Nolah now offers a range of mattress types and materials, but we got our start with a simple design goal: using a material more advanced than memory foam to build the perfect side sleeper mattress.
We noticed a gap in the market and knew that filling that gap would help countless people feel more comfortable in bed and get better rest. Our founders noticed that no other mattress brand specifically addressed all the pain points that side sleepers commonly experience. We set off to do just that, patenting our proprietary polyfoam, Nolah AirFoam™, along the way.
There is no “correct” or “healthiest” sleep position that guarantees comfort and quality rest. However, most people favor one sleep position over the rest: side sleeping. An estimated 74 percent of adults typically sleep on their side.
If you’re not a side sleeper, don’t worry—we have you covered. Nolah offers a range of mattress models, including comfortable options for all sleeper types. Non-side sleepers can head over to our Sleep Position Guide to learn more about their sleep profile and what they should look for in a mattress.
Side sleepers, keep reading. By the end of this guide, you’ll know exactly what type of mattress suits you best and how to maximize comfort while sleeping on your side.
Many people never consciously choose their sleep position; they simply form the habit based on what feels right. Others may intentionally train themselves to sleep in a certain position to address a specific need or ailment.
Whether you’ve naturally fallen asleep on your side your whole life, or you recently decided to become a side sleeper, you experience the following benefits of the habit:
Side sleeping is perfectly healthy, and it comes naturally to most sleepers. However, spending eight straight hours in any position can cause discomfort. Knowing the vulnerabilities associated with the position can help mattress shoppers identify what mattress features they need to counteract these concerns. Aside from selecting the ideal side sleeper mattress, you can strategically place pillows to add extra comfort and support.
The side sleeping position doesn’t put pressure on the surface of your back, making it a good fit for people with back pain. However, side sleepers still need to think about their spinal alignment.
Side sleepers need a pillow that holds their neck straight and in line with their spine. Your ideal pillow loft (the combination of thickness and firmness) depends on the broadness of your shoulders and how much cushioning you require.
Many side sleepers benefit from adjustable pillows, like the Nolah Squishy Pillow, that allow them to experiment with different lofts until they find the perfect fit. To learn more about side sleeper neck and head support, check out our guide on the Best Pillows for Side Sleepers.
What does the ideal mattress and pillow setup look like for a side sleeper? Sleeping on a mattress made for side sleepers should look something like this:
A. Adjustable Pillow
For proper support and neck alignment, side sleepers typically need a pillow around 5 to 6 inches thick, depending on the width of their shoulders. An adjustable foam pillow allows customization and provides ample cushioning.
B. Contouring and Pressure Relief
Side sleepers need gentle contouring to cradle and cushion the heaviest areas of their body that contact the mattress: their lower shoulder, hip, and knee. They also benefit from pressure-relieving mattress materials, like AirFoam™ and natural latex, that reduce peak pressure at these points.
C. Soft to Medium-Firm Level Firmness
Gentle contouring will keep side sleepers comfortable and cradle their joints, but too much contouring will allow sinkage and curve your spine. Depending on your weight, a mattress in the 4 to 7-level firmness range will provide the right balance between cushioning and support.
D. Thigh or Knee Pillow
Sleeping with a pillow between your thighs or knees offers three advantages for side sleepers: it prevents your knees from knocking against one another, helps distribute the weight of your upper leg, and prevents your hips from rotating, which jeopardizes spinal alignment.
We urge mattress shoppers to think critically about their sleep position and choose a bed that meets them where they are. If you wake up with joint pain, prioritize pressure relief. Struggle with spinal misalignment? Make sure you pick your mattress’s firmness level based on your weight class.
With the vulnerabilities of side sleeping and your specific pain points in mind, you can find your perfect-fit mattress that counteracts these issues. Investing in the right mattress and following these tips can help side sleepers feel at ease, drift off into restorative sleep, and wake up pain-free.