Sleep Specialists opine that catching your ZZZs while sleeping on your side is great for your health. They say that it helps in cutting down on apnea and may also help in fixing your back and spine pain issues.
However, as any side sleeper will attest, getting a mattress or a mattress topper that will help you maintain the proper posture might be a little bit tricky- although not impossible.
In that case, let’s highlight a few key features that make a good topper for side sleepers. We also have a few suggestions in this department. Hang on!
Signs that you need a mattress topper
Side sleepers need a mattress that is neither too firm nor too soft. If your mattress is on the extreme of these two spectrums, you may experience pain in your neck, shoulders, lower back, and hip.
A mattress that is too soft than your pillow forces your shoulders and hips to sink too much leading to an unfriendly angle around your neck- this makes you wake up with a pain around the neck that might take up to 30 minutes to subside.
On the other hand, a mattress that is too firm may not allow your pointed parts (shoulders and hips) to sink in. This forces these parts to buckle inward thereby inhibiting blood circulation. In addition to this, your spine may assume an unnatural position.
All these generate intense tension around the pressure points and could cause mild back pains (at least) or soreness (at worse).
Inspect your mattress first!
While a mattress topper will help in mitigating back pains for a side sleeper, do know that it is not a magic bullet for an old, sagged, and overly lumpy mattress.
The deep dents on the mattress will eventually show up on the topper leading to back pains. I bet the only solution here is to dig a little deeper and get a new mattress.
A mattress topper comes as a remedy for a mattress that is either too soft or too hard. This brings us to one important question…
What makes the best mattress topper for side sleepers?
The market is choking with mattress toppers. It offers these bed solutions with a bevy of options ranging from memory foam to latex and from wool to goose and down feathers.
The choice of these materials comes down to personal preference. However, while all of them go a long way in improving the current situation of your regular mattress, memory foam and latex toppers are the most recommendable for side sleepers.
Memory foam and latex toppers distance themselves from other materials in that they combine comfort and support.
As a simple comparison, featherbed and wool mattress toppers tend to offer everything you need in terms of comfort and breathability. Unfortunately, these alternatives don’t have enough give in terms of support.
This means that your shoulders and hips will always bottom out and lead to a poor spine posture that may lead to back issues. These materials also have low durability albeit their relatively higher price tag.
For that reason, our recommendations here will be memory and latex toppers. But how do these 2 materials differ? We will cover their traits, performance, and pros and cons in a short while. Let’s first clear other features worth keeping in mind when buying a topper.
Thickness and Density
Thickness and density are 2 important aspects that you need to keep a close eye on when choosing your topper. You will be forgiven to think that these parameters refer to the same thing.
Thickness refers to the size of the mattress topper and ranges from two inches to four inches.
A 2-inch topper is thin and soft. This size is ideal, especially if what you want is to add softness to a mattress with enough support already.
I wouldn’t recommend it to a 250-pound sleeper though. This is because your shoulders and hips will sink all the way to the bottom given your weight. Literally, this topper will add almost zero support to your regular mattress if it lacks some.
Three-inch mattress toppers are the most recommendable in this case. The major reason why this level is popular with almost all sleepers is that it offers the right amount of support without being either too plushy or too firm to make your joints to ache.
The thickest level – 4 inches– is what you might want to consider if you weigh upwards of 250 pounds. However, this thickness may be so stiff for lightweight to mid-weight side sleepers.
Density- why does it matter?
As Archimedes put it, density is mass per unit volume. Put in simple English, this refers to the amount of construction material used in a specified volume. It is measured in pounds or kilograms and alludes to how firm or soft the topper will feel.
As an illustration, a memory foam topper with 3-pound density has approximately 3 pounds of memory foam in a cubic foot block.
Mattress toppers are classified in 3 density levels ranging from 2 pounds to 6 pounds.
Low-density toppers range between 2lbs and 3lbs. You’ll mostly find this firmness in 2-inch and some 3-inch thick mattress toppers. 2-3-pound density is not enough density to offer enough support. Rather, this level is recommendable if you want to add a soft feeling to a mattress that is a tad bit firm.
The 4.0-5.5-pound level is considered medium-density for mattress toppers. It’s the most versatile level and tends to care for different sleeping needs and sleeping styles.
Medium-firm density coupled with a 3-inch thickness makes a perfect topper for side sleepers. This combination means that you have a good amount of material to sink into whilst getting enough support.
Unlike a 2-inch, low-density topper, medium-firm, 3-inch thick toppers are hard to bottom out. Yet, they aren’t as stiff as a high-density topper would be to a lightweight sleeper.
High-density toppers have a weight of 6lbs+ per cubic foot. These might be ideal for heavy side sleepers who have an overly soft mattress.
Size of the topper
It goes without saying that you need a topper that fits perfectly on your bed. Mattress tops come in all sizes; California King, King, Full, Full XL, Queen, and Twin. Thus, you should be able to get a model with a perfect fit for your bed.
An oversized topper makes it hard to spread your bed sheets. On the other hand, a shorter topper minimizes the usable sleeping surface on your mattress. This may be quite uncomfortable if you share the bed with your partner.
Temperature regulation and Heat retention
Heat retention is the number one complaint with most mattresses and mattress toppers. Needless to mention, memory foam and latex take the first and second positions respectively.
Since these materials contour around your body shape and natural curves when you sink into them, they trap your body heat around you and constrict air flow. This leads to heat buildup and may result in lots of tossing and turning. This could interfere with your rest and affect your schedule for the following day.
Fortunately, most manufacturers have devised ways of mitigating this issue. For instance, some memory foam tops are now infused with gel beads or plant products that help in heat dissipation. On the other hand, latex mattresses have ventilation holes that boost air circulation.
Memory foam and Talalay latex toppers might ship with a slight odor that takes some hours or days to fade away. Dunlop latex has almost zero chemical smells.
Worthy of mention is that high-density memory foam toppers have a higher amount of polymers and may have stronger odors. Strong ‘new mattress smells’ may cause a headache, eye and nose irritation, coughing, nausea, and chest discomforts.
To ensure that the mattress topper will be safe for use, check out whether there’s any certification or testing standard that is applicable to the mattress. CertiPUR-US and Oeko-tex have the stringiest, low-level VOCs requirements and product safety.
Best Mattress Toppers for Side Sleepers
Memory foam mattresses and toppers have for long been known as the best for a couple of reasons. Side sleepers love memory foam due to its excellent support around the shoulders and hips.
Memory foam is said to be viscoelastic. This emanates from the way it reacts to your body temperature and pressure. It literally melts to allow you to sink and later molds to your contours.
As a result, you get a good amount of support around the shoulders, hip, and neck. The ability of memory foam to cradle you in your natural position makes sure that your natural alignment is preserved. It also helps in reducing stress around these parts.
Keep in mind though that varying density levels and thicknesses offer different amount of support. As we stated before, low-density mattress toppers may not offer optimum support around your lumbar area. On the contrary, high-density bed sets may be too firm and stiff for you not unless you are a plus size individual.
These toppers are also highly rated due to their excellent motion isolation. If you are a light sleeper, a partner who moves a lot at night might cause you to fall short on eye-shut. According to the National Sleep Foundation, this can not only be disturbing but life-threatening too.
That’s why memory foam’s ability to deaden most of the motions from your partner is worth a special mention here.
Do you prefer sleeping hot or cool?
Traditional memory foam is well known for its heat retention. If you like sleeping hot, this may not be an issue to you. However, if you are like me who likes a cool sleep, then you may want to come up with a way to beat the heat. A good idea would be to ventilate the room or use breathable bed sheets.
On this note, the need to curb the issue of sleeping hot has led to new inventions in memory foam mattresses and toppers;
Gel-infused memory foams– true to their name, these are memory foam mattresses that have been infused with gel beads in their construction.
Although there is very little evidence to support their heat dissipation claims, mattress experts, enthusiasts, and reviewers affirm that these models offer a cooler sleeping surface than plain memory foam.
Plant-based memory foam– in these mattress toppers, a portion of the petroleum products is replaced with plant products typically from soy, coconut, or bamboo.
Plant-based memory foam toppers and mattresses are not only eco-friendly but they are also known to be more breathable. These bed solutions are also gaining popularity due to their low odor emissions.
- Offers incredible back and joint support
- Limits motion transfer
- Has longer longevity
- Broad brand and price selection
- Excellent pressure point relief
- Tends to sleep hot
- May have odors
- Low-quality models don’t last long
- Makes moving on the bed a little bit cumbersome
Best Memory Foam Topper for Side Sleepers
LINENSPA Gel Swirl Memory Foam Topper
Linenspa has been our go-to brand whenever we want to recommend good mattresses and toppers to our readers.
What we have here is a 3-inch memory foam topper that has been blended with gel to minimize the issue of sleeping hot. It also has lots of ventilation holes to boost its cooling performance.
Most previous buyers affirm that this cooling technology does magic in thwarting discomforts that may be as a result of sleeping hot. This will come in handy especially in the warmer months.
Its 3-inch layer will allow you sink into the topper while remaining supportive to offer your spine a natural alignment thanks to its medium-firmness design. The way this topper contours to your pressure points may also help in relieving pain.
Considering its construction material, you may experience some odors once you take it out of the wrapper. But most homeowners report that it fades away completely within a day or two.
Without forgetting this Linenspa topper is also among the most affordable options on this list. It is CertiPUR-US certified and comes with a 3-year warranty.
- Does not sleep as hot as others
- Has quality construction
- Comfortable yet supportive
- May help in relieving back pain
- Comes true to size
- Has a smell that goes away with time
- Heavy people may sink in a little more (consider the 4-inch)
Latex Mattress toppers
Latex is yet another incredible option especially if you are looking for a durable and more resilient mattress topper.
The major dissimilarities between memory foam and latex boil down to the ingredients used in their production. The former is made from technologically advanced polyurethane and other petroleum products. On the other hand, natural latex is derived and extracted from a white, milky tree sap.
Although memory foam is renowned for its comfort and pain relief, the use of harsh chemicals has taken a toll on its popularity. This leaves latex as the preferable option if you like a natural and healthy mattress or topper.
Apart from its eco-friendly construction, latex has other outstanding features that might impress you. For instance, although latex does not promise the cloud-like, floating sensation that memory foam offers, it offers you a more solid and springy feel.
This quick response offers you constant support as you make every turn. This makes it a superb option especially if you are suffering from neck and back pain and you require constant support.
It’s important to mention that latex toppers may vary in terms of general firmness depending on the extraction process used for the ingredient. Dunlop-extracted latex has a firmer feel than Talalay.
How does it perform in regard to heat retention?
Well, similar to memory foam, latex has its share of complaints in this aspect. However, most models now feature ventilation technologies that help in counteracting this issue.
It’s also good to note that 100% latex mattresses and toppers are a bit hard to find and can be very costly due to the extraction process.
This had led to the emergence of two other types of latex; synthetic (man-made) and blended latex (uses both natural and synthetic latex). Unlike natural latex, these new materials make use of tons of chemicals and may have a strong odor out of the wrapper.
- Natural latex has minimal odors
- It’s naturally hypoallergenic
- Quick response offers constant support
- It’s durable
- Has minimal heat retention
- May be firm
- Natural latex is pricey
- Some people may have allergic reactions to it
Best Latex Mattress Topper for Side Sleepers
Ultimate Dreams 3″ Talalay Latex Mattress Topper
The Ultimate Dreams is among several other latex toppers that are doing quite well in this category. We can’t deny the fact that it’s a little bit on the pricier side. However, it might be a great investment if you can look past the price.
One thing that we definitely like about it is that its major ingredient has been extracted through the Talalay process. It’s not the most eco-friendly, but it offers a soft topper that won’t be hurting your shoulders, hips, and other parts all night long.
Precisely, Ultimate Dreams has a 3-inch thickness and a medium-firmness level of 28 ILD. This means that the mattress contours nicely to your natural body shape for excellent support and pain relief. This combination gives the topper a luxurious feel that you won’t bottom out.
What’s so impressive about it is that it also comes with a bamboo cover. This cover is highly breathable and soft. Thus, it adds a good amount of comfort to the topper regarding heat dissipation and softness.
For individuals who might prefer a firmer or softer topper, the Ultimate Dreams also comes in 2 other softness levels to cater for your needs.
- Medium firmness offers perfect support to side sleepers
- Well built
- Cushy and comfortable
- Has a highly breathable and soft bamboo cover
- Quite pricey for a blended latex topper
- Complaint about it not being true to size
SleepJoy 3″ ViscO2 Memory Foam Mattress Topper
The SleepJoy ViscO2 derives its name from the ingenious open cell construction that has been used in it. This construction promotes a good airflow that helps in creating a cooler sleeping surface that is ideal for your rest.
In addition, this topper also features a small proportion of plant products that boost the ventilation even further. This also helps in minimizing the odors that are common with regular memory foam. This feature means that you won’t have to wait for long for the odor to dissipate.
The main reason why I highly suggest the SleepJoy Visc02 is its 3-inch thickness and medium-level density. This combination offers you a topper that will support your natural spinal alignment besides offering you excellent lumbar support.
Again, its 3-inch thickness will contour to your natural curves to avail another key benefit: pressure relief. So, if your mattress has been causing you excruciating back, shoulder, and hip bone pain, this might be the answer to your problems.
- Has plant products and ventilation technology to aid airflow
- 3’’ thickness offers a good amount of support to side sleepers
- Smell dissipates fast
- Has great contouring abilities
- Some find it a little bit firm
- Does not come with a cover
- Bad reports about its durability
Memory Foam Solutions 3-Inch Gel Swirl Memory Foam Topper
The Memory Foam Solutions is another versatile option at a mid-range price tag. It may suit you whether you are looking for a topper to minimize motion transfer or to offer a little more support to your shoulders and hips.
This is a 3-inch bed solution with medium-level firmness. Together, these values offer a topper that won’t be so tough on you. One thing that is certain is that you won’t sink too far into the topper.
This will allow your spine to assume its natural alignment. It also ensures that your pressure points are not overwhelmed.
Interestingly, Memory Foam Solutions also features swirls of cooling gel. This may allow you to sleep cooler and thereby promote a much better night’s sleep full of rest.
- Incredible support for side sleepers
- Helps in alleviating back pain
- Gel-infusion for heat dissipation
- May not last long
- A few claims of sleeping hot
Snuggle-Pedic Memory Foam Mattress Topper (with double layer)
The Snuggle-Pedic topper is among the most versatile options that a side sleeper could get today. Its 90-day return guarantee and 10-year warranty speak volumes about its quality.
This topper comes in 5 other sizes besides the Full size that we are reviewing here. It is a PURGreen-certified product. This certification means that it is made in the USA with high-quality ingredients free of heavy metals, VOCs, and PBDs.
This Snuggle-Pedic memory foam topper is a 2-inch model- but not a typical low-end model. Although we don’t advocate for 2-inch toppers for side-sleeping, this model’s construction changes that a little bit.
What makes it unique from the rest are the different density levels that it has used in its 2 layers. Snuggle-pedic is made up 2 one-inch layers with 4-pound and 5-pound density respectively.
This allows you to enjoy the extra cushion of the 4-pound layer without bottoming it out thanks to its 5-pound ‘base.’ What’s more interesting is that you can reverse the layers to meet your resting needs.
This construction makes it a good bet not only for side sleepers but also for back and stomach sleepers and expectant moms too!
We also highly appreciate that this topper has been infused with gel. This technology coupled with its thin design may help create a cooler sleeping environment.
- Dual-density construction adds versatility
- Gel-infusion minimizes heat retention
- Supports shoulders, spine, and hip bone
- Usable by all sleepers
- Might not be dense enough for heavy sleepers
A high-quality mattress topper can go a long way in adding comfort to your regular mattress and relieving your pressure points. And as you’ve just seen, you don’t actually need to go over the top in terms of price.
If we were to help you pick the best topper from our recommendations above, that would definitely be the Linenspa memory foam topper. In our opinion, this model ticks all the boxes that make a reliable topper for side sleepers.
To start with, this topper has a great combination of thinness and density to ensure that you get a comfortable yet supportive bed solution. If you sweat a lot when sleeping, its cooling technology that comprises of gel beads and ventilation holes do an impressive job of promoting a cool sleep.
Again, this topper is CertiPUR-certified for safe ingredients and comes at a relatively low price. As one of the buyers claims, the major problem with this topper is that it might make getting out of bed almost impossible.