Everyone sleeps differently. But whether you may be someone who moves around a lot in their sleep, or someone who sleeps as still as a rock, we all have a predominant position during the night.
Those positions can be broken down into three main categories – back sleepers, side sleepers and stomach sleepers.
Mattresses will also come in different levels of firmness, so like Goldilocks, you’ll need to find the mattress that’s just right for you.
It’s worth noting too that the position you sleep in for most of the night, may not be the same position that you use to fall asleep.
So when choosing a new mattress, you must consider which position you spend most of the night in – back, side or stomach.
Here are some simple considerations for each category of sleeper:
For People Who Sleep On Their Back
The spine is curved, but a mattress is flat. So it’s common for back sleepers to be particularly susceptible to discomfort in their back after sleeping.
Your joints, and especially your spine, need to be supported as much as possible otherwise it undergoes an enormous amount of strain that you’ll feel as soon as you try to sit up in the morning.
It’s easy to think that your mattress is fine. That when you first lay down on it, it feels so comfortable, especially after a long day.
However your spine comes under increasing pressure as the night goes on, so it’s important that you mattress gives you the support you need for the whole time that you’re asleep.
The primary consideration is that people who sleep on their backs are going to need a lot more support than a stomach sleeper, or a side sleeper.
So when it comes to shopping for a new mattress, you want to choose a model that’s relatively firm.
In my experience memory foam mattresses offer extremely good support by adjusting to the contours of your body, allowing your spine to keep it’s shape while the mattress ‘hugs’ around you.
Other considerations you need to think about are:
- Your weight (a slimmer frame will need less support)
- Your comfort levels (for some people a medium firm mattress is too firm)
- Whether or not you share a bed (it’s no good finding the perfect mattress for you if your partner suddenly has problems sleeping)
For People Who Sleep On Their Stomach
There are some people who can only go to sleep while laying on their stomach, and despite how comfortable it may feel for you, it is a considerably unhealthy way to drift off to the land of nod.
When you lay on your stomach most of your weight is concentrated around your torso area and this directly impacts your spine. As a result of laying on your stomach, your spine will come under tremendous pressure.
If you’re one of the people who just can’t sleep if they’re not on their stomach, it may be difficult to try and change your sleeping patterns.
In that case, it’s important to find a mattress that will allow you to keep sleeping on your stomach but also giving you the support that you need.
Most people find that when they start experiencing aches and pains in the morning, it’s their mattress that is the reason.
If you’ve not changed your mattress in the past 7-8 years then it’s definitely time for a new one.
Even if your mattress is more recent, if it’s just a simple coil spring mattress then it could still be causing you harm because of the lack of support provided to all of the important joints and pressure points along your body.
When choosing a softness level for someone who sleeps on their stomach, you need to find somewhere in the middle of the range.
A mattress that is overly soft will mean your spine arches during the night and will contribute to severe pain when you wake in the morning.
On the other hand, a mattress that’s too firm means that your spine will be unable to maintain the curved shape that it naturally would do.
If you imagine the softest mattress being a 0, and the firmest mattress being a 10, as a stomach sleeper you’d probably be best with a 6 or 7 firmness level. Not too soft, but not too firm either.
Regardless of which level you choose, it’s important that all of your joints and pressure points are supported. This will allow your spine to minimize the amount of pressure it has put on it, meaning you’ll wake up without those aches and pains that last all day.
For People Who Sleep On Their Side
For the most part, sleeping on your side is one of the better positions when it comes to your health.
There are several reasons for this.
- Sleeping on your side means that your circulation is improved compared to being a back or side sleeper.
- Your lungs have less pressure on them when you sleep on your side.
- Snoring is minimized … after all, if you’ve ever slept next to a snorer, then more likely than not they were sleeping on their back, right?
- It reduces symptoms of acid reflux. This is especially important for pregnant women. Many women suffer from acid reflux and so sleeping on your side can alleviate these symptoms.
Even still, just because you sleep on your side does not mean you will be without problems during the night.
If your mattress is old you may still find you wake up with aches and pains in the morning, particularly in your joints like your shoulders.
When you lay on your side, all of the weight is loaded onto the points of your body that lie in contact with the mattress, so hips, shoulders and knees can all suffer.
A simple coil spring mattress does little to help provide the proper support needed in these cases. (Which is why a memory foam mattress, of the correct density, is a much better option compared to a coil spring mattress).
Without the right support on your shoulders, hips and knees, you may find yourself waking up in the morning stiff and with reduced mobility.
This only gets worse with age too, so it’s important to protect these areas even if you only feel minor, or even very little, discomfort right now from sleeping on your side.
When choosing a mattress as a side sleeper, memory foam offers the best support and you’ll want to choose a mattress that provides enough support to those key areas.
The firmness level you need will probably be on the medium to soft firmness level. By getting the right firmness level and the right foam density, this will allow your body to ‘sink’ into the mattress in all the right places to keep your spine in a straight line.
There are a lot of different factors to consider whether you are a side sleeper, a back sleeper or a stomach sleeper.
Choosing a new mattress is a process and with the information on this site, you should be able to narrow down to the perfect one for your needs.
Take the time to check out some of the additional comparisons and reviews.