Side Sleepers: How To Have A Good Night’s Rest If You Sleep On Your Side?

Everyone has a favorite sleeping position. In which, side sleepers account for more than 75% of the population. 

Side sleeping offers several benefits and also drawbacks. It mostly depends on which side you lie on to determine if this sleeping position is beneficial or not.

This article will give you a complete guide to this habit. We also recommend some must-try tips that help side sleepers enjoy their night time without getting any pain the following day. Let’s read on to discover! 

What Is A Side Sleeper?

Somebody who sleeps on their right or left side is a side sleeper. This sleeper often tucks a pillow between their head and shoulders or hugs the pillow. 

To tell if you are a side sleeper or not, check the bedhead after waking up. If you see any flattened hair left on one side, you’re probably a member of these groups.

There are even more kinds under the category of side sleepers. As long as you get a good night’s sleep, they’re usually relatively healthy.

Fetal sleeping position 

As the name indicates, this sort of side sleeper curls up into a fetal shape for sleep. You can form the fetal posture by wrapping your hands over your legs and pressing your knees to your chest. 

This posture can keep you warm. If you find yourself in this sleeping position often, it would be necessary to invest in more blankets.

Fetal sleeping positions get the name for their shape

Fetal sleeping positions get the name for their shape

Prayer position

Those who suffer from neck discomfort frequently choose the praying posture. This sleep position involves lying on your side with your hands folded and praying. 

Then, you will lay your hands behind your head or under a pillow in the praying sleep position.

This sleeping posture raises the head. It also means that your pillows are too old. It would help if you replaced it with firmer ones.

Eternal snuggler

If you grasp blankets and pillows and hold them tight to your belly every night, you’re the eternal snuggler. 

It’s normal to wake up in this posture, even if you didn’t start with it. You may need some more warmth or support. 


Log sleepers spend almost all of their time on their sides. It’s easy to see how they got the name, with their arms resting horizontally down their torso. 

Sleeping in this posture and waking up in it might show that you slept deeply and had a restful night’s sleep.


The sleepers on the reacher side seem to be the most spread out in the list. Sleepers will also have their arms outstretched out in front of them in this posture. And, of course, this posture might make their legs stretch out as well.

Benefits Of Side Sleeping

Sleeping on one’s side can improve physical health. The posture can help with acid reflux and sleep apnea issues. 

Furthermore, sleeping on your side is the most secure and comfortable posture to rest in during pregnancy.

Reduce sleep apnea and snoring

Sleeping on your back will exacerbate snoring and severe sleep apnea. With back lying, your tongue, jaw, and some soft tissues of your throat compress, narrowing your airway. As a result, you may find breathing in this sleep posture more difficult. 

It would be best to deal with your sleep apnea as soon as possible. Otherwise, it may result in heart disease, asthma, weight gain, high blood pressure, or acid reflux.

While stomach sleeping can help with sleep apnea and snoring, it can also block your airway in other ways.

In order to breathe, stomach sleepers must bend their necks to one side, misaligning the cervical spine. 

If they do not hold their heads in this unnatural sleeping position, they will breathe directly into their mattress and pillow. 

As a result, when it comes to reducing obstructive sleep apnea and snoring, side sleeping is the best solution.

Sleeping on your side can enhance your sleep quality

Sleeping on your side can enhance your sleep quality

Support digestion

Sleeping on one side avoids stomach acid at bay and keeps stomach contents in a better environment than sleeping on the back.

Acid from your stomach can travel up the esophagus when you sleep flat on the ground, causing severe damage and disorders like Barrett’s esophagus.

On the other hand, sleeping on your side guarantees that your stomach acid does not move upward.

Heartburn, GERD is just one of the digestive ailments that side sleeping might help prevent or treat.

Clear brain toxins

The glymphatic system is the waste removal system in our body. It eliminates waste from our brain and may also assist in distributing lipids, amino acids, glucose, and neurotransmitters.

The efficacy of your sleep might change depending on your sleeping posture. The system works more effectively when you sleep on your side rather than your front or back. As a result, side sleeping is the most common sleeping posture. 

The glymphatic system needs to perform at its best. Its waste disposal activity, according to scientists, may play an essential role in combating neurodegenerative disorders.

Side sleeping position is beneficial for your brain health

Side sleeping position is beneficial for your brain health

Best for pregnancy

Pregnant women should sleep on their sides. In this sleep position, the heart has an easier time circulating blood throughout the body.

Also, the side sleep position keeps the baby from imposing too much stress on the vein that delivers blood from the mom’s legs to her heart.

Because back sleeping has related to a higher likelihood of late stillbirth in certain studies, side sleeping is much safer during the pregnancy.

Side sleeping is best for pregnant women

Side sleeping is best for pregnant women

Drawbacks Of Side Sleeping

Aside from the obvious benefits, there are a few disadvantages to consider when sleeping on your side. 

Increase the pressure on your heart

This disadvantage only pertains to sleeping on the left side. When you rest on your left side, the hollow in your chest pushes up against your heart.

The increased strain on your heart will affect your cardiac output and heart rate. People with heart problems always avoid sleeping on the left side. However, an ordinary sleeper may not notice it. 

Form a bad posture

When you’re lying on your side, you may end up forming poor posture without even realizing it. 

When you bend your body too much, you also stretch your spine from its normal alignment, resulting in back pain

Double-check your posture when you lie down. Your head should be in the center of your shoulders. Also, your entire body should be comfortable and untwisted. 

Remember to check if you are tucking your chin into your chest or not. This sleeping position will lead to neck pain.

Increase shoulder pain

Side sleepers are prone to shoulder pain. Their shoulder may lean too deep into the mattress, inducing spine misalignment. Consider putting a tiny cushion under your arm if you frequently have shoulder pain.

Trigger acne breakouts

For seven to nine hours each night, an adult sleeper presses half of their face into the pillow. 

These people will have more acne solely on a single side of their face because pillows absorb our skin oils, sweat, and other horrible irritants and debris.

Form an odd posture for your arms 

Side sleepers often tuck their arms beneath their pillows, resulting in shoulder and arm stiffness.

Rather than doing this, try to stretch your arms out. If the mattress is too small to do it, hug a cushion to secure your arms in position.

What Do Side Sleepers Need?

For a good night’s sleep, side sleepers should equip themselves with tools. 

The greatest mattresses have a fitting cushion that surrounds and supports their hips and shoulders while providing the comfort required for proper spinal posture. 

These sleepers also require pillows that bend to their heads and provide a neck support.


There isn’t a specific mattress that is ideal for side sleeping. Some side sleepers like a soft bed that they can sink into, while others love a medium-firm spring mattress.

Before choosing a mattress that matches your needs, you need to think about a few things.

  • Type

There are three main types of mattresses that you easily come across: memory foam, latex, and hybrid. 

Memory foam

A memory foam mattress is an excellent choice for side sleepers who like a cushion that can cradle them.

Memory foam is one of the greatest materials for relieving pressure since it conforms to the body’s shapes while still cushioning it.

After waking up with this extra support assistance, you don’t need to worry about back pain or ache. 

These mattresses are also among the most cost-effective options available. Many great mattresses are available for less than $1000. Even the most premium models are affordable, ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 on average.

Memory foam mattresses are ideal

Memory foam mattresses are ideal


Latex mattresses are a fantastic option for side sleepers who prefer memory foam but want a more environmentally friendly solution. 

Wool, organic cotton, and repurposed coils are common additions to these natural mattresses.

Latex is also firmer and cooler than memory foam, making it perfect for sleepers who don’t want to sink and sweat.

On the other hand, a good latex mattress might be more pricey than a memory foam mattress. A queen-size model costs about $2100 on average.


A hybrid mattress is an excellent pick for side sleepers who prefer a bouncy cushion to rest on the top of the bed instead of in it. 

A hybrid mattress should have a foam top at least two to three inches thick.

A standard innerspring mattress couldn’t deliver the pressure-relieving cushioning that this model gives.

  • Firmness 

Side sleepers would like a soft to medium firmness mattress for pressure alleviation.

The mattress firmness depends on your weight. You can wake up in shoulder and back pain if you don’t press down hard enough on your mattress to make it conform and support your body. 

A medium-soft and soft mattress is appropriate for side sleepers under 130 pounds.

On the other hand, heavy sleepers may want to choose a firmer mattress feel to prevent getting up with back pain. 

A medium or medium-firm mattress can help a side sleeper avoid sinking deeply and unevenly placed their spine by buoying their shoulders and hips.

It’s crucial to confirm how the mattress for a heavy sleeper balances plushness with sturdy features. 

A transition barrier for minimal sinkage and tailored back support are great features to check.

  • Cooling 

There are a few factors to look for if you’re a hot sleeper searching for a cooling bed:

  • Infusions of cooling gel can take heat away from your body. Copper, titanium, tea extract, charcoal, and ceramic beads are possible infusion components.
  • The bed should have cutouts and holes to promote ventilation through the mattress.
  • Fabrics for mattress sheets should be breathable. They might be as plain as a cotton wrap or as fancy as a phase-change cloth.
  • Rather than a thick foundation cushion, a coil support structure can work better. Coils offer more free space than a thick foam base, allowing better ventilation.

Cooling is an important feature to consider for side sleeping

Cooling is an important feature to consider for side sleeping


A perfect night’s sleep needs more than just a comfortable mattress. You should also invest in a decent pillow to ensure that it can support all parts of your neck and head. 

Because the width of your shoulders causes a big space between your head and the mattress, it’s best to always opt for a head pillow.

Before buying, please check your desired models using these criteria:

  • Materials

Material is the first factor to consider. You should choose a fabric that is cool and breathable. Everything will be perfect if it comes with shredded foam or gel fibers. 

As previously stated, pillowcases and pillows can gather germs that can irritate your skin and disrupt your sleep. Hence, you may want to choose materials that are easy to clean. 

  • Fillings

The pillows should be firm to provide the best head and neck support. Side sleepers may switch positions. 

It would help if they went for a cushion with an elastic filling to adjust to their motions. 

You can easily puff up or flatten down the memory foam and down-filled cushions. Hence, you should bear these two options in mind. 

  • Design

A contour pillow beneath your head is better for a side sleeping position than a traditional rectangular one. 

The contour pillow has a curved form with higher edges for your neck. It forms a hollow for your head so that you can rest more comfortably, avoiding neck pain. 

An additional body or knee pillow may be beneficial too. During the night, your legs may pull your hips from their alignment, but putting a cushion between your knees can keep your upper leg in line with your spine and hips.

  • Thickness

The greatest pillows for this kind of sleep position should have a loft of four to six inches. 

The neck muscles can struggle to work to support the head if the cushion is either high or low. 

There are several factors to check in a pillow

There are several factors to check in a pillow


Side sleepers may wake up with a bit of stiffness due to unconsciously curling up while asleep. 

Stretching can improve circulation and loosen joints and muscles as soon as you wake up.

If your neck is stiff as you wake up, a neck stretch can help you relax. Basic stretches that strengthen your arms, neck, back, hips, and shoulders are helpful to side sleepers.

Some stretches are good for side sleeping

Some stretches are good for side sleeping

Which Side Is Best to Sleep On?

Your health conditions will determine which side is the best for these sleeping positions. 

For people who are pregnant or have gastric reflux disease, the left side may offer greater advantages.

On the other hand, individuals with heart failure may find sleeping on the left side uncomfortable and choose to sleep on the right side. 


For pregnant women, lying on the left side is advisable. While avoiding stress on the liver, these spontaneous sleep positions promote blood circulation between the kidneys, uterus, heart, and fetus.

If you find the left lateral decubitus position uncomfortable, try to turn to the right instead of resting on the back.

Pregnant women should sleep on the left side

Pregnant women should sleep on the left side


Patients with GERD who sleep on the left side had lower ratings of heartburn than those who sleep on the right or back. 

Heartburn attacks on the right are not only more common, but they also remain longer.

Heartburn can also affect pregnant women, as pregnancy makes the digestive system decelerate. 

Right-sided sleeping positions can relieve heartburn, making it simpler for the heart to supply blood to the fetus.

Heart failure

Many individuals with heart failure tend to sleep on the right side.

Left-sided sleep positions affect how your heart works on echocardiograms with heart failure, causing pain.

Sleeping on your back is likewise not suitable for people with heart problems. It causes strain on the lungs and can exacerbate obstructive sleep apnea symptoms. 

The side you sleep on depends on your health condition

The side you sleep on depends on your health condition

Frequently Asked Questions

Side sleepers have shown concern about their sleep positions. Here are some of their frequently asked questions.

1. What is the best pillow for sleeping on your side?

A side sleeper should look for added support when choosing a pillow to cushion their head. 

Although a fluffy cushion may appear to be more pleasant, a firm pillow is what gives your head the elevation it requires.

Memory foam pillow should be the way to go, thanks to its firmness and support. You can also use a body pillow for more comfort.

2. Is it better to sleep on your side on a firm mattress?

A firm mattress is not advisable in this case. It does not provide the proper amount of flexibility.

Imagine resting on hardwood flooring. It’s not pleasurable since it adds too much pressure to your hip and shoulder.

Although a firm mattress isn’t as hard as the concrete, it won’t let your hip and shoulder sink in enough to rest comfortably.

3. Why is it so painful when sleeping on your side?

Sleeping on your side suffers most probably because the mattress is too hard and can’t conform to your hips and shoulders. You may also suffer from back pain due to the firm mattress. 

Final Words

You can’t control your sleeping position because you are unconscious. Fortunately, there are some ways to enhance your sleep quality no matter what sleepers you are.

Sleeping on one side appears to be the most beneficial posture. It would be best to invest in suitable pillows and mattresses. Then, your sleep would be perfect. 

Hopefully, as a side sleeper, you will find this article helpful. For any further information, please feel free to ask. Thank you for being interested in the post! 

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