The Best Mattress Toppers for Side Sleepers Keep Your Shoulders Solidly Supported
We’ve got one for less than $100.
Published Jun 20, 2022 10:50 PM
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Reading up on Domino’s shopping guides is like having your own personal product concierge. We do the tedious part—deep-dive research, hands-on testing, and tapping experts for advice—so all you have to do is hit “add to cart.” That’s why we call them Simply the Best.
What’s the optimal way to make a bed supercozy, you ask? That just-right level of softness that also supports your body, no matter your preferred position. If you’re always landing on your shoulder, and say you have an older or too-short mattress, you’ve come to the right place. The best mattress toppers for side sleepers promise an extra layer of cushion, in all kinds of materials and at various firmness levels.
“Depending on the firmness of a person’s current mattress, a mattress topper may improve their sleep,” says Dr. Kevin Lees, D.C., of The Joint Chiropractic. “Firm mattresses might be more supportive but can cause pressure points. This is especially true for side sleepers, who may develop pressure points on their shoulders or hips.” Whether you choose a memory foam, latex, or wool-blend mattress topper, it’s all about what makes you feel rested. Layer on a luxe duvet and more than a few pillows, and you’re on your way to a sound night’s sleep. Read on for our picks.
- Best overall: Tempur-Topper Supreme
- Best affordable foam: Linenspa Gel Swirl Memory Foam Topper
- Best Lyocell: Buffy Plushy Mattress Protector
- Best latex: PlushBeds 100% Natural Latex Topper
- Best blend: Birch Plush Organic Mattress Topper
Best Overall: Tempur-Topper Supreme
Thickness: 3 inches | Sizes: Twin, twin long, full, queen, king, California king | Firmness: Soft
What we like:
- 10-year warranty
- Good for when you’re not ready for a full mattress upgrade
- Removable and washable cover
Why we chose it: A soft yet supportive topper that responds to your weight and temperature.
Tempur-Pedic’s topper rises above the rest, thanks to durable, proprietary material that adapts to your body, a feature that the brand claims will help combat shoulder pain (Lees says side sleepers are particularly prone to this). While it’s ideal for side sleepers, this topper offers support for all types, and you can even upgrade to a Tempur-Adapt + Cooling option, which adds a cool-to-the-touch cover, keeping you comfortable year-round. With a 10-year warranty on offer, you can expect this topper to last longer than others on the market, too, making the investment more sustainable.
Best Affordable Foam: Linenspa Gel Swirl Memory Foam Topper
Thickness: 2 or 3 inches | Sizes: Twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, California king | Firmness: Soft
What we like:
- Available in 2 thicknesses
- Ventilated gel design
- Takes 48 hours for smell to dissipate
Why we chose it: A highly breathable, gel-infused mattress topper that won’t break the bank.
Mattress toppers can get pricey depending on which brand you choose. This foam topper remains at an affordable price point without sacrificing key elements, like body contouring and support. Designed to stay cooler than regular memory foam (which can run a little hot), Linenspa’s version claims to help regulate body temperature with its high-quality gel infusion. So while you might swap out your down comforter for a light quilt when the temps begin to rise, you can keep this topper under soft sheets without getting too toasty.
Best Lyocell: Buffy Plushy Mattress Protector
Thickness: 1 inch | Sizes: Twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, California king | Firmness: Plush
What we like:
- Fill is made from recycled materials
- Comes with elastic straps to keep topper in place
- 7-night free trial
- Not as thick as other options on our list
Why we chose it: A sustainably made topper suitable for all seasons.
Buffy’s mattress protector doubles as a mattress topper, offering an inch of fluff to plush up your bed. Recycled fiber, made from plastic bottles, is stuffed inside a soft, 300-thread-count shell made from sateen-weave Lyocell (which, if you don’t know, is made from eucalyptus and other wood pulps, all harvested from sustainably managed forests). Elastic straps hold it perfectly in place, and quilt stitching keeps the fill from bunching up in certain spots. Be sure to measure the depth of your mattress before purchasing—these toppers fit options that are 8 to 21 inches in depth. If it’s not right for you? There’s a seven-day free trial and 100-night return policy.
Best Latex: PlushBeds 100% Natural Latex Topper
Thickness: 2 or 3 inches | Sizes: Twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, California king | Firmness: Varies
What we like:
- Multiple firmness options
- 5-year warranty
Why we chose it: This topper’s hypoallergenic qualities are ideal for those sensitive to allergens.
Our favorite feature of the latex PlushBeds topper is its firmness options: soft, medium soft, medium, medium firm, and extra firm. The 2- and 3-inch thickness means you can customize it to fit your needs, and you can expect cushy yet springy material optimized for pressure-point relief and support for shoulders, hips, back, and knees. Why not use it as a trial run ahead of investing in a latex mattress? Plus it’s odor-free, antimicrobial, dust-mite resistant, and mildew resistant—great for those who deal with allergies.
Best Blend: Birch Plush Organic Mattress Topper
Thickness: 3 inches | Sizes: Twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, California king | Firmness: Plush
What we like:
- Materials include organic cotton, birch wool, and latex
- 10-year warranty
- 100-night sleep trial
- High price point
Why we chose it: Layers of natural materials including wool and cotton create a thick, contouring topper.
Three layers of organic cotton, birch wool, and natural latex combine to make up Birch’s hypoallergenic and eco-friendly mattress topper. It promises breathability and enhanced airflow, and comes with an impressive 10-year warranty—a length of time that boasts durability. Birch’s 100-night sleep trial lets you take yours for a test run, too (good for those of us who have…commitment issues). The blend of wool and latex means you get the best of both worlds: Wool has a knack for pulling moisture away from the body, while latex provides a plush, thick feel.
How We Chose These Products
When choosing the best mattress toppers for side sleepers, it was first vital to check in with professionals to understand how the position affects sleep. (We’re not medical professionals, and it’s also important to go with what’s comfortable to you!) Side sleepers can experience back and neck pain if their body isn’t aligned, and not all mattresses provide the necessary support. We prioritized products made from certain fabrics like memory foam; are available in thicknesses from 1 to 3 inches; and breathe well. A company’s commitment to sustainability and using naturally derived materials was also a factor; this was something we looked for when narrowing down our picks. After speaking with Lees, we made sure each product offered support to side sleepers in an effort to provide options that alleviate stiffness.
Our Shopping Checklist
Mattress toppers are made from various fibers and materials, including Lyocell, memory foam, latex, and wool. The range means that there is an option that will fit most side sleepers’ needs.
- Foam: Memory foam is polyurethane based and commonly found in mattress toppers thanks to its sensitivity to pressure. It molds to the shape of your body, providing cocooning support.
- Latex: This generally feels more buoyant than memory foam (think: floating on a cloud) and can be more cooling. It’s particularly good for people who are sensitive to allergens due to its antimicrobial and dust mite–resistant properties.
- Lyocell: This was originally trademarked in 1982 as Tencel and is a form of rayon. As mentioned above, it’s made from eucalyptus trees and sometimes derived from bamboo, oak, and birch trees, too. It’s considered a sustainable substitute for cotton or silk.
- Blends: A mix of materials in a mattress topper is considered a blend. Blends offer the benefits of various fibers and fill, as in Birch’s version. For example, its product combines the plushness of latex with the breathability of wool.
Thickness and Support
Thickness varies by brand, but it tends to net out at either 1-, 2-, or 3 inches across toppers; some, like PlushBeds, offer different levels. Firmness is also all over the board, and there are options including soft, medium soft, and firm. Support is essential for side sleepers, but in general, side sleeping is considered a solid position. “Sleeping on the side is firmly in the okay category,” says Lees. “It’s good for reducing snoring and reducing lower back pain, and a must during pregnancy for optimal blood flow.”
Sleep Trials and Returns
Buffy’s mattress topper offers a free trial, but return policies range across products. Some brands, including Tempur-Pedic and PlushBeds, don’t offer returns due to the product’s materials. However, Linenspa, Birch, and Buffy offer flexible policies, ranging from 30 days to 100 nights. We recommend taking advantage of these since it can be difficult to know the specific thickness or softness you need to get an optimal night’s rest.
Q: Can I put a mattress topper on one side of the bed?
Yes! If you have a larger mattress (queen, king, California king) and you only want a topper on one side, try a twin size. You can put it on the preferred side and layer as you normally would: with a fitted sheet, flat sheet, and the rest of your bedding. We recommend doing this with a thinner option if you sleep with a partner to prevent any awkward unevenness.
Q: So I have the mattress and topper, as well as a bed frame. What’s next?
Think of your mattress and topper as the blank canvas of your room. It gives you a soft surface to decorate in a way that fits your aesthetic. “Choose high-quality main items, like your sheets, quilt, and comforter/duvet, and then you can build off of those,” says decorator Emily Riddle. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive to look high quality. I love linen for a comforter/duvet, and I like soft neutrals for quilts.”
The Last Word
Sleep is one way to give back to your body, which makes a mattress topper choice something to take seriously. The difference in fabric and fill directly correlates to the comfort and firmness of the best mattress toppers for side sleepers, which is why our list is organized by material. Ultimately, Tempur-Pedic’s came out on top; its proprietary Tempur-Pedic material that adapts to your body, durability, and 10-year warranty all mattered. “If you want to start taking better care of your back and spine, you’ll want to start taking your sleeping habits much more seriously,” says Lees. Hear! Hear!