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Side sleeping is widely considered the most comfortable sleeping position.
Unfortunately, they have a lot of unique challenges when it comes to getting a good night's sleep.
Before you decide to toss your current mattress in favour of a new one, consider investing in a mattress topper that can help alleviate shoulder pain and improve your sleeping quality and comfort level — without breaking the bank.
We've reviewed the 4 best mattress toppers for side sleepers to help you do just that. So, feel free to look at them and check out the buying guide below!
A Quick Preview
Best Overall - Editor’s Pick
Saatva Mattress Topper
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Best Budget Option
Puffy Mattress Topper
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Best for Side Sleeper with Back Pain
GhostBed Memory Foam Topper
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Our Reviews of 4 Best Mattress Pads for Side Sleepers
Best Overall - Editor’s Pick — Saatva Mattress Topper
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- breathable cotton cover to aid thermoregulation and moisture-wicking;
- offers premium tension relief with its body cushioning features;
- sturdy elastic bands to prevent shifting and sliding.
What makes the best mattress topper for side sleepers is its ability to take care of the protruding body parts and pressure points. And this model by Saatva can certainly do that. It is 3 inches tall and offers a generous hug. When I was testing this topper, my sore hip felt comfortable and tension-free, as the topper gently cradled it.
But that’s not the only thing that makes the Saatva topper worth your attention. This model also offers impressive versatility. It comes in 3 material variations. All of them have a similar firmness level but different properties. This means, pretty much any side sleeper can pick a topper that could make them feel the most comfortable. I, for example, decided to test the graphite memory foam model. It felt enveloping (great for lying on one side) but didn’t sleep hot, which is always a nice bonus for this sleeping style.
- excellent pressure-alleviating properties;
- adjustable straps to prevent the topper from shifting, great for active sleepers;
- multiple comfort options to satisfy a wider range of sleepers;
- quality-made and durable.
- pricier than many competitors and might not work for shoppers on a budget;
- some initial off-gassing if possible upon arrival, but it should dissipate fully within a day.
Runner-Up — TEMPUR-Adapt®
- Made of memory foam with soft to medium firmness that cushions the curves of side sleepers for a comforting sleep
- Tempur-Adapt foam for adaptive pressure relieving and body-conforming quality
- Wrapped in a removable cover for easy washing
The TEMPUR-Adapt® is our runner-up for the best mattress topper for side sleepers due to its unique TEMPUR® material, initially designed to cushion the G-force of astronauts. The three-inch profile is slow-adapting and pressure-relieving, able to cushion the shoulder and hips, evenly re-distributing weight for a plush, comforting sleep. I think sleepers who want a topper that can relieve muscle tension and alleviate pressure points will like the feel of TEMPUR®.
The topper is ultra-soft and will add a plush layer on any bed that's too hard for side sleeping.
- can be machine-washed, thanks to the removable cover;
- it's not too soft not too firm, which means it's suitable for most mattresses;
- it's cool on the body, perfect for a night's sleep;
- this mattress topper will be too soft for some heavy sleepers who weigh more than 250 pounds.
- the price can be too high for some
Best Budget Option — Puffy Mattress Topper
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- elastic skirt with an anti-slip grip for a secure fit all through the night;
- combining polyester and bamboo, the toppers’ cover is adept at temperature regulation;
- two firmness options to accommodate more body types.
The Puffy Mattress Topper is our best budget option for side sleepers due to its fair price. Puffy is $146 cheaper than the Saatva Latex Topper, and $46 cheaper than the Saatva Graphite Topper, but still offers all the comfort of cloud-like memory foam. From my tests, the Puffy offers enough sinkage to properly cradle the shoulder and hips of side sleepers, making this a comfortable and budget-friendly choice.
Although it doesn't come with corner straps like the TEMPUR-Adapt®, Puffy does offer stretch pockets and a robust anti-slip bottom that helps affix this topper to your mattress. I tested Puffy’s anti-slip feature and found the topper didn’t shift during the night, even while tossing and turning. Additionally, the Puffy feels very sturdy. I was surprised with the seam and the zipper quality as well. Seems like this mattress topper really was designed to last sleepers a lifetime.
Puffy provides firming and cradling support that I tested and found comfortable for my shoulders and hips. I measured Puffy’s sinkage at 2.02 inches (just the mattress was 2.18 inches), meaning Puffy firmed the mattress up by 0.16 inches. In contrast, the Ghostbed topper only firmed the mattress up by 0.02 inches, a difference of about 0.14 inches between the two.
- fitted-sheet design, isn’t likely to slide off during the night;
- impressive warranty duration and included sleep trial to ensure customer satisfaction;
- washable cover for effortless maintenance;
- two comfort options to work for more types of sleepers.
- mandatory 30-day break-in period with the sleep trial;
- some initial off-gassing is possible upon arrival;
- might be too plush (and not thick enough) for overweight individuals.
Best for Side Sleeper with Back Pain — GhostBed Memory Foam Topper
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- zoned support to ensure proper spinal alignment during sleep;
- infused with cooling gel to prevent night sweats;
- fitted-sheet design for an extra secure fit.
Another model that deserves to be among the best mattress toppers for side sleepers is the GhostBed. The thing is, this topper can take your comfort to a whole new level. It uses a zoned support system that works to redistribute the pressure evenly. As a result, your body would remain properly aligned when lying on one side. And proper alignment often leads to less tension and alleviated pain. I could feel that when sleeping on the GhostBed after a long day of slouching in front of the computer. My tense back experienced immediate relief, so I slept pressure-free.
Now, another thing that makes the GhostBed topper stand out from the competitors is that it comes with a waterproof cover. Hence, it can protect your mattress from accidental spills. Naturally, this means your topper and mattress will stay fresh and clean longer. To tell the truth, I was a bit skeptical at first, so I decided to test how the waterproof lining works in this topper. The result: it is safe for breakfasts in bed.
I tested the Ghostbed topper and found it provides excellent temperature relief for hot side sleepers. The surface temperature was measured at 80.6 degrees Fahrenheit (the mattress was 84.5 degrees by itself), meaning the topper lowered the temperature by 3.9 degrees. Puffy, however, only brought its mattress temperature down by 1.1 degrees. So, the Ghostbed topper does a better job of keeping you cool by at least three times as much.
- aids fast relaxation and tension relief thanks to the combination of zoned support and close conforming;
- isn’t likely to sleep hot;
- easy to clean, thanks to its waterproof cover.
- quite thick and requires deep-pocket sheets;
- it does not come with a sleep trial period, unlike their mattresses;
- some initial off-gassing might be present upon arrival.
Our Methodology - Why I Picked These Mattress Toppers
The best toppers for side sleepers typically have extra cushioning and sinkage, plus some healthy pressure relief to re-distribute weight, so the shoulders and hips feel light and supported.
I used specific techniques when reviewing these toppers, such as measuring comfort and how well it would alleviate pressure while lying on my back, side, and stomach. I checked the material at face value, stripping back the cover and examining what the toppers were made of. I also measured how well the toppers would conform by measuring how much sinkage my body would make. Hands-on experience and years of practical knowledge working with mattresses and toppers help me make an informed decision on what topper suits side sleepers the best, and I will share more tips on choosing the right one for yourself in this article.
Why Do You Need to Consider Your Sleep Position When Shopping for a Mattress Topper?
Today, there are hundreds of mattress pads on the market, and the number keeps growing. Manufacturers promise that their topper will improve your sleep, alleviate back pain, and virtually restore your youth!
Having the wrong mattress topper can create pressure on your shoulders and neck.
Strict side sleepers are more prone to developing shoulder aches than any other type of sleeper. With the wrong topper, your shoulder might press too deep into the bedding, creating spinal misalignment.
If you're a side sleeper, you need to consider how a mattress topper might change the sleeping surface of your bed. If you're unable to find a suitable mattress topper in your local store, then you should do some research online and find out as much as possible about what these products are made from and what kind of quality one should look for when selecting one.
Get an idea of the kind of material used in making the topper; this will help you determine if the topper is just made up of cotton or if it's made up of other materials.
All the advertisements might make you think all toppers are equal, and you might feel like purchasing the first model that catches your eye.
But let me share a secret with you.
Not all mattress toppers are universally comfortable for all sleepers.
Besides, there are some common issues for side sleepers, and your ideal mattress topper should be able to solve them for you:
- Your spine may get out of alignment. Unlike back sleeping, which is considered the healthiest for your spine, side sleeping can make your back hurt. That’s because side sleepers tend to rotate their upper body to get comfortable, which puts strain on the lower back and pelvic area, resulting in morning pain. Plus, sleeping on your side can make the corresponding shoulder collapse into the mattress and create misalignment that leads to shoulder pain (1).
- Protruding hips and shoulders may accumulate pressure. These parts of your body experience the most pressure when you’re sleeping on your side. And if your mattress has a firm feel and doesn’t allow your body to sink, you may feel pain and stiffness in these areas.
- You may experience numbness and tingling in your arms. Sleeping on one side for too long may compress the nerves in your arms and cause you to lose sensitivity. You know the feeling I'm talking about — it's as if a thousand little needles are stinging you, and it's highly uncomfortable.
All these issues may get worse when you’re sleeping on the wrong surface.
So, let’s dive into what makes a mattress topper best for a side sleeper so that you can find one and start sleeping comfortably.
Side sleeping can be more beneficial for certain back pain diagnoses, such as herniated lumbar disks, osteoarthritis, or spinal stenosis (2).
Are Mattress Toppers for Side Sleepers the Same as Mattress Pads?
No, mattress toppers and pads aren’t the same.
Toppers are significantly thicker, in most cases. They can potentially alter the feel of one’s mattress and make it noticeably more comfortable.
As for mattress pads, they are thinner. That’s why this bedding accessory isn’t likely to offer enough added comfort when compared with mattress toppers. In most cases, mattress pads are used to protect mattresses from stains or when sleepers don’t need that much alteration in terms of comfort.
What Are Quality Mattress Toppers for Side Sleepers Made of?
Even though the mattress industry constantly comes up with innovative materials, they’re mostly used for making mattresses.
As for mattress pads, chances are that you’ll be choosing between memory foam, polyurethane foam, and natural latex. So, let’s find out how each of these materials works for side sleepers.
The queen of cradling, memory foam comes in three different variations when it comes to mattress toppers:
- Solid. Solid memory foam is cradling and adjustable to your body curves. If you choose a model that is 3–4 inches thick, you can easily rejuvenate the feel of your old bed. However, memory foam is known for its heat retention issues. If you're a side sleeper, you'll tend to sink deeper into the mattress, which is why you'll tend to sleep hot. It’s better to look for models that have an open-cell design in this case. Such mattress toppers are more breathable and may aid in proper thermoregulation during the night.
- Convoluted. You've probably noticed a lot of mattress toppers with a peak-and-valley design. This design makes for a solid option for side sleepers. The convoluted design contributes to pressure relief, especially in the hip and shoulder areas. Along with that, convoluted foam promotes better airflow, so you’ll sleep cooler. The main issue with egg-crate pads is the peaks can lose their shape quickly, which can negatively affect the supportive properties.
- Infused. Memory foam is most commonly infused with copper, graphite, charcoal, and cooling gel particles. Adding different mixtures to foams aims to prevent heat retention, odors, and mold development.
Polyfoam is a cheaper alternative to memory foam. It has an open-cell structure, so it withdraws heat from your body more effectively and may feel more spongy than viscoelastic foam.
Also, polyfoam has a quick rebound. This quality comes in handy if you’re looking for a mattress topper for an active side sleeper or individual with mobility concerns.
Possible drawbacks of polyfoam include lower durability and a pronounced odor that may take time to air out.
Latex is made from the vulcanized sap of rubber trees. This material offers several benefits:
- great durability;
- breathable construction;
- resistance to mold and dust mites.
Also, a latex topper offers a good balance between cradling and quick rebound, so it means you get precise contouring for your hips and shoulders without limiting your movements. If you have hip pain, there are some great mattress toppers for hip pain sufferers.
However, not everybody loves how latex mattress pads feel — they can be quite bouncy. Also, latex toppers are most often the priciest on the market, which can be a turnoff for some users.
Down or feathers
Down mattress toppers are quite popular among side sleepers. They tend to be rather thick and puffy. This material can provide a great deal of cushioning for the protruding body parts. At the same time, down toppers are breathable and can do a great job of regulating the temperature during sleep.
However, there are a few things shoppers need to keep in mind. First of all, down or feather mattress toppers can be very expensive.
Additionally, such toppers can’t usually deliver much support. They offer a generous amount of padding, but down is a soft material that can’t contribute to support that much. Therefore, these toppers are most frequently used by petite or average sleepers or those who have a firmer, supportive mattress and want to add a layer of padding.
Next, down toppers can go flat with regular use. That’s why they require regular fluffing. For some users, this can be an issue. After all, not many sleepers are ready to make that much effort when trying to make their bed more comfortable.
Allergy-prone users should also be careful with down or feather mattress toppers. They can accumulate moisture, which usually creates perfect conditions for dust mites. Naturally, this can lead to unpleasant allergic reactions.
Some mattress toppers use shredded fibers such as wool and cotton. They can be quite affordable and make a great option for budget shoppers.
That being said, wool and cotton toppers aren’t very supportive in most cases. They can offer an extra layer of padding and not much more.
These toppers are often used when sleepers require improved thermoregulation. Both wool and cotton fibers are extremely breathable. They can keep sleepers cool by allowing for proper air circulation during the night. Wool and cotton also wick the excess moisture away, which may contribute to thermoregulation as well.
Even though both polyfoam and natural latex are considered high-rebound materials, the latter has shown better pressure relief and weight distribution in different sleeping positions (3).
Also read: 5 Best Egg-Crate Mattress Toppers
What Is the Best Mattress Topper for Side Sleepers with Hip Pain?
When it comes to hip pain, there are two crucial aspects shoppers need to consider: proper alignment and pressure alleviation.
When the body is aligned correctly, there’s less pressure on the hips, which often leads to lower pain levels. To achieve that, shoppers need to pick a mattress topper based on their current mattress. The combination of the two has to result in a soft feel with decent support.
For instance, if the mattress is medium-firm, adding a 2- or 3-inch soft topper might be a good idea. If the mattress is overly firm, sleepers may want to get a soft pad that measures at least 3-4 inches in thickness. This way, the topper will provide gentle cradling for the aching hip, while the mattress will offer support and aid proper alignment.
As for pressure alleviation, memory foam toppers usually perform the best in this case. Latex may also do the trick, but it has a unique feel that might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Finding the Right Firmness Point for Side Sleepers
After defining the materials that best suit your needs, the second factor you need to consider if you want a decent mattress topper for side sleepers is firmness.
And this is where things can get tricky.
Firmness perception varies from person to person and is tied to numerous factors.
- Sleeping position. Since we’re talking about side sleeping here, I will make suggestions only about this sleeping style. Side sleepers will benefit from a mattress topper with a soft or medium-soft feel because it allows them to sink more deeply and avoid spine misalignment. Also, a soft mattress topper can reduce the pressure created in the hips and shoulders, alleviating stiffness in these areas.
- Weight. If you’re a heavy side sleeper, you might be best to choose a mattress pad with a medium or even medium-firm feel. In this case, the topper will withstand the increased load around your hips and maintain correct spine alignment.
- Aches and pains. Any kind of pain can alter the perception of firmness. Besides, different aches and pains may require different firmness levels to help you deal with them. For example, a firmer mattress topper with some bounce is good for those who suffer from joint pain. People with lower back pain may need a softer and more cradling topper to support this area.
Speaking of sleep quality, softer beds are perceived as more comfortable (4) and can deliver more stable and deep sleep.
How Thick Should a Mattress Topper for Side Sleepers Be?
Thickness can often affect comfort and support, so this aspect should not be overlooked. Generally, side sleepers are advised to choose thicker mattress toppers (at least 3 inches). They can provide enough of a hug for protruding body parts, preventing pressure build-up when lying on one side.
A thicker topper also has more chances to alter the feel of one’s mattress. That’s why extra-thick toppers work especially well for side sleepers whose mattresses are too firm.
Other Important Checks to Make When Choosing a Mattress Topper for Side Sleepers
Not only the properly chosen type of mattress topper and firmness make the best mattress topper for a side sleeper. You still need to consider other factors to ensure the model you choose will work as you expect it to.
So, I will list these important factors for you below.
- Thermoregulation. Hot sleeping is a common issue among side sleepers, so your mattress topper should be able to withdraw excess body heat. Even though the traditional polyurethane-based memory foam has great pressure-relieving effects, it’s still a low-rebound material that can retain some body heat and make falling asleep more difficult (5). To avoid that, look for foams with an open-cell structure or those infused with cooling gel or copper. But, if your budget allows, go for natural latex toppers that sleep much cooler than any foam.
- Durability. The durability of a mattress topper depends mainly on the density of the materials used. Medium density for a memory foam topper starts from 3 PCF (pounds per cubic foot). If you go for polyurethane foam, look for 1.5 PCF or higher. Finally, for a latex mattress pad, 4.3–4.5 PCF is a good starting point.
- Odors. Since foam is a result of a complex chemical reaction, in most cases, it will have a chemical odor. To avoid smelly foams, do not go for cheap mattress toppers. Also, you may opt for scented foams, e.g. infused with lavender or aloe vera. These scents will mask the factory foam odor and may even help you fall asleep more easily.
- Cover. Some mattress toppers come with removable covers, and that’s a huge plus. A removable cover would allow users to easily keep their sleeping environment clean. It would also come in handy for allergy sufferers. They can get rid of dust and other potential allergens by simply removing the cover and washing it regularly.
- Fastening system. Many side sleepers don’t have a favorite side and tend to switch positions during the night. In this case, they may want to think about the suited fastening system the mattress topper would have. For example, there are models that come with elastic straps. They work to keep the topper fixed on top of the mattress and prevent it from sliding off during the night. There are also models that work like a fitted sheet. In this case, users need to make sure the pockets are deep enough for their mattress’s height.
- Sleep Trial. Most toppers come with a free sleep trial period. This period, like most mattresses, allows you to try out the topper and return it before the period expires if you are not satisfied with it. You should consider sleep trials if you are unsure of the topper that is most suitable for you.
- The shipping cost. The shipping cost of the topper you desire should be considered when choosing a mattress topper for side sleepers. Although most companies in the US offer free shipping, others do not. Therefore, it will be wise to consider this if you are not big on paying extra shipping costs.
- Motion transfer. Many side sleepers don’t just lie on one side all night long. They can toss and turn to switch sides, which may cause disturbances for their partner. When that’s the case, it’s better to choose a mattress topper that will absorb shock from motion. Memory foam performs the best in this scenario, but latex can also do the trick if it’s more on the softer side.
Some manufacturers suggest you air out the topper for 12–24 hours before sleeping on it. This can help decrease the odor as well.
How Much Should Side Sleepers Spend on a Mattress Topper?
Now, most quality mattress toppers for side sleepers fall somewhere between $150 and $400. It is possible to find models cheaper than $150-100, but users shouldn't expect them to be extremely durable.
The thing is, shoppers usually get what they pay for when it comes to toppers. So, getting something overly cheap would probably mean lower quality.
Additionally, side sleepers might end up spending a bit more because this sleeping style requires more cushioning. This means the topper has to be quite thick. And thicker models use more material, which also affects the price.
Where to Purchase a Mattress Topper for Side Sleepers
Mattress toppers are procured to give mattresses a new lease, or to adjust their firmness level. And this is why getting the best is a necessity.
There are two options available for mattress topper purchase; the online store, and the local store. The local store is the physical one where people go to, while the online store is only accessible via the internet. Even though both options offer valuable services with their individual benefits, the recommended shopping avenue for mattress toppers is the online store.
The first perk of an online store is its ease of access. Users can do their mattress shopping from the comfort of their homes while relaxing or engaging in other tasks. Coupling this with the absence of clerks or salespersons, individuals can spend as much time as they want perusing products and making up their minds.
Other perks of an online store include home delivery, discounts, promotional sales, customer feedback and reviews, etc.There are two options available for mattress topper purchase; the online store, and the local store. The local store is the physical one where people go to, while the online store is only accessible via the internet. Even though both options offer valuable services with their individual benefits, the recommended shopping avenue for mattress toppers is the online store.
What type of mattress topper is best for side sleepers?
How firm should a mattress topper for a side sleeper be?
A good topper for a side sleeper should be soft. For sleepers over 250 pounds, a medium or a medium-firm mattress topper might be a better solution.
How thick should a mattress topper for side sleepers be?
For side sleepers, an optimal topper thickness would be 3 inches and more.
Is a bamboo mattress topper beneficial for a side sleeper?
Yes. A bamboo mattress topper provides medium-level support to your body, which is very beneficial to side sleepers.
Which mattress topper is best for relieving pressure for side sleepers?
Any good mattress topper within the 4-inch range is recommended. It helps to buffer the heavyweight of the hips for side sleepers. However, a memory foam topper will provide the needed support to maintain neutral spine alignment, which aids side sleepers in enjoying their sleep.
I’m not going to deny the fact that sleeping on the side is extremely comfortable. After all, I’m a side sleeper myself. What I’m going to say is that you can easily make your side sleeping even more comfortable if you purchase the right mattress topper.
And to do that, shoppers need to pay attention to the topper material and learn more about its characteristics. This way, they will be likely to figure out which type would make them the happiest. Thickness and the density matter too. The former may affect one’s comfort and the latter - durability of the mattress topper.
Now, if you are still feeling a bit hesitant, allow me to share the model that managed to impress me the most. The Saatva Mattress Topper is a unique find that’s likely to make countless side sleepers happy. The Saatva topper is thick and comes in three material variations. Therefore, there’s a chance any user can find an ideal option based on their particular preferences. Additionally, this topper by Saatva is quality-made, so it’s going to be a long-lasting investment.
So, what are your biggest concerns about sleeping on your side? Do you think any model of those reviewed above can resolve them? Share below please!
Mattress Toppers Considered
Hours of Research
Sleep Experts Consulted
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Thanks a lot for your kind words! I hope this article was helpful!