How to choose the Best Mattress For Side Sleepers With Shoulder Pain and 5 mattress recommendations

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Written by: Alex Savy
Read 23 minLast updated February 27, 2021

Sleeping on the side, in my opinion, is the most comfortable position ever.

There’s only one thing that can ruin the whole experience: shoulder pain.

Unfortunately, this issue has a lot of causes and is pretty common among those who love snoozing on their side.

But here’s the good news:

In most cases, you can get rid of shoulder pain by choosing the right mattress. And I’m here to help you with that.

So, get cozy and check out how to choose the best mattresses for side sleepers with shoulder pain and 5 mattress recommendations right below!

A Quick Preview

Best for Pressure Relief

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Best Budget Option

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Best for Uniform Support

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Botanical Bliss by Plushbeds
Best Organic Pick

Botanical Bliss by Plushbeds
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Bear Pro
Best Temperature-Neutral Foam Pick

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List of 5 Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers with Shoulder Pain

Best for Pressure ReliefDreamcloud

Dreamcloud Mattress

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  • high-grade and durable materials;
  • offers great cradling and pressure relief;
  • sleeps cool.

A long-lasting hybrid bed that feels like an actual cloud and can relieve all your pain? No, it’s not a miracle anymore, it’s just a Dreamcloud mattress. It has made it to this list of the best mattresses for side sleepers with shoulder pain because of its ability to precisely contour your body in any position.

The top-notch pain-relieving properties of this mattress are ensured by its smart construction. The Dreamcloud includes five layers under the cover. Altogether, they make enough thickness to cradle even a heavy side sleeper without any issues.

Also, the coil system inside the mattress can ensure precise conforming to your body curves and better load distribution, so you won’t feel stiff even if you spend the whole night in one position.

Great news for hot sleepers as well: 

The Dreamcloud doesn’t sleep hot. 

The layer of gel-infused foam effectively cools you down and the coil system promotes the airflow between the layers, enhancing this effect.

Overall, I think the Dreamcloud can be a good purchase for side sleepers with chronic shoulder pain. The mattress has a medium-firm feel and can offer you a really relaxing sleep.

Best Budget OptionNectar


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  • optimal firmness level;
  • medical-grade memory foam;
  • removable Tencel cover.

Nectar has my heart — and the place in this list of the best mattresses for side sleepers with shoulder pain — for many reasons. It has an all-foam construction and features medical-grade memory foam that can deliver you unbeatable cradling and pressure relief. But most of all, the Nectar is temperature-neutral and can bring you cooler and deeper sleep in no time.

The mattress has only one firmness level that I’d rate as medium to medium-firm. This is considered the optimal level for almost any sleeper, as it can offer a balance between a good give and spinal support, especially for side sleepers, who are more prone to mattress-related shoulder pain.

The mattress hugs your hips and shoulders and decreases the weight impact on these areas, so you won’t wake up sore.

Finally, the combination of an airy pillow-top, cooling gel foam, and breathable Tencel won’t let the hot sleeping stand any chance

Overall, this mattress is incredibly cradling and can work for even chronic shoulder pain.

Best for Uniform SupportWinkbed


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  • zoned support for precise contouring;
  • four firmness levels;
  • uniform surface and strong edges.

The Winkbed is among the best mattresses for side sleepers with shoulder pain because of its supportive construction. The mattress is available in four firmness options, with Soft and Luxury Firm ones being perfect for those who sleep on their side.

The hybrid construction of the bed can withstand your weight easily without creating too much resistance in the shoulder area, even if you’re a large guy. This means you won’t sink too deep and can shift positions during the night without effort.

Along with that, the pocketed coil system inside the mattress promotes airflow and effectively dissipates your body heat, which contributes to a more comfortable sleep.

Now, the Winkbed can work great for couples because it has incredibly sturdy edges due to the coil system. At the same time, it doesn’t feel overly bouncy because of the foam layers above the coils.

Overall, if you share a bed with a partner, especially if they move a lot in their sleep, the Winkbed may be a good pick for you. It offers a uniform sleeping surface and provides enough cradling to alleviate your shoulder pain.

Best Organic PickBotanical Bliss by Plushbeds

Botanical Bliss by Plushbeds

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  • adjustable firmness;
  • completely natural;
  • doesn’t limit your movements.

And one of the last options in this list of the best beds for side sleepers with shoulder pain is the Botanical Bliss by Plushbeds. This latex mattress is a perfect pick for those who are looking for a natural option that will be safe for both their body and the environment.

Latex typically feels bouncier than other mattress materials and restores its shape faster after the pressure is removed. All of this results in the combo of great pain relief and easy shifting between positions during the night.

Along with that, the Botanical Bliss literally packs two mattresses in one! You can adjust the firmness level to your liking by swapping the first two layers, which have soft and medium firmness, respectively. Thus, you can determine what works better for you: a soft and hugging feel or more uniform support.

To sum up, I really loved the Botanical Bliss and I recommend it to anyone who is willing to get the most natural materials in their bed even if this means paying more.

Best Temperature-Neutral Foam PickBear ProBear Pro

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  • Celliant cover;
  • molds closely to your body;
  • great value for money.

Moving away from hybrid options to the more traditional ones. The next candidate in this list of the best mattresses for side sleepers with shoulder pain is the Bear Pro, an incredibly comfortable foam bed that can relax and relieve your stiff shoulders in no time.

Now, the Bear Pro was designed specifically for athletes and people with physically demanding work, who have higher risks of injuries and different types of pain.

Its beneficial effects on your health begin with the cover. The manufacturer uses Celliant fabric that is claimed to increase the amount of oxygen in your soft tissues and hence, may help alleviate aches and pains.

The mattress uses copper-infused foam, which is good at conducting heat. It supports optimal thermoregulation throughout the night. Also, copper is known for its antimicrobial properties, which increases the durability of the bed.

If your partner is an active sleeper, you’ll also be happy to know that this mattress has low motion transfer and muffles any sharp movements during the night without limiting your ability to switch positions.

As you can see, the Bear Pro is a great bed for side sleepers with shoulder pain who want to bring relaxing sleep back to their lives. And the best thing is, all of that comes at less than $1,000 for the Queen size!

Main Causes of Shoulder Pain

Now, let’s remember anatomy lessons we had in school and get into more detail about such condition as shoulder pain and its possible causes.

The shoulder is a part of the human body. It consists of three main bones and associated tendons, muscles, and ligaments. 

To make matters worse, shoulder problems from common conditions become more serious as we age, according to the scientists from the Harvard Medical School. Typically, the causes of these problems include different traumas and inflammations, such as:

  • Rotator cuff tendinitis. This is when there is irritation and inflammation in the shoulder tendons. It can result from an injury or just from general wear from daily life.
  • Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis can happen when the cushion around the bones erode and causes bones to rub against each other
  • Rotator cuff tears. This shoulder pain is similar to rotator cuff tendinitis, but the difference will be that you have weakness. 
  • Injuries and irritations.
  • ‘Frozen shoulder syndrome’ also known as adhesive capsulitis. This syndrome can happen when a previous injury is not resolved due to the person hesitating to move the joint because of pain. In this case the joint can become impossible to move. Resolution includes a long course of treatment.
  • Tendon calcification. This condition is due to calcium deposits that form in the rotator cuff tendons. There is no clear reason why this happens, but it can be very painful.

Some of these conditions can give you chronic and progressive shoulder pain, which might even stay with you for the rest of your life, according to an article by Burbank et al. in the American Family Physician Journal.

However, these aren’t the only reasons for shoulder pain to appear.

According to Buffalo Rehab Group, poor, slouched posture causes the shoulder blades to change position over time, changing the way that they move. This change in movement leads to the rotator cuff becoming pinched and shoulder pain.

Also, there’s a condition called technical neck syndrome, or text neck, which is common among office workers, says David DeWitt, MD. When we stare at the monitor, we may unconsciously lean forward and put a strain on the whole cervical region. This area is rich in nerves and blood vessels, so squeezing them can result in pain outbursts and stiffness in your shoulders.

Feeling pain makes your mind more alert and hence your sleep shallower. The lack of sleep, in turn, may make you more susceptible to pain and leaves less time for the body to repair itself, which can lead to chronic shoulder problems.

“If you think you may have any of these conditions, and they are causing you intermediate or severe pain, we recommend addressing your pain with your primary care physician, and if you are experiencing shoulder pain with an abrupt onset call 911 immediately. Sudden shoulder pain can be a sign of a heart attack.” says Dr. Debra Sullivan.

What’s the Deal with Shoulder Pain and Your Mattress?

Along with the sedentary way of life, injuries, and age-related changes in your body, your shoulder pain can be caused by your bed. 

Yes, I’m talking about your mattress, in particular. 

Here’s how it can harm you.

It’s Too Old

Everything has a lifespan, and mattresses do as well. An average mattress can offer you support and comfort for about 7-10 years, but if you purchased a low-cost model, chances are it will start to wear out even earlier.

The typical wear and tear can manifest as sagging, comfort layers going flat, or edges becoming weak. And here’s how these issues can contribute to your shoulder pain:

  • Spine misalignment. An uneven mattress surface cannot properly adjust to your body curves. Instead, it may create awkward curves where they shouldn’t be — for example, in your shoulder area — and lead to straining and stiffness.
  • Insufficient cradling. If you own a hybrid or innerspring mattress, you may start feeling the springs under the comfort layers. Coils may create too much pressure around your hip and shoulder areas if you sleep on your side, so you’ll wake up with pain. Foam mattresses are better in this case, but they also may lose resiliency and become softer over time, which, again, contributes to spine misalignment and muscle strains.
  • A lower level of comfort. An old mattress can make you feel uncomfortable in your favorite sleep positions. As a result, you start to toss and turn more and get less restorative sleep. If you already have any health issues, a lack of sleep can aggravate them.

A mattress topper can rejuvenate the feel of your old bed and prolong its lifespan for maybe a couple of years. Still, you should consider replacing your mattress eventually if you want to get rid of the pain completely.

It’s Too Soft, Or Too Firm

Along with the age of the mattress, the wrong firmness level can ruin your sleep too. 

Now, let me briefly explain to you the universal firmness scale to prevent this from happening.

So, basically, all the beds can be divided into three firmness levels on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 stands for the softest and 10 for the hardest surface:

  • Soft (up to 5/10). Soft beds can offer you a decent amount of sinkage and cradle your body really well. But that’s only if you’re a petite or average-weight sleeper. Big guys and girls may simply dive through all the comfort layers and land onto the dense core of the mattress, which will resist the pressure, making their shoulders hurt.
  • Medium (5-7/10). Most of the quality mattresses for side sleepers with shoulder pain have this level of firmness. They can suit literally any sleeper and adjust well to the body shape without creating too much tension in the shoulders.
  • Firm (7-9/10). Firm beds typically are a good pick for overweight sleepers. They can cope with increased weight. And instead of putting additional pressure on the shoulders, a firm mattress can feel pretty cradling. Note that heavier side sleepers are recommended to choose the firmness level that is closer to the lower point of the range — that is 7-8 out of 10, rather than 9/10.

Keep in mind that some brands use their own firmness scale, which could be very different — up to being a completely reversed version of the standard scale.

How to Understand If Your Shoulder Pain Is Actually Caused by the Mattress?

If you have been waking up with shoulder pain for several days in a row, you’re probably confused about the actual cause of your condition.

And it’s natural.

But the thing is, distinguishing the pain caused by a mattress from that caused by a medical condition is not really difficult. 

First, the pain caused by an unsuitable mattress is usually dull and tends to go away later in the day. Moreover, you can alleviate it way faster if you do your morning stretching routine or a couple of yoga exercises.

Second, if you get to stay at your friend’s house or a hotel room and sleep on another bed, chances are you won’t feel any stiffness in your shoulders, as it was your mattress that provoked pain. 

However, if your pain gets worse when you move your shoulder, or if it doesn’t seem to pass away during the day, then it’s highly advisable to visit your doctor and get proper treatment.

What Mattress Type Is the Best for Coping with Shoulder Pain?

As you know, there are four main types of mattresses on the market — foam, latex, innerspring, and hybrid one. 

But of course, not all of them will make a perfect choice for a side sleeper with shoulder pain. So, let’s see which one is the most suitable — and which is the worst.


Foam mattresses are the most common option on the market. Today, most manufacturers use either polyfoam or memory foam. You can also find a mattress that has both materials in different combinations. So, let’s break down how each of these configurations will perform:

  • Polyfoam. Polyurethane foam is more springy and has that sponge-like feel. Although it’s not as conforming as memory foam, this material can still cradle your body in any sleeping position and has less pronounced thermoregulation issues. Thanks to a good rebound, polyfoam doesn’t make it difficult for you to move during the night. However, this type of foam may wear out faster than memory foam.
  • Memory foam. This material is the queen of cradling, and I cannot stress that enough. No wonder it’s commonly used in hospital equipment, and if you’re looking for a really good mattress for side sleepers with shoulder pain — you’ll probably end up with a memory foam model. This material perfectly adjusts to your body curves and removes pressure in your hip and shoulder areas. But the main problem with memory foam is excessive heat retention, which may sometimes disrupt your sleep.
  • Mixed foams. Mattresses with mixed foams typically are designed to offer you the balance between cradling and rebound, but the reality is usually a bit different. I recommend you testing such models at a local mattress store to see if their feel will actually work for you.

Infused foams are often used in foam mattresses as comfort layers. They’re typically a bit softer than non-infused foams and can mask the typical foam smell.


Latex, technically, is foam, too. It is made from the vulcanized sap of rubber trees. But unlike synthetic foams, latex foam has smaller pores and is denser, so you can expect a more prolonged lifespan — and higher responsiveness. The latter is an essential factor for individuals with mobility concerns. However, some people just don’t like the feel of latex. And latex mattresses are usually more expensive than other types.


Hybrid mattresses can combine foams, natural latex, and coils in different variations. And this is both a benefit and a drawback for shoulder pain sufferers. The thing is, not all combinations of these materials will make the mattress good for shoulder pain relief, so finding the right model can be quite a challenge.

But if you’re certainly determined to get a hybrid mattress, check these tips:

  • look for models with at least two comfort layers over the coil system;
  • choose firmness wisely (based on the info I gave you above);
  • test your mattress at the store (or choose brands offering longer trial periods).


Now, when it comes to innersprings, I don’t think that it’s a good choice for an individual with shoulder pain

Yes, these mattresses allow you to move freely around the surface, but they usually offer you only 1-2 comfort layers above the coil unit, which is not enough to cradle your shoulders and relieve the pressure.

Reading reviews from users that have pain conditions similar to yours can help you find out how a given model performs in real life.

Other Factors to Consider when choosing a mattress for shoulder pain relief

Finally, let’s wrap up the remaining factors you should consider when choosing a quality bed for side sleepers with shoulder pain:

  • Your current condition. If your pain is caused by a medical condition, your pain might be episodic. Thus, when you don’t have pain episodes, you might need a moderate amount of cradling, but when pain appears, a gentler hug might be needed. For this, I would suggest pairing your mattress with a topper so that you could add and remove the cushioning layer as needed.
  • Thermoregulation. Poor heat removal can add some discomfort to your sleeping experience. Since side sleepers, especially those who are heavy, tend to sink more into the mattress layers, it’s advisable to choose natural materials or mattresses with coils for a more pronounced cooling effect.
  • Durability. Durability defines how fast your mattress will start to wear out and lose its supportive properties, thereby becoming useless for your condition. To increase the chances of getting a durable product, look for high-grade materials and check the brand’s history on the market.


Sleeping with shoulder pain can be a real challenge.

Especially if you are a side sleeper. After all, curling up in bed feels great, but if you’re lying on a sore shoulder, your peaceful rest can turn into a nightmare.

Here’s the kicker though:

You can improve the situation by picking a suitable mattress. Keep in mind that proper firmness is the key. Petite and average sleepers would feel the most comfortable on soft and medium-firm beds, while heavier users need something medium-firm or firm when sleeping on one side.

Also, consider the mattress type. Foam and latex models offer the best pressure relief. However, foam is more cradling, while latex has a bouncier feel. As for the hybrid mattresses, they are popular among side sleepers due to the balanced conforming support they provide.

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