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7 Best Soft Mattresses for Side Sleepers to Buy [2020]

If you’re a side sleeper then a softer mattress is usually better than a firmer mattress because it will take away the pressure on your hips and shoulders due to the reduced surface tension and better compression qualities.

But in order to find a mattress that’s comfortable for you, there are many more factors to consider such as your body type, your body weight, if you sleep as a couple, or tend to sleep hot.

And things get even more complex if you’re a side sleeper with circulation issues, nerve problems, allergies, back pain, shoulder, pain, and hip pain.

That’s why I’ve put together this list of the best soft mattresses for side sleepers that you can buy online in 2020 to help reduce confusion and make the process easier.

I’ve also included a detailed buying guide in the second half of this article that goes into great detail in regards to the exact considerations when buying a soft mattress for side sleeping.

Let’s jump straight into the list.

The 7 Best Soft Mattresses for Side Sleepers

I’ve literally spend days and days performing in-depth research to come up with this highly selective list.

The best soft mattress that I could find for side sleepers overall based on my findings is the Natural Bliss from PlushBeds.

Because not only does this mattress provide the exceptional pressure relief that side sleepers need in conjunction with adaptive spinal support, it has the widest appeal that makes it suitable for skinnier body types, couples, children, the elderly, allergy sufferers, and more.

I think that the Natural Bliss will be suitable for most people, but if you have even more specific side sleeping needs such as sleeping very close to the edge of the bed, are a pro athlete, or need to manage pain in specific regions then check out the other mattresses on this list too.

1: Natural Bliss (10″ Profile, Soft) – Best Overall

The Natural Bliss Mattress from PlushBeds.
The Natural Bliss Mattress (PlushBeds.com)

The 100% natural latex, Natural Bliss mattress with its 10 inch profile and the ‘soft’ firmness option from PlushBeds is my top choice for side sleepers who want a soft mattress because it has excellent adaptive pressure relief to keep your hips and shoulders comfortable and your spine correctly supported.

And the qualities of this mattress with the options to alter the thickness and firmness combine to make it suitable for just about every sleeping style – especially when you factor in the compatible orthopedic and adjustable bases that are available from PlushBeds too.

See below for more information, or click the button below to check the price of the Natural Bliss and place your order directly with PlushBeds now.

Recommended For:

  • Side sleepers (10″ thickness, soft firmness) – if you’re a side sleeper under 230 lbs then make sure that you go for the 10 inch profile and select the ‘soft’ firmness level. Because this will give you 4 inches of 100% natural Talalay latex in the upper comfort layer to provide maximum pressure relief on your hips and shoulders.
  • Skinny body types – the Talalay latex can help to dissipate the pressure on your more prominent bones and joints.
  • Couples – the absence of springs and excellent motion isolation makes this a good mattress for couples that want to avoid waking each other up as they move around.
  • Athletes – the firmer Dunlop latex core combines with the softer Talalay latex comfort layers to provide a balance between excellent spinal support and pressure relief that can help with recovery.
  • Sleepers with circulation and neurological issues – the softer Talalay latex can help to alleviate pressure points on your body that might otherwise impede blood flow. Also, the cover is knitted in a circular fashion to guard against wrinkling and distortion that might otherwise disrupt blood flow or place constrictions on your neurological system.
  • Children and the elderly – the organic cotton, 100% natural latex, and GREENGUARD Gold, GOTS, and STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® certifications means that this mattress is suitable for more sensitive individuals like children and the elderly due to the absence of many harmful chemicals found in other types of mattresses.
  • Warmer sleepers – the pinhole cores that permeate the latex layers allow for superior airflow to help regulate your temperature.
  • Allergy sufferers – if you have sensitive skin or respiratory conditions like asthma or hay fever then the organic materials are less likely to produce a reaction when compared to other mattresses that are packed with chemicals and are thus more likely to emit harmful VOCs.
  • Sleepers with mobility issues – if you have trouble getting in and out of bed but you also need a softer mattress then the Natural Bliss could be ideal because the natural latex is very responsive to make switching positions more fluid, whilst the addition of the compatible PlushBeds Adjustable Base at checkout can help you to sit up without straining yourself.
  • Sleepers with orthopedic pain – if you have back, hip, shoulder, or other forms of musculoskeletal discomfort then choosing the Natural Bliss in the right firmness and thickness setting for your sleeping style could help to ease your pain because the softer latex can help to soothe muscular soreness whilst the denser support core can promote correct spinal alignment to combat back pain.
  • Eco conscious sleepers – the Natural Bliss is made with organic and natural materials. For example, the Eco Fire Barrier™ means that you don’t have to worry about fiberglass contaminating your home like with many other types of mattresses.
The Exact Layers of the Natural Bliss 10 Inch Mattress.
The Exact Layers of the Natural Bliss 10 Inch Mattress (PlushBeds.com)

Sleeping Style Adjustments

  • Stomach sleepers – if you sleep mainly on your front, you’ll probably need to choose the medium, medium-firm, or extra-firm options to provide the right amount of hip and spinal support.
  • Back sleepers – if you sleep mainly on your back, you’ll likely need to choose the medium, medium-firm, or extra-firm options to provide the right amount of hip and spinal support.
  • Heavier sleepers over 230 lbs – you will probably need to choose the medium-firm or extra firm options and go for the 10″ profile (suitable for 275 lbs or more) to provide the right amount of surface tension and support. It might also be wise to go for the optional Orthopedic Foundation because the heavy duty design can support up to 600 lbs of weight.
The Available Firmness Options for the Natural Bliss Latex Mattress.

Benefits

  • Superb durability – 100% natural latex mattresses like the Natural Bliss could last up to 8-12 years or more with the correct care; which is more than other mattress types because latex is highly durable.
  • Natural and chemical free with natural latex – it’s quite rare to find a mattress like the Natural Bliss that contains natural latex without synthetic latex blended in. This means that your mattress is likely to last longer and is going to be better for your health because it lacks harmful chemicals.
  • Adjustable firmness – because the layers of the Natural Bliss are NOT glued together, you can unzip the cover and reconfigure the latex layers to adjust the firmness if you like.
  • Orthopedic and adjustable bases available – these compatible frames can be added to improve support and mobility.
  • 100-night comfort exchange program – if your Natural Bliss mattress is too soft or firm then you can ask PlushBeds to send you a new layer of latex with a different firmness setting to fix the problem.
  • 100-night sleep trial – you can return your Natural Bliss mattress inside 30-100 nights for a full refund WITHOUT having to pay for shipping costs either.
  • 25-year warranty – 100% coverage (non-prorated) in the first 10 years and then pro-rated in years 11-25.
  • 0% APR financing available – click the button below to find out more.

2: Puffy Original – Best For Skinny Sleepers

The Puffy Mattress
The Puffy Mattress (Puffy.com)

If you’re a side sleeper with a skinny body type and you don’t want to buy a latex mattress then a great alternative is the Puffy Original.

Because although this memory foam/poly-foam mattress is actually listed as having a medium-firm level of firmness, the top 40% of the mattress is made from lower-density foam that compresses significantly when you lie on it to provide a soft, enveloping feel with the contoured pressure relief that skinnier body types need.

This is even more favourable for you if you’re a lighter weighted side sleeper because you’ll sink further into the mattress so that the compression forces are moved away from your joints and absorbed by the mattress materials for greater comfort.

Check out my full Puffy Mattress review for a deeper analysis, or see the summary below and click the red button to check the price on Puffy.com now.

Recommended For:

  • Side sleepers under 230 lbs.
  • Back sleepers who need a softer mattress.
  • Compatible couples that require a soft and quiet mattress.
  • Parents and pet owners that need a removable cover that can be washed easily in the washing machine for easy maintenance.

Less Suitable For:

  • Stomach sleepers over 230 lbs may prefer to upgrade to the Puffy Lux hybrid to get more support.

Benefits

  • Soothing pressure relief.
  • Contoured spinal support.
  • Sleeps fairly cool.
  • Low toxicity and minimal off-gassing.
  • Compatible with adjustable bases.
  • Lifetime warranty.
  • 101 night sleep trial.
  • Financing available (click button below for more details).

3: Tea Leaf Dream – Best For Edge and +230lbs Side Sleepers

Unboxing the Keetsa Tea Leaf Dream Mattress.
Unboxing the Keetsa Tea Leaf Dream Mattress (Keetsa.com)

If you’re looking for a soft mattress but you’re also the type of side sleeper that tends to hug the edge of the bed then you’ll need a mattress with great edge support to stop you from rolling out.

And the Tea Leaf Dream® from Keetsa is an excellent choice because it has a soft level of firmness to take away the pressure on your hips and shoulders, whilst the edges are reinforced with high density foam to guard against excessive compression as you move towards the edge of the mattress.

This support is accentuated by the individually wrapped iCoils® that adjust to your body shape to provide adaptive support for your spine and joints.

The coil core is topped by layers of Pressure Relief® Foam, BioFoam®, and fiber padding to relieve pressure as you sleep on your side.

This combination of a robust coil support core topped with pressure relieving foam also makes it a great choice for side sleepers over 230 lbs because the mattress will provide just enough give around your hips and shoulders without sagging like an all-foam mattress might.

You can also add a Keetsa mattress topper to make your mattress even softer (check out my Keetsa Mattress Topper Review to find out if you should get the Luxury or Basic topper).

Recommended For:

  • Side sleepers who hug the edge of the bed.
  • Heavier side sleepers over 230 lbs who need a balance between support and pressure relief.
  • Back and front sleepers in the 130 – 230 lbs range.

Less Suitable For:

  • Anyone that doesn’t like the feel of a memory foam mattress.

Benefits

  • No fiberglass – uses a cotton fabric treated fire barrier.
  • CertiPUR-US® and STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® certified to limit harmful chemicals.
  • Free shipping to 48 US states.
  • 12 year warranty.
  • Financing available (click the button below for more details).

4: Nolah Signature – Best For Sleepers Under 230 Lbs

The Nolah Signature 12 Inch Double Sided Mattress.
The Nolah Signature 12 Inch Double Sided Mattress (Nolah.com)

If you’re a side sleeper that weighs less than 230 lbs then you’ll need a softer mattress that allows for deeper compression in order to remove the compression forces from your joints.

The Puffy Original that I listed earlier is ideal for this because of its capacity for greater sinkage.

But if you don’t like that option then you might prefer to use the soft side of the double-sided Nolah Signature mattress because it has a medium-soft feel with great pressure relief thanks to the all-foam design.

Check out my Nolah Mattress Review for more information on this double-sided mattress and to see how stacks up against the Nolah Original.

Recommended For:

  • Side sleepers under 230 lbs (soft side).

Sleeping Adjustments:

  • Flip the mattress over to its firm side to accommodate front and back sleeping.

Benefits

  • Double sided (soft and firm) for flippable comfort.
  • 120 night sleep trial.
  • Lifetime warranty.
  • Financing available (click the button below for more information).

5: Essentia Eluxe – Best For Back Pain

The Essentia Eluxe Mattress Being Unrolled on to a Bed Frame.
The Essentia Eluxe Mattress (MyEssentia.com)

Dealing with back pain as a side sleeper can be tricky because this position can rotate the pelvis in a way that can put shearing forces on your spine and lower back.

One way to combat this is to look for a mattress that’s both soft and allows for deeper sinkage in the upper comfort layers so that you can shift your hips into a more comfortable position in the side sleeping position without excessively increasing the pressure on your hip joints.

The Eluxe from Essentia is worth considering if you have back pain in the side sleeping position because it has been specifically designed to provide a deep level of contouring to alleviate pressure points on your hips and shoulders whilst also filling in the gaps around your lower back to provide custom spinal support.

This is achieved through the unusual combination of a memory foam comfort layer and a latex support core that can be of particular benefit if you have a naturally pronounced spinal curve.

More specifically, the upper layer is made from Essentia’s proprietary ‘natural memory foam’ with a Natural Hevea Latex Support core.

Recommended For:

  • Side sleepers who struggle with back pain.

Less Suitable For:

  • Anyone who doesn’t like the feel of a memory foam topped mattress without springs.

Benefits

  • Pulls heat away from your body to help regulate your temperature (sleeps around 3 degrees cooler).
  • GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) and GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard) certified to ensure organic standards are met and harmful VOCs are minimised.
  • No chemical flame retardants, poly-foams, or toxic chemicals.

6: Dormeuse Fior – Best For Shoulder and Hip Pain

The Dormeuse Fior Mattress.
The Dormeuse Fior (MyEssentia.com)

Added musculoskeletal pain in your shoulders and hips can be difficult to deal with if you’re a side sleeper simply because these areas are natural hot-spots for discomfort in this position.

So if you can’t get used to sleeping on your back or front then you’ll need to look for a softer mattress that also allows for deep, contoured compression around the shape of your body to both alleviate pressure on your hips and shoulders whilst also dissipating pressure away from your joints and into the materials of the mattress.

In which case you should consider the Dormeuse Fior from Essentia because it has very deep comfort and transition layers relative to the support core.

More specifically, you’re getting 5″ of total contoured pressure relief via the 3″ of molded natural memory foam and the 2″ of natural memory foam that sits on top of 3″ of organic latex.

The outcome is a mattress that feels soft like a pillow top – but doesn’t come with the usual risk of attracting dust mites.

Recommended For:

  • Side sleepers with shoulder and/or hip pain.
  • Hot sleepers – the material pulls heat way from your body to help you sleep around 7 degrees cooler than your internal body temperature during 8 hours of sleep.
  • Allergy sufferers – doesn’t contain latex proteins, wool, or fibers that may otherwise trigger allergies directly or act as breeding grounds for dust mites.

Less Suitable For:

  • Anyone that doesn’t like the feel of memory foam, or the sinkage of an all-foam mattress.

Benefits

  • Can help to assist REM and slow wave sleep by removing pressure in the side sleeping position to reduce the chance of you waking up due to discomfort.
  • The foam adapts to your exact body shape to provide customised pressure relief and support that’s difficult to achieve with a traditional upholstered spring mattress.
  • Can help to promote better blood circulation and avoid numbness in the side sleeping position for deeper and more restful recovery.
  • Sleeps cool.
  • Organically certified and free from harmful chemicals.

7: ProCor – Best For Athletes and Recovery

Diagram showing how the ProCor mattress can help with sleep and recovery (MyEssentia.com).
Diagram showing how the ProCor mattress can help with sleep and recovery (MyEssentia.com)

If you’re an athlete that sleeps on their side then you could have several physical characteristics that require a softer mattress.

For example, lower body fat and thus more pronounced joints, toned muscles, and broader shoulders can all increase the amount of pressure on your body which can lead to soreness, reduced circulation, and nerve pain.

All of which could lead to impaired sleep and worsened recovery which may result in you performing below your best.

So if you’re a professional athlete or a high performance individual that sleeps on their side and needs to be at their best every day to make high quality decisions and thus ensure maximum earnings then it’s well worth investing in a custom mattress.

In which case you should consider the ProCor Custom Mattress from Essentia because it’s built with artificial intelligence in conjunction with professional sports psychologists and osteopaths to ensure that your recovery is optimized.

More specifically, the ProCor goes beyond the ‘one size fits all’ – the ID evaluation identifies where you need more pressure relief and support relative to your exact body type.

The ProCor could be a massive benefit not just to athletes, but also business owners, entrepreneurs, and anyone else that demands outstanding sleep and recovery.

Recommended For:

  • Athletes.
  • High performance individuals that need outstanding recovery to perform at their best like CEOs, entrepreneurs, public speakers, and actors.

Less Suitable For:

  • People who are not interested in optimizing their recovery for professional gain or peak performance.

Benefits

  • Custom built to your exact body shape, body type, and dominant sleeping position.
  • Used by world class athletes like Jean Pascal (light-heavyweight boxing champion).
  • Limits allergic reactions and off gassing to help your body recover better without fighting allergens.
  • Sleeps 7 degrees cooler on average.

Soft Mattress Buying Guide For Side Sleepers

Below are the 5 key steps that you should take to ensure that you’re buying the right soft mattress for your side sleeping needs.

1: Do You Really Need a Soft Mattress?

You are more likely to enjoy the feel of a softer mattress if:

  • You sleep on your side – softer mattresses are typically better if you sleep on your side because the reduced surface tension can allow your hips and shoulders to sink further into the materials and relieve pressure on these areas that can easily become uncomfortable on a firmer mattress.
  • You weigh less than 150 lbs – lighter weighted sleepers tend to lie more ‘on’ the mattress materials than ‘in’ them; which can increase the compression forces in your joints and lead to pain. A softer mattress can help to combat this by allowing you to sink further into the mattress and dissipate the pressure away from your joints and into the materials of the mattress.
  • You have a skinny body type – if you have a lower body fat percentage then your more prominent bones and joints can be more sensitive to pressure when they come into contact with the surface of the mattress. A softer mattress can help to lessen this pressure and increase comfort.
  • You have broad shoulders – if you have broad shoulders and you sleep on your side, then a softer mattress can allow your shoulders to sink further into the mattress and take away the high concentration of pressure that can develop in this area due to your longer clavicles.
  • You have circulation issues – a firmer mattress can sometimes lead to reduced circulation – especially in the side sleeping position. A softer mattress can help to combat this by decreasing the pressure points on your body and allow for better blood flow through your capillaries [1].
  • You have pressure-based pain – a softer mattress can reduce pressure on your muscles and nerves; which may help to alleviate pain and help with conditions like sciatica, but this must be balanced with enough support to stop you from sinking too far into the mattress – which could actually cause pain [2].
  • You are an athlete – if you’re an athlete, runner, gym-goer, or sporty person who sleeps on their side then you could have several physical qualities that increase pressure points on the mattress and thus demand a softer sleeping surface, such as: lower body fat that results in more prominent joints, firmer muscles, and broad shoulders. Plus a softer mattress can help with circulation which may help with recovery, whilst the softer feel can be more forgiving on muscles that are already sore from training.

Who Should Avoid a Softer Mattress?

You are less likely to enjoy the feel of a softer mattress (and may therefore prefer a medium or firmer mattress) if:

  • You sleep on your stomach – if you sleep on your stomach then softer mattresses are typically not the best option because the reduced surface tension may cause your hips to sink too far into the materials which could lead to over-arching of your back and result in pain. Unless you are very light, a medium, medium-firm, or firm mattress is likely going to be more suitable for you (the heavier you are, the firmer the mattress will likely need to be) – however, the underlying support is also crucial in aiding spinal alignment and minimising pain.
  • You sleep on your back – although not as precarious as sleeping on your front, excessive sinkage in the back sleeping position can also lead to back pain if your hips and spine drop out of alignment. So unless you are under 130 lbs or know that you like a softer mattress, you may prefer a slightly firmer mattress over a soft one.
  • You weigh more than 230 lbs – if you are a front or back sleeper and you weigh more than 230 lbs then you will more than likely need a firmer mattress to provide enough surface tension to keep your hips correctly aligned. Heavier weighted side sleepers may still prefer a softer mattress but the support will need to be very good to aid with spinal support.
  • You have mobility problems – softer mattresses are typically less responsive and sink in more; which makes them harder to move around in when compared to firmer mattresses. This could be a problem if you have mobility issues because a softer mattress can make it feel like you’re trying to move around and sit up in a semi-inflated bouncy castle. Going for a mattress with latex or higher density memory foam in the upper comfort layers – possibly in conjunction with a spring core – can help to combat this if you still want a softer feel without the associated mobility problems.
  • You sleep hot – if you tend to sleep hot then a softer mattress can make this worse because the materials may conform to your body more closely – trapping air and increasing your temperature. However, you may still be able to buy a soft mattress if you’re a warmer sleeper by opting for a mattress that contains naturally breathable latex and/or a spring core that promotes airflow.

What is Mattress Softness?

Mattress softness describes how firm (or not so firm) the mattress feels when you lie down on it.

From a technical perspective, a soft mattress takes less pressure to compress under load.

And in the context of latex, memory foam, and polyurethane foam containing mattresses, ILD values are assigned to individual foam layers used in the mattress to influence the overall firmness.

Manufacturers typically grade their mattresses on a firmness scale from 1 (softest) to 10 (firmest).

This is helpful because there are several mattress softness variations, which typically have the following firmness ratings:

Firmness RatingSoftness
1Ultra soft
2Very soft
3Soft
4Medium-soft

What Does a Soft Mattress Feel Like?

A soft mattress makes it feel more like you’re sleeping ‘in’ the mattress materials than ‘on’ the mattress surface.

This is because a softer mattress has less surface tension to it than a firmer mattress – meaning that the materials of the softer mattress will ‘push back’ against your body weight less than a firmer mattress will because the materials compress more easily.

For example, an extra-firm mattress may feel like sleeping on a carpeted floor, whilst an extra-soft mattress may feel like sleeping on a bean bag by comparison.

The video below explains the differences between firm, plush, and pillow top mattresses in a simple way.

What’s the Difference Between a Firm, Plush and Pillow Top Mattress? (US-Mattress.com)

Mattress softness can influence how much pressure you feel on the more angular, weight bearing points of your body in various sleeping positions.

Softer mattresses tend to be more forgiving on the more prominent areas of your body because of the reduced surface tension, but the type of materials used in the upper comfort layers also plays a role in relieving pressure (more on this in the next section).

Similarly, you will typically tend to sink deeper into a softer mattress than a firm one, but the thickness of the upper comfort layers and the type of material that they are made from will also influence how far you sink into the mattress and the degree to which the mattress ‘hugs’ your body.

Although you’ll usually find that mattresses are graded by the manufacturer, the final firmness is subjective because it changes depending on your body weight, body type, and dominant sleeping position.

2: Consider the Pressure Relief

As a side sleeper – especially if you are under 130 lbs and/or have a skinny frame – then you’ll typically want a mattress that can provide more pressure relief on your hips, shoulders, and the more angular areas of your body in order to reduce pressure-based pain and allow for better blood circulation.

Softer mattresses naturally tend to be better at providing pressure relief when compared to firmer mattresses.

However, there are several other factors that influence the pressure relieving potential of your mattress – even if it’s a soft mattress.

So to maximise pressure relief in the side sleeping position, look for a soft mattress that has one or more of the following properties:

  • Has latex in the upper comfort layers – a scientific study concluded that latex mattresses reduced peak body pressure and achieved a more even distribution of pressure when compared with polyurethane mattresses in several sleeping positions (including the side sleeping position) – with up to a 35.1% pressure reduction on the torso and buttocks [3]. This means that it may be beneficial to have latex in the upper comfort layers of your mattress to maximize pressure relief. However, memory foam is a viable option too (see below).
  • Has memory foam in the upper comfort layers – memory foam is a type of polyurethane foam that often has other chemicals added to it to increase its viscosity and density; allowing it to conform to your body shape with exceptional precision – potentially providing a huge amount of pressure relief.
  • Uses nano-coils in the comfort or transition layers – small, individually wrapped nano-coils can also help to increase pressure relief. Nano-coils are typically found in hybrid and innerspring mattresses.
  • Has a thicker comfort layer – thicker comfort layers tend to favour deeper compression which can help with pressure relief; between 3 and 5 inches or more is considered to be on the thicker end of the spectrum.
  • Uses lower density foams in the comfort layers – lower density foams typically compress more readily and may contribute to better pressure relief. However, lower density foams can wear out faster; so looking for a lower density score likely shouldn’t be a primary driving factor – especially if you’re looking for a durable mattress that will last a long time.
  • May have a pillow top – pillow top mattresses have an extra layer of padding sewn into the top which can help to increase softness and pressure relief. However, pillow top mattresses can come in a range of firmnesses so don’t just assume that the presence of a pillow top means that the mattress is soft.

3: Look For a High Quality Support Core

Mattress support is NOT the same as the mattress firmness.

Because whilst mattress firmness can range from very firm to very soft and is influenced by the upper mattress layers, the support describes how well the lower ‘support core’ is able to keep your spine aligned.

With that said, the design and the materials used in the support core can have a collateral effect on how hard or soft the mattress feels overall simply because your body weight and shape interacts with the mattress as a unit – albeit more so with the upper comfort layers.

So regardless of whether you opt for a soft or firm mattress, you should look for the following attributes to increase the chance of your mattress having good support:

  • Individually encased pocket coils – individually wrapped pocket coils are able to adjust more precisely to your exact body shape than a fused core typically can; which lends itself to better spinal support. Individually wrapped coils are also a better choice if you’re sleeping as a couple because they absorb vertical and cross-mattress movements better; to lessen the chance of you waking each other up as you move around.
  • High coil count – although not an absolute guarantee, a mattress with a higher number of coils in it may help to provide better support than a mattress with a lower number of coils. Numbers vary considerably, but a queen should have somewhere in the region of 400 – 1000 coils in it (or more).
  • The right coil gauge – the springs used in a mattress typically have gauges of around 12 – 15; with a lower number indicating a firmer spring and a higher number suggesting a spring that compresses more easily. Side sleepers may prefer higher gauge springs in the centre of the mattress to allow for more compression around the shoulders; although the heavier you are, the firmer you’ll typically need the springs to be overall in order to guard against sagging and discomfort.
  • Reinforced edge support – if you’re the sort of side sleeper that hugs the edge of the mattress then you may need a mattress with reinforced edges to guard against excessive compression and roll-off. Foam and springs can be used to provide targeted edge support without affecting the softness closer to the centre of the bed.
  • Zoned support – many mattress manufacturers have realised that greater support is needed around the hips and lower back, whilst deeper compression is needed in the shoulder region and so they provide zoned support; which can be really useful if you’re a side sleeper.
  • High density foam – if you opt for an all-foam poly-foam, memory foam, or latex mattress then you should ensure that the support core is made from higher density foam when compared to the upper comfort layers in order to provide enough support to stop you from sinking too far into the materials. This is very important if you’re over 200 lbs since the extra weight will naturally lead to deeper compression in when the support core is made from foam.

4: Choose Your Design

Mattresses can be made from different materials like poly foam, memory foam, latex, and others.

Furthermore, these materials can be distributed through varying configurations to produce all-foam mattresses that typically have a bias towards deeper sinkage and pressure relief – or hybrid mattresses that have a spring core with upper comfort layers that contain different types of foam to combine more robust support with pressure relief.

This can make choosing the right design difficult because there’s no one size that guarantees perfect comfort due to the variance in body weights, body shapes, and how they interact with the materials and how they are layered in the mattress.

But if you’re a side sleeper that wants a softer mattress, then the following design options are a good starting point:

  • All-latex – natural latex is one of the best materials to include in a mattress because it’s highly durable, breathable, and can be better for guarding against allergies. An all-latex mattress can be a good choice if you’re a side sleeper because latex can be both supportive and able to relieve pressure; look for softer Talalay latex in the upper comfort layers and firmer Dunlop latex in the core to provide good support.
  • All-memory foam – memory foam can have exceptional pressure relieving qualities; look for higher density foam in the support core (especially if you’re over 200 lbs) to ensure that you don’t sink too far into the materials. All-memory foam designs typically favour lighter weighted side sleepers.
  • Hybrid spring latex – a hybrid spring latex design is a good option if you’re a heavier weighted side sleeper over 200 lbs because the spring support core can guard against excessive sinkage whilst the latex comfort layer can provide pressure relief on your hips and shoulders.
  • Hybrid spring memory foam – a hybrid spring memory foam design is another option if you’re on the heavier side and want to enjoy the pressure relieving qualities of memory foam without having to worry about the sagging that may come from an all-foam design at heavier body weights.

5: Select Your Secondary Preferences

The firmness and design of the comfort layers and the support core are the primary factors that will influence how comfortable you are in your new mattress due to the way in which they interact with your body weight and body shape in the side sleeping position.

However, you should also consider how the following elements can also contribute to your final satisfaction with your mattress:

  • Overall mattress thickness – whilst a thicker mattress is by no means a guarantee of softness, mattresses with a deeper profile have greater capacity for compression in the side sleeping position – whilst also having a deep enough support layer to prevent sagging. If you’re in the 130 – 230 lbs range then a minimum mattress thickness of 10-12 inches is advised. However, because softer mattresses have a tendency to be less durable than firmer mattresses (especially if the mattress uses low density foams) a thicker profile can help to off-set this. A thicker mattress is also likely going to be better for you if you have difficulty getting in and out of bed because a higher profile can reduce the force that your muscles need to generate when moving to or from a lower position. But if you do go for a mattress that’s between 14 and 16 inches thick, then you’ll need a deep pocket fitted sheet, and an extra-deep pocket fitted sheet if your mattress is more than 16 inches thick. (See my top bed sheet sets for both options).
  • Allergy relief – if you have sensitive skin and/or respiratory allergies such as hay fever or a sensitivity to dust mites, then an all-latex mattress with a higher percentage of natural latex (over synthetic latex) is the best option because this material is less likely to trigger allergic reactions when compared to chemical-heavy memory foams. Look for the GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard) certification for greater confidence that you are buying organic [4], and the STANDARD 100 label by OEKO-TEX® to ensure that the materials used in the mattress are ‘harmless in human ecological terms’ [5]. Natural latex is also preferable over memory foam when it comes to minimising the chemical ‘off-gassing’ smell that’s associated with new mattresses and may cause airway irritation in some individuals.
  • Temperature regulation – softer mattresses can cause you to sleep warmer because the materials typically conform more closely to your body and trap heat. So if you want a softer mattress but don’t want to risk sleeping hot, then go for natural latex in the upper comfort layers and a spring core to enhance airflow and breathability. Steer away from memory foam because this material tends to trap heat the most.
  • Bounce and mobility – if you have mobility problems or need a mattress with more bounce whilst retaining softness, go for a hybrid spring mattress with latex in the upper comfort layers instead of an all-foam, poly-foam or memory foam mattress.
  • Dual firmness for couples – not to be confused with a double-sided mattress, a dual-firmness mattress has different firmness levels on each side of the same surface. This can be useful if you’re a side sleeper that needs more compression, whilst your partner is a front or back sleeper that needs more firmness to maintain correct hip alignment.
  • Lifespan – if you don’t want to go through the hassle of buying a mattress for the foreseeable future, then an all-latex mattress is your best option because latex mattresses can last up to 8-12 years or more; whilst regular spring mattresses tend to need replacing after 5-7 years.
  • Use of a mattress topper – a mattress topper can make your current mattress feel softer, firmer, and/or increase the cushioning depth. For example, the addition of the Real Bed Mattress Topper to the Real Bed mattress makes the final sleeping unit better for side sleepers.
  • Choose a compatible basecheck the dimensions of the mattress against your existing bed frame to ensure compatibility before buying. Or choose a compatible base from the same manufacturer when buying as a bundle to minimize headaches (especially if you plan on using an adjustable base). If you’re using your current slatted base with your new mattress, make sure that the slats are close enough (3-4 inches) to provide enough support to guard against sagging and avoid voiding the warranty.
  • The warranty – the industry standard for mattress warranty length is 10 years. However, you should carefully check the terms and favour warranties that are non-prorated because this means that you won’t have to contribute to the cost of replacing defective parts. It’s common to find warranties that are split between non-prorated and prorated, with a graded contribution to costs from yourself with each passing year. A good warranty is especially important for memory foam containing mattresses because this material is more susceptible to body impressions and indents; which is more of a risk in the side sleeping position due to your shoulders being forced into the mattress. A soft memory foam mattress (especially with lower density foams in the upper comfort layers) is even more likely to be at risk of indentations due to the greater propensity for compression.
  • Sleep trial – even with detailed buying guides such as this one, there’s still a risk that you could end up with a mattress that’s uncomfortable. The best way to protect yourself is by choosing a mattress that comes with a sleep trial or return policy that allows you to test the mattress for at LEAST 30 days – since it can take more than a month for the mattress to adjust to your unique body shape, weight, and preferred sleeping position.
  • Buying online vs in store – buying online is generally better than buying in store because you can save a lot of money, plus the lengthy sleep trials are a better way to ensure that you end up with a comfortable mattress; since lying on the bed for 5 minutes in the store doesn’t give you an accurate final impression of how comfortable the mattress is going to be because this duration doesn’t allow the materials enough time to adjust to your body.
  • Bed-in-a-box – when ordering online, you should look for mattresses that come in a compressed box (which most do) to make it easier to transport them to your sleeping area. Just be aware that softer mattresses tend to be on the heavier side; 50-100 lbs or more for a boxed queen mattress is around average, so you may need another person to help you move the box.
  • Pillow height – if you’re a side sleeper sleeping on an already soft mattress that allows for deeper compression, then a mid-loft pillow that’s between 3 and 5 inches thick can help to guard against neck pain. However, you may need a thicker pillow if you have very broad shoulders and/or your mattress doesn’t allow your shoulders to sink as far into the materials. Conversely, a shallower pillow may be better for very soft mattresses in the side sleeping position – especially if you have narrower shoulders.
  • Price – paying between $1,000 and $2,000 (or more) for a high quality queen mattress is to be expected since softer mattresses tend to be more expensive. Greater quantities of natural latex, more comfort system layers, and a thicker mattress overall are likely to push the price point up.

Related Questions

Here are some quick and concise answers to the most common questions related to buying a soft mattress when you’re a side sleeper.

What is the Best Type of Mattress For Side Sleepers?

The best types of mattresses for side sleepers in the 130 lbs – 230 lbs range tend to be medium-soft to soft all-latex, all-memory foam, hybrid spring-latex, or hybrid memory foam latex mattresses because these firmness ratings, materials, and layering designs tend to relieve pressure on the hips and shoulders whilst also supporting the spine sufficiently.

Is a Soft Mattress Good For Side Sleepers?

Soft and medium-soft mattresses tend to be better for side sleepers because they typically allow for greater pressure relief on the hips and shoulders, although the materials in the upper comfort layer along with the quality of the support also needs to be considered in relation to the sleeper’s body weight and body type to better estimate the final comfort levels and sleeper satisfaction.

What Mattress Firmness is Best For Side Sleepers?

The best mattress firmness ratings for side sleepers tends to be 2 (very soft), 3 (soft), and 4 (medium-soft) with lighter weighted sleepers under 130 lbs with skinnier body types typically being better suited to the softer end of the firmness spectrum.

What Are The Softest Types of Mattresses?

The softest types of mattresses are those with firmness ratings of 1 (ultra soft) 2 (very soft), 3 (soft), and 4 (medium-soft) with a pillow top, or an all-foam latex/memory foam design with lower density foam in the upper comfort layers; where the comfort layer is up to 3-5 inches thick and the overall mattress profile is 12 inches or more.

Where Can You Buy Soft Mattresses?

If you didn’t find your ideal soft mattress from this list then click the button below to see some of the top plush mattresses for side sleepers on US-Mattress.com from leading brands like Sealy, Simmons, and Tempur-Pedic now.


Sources and References

[1] WebMD – The Best Mattress for a Better Night’s Sleep. Accessed 13/6/20.

[2] Harvard Health Publishing (Harvard Medical School) – What Type of Mattress is Best for People With Low Back Pain? Accessed 13/6/20.

[3] NCBI (The National Center for Biotechnology Information) – Effects of Mattress Material on Body Pressure Profiles in Different Sleeping Postures. Accessed 13/6/20.

[4] Control Union – Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS). Accessed 14/6/20.

[5] OEKO-TEX® – STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® Accessed 14/6/20.

Disclaimer

No part of this article or website should be interpreted as medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor or a qualified medical professional before buying a mattress or sleep product for your health requirements.

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