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The Best Mattress Toppers for Side Sleepers with Shoulder Pain

Nighttime shoulder aches are a common complaint, especially for people who sleep on their sides. There are several possible causes of shoulder discomfort, including injuries and arthritis.

However, sometimes the cause is the mattress itself. A mattress that is too soft or hard can contribute to poor sleep posture and put excess pressure on the shoulders and other joints. If you have shoulder aches while sleeping, a mattress topper is a cost-effective solution that can help you sleep more comfortably.

What is a mattress topper?

A mattress topper is an inexpensive alternative to buying a new mattress. It sits on top of your existing mattress and can provide you with additional softness and support. Mattress toppers, sometimes called mattress pads, can help you regulate your body temperature while you sleep. Similarly to a fitted sheet, a mattress topper sits tightly on top of your mattress. Sometimes mattress toppers or pads have cinched edges that help the topper stay in place on your mattress. Other times, the topper stays in place with stretchy straps of fabric placed around the corners of your mattress.

Both types of toppers are easy to remove from your mattress for regular cleaning. Mattress toppers will also sometimes have a removable cover that is machine washable. This makes a mattress pad or topper an excellent choice for anyone who suffers from allergies. When you wash the cover on your foam topper, you will get rid of dust mites and other allergens.

Mattress toppers can be made with a variety of materials, though they’re usually covered in a fabric like cotton. Mattress toppers can be found online or in stores that sell home necessities like sheets, pillows, or towels. With a mattress topper, you can customize the feel of your mattress to reduce pain and address changes in your sleeping habits. There are other benefits as well – a mattress topper helps your mattress last longer by keeping it clean and reducing wear and tear.

How we select our mattress toppers

Many factors go into choosing the right mattress topper. There are many toppers for many types of sleepers on the market, so it’s essential to pick the right one. Mattress toppers can vary in thickness, size, firmness, and support. First, you will need to determine the size of your mattress before purchasing a mattress topper. The best mattress toppers are picked specifically to help a person’s ailments. You may want to find a foam topper to help you sleep better. You may find you need a cooling mattress topper to get your best night’s sleep. You might realize that you have terrible shoulder discomfort from sleeping on your side, and you want to find a mattress topper to relieve that pain.

How Does Sleeping On Your Side Affect Your Shoulder Pain?

Your sleeping position can significantly impact your sleep quality, pain management, and overall health. If you notice shoulder soreness in the morning or have pain that wakes you up at night, it could be related to sleeping on your side.

Sleeping on your side places a lot of pressure on your bottom shoulder. This impact is even greater for people who have broad shoulders.

Sleeping this way means that your shoulder is under continuous pressure for hours at a time, and this can cause soreness in the muscles. Additionally, side sleeping can create tension in the joints, especially if the mattress doesn’t provide adequate support and/or doesn’t contour around the body at the shoulder and hip.

Side sleeping can also exacerbate shoulder aches from other causes. Rotator cuff injuries and bursitis are two common causes of shoulder discomfort. Osteoarthritis can also lead to chronic pain in the shoulders. If you are dealing with these types of issues, sleeping on your side can make the pain worse and even slow down the healing process.

While some people may be able to stop sleeping on their sides when it causes pain, that’s not always an easy solution. According to one study, 67% of participants slept on the side where they were experiencing shoulder aches. If you aren’t able to stop yourself from sleeping on your side, the best way to help reduce shoulder discomfort is to make sure you are getting the right amount of cushioning from your mattress.

Best Mattress Toppers For Side Sleepers With Shoulder Pain

There are countless mattress toppers on the market. With all the different styles, materials, and designs available, it can be hard to figure out which one is best. Fortunately, we’ve done the research for you, looking at mattress topper reviews, prices, and benefits. If you’re a side sleeper with shoulder soreness, use this list to find the right solution for you.

COMFORT BOOST Mattress Topper

The COMFORT BOOST mattress topper is 2 inches thick and features a down alternative filling in a cotton cover. With its 400 thread count, the cover feels like high-quality bedding, and the underlayer is extra thick for durability. Square baffles ensure the filling stays put and doesn’t bunch up at the sides or corners. The deep pocket design allows the topper to fit over any mattress.

COMFORT BOOST Mattress Topper
Why We Love It:
  • Machine washable for easy cleaning
  • 400 thread count cotton cover and cooling design for better breathability
  • Plush down alternative for soft support
Cons
  • King and queen sizes may be too big for household washer/dryer
  • Filling may be too warm for some climates

Bottom Line: Perfect for side sleepers who want “cloudlike” softness that still supports, this down alternative mattress topper is easy to care for and designed to fit any mattress.

ViscoSoft Memory Foam Mattress Topper

This mattress topper from ViscoSoft is 3 inches tall and made of gel-infused memory foam. The ventilated design is designed to help disperse body heat, so it’s better for hot sleepers than traditional memory foam.

ViscoSoft Memory Foam Mattress Topper
Why We Love It:
  • Adjustable elastic straps keep the topper securely in place
  • Machine washable bamboo-rayon cover
  • Dense memory foam reduces motion transfer
Cons
  • Pricier than some other memory foam options
  • Some reviews mention a lingering chemical odor

Bottom Line: With a ventilated design and cooling gel, this mattress topper sleeps cooler than other memory foam styles but may not be right for users who are sensitive to chemical smells.

LUCID Ventilated Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper

Another ventilated memory foam topper with cooling gel, the LUCID topper is an affordable option that can help side sleepers feel more comfortable. This 3-inch topper is made of soft memory foam designed to cushion a very firm mattress.

LUCID Ventilated Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper
Why We Love It:
  • Less expensive than some other memory foam models
  • Super soft foam reduces pressure points
  • Small ventilation holes promote airflow
Cons
  • May be too soft on a mattress that isn’t “extra firm”
  • Some reviews mention cracking and poor durability

Bottom Line: Made of very soft memory foam, this affordable topper works well on an extremely firm mattress but may not last as long as more expensive models.

EASELAND Pillow Top Mattress Topper

Filled with down alternative microfiber, this EASELAND mattress topper has a cotton cover and a square baffle pattern to keep the filling in place. The deep pocket design can fit on most mattresses, and the all-around elastic helps keep the topper in place.

EASELAND Pillow Top Mattress Topper
Why We Love It:
  • Machine washable for each care
  • Cozy filling is an animal-friendly alternative to down
  • Has an allergen barrier under the cotton cover
Cons
  • Must be dried in the sun to regain fluffiness
  • Cotton cover has a lower thread count than some other brands

Bottom Line: An affordable option for those who don’t want a memory foam topper, this down alternative style is machine washable and adds a pillow-like layer to any mattress.

Linenspa Convoluted Gel Swirl Memory Foam Mattress Topper

Featuring a traditional “egg carton” design, this Linenspa topper is made of memory foam with integrated swirls of cooling gel. The wave pattern is designed to help disperse body heat for a cool sleeping environment, and there are 2-inch and 3-inch styles available.

Linenspa Convoluted Gel Swirl Memory Foam Mattress Topper
Why We Love It:
  • Low price
  • Available in two different thicknesses
  • Egg crate design promotes airflow
Cons
  • Some reviews mention durability issues
  • No way to attach it to the mattress

Bottom Line: An alternative to the “slab” design of many other memory foam toppers, this gel-swirled egg carton model offers a plush feel at an affordable price.

How To Choose A Mattress Topper For Side Sleepers With Shoulder Pain

mattress topper for shoulder pain

There are several things to consider when looking for a mattress topper for shoulder pain. Your sleeping position is a big factor – if you’re a side sleeper, you probably need a style that’s on the softer side. A softer surface can reduce the impact and pressure on your shoulder when you lie on your side.

However, you need something that’s supportive as well. If your mattress topper is too soft, you won’t have enough support to maintain a healthy sleeping posture, which can strain your joints and increase shoulder aches.

What To Consider When Buying A Mattress Topper For Side Sleepers With Shoulder Pain

With all the options on the market, finding the right mattress topper for shoulder pain involves more than just looking for one that is not too hard or too soft. To find the perfect model, consider all the essential factors.

Firmness

Firmness is a measure of how much a mattress topper supports your body. For side sleepers, a soft to medium firmness is generally best.

Soft mattress toppers allow the shoulder and hip to sink down, maintaining proper spinal alignment. This helps relieve pressure on joints and muscles. However, the material should also provide enough support to prevent the shoulders and hips from moving too far down.

Density/Thickness

Dense materials are firmer, so they provide more support and may last longer than less-dense mattress toppers. Many side sleepers find that medium- or low-density toppers are the most comfortable.

Thickness is another important consideration. Most mattress toppers are between 1 inch and 4 inches thick. A thicker topper will be more effective in changing the feel of the mattress, but it can also make finding sheets more difficult.

Motion Transfer

If you share a bed with a partner, you may want to consider a material that absorbs and isolates motion. Reducing motion transfer can help you stay asleep even when your partner moves around or gets up. Memory foam and latex absorb kinetic energy and prevent it from transferring.

Heat Retention

One downside of cozy, soft materials is that they tend to absorb and hold onto heat. This can be uncomfortable for people who sleep hot or who live in warm climates. Memory foam tends to be very warm, so some mattress toppers have features to reduce heat, such as cooling gel or internal channels for air circulation.

Price

While mattress toppers generally cost far less than a new mattress, there is still a wide range of prices. Polyfoam is fairly cheap, but it doesn’t provide as much support as latex or memory foam. Down tends to be an affordable choice. In most cases, thicker toppers cost more than thinner ones.

Types Of Mattress Toppers For Side Sleepers With Shoulder Pain

types of mattress toppers

Mattress toppers are available in a wide variety of materials, and each one has pros and cons.

Polyfoam

Many older mattress toppers were made of polyurethane foam shaped in an “egg carton” style. This type of material is inexpensive, but it also isn’t as supportive as other materials, especially memory foam.

Polyfoam also tends to trap heat, which can be uncomfortable in warm climates. While not an ideal choice for a long-term mattress topper, this material can be a good option for occasional use. For example, a polyfoam topper can make a camping air mattress more comfortable.

Memory Foam

Originally developed by NASA to improve crash protection in airplanes, memory foam is designed to adapt to pressure. This means that memory foam contours to your body to create a customized support system. Memory foam is also known to maintain its shape. Memory foam is one of the best materials for motion isolation. Because memory foam toppers isolate motion very well, they make a good choice for light sleepers.

Dense polyurethane memory foam is a popular choice for pillows, mattresses, and mattress toppers. This type of mattress topper is helpful for people who have joint pain, and the contouring effect can significantly reduce pressure on the joints. However, it also retains heat very well, which can make it a less-than-ideal choice for people who sleep hot.

Latex

Latex is similar to memory foam – it contours around the body’s curves to create a soft but supportive layer. Air can circulate easily through the rubber compounds that make up latex, so it can disperse heat better than memory foam. However, latex allergies mean this material isn’t an option for everyone.

Down/Down Alternative

Down has been used in bedding for centuries, and many people enjoy its cloudlike feel. It’s commonly found in pillows and comforters, but there are also mattress toppers with down filling. This type of mattress topper creates a soft layer that can help relieve pressure in bones and joints.

People who are allergic to natural down or who want to avoid using animal products can choose a down alternative mattress topper. Both natural and synthetic down hold heat well, so they are best for cold climates.

Commonly Asked Questions About Mattress Toppers And Shoulder Pain

Finding the best mattress topper for your needs is essential for a good night’s sleep. Shoulder discomfort can disturb sleep and have negative effects on your day.To help you make the right choice when selecting a memory foam mattress topper, find the answers to your mattress topper questions here.

How thick should a mattress topper be for side sleepers?

A memory foam mattress topper should be thick enough to counteract the effects of the pressure on a person’s shoulder while side sleeping. Three-inch toppers usually provide a medium-firm to firm feel for sleepers, so it would work for side sleepers who need extra firmness and support. A four-inch thick mattress topper will tend to be less firm and have a softer feel and can conform to the sleeper’s body. A four-inch topper can provide a high level of support for the neck and shoulders while also supporting pressure points. The best choice would be a mattress topper with a thickness of anywhere from three to four inches.

Is firm memory foam good for side sleepers?

Side sleepers need support for the neck, shoulders, and pressure points. Firm high-density memory foam in a mattress topper can offer a mixture of support and pressure relief for sensitive areas around the neck and shoulders. Memory foam mattress toppers can be a great way to do what's best for your neck and shoulders without needing to purchase a new mattress. A foam topper can help relieve pressure points for side sleepers.

What is the best mattress topper for shoulder pain?

The answer will be different for everyone. Your mattress should provide the right firmness, density, temperature regulation, and support for you. If you tend to sleep on your side, you’ll probably get more relief from a softer to medium-firm memory foam mattress topper that helps alleviate the pressure on your shoulder.

Will a mattress topper help with shoulder pain?

A memory foam topper can create the right amount of contouring, softness, and support to help relieve or reduce shoulder aches and pain. High-quality mattress toppers will improve your sleep and as a result, your day-to-day life as well.

Do I need a new mattress for my shoulder pain?

While a new mattress may reduce or eliminate your shoulder discomfort, it’s a significant financial commitment. Modifying your existing bed with a mattress topper is easy, eco-friendly, and cost-efficient.

What’s the best sleeping position to relieve shoulder pain?

If you only have pain in one shoulder, try sleeping on the other side or on your stomach or back. You can place a pillow on the sore side to help prevent you from turning onto that shoulder while you sleep.

Are soft or firm mattress toppers better for shoulder pain?

Every person is different, so the answer won’t be the same across the board. For most side sleepers, a soft-to-medium firmness is best: firm enough to support a correct sleeping posture but soft enough to prevent too much pressure on the shoulder. The right mattress topper will support your neck without being too firm or causing discomfort.

Can a mattress cause or worsen shoulder pain?

A mattress that is wrong for your ideal sleep position or your body weight can contribute to shoulder aches by creating poor sleep posture and painful pressure points.

What causes shoulder pain while sleeping?

According to Healthline, there are several things that can cause shoulder discomfort during sleep. Simply sleeping on your side can put a lot of pressure on your shoulder, which can be painful. Other possible causes of shoulder aches while sleeping are rotator cuff injuries, bursitis, joint issues, and osteoarthritis.

What else can I do to help reduce shoulder pain at night?

If you are recovering from a shoulder injury, follow your doctor’s instructions for physical therapy and exercise. Try to avoid repetitive motions during your daily routine. Consider taking an OTC pain reliever, such as ibuprofen, before bed.