When it comes to searching for a new mattress, it’s surprisingly common for people to neglect considering their preferred sleeping style while they’re shopping. But the positions you are most comfortable in at night are huge influences on the type of mattress that will give you what you need. Back, side, stomach or a combination of the three — every sleep position is unique and requires something different from a mattress.
Beyond the brand of mattress, the materials it’s made of will also matter. Depending on your preferred sleeping position, there will be certain materials that will provide more comfort and support than others.
We’ve put together an overview of each sleep position as well as recommendations for the type of mattress you should look for.
Sleeping on your back is one of the best positions for your spinal health because your spine is in its natural state. But the catch is that not very many people actually find this position comfortable, or they move out of it during the night.
If you’re a back sleeper, lumbar support is crucial. Avoid any type of springy mattress since the stiffness could possibly push against your spine. On the flip side, a mattress that’s too soft won’t support your back enough and can disturb your spinal cord.
For the best possible comfort and lower back support, a medium-firm mattress is the way to go. This type of mattress will give you just the right amount of push back while also relieving your pressure points. An expertly constructed medium-firm mattress will also properly align your spine, giving you a comfortable and healthy sleep every night.
Sleeping on your stomach can cause major problems without the right supportive mattress, which is why it’s the least recommended position to sleep in. It can put pressureon your thoracic and lumbar spine, putting you at risk for back and spinal issues. Plus, the neck is constantly curved during sleep which can cause stiffness, pain and changes to the structure of the spine.
Some sleepers might try to doze off on their stomach because of discomfort from pre-existing back or joint issues, but these problems can actually become worse if you sleep on your stomach.
If you find that sleeping on your stomach is the only way you can fall asleep, make sure you have a firm mattress. One that’s too soft won’t give you enough support under your hips, which can put unnecessary pressure on your lower back. This can cause long-term back pain if not corrected.
If you also happen to extend your arms and wrap them around your pillow while on your stomach, a soft mattress can potentially lead you to develop nerve and joint pain in your shoulders. A firm mattress will lower your risk of developing these problems.
You can also use a body pillow to reduce pressure on your lower back — just place it under your hips and spine.
Sleeping on your side is the curviest position, with your hips, shoulders and knees creating pressure points on your mattress. The fetal position is the most common side position, with the arms and legs bent and pulled in toward the chest. While this position may be super comfortable, it can restrict deep breathing and strain your back and neck.
Sleeping on the wrong mattress can lead to tension and pressure that can cause issues in your shoulders and hips. Because of the stress placed on your curves, you need to relieve pressure while also maintaining a level of support to prevent pain or injury. A mattress on the softer side will contour and let your body sink a bit to accommodate your natural curves.
Most people are combination sleepers, meaning they change positions throughout the night. Mattress-wise, these sleepers can be the hardest to please because finding one mattress that can work for all sleeping positions can be challenging. But finding the right one isn’t impossible!
Since there’s a lot of movement during sleep, it’s necessary to find a mattress that’s supportive yet soft enough for you to find comfort in each position. You need a mattress that’s not too soft when you’re sleeping on your stomach and not too firm when you’re sleeping on your back. Your best bet here is a medium-firm mattress because it can accommodate all of your changing sleep positions as compared to a strictly soft or firm mattress.
Do You Sleep Hot?
Another consideration to keep in mind during your search for the perfect mattress is your temperature while you sleep. If you tend to sleep hot or wake up with night sweats, you’ll want to avoid temperature-sensitive materials like memory foam. The weak breathability of the material traps heat and it also has a tendency to envelope the sleeper, which can lead to overheating.
Instead of memory foam, look for alternative foam mattresses that offer cooling technology or a spring mattress that will stay temperature-neutral.
Ultimately, your sleep style of choice should be the deciding factor of which mattress you choose. The wrong materials or a worn-out mattress can significantly disrupt your natural sleep style and make you really uncomfortable. This can lead to unpleasant mornings filled with pain and stiffness. To avoid health issues and to get the most out of every night’s sleep, make sure you thoroughly research the materials, support and firmness levels of your next mattress.
Girish is the co-founder of Blello, a medium-firm, foam bed-in-a-box that can be ordered online and shipped directly to your home. Blello offers free shipping, a 100-night, risk-free trial and a 10-year limited warranty.