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Best Mattress for Side Sleepers With Shoulder Pain
Whether you’re a back, stomach, or side sleeper, the likelihood is that you’ve been sleeping in that position as long as you can remember and do so because it’s naturally comfortable to you rather than because you’re making a conscious decision about your sleeping position.
Those of us who sleep on our side may find it the most comfortable position to sleep in, but that’s certainly not to say that it’s problem-free. Side sleepers often experience shoulder pain over time because of the pressure put on their shoulders overnight. This pain can increase drastically if you have the incorrect mattress that isn’t providing enough pressure relief.
This article will discuss why sleeping on your side can lead to shoulder pain, what you can do to alleviate this pain, and what factors you should look for when shopping for a new mattress to ensure you get the best mattress for side sleepers with shoulder pain.
TOP 7 – Best Mattress for Side Sleepers with Shoulder Pain
1. The Midnight LUXE by Helix
The Helix Midnight LUXE is their most awarded mattress and is a great all around mattress in our opinion. This mattress is going to have a medium-firm feel which is perfect for most sleep preferences and styles. The pocketed coil support system provides the support and bounce of a traditional innerspring unit but has the bonus of "zoned" support which means it perfectly supports and gives to the natural curvature of your body, allowing for industry leading spinal alignment and pressure relief. Helix also offers a softer and firmer option in their LUXE lineup if you prefer something on one of the other ends of the firmness spectrum. Overall, our team loves this mattress and many of our employees choose this exact mattress in their own homes at night.
- Medium-firm feel
- Made in the USA
- Cooling/Breathable cover
- Highly awarded and reviewed
- "Zoned" lumbar support coils for luxury support and pressure relief
- Premium quilted pillow top
- Hypoallergenic cover
What our testers are saying:
The Midnight LUXE is our testers favorite all around mattress and is the one many of our team choose to sleep on every night. This is one of the most universally liked and recommended mattresses in the industry. It is supportive while still being comfortable and has a mix of pocketed coils and a memory foam pillow top, to give support and pressure relief. This mattress was made specifically for side sleepers who prefer a medium firmness, giving them the best of both worlds in terms of support and pressure relief. The zoned pocketed coil system works to add extra support under the hips and shoulders to keep a flat and straight spine.
What Customers love: Luxury pillow-top comfort. Great for all sleeping types
2. The Signature Hybrid by Brooklyn Bedding
GREAT ALL AROUND VALUE
TRADITIONAL INNERSPRING FEEL
An all around hybrid mattress that combines the benefits of a traditional innerspring mattress with Brooklyn Bedding's patented “Titan foam” comfort layers (combining the best properties of latex and memory foam to appeal to all sleeping and comfort preferences). Brooklyn Bedding has been in the mattress industry for years and makes each mattress at their own factory, meaning they can cut out the middle man and provide a great price. This mattress has thousands of 5-star reviews from customers who rave about its value and universal comfort.
- Unbeatable comfort for the price
- Luxury hybrid innerspring design
- High quality support and pressure relief
- Choose soft, medium or firm
- Over 2,000 5-star reviews.
- Made in the USA
What our testers are saying:
The Signature Hybrid by Brooklyn Bedding is a great mattress for side sleepers looking for pressure relief and comes at a very valuable friendly price point for the quality. The pocketed coil innerspring unit give enough support for heavier adult sleepers while the top layers provide pressure relief for side sleepers. The mattress comes in 3 firmness levels in order to allow you to choose the feel that is right for you. For most side sleepers we recommend a “medium” feel. The quality materials used in this mattress means it will hold up for years to come without prematurely breaking down and the price point makes it great for an every night sleeping option.
3. The Birch Natural by Birch
The Birch Natural mattress is a high quality natural mattress at a highly competitive price point. The pocketed coils provide a luxuriously supportive base that offers industry leading spinal alignment and cradles the natural curves of the body. Birch has built this mattress around optimizing pressure relief with the use of natural latex and wool comfort layers. Latex is one of the best foams on the market for providing pressure relief while still being supportive. The wool adds comfort while naturally wicking moisture and sleeping cool. Birch then has topped the mattress off with an organic cotton cover, making is naturally hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant. This mattress is a great all-around natural option for anyone looking for a medium-firm hybrid mattress that is chemical free.
- 100% Made in the USA
- Supportive, hybrid pocketed coil design
- Luxury pressure relief
- Natural and Organic Materials (Latex, Organic Wool & Cotton)
- Universal "Medium-Firm" Feel
What our testers are saying:
Birch is a well built, medium-firm natural latex mattress that has the perfect level of support and pressure relief for a side sleeper looking for pain relief in the hips or shoulders. Birch is known throughout the industry for their high quality natural latex mattress options. The Birch is their most budget friendly latex mattress and provides all the healthy benefits of a latex with the benefits of a pocketed coil innerspring unit. The Birch comes in a medium-firm comfort level to suit the vast majority of comfort levels and preferences and is perfect for a side sleeper. This mattress also has an organic cotton cove for any individuals with allergies or who are sensitive to non-organic fabrics.
What Customers love: Medium-firm, natural latex mattress at an affordable price.
4. The LUX Hybrid by Puffy
LUXURY HYBRID MEMORY FOAM MATTRESS
The Puffy Lux Hybrid Mattress measures 12″ in thickness and is a great all around hybrid mattress for any sleeper. The combination of pocketed coils and memory foam offer superior adaptability and pressure relief for side, back and stomach sleepers. If you are looking for a quality mattress at a great price that will be your every-night mattress, the Puffy Lux is hard to beat.
- Unbeatable value
- Heavy duty support from pocketed coil system
- Luxury pressure relief
- Removable and washable cover
- Made in the USA
What our testers are saying:
The Puffy Lux mattress is a hybrid memory foam mattress that incorporates the use of a very supportive pocketed coil innerspring unit with luxury memory foam top layers. The pocketed coil innerspring base in the LUX offers heavy duty support that doesn’t give or sag under pressure and leaves you feeling very supported even on the edge of the mattress. The memory foam top layers allow for pressure relief when sleeping on your side and hug the hips and shoulders. The medium-firm feel is a great comfort level for the vast majority of sleepers and is a comfortable mix for side sleepers who want support and some give.
What Customers love: Luxury memory foam mattress. Fits majority of sleep preferences. Over 6000 5-star reviews.
The Twilight Luxe comes from Helix's luxe line of mattresses. This mattress is specifically made for sleepers who sleep on their side but who prefer a firmer feeling mattress. It provides support while still offering pressure relief for the hips and shoulders. With zoned innerspring support and pressure relieving memory foam comfort layers, this mattress supports and places you flat on top of the mattress while still giving pressure relief benefits.
- A firm mattress built for side sleepers
- Supportive pocketed coil innerspring unit
- Pressure relieving memory foam
- Made in the USA
- Highly awarded and trusted brand
What our testers are saying:
While we generally recommend a slightly softer mattress if you are a side sleeper suffering from shoulder pain, this mattress is a great compromise if you like the feel of a firmer mattress. The Twilight was built for side sleepers who prefer a firmer mattress and is able to provide firm support while still offering some pressure relief for the natural curves of the body.
What Customers love: High quality, affordable memory foam mattress
6. The 15″ Evolution by Nolah
GREAT PRESSURE RELIEF
Nolah is widely known throughout the industry as one of the best mattresses for side sleepers. Their new Evolution Mattress is their highest end luxury option and features a 15″ profile with a pillow top. The Evolution is one of the best mattresses we have found for pressure relief in the hips and shoulders, especially when sleeping on your side. This mattress also has industry leading cooling technology and motion transfer properties.
- Luxury pillow top feel
- Industry leading pressure relief in hips and shoulders.
- Highly recognized as the best mattress for side sleepers.
What our testers are saying:
The Nolah Evolution is Nolah’s highest end and most luxurious and pressure relieving mattress. The mattress sleeps very cool and has luxury pocketed coil support while the pillow top gives a thick layer of comfort and pressure relief to the hips and shoulders.
What Customers love: Built specifically for sleepers who prefer an extra-firm mattress
7. The Hybrid Mattress by Layla
BEST PRESSURE RELIEF
The Layla hybrid mattress utilizes a pocketed coil support system combined with 2 sides of copper infused memory foam. This design provides support while also cradling the body and relieving pressure points. The Layla hybrid is 2-sided so you can choose to sleep on the firm or soft side. If you suffer from back pain, hip or shoulder pain this mattress may be a great option for you.
- Industry leading pressure relief
- 2 sided (soft and firm sides)
- Copper infused for a cooler and cleaner sleep
What our testers are saying:
The Layla hybrid mattress utilizes a pocketed coil support system combined with 2 sides of copper infused memory foam. This design provides support while also cradling the body and relieving pressure points. The Layla hybrid is 2-sided so you can choose to sleep on the firm or soft side.
- Hybrid mix of pocketed coils and copper infused memory foam for ultimate body support and recovery
- 2-sided for firm and soft sleeping options
- Sleeps cool with copper infused memory foam
- 120 night free trial with free shipping and free returns
- Made in the USA
What Customers love: Amazing pressure relief and support. 2-sided soft and firm options.
Leading Causes of Shoulder Pain When Sleeping
If you’re a side sleeper, there is a high likelihood that you’ve experienced shoulder pain at least a handful of times in your life. It’s normal to occasionally sleep in a strange position and wake up with temporary pain, but it’s less typical for this pain to be chronic.
If you’re experiencing consistent pain upon waking up, this is an issue that you should address and may be rooted in various factors.
When sleeping, one potential cause of shoulder pain is persistent issues such as bursitis, rotator cuff injuries or rotator cuff tendinosis, or osteoarthritis. Issues such as these can be exacerbated by the pressure applied to your affected shoulder overnight, causing you to wake up in pain.
If you have an acute injury in one of your shoulders or a chronic medical condition, you should sleep on the opposite side to alleviate the pain and ensure that you don’t worsen the issue.
While there are benefits to sleeping on one side of your body over another, people gravitate towards whatever sleep position comes most naturally. Therefore, there’s no need to force yourself to adopt a sleep position that doesn’t feel right to you. A good night’s sleep typically outweighs any negative secondary symptoms associated with your sleeping posture.
However, if you’re experiencing temporary pain in one of your shoulders, you should try to sleep on the opposite side, at least for the first part of the night, until the pain subsides.
Studies have shown that 67% of people sleep on the side where they are actively experiencing pain, rather than giving that side a break, so do your best to be a part of the 33% of people who sleep on the opposite side.
You may experience shoulder pain on the side you sleep on more often. You shouldn’t be continually sleeping on the same side and adding pressure and weight to the same shoulder, especially if your mattress doesn’t contour. Your mattress should be soft enough to contour but firm enough to provide proper spinal and neck alignment. Make sure to also use a pillow that alleviates pressure on the shoulder.
While all of these reasons can contribute to shoulder pain for side sleepers, the most common reason that pain is experienced is simply that they aren’t using the right mattress.
Purchasing the correct mattress should involve assessing your personal needs, and the needs of a side sleeper differ from that of a back or stomach sleeper.
In order to not have shoulder pain, the best mattress for side sleepers with shoulder pain should be soft enough to conform to pain points and alleviate stress while still providing enough support not to compress these areas.
What To Do If Your Shoulder Hurts When Sleeping on Your Side
If you’re experiencing chronic shoulder pain when sleeping on your side, you must change things about your sleep position or mattress to ensure that this stops.
You can do several things to help alleviate shoulder pain when sleeping, the easiest of which is simply rolling onto your other side when you’re experiencing pain.
While more health benefits are associated with sleeping on our left side, people often sleep on whatever side is more comfortable, or their sleep position depends on their partner. For example, 76% of people are reported to sleep on the side of their body that faces away from their partner.
If you’re experiencing temporary pain in one of your shoulders, try rolling to the other side for a night or two until the pain subsides, at which point you resume your normal sleep position.
It may also help to add extra cushioning in areas where you’re experiencing pressure. If you’re using an old mattress or one that is especially firm, it may be time to swap it out with a new one that provides more absorption in areas like the hips and shoulders.
If you’re on the hunt for your new mattress, try placing thin pillows under areas like your shoulders and hips that are experiencing pain in the meantime.
Even if you have the right mattress, you can still experience shoulder pain if you’re not using the right pillow. Side sleepers should use pillows with enough height and support that their neck correctly aligns with their spine.
While thin pillows may be beneficial for people who sleep on their back or stomach, they will not prop up the neck of a side sleeper adequately, which can contribute to shoulder and neck pain.
If you’ve recently bought a new mattress but you’re still experiencing shoulder pain, consider purchasing a thicker pillow and seeing if that helps before forsaking the mattress.
Where To Put Your Arms When Sleeping on Your Side
The placement of your arms while you sleep can also affect whether you wake up with shoulder pain after a night of sleeping on your side.
Side sleeping is a relatively broad term; people typically sleep in a particular position on their side, with their legs and arms in certain positions that affect their overall comfort and needs out of their mattress.
Common side sleeping positions include:
- The fetal position, where you draw your knees up to your chest and wrap your arm around them
- The reaching position, where you sleep on your side with your hands stacked on top of each other, reaching out in front of you
- The pillow hugger, where you snuggle up to pillows either for extra warmth or support
- The prayer position, where you place your hands on top of each other and slide them under your head or your pillow, indicating you need a more supportive pillow
However, the healthiest sleeping position is “the log position,” where you sleep straight up and down, with your arms down, parallel to your spine, and your ears in line with your shoulders.
This position is ideal for alleviating pressure on your neck, spine, shoulders, or hips and is improved by placing a thin pillow between your knees for optimal alignment.
Sleeping positions like the prayer position or other positions that keep your arms elevated above your shoulders may be responsible for shoulder pain, as they can cause pinching and unnecessary pressure.
Pros and Cons of Sleeping on Your Side
Before we recommend the best mattress for side sleepers with shoulder pain, you may be left wondering with all of this information whether sleeping on your side is a good or a bad thing.
The truth is that while there are minor positives and drawbacks to every sleeping position, the most important thing is finding a position that is comfortable for you and allows you to sleep well without causing discomfort consistently.
Even so, there are minor pros and cons to sleeping on your side, based on what happens to your body when you apply pressure and compression to your internal organs for hours at a time overnight.
Pros of Sleeping on Your Side
If you’re a side sleeper, you may be happy to know that there are some definite pros to sleeping on your side overnight!
- Sleeping on your left side reduces heartburn. If you struggle with Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also commonly called acid reflux, sleeping on the left side of your body is the most beneficial sleeping position. This is because rather than allowing gastric fluids to come back up your digestive tract while you sleep, digestive fluids stay below your esophagus, preventing heartburn.
- Sleeping on your left side is especially beneficial and important for pregnant women, as it avoids applying undue pressure on their livers.
- Sleeping on either side helps with both snoring and mild sleep apnea (the two often go hand-in-hand). Sleep apnea is caused by your airways closing up in your sleep, causing lapses in your breathing, leading to snoring. You allow these airways to stay open when you sleep on your side, aiding in mild sleep apnea and snoring.
Cons of Sleeping on Your Side
However, while there are benefits to sleeping on your side, there are also a few downsides to this sleeping position.
- Shoulder pain is the most common side effect of sleeping on your side. This can be alleviated with the proper mattress and pillow but may become more of an issue with a shoulder injury.
- In addition to shoulder pain, side sleepers often experience hip pain, which is another pressure point.
- Breast pain may be associated with side sleeping for some women, as gravity applies pressure to the breast ligaments overnight.
- Acne may form as a result of keeping your face on your pillowcase all night, so it’s especially prudent to wash your sheets regularly if you’re a side sleeper.
- Wrinkles may form as a result of sleeping on your side. If you’ve ever woken up with creases on your face from your pillowcase, these creases may lead to more permanent face wrinkles over time.
Remember that while these issues may be annoying and something to pay attention to, they are not alarming or medically indicative of needing to change your sleep position.
How To Know if Your Mattress Is Causing Your Shoulder Pain
If you consistently wake up with shoulder pain, this may be an indicator that your mattress is causing you pain and needs to be replaced.
The occasional tweaking of your shoulder or discomfort should not indicate that your mattress is all wrong, but consistent pain is definitely a red flag. You may also notice consistent discomfort in other areas of your body, like your hips, which like your neck and shoulders, are common pain points for side sleepers.
Another indicator that you may not be using the correct mattress for your sleep position is that it feels excessively firm and doesn’t conform to your body.
Side sleepers must use mattresses with enough cushioning to alleviate pressure from areas that stick out from the rest of their body, so be aware that an extra firm mattress may cause consistent shoulder pain.
Another indicator that your mattress is the cause of your shoulder pain is the desire to place pillows under pressure points and an associated sense of relief when you use pillows.
If you feel better when you place pillows under your hips, arms, and shoulders, this indicates that you need a softer mattress.
Which Mattress Firmness Is Best for Side Sleepers With Shoulder Pain?
While there is no hard and fast rule stating which mattress firmness a side sleeper should use, the general rule of thumb is that side sleepers should look for medium to medium-firm mattresses to avoid shoulder pain.
Mattresses that are medium to medium-firm are perfect for side sleepers because they provide proper spinal alignment while adequately cushioning pain points.
While not all manufacturers standardize their mattress firmness on a set scale, firmness is typically ranked on a scale of one to ten, and many mattresses will have a number associated with their firmness.
On this scale, a five or a six is typically considered medium, while a seven or eight is considered firm. Side sleepers should shoot for mattresses that fall between a five and a seven on this scale for optimum comfort.
While this level of firmness is typical for side sleepers, remember that it is subjective; listen to your body. What is comfortable for you may not be comfortable for someone else, so you should choose a mattress based on your own standards of comfort.
What Type of Mattress Is Best for Side Sleepers With Shoulder Pain?
Like mattress firmness, the best mattress for side sleepers with shoulder pain depends on personal preference. What one person finds to be the most supportive and comfortable option, another may disagree with.
It’s also important to note that many people share a bed with a partner and have to take not only their own needs into consideration but also the needs of their partner.
If this is the case, you should each research what type of mattress is best for your sleep position and find a suitable compromise.
Below, we will outline the common types of mattresses and whether or not they’re suitable for side sleepers with shoulder pain.
What Are the Most Common Mattress Types, and What’s the Difference Between Them?
There are three common types of mattresses: memory foam, latex, and hybrid. Each of these mattresses is popular amongst modern consumers and may be the right option depending on your needs and your partner’s needs.
Are Memory Foam Mattresses Good For Side Sleepers?
Memory foam mattresses are top-rated amongst side sleepers, and with good reason. Memory foam mattresses conform to your body, relieving pressure on areas like your shoulders and hips.
Memory foam mattresses are made entirely of foam and are known for being soft mattresses that you can sink into.
They are preferred amongst couples for movement isolation, as the foam allows one person to get on and off the bed and move around at the night without moving the other because the foam isolates the movement. This can be a huge perk for individuals who are light sleepers.
However, a downside of memory foam mattresses is that they can be too soft, not provide the necessary support for proper spine alignment, and give you the feeling that you’re entirely sinking into the mattress.
In addition, memory foam mattresses have low airflow, which means that hot sleepers may not do well with this mattress type as it traps body heat.
If you’re considering a memory foam mattress but you’re worried about firmness, seek out a memory foam mattress with denser foam that will provide better support.
Are Latex Mattresses Good For Side Sleepers?
Latex mattresses are the holy grail amongst side sleepers. Latex mattresses provide the support of a hybrid mattress with the cushioning of a memory foam mattress.
Made from the sap of rubber trees, latex is a naturally occurring material ideal for making mattresses.
Like memory foam, latex mattresses are free of any springs or coils, which is ideal in terms of isolating movement. Latex mattresses are a popular choice amongst couples for this reason.
In addition, latex mattresses are popular because they are eco-friendly and provide significantly better airflow than memory foam mattresses.
The latex foam is essentially a denser, more durable foam than memory foam, but this comes at a cost. Latex mattresses often come with hefty price tags, so you should only consider a latex mattress if it works for your budget.
Are Hybrid Mattresses Good For Side Sleepers?
Hybrid mattresses have interior coils that are surrounded by layers of foam, and are called hybrid mattresses because they are a blend of a traditional innerspring mattress and an all-foam mattress.
Hybrid mattresses are a popular choice amongst couples, especially those with different sleeping positions, as they provide a middle ground for people with different mattress needs.
Hybrid mattresses are a perfectly acceptable option for side sleepers with shoulder pain, so long as they’re the appropriate firmness.
One of the downsides of hybrid mattresses is that they don’t provide the same movement isolation that both memory foam and latex mattresses provide, which can affect your overall quality of sleep if you’re sharing your bed with someone else.
However, people are drawn to hybrid mattresses because they provide much of the same comfort that an all-foam latex mattress offers at a significantly lower price point.
Like latex mattresses, hybrid mattresses are both firmer and more durable than memory foam mattresses, and they provide better airflow, which is helpful for hot sleepers.
So, Which Mattress Type is Best for Side Sleepers With Shoulder Pain?
The best mattress for side sleepers with shoulder pain is a medium to medium-firm latex mattress that provides adequate support with enough cushioning for pain points.
However, a memory foam and a hybrid mattress will be perfectly suitable and may better fit your needs if you share the mattress with someone else.
The type of mattress you choose solely depends on your personal needs and will be different amongst different side sleepers.
There are many factors that go into selecting the right mattress, and it’s important to consider all of these factors when making your decision.
If you think that a latex mattress would be perfect for you, but you can’t afford it, then it’s clearly not the right choice.
Instead, you should think about what you can afford, what firmness you want your mattress to be, and what other factors, like price or sustainability, are most important to you when making your choice.
Shoulder pain can become a real issue for side sleepers if the pain is consistent. Part of getting a good night’s sleep is waking up feeling rested and pain-free.
If you’re experiencing consistent shoulder pain in the mornings, this may indicate that it’s time for a new mattress. Many factors should go into deciding what mattress is right for you, but one of the most important things to consider is how you sleep and what specific factors are important to you in getting a good night’s sleep.
If shoulder pain is a chronic problem for you, consider buying a medium-firm mattress that allows enough cushioning around your pain points while providing appropriate firmness for good neck and spinal alignment.
A latex mattress is an excellent choice for side sleepers experiencing shoulder pain because it provides foam cushioning with enough density to be supportive and durable.