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Best Mattress for Side Sleepers with Back Pain

Written by Katie Kottemann

Reviewed by Dr. Michael Breus

Expert tested
Updated Regularly

Side sleeping is popular, but without the right mattress, it can lead to or worsen back pain. Side sleepers need extra support and cushioning at their shoulders and hips since these are the body areas that sink most deeply into a mattress. A mattress that provides a good balance of support and pressure relief in those areas can help keep the spine aligned, which may prevent discomfort for those with back pain.

If you’re a side sleeper with back pain, there are a variety of factors to keep in mind when choosing a mattress. A bed’s firmness and materials can determine how much support it provides, and finding a mattress that matches your sleep needs and body size is also important. 

We’ll discuss our top picks for the best mattress for side sleepers with back pain, as well as  what features you should look for in this kind of mattress. We’ll also cover strategies to help prevent or reduce back pain.

Sleep Doctor’s Picks

Best Overall

Helix Midnight


  • Trial Length 100 nights (30-night requirement)

  • Warranty 10 Year, Limited

  • Trial Length / Warranty

    100 nights (30-night requirement) / 10 Year, Limited

  • Type Hybrid

  • Firmness Medium Firm (6)

  • Price $936 – $1,749

Sleep Doctor’s Take 

The Helix Midnight is crafted specifically for side sleepers. It has a medium firm (6) feel and includes four foam layers plus a pocketed coil support core. Our testing showed that it provides excellent pressure relief, particularly for sleepers weighing between 130 and 230 pounds.


  • Great pressure relief for sleepers under 230 pounds
  • Designed specifically for side sleepers
  • Reinforced sides for solid edge support


  • May be too soft for sleepers over 230 pounds
  • May not isolate motion enough for co-sleepers

The Helix Midnight is designed with side sleepers in mind. Its hybrid construction strikes a balance between support and pressure relief. Layers of foam offer deep contouring, while the coil support core provides even support.

How Does It Feel?

The mattress has a medium firm (6) feel. Our testers found that it performed best for side sleepers between 130 and 230 pounds. Side sleepers under 130 pounds still found some support and comfort, but those over 230 pounds felt they needed something firmer.

Our testers reported that the combination of several types of foam, along with the pocketed coil support core, provided very good pressure relief and prevented significant noise when they moved on the mattress. The bed also rated well in other performance categories, including temperature control, edge support, and ease of movement.

Why We Like It 

What stands out most about the Helix Midnight is its pressure relief, making it a great choice for side sleepers with back pain. The foam comfort system allows the hips and shoulders to sink into the mattress while still feeling supported. The sturdy but responsive coil core also helps promote good spinal alignment, which can help reduce back pain. Also, the fact that it’s constructed with side sleepers’ needs in mind makes it an excellent choice.

Best Value

Nectar Mattress


  • Trial Length 365 nights

  • Warranty Lifetime, Limited

  • Trial Length / Warranty

    365 nights / Lifetime, Limited

  • Type Foam

  • Firmness Medium Firm (6)

  • Price $359 – $1,138

Sleep Doctor’s Take 

The Nectar Mattress is a good fit for side sleepers with back pain, thanks to its above-average pressure relief. Its top layer of memory foam closely conforms to a sleeper’s body, cushioning shoulders and hips, and it features quality materials at an affordable price.


  • All-foam model with a medium firm (6) feel
  • Memory foam layer enhances pressure relief
  • Below-average price-point


  • All-foam construction may inhibit movement
  • Foam will likely trap heat more than other kinds of mattresses

The Nectar Mattress is an excellent value that provides support and comfort for a wide variety of side sleepers. The mattress has a lower-than-average price tag for an all-foam bed, and Nectar also provides a 365-night sleep trial. The mattress offers enhanced pressure relief and motion isolation, making it a good choice for side sleepers with back pain, particularly those with bed partners.

How Does It Feel?

With a medium firm (6) feel, the Nectar Mattress is firmer than many all-foam mattress models, meaning it provides good contouring without excessive sink. It’s made with three layers of foam, including a top layer of gel-infused memory foam. This layer is designed to closely contour to a sleeper’s body while also staying cool.

Our testers found that the foam layers absorb vibrations well for an undisturbed sleep. It performed well for our side sleepers of all weights, particularly those between 130 and 230 pounds. Back sleepers and stomach sleepers under 230 pounds also found it comfortable and supportive.

Why We Like It 

The Nectar Mattress works well for side sleepers with back pain because its foam layers conform to the body while keeping the spine in alignment. It also includes features intended to counteract foam’s tendency to trap body heat. While our tests showed that the mattress works best for side sleepers under 230 pounds, its medium firm (6) feel may also appeal to side sleepers over 230 pounds.

Best Pressure Relief

Saatva Classic


  • Trial Length 365 Nights ($99 Return Fee)

  • Warranty Lifetime, Limited

  • Trial Length / Warranty

    365 Nights ($99 Return Fee) / Lifetime, Limited

  • Type Innerspring

  • Firmness Soft (3), Medium Firm (6), Firm (8)

  • Price $995 – $2,710

Sleep Doctor’s Take 

The Saatva Classic combines high-quality materials with multiple customization options for both height and firmness. Additionally, the plush Euro-top and memory foam lumbar pad help relieve pressure, while the pocketed coils provide zoned back support.


  • Allows you to choose your preferred firmness and height
  • Includes features designed to support the lumbar region
  • Provides enhanced pressure relief and ease of movement


  • Responsive bed does not isolate motion well
  • Does not offer the close contour of an all-foam bed

The Saatva Classic is a customizable mattress that allows you to choose between several two heights and three firmnesses. Its innerspring design combines a plush Euro-top, high-density memory foam, and an enhanced perimeter to provide a luxurious feel and good pressure relief.

How Does It Feel?

The feel of the Saatva Classic depends on which firmness option you choose. Our testers found that the soft (3) option performed best for side sleepers under 130 pounds. The medium firm (6) option worked best for side and back sleepers between 130 and 230 pounds. Those over 230 pounds found the most support with the firm (8) option. These results were the same for both the 11.5-inch and 14.5-inch profiles.

Why We Like It 

We like the Saatva Classic because it lets sleepers determine which firmness and height options best suit their sleep needs. Additionally, each model offers above-average pressure relief and ease of movement, which are both important features for side sleepers with back pain.

Because the Saatva Classic is constructed using high-end materials, it also stands out as a durable model that is likely to outlast the typical innerspring mattress.

Why You Should Trust Us

Our sleep experts have accumulated years of industry knowledge and expertise that can help you select the right mattress. Our team conducts hands-on testing of every mattress we review, focusing on features like firmness, pressure relief, and support, which are especially important for side sleepers with back pain. 

Our team includes testers with diverse body weights and sleep preferences. This helps us evaluate the performance of each mattress model for a variety of sleeper types.

Side Sleepers With Back Pain: What You Need to Know

For a good night’s sleep, side sleepers with back pain need a mattress that relieves pressure points and supports proper spinal alignment. We’ll cover all the details to help you find the right mattress for your sleep needs.

Why Do Side Sleepers Get Back Pain?

Side sleepers sometimes experience back pain because they require a mattress that supports their shoulders, hips, and lower back while also helping them to maintain a neutral spine position. If a mattress is too soft or too firm, it can increase the likelihood of back pain. 

What Do Side Sleepers Need to Prevent Back Pain?

Side sleepers need a mattress with a firmness level that matches their body weight. Their mattress should also provide proper support and cushioning to eliminate pressure points.

Which Mattresses Should Side Sleepers With Back Pain Use?

Side sleepers with back pain are best suited to hybrid, foam, or latex mattresses. Mattresses with these materials and construction can provide the support and pressure relief needed to avoid or reduce back pain.

Side Sleeping and Back Pain: How Your Mattress Plays a Role

While you sleep, your mattress cradles and supports your body. Side sleepers need extra support at the shoulders and hips because these areas sink the farthest into the mattress when sleeping on your side.

Without proper support, your spine may become misaligned. This can lead to or worsen back pain and cause pain in the joints and other areas.

What Can Exacerbate Back Pain for Side Sleepers?

A mattress that doesn’t support proper spinal alignment can make back pain worse for side sleepers. These sleepers also require a bed that provides a good balance of cushioning and support for the shoulders, hips, and lower back

  • Misalignment of the spine: If you sleep on your side, you may be susceptible to spinal misalignment, which can cause or worsen back pain. By choosing a bed with the right level of support and contour to lift and cushion your shoulders and hips, you can ensure that your spine stays aligned as you sleep. 
  • Pressure points on the shoulders and hips: Side sleepers’ hips and shoulders sink the farthest into their mattress, which can lead to pressure build-up. This is especially true if the mattress is too firm, but it’s important to note that one that’s too soft can lead to sagging in these areas.
  • Lack of support for the lower back: Lack of support for your shoulders and hips, especially if a mattress is too soft, puts pressure on your lower back. Some mattresses offer targeted lumbar support or zoned layers to enhance lower back support for this reason. 

Preventing Back Pain While Side Sleeping

Maintaining proper spinal alignment is one of the most important ways to prevent back pain while sleeping on your side. If your spine is misaligned, it can cause or worsen back pain. Choosing a mattress that supports and cushions your body and is firm enough for your body size can help prevent this problem. 

Key Mattress Features for Keeping Your Spine Aligned

TIf you experience back pain, it’s important to keep in mind several specific mattress features. For example, your body weight helps determine your ideal firmness. And the right mattress will offer a balance of support and pressure relief. 

Mattress FeatureDescription
FirmnessMattress firmness ranges from soft to firm. Your body weight and sleep position can help determine which mattress firmness suits your needs. Sleepers over 230 pounds usually need a firmer bed, while those under 130 pounds often require a softer one.
SupportA supportive mattress provides good support while also cushioning potential pressure points and helping to keep your spine aligned. Some beds include zoned support that targets areas like your shoulders, back, or lumbar region.
Pressure ReliefA mattress that supports the shoulders and hips can help keep a side sleeper’s spine aligned. In addition to being supportive, a mattress that provides some level of contouring may reduce pressure points and prevent a side sleeper from waking up with aches and pains.

Choosing the Right Firmness Level

We rate mattresses using a 10-point firmness scale, where 1 is the softest and 10 is the firmest. The optimal range for side sleepers falls between soft (3) and firm (7), with most sleepers preferring a medium soft (4) to medium firm (6) feel.

In addition to sleep position, body weight plays a big role when it comes to finding your ideal firmness. Side sleepers under 130 pounds typically need a softer mattress, while those over 230 tend to need the support of a medium firm (6) or firm (7) bed. Those between 130 and 230 pounds should try for a balance between soft and firm.

Body WeightIdeal Firmness for Side Sleepers
Under 130 lbs.Soft (3), Medium Soft (4)
130-230 lbs.Medium (5)
Over 230 lbs.Medium Firm (6), Firm (7)

Balancing Support vs. Pressure Relief

Finding the right balance of support and pressure relief can help reduce back pain. Side sleepers need a mattress that supports the shoulders and hips while still providing enough soft cushioning for pressure point relief.

Other factors, such as your body weight and the construction of the mattress, can also affect how you respond to different firmness levels.

Other Mattress Qualities to Keep You Comfortable
In addition to support and pressure relief, there are a few other mattress qualities side sleepers should consider for a restful sleep. 

Responsiveness and ease of movement: Back pain may make it more difficult to change positions or get in and out of bed. Mattresses made with responsive materials can be extremely helpful for those with mobility issues. 

Temperature regulation: Maintaining a cool sleep surface is important for those who sleep hot. A breathable mattress with cooling features can help you sleep more comfortably if you’re prone to overheating during the night.

Edge support: Foam beds tend to compress at the edges, which can make it more challenging to use the bed’s entire surface. This may also make it more difficult to get in and out of bed, as well as limiting the available sleep space, especially for couples.

Quality materials: Choosing a high-quality mattress can ensure its durability and longevity. Lower-quality materials tend to break down more quickly, and a sagging mattress could worsen back pain.

Best Mattress Types to Ease Back Pain for Side Sleepers

Side sleepers need a mattress that balances support and pressure relief. A bed with these qualities can also help ease or prevent back pain. Different kinds of mattresses can offer help in these areas.

Mattress TypeWhy It’s Good for Side Sleepers with Back Pain
HybridThe foam or latex comfort system found in hybrids relieves pressure points, while the coil core adds support, responsiveness, and ease of movement.
FoamFoam that contours closely to the sleeper’s body can relieve pressure, especially around a side sleeper’s hips and shoulders.
LatexLatex contours the body without giving you the feeling of being hugged by the bed. Latex can also offer good support, and it tends to be bouncier than foam.

Hybrid Mattresses

Hybrid mattresses generally include a foam or latex comfort system and a support core of pocketed coils. These beds provide both cushioning that can cradle pressure points and a supportive core that helps align the spine. 

Foam Mattresses

Foam mattresses are constructed with several layers of foam. They typically provide a high level of body contouring that helps relieve pressure points. These beds are well-suited for side sleepers who like the feeling of sleeping in the bed instead of on top of the bed’s surface. 

Latex Mattresses

A latex bed is made with layers of synthetic or natural latex. It’s springier and more breathable than foam but offers less body contour. Instead, latex cushions the sleeper’s body while making it easier to move around on the bed.

Additional Tips to Keep Your Spine Aligned
In addition to finding the right mattress, there are many other ways to ensure proper spinal alignment for side sleepers. 

Use a medium- to high-loft pillow: When sleeping on your side, having a pillow with the right height and firmness is important to keep your neck aligned. Look for a  medium- to high-loft pillow to cushion the space between your neck and the bed, and stick to a medium or firm pillow to keep your head elevated and your neck aligned.
Try body and knee pillows for additional support: Using a body pillow, especially between the knees, can also help you avoid back pain. Hugging a pillow props up your shoulders, and knee pillows help keep your hips aligned.

Look for mattresses with zoned support: Some beds include zoned foam or coils designed to target specific body areas. This zoned support usually focuses on pressure-prone areas like the lower back, shoulders, or hips.

About The Author

Katie Kottemann

Staff Writer, Sleep Products

Katie is a writer, editor, and researcher based in Englewood, Colorado. With a doctorate in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, she has written and edited for Peterson’s and Innerbody Research as well as been a writing professor. Katie is passionate about helping consumers make more informed choices.

  • Position: Side sleeper
  • Temperature: Hot Sleeper
  • Chronotype: Dolphin

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