled with an adjustable base’s massage feature (available in the Purple Powerbase) is to die for. You get the entire body massage out of your adjustable bed when you use the Purple.

2 Free Pillows and Sheets
purple hybrid premier
2 Free Pillows and sheets to celebrate the New Decade. The Purple Mattress now has a SoftFlex cover to keep the purple grid tight.Show More
2 Free Pillows and sheets to celebrate the New Decade. The Purple Mattress now has a SoftFlex cover to keep the purple grid tight. Show Less

#3 Layla Mattress

Layla Mattress Review

For a side sleeper I suggest the soft side of the Layla, what’s that? If there is a soft side, there must be a firm side right? Sorry, let me back up a bit. One of the unique benefits of the Layla is that you can flip the mattress to either the firm side or the soft side. This allows you to experience 2 levels of comfort and increases the longevity of the mattress, as long as you are willing to flip it every few months. This feature makes it so easy to recommend as you get 2 chances to get your preferred level of firmness. This also helps keep Layla’s return rate below that of their competition.

I LOVE the cover of the Layla mattress.  They were smart enough to use the same material when they introduced the Layla Pillow. 

$150 Off & 2 Free Pillows & A Mattress Protector
Layla mattress firm is the dark side soft is the lighter side
Layla Sleep
Get $150 off and 2 free pillows and a mattress protector for the Holiday Season.Show More
Get $150 off and 2 free pillows and a mattress protector for the Holiday Season. Show Less
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25 Responses

  1. I am a big side sleeper and the photo you have of the bed for side sleepers makes it look so comfortable! If I win, that will be the bed that I want!

  2. My wife and I have recently begun the daunting task of mattress shopping. She’s 5’ 130lbs strict side sleeper with shoulder pain on our current mattress, and I’m 5’11” 180lbs side/back combo. We’ve both liked soft to medium-soft beds, our favorites have been Tempur-Pedic tempur-cloud breeze supreme, Ashley Sierra sleep mygel 1100 hybrid (2” gel foam, 3” high density and 6” pocketed coils). We recently tried Casper and purple at stores, wife didn’t like Casper and we both thought purple might be worth trying. We’ve been recommended Layla as well but my concern is edge support due to my wife slowly pushing my to edge each night. Any more recommendations for us??

    1. Your size is really close to ours and my husband has the same issue with getting backed into the edges when a child or dog decides to jump into bed. When you are forced to the side one thing that he hates is when the mattress changes, so with the purple hybrid mattresses when you sleep in the middle of the mattress it is much different than being on the edge. The original purple doesn’t have that issue though, and that’s one that we are really happy with. We haven’t noticed any similar issues with the Layla. One bed that we are really impressed with, but is much more expensive is the Spartan. They have a system where the coils are different as you get closer to the edges. Unfortunately, you probably won’t be able to test those in store unless you are in Arizona.

  3. Hi Rana! I’m a side sleeper, too, and I also live in PHX 🙂

    Thanks for all the great info on your site, which I stumbled upon while starting my research into a new mattress a few months ago. For the past 11 years I’ve been sleeping on a SpringAir Comfortflex Euro 600, which is an innerspring with a pillow top. I’ve always slept comfortably and pain-free (I’m 5’8″, 160 lbs).

    I wanted to try a memory foam mattress, and have pretty much narrowed my choices to Layla, Leesa, and Purple (though the AS4, Nectar, Nolah, and Loom & Leaf keep showing up in my searches for “best memory foam mattresses for side sleepers”). A lot of sites recommended the Layla (less firm side) over the Leesa for side sleepers, but your preference for the Leesa makes me think it might be the right choice for me.

    The Purple was at West Elm, but doesn’t seem to be any longer; now the Leesa is, so I’m thinking about going over there and checking it out. The only sleeping issue I have is occasional night sweats (I tend to go to sleep chilly and then sometimes wake up in the middle of the night hot). For this specific issue, which memory foam would you recommend?



    1. The Purple and Layla have a bit more cooling tech in them than the leesa, that said I haven’t had any issues with sleeping hot on any of them. The purple is unique and they usually have them at the larger mattress firm locations if you want to try one before you decide. Leesa and sometimes the sapira are in west elm, and Layla just released a new and improved version. They are all priced about the same with similar current discounts so you should be fine with any of those. The ones who keep showing up in search are all huge advertisers, but I wouldn’t suggest any of them for side sleepers of your size.

  4. Hi,

    I enjoy watching your reviews. Can you review the Nolah Signature mattress? It’s their 12″ mattress. I heard it’s the best for side sleepers who want a soft yet supportive mattress.


  5. I need help! I spent $1500 on a queen Simmons Resonance mattress about 4 years ago and within the past year the center of it starting caving in causing me to wake up with terrible lower back pain. I purchased a Zinus Cooling Gel Memory Foam mattress about a month ago now and within a week (about how long it took to reach maximum firmness) I was waking up with dead arms. I put a 3 inch memory foam topper over it to soften it (which I shouldn’t have to do!) and I don’t wake up with dead arms but haven’t been able to feel the tips of my middle finger on both hands and have stiff neck and arms early in the day. My partner is complaining of shoulder pain as well. Needless to say, the Zinus isn’t working out so I’m donating it for a refund.

    I am 5’3 and weigh 118lbs, my boyfriend is 6’7 and weighs 270lbs so we are definitely looking for something that will prevent me from falling into his “hole” if he rolls over in the night. I am an ICU nurse so tend to have a lot of neck and shoulder stiffness/pain at baseline, plus genetically at a disadvantage with regard to arthritic tendencies.

    I thought I needed a firm mattress but the Zinus was literally rock hard and it was listed as a medium. Can you recommend something that will minimize motion transfer due to the significant weight difference between myself and my partner, that is of medium firmness and that would work for someone who sleeps in ALL positions? My boyfriend is a side/back sleeper and I am mostly as well, but I do sleep on my stomach sometimes as well. Also, I’m not a trust fund kid and don’t have a million dollars to spend on a mattress. I’d love to keep it under $1000 if possible…

    Any advice you can give would be so appreciated – I’m so desperate to have feeling back in my hands!

    1. With the size difference that you guys have (which is some serious sexual dimorphism) I would consider a custom mattress from Helix or Eight Sleep. You will be really tempted to get a firm side for him and a soft side for you. The problem with that is that the soft side will still roll into the firm side. Even though it will be against your instincts, go with a firm side for him and a medium for you. Or if you want to roll the dice a bit more go with a medium for him and a soft for you.

  6. I really enjoy your reviews. I wonder if you could help me… I am a side sleeper (5’9″, 210lbs), my wife is a stomach sleeper. We purchased a king Casper Wave (wife was reluctant to buy a mattress she couldn’t try first – even with return policies). She loved it, I hated it. Caused me all kinds of back and side pain. We returned it without any problems. I purchased a split king (two twin xl’s) Idle Sleep Hybrid luxury firm (love the concept of a flipable mattress) after being told the firmness was recently softened and that I should be able to sleep on it. It is not working out for me however, my wife loves it. I am now considering returning my mattress for a medium in the same model. If I go with another company, I need to come close to matching a 14″ high mattress in order to make a king-sized bed. Any thoughts/suggestions?

    1. I really wish that I could have slept on the Wave without pain. I really liked the idea of the idle mattresses as it gives you 2 chances to get the firmness right. But it seems like that’s not really the issue with you guys. Stomach sleepers tend to like firm beds and side sleepers tend to like soft beds. You may want to look into a dual firmness bed, from Eight or Helix. The down side is that the middle of the bed becomes “unusable” if you know what I mean…

  7. For Tomorrow Sleep – did you test Medium Firm or Medium Soft? Would you recommend both as good for side sleepers?

  8. Thanks so much for all these reviews and charts they are amazing! I was in an accident 4 yrs ago and have an incomplete spinal cord injury now so I sleep on the recliner 99% of the time. We are now on the lookout for a new mattress and adjustable frame and trying to research for a mattress that can support my spine while I am sleeping on my side or my back in the zero gravity position has been a nightmare lol. I also have no control over my temperature regulation so I can’t have anything that overheats me since I’m not able to sweat. I think I’m going to try and find if there is anywhere we can find the Leesa mattress to try out as I am 5’8 and my husband is 6’2.

  9. We purchased a king-sized Nest Signature Hybrid after reading reviews that some felt the Leesa was too firm for small people/side sleepers (I’m both). We used to sleep in a Stearns and Foster memory-foam topped spring bed and figured the hybrid with a topper would be most similar (we loved our S&F, but got an _amazing_ deal on it thanks to the old Famous-Barr warehouse sales and didn’t want to commit to $2K plus for a mattress); we also can’t get a king mattress up to our second floor unless it can roll.

    I am just meh about the NSH bed. I want to love it. I like so much what the company stands for, and I can tell it’s a quality mattress. But I don’t sink in like I did with the memory topper (though it _does_ sleep cooler) and I have terrible pressure points in my hips and shoulders.

    I noticed you rated the NSH very high in your review, but it didn’t make your top list of side-sleeper beds and wondered your thoughts on that vs. Leesa, etc. Your comment above nails it – it’s so hard to try what’s out there and you really don’t know what you’re getting into until you’ve slept on the thing a while.

    I’m also mindful of the amazing amount of waste and space a junked mattress takes up, so I want to be very mindful of consumption…

    1. Hi Rebecca,
      The NSH is highly rated due to all its fine qualities including high quality materials inside out, the fact that it’s made in the USA, the Company and itself, their customer support and background, their quick response and fast shipping. And it is pretty good mattress if you are a BACK SLEEPER or stomach or both.
      I couldn’t let myself put it where it didn’t belong (side sleeper beds). It’s too firm and thick to be on that list.
      When it comes to firmness, comparing it to the Leesa I personally think Nest is firmer. Leesa has the ability to let you have your shoulders and hips sink in a little more than Nest. I am talking about the Foam Leesa mattress, not Sapira (their Hybrid).
      I am a firm believer that it absolutely takes a while , at least a month , to get out of our old mattress and get used to a whole new one. It’s like when your feet got perfectly used to your comfy shoes you slip or slide your feet in without any effort but once you switch to new shoes you go through that process all over again where you have to hold onto something to put your shoes on trying to support yourself, trying to wear them using a shoe horn. Until your feet get used to them.
      NBH may be the one for you so take advantage of their free in home trial, if you don’t like it, setting up a pickup is super easy their mattresses will be donated to a local shelter. You’re probably thinking it’s too much, but you’d rather find the right one then get stuck with something you don’t like. If you have a West Elm in your area see if they have the Leesa on display and try it. Or switch to something softer with Nest Bedding. Let me know if you have any other questions. I am always here

      1. Thank you so much! It actually helps to have someone confirm what I suspected. We’ve had the mattress about 15 months, so we’ve given it a pretty fab trial (we bought it when I was about 5 months pregnant, and I’m still nursing, so I am also nervous that pregnancy and postpartum aches and pains are contributing to my dissatisfaction, but if a bed doesn’t improve and may exacerbate those, then that’s also an issue…)

        Last I was in a West Elm, they had a sample Casper, which was not my favorite feel. I know the Leesa is SO consistently highly rated, so I’ll grab my hubby and we’ll head to the mall to try it. I’m also reading rave reviews about DreamCloud by Nectar and think you have a review about that (but also don’t see it on this list) and am curious about Purple.

        1. I’m sorry you don’t like your current mattress, and I hope I can help you find one that works for you. West Elm switched their aliance from Casper to Leesa about a year ago, so if you have a West elm near you they should have a leesa.
          As much as I love the DreamCloud and the Nectar(especially their prices), they are both a bit more firm that I like when I’m sleeping on my side. The Purple does really well if you are on the lighter side, BUT you need to be aware that it is unlike anything else you have ever slept on. That means that some people will find it too strange. Mattress firm has been rolling some of the original purples into their show rooms. So if you want to try one in store they may have it.

  10. I am a back and side sleeper so this is super handy information! I tend to get hip pain and back pain similar to yours with my current bed!
    I love all of the comparison charts- thank you for including what comes with it and the coupons! Those really do matter when you are on a stretch for money!

  11. Love your reviews, since these beds all come to your door, the chance that it isn’t a good fit goes way up, but with your reviews this takes that chance way down. I am a side and back sleeper, I flip and flop due to problems I have after breaking my neck and crunching my lower back years ago- long story. But for someone that really has to, and still is, saving to get a new bed, these reviews are so valuable. I thought the Casper Wave sounded great until I read your review, and if you had back issues I think it would kill me and I appreciate that you let everyone know about that. The side sleeper review here is also very good and in depth and I just wanted to thank you for all of your reviews.

    1. Thanks JJ. Sometimes mattresses just don’t work for me, and the only way to figure that out is to actually sleep on them. The real problem is that there are just too many options out there so it is impossible to try them all.

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