If you’re in the market for a new mattress, you’ve likely thought about the size you want, the feel you prefer, and maybe even how you’ll style the bed with new bedding and a bed frame. But have you considered how your sleep position should influence the mattress you pick?
Your sleep position affects the way you experience your mattress and how easily you get comfortable and drift off to sleep. Especially if you struggle with specific sleep struggles or pain, we recommend getting to know the advantages and disadvantages of your preferred sleep position before buying your next mattress.
Keep in mind that your weight should also inform the mattress features and firmness level you choose. The table above serves as a general guide for adults weighing up to 350 pounds. Mattress shoppers outside of this range should read our detailed Mattress Firmness Guide for help finding their perfect fit.
The purpose of a mattress is to provide a comfortable sleep surface that supports and stabilizes the body while keeping the spine aligned in a neutral position. Because people sleep in different positions and have unique physiques, mattresses aren’t a one-size-fits-all product.
Your sleep position determines the orientation of your spine and your weight’s distribution across the mattress surface. It dictates which parts of the body make contact with the mattress surface, which areas bear the most weight, and where these peak pressure points fall on the mattress.
To find a mattress that keeps your spine in line and relieves pressure around critical stress points, you need to understand which mattress characteristics and features best fit your sleep position. This guide analyzes the four sleep positions—side, back, stomach, and combination—and identifies the comfort and support needs associated with each sleeper profile.
For many people, a specific sleep position comes to them naturally. In any other position, they just can’t get comfortable enough to drift off to sleep. Others don’t feel limited to a single sleeping position and can fall asleep curled into a ball on their side just as well as lying flat on their back. In the mattress world, we call these individuals combination sleepers. Then, there are the restless sleepers who can never seem to find the sweet spot on their mattress and spend their nights tossing and turning.
Whichever sleeper profile sounds the most like you, there’s a mattress model that accommodates your unique needs and will help you fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up feeling fresh and pain-free. You’ll find it; you just have to do your due diligence during the mattress shopping process.
To make that journey easier, we’ve put together a list of the most common sleep positions and identified the benefits, pain points, and mattress specifications associated with each.
Almost 75 percent of adults sleep on their side, making it by far the most popular sleep position. That’s why Nolah started out with the Nolah Original, our AirFoam™ mattress specifically designed to comfort and support side sleepers.
Some side sleepers only sleep on their left or right, while others can comfortably switch between both. Either way, the position rests one arm against the bed while the opposite arm faces the ceiling. Side sleepers tend to lie totally straight with their arms at their sides (log position), curl their arms and legs into their chest (fetal position), or sleep with their legs straight but their arms outstretched (yearner position).Benefits of Side Sleeping
What should side sleepers look for in a mattress? To heighten the benefits and address the concerns associated with side sleeping, we recommend the following mattress features.
To alleviate stress at these pressure points, look for a mattress material that spreads out the load. For example, Nolah AirFoam™ contains billions of microscopic air bubbles that redistribute your weight, offering four times better pressure relief than traditional memory foam. Natural latex also provides this relief.
People who strictly sleep on their back make up 10 percent of the adult population, making it the least common of the three primary sleep positions (side, stomach, and back). If this statistic surprises you, don’t stress; while less common, sleeping on your back is perfectly healthy if you have the right mattress.
Also known as the supine position, the back sleeping position has a few common variations. Back sleepers often sleep totally straight with their arms at their sides (soldier position), with their legs spread and arms open above their head (starfish), or somewhere in between. For example, you may like to lie flat with your hands clasped together over your stomach.Benefits of Back Sleeping
While we don’t recommend the stomach sleep position, many people—about 16 percent of sleepers—do find it comfortable. Sleeping in the prone position certainly has its drawbacks, but the right mattress can relieve some of the strain it puts on your body. If you’re an avid stomach sleeper, finding a mattress with heightened support should be a top priority.Benefits of Stomach Sleeping
Combination sleepers don’t favor a single sleep position over the others. Instead, they mix it up from time to time or switch between positions throughout the night. If you’re a combination sleeper or tend to toss and turn in your sleep, you’ll need a versatile mattress that provides comfort and support for all the sleep positions you frequent.
The Ideal Combination Sleeper Mattress
Restless or combination sleepers should avoid memory foam, which takes time to adjust when you switch positions. Latex, on the other hand, has a bouncy quality, perfect for sleepers who move around a lot in their sleep.
Now that you know the strengths and weaknesses of your sleep position and which mattress features will help you sleep comfortably, you’re ready to start shopping! With your sleep position in mind, you’ll have no trouble finding a mattress that comforts you perfectly and provides support in all the right places. If you have further questions about the mattress shopping process, head over to our Mattress Shopping Guide for step-by-step instructions on how to find the right mattress for you.