Tips To Choose a Mattress Topper for a Side Sleeper
Mattress toppers are removable layers of padding that provide a mattress with extra cushioning and help enhance your quality of sleep. A mattress topper sits on top of the mattress and can also prolong the mattress’s life by reducing pressure on the springs and reducing general wear. You may also find value in our article when to buy a mattress topper instead of a new mattress so make sure to check it out too. Many people sleep on their sides, but this can put pressure on your shoulders and hips (for more information about pressure associated with sleep position, see this study). However, using a mattress topper can help alleviate pain for side sleepers. If you sleep on your side, there are a few factors to take into account when choosing a mattress topper. In this article, we’ll give some tips on how to choose a mattress topper for a side sleeper.
To choose a mattress topper for a side sleeper, select a thick mattress topper that uses softer materials so that you don’t have pressure points on your shoulders and hips while sleeping on your side. Make sure to pair your mattress topper with a pillow for side sleepers to maximize comfort.
Below, we’ll go into more detail about mattress toppers and how to choose a mattress topper for a side sleeper.
What Is a Mattress Topper?
A mattress topper is an extra layer that’s placed on top of your mattress to provide additional comfort for you and protection for your mattress.
Mattress toppers sit on top of your mattress and provide support that can prolong your mattress's life. By distributing weight more evenly across the bed, a mattress topper can help you prevent your mattress from sagging or getting worn out too quickly. Mattress toppers add a significant layer of softness, cushioning, and support for your body as you sleep. Toppers are much easier to wash than mattresses, and they often have removable covers. Additionally, toppers act as a useful barrier to prevent stains from seeping through to your mattress. Make sure to check out our in-depth guide to choosing mattress topper size and thickness and our complete guide to mattress topper benefits and disadvantages for more information. You might also find our article on how to keep your mattress topper from sliding helpful too.
How To Choose a Mattress Topper with Side Support for a Side Sleeper
Though side-sleeping is common and considered relatively healthy, this position can be problematic on overly firm mattresses.
Side sleepers need extra cushioning beneath the shoulders and hips in order to align the head, spine, and pelvis. If the spine is not properly aligned, then pressure points are likely to develop (for more information about spinal alignment while sleeping, see this study).
The best mattress toppers for side sleepers conform to the body without sagging or feeling too firm, resulting in balanced support and consistent spinal alignment. Therefore, it is very important for side sleepers to choose a mattress topper that will suit them perfectly and last them for a long time.
There are a few things you should keep in mind when shopping for a mattress topper. For example, you should consider the material, thickness, and firmness/density of different kinds of mattress toppers. Some other important qualities to keep in mind include temperature neutrality, durability, and whether they make noise when you move around on them.
- How to choose the right mattress topper for back support
- Choosing a mattress topper to reduce shoulder pain
- How to choose a mattress topper to help hip pain
- Choosing the right mattress topper for neck support
Tip 1. Choose a Soft Material for Your Mattress Topper that’s Hypoallergenic
When choosing a mattress topper, you should think about the material you want it to be made from. Some materials are firmer than others - as an example, latex mattress toppers tend to be firm while memory foam mattress toppers are softer. Note that the costs of different types of materials can vary.
When sleeping on your side, your face is closer to the mattress topper so consider a hypo-allergenic mattress topper. Materials such as cotton and wool are great for people with allergies, whereas many people are allergic to latex (for more information about allergens in latex mattresses, see this study). You may also be interested in learning how to clean a mattress topper and when to replace a mattress topper.
Here are some materials for Mattress Toppers that we recommend for side sleepers
|Mattress Topper Material||Benefit of This Material for Side Sleepers||Example of Mattress Topper Made of This Material||Price|
|Memory Foam||Conforms to the shape of your body, but slowly returns to its original shape when pressure is released |
Available in different densities and firmness
Provides comfort, support, and even weight distribution
Absorbs motion when shifting in bed
|4” Memory Foam Mattress Topper, Queen||~$130|
|Wool||Is naturally soft, comfortable, and hypoallergenic |
Isolates motion transfer
|Home of Wool 2- inch Wool Mattress Topper||~$675|
|Cotton||Light and breathable |
Found in synthetic and organic materials
Makes your mattress softer and more comfortable
|Extra Thick Queen Size Cotton Mattress Topper||~$70|
|Polyester||Cheapest option |
Easy to clean
Fluffy, soft and comfortable
|Sweet Home Collection Hypoallergenic Topper Polyester Down Alternative Soft and Luxurious Bed Mattress Pad, Full||~$40|
Tip 2. Get a Thick Mattress Topper To Cushion and Support You While You Sleep on Your Side
The thinnest mattress toppers are about one inch thick, and the thickest can be 4-5 inches thick. A good mattress topper for side sleeping should be sufficiently thick. If it is too thin, you will feel the firmness of your mattress rather than your mattress topper. Thinner mattress toppers are typically more firm whereas thick mattress toppers are usually softer and provide more cushioning. (For more information about softening a mattress with a mattress topper, read our article)
A thinner mattress topper can be a good choice if you only need a little bit of padding when you sleep. Generally, the more you weigh, the thicker the topper needs to be.
If you want more warmth at night, you should also consider buying a thicker topper, as they can insulate your bed and make it feel warmer.
Here are some mattress toppers with different thicknesses and the right audience who should use them.
|Mattress Topper Thickness||Benefit of This Thickness||Example of Mattress Topper with This Thickness||Price|
|1-2 inches||Offers some minor cushioning. |
Ok for lighter side sleepers or people who sleep both on their side and back.
|Milliard gel Memory foam Mattress Topper- 2 inches thick with Premium 2.5 Pound Density, Twin||~$70|
|3 inches||Provides a good level of softness and support. |
Good for lighter side sleepers or people who sleep both on their side and back.
|3-inch Extra Thick Mattress Topper with 100% cotton cover, Twin size||~$65|
|4 inches||Provides enough cushioning and support for side sleepers while maintaining a neutral spine alignment |
Great for Side Sleeping
|Lucid 4 Inch Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper- Ventilated design- Ultra Plush-Queen||~$220|
|5+ inches||Perfect for heavy weight individuals |
Offers comfort and durability
|AmericanMade King Size 5 Inch thick, Firm Conventional Polyurethane Foam MattressPad, Bed Topper||~$285|
Tip 3. The Support you need from a Mattress Topper depends on Your Weight
Side sleepers typically need a lot of cushioning to support their spine while they are sleeping on their sides.
People who weigh less than 130 pounds can get away with thinner mattress toppers because they don’t depress the mattress topper as much as those who weigh more. Heavier side-sleepers will prefer thicker mattress toppers that can accommodate the sag and still shelter them from the firmness of their mattress.
Additionally, the density of a mattress topper is important when it comes to determining how much support it will provide. Generally, denser materials tend to provide better cushioning and withstand sagging better than low-density materials. You will get more support if you buy a mattress topper with higher density: for example, a low-density mattress topper will be ideal for a person who desires very low levels of support, and one with high density will suit people who want serious relief from pain and discomfort. Depending on your weight and your support needs, choose a mattress topper with the right density and level of support for your body.
Tips for Reducing Tossing and Turning with a Mattress Topper
If you are sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress, tossing and turning is inevitable. However, a great mattress topper can help you avoid that.
To reduce tossing and turning with a mattress topper, follow these tips:
- Choose a mattress topper that is thick so you don’t feel the bed underneath
- Make sure your mattress topper covers your entire bed
- The density and firmness of your mattress topper will depend on your weight
Usually, you want to buy a mattress topper because the underlying bed isn’t comfortable enough. If you are tossing and turning in bed, you can use a mattress topper to change the surface you sleep on without paying for a whole new mattress.
To do this, choose a mattress topper that is thick so that you don’t feel the underlying bed anymore. We’ve given you tips above to choose the right thickness, density, and material.
Also note that many mattress toppers are designed to absorb motion whenever someone moves in bed, and this characteristic is particularly important for couples. So, if you want your partner to not make that much noise while turning, choose something like memory foam which is much more absorptive. Latex, on the other hand, doesn’t absorb motion as well.
More durable mattress topper materials will help reduce tossing and turning since they will be more comfortable and won’t sag and sink into your mattress. These generally tend to be more expensive. Take a look at the manufacturer’s warranty or just call them, to get a better idea of how long you should expect a mattress topper to last.
Also, make sure to choose the right size mattress topper, otherwise, it won’t be comfortable to lie on everywhere (you’ll have parts that aren’t covered by the mattress topper) and may cause you to toss and turn during the night.
Common Mattress Topper Materials
Mattress toppers come in a range of different styles and materials. Therefore, it is important to know what the pros and cons are of each material. Since toppers can be quite expensive, you don’t want to choose one only to discover that the product makes your sleep worse instead of enhancing it. Some common mattress topper materials include latex, memory foam, wool, cotton, and polyester.
In many ways, memory foam mattress toppers are the best kind because they conform to your body, providing support and cushioning where it is most needed. They are also available in different densities and thicknesses to create the best sleeping surface for you.
Mattress toppers made from latex can be expensive, but they can provide an excellent amount of support. Latex mattress toppers do a great job of keeping your body properly aligned and cushioned. They feel a bit firmer than memory foam toppers, but they typically don’t feel as hot when you sleep. Moreover, latex mattress toppers are also very durable. However, you should avoid latex if anyone in your household is allergic to it.
Wool mattress toppers are a great choice for those who want a topper made of natural fibers. Besides being soft and comfortable, wool is also quite durable. It is also a great material for heat regulation because it keeps you warm in the colder months and cool when the weather gets warm. Wool is a good choice for those who have allergies, because it does not typically attract bed bugs or dust mites. On the other hand, lack of cushioning is a downside of wool toppers.
Cotton mattress toppers have great breathability and can be machine washed. However, their durability is questionable as cotton tends to wear down quickly, especially if they’re used on a mattress that’s slept on regularly. Cotton is also a good solution for people affected by allergies.
Polyester mattress toppers can be cleaned and washed easily, and they can be very affordable. However, polyester is not as supportive or durable as thicker toppers made from latex or memory foam.
How does Mattress Topper Thickness Affect Comfort
As we mentioned before, a good mattress topper should be sufficiently thick. If a topper is too thin, it will not provide enough support and therefore won’t be able to play its intended role. However, a thin mattress topper can be good if you only need minimal support.
Toppers that are 1 to 2 inches thick are a good choice if you have a supportive mattress but want a little extra padding and comfort. Toppers with a profile of 3 inches or less are usually medium-firm or firmer. This is an optimal thickness for most side sleepers. Toppers that are 4 inches thick tend to have a softer feel and conform closer to the sleeper’s body, making them a good option for lighter side sleepers. In addition, mattress toppers above 5 inches are good for people who want lots of extra comfort and who don’t weigh much, since these are usually quite soft.
Mattress Topper Firmness and Density
The density of a mattress topper is important when it comes to the degree of softness and support that you want. Density is typically measured in pounds per cubic foot, and the most common density for mattress toppers is somewhere between two and six pounds per cubic foot.
A mattress topper with the right firmness can support a side sleeper and protect the quality of your sleep (for more information on the influence of bed firmness on sleep quality, see this study). Lying with your spine in an unaligned, unsupported position for eight hours every night is a big contributor to pain and can also ruin the quality of your sleep.
Soft mattress toppers are good for those who like to sink into the bed when sleeping, and medium toppers will not put too much pressure on your shoulders and hips. These two mattress topper densities are the best choices for side sleepers as they provide relief for aches and pains, absorb movement, and provide stability. Firm mattress toppers are best for back sleepers, and extra firm toppers are more suitable for stomach sleepers.
For a summary of the different firmness and density levels of mattress toppers, see the table below.
|Mattress Topper Firmness||Benefit of This Firmness||Example Product With This Firmness||Price|
|Soft||Very comfortable and good for pressure points.||Link to Amazon||$180.05|
|Medium||Good for back alignment and pain relief for pressure points.||Link to Amazon||$76.99|
|Firm||Good for back sleepers and those who need extra support.||Link to Amazon||$179|
|Extra Firm||Good for stomach sleepers and those who need a very firm support surface.||Link to Amazon||$154.99|
How To Support an Overweight Side Sleeper with a Mattress Topper
Mattress toppers have different requirements when it comes to weight. Not all mattress toppers are suitable for both overweight people and those who aren’t overweight.
To support an overweight side sleeper with a mattress topper, follow these tips:
- Consider choosing a thicker mattress topper with high density to absorb the weight
- Choose a memory foam topper for optimal comfort and support
- Flip the mattress topper every week
High-density mattress toppers are best for people who weigh over 230 pounds, whereas low-density ones are better for people who aren’t overweight. The reason for this is that overweight side sleepers need extra support, and thick, soft toppers won’t provide sufficient support.
Memory foam are the best materials for mattress toppers for heavier people because of their firmness and support. Also, if you’re an overweight side sleeper, make sure to flip the mattress topper every week so that it doesn’t sag and continues to provide proper cushioning and support for you.