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More people sleep on their side than in any other position — about 40-percent — so it’s not surprising that when doctors hear side sleepers complain about shoulder pain, they ask about their mattress.

Side lying for eight hours a night, regardless of how your arms are positioned, takes a toll on the shoulders.

The result can be joint pain that causes tossing and turning, and in some cases, nagging aches that last all day.

If you sleep on your side and struggle with chronic pain in one or both shoulders, the good news is that the right mattress can help change that.

Join us on our mattress review as we break down the pros and cons of nine top shoulder-friendly models at prices so reasonable, you won’t need to wait for a mattress coupon.

Zinus Extra Firm iCoil 12-Inch Support Plus Queen Size Mattress

Best Mattress For Side Sleepers Overall

Highlights

  • Rare, extra-firm support
  • High-density coil base
  • Plush euro pillow top
  • Safe, CertiPUR-US certified foams
  • Worry-free 10-year warranty

This extra firm mattress by Zinus is a rare breed. Its foam-over-coil design features a 7.5-inch base of more than 900 individually pocketed springs — 10-percent more than similar models — crowned with a plush 3.5-inch euro top. It’s the perfect blend of support and body-cradling comfort for side sleepers with shoulder pain or a bad back.

A generous 650-pound weight capacity makes it an excellent choice for plus-size couples — and motion isolation is superb. Coils move with the body, conforming to curves and providing targeted pressure relief over large joints, including the hips and shoulders. Despite the extra-firm feel, the cozy pillow top and quilted microfiber cover are soft enough to soothe away aches and pains. Supportive edges make rising to a sitting position nearly effortless.

Versus competitors, the Zinus is smartly finished inside and out. Green tea and activated charcoal infusions fight odors, keeping the mattress fresh while aesthetically, the two-tone finish and upholstery-grade fabric upgrade any décor. Another mattress review compared it to some of the better models found in expensive showrooms. Made with quality materials throughout and a 10-year warranty, it’s an outstanding overall value.

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Pros

  • Ideal for side sleepers
  • Made by a well-known brand
  • Relieves painful pressure points

Cons

  • Lingering foam odor
  • Sleeps warm
  • No handles

Zinus 12-Inch Euro Box Top Green Tea Foam and Spring Hybrid Queen Size Mattress

Best Hybrid Mattress For Side Sleepers

Highlights

  • Cushion-firm support
  • Heavy-duty coil base
  • CertiPUR-US certified foams
  • Freshness enhanced
  • 10-year warranty

Zinus makes quality beds for every need and budget — this simple hybrid was created for the economy-minded consumer. While our mattress review focuses on quality, it recognizes that your checkbook balance matters, too. Features include a 6-inch base of heavy-duty Bonnell springs – these coils are shaped like an hourglass and flex easily for responsive support. The multi-layer top contains 5.75 inches of viscoelastic and high-density foams for both comfort and durability.

Fans of traditional innerspring mattresses will enjoy this bed — it has a familiar bounce but with inches more cushioning than the comparable bargain models sold at furniture stores. Motion isolation is middle-of-the-road — coils are not individually encased — but pressure relief is significant. Fair warning — this bed feels firmer than advertised at first, but it softens over time. And while it’s flexible, it’s not ideal for adjustable bases.

Suitable for all sleep positions, it tops among budget beds for side sleepers with shoulder pain. Edges are firm but not hard. It’s one of only a few mattresses in this price range with the substance and warranty required to make our best list — plus luxury touches, including green tea and castor seed oil infusions for freshness. It’s a value-added bed virtually anyone can afford.

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Pros

  • Comfortable bounce
  • Affordable price
  • Firm but comfortable

Cons

  • Slightly more expensive than similar beds
  • Firmer than advertised
  • Not recommended for adjustable bed frames

LINENSPA 12-Inch Gel Memory Foam Hybrid Mattress, Twin XL

Best Linenspa Mattress For Side Sleepers

Highlights

  • Medium-firm feel
  • Plush gel memory foam
  • Individually encased coils
  • CertiPUR-US certified
  • 10-year warranty

LINENSPA’s gel memory foam hybrid offers side sleepers the best in both comfort and long-lasting performance. Built on a sturdy 8-inch coil base, it’s topped with gel-infused memory foam for pressure relief without heat retention — a hard-to-find feature in Twin XL.

Fabric-wrapped coils move quietly under the body, reducing the stress on aching shoulders without squeaking — don’t worry about hearing or feeling the springs in this hybrid mattress — you’ll never know they’re there. Because coils don’t extend to the perimeter of the bed, edge support is present but weaker than similar models. The trade-off is that it feels bigger than a typical twin because it’s softer from edge to edge.

The LINENSPA is an excellent mattress for side sleepers worried about durability — there’s no upper weight limit, and coil height exceeds the minimum 7 inches our mattress review recommends for reliable support. Backed by a 10-year warranty, it’s a no-risk investment that will pay off for years to come.

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Pros

  • Cool and comfortable
  • Modern design
  • Durable

Cons

  • Limited support

Sweetnight 12-Inch Medium-Firm Ventilated Memory Foam Queen Size Mattress

Best Medium-Firm Mattress For Side Sleepers

Highlights

  • Medium-firm feel
  • 10-year risk-free warranty
  • Features ventilated and gel-infused foams
  • Skin-friendly cover
  • CertiPUR-US certified foams

Sweetnight builds the mattresses dreams are made of. This memory foam beauty is impressing customers with unprecedented spa-quality comfort and features found only in beds that cost twice the price. One mattress review called it five-star luxury for a two-star price. More than 96-percent of owners keep it and recommend it to their friends.

Engineered for performance, this 12-inch model features a 5.5-inch high-density base for back support and durability — it’s the last mattress you’ll have to buy for a while. Finished with 6.5 inches of foam, it’s designed for optimal pressure relief without heat retention. While nothing beats shoulder aches like memory foam — its closed-cell structure traps warmth, making for sweaty nights. Not so with the Sweetnight — ventilated and gel-infused layers plus a breathable cover keep you cool and dry.

If staying healthy is a priority, you can be confident the materials in this mattress are safe. Foams are CertiPur-US certified, and the cover meets Oeko-Tex 100 standards — it’s skin-friendly enough to sleep on without sheets. A bed of this quality should cost more than it does, but it’s a prime example of how buying online gets you a better mattress without breaking the bank.

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Pros

  • Relieves pressure for side sleepers
  • Very comfortable
  • Loved my many happy customers

Cons

  • Not the best for stomach sleepers

Sweetnight 10-Inch Medium-Firm Gel Memory Foam Mattress, Queen

Best Memory Foam Mattress For Side Sleepers

Highlights

  • Soft yet supportive
  • Low-profile design
  • Medium-firm feel
  • Long 10-year risk-free warranty
  • 30-day free returns

This 10-inch gel memory foam mattress is a low-profile alternative to Sweetnight’s popular 12-inch model seen earlier in our mattress review. The 4-inch high-density foam base topped with two pressure-relieving comfort layers makes it an ideal bed for side sleepers with shoulder pain.

Unlike comparable mattresses made with traditional closed-cell memory foam that traps body heat, this mattress features gel-infused foam layered over open-cell airflow foam that enhances ventilation. The result is a cooling effect that makes it a top choice for warm climates. The final touch — a soft, breathable cover — wicks moisture away from the body, keeping both you and the mattress fresh.

At 10-inches thick, this model feels slightly firmer than the 12-inch version, but the memory foam offers deep pressure relief and first-rate motion control. It comes with a 10-year, hassle-free warranty, but chances are, you won’t need it — few mattresses can claim as much customer loyalty.

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Pros

  • First-class motion isolation
  • Deep pressure relief
  • Comfortable and cool

Cons

  • Not great for adjustable bases

Live & Sleep Ultra 12-Inch Advanced Support Gel Memory Foam Mattress

Best Mattress For Side Sleepers With Advanced Support

Highlights

  • Balanced, medium feel
  • Naturally hypoallergenic and antimicrobial
  • CertiPUR-US and Oeko-Tex 100 certified
  • 30-day trial period and a 20-year warranty
  • Comes with a free premium pillow

Comfort doesn’t have to be complicated. This unpretentious memory foam bed by Live & Sleep is light on bells and whistles, but rich in high-quality materials. It promises side sleepers with shoulder pain the most profound pressure relief possible without compromising back support. The best word to describe this bed is “balanced.”

The multi-layer design features an 8.5-inch base of medium-firm, high-density foam that resists sagging and keeps the spine anatomically aligned. Two-and-a-half inches of premium airflow memory foam plus an inch of gel memory foam combine to cradle the shoulders while keeping you fresh. The bed may feel firmer than medium at first, but it softens nicely in the first few weeks.

Made with safe, CertiPUR-US foams engineered for near-perfect motion isolation, it’s perfect for partners. Plus-size couples can expect it to be durable — Live & Sleep tested this mattress up to 700 pounds, and it passed with flying colors. With an industry-leading 20 year warranty, a 30-night trial and a free premium bonus pillow — it is a top choice for both performance and value.

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Pros

  • Hypoallergenic, non-toxic and environmentally-friendly
  • Balanced support and pressure relief
  • Near-perfect motion isolation

Cons

  • Slightly longer than average expansion time

Swiss Ortho Sleep Contour 12-Inch Queen Size Hybrid Mattress

Best Affordable Mattress For Side Sleepers

Highlights

  • Firm, supportive, and comfortable
  • Comes with a 10-year warranty
  • Very inexpensive
  • Value-priced
  • Good looking design

If pain is making you miserable, but you can’t afford to buy a premium bed, consider this blue-ribbon bargain from Swiss Ortho Sleep.

The Contour features a durable base of 13-gauge steel coils, individually encased for whisper-quiet performance and motion isolation. Two inches of curve-conforming memory foam plus an inch of wave foam and a thick cotton pad offer ample pressure relief for side sleepers with sore shoulders.

For safety, this mattress is made with CertiPUR-US certified foam and a fire-resistant bamboo cover. Eco-friendly bamboo fabric is gentle on the skin, easy to clean and breathable. Over the naturally ventilated coil base, it also helps control heat retention.

With a 30-day money-back comfort guarantee, a 10-year warranty and a pocket-friendly price, this is the best hybrid in our mattress review shoppers counting their pennies. Buy with confidence.

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Pros

  • Eco-friendly materials
  • Budget-friendly price
  • Comfortable for side sleepers

Cons

  • Thinner-than-average memory foam layer
  • Limited durability for plus-size couples

Vibe 12-Inch Gel Memory Foam Queen Size Mattress

Best Queen Size Mattress For Side Sleepers

Highlights

  • Modern and comfortable design
  • Medium-plush feel
  • Risk-free 10 year warranty
  • Cooling gel memory foam
  • Certified by CertiPUR-US

Vibe is the latest name in bed-in-box mattresses. You may not have heard of them yet, but you will — they make feature-packed memory foam beds for less than the competition. For side sleepers with upper body pain, this model does not disappoint.

Engineered for deep pressure relief, it features four foam layers designed specifically for orthopedic support — it cradles the body, reducing stress on the neck, shoulders and upper back. For partners, few beds offer motion transfer control this complete — it feels like you have the bed all to yourself.

Gel-infused memory foam dissipates body heat while the convoluted high-density base optimizes air flow. The result is a bed that’s as cool as you are! Made of safety-certified materials inside and out, this mattress is hypoallergenic, naturally antimicrobial and latex-free — a good choice for allergy sufferers. Covered by a 10- year warranty and Vibe’s commitment to customer service, it’s a spend you won’t regret.

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Pros

  • Deep pressure relief
  • Doesn't shake
  • Sleeps cool

Cons

  • Firmer springs than expected

Sweetnight 10-Inch Flippable Gel Memory Foam Soft to Firm Queen Size Mattress

Best Soft To Firm Mattress For Side Sleepers

Highlights

  • Flippable design
  • Comfortable firmness
  • Supportive and great for side sleepers

Consumers were once convinced that the most comfortable type of mattress for side lying was extra-firm — but research consistently shows that a medium to medium-firm feel is a better choice. But if you haven’t bought a bed in the last 20 years, and you’re not sure what level of firmness is right for you — let us introduce you to Sweetnight’s flippable foam mattress.

Like similar models, it features a multi-layer design using different types of foam to fine-tune the feel. It includes a firm, high-density base, two layers of transitional comfort foam, and two inches of gel memory. For a firm feel, sleep on the base. For a soft feel, put it gel foam side up. Either way, the bed contains enough foam to be soft yet supportive on both sides, but the gel layer offers more pressure relief for the shoulders.

Transitional layers are engineered to stay cool, so the mattress retains less heat than similar all-foam models, but the firm side sleeps warmer. Gel memory foam only keeps you cool when it’s close to the body. Backed by a 10-year warranty, it has an excellent track record for durability, a reputation for balanced comfort and an affordable price. You can’t go wrong.

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Pros

  • Soft yet supportive
  • Engineered to stay cool
  • Compatible with all bed frames

Cons

  • Firm side sleeps warmer

What Side Sleepers Should Consider When Purchasing a Mattress

It’s hard to tell for sure if a bad mattress alone is responsible for your shoulder pain — you should see your doctor and have it medically reviewed. But if you’re struggling with lack of sleep due to aches and pains, there’s a good chance your bed is playing a role.

What should side sleepers consider when shopping for a model that relieves shoulder pain? The nine beds in our mattress review were chosen for their features and affordability. Let’s take a closer look at what makes them great.

Support

The term “support” reflects how well a bed distributes body weight and resists pressure under gravity. Provided by the mattress’s lower and middle layers, support contributes to firmness —the bed’s overall soft or firm feel — yet it’s different. We’ll tackle that issue later in our mattress review. It’s important to understand the difference.

The best mattress for support is one that keeps your body in neutral position — a resting posture in which joints are anatomically aligned, putting the least amount of stress on surrounding structures, including tendons, ligaments and major muscle groups.

Occupational specialists use the neutral position as a guide to design ergonomically friendly workstations. Mattress engineers use the same concept to emphasize proper alignment of the spine. Too-soft mattresses that sag in the middle or hard beds that exaggerate the back’s natural curves are a recipe for shoulder pain. A supportive mattress is one that lets your body rest easy in whatever sleep posture you prefer. Muscles should feel relaxed.

Which type of support system is best for side sleepers? Our mattress review features foam beds using a high-density polyfoam base and hybrids relying on coils and mid-density transitional foam for support. Both can be equally effective if they distribute weight evenly. Most side sleepers with shoulder pain should consider a mattress with medium-firm support. For additional pressure relief, err toward medium. The best mattress for side sleeping with a bad back or sleep apnea will be a little firmer.

Firmness

Firmness is the overall feel of a bed — whether it’s soft or hard when you lay on it. While a mattress’s lower layers determine its support level, firmness is the product of the comfort layers that ride on top. One of the benefits of layering different types of materials is that each has different characteristics that can be blended to fine-tune comfort. It’s how a mattress offering extra-firm support can feel plush — and vice versa.

Most sleep experts recommend medium to medium-firm mattresses for side sleeping. Support should be firm enough to keep the body in neutral position while the top layers should offer deep pressure relief over major joints. Memory foam is ideal.

Of course, there are several other considerations, including medical conditions and personal comfort preferences that affect how a bed feels. But chiropractors and this mattress review agree — side sleepers are vulnerable to both hip and shoulder pain without a balanced bed.

Firmness is among the most essential factors to consider when evaluating a mattress for side lying because it will soften over time. A medium mattress may be perfect at first, but after a few months, it could feel less supportive. If you’re on the fence, go with medium-firm.

How do you determine a mattress’s firmness level? Most manufacturers try to make it as easy by labeling their products — but firmness can be in the eye of the beholder. Some companies use numerical scales based on material density — but most are maker-specific and variable — there’s no single system. One manufacturer may use a 1 to 10 scale while another prefers a 1 to 5 system. Still, others use generic terms from plush to ultra-firm. It can be confusing.

Scales can also be deceptive because one mattress maker’s idea of medium-firm is another’s extra-firm. The best way to narrow it down is to use the manufacturer’s descriptions only as a starting point and then examine comments from verified buyers. Since a single mattress review reflects only one customer’s experience, read as many as possible both on and off the seller’s site.

It’s also helpful to look for least one mattress review with a detailed update written after it’s been used for a few months. Researchers say it takes up to twelve weeks to get accustomed to the feel of a new bed — especially if you’re moving from one type of material to another. It’s not uncommon for an initial mattress review to be negative, followed by a positive update. It’s one of the reasons better manufacturers offer free trial periods for their beds.

Sagging

Sagging occurs most in the middle of a mattress where the body is the heaviest. Caused by the breakdown of materials under pressure, it happens to even the best mattress eventually. It’s a side sleeper’s worst nightmare.

When the center of the body sinks too far into the bed, it creates an unnatural curve in the back, causing the tendons, ligaments and muscles in the shoulders to work overtime to support and stabilize the upper spine. The result is a wide range of common shoulder problems ranging from mild to severe.

The optimal mattress for side lying is one made of materials durable enough to resist premature sagging. Consider models with thick, high-density foam bases or hybrids with heavy duty-coils at least 7 inches high.

We have reviewed the best hybrid mattresses under $500 if you want to stop mattress sagging tonight!

Common Problems with Sleeping on Your Shoulder

Side sleepers lay on their hip and shoulder for six to 10 hours a night, so it’s no surprise that it puts a strain on the joints and their supporting structures.

Can sleeping on your side hurt your shoulder?

Shoulder pain associated with side sleeping is usually the result of inflammation or pressure on tendons. The shoulder joint isn’t designed to bear weight directly, like the hips and knees. It’s meant to support or direct it from a distance with its remarkable range of motion. Compared to the joints of the lower body, it’s fragile and prone to wear and tear.

The shoulder condition side sleepers need to be the most wary of bursitis. Inside the shoulder is a small fluid-filled sac called the bursa that acts as a cushion between the bone and the rotator cuff tendons that attach muscles to it. Repetitive pressure is among the many ways the bursa can become inflamed.

Can sleeping on your shoulder can hurt your rotator cuff?

The rotator cuff is a capsule of fused tendons that keep your shoulder anchored in its socket and help you rotate your arm. It’s easily injured by overuse from side sleeping and is a common consequence of bursitis.

Inflammation of the rotator cuff — or tendonitis — can cause the tendons to rub against bone, leading to impingement and fraying that requires surgical repair. The pain can be intense. Picking up a coffee cup hurts when your rotator cuff is injured.

Research for our mattress review suggests that side sleeping alone is unlikely to be the sole cause of rotator cuff damage. But many doctors agree — if the joint is already compromised by arthritis or overuse, side sleeping can be a significant contributing factor.

What helps shoulder pain from sleeping on your side?

Orthopedic specialists recommend changing your sleep posture — back sleeping is recommended. While that’s easier said than done, a significant number of side sleepers who try are successful. Placing pillows strategically around your body can prevent you from rolling onto your shoulder inadvertently while adjusting to a new sleeping position. Be persistent — the pay-off is worth it.

How can I avoid shoulder pain when sleeping on my shoulder?

For side sleepers with chronic shoulder conditions, such as arthritis, it’s still possible to avoid pain. Try sleeping on your back. If you can’t, alleviate strain on the joint with a supportive pillow that keeps your cervical spine aligned.

There are contoured styles made specifically for side sleepers that cradle the neck and relieve muscle tension. Shredded memory foam pillows are another effective alternative — they feel like traditional polyfill models but are less likely to collapse, keeping the head level between the shoulders.

Final Thoughts

No mattress review would be complete without reminding readers that a comfortable bed doesn’t need to cost a lot — and you’ll save a bundle by buying online.

It’s an investment in staying healthy, so purchase the best you can afford from our list of the top nine. For side sleepers with shoulder pain, it’s the key to a more restful night.