Tossing and turning, trying to sleep: That’s how nearly one-third of the population spends the night, according to the National Institutes of Health. While medical conditions account for a certain percentage as do stress-related issues, oftentimes the ticket to a restful night can be finding the best mattress topper for side sleepers, in particular.
Why do side sleepers need to pay special attention to the firmness of their mattress? First of all, this is the most common sleep position according to researchers, with a little more than half of all adults in sleep studies choosing to sleep on their sides. In fact, scientists say that this preference increases with age as well as body mass index. The Sleep Doctor notes that “In general, sleep position matters more with age. Older adults face more health challenges, including challenges to sleep. Older bodies are less flexible and more prone to stiffness and pain.”
Despite the fact that this sleep position becomes more common as people grow older, it can also put more stress on those aging bones and joints. The parts of the body that have the most contact with the sleep surface – called the pressure points – are the hips and shoulders for side sleepers. If the mattress is too hard, it can cause pain in those areas and contribute to general back pain. If the mattress is too soft, you might be able to sleep but may wake up with aches and pains.
When lying on a properly supportive mattress, your spine should be aligned in a straight line, called a neutral position. This is a good position because it cuts down on snoring and occurrences of sleep apnea, says WebMD. Side sleepers generally fall into two categories: The most common is the fetal opposition, where the body is curled up on its side. The other style of side sleeping is called the log, where the body is stretched out and the arms are down along the body.
If it’s time to shop for a new mattress, University of Utah sleep expert Dr. Milton Chua recommends lying on the mattress just as you would when you go to sleep. Even better, try to purchase one from a store or vendor that gives you a 30-day trial period – and don’t feel bad if you have to return it.
Sleeping on your side can have benefits…
Side sleepers can rejoice in the fact that this sleep position can have some definite benefits over other positions. Sure, it’s easier for some people to fall asleep on their side than their back, but according to Healthline, when properly supported, side sleeping can:
- Help reduce joint pain, low back pain, and even some chronic pain associated with certain medical conditions, including carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Cut down on snoring or problems with sleep apnea that can cause long-term complications.
- Promote better brain health.
- Lower blood pressure and heart rate. Research as indicated that sleeping on your right side can help those who have cardiac concerns.
- Improve digestive function and give some relief from problems like heartburn.
- Foster better body functioning in general, for those who sleep on the left side. (Some believe that this helps your organs process any toxins more efficiently.)
…as well as drawbacks
- Despite those benefits, side sleepers need to be cognizant about the possibility of developing other issues such as:
- Neck pain. Keeping your head on the pillow. Sleeping on the side can make it easy to tuck your chin into your chest, which can cause neck pain to develop.
- Shoulder pain. Sleeping on your side can push the shoulder into the mattress and upward, creating aches and pains when you get up in the morning.
- Acid reflux. Although this condition is relieved by sleeping on the side, it’s only the left side. Sleeping on the right side can actually make reflux (heartburn) worse.
What’s the difference between a mattress topper, pad and protector?
Will a mattress pad help me sleep more comfortably or do I definitely need a thick topper? Does a mattress protector affect my sleep at all? Before you choose one, it’s important to understand what each of these items do and how they can or can’t help you.
Mattress protectors are helpful, but not necessarily for the quality of your sleep. Protectors, pads or covers are designed to preserve the longevity of the mattress in addition to protecting you from allergens like dust mites.
Mattress pads will make your mattress a little more comfortable, but won’t change the support your body gets while sleeping. Pads protect the mattress just like covers do, but they also add a little softness to your sleep surface – just not as much as a mattress topper. You can also buy heated mattress pads to warm up the bed in cold winter, or cooling pads for the hotter months. Nonetheless, it’s all about comfort and not support.
Mattress toppers are about more than just comfort. Yes, these add softness to your sleeping surface, but they can significantly improve the support and cushioning your body gets overnight. Different thicknesses are available and a good deal of which one you choose will have to do with how comfortable you and your partner find them, in addition to how much you weigh.
Before You Shop for a Mattress Topper…
The range of mattress toppers available can be a bit bewildering, making it difficult to know where to start. As noted above, personal preference will play a big role in your choice. For example, one partner may find a very thick gel memory foam topper super comfortable while the other finds it almost claustrophobic. Regardless, here are some things to think about before shopping for a mattress topper for a side sleeper.
Level of support you want/need.
If getting enough support and cushioning for your back and joints is a prime concern, latex or memory foam toppers are likely your best choices. Memory foam in particular conforms to the shape of your body, providing the best cushioning wherever its needed.
Just as some people prefer a very firm mattress while other like one that’s pillow-soft, the same preferences hold true for mattress toppers. Natural materials like cotton and wool add some cushioning but won’t significantly change the feel of the mattress underneath. At the same time, toppers that conform to your body like memory foam will feel much softer and provide more cushioning.
Mattress toppers come in a range of thicknesses from an inch to four inches. In very general terms, the more you weight or the more cushioning you need, the thicker the topper needs to be. The thicker toppers are also most often made from memory foam of a combination of gel and memory foam. Thicker toppers and those made from these materials will also reduce the noise and disruption of movements by your sleeping partner. It’s also important to remember that the thicker the topper, the more it will feel like you are sinking into it.
Some people tend to “sleep hot” which means that they feel hotter overnight. Toppers made of both latex and memory foam are known to retain heat because they are so dense and thick, however, the versions that contain gel are designed to pull moisture away from the body and cool the sleeper. While these will not create coldness, they do help mitigate the problem with heat retention for most people.
If you suffer from any kids of allergies, you’ll want to be sure that the topper you buy is hypoallergenic or can at least be covered with a protector that is.
Keeping the topper clean
Whether or not you can clean or wash your topper will depend on what materials it is made from. Wool, feathers or cotton can typically be cleaned or laundered while foam and latex cannot. In those cases, you’ll definitely need a protector in addition to the topper to keep it clean and dry. You should also be aware that memory gel foam, toppers are heavy to move around, which is a consideration if your mobility is compromised in any way.
More expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better if it doesn’t solve your sleeping problem or if isn’t comfortable for you. In addition to what you want from a topper, know your budget before you go shopping. So many types are available that you can find something that will help that’s within your personal price range.
There’s no need to fret if a new mattress is not in the budget. The right mattress topper can make a world of difference when it comes to improving sleep. A wide range of options is available, from different topper thicknesses and types of materials to memory foam mattress toppers. So which kind to choose? Here is a list of the best mattress toppers for side sleepers.
Stop Losing and Turning with These 7 Best Mattress Toppers for Side Sleepers
Side sleepers will love the ISOLUS Ventilated Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper from Malouf for its comfort and support. The open-cell memory foam in this 2.5-inch topper is gel-infused, which means it sleeps cooler than plain memory foam toppers, which notoriously retain heat. In fact, some reviewers raved about the comfort of this particular topper. This one is also ventilated to help airflow and heat distribution.
An added bonus to this ISOLUS topper is that it comes with a soft bamboo rayon cover that is breathable, hypoallergenic and mildew proof. While the topper itself can only be spot cleaned, the protective cover is easily removed and washable. The products are also CertiPUR Certified safe and environmentally responsible. Malouf also covers the topper with a three-year warranty against manufacturer’s defects.
- Happy reviewers found the 2.5-inch thickness to be just right for comfort and support.
- The breathable bamboo rayon cover is a big bonus.
- Some buyers found that they still slept too hot with this gel-infused topper.
- A number of buyers reported that the sizing was off and the topper was too short and narrow for the mattress size indicated.
2. eLuxurySupply Rayon from Bamboo Extra Thick Mattress Pad with Fitted Skirt – Extra Plush Cooling Topper
Of course, not everyone is a fan of thick memory-foam toppers. Those who don’t like the feeling of sinking into the foam can get relief with the eLuxurySupply Rayon from Bamboo Extra Thick Mattress Pad. The extra thick pad is filled with innovative Revoloft fiber that has the same feel as authentic down from geese or ducks but without the allergy-inducing feathers. The company says that this topper is good for any type of mattress, including memory foam, latex or traditional spring-based models. With more than 80 percent of reviews at four or five stars, happy side sleepers say that this pad delivered just the right amount of comfort and space between the body a firm mattress.
The cover of this mattress pad boasts a 160-thread count that is sewn with a double-needle baffle box stitch to keep the fiberfill in place and secure. The company advertises that it has sold more than 1 million mattress pads and values its satisfied customers, so it offers a money-back guarantee if you are not 100% satisfied.
This extra thick pad is the same as our famous rayon from bamboo mattress pad but with extra fillingView Deal
- Happy reviewers say using this mattress pad has been a transformative sleep experience.
- Those who tend to sleep hot found relief with this breathable mattress pad.
- The money-back-guarantee is a big plus.
- Some buyers had issues with durability after washing.
- A few side sleepers did not get pressure point relief with this mattress.
The Best Price Mattress 4″ Memory Foam Mattress Topper is actually a hybrid model that includes both memory foam and regular high-density foam, making it one of the best mattress toppers for side sleepers. The top layer of the product consists of 1.5-inches of memory foam and the remaining 2.5-inches are a high-density foam that makes up the base.
That said, this is an Amazon Choice for “best mattress topper queen” and it offers the general same benefits as most memory foam toppers, such as reduced disturbance from sleep partners when they move around. The description also notes that the top layer of memory foam is infused with Green Tea Extract, to help reduce stress and promote restful sleep. Best Price Mattress says that the topper is CertiPUR-US certified and includes a 5-year manufacturer warranty. It also comes with a zippered, polyester mesh cover that is hand-washable.
The memory foam portion is not infused with gel, so this may not be the best option for those who tend to sleep hot.View Deal
- Happy side sleepers noted that this topper relieved most of the aches and pains they were experiencing from sleep.
- Buyers say the topper offers great value and quality and the majority are very pleased.
- Some reviewers found this more supportive thanks to the high-density foam base.
- Because this is made with regular memory foam, some reviewers found that it was too hot at night.
- A percentage of buyers noted that the cover is of poor quality and does not protect the topper.
As Amazon’s choice for “memory foam mattress topper king size” LUCID’s 3-Inch Ventilated Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper is ideal for side sleepers. It’s deep enough to offer great comfort and ease the pressure on those aching hips and shoulders without being too thick. For those who also sleep hot, the gel-infused memory foam is more comfortable because it offers the cooling properties that a plain memory foam topper does not.
Made from 100% memory foam, the topper conforms to the shape of your body to align the spine and ensure a better night’s sleep. The foam is infused with a gel material that captures and redistributes heat. The foam is high density but that does not mean that it is super firm. Even better, this topper is ventilated for greater airflow and temperature regulation to help keep you more comfortable. This added breathability means you can rest more comfortably.
As with most all memory foam mattress toppers, this one also has an initial new foam scent. This odor will, however, dissipate over the first 24 to 48 hours after you open it. The website notes that the topper comes with a three-year warranty.
Special memory foam formula is extremely soft, airy and responsiveView Deal
- Reviewers who rated this topper highly on Amazon loved walking up pain-free after a night on this toper.
- Many sleepers said this toper added great comfort to too-firm mattresses and made older ones more supportive.
- Some reviewers noted that this is not good for stomach sleepers and is too soft.
- A number of one-star reviews noted poor durability with the foam soon breaking apart.
It may be Amazon’s Choice for “best mattress topper for back pain” but the ViscoSoft 3-Inch Memory Foam Mattress Topper is also one of the best mattress toppers for side sleepers. The high-density memory foam is gel-infused for comfort and aligns the spine to relieve pressure points and help prevent body aches. Added ventilation enhances the heat distribution of the gel foam which also promotes deeper sleep. The ViscoSoft topper was Designed with a “medium firmness” and can be used to make a too-hard mattress more comfortable or revive an older one that is not supportive enough.
This topper also comes with a machine washable cover that is made from bamboo-rayon and has a slip-resistant mesh. It also features adjustable elastic straps to keep the topper in place. The best bonus is a money-back guarantee the provides for a full refund within the first 60 days after you purchase it, as well as a three-year warranty for manufacturing defects.
- With 80% four- and five-star reviews, this topper gets high praise from side sleepers for pain relief.
- Happy buyers love the value for the money because this topper is so comfortable.
- Some reviewers had issues with durability.
- A number of reviewers who did not like the topper had problems with it being too soft.
Slide sleepers love this SleepJoy 2-inch ViscO2 Memory Foam Mattress Topper with Breathable Design for its relief of shoulder and hip pain without being too plush. The topper is made from open-cell memory foam that improves breathability, however, it is not gel-infused. The company says that its ViscO2 memory foam is odor-neutral and does not require the “airing out” that most other toppers require for the chemical smell to dissipate. The mattress topper is manufactured in the USA and meets all quality standards, with the foam certified by CertiPUR-US. It’s also “enhanced with plant-based materials derived from castor beans, which have a lower carbon footprint than traditional memory foam or soy-based foams.”
This is one of the best mattress toppers for side sleepers who do not like the feeling of being deeply enveloped in a thicker foam topper but still want to relieve pressure points and sleep better.
Imagine feeling like you’re sleeping on a plush pillow top mattress, without the new mattress price.View Deal
- 80 percent of the nearly 3,000 reviews of this topper gave it four and five stars for comfort and better sleep.
- Many users say this made an older mattress far more comfortable at a great price.
- The majority of users noted no chemical fumes.
- Reviewers who were not happy noted some issues with durability.
- Even with the thinner two-inch thickness, a proportion of buyers said this topper sleeps hot.
Another topper loved by side sleepers is this Linenspa 3 Inch Gel Swirl Memory Foam Topper. The plush, open-cell memory foam is infused with gel to help regulate temperature so this topper sleeps cooler than one made with regular memory foam. This topper can be added to new or older mattresses for more relief of pressure points, resulting in a better night’s sleep.
The foam is is CertiPUR US certified for quality and meets all safety standards. Like most gel-infused toppers, this one will have an initial odor which can take up to 48 hours to dissipate. This product is backed by a three-year warranty against manufacturer defects.
- Amazon reviewers who are side sleepers love how this topper makes any mattress more comfortable.
- Many happy buyers also noted that they did indeed sleep more comfortably because of the cooling effects.
- A proportion of buyers still had issues with being too hot while sleeping.
- Some reviewers said the topper was too stiff, while others called it too soft.
If side-sleeping is your position of choice, you don’t have to suffer through endless nights of poor sleep and morning aches and pains. Plenty of options exist that can help you improve your quality of life both night and day. Any of these best mattress toppers for side sleepers can be a life-changing addition to your bedroom, so give one a try!
Mattress Topper Materials
Mattress toppers are available in different thicknesses and styles, but also in different materials. Knowing the pros and cons of different types of mattress toppers for side sleepers is crucial to making a choice that will help you get a good night’s sleep. In general, unless you definitely want or need a topper made from a natural material, a foam topper is best for side sleepers, particularly those made from memory foam.
Mattress toppers made from latex can be expensive but can provide an excellent amount of support, similar to what you will get from memory foam. It does a great job keeping your body properly aligned and cushioned. It feels a bit firmer than memory foam does, but it typically does not sleep as hot. Latex mattress toppers are also very durable.
Latex can be derived from the natural ingredients or created synthetically, and sometimes, a topper is made using a mixture of the two. Of course, one of the major considerations with latex as a material is that any people are allergic to it, and sometimes that allergy can be life-threatening. Also, because it is so thick, it is heavy and can be difficult to move.
Advances in mattress topper designs that use memory foam, both with and without cooling gels have made this the most popular material for mattress toppers. In many ways, these are the ultimate mattress toppers because they conform to your body, providing support and cushioning where it’s most needed. It is also available in different densities and thicknesses to create the best sleeping surface for you.
Originally invented in the 1970s for NASA, memory foam was developed as a better cushion for seats and as crash protection for airline pilots and passengers. Memory foam is a kind of polyurethane where the foam bubbles or “cells” are open. Air moves through these cells, and when pressure on the foam is released, it slowly returns to its original shape. In addition, body heat softens the high-density foam, allowing it to mold to a warm body, which is a key feature for a mattress topper.
A few negatives about memory foam
The infamous smell. – Most buyers of a memory foam mattress topper will note that it gives off a noticeable chemical smell when first released from the packaging. This is normal and most times it is recommended to leave it out to let the smell dissipate before adding it to the bed.
Heat retention – The cellular structure of memory foam is known for retaining heat, so if you “sleep hot” it important to find one that incorporates a cooling gel, which helps draw heat away from the body.
Weight – All that foam and gel add up to some significant weight. This may make the topper study and unlikely to shift around on top of your bed, but it also means it can be difficult to move.
Natural of wool is an expensive choice but for those who want only natural fibers, it can be a great choice. Besides being soft and comfortable, wool is also quite durable. It’s also a great material for heat regulation because it keep you warm in the colder months and cool when the weather turns hot. Wool is a good choice for those who have allergies too, because it doesn’t typically attract bed bugs and dust mites. Despite all these benefits, if more cushioning is your goal, wool will not provide enough.
Down or feathers
Bedding made down — goose or duck — is the ultimate experience in softness. The luxurious feeling is generally associated with comforters, but mattress toppers are also popular. Down and feathers are excellent for temperature regulation, durable and comfortable. If you’re looking for a firm sleeping surface, however, down is not the right choice. Those who have allergies will also want to consider something else, because they can react to the feathers.
Cotton and polyester
More often used to manufacture mattress pads, toppers are also available made from cotton or polyester. Because of their nature, these materials can usually be washed or cleaned and the polyester types can be super affordable. That said, along with the lower price points, these materials are not as supportive or durable as the thicker toppers made from latex or memory foam.
Egg crate toppers
Egg crate toppers are the foam toppers that have bumps that look like the inside of an egg crate. Although these are available in memory foam as well, they are most common in a basic foam that makes them affordable and easy to move around. They roll up easily and are quite portable. Of course, they are not as durable or supportive as more expensive types.
The importance of mattress topper density
The density of the mattress topper you choose is important when it comes to the degree of softness and support that you want. Typically measured in pounds per cubic foot, the most common is a density somewhere between two and six pounds per cubic foot.
- 3 pounds or less per cubic foot – These mattress toppers will be are lighter weight, feel much softer, and provide less support than those with higher densities.
- 4 to 5 pounds per cubic foot – This is a good middle-of-the-road choice that offers up softness along with decent support.
- 6+ pounds per cubic feet – People who need a good deal of support or have specific conditions will want to choose a higher density. These toppers conform to your body shape and weight more slowly than the others and can provide good support for longer periods.
Choosing a Thickness
Memory foam toppers come in a range of thicknesses from 1 inch to four inches. A thick topper won’t overcome the drawbacks of low density so you’ll need to find a balance of the two in order to achieve what you want.
- Toppers that are 1 to 2 inches thick are a good choice if you have a supportive mattress but want a little extra, along with comfort.
- Choose a 3-inch topper if you’re a side sleeper because it has good softness with an average amount of support. This thickness is also ideal if you’re not exactly sure which one to get.
- A 4-inch topper is ideal for people who weigh more as well as those who need extra support certain body parts. Side sleepers often like this thickness as well.
Caring for Your Mattress Topper
If your topper is made from cotton, polyester or wool, it can likely be cleaned of laundering. If you choose a latex or memory foam mattress topper, it cannot. Foam toppers are not waterproof so you’ll want to purchase a cover to protect it and extend its life. It is possible to spot clean a foam topper as long as you dry it with a clean cloth.
Do Toppers Come with a Warranty?
Like most products, mattress toppers come warrantees ranging from three years to 10-years. In some ways,. This reflects the expected durability and quality of the topper. If you’re uncertain about your choice of topper, be sure to check return policies as well as warrantees before you buy, just in case it doesn’t work for you — or your partner.
In the end, the best mattress topper for a side sleeper is the one that is most comfortable and supportive, providing a great night’s sleep. Of course, this means different things to different people because there are so many elements to consider. Do your research and choose a topper of your own. You’ll never know how well you can sleep until you try one out!