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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 4 mattress recommendations right below!
A Quick Preview
Best Overall - Editor’s Choice
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BEST LUXURY MATTRESS FOR PARTNERED SLEEPERS
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Best Memory Foam Mattress
AS3 by Amerisleep
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Best Value Option
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List of 4 Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers with Shoulder Pain
Best Overall - Editor’s Choice — Puffy
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- A generous hug of 2.5 inches re-distributes your weight, helping relieve tension and keep pressure off your shoulder.
- Presence of the cooling cloud layer which helps keep the surface cool through optimal dissipation of heat.
- Hypoallergenic, washable cover to maintain a safe sleeping environment.
The Puffy is my editor’s choice for the best mattress for side sleepers with shoulder pain due to its thick comfort layers, high ability to cradle the body, and removable cover. I tested the Puffy and was impressed at its sinkage of 2.5 inches, more than the AS3 by 12.8%. That’s more than enough to allow the shoulders and hips to sink in comfortably. Puffy’s cradling effect is also helpful for side sleepers, and the slow-adaptive foam takes about 1.7 seconds to bounce back from compressions. That means your weight can be re-distributed for adequate pressure relief and have moderate motion isolated from a partner, so you’re disturbed less easily while sleeping.
Puffy’s cover is something I also think is worth mentioning, as its removable feature (via zippers) means it can be washed and reapplied readily, keeping your mattress fresh and your room feeling cleaner.
What I Don’t Like About This Mattress
One feature I don’t like about the Puffy is related to its high sinkage, which may be too soft for heavier side sleepers over 230 pounds.
Best Luxury Mattress for Partnered Side Sleepers — Winkbed
- Zoned support for precise contouring;
- Impressive edge support makes getting on and off the bed easy, and provides more bed space for rest.
- Constructed with pocketed coils that complements the breathable top layer for easy airflow.
If you’re a couple or share beds with someone, you might want to check out this luxury mattress model. The Winkbed is a mattress that has been rightly optimized in every aspect to suit side sleepers as well as help with pressure relief from the shoulders. Furthermore, the four options you can choose from makes it easier to find the perfect fit to your taste.
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.
Testing a WinkBed for motion isolation measured in at about 0.4 seconds to absorb motion, meaning that most disturbing motion doesn’t have enough time to travel across the bed before dissipating. The cushioning foam layers over the coils did a great job isolating motion, unlike Robin mattress on the firm side, which took 0.8 seconds to absorb motion.
Read our full Winkbed mattress review for more information.
Best Memory Foam Mattress for Side Sleepers with Shoulder Pain — AS3 by Amerisleep
- adaptive foam to ensure effective pressure relief;
- breathable design to prevent allergen accumulation;
- responsive Bio-Pur foam to avert the quicksand sensation.
The AS3 is a premium memory foam mattress ideal for side sleepers. The highly responsive Bio-pur memory foam gently adapts to the hips and shoulder, offering a hug-like feel while offering adequate support for spinal alignment. As a result, it can minimize your pressure points and potentially, alleviate shoulder pain.
Additionally, the AS3 can create a safe environment for you. The thing is, this model uses plant-based, breathable Bio-Pur foam. Since it allows for improved airflow, it is less likely to accumulate bacteria, moisture, dust mites, or mold. Naturally, this mattress could be an excellent solution for side sleepers who want to minimize the allergens in their bedroom.
AS3, from my review, is an excellent match if you’re a light or average-weight side sleeper in need of a cradling mattress. I measured its sinkage at about 2.15 inches, which is enough to give good pressure relief, but heavier sleepers may find it too plush.
Read our full Amerisleep AS3 mattress review for more information.
Best Value Option for Side Sleepers with Shoulder Pain — Zoma
- zoned comfort layer to aid instant pressure-relief and relaxation;
- gel particles for cooler sleep without sacrificing the gentle hug;
- smart construction and quality materials for a reasonable price, good value for money.
The Zoma mattress comes in as our value pick when recommending mattresses for side sleepers experiencing pain in their shoulder region. Engineered with just the needed responsive memory foam layer, this mattress cradles the body’s pressure points well, especially the shoulder. This mattress comes with a rather attractive price tag, so it could be a suitable solution for shoppers on a budget. However, despite its affordability, the Zoma promises long-lasting performance. I was honestly surprised how sturdy this mattress felt when I received it.
Now, you might also appreciate the zoned design the Zoma has. Lying on it made me feel light like a feather and free of any tension. That’s because the zoned layer helps redistribute the body weight evenly all across the surface of the mattress. This would especially come in handy if your shoulder pain is caused by sharp pressure points.
Zoma performed very well during my review, especially for responsiveness. I measured Zoma’s recovery from impressions at around 0.4 seconds, which means I can move around in Zoma quickly and not feel stuck in the layers when switching from my left to right side.
Read our full Zoma mattress review for more information.
Our Methodology - Why I Picked These Mattresses
I’ve picked these mattresses after looking at several key features that directly relate to shoulder pain, like its feel, sinkage, and supportiveness.
In my review methodology, I check a mattress’ feel, which is a key factor in if a mattress can help with shoulder pain or not, by taking apart the layers, testing their firmness and responsiveness individually, and lying on the bed to see how these layers combine to deliver the overall feeling. Mattresses that have more of a conforming feel while sleeping on my side, allowing my shoulders and hips to sink while keeping my spine aligned, are gauged higher on my methodology parameters. I use my hands-on experience, and opinion based on many hours of research, to deliver a list filled with the best selection of mattresses.
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.
A latex mattress can be a good solution for those side sleepers who tend to overheat during the night. Since latex is quite responsive, it wouldn’t hug the sleeper that much. And when sleeping on top of the mattress instead of being enveloped by its comfort layers, users typically don’t experience heat retention and can sleep cool. And while this has nothing to do with shoulder pain, a temperature-neutral environment can help side sleepers feel more comfortable and thus, sleep better.
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).
A hybrid mattress that has thick comfort layers can provide enough cushioning for one’s shoulders and hips when lying on the side. However, thanks to the responsive coils underneath, a good hybrid would also prevent unwanted spinal curvatures. By keeping one’s spine supported and shoulders cradled, a hybrid mattress can help relieve tension in the shoulders and potentially, alleviate the pain. But shoppers need to remember that this is possible only if they pick a proper mattress firmness.
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.
That’s why sleeping on an innerspring mattress often causes painful pressure points in side sleepers, especially in the shoulders and hips. Because there’s not enough cushioning for the shoulders, they press hard against the mattress surface instead of sinking into it. Naturally, this can aggravate one’s shoulder pain.
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.
For those shoppers who want to buy a memory foam mattress, it would be a good idea to pick models that use high-density foam. They do cost more, but denser foam also lasts longer. For hybrid mattresses, the rule is the same (for foam comfort layers). And concerning the coil support system, it’s better to choose models that use low-gauge coils. They are thicker, deliver more reliable support, and have a longer lifespan. Latex mattresses are usually among the most durable ones, but they also belong to a pricier category because of that.
- Motion isolation. Shoulder pain often causes sleepers to shift in bed. Whether they try to find the least painful position or switch sides from time to time to relieve pressure from the shoulders, they can be quite restless. This may be an issue for those who sleep with a partner, as movement can travel across the bed and wake them up. To avoid that, shoppers might want to consider slow-moving, motion-isolating mattresses. Memory foam typically performs the best in this case. Users may also consider hybrid mattresses, but only those models that have extra-thick foam comfort layers.
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.
In my opinion, the Puffy is my best mattress for side sleepers with shoulder pain due to its generous, body-hugging cradling that can effectively relieve tension and cushion the shoulder, which may help reduce pain. The Puffy also comes with a removable, washable cover that can help keep your bed clean.
Hours of Research
Sleep Experts Consulted