The best mattresses for shoulder pain may vary based on where your pain occurs, price, type, material, firmness level, and how you sleep. Certain mattresses may be better for side, back, or combination sleepers.
Your mattress should make you feel good at night — even if you have shoulder pain.
With that in mind, we rounded up nine mattresses that may help get you on your way to sleeping more soundly.
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If you work at a desk for long hours, you may be prone to shoulder discomfort when you sleep.
Interestingly enough, a small 2012 study showed that people with shoulder pain reported sleeping on their affected shoulder more often. So, Sinett says, making certain adjustments may be necessary. These include:
sleeping on the opposite side of your injury
switching sides of the bed if you prefer to sleep facing a certain direction
avoiding picking up kids or even raising your arm over your head
Shoulder pain and sleep
If you’re in the market for a new mattress, opting for a medium-firm choice that supports your shoulders can pay off in a big way.
According to a small 2009 study, people with low back or shoulder pain who swapped out their current sleep system for a new medium-firm mattress experienced improved pain and stiffness scores and had more nights of good sleep.
Sleeping positions can play a role in shoulder pain, too. The small 2012 study above found that people seeking care for shoulder pain were more likely to sleep on the injured side than the pain-free side. So, sleeping on a mattress designed to support side sleepers by minimizing pressure point pain could make a big difference.
Pressure relief is a great feature in a mattress because it means fewer aches and pains when you wake. Pressure points are the parts of your body where you feel the most pressure when you’re lying down. Side sleepers, for example, tend to feel pressure in the hips and shoulders.
If you’re experiencing shoulder pain, a mattress designed for pressure relief will offer adequate support for common pressure points, including the shoulders, and help maintain spinal alignment while you sleep. Materials like latex and memory foam both offer pressure relief. Hybrid mattresses that pair these materials with zoned coil systems are often a good choice.
If you have shoulder pain, here are a few things to look for in a mattress:
Easy return policies
Consider looking for a brand that offers an easy return policy, says Sinett, because this can help ensure that you snag the model that feels most comfortable to you, rather than getting saddled with one that doesn’t actually ease your discomfort.
This is because an easy return policy essentially guarantees that you get to try the mattress and make sure you like it and find it comfortable, rather than having to rely on other people’s recommendations.
Plus, it may take several nights to figure out if the mattress is helping or worsening your shoulder pain — the last thing you want is to be a month or 2 into sleeping on a new, expensive mattress only to then realize it’s causing you more pain.
The right firmness
Those with shoulder pain should look for a medium to medium-firm mattress, says Sinett, so your body can get some support without being too hard. This will help relieve pressure on your neck and support your spinal alignment.
You might also want to consider a mattress that is adjustable (in terms of firmness levels) — that way, you can customize it to your personal comfort level, Sinett adds.
Mattresses in the medium-firm range also work particularly well if you’re a back or stomach sleeper.
If you have neck pain, it’s worth exploring mattresses that include memory foam, latex, or a hybrid of the two. These materials tend to offer adequate support and the kind of cradling comfort that relieves shoulder pain.
If a new mattress isn’t in your budget right now, you can also look for mattress toppers. In fact, many of the mattress manufacturers on this list also sell toppers that could help ease your pain. You can also find mattress toppers in memory foam or latex that can add impressive support and comfort to an older mattress.
Sleeping on your side can cause shoulder pain because this position can put too much pressure on the joint, especially if you have an unsupportive mattress — but it’s not the only cause of shoulder pain.
So, if your pain persists all day for several days or weeks on end — even after you’ve invested in a new mattress — or doesn’t get better when you sleep in a different position, it may be time to talk with your doctor to figure out the underlying cause of your pain.
In short: yes. If you have an unsupportive mattress and sleep on your side, you could be putting a lot of extra pressure on your shoulder joint. This can lead to inflammation or injury of the ligaments and tendons in your joint.
That’s why it’s important to find a mattress that supports your shoulder, spine, and other joints to help ease pressure while you sleep.
What types of mattresses help with shoulder pain?
Look for mattresses that offer materials designed for pressure relief. Hybrid, latex, and memory foam mattresses can be good choices if you have shoulder pain.
Hybrid mattresses are made with a supportive coil system and a substantial comfort layer that could be foam, latex, or another material. The combination makes for a mattress with all the supportive benefits of coils, plus enhanced pressure relief and motion isolation.
Latex mattresses are impressively durable and mildly contouring with just enough bounce. They offer a gentle “hugged” sensation around the shoulders without the “sinking in” feeling common to memory foam.
Memory foam can still be a good choice because of the pressure relief it offers. Deep contouring is a standout feature of memory foam. People with shoulder pain may find the contouring offers immense relief.
An adjustable mattress is another consideration since you can toggle firmness levels to find something that works well for you from one night to the next.
What mattress firmness is best for shoulder pain?
Experts often recommend medium to medium-firm mattresses for shoulder pain. That’s because they tend to offer the support your body needs to maintain a comfortable posture, even while you’re snoozing.
Pressure point pain in the shoulders is usually the result of a mattress that’s too hard or too soft.
What sleeping positions help reduce shoulder pain?
Reducing shoulder pain while you’re asleep usually involves finding a neutral position. You can try sleeping on your back, with a small pillow or rolled-up towel beneath your knees. Sleep on a flat pillow to support your shoulder for better alignment with your body. That can help relieve pressure.
If you’re only experiencing pain on one side, sleep on the opposite side with a pillow between your knees to help keep your spine aligned. It may help to place a pillow under the arm you are not sleeping on for more support, too.
It’s a good idea to avoid sleeping on your stomach with your arms up. This position puts pressure on your neck, shoulders, and lower back.
If you have shoulder pain, you can find a mattress that meets your body’s need for comfort. Experts recommend choosing a mattress that’s on the medium to medium-firm side, sleeping on the opposite side of the pain, and adjusting habits as needed to avoid aggravating any injury.
Jessica Migala is a freelance writer specializing in health, nutrition, and fitness content. She lives in Chicago with her husband, two young sons, and rescue pup. Find her on LinkedIn or on Instagram.
Jessica Timmons has been working as a freelance writer since 2007, covering everything from pregnancy and parenting to cannabis, chiropractic, stand-up paddling, fitness, martial arts, home decor, and much more. Her work has appeared in mindbodygreen, Pregnancy & Newborn, Modern Parents Messy Kids, and Coffee + Crumbs. She loves weight lifting, really great lattes, and family time. You can connect with her on her web page, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Last medically reviewed on July 26, 2023
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