How to Choose the Right Bedding for Your Sleep Style

Your mattress, sheets, duvet and pillows impact your sleep quality, so make sure you’re investing in bedding essentials that support the sleep style you prefer. From cotton and flannel to organic linen and Tencel, here’s how to choose the right bedding for your sleep style:

A percale weave yields crisp sheets that feel cool and get cozier with each wash. For cold-sleepers, opt for a brushed organic flannel.

Side Sleepers

Sleeping on your side is a common and, according to some medical professionals, one of the healthiest sleeping positions. If you are a side sleeper, look for pillows and mattresses that help keep your spine aligned.

A pillow should be firm enough to support your neck, while being soft and supportive for your head and shoulders. A body pillow (a long, rectangular pillow) is great for side sleepers and can also help you avoid rolling to the other side or tossing and turning throughout the night.

When shopping for a mattress, you should consider a medium firm foam or hybrid mattress. A too-firm mattress won’t provide the proper cushioning for your pressure points and can lead to spinal misalignment, while a too-soft mattress may allow your hips and shoulders to sink in too much causing discomfort. A pillow with a 3- to 4-inch gusset is ideal for reducing strain on your neck. The gusset allows the pillow to conform to your head and neck, helping you maintain an optimal alignment with your shoulders while supporting your body weight.

Back Sleepers

Back sleepers need a firm mattress that helps them maintain spinal alignment. Firm mattresses also provide good lumbar support and minimize motion transfer.

Back-sleepers tend to prefer a slightly firmer feel than side sleepers. They also appreciate a medium-loft pillow that supports their neck and head without lifting their heads too high. Too much loft can force the neck to hyperextend, leading to neck pain.

When shopping for a mattress, back-sleepers should consider the level of contouring the mattress provides and the materials used. Contouring refers to how the mattress hugs the body, adjusting to individual shapes and relieving pressure points. High-quality foams like memory and polyfoam provide a close hug while reducing sinkage.

Another option is an innerspring mattress that provides superior support and a bouncy surface feel. These are often less expensive than other mattresses and still offer good lumbar support.

Stomach Sleepers

Sleeping on your stomach is less ideal for spinal alignment and often leads to back pain and neck discomfort. Fortunately, outfitting your bed with the right mattress and pillow can alleviate these complaints.

Stomach sleepers typically need a firm mattress to prevent midsection sinkage that misaligns the spine, says Naimish Baxi, MD, a physiatrist at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. He recommends memory foam with cooling technology since stomach sleepers tend to sleep hot. He also suggests hybrid mattresses, which combine the durability of innerspring with contouring and pressure relief from foam or latex.

A medium-firm mattress provides the right amount of support for belly sleepers, says Baxi. It leaves the torso in proper spinal alignment while also relieving pressure on hips and shoulders. For pillows, he recommends shredded foam pillows that can be moldable to relieve neck pain. A memory foam topper is another option for stomach sleepers who want to adjust the feel of their sleep surface without purchasing a new mattress.

Allergy Sleepers

When allergies snuff out your slumber, you need non-triggering bedding that can help ward off sinus irritations and itchiness. If you suffer from airborne allergens like pollen, dust mites and mold spores that lead to sneezing and congestion, look for sheets and mattress covers that have tightly woven fabrics and moisture-wicking properties.

Tightly woven fabrics are more effective than looser ones because they don’t allow spores and mites to escape. To further reduce the number of mites in your bed, invest in zippered encasements for pillows, mattresses and box springs that aren’t machine-washable.

For pillows, find a core material like memory foam or polyfoam that is resistant to dust mites, mildew and mold spores. Or opt for a natural latex pillow with a cover that’s made from materials like bamboo-derived textiles, organic cotton or Tencel. These materials are more resilient to mold and mildew growth, resist dust mites, and have a soft-to-the-touch feel.

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