3 Things to Look for in a Memory Foam Mattress if You’re a Stomach Sleeper

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image of woman sleeping on stomach - best memory foam mattress for stomach sleepers

Stomach sleeping isn’t all that common—only 7% of Americans prefer this position. But if it’s how you like to snooze, you’ve likely experienced back pain at some point or another. While sleeping on your stomach does have some benefits—it can help reduce snoring—it’s not so great for your spine. That’s why it’s crucial to find a mattress that works for this sleep position.

Memory foam molds to the shape of your body when you lie down, which may not be ideal for stomach sleepers, especially if you’re of higher weight. That said, if you like the feel of memory foam, and you are of light or average weight, there are a few features you can look for to ensure you get adequate support as a stomach sleeper.

How to find the best memory foam mattress for stomach sleepers

The key to comfort for stomach sleepers—for any sleeper, really—is maintaining the spine in neutral alignment. Because most people carry their weight across the hips and belly, sleeping on one’s stomach can cause an unnatural bowing of the spine, which in turn can lead to back pain. To assure proper lumbar support and overall comfort, look for the following features in a memory foam mattress if you’re a stomach sleeper:

  • Firm comfort level: Stomach sleepers do best on a firm surface. This allows your body to maintain the best possible alignment while you’re lying face down. If a memory foam mattress is too soft, your stomach will pull your spine down into an exaggerated curve. Keep in mind that you don’t want an overly firm mattress, though, because this can put pressure on your ribs and stomach and cause aches and pains. Experts recommend a medium to firmer comfort level (around a 6-8 on the firmness scale) to adequately support a stomach sleeper’s body.
  • Cooling features: Feeling hot is a common complaint among stomach sleepers, and memory foam can sometimes sleep hot. So if you’re a stomach sleeper in the market for a memory foam mattress, make sure to choose one that has temperature-regulating features, such as cooling layers and a cover made from a breathable fabric.
  • Durability: The shorter the lifespan of a mattress, the sooner it will begin to sag—and that’s not good for stomach sleepers, who need a lot of spinal support. Look for high-quality materials in a memory foam mattress, such as high-density foams. Premium memory foam has a density of 4 to 5 pounds per cubic foot. A memory foam mattress made with high-density foam should last from 10-15 years.

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Something else to keep in mind: Memory foam mattresses are best suited to sleepers under 200 pounds, as they may not offer the right support to higher-weight individuals. If you weigh more than 200 pounds, are a stomach sleeper, and like the feel of memory foam, consider a latex mattress or a hybrid mattress (featuring an innerspring support core and memory foam and/or latex comfort layers) instead. (Here’s how to find the best mattress for heavy people.)

How to find the best pillow for stomach sleepers

Matching your pillow to your sleep position is important too. The National Sleep Foundation recommends using a thin pillow under your head—or no pillow at all. Placing a thin pillow under your stomach and pelvis may also help ward off back pain.

For more advice on finding the right memory foam bed for you, here’s how to choose the best memory foam mattress for your sleep position.

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