can you sleep on your side in a sleeping bag? tips and tricks

sleeping bag

sleeping on your side can be a little tricky if you are a side sleeper because most sleeping pads are narrow and thin and most sleeping bags are very confined and tight.

And for me, it was a struggle especially at first when I didn’t have the sleeping pad and the sleeping bag I use now.

Anyways after years of camping and some terrible nights in the tent, I have some cool tips and tricks you can use if you when camping as a side sleeper.

The first thing I want you to understand is, it is usually a bunch of things together that make a comfortable sleeping set-up, the width of the sleeping pad, the thickness how much you inflate it, does it slid around, and many more.

so if you want the best night’s sleep, you should work on the small things and trust me they will add up to give a very noticeable difference

So, how to sleeping on your side in a sleeping bag

First, Don’t inflate your sleeping pad firmly

Back in the days I use to inflate my sleeping pads rock hard, and that was wrong. Side sleepers will see a huge improvement from a sleeping pad that is more flexible and soft.


Side sleepers have two pressure points on which most of the body’s weight will rest on. The pressure points are the hip and the shoulder, Which means you want a sleeping pad that can support your body’s weight evenly.

So when it comes to the curves of your body, firm sleeping pads can cause heavy presssere points while softer sleeping pads tend to be more forgiving.

so what you should do is after inflating your sleeping pad lay on it and slowly let out air until it conforms to your body. Your hip and shoulder should dip down into the pad until you’re an inch or so off the ground.

Use a spoon-shaped sleeping bag

sleeping bags

As a side sleeper the biggest thing you should consider before buying a sleeping bag is the shape, it is the biggest factor in deciding whether a sleeping bag is comfortable or not.

When it comes to shape you have three choices, mummy, rectangular, and spoon. as a side sleeper you want something that is wide at the shoulder, around the hip area, and around where your knees bend.

For years I use to alternate between mummy sleeping bags and rectangular shaped sleeping bags both of them have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Mummy sleeping bags are usually warm and cozy but they are horrible for side sleepers, on the other side rectangular sleeping bags are very relaxed but you will lose a large amount of heat and they usually hold a big space in your backpack

Then I came across spoon-shaped sleeping bags and they were a game-changer.

The have the best qualities of rectangular and mummy sleeping bags which makes the perfect for side sleepers.

However they tend to be a little expensive.

Get the right pillow

I usually need a very thin pillow when I am sleeping on my bed, however when I am sleeping in a sleeping bag i prefer to use bigger pillows

Some, sleeping pads like Sea to Summit Ether Light XT(which I will come in a moment) come with a pretty big pillow and place to stick the pillow on to which I find to be good because I move a lot when I sleep and I end up pushing the pillow of the sleeping pad. If your sleeping pad doesn’t come with a pillow you can get one from Amazon for like $10.

So, you basically want a pillow that fills the crevice between your shoulder and mattress. If your pillow isn’t the right height it can really decrease the quality of your sleep

The bigger the sleeping bag the better

Absolutely! size of the sleeping bag is the second thing you have to give attention to when you are a side sleeper trying to get a good fit sleeping bag, if you usually buy a regular size sleeping bag going one size up can be great.

Horizontal or vertical baffles?

Most side sleepers including me don’t like vertical baffles on sleeping pads beacuse they keep you from moving freely, on top of that the ends of the sleeping pad will curl up and you will look like you are sleeping in a taco, and so I highly recommend you get a sleeping pad with horizontal baffles.

Does the thickness of the sleeping pad matter?

Thickness is probably what matters the most in a sleeping pad, it’s like the thicker the better.

Side sleepers have two pressure points on which most of the body’s weight will rest on. The pressure points are the hip and the shoulder, Which means you want a sleeping pad that can support your body’s weight evenly, So I would say a sleeping pad that thinner than 2.5 inches is a no no!

The wider the better

Another very important thing for side sleepers is the width of the sleeping pad, I mean unlike back sleepers or stomach sleepers we side sleepers can’t get away with a 20-inch sleeping pad, it has to be something 25 inches or wider. The reason is simple we move a lot when we sleep and we also curl our legs too which means we need more room.

Packing size

If you have been on camping trips before you already know how important packing size is, especially among backpackers, because it is all about saving space when it comes to packing.

Luckily most sleeping pads don’t occupy that much space, an average sleeping pad is about 18 ounces. Expensive sleeping pads tend to be smaller and vise versa. Without further say let’s get straight to it.

These are the best sleeping pads for side sleepers:

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