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Best Mattresses by Sleeping Position

Woman sleeping on her side

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There are three styles of sleeping: back, stomach, and side. Most people don’t think about their sleeping position when purchasing a mattress, but it’s actually one of the most important factors you should think about.

In this guide we’ll review some of the best mattresses based on your sleeping position. If you’re a back sleeper you have different requirements for your bed than a stomach or side sleeper and vice versa. This best-of list will help you evaluate the different leading mattress brands so you can decide which one is best for the way you sleep.

Our Top Picks

The best mattress for back sleepers is Nectar. We gave it the #1 spot for it’s affordability and ability to provide pressure relief.

Our top pick for stomach sleepers is Casper Hybrid. The best thing about this mattress is that it provides support while maintaining a soft, plush feel.

If you’re a side sleeper, we really love DreamCloud. We liked how it helps maintain proper spinal alignment and support.

Back Sleepers

Our favorite brands for back sleepers are:

  1. Nectar
  2. Saatva
  3. ZenHaven

#1. Nectar

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We rank the Nectar in our #1 spot because it’s an all-foam mattress that conforms to your body, provides pressure relief, and is extremely affordable.

The Nectar uses a four-layer design that we rate as being a medium-firm level of softness (similar to their pillows). We generally recommend medium-firm or firm mattresses to you if you’re a back sleeper because you need extra support to help stabilize your spine and keep everything in proper alignment.

All-foam mattresses like the Nectar are also great for couples since the material helps limit motion transfer. If you’re partner tosses and turns all night, this mattress will make it much less noticeable.

Nectar offers free shipping within the contiguous United States. You can pay an additional fee to get white glove delivery service, which includes old mattress disposal.

When you buy a mattress from Nectar you’ll get a one-year sleep trial and a limited lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects.

#2. Saatva

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Saatva is definitely one of the trendiest mattress brands out there, and we definitely think that the hype is justified.

This mattress earned a spot on our list of best mattresses for back sleepers because of it’s coil-on-coil design, which we found provides excellent spinal support and contouring. The comfort layer is made out of memory foam and polyfoam with pocketed coils for extra support and reinforcement.

You can choose from three different softness levels when purchasing a Saatva: medium-soft, medium-firm, and firm. For back sleepers we recommend buying either the firm or medium-firm version.

Saatva gives you free white glove delivery within the continental US and Canada. The mattress is backed by a 120-night sleep trial which is below average (most brands offer 365 days) as well as a 15-year warranty.

#3. ZenHaven

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ZenHaven is a premium, luxury brand owned by Saatva. The main reason we placed this mattress on our best-of list is because it is a dual-sided mattress with a different firmness level on each side: Luxury Plus and Gentle Firm.

The two-sided construction is great because it lets you adjust your bed based on your current needs. If you’re a back sleeper you’ll most likely prefer the Gentle Firm side since it provides the support you need. But if you ever want something a little bit softer you can just flip the mattress over to the Luxury Plus side. It’s that easy.

The ZenHaven mattress comes with a 120-night sleep trial and a 20-year warranty.

Stomach Sleepers

The best mattresses for stomach sleepers are:

  1. Casper Hybrid
  2. Leesa
  3. Brooklyn Bedding Aurora

#1. Casper Hybrid

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We gave the Casper Hybrid our #1 spot because it comes in a medium level of firmness while still offering a plush, soft feel. Stomach sleepers are the hardest type of person to find a mattress for, since the sleeping position is so uncommon. Most mattress companies cater to back or side sleepers who have different needs compared to people who prefer to sleep on their belly.

This bed comes with three foam comfort layers measuring more than 4 inches thick. We found that this feature ensured that the Casper distributed our weight evenly, preventing pressure points and giving added support around the stomach area.

Casper offers free shipping to any location within the contiguous United States and Canada. It comes with a below-average 100-night sleep trial and 10-year warranty.

#2. Leesa

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Stomach sleepers generally prefer a mattress that sinks in a little bit while still offering enough support to keep their spine in proper alignment. We think that the Leesa does a great job of balancing those two needs, and for that reason we’ve given it the #2 spot in this best-of list.

When we were reviewing the Leesa we noticed that it did a great job of absorbing weight without sinking or sagging. This is extremely important for belly sleepers, since sleeping on a poor quality mattress can cause aches, pains, and issues with spinal alignment. All of our testers reported that they woke up pain-free when sleeping on the Leesa.

The Leesa is a medium mattress that does a phenomenal job of isolating motion – meaning that you won’t feel your partner tossing and turning all night – and doesn’t make any noise.

Leesa offers free shipping in the USA to all 50 states. When you buy a Leesa mattress you’ll get a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.

#3. Brooklyn Bedding Aurora

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The Aurora by Brooklyn Bedding is a hybrid mattress that combines an 8-inch layer of individual pocket coils – to provide support – with a polyfoam and gel memory foam comfort layer.

We added the Aurora to this list because it’s robust construction ensures that it will support the unique needs of stomach sleepers. If you sleep on your belly, your weight is distributed in a different way compared to side and back sleepers, which can cause some mattresses to sag. The Aurora combines copper and gel layers with pocket coils, which we found did a great job of offering both comfort and support.

The Brooklyn Bedding Aurora comes in three different firmness levels: soft, medium, and firm. We recommend that stomach sleepers use the medium option or the soft one if they know that they prefer a more plush feel. You should probably skip buying the firm one unless you know that you require that much support.

The Aurora comes with a 120-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.

Side Sleepers

We recommend that side sleepers buy one of the following:

  1. DreamCloud
  2. Puffy
  3. Layla

#1. DreamCloud

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Most side sleepers need a mattress that provides support while also sinking in a little bit. That’s why we decided to put DreamCloud in our #1 spot for side sleepers.

While back sleepers generally need a firm mattress and stomach sleepers need a soft or medium bed, we think that side sleepers should opt for a medium-firm mattress like the DreamCloud.

The DreamCloud is a hybrid mattress, meaning that it’s construction features an innerspring core surrounded by a gel comfort layer. We found that the comfort layer did a great job of sinking in just the right amount. Any less and it would have been uncomfortable, and any more softness and it wouldn’t keep your back in proper alignment. According to our reviewers, the DreamCloud is just right.

When you buy the DreamCloud you get free shipping and a lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects. You also get a standard 365-night sleep trial, so you can return it if you aren’t completely satisfied.

#2. Puffy

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Puffy is another medium mattress that is good for side sleepers who think that medium-firm mattresses aren’t quite plush enough for their needs.

The Puffy is great because even though it sinks in a little bit it still provides support without feeling like you’re sleeping on a rock. Side sleepers will love this bed because it contours and conforms to the shape of your body without putting too much pressure on your hips and shoulders.

The biggest problem that side sleepers face is that their mattress doesn’t sink in enough on their hips and shoulders while also not providing enough support for the rest of their body. We’re happy to report that the Puffy mattress did a great job of supporting the parts of your body that need it while also being soft enough to relieve pressure at key points on your body.

Puffy comes with a 101-night sleep trial (below average) and a 10-year warranty.

#3. Layla

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Layla is a flippable mattress that has a soft side for side sleepers and a firm side that the company recommends for back sleepers.

One unique aspect of this mattress – the reason we gave it a spot on this list – is that it’s made out of copper foam. This material has a similar feel as memory foam but with a twist: the copper gel in the foam reacts to increased pressure by turning up the level of firmness. This means that you’ll get extra support around deep compression areas – like your hips and shoulders (that’s why we recommend it for pain relief as well).

Layla offers a 120-night sleep trial, a lifetime warranty, and free shipping on their mattresses.

Sleeping positions – advantages and disadvantages

Most of us prefer one sleeping side to others, while rare people are fine with various positions. Each sleeping side has its good and bad sides. Although experts advise against sleeping on your tummy, if that’s the only position you’re able to relax in then that’s one good side of it. 

Sleeping on your back is good for keeping your spine and neck aligned well and prevents neck pain. Other pros are that it helps prevent wrinkles and acid reflux. Back sleeping alleviates hip and knee pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and stuffy nose. However, back sleepers are likely to snore more (this position also aggravates sleep apnea) and have lower back pain.

Stomach sleeping prevents snoring and sleep apnea but it causes wrinkles and brings the spine to a misaligned position, creating back and neck pain as well as increased pressure on joints.

If done right, siide sleeping seems to be great for the majority of people. The fetal position can make arthritis worse, cause stiffness, and prevent you from breathing deeply. The benefits are that it keeps the spine well aligned, prevents acid reflux and sleep apnea and it seems to help the brain clear out from harmful chemicals while you’re sleeping. Side sleeping may cause shoulder pain and jaw soreness.

What side is the best for sleeping?

There’s no one ultimate side or position that’s the best for everyone. For example, sleeping on the back would be best for a large number of people because that’s how our weight is distributed evenly and our bodies are most properly aligned; but people with OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) should avoid it as much as they can. Some people with certain types of neck and back pain can’t sleep on the back because it aggravates their condition.

Scientists have found that people who sleep on their side have a better chance that their glymphatic system will efficiently clear out the nerve cell waste products that accumulate while we’re awake. During deep sleep our brain cells shrink and the glymphatic system “washes out” beta-amyloid, tau proteins, and other chemicals. A heavy buildup of these chemicals is associated with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other brain diseases.

Is sleeping on your left side good for your stomach?

Our internal organs are not symmetrical and when it comes to your gut, lying on your right side is not the same as lying on your left side. Your left side helps prevent heartburn and helps with digestion and food moving through your bowels.

People who have problems with heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are advised to avoid sleeping on their right side. Sleeping on your left side keeps your stomach below the esophagus, so stomach acid doesn’t get to go up (reflux). 

You think this position could help you but you’re worried about your tossing and turning? You can simply try to fall asleep on your left side – this will still be beneficial even if you tend to switch sides at night.

How should you sleep during pregnancy?

The best position for pregnant women is sleeping on the left side, as  the American Pregnancy Association recommends. This will increase circulation which means more blood and nutrients for the baby and placenta. 

Sleeping on your back during pregnancy can cause backaches, hemorrhoids, low blood pressure, breathing and digestive problems (heartburn), and impair circulation to the heart and the baby.

Sleeping on your stomach is difficult the farther along you are in the pregnancy and it can put pressure on the baby and your intestines.

Age and sleeping position

Children don’t really have a single sleeping position as they tend to move a lot while they’re sleeping. As they get older they tend to change positions less and spend more time in a single position. 

Age plays a role in sleeping position. Many people tend to start sleeping on their side as they get older, but it’s not the case with everyone. Sleeping position matters more with age. Firstly because the body is older and doesn’t deal as well with certain pressure points and unfavorable positions and secondly because we move less with age and we spend more time in a single position, motionless.

What does your sleep position say about you?

Here’s what Dr. Michael Breus, a famous clinical psychologist also known as “the sleep doctor”, has to say about your sleep position and what it reveals about your personality. We recommend taking this with a grain of salt, but for fun here is what he has to say.

Sleeping on the back is linked with high self-confidence and stubbornness. These people tend to set the bar high for others and for themselves alike.

Sleeping on the stomach means that the person tends to be overwhelmed and defensive. Stomach sleepers don’t deal well with criticism and don’t have a lot of control over their own life. They also have an inclination to perfectionism.

Sleeping on the side says that you’re likely to be relaxed and open-minded. It seems that the side you most often sleep on also means something. Sleeping on the right side may indicate that you are more likely to smoke or use caffeine whereas sleeping on your left side could mean you are creative and well-educated.

Fetal position, although unfathomable to those who prefer to sleep fully stretched, is actually very comfortable to overly sensitive and anxious people. They are often shy individuals who overthink and like to be organized.

Does your sleep position affect your dreams?

Naturally, if your sleep position creates a certain type of pressure in your body, you’re likely to have dreams related to that – stomach sleepers tend to have very vivid and erotic dreams, and those who sleep with their face down against the pillow report dreams of being tied or unable to move. There are also other interesting findings as to how our sleeping position possibly affects our dreams. 

Those who sleep on their left side have more nightmares while people who prefer the right side are likely to have nicer and more positive dreams.

Back sleepers, especially if they have sleep-related breathing disorders, have more nightmares and typically don’t remember their dreams. 

Additional resources

  1. Can Changing Your Sleep Position Alter Your Dreams? https://www.everydayhealth.com/sleep/can-changing-your-sleep-position-alter-your-dreams.aspx
  2. Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy. https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/sleeping-positions-during-pregnancy/
  3. How Your Sleep Position Affects Your Health, Your Dreams And Your Personality. https://thesleepdoctor.com/2018/10/09/how-your-sleep-position-affects-your-health-your-dreams-and-your-personality/

How we rate mattresses

We rate mattresses using the following criteria:

  1. Comfort
  2. Structural integrity and durability
  3. Firmness and support

Learn more about our mattress rating process and methodology here.