Best mattress for stomach sleepers: how to choose and what to look for

Lying on your belly runs the risk of damaging your spine. Here's how to choose the best mattress for stomach sleeping

Woman sleeping on her front
(Image credit: Vladislav Muslakov on Unsplash)

Looking for the best mattress for stomach sleepers is? With many mattress companies claiming their products are 'perfect for all styles of sleeping', it can be difficult to know what to look for. We're here to help with that. Once you've read our tips, head to our general best mattress or best memory foam mattress guides to make your selection. 

If you're a stomach sleeper – also known as a prone sleeper, front sleeper, or belly sleeper – we have some not-great news. Firstly, many experts generally believe that stomach sleeping is not the best sleeping position in general, as it can put undue strain on your neck and back. 

In fact, stomach sleeping needs to be avoided in pregnancy, even in the early stages, as it can restrict the movement and oxygen levels of your baby. Instead, a 2012 study suggests that side sleeping is the best position during this period. This is because most of our weight is concentrated in the middle of our bodies. Consequently, sleeping on your front can make it difficult to maintain correct spinal alignment throughout the night. This can most obviously lead to back pain, but it can also manifest itself in pain anywhere else in the body, as your nerves and joints try to compensate for the problem.

That said, if you’re not pregnant, you’re not currently experiencing pain, and you honestly find you just can’t sleep any other way, then sticking to stomach sleeping may be the least-worst option, at least for now. After all, lack of sleep is in itself a major threat to your health and wellbeing.

Assuming you do decide to continue stomach sleeping, you’ll at least want to minimise the potential damage to your body. Read on and we’ll explain how to choose the best mattress for stomach sleepers.

1. Choose a firmer mattress

While the best mattress for side sleepers is a soft to medium one, stomach sleepers generally need a mattress that’s on the firm side. This will help to prevent your hips and midsection sinking too deeply into the mattress, leading to spinal misalignment, and the associated pain and poor posture that comes with it.

2. Factor in your weight

How firm should your mattress be? That will depend on your weight. Those of average weight – between 130 and 230 pounds, around 9-16 stones – should look at medium-firm models, around a 6 on the firmness scale. Lighter people, meanwhile will be better suited to a medium, around a 5, while heavier people will be looking at a 7 or above.

That said, it’s difficult to get too specific here, because everyone’s body is different, and firmness scales really do vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. So there’ll be a lot of trial and error involved, either by trying out mattress in a store or (preferably) by taking advantage of lengthy free trial offers at home for online purchases.

3. Add a layer of comfort

It’s all very well us prescribing a firmer mattress, but what if you’re used to a softer one and miss the level of comfort than provides? Well don’t worry, you’re not alone. And for this reason, many mattress brands combine their firmer mattresses with a softer, comfort-top layer, to give you the best of both worlds. 

Alternatively, there are a wide range of mattress toppers that you can buy separately, to achieve the same effect. Check out our guide to the best mattress toppers to learn more. 

4. The importance of pillows

When it comes to stomach sleeping, the right pillow is as important as the right mattress. Put simply, if you lie on your front, you’re better off with a thinner and flatter pillow, which reduces the angle of your head and neck. 

Also, if you find your mid-section is sinking too much on your current mattress, you may find that lodging a pillow under your pelvis can be a quick fix, to help keep your spine in a better alignment. 

Tom May
Tom May

Tom May is a freelance writer and author of the book, Great Ted Talks: Creativity. He has been editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. He has also worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including Radio Times, NME, Heat, Company and Bella.