The complete guide to sleeping on your side

Sleep Position - Side Sleeper

The complete guide to sleeping on your side

The Most Popular Sleep Position

While we can all agree that sleep is universal, we don’t all share the same sleeping style. Some of us find sleeping on our stomachs the most satisfying; others turn onto their back every night; some of us like the comfort that comes from curling up into a ball; and a few of us need the space to stretch out like a star. However you choose to sleep is a reflection of who you are, and that’s wholly unique. Moreover, your sleep style can also reveal a little something about your personality. But while there are all kinds of sleepers, it’s important to remember that your position can affect how well you sleep, and how refreshed you feel throughout the day (no one enjoys the crankiness that results from a poor night’s rest), so if you’re not at your most comfortable every night, it might be time to question if your sleep position is doing enough for you. While we’re not normally ones to pick a side here, we’re focusing on the most popular of sleeping positions: the side sleeper.

What is a Side Sleeper?

If you find comfort for your hips and shoulders, and shun your stomach or back to sleep, then you can count yourself as a side sleeper. There are many different side sleeping styles, but if you choose to fall asleep this way, or wake to find you’ve rolled over to one side, then you can count yourself as one of the many who likes to adopt this varied position.

Side Sleeper and Personality

It’s a well-touted fact that we spend a third of our lives sleeping, but have we ever stopped to consider what that time can tell us? When it comes to our rest, we don’t tend to think much further beyond the importance of sleep (which is a huge factor in our happiness and wellbeing). Yet it turns out that this period of slumber can reveal quite a bit about our wakeful selves. For, even when we switch off, we’re sending out some pretty clear signals about who we are as people. So what’s in a position? Your personality, apparently. According to a study by Professor Chris Idzikowski, Director of the Sleep and Assessment Advisory Service, just as our body language by day can give out tell-tale clues about how we’re feeling, our subconscious sleep posture might also hint to our personality traits. However seriously you take it, exploring your sleep position personality can be a whole lot of fun. So what’s your style, side sleepers? While you might share a preference for sleeping on your side, there are still a number of varying positions that can reveal a whole lot more about your personality than you might have thought possible. k.

Below, we’ve compiled the most common type of side sleepers and what your favourite sleep style says about you.

Sleep Position - Fetal

FOETAL POSITION

There’s perhaps something instinctual about the foetal position, sleeping with your knees drawn up to your chest–just as you once curled up inside the womb. With its comforting, nurturing appeal, it’s little wonder that this position is the most popular of side sleeping variants. If you curl up night after night, then your sleep personality suggests you have a tough exterior, but a rather sensitive heart. Just as you protect your feelings, this newborn baby stance shows you’re careful to let people in, but have a kind nature once you open up.

THE LOG

This neat sleep stance is you if you sleep on your side with your arms down and close to your body. If you’re a log sleeper, you’re perceived as easy-going and sociable, popular with the crowd. Nearly three in every ten of us Brits sleep in this straight style every night, and it may come as no surprise that this sensible, more rigid pose reveals that log sleepers are hard to budge when it comes to changing their mind.

Sleep Position - The Log
Sleep Position - The Yearner

THE YEARNER

Like the feeling of outstretched arms while you’re resting on your side? You’re a yearner then. Just like your open arms, you have an open-minded nature and you’re something of a go-getter. Yet if you identify yourself as a yearner sleeper, then you might be suspicious about such an interpretation–yup, you’re not always the quickest to trust. While you love to chase goals, you won’t do things in a hurry, believing in carefully considering the pros and cons of a decision before actually making it.

THE PILLOW HUGGER

Cuddles aren’t just restricted to pre-sleep! If you’re a pillow-hugger, then your tactile nature means you find yourself wanting to snuggle up close with a pillow while sleeping on your side. This sweet, sleepy embrace fits perfectly with a naturally lovable personality. Pillow huggers prioritise their relationships with others, and if you’re friends with one of these cuddly charmers, then you’re never too far away from a hug.

Sleep Position - Pillow Hugger
Sleep Position - The Thinker

THE THINKER

No need to rack your brains–this sleeping position is a variation on the foetal position. The thinker will sleep with their hand raised to their chin as if, even in their dreams, they’re pondering those big life questions. These folks are feelers as well as thinkers by day: when they feel good, there’s no getting them down, but when they feel bad, you might want to give them space to think things through, as they can be very moody.

Side Sleeping Positions for Wellness

Sleeping on your side comes with plenty of options, but it also comes with some good news, too. Whether you sleep like a log, or curled up in the foetal position, these side sleeping positions are gentler on your neck than if you were sleeping on your stomach. Still, there are some ways you can make your sleep even comfier (a quality memory foam mattress should be top of the list!) and more supportive for other areas of your body that might feel the pressure of your favoured position. Vulnerable areas, such as your arms and legs, can take on extra pressure in a side position–in some cases leading to a risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. No need to panic, though. If your position fits not only your personality, but your sleep preferences, then you’re unlikely to want to change it–but you can tweak it slightly to keep your wellbeing in focus. Take your cue from the pillow hugger and incorporate a pillow into your sleep by placing it between your legs: this should increase comfort and prevent your legs from adding any extra strain to your back. You can also try to keep your arms down by your side as you drift off to sleep, as resting with your arms overhead, perhaps around your pillow, can pinch your lower shoulder.

While there’s no single best position when it comes to sleeping on your side, it is important to consider which side you sleep on. If you rest on your left side then, because of the body’s anatomy, and the location of organs, you’re encouraging a number of benefits while you sleep. Sleeping on your left can soothe heartburn and acid reflux, help with digestion, improve circulation, and even promote the drainage of toxins from your lymph nodes. It’s not all bad news if you rest on your right side, but there is the chance of encouraging acid reflux, so if you find yourself suffering any discomfort, you might want to roll on over and see if sleeping on your left side is the change-up you need to sleep easier.

What is a Supine Position?

It may sound a little like a hotel-stay upgrade, but the supine position is actually the fancy name given to yet another sleep position. The supine position is sleeping on your back, with your face upwards. Often, side sleepers looking to maximise their comfort and wellbeing are keen to know if they should be sleeping in this position for extra health benefits. There are pros and cons to sleeping this way. For one, the supine position helps to keep all of your internal organs aligned. Another benefit to sleeping on your back in this manner is that your body weight is evenly distributed across the mattress. This means that, compared to sleeping on your side, no one part of your body will feel more pressure from your mattress than another.

However, there are a couple of downsides to sleeping in the supine position. Laid on your back in this manner, your spine is susceptible to curving out of alignment, and so it’s recommended that you place a pillow under your legs to support a healthy sleep posture. Those prone to snoring may wish to skip sleeping on their back and stick to their side instead–or even give sleeping on their stomach a try. snoring is the result of a mechanical blockage of your airway. In your sleep, the muscles of your tongue and throat naturally relax. When you’re sleeping on your back, these muscles can push onto your upper airway obstructing your air passages, and this leads to the signature sound of snoring: audible vibrations in your nose and throat. Pros and cons aside, what matters most is that you’re at your most comfortable, so when it comes to choosing asleep position that is right for you, try and fall asleep in the position that is more supportive for your health and wellbeing.

Alternative Sleeping Positions For Side Sleepers

With the right pillows, you’ll not only sleep with the benefit of extra support and that cosiness factor, but open up even more ways to maximise your sleep position. If you’re already a bonafide side sleeper, then it can be fun to see how a new approach to your pillow use can take your comfort to the next level. However, if you’ve gotten comfortable with your existing position, it can feel a little confusing and overwhelming trying to mix things up, even if you are keen to encourage extra support and comfort. Fluff up that pillow and read on as we look into the different types of pillows for side sleepers and what really matters when choosing one.

From Single to King: Bed Size Dimensions

PILLOW UNDER THE HEAD

If you prefer to sleep on your side, rather than on your back, then you need a more generous amount of support for your head. A thicker pillow is a wise investment for simple, instant support and comfort. The idea is that the pillow should provide enough lift to your head and neck so that your spine lies as straight and horizontal as possible.

PILLOW UNDER THE NECK

When it comes to talking optimum sleep positions, it seems that often all the attention is focused toward the spine, but truth be told, your neck needs some attention and care, too. Give your neck the support it deserves with a memory foam pillow that contours to your position for all-round support. You could also consider a double contour pillow. It sounds fancy, but the idea is simple: these pillows slope upward around your neck, providing a cradling effect for your head.

From Single to King: Bed Size Dimensions
Keep Pillow between your Knees

PILLOW PLACED BETWEEN THE KNEES

A light pillow placed between your legs can be the small extra detail you need to keep the pressure off your hips while you sleep. A thin pillow will also prevent your knees from bumping into each other: it’s often those small disturbances that can take you out of the deep sleep you were enjoying. If your hips are a key concern, then you might want to consider a specially-designed memory foam pillow-block that contours around your knees for premium comfort and even-better rest.

PILLOW BEHIND YOUR BACK

We love placing a pillow behind our back when we’re enjoying a lazy Sunday session of our favourite shows from the comfort of our bed, but a pillow in this place isn’t just about that cosy factor. Placing a pillow behind your back can also provide some support and a little resistance so that you don’t turn over on your back while sleeping (take that, snoring!).

Keep Pillow behind your back
Why a Sleep Calculator Equals Good Rest

Pillow between the waist and the mattress

A back support wedge can be just the ticket for keeping your spine straight, which keeps those aches and pains at bay. These smart, supportive wedges fit right between your waist and the mattress. With this trusty little pillow as part of your bedtime ammunition, you might wonder how you slept without it.

Choosing a Pillow For Side Sleepers

When it came to designing a pillow, the concept for the Nectar pillow as simple: to create the kind of comfort we had all been dreaming of. Our specially designed Nectar pillow combines the best of softness and support. The outer shell provides luxurious oomph while the inner shell is made out of three types of foam that contour around your body–ideal for a dreamy sleep whether you’re looking for a little extra “aaah” under your neck, or some smart support between your knees.

Pillow preferences are just as personal as sleep positions. This is why, when you purchase a Nectar pillow, we send it to you “overfilled”. It’s this personal touch that allows you to tailor-make your “fluff”. Simply remove as much stuffing as feels right, and pop it back in whenever you fancy adjusting your position. Our pillows aren’t just packed full of comfort; they’re wrapped up in some pretty cool fabric technology, too. The Adaptive cooling fabric keeps you fresh and comfortable all night (we’ve all been known to toss our pillows aside when too hot), meaning you can keep those pillows off the floor and close to your body for a blissful night’s sleep.

Choosing a Mattress For Side Sleepers

Though side sleepers are the most common type of sleepers, not every mattress is made with this position in mind. If you’re a side sleeper, then you’re going to want to include your hips and shoulders among your priorities for comfort, which is why a medium-firm memory foam mattress can be your best bet. This just-right balance of support will allow your hips and shoulders to sink into the mattress enough to keep your spine in alignment: a too-firm spring mattress will instead apply pressure to these key areas, while a too-soft mattress can mean a whole lot of sinkage with none of the support needed to keep your spine – and your sleep – peacefully comfortable.

Memory foam, in contrast, is a marvellous material with some remarkable qualities that don’t just lend themselves to great rest, but great sleep-health, too–no matter your nightly position. Developed by NASA, memory foam has the know-how to be able to keep up with all of your sleep positions and mould itself around your body where support is needed. Nectar was designed with comfort in mind: our premium memory foam mattress offers the contouring support side sleepers need. If you’re a side sleeper sharing your space with a partner who likes to sleep on their stomach or back, you can both rest easy knowing that each of your unique needs is still met, as memory foam will adapt to each person’s needs.

Side Sleepers and Snoring

If you wake yourself – or a patient partner – in the night with your snoring, then we’ll take a good guess that you’re most likely a back-sleeper. As you sleep, your tongue and other mouth muscles relax, and if you’re sleeping on your back then they’ll naturally sit toward the back of your throat. It’s this movement that then causes those rather loud vibrations that are known all too well as snoring. If you struggle with snoring, you might want to consider a switch-up to a side sleeping position. You may find the relief you’re seeking, and most likely have a very grateful partner who’s happy to sleep by your side, too.

Still, changing such a consistent, comfortable habit, such as your sleeping position, isn’t always so easy–even with the best intentions. It can be helpful to place a pillow behind your back to serve as a comfy barrier that will prevent you from rolling over in the middle of the night. If you do switch to sleeping on your side and find that you’re still snoring, then it might be time to consider if you have obstructive sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where your throat muscles relax and block your airway at irregular intervals, no matter what position you sleep in. This irregular interruption in your airway is what then disrupts your breathing throughout the night, and can cause distress and, in some cases, sleep deprivation. Aside from snoring, people with obstructive sleep apnea may experience waking up in the middle of the night gasping for air, or waking up with a dry mouth. If you have breathing concerns, it’s worthwhile making an appointment with your doctor to make sure you’re not confusing snoring for something more serious.

Tips For Side Sleeper For Good Night Sleep

As experts of sleep here at Nectar, we pride ourselves on finding the best solutions for every type of sleeper. Below you’ll find our top six tips for side sleepers:

  1. Choose a mattress that supports your body. Side sleepers should seek a medium-firm memory foam mattress that provide them with comfort and support.
  2. Be gentle on the shoulder and hip that you sleep on. Avoid anything that applies too much pressure to these areas.
  3. Go with a firmer pillow that will comfortably support your head off the mattress. More specifically, you want your head to be right in between your two shoulders.
  4. Use a thin pillow between your knees when sleeping: this will prevent soreness in your hips, and to keep your knees from knocking against each other.
  5. Here’s some pillow-talk for you: there’s no such thing as too many if you’re a side sleeper. Don’t be afraid to experiment until you find your most comfortable combination of comfort and support. Try hugging pillows, or placing a pillow behind your back to amp up your sleep-style.
  6. Left is best. If you’re pregnant, snore, or suffer from sleep apnea, there are lots of health and comfort benefits to be had from sleeping on your left side.

FAQ:

The best mattress firmness for side sleepers is one that is medium-firm. If your mattress is too firm, the hip and shoulder you rely on in this position can feel the pressure. But if the mattress is too soft, your whole body lacks the support it needs, and sinkage means your spine won’t be aligned: not great news for those morning aches and pains. A medium-firm mattress provides the right amount of support while contouring around your body where needed.

Memory foam mattresses are great for side sleepers. Your position will benefit from the right about of sinkage under your hip and shoulder while the rest of your body is kept comfortably supported. No matter how you move in the night, a memory foam mattress will mould around your body to provide support to key areas. You can also look forward to waking ache-free, as the support of a memory foam mattress will encourage healthier spine alignment–side sleeping or otherwise.

A memory foam mattress is also a must for anyone who shares their bed. Sharing your space can be wonderful, but it shouldn’t mean sacrificing your quality of rest, or the position you like to sleep in. A memory foam mattress allows each individual to sleep in their preferred position without any disturbances in the night, meaning both wake up feeling well. This is because memory foam is superior at dispelling any motion transfer. If you or your partner needs to move in the night, it can be done with the added peace that there won’t be any disturbances as a result. A spring mattress, on the other hand, is the worst choice for absorbing motion because, as the name implies, there’s just too much springiness–and there’s nothing worse than a bounce in the night that jolts you from your dreams.

It’s a firm no from us on this one. Side sleepers should actually avoid a firm mattress because it simply can’t provide the right amount of support for your key pressure points. Imagine sleeping on your side on a hardwood floor: it’s not comfortable because you feel pressure against your shoulder and hip, and there’s absolutely no cushioning. While a firm mattress is not as hard as the floor, it’s clear that there’s just not enough give for your shoulder and hip, which should feel a comfortable and supportive amount of sink so you sleep soundly.

The answer is, not quite. Studies have shown that your most comfortable option is medium-firm. In a double-blind, controlled, multi-centre trial, researchers concluded that “in patients with chronic, non-specific back pain, medium firm mattresses reduced pain related disability more than firm mattresses.” The idea is to have a little balance: go firm, but not excessively so.

If you’re a committed side sleeper, dedicated to a lifetime of good sleep, then a medium-firm mattress is the way to go. The reason is that, when it comes to sleep posture, keeping your spine aligned is crucial to comfort and health. A medium-firm memory foam mattress is on your side with the right amount of sinkage that moulds to your body and provides support the whole night through: great sleep, guaranteed.

Heather Turgeon, author of The Happy Sleeper, says that “because of the greater distance between their heads and the mattress, side sleepers often need a thicker pillow to keep their head and neck in a neutral position.” When picking out a pillow to rest your head on, you should be seeking extra-firm support. While a fluffy soft pillow seems luxuriously comfortable, the reality is that you’re going to end up ditching it, as it won’t give you the lift you need. Just like our mattress, the Nectar pillow provides the perfect amount of firmness.

Nectar Mattress

BEST OF ALL WORLDS

If you’re seeking wellness and the best sleep of your life (why wouldn’t you?), then you will love the many perks that buying a Nectar mattress offers you. We’ve figured out the perfect combination of cool, breathable comfort and support for your best rest. And beyond that, we’ve made sure to provide the best practices in the industry offering friendly customer service, a Forever warranty and a 365 night home trial period with free shipping and returns.

Read Reviews

Nectar Mattress
SHOP
×