Of all the sleeping styles, sleeping on your tummy usually means courting major back pain. Luckily, the best mattress for stomach sleepers will alleviate some of that discomfort—and help you get a deeper night’s sleep.
“Stomach sleeping is the least ideal position (compared to back and side) when it comes to neck and low back pain,” Naimish Baxi, MD, physiatrist at Hospital for Special Surgery, tells SELF. As SELF has previously reported, you want to get as close as you can to neutral spinal alignment while you sleep if you want to prevent upper and lower back pain. But, when you sleep on your stomach and with your head turned to one side, it’s harder to find that kind of alignment.
In fact, sleeping in this position causes your midsection to arch and your shoulders to hunch up, so it’s no surprise if you wake up to uncomfortable pressure points. While experts will tell you it’s difficult to avoid back and neck pain when you sleep on your stomach, the right type of mattress can help reduce those aches and pains in the morning.
What firmness level should stomach sleepers look for in a mattress?
“For stomach sleepers, the firmer the better,” Dr. Baxi says. “A firm mattress will help with optimizing your spine position, keeping it as neutral as possible.” A softer mattress, by comparison, encourages sinkage around your shoulders, hips, and knees. When these points sink too low, your back arches more. A mattress that’s on the firm side won’t let your body sink—rather, it’ll provide pressure relief through these parts of your body.
For those who are curious, back sleepers will also benefit from a firmer mattress. Side sleepers, on the other hand, should sleep on a medium-firm mattress.
What materials and other features are best for mattresses for stomach sleepers?
Dr. Baxi says all standard types of mattresses can provide the kind of relief that stomach sleepers need. Which one you choose is a matter of personal preference. Memory foam mattresses are great if you’re also concerned about motion transfer, but you may find more support from innerspring mattresses and ones constructed with pocketed coils (such as hybrid mattresses, which use both layers of foam and springs).
Dr. Baxi also recommends avoiding mattresses that are too thin, as this can make them less supportive. “I recommend using a mattress that’s at least 10 inches or thicker for stomach sleepers,” he explains. Conversely, the best pillows for stomach sleepers are low and thin—again, to encourage alignment and reduce the pressure on your neck, shoulders, and back.
So, with these general criteria in mind, we’ve selected some of the best, most well-reviewed mattresses that stomach sleepers can try right now (and, thanks to many brands’ generous sleep trial periods, we really mean try). Read on to find the right mattress for you and your favorite sleeping position.