If you are physically active, then you understand the importance of a good night’s rest. Whether you run, bike, swim, or lift weights, a mattress that reduces pressure in your most sensitive areas and helps your body recover overnight can be an invaluable investment. And if your bed does not share these qualities, you might wake up feeling stiffer and more strained than before you turned off the light.
Some mattresses are designed specifically with athletes and other physically active people in mind. They are constructed with pressure-relieving comfort layers, support materials that won’t sag too much, and innovative covers engineered to alleviate aches and pains even after your toughest days at the gym.
We’ve outlined the mattress features that are beneficial for athletes, along with a few strategies for choosing a new bed based on your body and how you are active. First, let’s take a look at our picks for the best mattresses for athletes among models sold today. We’ve chosen each bed based on a combination of feedback from mattress owners and hands-on product testing.
The Zoma Sports Mattress provides excellent support for side and back sleepers thanks to its zoned comfort layer.
The Zoma Sports Mattress is a low-cost option for physically active sleepers. One of its defining features is the Triangulex comfort layer, which consists of polyfoam divided into different firmness zones. You’ll experience more support for your shoulders, back, and hips while the material cradles your head, neck, and legs, resulting in great pressure relief without the deep sink of standard foam.
The Zoma Sports Mattress also features a transitional polyfoam layer to help keep you on an even plane, along with a supportive high-density polyfoam base. We recommend the mattress for couples because the foam layers absorb movement across the surface pretty well. The bed is also completely silent, so you and your partner won’t experience any noise-related sleep disruptions.
The mattress has a medium (5) feel, so people who weigh up to 230 pounds will probably feel most comfortable. This is particularly true for side sleepers who need softer comfort layers for even spinal alignment, as well as back sleepers who benefit from stronger support for their midsection. Stomach sleepers and heavier people, on the other hand, may find the mattress too soft.
Given its advanced support system and low price-point, the Zoma Sports Mattress is a high-value pick for shoppers. You’ll also qualify for free shipping if you live in the contiguous U.S. The mattress is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
Innovative technology in the cover and premium comfort layers make the Brooklyn Bedding Spartan an excellent choice for physically active people.
The Brooklyn Bedding Spartan is another best bed for athletes pick constructed with a performance cover designed to convert your body heat into infrared energy. Much like the Bear Hybrid discussed earlier, the mattress can help you recover after strenuous activities by increasing tissue oxygenation, improving blood flow, and promoting muscle recovery. The Spartan is available in three firmness levels: medium soft (4), medium firm (6), and firm (7-8). All three provide even body-contouring and very good pressure relief, so your decision on which firmness to choose should come down to your personal preferences.
In addition to its innovative cover material, the Spartan features a sophisticated comfort system with layers of copper-infused polyfoam, responsive polyfoam, and gel-infused memory foam. These layers may conform closely or to a minimal extent, depending on the selected firmness, but they will distribute your weight evenly to reduce pressure and keep you on an even plane. The copper infusion also helps prevent heat build-up on the surface. Another reason the mattress sleeps cool is its pocketed coil support core, which promotes steady air circulation.
We recommend the medium soft feel for back and stomach sleepers up to 130 pounds, and side sleepers up to 230 pounds. This option offers the closest body-conforming, so heavier people may sink a bit too deeply. People who weigh more than 130 pounds – particularly back and stomach sleepers – may want to consider the medium firm or firm feels because they offer great support and will not sag as much.
The Spartan is somewhat expensive for a hybrid, but its high price-point reflects exceptional quality in its materials and construction. Brooklyn Bedding also ships for free to all 50 states and backs the mattress with a 120-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
The Molecule 1 delivers deep body-conforming and zoned support to reduce pressure and keep you on an even plane.
Like the Zoma Sports Mattress mentioned above, the Molecule 1 uses zoned materials to ensure even support for your entire body. The mattress is constructed with a top comfort layer of soft polyfoam, followed by a denser polyfoam transitional layer divided into three firmness zones. You’ll notice close contouring as your body sinks into the first layer, but the zoned polyfoam reinforces your midsection and cradles your head, neck, and shoulders. This means you’ll experience allover pressure relief without sagging too much – a common complaint about softer mattresses with deep conforming.
Because the mattress has a medium (5) feel, we think it is best suited to back and stomach sleepers who weigh up to 230 pounds. Heavier people who use these positions may find the mattress too soft, even with the zoned transitional layer. We’ve also found the mattress is a good choice for side sleepers who weigh between 130 and 230 pounds, though lighter and heavier people who sleep in this position may also receive adequate support and pressure relief.
In addition to being a great recovery mattress, the Molecule 1 is an excellent choice for couples. The foam layers promote consistent motion isolation, so you won’t feel any movement when your sleep partner switches positions or gets in and out of bed. The mattress is also totally silent when bearing weight.
Best of all, the mattress is fairly inexpensive compared to other beds designed for athletes. Molecule also offers free shipping throughout the contiguous U.S. The Molecule 1 is backed by a 100-night sleep trial, as well as a lifetime warranty that will cover the mattress until you decide to replace it.
The Lulu Original Mattress offers a conforming, all-foam feel with a unique fabric in the cover that’s designed to help athletes recover faster.
The Lulu Original Mattress is a medium firm (6) all-foam model designed with athletes in mind. It measures 10 inches tall, featuring a comfort layer of gel-infused memory foam over a high-density foam base. The standout feature of this mattress, however, lies in the cover, which uses a proprietary Lulu ION Miracle Yarn that reflects Far Infrared Rays back towards the sleeper, which is intended to improve tissue oxygenation by dilating blood vessels and increasing circulation.
The goal of this material is to shorten recovery times and increase sleepers’ energy levels. It is designed to work through your mattress protector, sheets, and clothing. The cover itself is removable and machine washable.
The comfort layer of gel-infused memory foam effectively contours to the sleeper, isolating motion and preventing pressure points. The firmer high-density base foam beneath reinforces the bed and provides support, keeping the sleepers’ body on an even plane. The bed’s medium firm feel and all-foam construction best suits sleepers who weigh less than 230 pounds.
The mattress is made in the U.S. of American materials. Lulu backs the mattress with a 101-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty and free shipping, though they do require customers to allow for a 28-night adjustment period before beginning the return process.
The Level Sleep Mattress has three firmness zones, giving you comfortable cradling and enhanced support where you need it most.
The Level Sleep Mattress, previously known as the TriSupport Mattress, is another model that offers zoned support. Beneath the polyfoam comfort layer lies 3 inches of transitional polyfoam divided into three zones, with a soft (3) feel beneath the head, neck, and shoulders, a firm (7) feel for the back, and mid-level firmness (5) for the hips and lower body.
If you are physically active and want a mattress that provides enhanced support throughout your body, then the Level Sleep Mattress is a very comfortable option that won’t drain your bank account. The polyfoam used in this mattress has some bounce to it. You won’t experience the pressure-relieving cradle of memory foam or the firm, responsive surface of a bed with coils, but likely a middle-ground sensation akin to sleeping both “on” and “in” the mattress.
That said, the foam isolates motion fairly well and provides great pressure relief for side sleepers with different body types, as well as back or stomach sleepers who weigh less than 130 pounds. Heavier back and stomach sleepers may find the mattress too soft, even with extra support from the zoned layer.
The Level Sleep Mattress is very reasonably priced, and the company offers free ground shipping throughout the contiguous U.S. The mattress is backed by a 365-night sleep trial, as well as a lifetime warranty for those who decide to keep it.
The Eight Sleep Pod offers advanced sleep-tracking technology and direct heating and cooling, giving it an edge over many competing foam mattresses.
The Eight Sleep Pod is equipped with state-of-the-art sleep-tracking technology known as the Active Grid. This layer is located beneath the Pod’s cover, and it records sleep data based on hours asleep and awake, nighttime movements, and other metrics. This allows you to monitor your sleep quality and duration after both workouts and less active days, and make adjustments as needed to feel more rested and alert when the alarm clock starts ringing.
The Active Grid can also warm up or cool off either side of the bed. This makes the Pod ideal for hot sleepers, couples who prefer different temperature settings, and anyone who feels a bit warmer after exercising. The Active Grid is connected to a hub that controls temperature changes, while a network of tubes funnels water into the comfort layer for instant heating and cooling.
Comfort layers of polyfoam and memory foam ensure very good pressure relief, particularly if you are a side or back sleeper. The foams cushion the shoulders and hips to align the spine for side sleepers and reduce pressure in the lower back, while also supporting back sleepers around the midsection so they don’t sag too much. The mattress, which has a medium (5) feel, may be too soft for some stomach sleepers, but those who weigh less than 130 pounds should receive adequate support.
The Eight Sleep Pod is fairly expensive, as you might expect from a mattress with these advanced features. Free ground shipping is available throughout the contiguous U.S. The Active Grid is backed by a standard two-year warranty, but those who subscribe to the 8Plus Membership Program qualify for lifetime coverage.
The Bear Hybrid conforms and reduces pressure while remaining fairly responsive, and its cover is made from innovative Celliant fabric.
The Bear Hybrid is one of our picks for the best mattress for athlete recovery. This can mostly be attributed to its cover woven with Celliant fabric, a material that is designed to absorb your body heat, convert it into infrared energy, and then retransmit it back into you through your skin. Although this process has a different effect depending on the sleeper, some experience increased tissue oxygenation, muscle recovery, and temperature regulation – all of which can make you feel more comfortable after a day of physical activity.
Like many competing hybrids, this model provides a balance of body-conforming and responsiveness. Two foam comfort layers offer a medium (5) feel and contour somewhat closely, while pocketed coils reinforce the bed to keep you on an even plane. The top layer of the mattress is infused with cooling gel to resist heat build-up on the surface, and the coil layer promotes steady air circulation for added breathability.
If you feel most comfortable on a firmer mattress, then there’s a good chance you’ll find the Bear Hybrid too soft. However, we’ve found the bed’s mid-level firmness makes it a good choice for sleepers across different body type and sleeping position groups.
Compared to other hybrid models, the Bear Hybrid has a very reasonable price-point. The company ships the mattress for free anywhere in the contiguous U.S., and also offers White Glove delivery if you’d rather not set up the bed yourself. The mattress is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a 20-year warranty.
The term “athlete” is fairly broad when we talk about beds. The best mattress for weightlifters, for instance, may have a completely different design and materials than the best mattress for long-distance runners. However, the most important factor for choosing a mattress profile, or thickness, is you, the sleeper. The ideal thickness depends entirely on your body type and normal sleep position, as well as your personal preferences.
Mattresses sold today fall into three general categories based on their thickness, or profile.
Low-profile mattresses measure less than 10 inches thick. These beds may not provide enough support for heavier people, as many have shorter base layers that tend to sink beneath the shoulders and hips, but a low-profile mattress may be ideal for a lighter person. One thing to keep in mind: low-profile models tend to be a bit firmer because they lack the extra padding layers of their thicker counterparts.
High-profile mattresses, which measure more than 12 inches thick, tend to feel softer and conform closer due to these cushioning layers. However, this is not always the case – and many brands offer high-profile mattresses with medium firm or firm feels. These beds are also easier to get on and off for some larger people, whereas low-profile beds may sink a bit too much when sitting on the edges.
Many people consider medium-profile mattresses – which measure 10 to 12 inches thick – to be a good compromise of body-cushioning and ease of movement. Our recommendation: test out a few different mattress profiles either in a brick-and-mortar store or using online mattress brand sleep trials. These experiences can help you decide which profile range will be most suitable for your needs and active lifestyle.
As with thickness, firmness is an entirely subjective preference. We can make firmness recommendations based on feedback from people with different body types and sleep positions, but ultimately, you should choose a firmness based on what feels comfortable, alleviates pressure, and provides the best support.
Firmness is measured on a 1-10 scale, with 1 being the softest and 10 the firmest. Most beds sold today fall between 3 (soft) and 8 (firm). Softer mattresses usually conform more closely, so if you experience frequent pressure points or you sleep on your side and want better spinal alignment, a bed with a 3 to 5 rating will probably be most comfortable. Lighter people also tend to prefer softer beds because firmer mattresses do not conform enough.
Firmer mattresses do not contour as much, but they keep sleepers on an even plane using high-density foam, coils, and other supportive materials. This makes them well-suited for heavier people who sag too much on softer beds, especially back and stomach sleepers who need extra reinforcement to prevent their midsection from sinking further than the rest of their body.
If your firmness preferences tend to fluctuate from night to night, then a mattress with adjustable firmness – such as an airbed or a flippable model with two sleep surfaces – might be the way to go. Many couples also have different preferences, and in these cases, we recommend a mattress with dual-firmness, or a different feel on each side. This allows you and your partner to enjoy your preferred balance of comfort and support without impacting the other person’s sleep.
In today’s mattress industry, most beds fall into one of five different categories. Despite some unique design details and variations in quality, models in each category share consistent features that distinguish them from other mattress types. These five categories are as follows:
Definition: A specific type of innerspring, hybrid mattresses are constructed with comfort layers of memory foam and/or latex over a support core of pocketed coils. Some hybrids also have transitional layers made of high-density polyfoam, latex, minicoils, and other supportive materials. The average hybrid costs between $1,600 and $2,200.
Balanced Feel: For many, a hybrid represents the best of both worlds. The comfort layers conform to your body, alleviate pressure, and isolate motion fairly well. Meanwhile, the coil systems offer strong reinforcement and also promote cooling airflow. A hybrid can be a great option if you’ve been dissatisfied with other mattress types.
Definition: Innersprings feature comfort layers of polyfoam, and possibly some memory foam, as well. The support core consists of Bonnell, offset, continuous-wire, or pocketed coils, depending on the model. Innersprings are widely found in brick-and-mortar stores, but less common from online brands. The average model costs between $900 and $1,100.
Strong Support: Many innersprings have strong coil systems that keep sleepers on an even plane with little to no sagging. This makes them particularly well-suited for heavier individuals. They are inexpensive compared to other mattress types and may be a good choice if you don’t want to pay the sticker price of a hybrid.
Definition: Latex is a natural material produced from the sappy extract of rubber trees. An all-latex bed will have at least one support core of organic, natural, blended, or synthetic latex. Most also feature latex support cores. The average latex mattress costs between $1,600 and $2,200.
Durable and Responsive: Latex resists deep sagging and indentations, giving it more longevity than foam. Even synthetic latex has a healthy expected lifespan. The material contours to your body but also feels fairly responsive, so it’s a good alternative to memory foam if you don’t enjoy a deep body hug.
Definition: An airbed is designed with motorized air chambers in the support core. You can adjust the firmness of the mattress by adding or releasing air from the chambers. Traditional airbeds have thin polyfoam comfort layers (or no comfort layer at all) but some newer models feature memory foam, latex, and other high-quality materials. The average airbed costs between $2,000 and $2,400.
Customized Comfort: Airbeds offer unparalleled customization. Many models can be adjusted between soft, mid-level, and firm feels in a matter of seconds, and some are designed for dual-firmness, making them suitable for couples with different mattress preferences.
Definition: A foam mattress will contain comfort layers of polyfoam and/or memory foam, along with a support core of high-density polyfoam. Medium- or high-density polyfoam transitional layers are also somewhat common. The average all-foam mattress costs between $900 and $1,200.
Close Conforming: All-foam beds, especially those with memory foam, offer a deep, pressure-relieving cradle for your body. Many liken the feeling of a foam bed to sleeping “in” – rather than “on” – the mattress. These models also isolate motion very well for couples and do not make any noise.
If you’re a physically active person, there are many ways to optimize your sleeping environment apart from choosing the right mattress. These include maintaining a comfortable sleep temperature and reducing your exposure to outside noise. You can also invest in additional products to enhance your sleep experience.
Pillow selection is, arguably, just as important as mattress selection. The right pillow provides enhanced support to your head, neck, and shoulders, and also supports the spine. The wrong pillow can have the opposite effect, leading to added aches and pains, as well as spinal misalignment.
The ideal pillow offers enough cushioning to fill the gaps between your head and shoulders. Pillows fall into three general loft, or thickness, categories: low-loft (less than 3 inches), medium-loft (3 to 5 inches), and high-loft (more than 5 inches). When choosing a pillow loft, be sure to consider your bed’s firmness level. A softer bed will conform more closely, causing you to sink beneath the surface, so a low-loft pillow might provide sufficient padding. For a firm mattress that contours very little, a high-loft pillow to fill the extra space may be the best option.
The best pillow loft also depends on your sleep position. While preferences vary by person, the table below lists optimal loft for most people based on how they sleep.
|Sleeping Position||Pillow Loft Recommended|
|Side||Medium or High|
Also, be sure to consider pillow fill and density. Fill refers to the materials inside the pillow, and density refers to how heavy these materials are. Some fills have a higher density and will not compress as easily, creating a more stable and supportive surface for your head. Less dense materials will sink and conform closely, and may not provide enough neck support – especially if you are a physically active person dealing with cramps, strains, and other discomforts in that area.
The most common fills for today’s pillows include:
A mattress topper is a layer of cushioning that rests on top of the bed’s surface. Toppers are designed to change the firmness of a sleep surface. Most toppers make the surface feel softer, but some can add a firmer feel. For this reason, toppers are widely used for pull-out beds, RVs, and other sleeping areas where the mattresses are less than ideal.
A topper may also be suitable if you are dissatisfied with the firmness of your mattress, but cannot return or exchange it because your sleep trial has expired. Many mattresses adopt a different feel over time, and those with thick foam layers may lose shape as the material begins to deteriorate. Most toppers measure 2 to 5 inches thick, so using one is basically equivalent to adding a fresh comfort layer to your mattress. Toppers are also generally inexpensive, especially compared to buying a new bed.
Toppers tend to have shorter lifespans, so using one is, in all likelihood, a short-term solution to a permanent mattress problem. However, these layers may provide more comfort and pressure relief than your bed’s comfort layer, especially if you are physically active and want your sleep surface to promote physical recovery.
Most mattresses are designed for use with some sort of support system. Many mattress warranties strictly forbid placing the bed directly on your floor.
Traditional box springs are still fairly popular. These support systems consist of a solid wooden frame equipped with steel springs and a cloth cover. The frame has a flush surface for optimal support and the springs act as shock absorbers for you and your bed, making box springs very well-suited to heavier innersprings. Box springs are designed to fit into a taller bed frame with the mattress on top.
Foundations are similar to box springs, but they do not contain springs and have slatted side panels. They feel exceptionally firm and should provide adequate support for any mattress as long as the top surface is perfectly flush. Foundations are also designed to fit into bed frames.
An alternative to box springs and foundations is a platform bed, which features a wooden or metal frame and evenly spaced slats instead of a flush surface. The slats should not be too far apart. Otherwise, the mattress will begin to sag and lose support. Many mattress warranties also require certain slat widths, so be sure to read the fine print before choosing a platform bed.
As you shop for a new mattress, you’ll undoubtedly notice plenty of marketing hyperbole, such as “universal comfort,” “forever lifespan,” or “the perfect bed.” Ignore this jargon. You should select a new mattress based on your personal preferences and needs as a physically active person. The factors below should be your most important considerations.