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Sleep Foundation Test Lab
Credit: Sleep Foundation Test Lab

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.

In-Depth Reviews

Strong pressure relief, multi-zone support for heavier areas of the body, and excellent temperature control make the Bear Elite Hybrid a top choice for athletes and other physically active individuals. You can choose from three firmness levels, and Bear allows one free exchange if you aren’t satisfied with your first choice.

  • Pros

    1. Zoned transitional layer and reinforced perimeter ensure excellent overall support

    2. Multiple firmness levels to accommodate different types of sleepers

    3. Consistent temperature control thanks to cooling cover and steady internal airflow

  • Cons

    1. Foam layers may emit harsh off-gassing odor for the first few nights

    2. Firmer designs may produce motion transfer and disrupt sleep for couples

Mattress Type

Hybrid

Firmness Options

Medium (5), Medium Firm (6), Firm (8)

Price Range

$1,231 – $2,548

Trial Period

120 nights (30-night break-in period)

Physically active people typically need a mattress that alleviates pressure and soreness, provides sturdy support, and maintains a comfortable temperature night after night. The Bear Elite Hybrid checks all of these boxes, and you can choose from three firmness levels based on your body type, primary sleep position, and personal preferences. Thanks to the foam-over-coil construction, all three designs deliver a balance of pressure relief, motion isolation, and strong reinforcement.

The Elite Hybrid begins with a memory foam comfort layer, which is infused with cooling gel intended to dissipate heat from the surface.Transitional polyfoam provides additional cushioning, but this layer is divided into five firmness zones to push back against the extra weight from your midsection while cradling the head and legs. Pocketed coils and dense base foam make up the support core. Thicker coils along the perimeter help prevent sinkage when you lie close to the edges or get in and out of bed.

A cover composed of Celliant-blend fabric encases the mattress. Celliant is a material engineered to capture and release body heat on contact, and maintain a cool feel at all times. This was evident during our temperature control tests. We detected minimal heat buildup on the Elite Hybrid’s surface, and none of our testers felt uncomfortably warm. Our team was also impressed with the mattress’ edge support and ease of movement — two performance areas where foam hybrids often fall short.

We tested each of the Elite Hybrid’s three firmness levels. The medium (5) feel provides the deepest contouring, and was popular among our side and back sleepers up to 230 pounds. At the other end of the spectrum, the firm (8) design conforms to a minimal extent and feels exceptionally stable. We recommend this model to back and stomach sleepers who weigh more than 230 pounds. If you’re seeking a combination of cushioning and reinforcement, the medium firm (6) Elite Hybrid should meet your needs. This model earned favorable ratings from our testers between 130 and 230 pounds across all three position groups.

Bear offers free ground shipping throughout the contiguous U.S., and you’ll receive two free pillows with your order. The company’s sleep trial runs for 120 nights. If you decide to keep the Elite Hybrid, it’s backed by a lifetime warranty against structural defects. You can purchase an accident protection plan for stains and other types of physical damage not covered under the standard warranty.

A reversible design with two distinct sleep surfaces, the Layla’s got you covered whether you need plush cushioning or firm support to sleep comfortably after a physically active day. Open-cell foam layers also help ensure you won’t overheat during the night.

  • Pros

    1. Dual-sided design offers two firmness options

    2. Memory foam excels at pressure relief

    3. Zoned design helps ensure lumbar support

  • Cons

    1. No options for sleepers seeking a true medium firm feel

    2. High odor potential for the first 48 hours

Mattress Type

Foam

Firmness Options

Medium Soft (4), Firm (7)

Price Range

$749 – $1,249

Trial Period

120 nights

The Layla Memory Foam Mattress is a flippable mattress with a different firmness level on either side. Sleepers can choose between a medium soft (4) and a firm (7) side, which both feature pressure-relieving memory foam. We found the softer side earned the highest marks from side sleepers who weigh less than 130 pounds, while the firmer side performed best with back and stomach sleepers over 130 pounds.

A top layer of memory foam cushions your joints, reducing pressure in areas like the shoulders and hips while pushing back in areas that need more support. The memory foam is infused with copper, which is meant to draw heat away from your body. The medium soft side has an extra transitional layer that uses surface modification technology (SMT) to provide zoned support. The two sides share a sturdy, high-density polyfoam core located between the comfort layers.

The medium soft side offers a plusher feel that excels at relieving pressure points and prevents motion from transferring across the bed. The firm side has its benefits as well, with a responsive surface and reasonable temperature regulation for a bed made of foam, a material known for heat retention.

The Layla Memory Foam Mattress ships free to customers in the contiguous U.S. Layla offers a lifetime warranty and gives customers 120 nights to try out the mattress.

The Helix Midnight was originally designed for mid-weight side sleepers, but the hybrid’s inviting balance of cushioning, support, and bounce should serve a wide range of people across different body types and sleep positions. This mattress also offers exceptional value thanks to its strong performance and below-average sticker price.

  • Pros

    1. Medium firm hybrid design balances even contouring and sturdy support

    2. Zoned coils protect the edges from uncomfortable sinkage

    3. High-quality hybrid design at an approachable price

  • Cons

    1. Stomach sleepers over 230 pounds may sink excessively

    2. Cooling cover upgrade may be needed for hot sleepers

Mattress Type

Hybrid

Firmness Options

Medium Firm (6)

Price Range

$749 – $1,399

Trial Period

100 nights (30-night requirement)

Finding the right mattress for your sleep position is pivotal to alleviating the aches and pains that occur after physical workouts. Helix Sleep’s extensive mattress line includes more than a dozen hybrid models, each one designed for specific body types and sleep positions. The Helix Midnight is intended for side sleepers between 130 and 230 pounds, but our testing has shown the mattress is both comfortable and supportive for most side and back sleepers weighing 230 pounds or less.

The Midnight begins with a memory foam comfort layer, followed by a polyfoam transitional layer. The mattress is considered medium firm (6) but these foam layers create a plush, adaptive feel with deep cushioning around the shoulders and hips – two common areas of pressure buildup for side sleepers. Both foam layers absorb movement well and can cut down on sleep disruptions for co-sleepers. This makes the Midnight a good choice for anyone who easily awakens when their partner changes positions or gets in and out of bed.

The Midnight’s support core consists of pocketed coils over a base layer of high-density polyfoam. Extra reinforcement along the perimeter makes the mattress feel stable and prevents sinkage along the edges. Steady air circulation through the coil system and a breathable knit cover also help the mattress sleep cool. For an additional fee, you can add a proprietary GlacioTex cooling cover with phase change material that dissipates body heat on contact.

If you’re intrigued by the Midnight’s design but worry the mattress is too soft or too firm, we recommend taking the Helix Sleep mattress survey on the company’s website. This comprehensive questionnaire uses your weight, height, sleep position, and other factors to determine which Helix hybrid is best suited to you.

An affordable price-point and free shipping throughout the contiguous U.S. make the Midnight a solid option for value-seeking U.S. customers. You’ll also receive two Helix pillows with your purchase at no extra cost. The mattress comes with a sleep trial that runs for 100 nights, and those who choose to keep their purchase also receive a 10-year warranty against structural defects.

Brooklyn Bedding’s Spartan is one of the only mattresses on the market specifically geared toward athletes, and our tests show this high-performance hybrid works as intended. The cover fabric is engineered to promote muscle recovery while you sleep, and three firmness options make the Spartan accessible to a wide range of sleeper types.

  • Pros

    1. Cover fabric engineered to aid physical recovery by converting body heat into infrared energy

    2. Adaptive foam layers contour to the body and alleviate pressure

    3. Available in three firmness levels

  • Cons

    1. Strong off-gassing smells may be present after unboxing

    2. Firmness exchanges not allowed during sleep trial

Mattress Type

Hybrid

Firmness Options

Medium Soft (4), Medium Firm (6), Firm (7)

Price Range

$824 – $2,022

Trial Period

120 nights (30-night requirement)

The Spartan is one of Brooklyn Bedding’s most popular mattresses to date – especially with athletes. The bed’s most prominent feature is a cover infused with Far Infrared Rays (FAR) technology, which is meant to promote muscle recovery in athletes or anyone with an active lifestyle.

The bed is available in three firmness options that correspond to medium soft (4), medium firm (6), and firm (7) feels. The mattress starts with CopperFlex polyfoam layer followed by a memory foam layer that enhances pressure relief. The two softer models feature a third layer of memory foam, while the firmest model has a polyfoam layer for a more responsive feel. Pocketed coils over a base layer of dense foam make up the support core.

Temperature control is a major strength we noticed during our hands-on mattress tests. The Spartan’s FAR cover is fairly breathable and the foam layers shouldn’t retain too much heat. Another cooling component is the coil system, which generates enough airflow throughout the interior to maintain a comfortable temperature for sleeping. With so many firmness options to choose from, the Spartan should feel comfortable for most sleepers regardless of their sleep position or body type. Sleepers over 230 pounds may find the firm model most comfortable, while those under 230 pounds may prefer the two softer models.

The Spartan is available in seven sizes, including a split California king for couples who use adjustable bed bases. The price-point falls well below average for that of a hybrid model, and shipping is free of charge for customers in the contiguous U.S. Brooklyn Bedding backs each purchase with a 120-night sleep trial and a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty.

The WinkBed’s hybrid design boasts a Euro-top with plush cushioning layers over multi-zone coils that provide targeted support for your heaviest areas. Four firmness levels are available — including a “Plus” option for people over 230 pounds — and you can exchange your initial selection if it doesn’t fully meet your needs.

  • Pros

    1. Zoned coils create an impressive support system

    2. Available in four designs, each with a different a firmness level

    3. Cover is made of breathable, moisture-wicking Tencel fabric

  • Cons

    1. Limited options for those seeking a soft to medium soft sleep surface

    2. New owners report strong off-gassing for the first couple nights

Mattress Type

Innerspring

Firmness Options

Medium Soft (4), Medium Firm (6), Firm (7), Firm (8)

Price Range

$1,149 – $2,049

Trial Period

120 nights (30 night requirement)

For many sleepers, physically active lifestyles and back pain go hand in hand. Those who wake up with stiffness or soreness in the shoulders, lumbar region, and hips should invest in a mattress that reduces pressure and supports the body in equal measure. The WinkBed is a great starting point. This luxury hybrid combines the cushioning of adaptive foam with a robust coil system to help ensure less pain in your upper or lower back.

The WinkBed is available in four firmness levels. These include three options for the standard WinkBed, which contains a layer of plush foam quilted into the cover followed by a denser foam to cushion and reinforce your body. The Softer (4) WinkBed is a medium soft (4) feel, and best suited to side and back sleepers under 130 pounds. These sleepers generally need deep conforming to feel less pain and pressure along the spine. The Luxury Firm is medium firm (6), making it the most balanced option for anyone weighing up to 230 pounds regardless of their sleep position. The Firmer (7) WinkBed provides the most support among standard models, so this may be ideal for people who weigh more than 230 pounds.

The fourth option is the WinkBed Plus (8), which – like the Firmer WinkBed – is geared toward those weighing more than 230 pounds. Unlike the Firmer with a second foam layer, the Plus contains 2.5 inches of responsive latex. The latex is divided into different firmness zones, ensuring extra reinforcement for the midsection and a softer feel elsewhere. Sleepers in this weight range who dislike the feel of foam should consider the Plus.

All versions of the mattress contain a pocketed coil support core. Like the latex layer in the Plus, the WinkBed’s coils are zoned for additional support where it’s needed and gentler cradling for lighter areas of the body. You’ll feel heavy push-back around the chest, back, stomach, and hips, but the foam layers serve as a buffer to prevent the mattress from feeling too stiff. The coils are also reinforced along the perimeter to prevent sinkage when you lie near the edges of get up in the morning.

The Plus costs slightly more than standard WinkBeds, but all models are priced within average ranges for hybrid mattresses. WinkBed also ships the mattress free of charge anywhere in the contiguous U.S. Your purchase includes a 120-night sleep trial. If you aren’t satisfied with your initial firmness selection, you can exchange the original mattress for a model with a new feel within 30 to 90 days of the delivery date. Your replacement mattress also comes with a 60-night trial. WinkBeds backs all mattresses with lifetime warranties.

Physically active side sleepers should consider the Nolah Evolution 15, a luxury hybrid with deep foam layers that cushion the shoulders and hips over ultra-supportive multi-zone coils. You can choose from three firmness levels based on how much you weigh and which sleep position you primarily use.

  • Pros

    1. Thick foam layers provide strong pressure relief

    2. Three firmness options

    3. Reinforced perimeter enhances edge support

  • Cons

    1. Thick profile requires a fitted sheet with deep pockets

    2. Returning the mattress during your trial incurs a $99 fee

Mattress Type

Hybrid

Firmness Options

Medium (5), Medium Firm (6), Firm (8)

Price Range

$1,004 – $2,143

Trial Period

120 nights (30-night requirement), $99 return pickup fee

The Nolah Evolution 15 is a hybrid mattress with a plush Euro-top and zoned support coils. This well-rounded design offers a mix of support and cushioning ideal for promoting healthy spinal alignment.

The mattress has an above-average profile that begins with a cover composed of ArcticTex, a soft fabric that feels cool to the touch. The cover is quilted with a thick layer of foam, and a breathable gusset helps release some of the heat that tends to get trapped in foam. Beneath is a layer of AirFoam, a specialized foam engineered to draw heat from the body and enhance cushioning in the shoulders, followed by two layers of transitional polyfoam with a firmer feel. The support core is made of pocketed coils that are zoned to provide enhanced support to the lumbar region and moderate pressure relief in the upper body. The edge is reinforced to prevent sagging when you sit or sleep near the perimeter.

Shoppers can pick from three firmness options – plush, luxury firm, and firm, which correspond to medium (5), medium firm (6), and firm (8) on a 10-point firmness scale. All three models provide good to excellent pressure relief and motion isolation due to the thick foam surface. The range of firmness options means that most sleepers should be able to find a model that suits them, regardless of sleep position and body type.

The Nolah Evolution 15 comes with a 120-night sleep trial, which allows customers to return the bed for a full refund following an initial 30-night break-in period. The bed also includes a lifetime warranty and ships free to the contiguous U.S.

The Silk & Snow Hybrid pairs a dense foam lumbar pad with multi-zone coils to reinforce your heaviest areas. As a result, this mattress excels at keeping your spine aligned and minimizing pressure in the shoulders, lower back, and hips.

  • Pros

    1. Foam lumbar pad alleviates pain and soreness in the lower back

    2. Zoned coils push back against extra weight in the midsection

    3. Below-average pricing for a hybrid

  • Cons

    1. Back and stomach sleepers over 230 pounds may not receive enough support

    2. Responsive design may produce motion transfer for couples

Mattress Type

Hybrid

Firmness Options

Medium Firm (6)

Price Range

$650 – $950

Trial Period

100 nights (30-night requirement)

Even alignment is key to reducing pain and pressure points while you sleep, and some mattresses support the spine better than others. Take the Silk & Snow Hybrid, which features elements in the comfort system and support core intended to promote proper alignment. A dense foam pad rests beneath your lower back to deliver extra cushioning for your lumbar region and hips, while zoned coils feel more robust around your midsection to prevent excessive sinkage beneath your torso and hips.

The Silk & Snow Hybrid features a Euro-top containing adaptive polyfoam and memory foam. Although the mattress is medium firm (6), these materials give the surface a plush feel and cradle your body closely. The top layer is infused with cooling gel meant to draw heat away from your body. A thick foam encasement wraps the base layer’s perimeter, creating extra pushback when you get in and out of bed or sleep close to the edges. Air flows freely through the coils, so the mattress maintains a comfortable temperature most nights.

Most of our testing team awarded positive ratings to the Silk & Snow Hybrid. Side sleepers weighing at least 130 pounds and back sleepers between 130 and 230 pounds were particularly impressed. In terms of performance, the mattress earned high marks for edge support, temperature control, and ease of movement. We noticed some movement transferring across the surface during motion isolation tests, so light sleepers who share their bed with a partner should take that into account.

Below-average pricing and free shipping throughout the contiguous U.S. and provincial Canada make the Silk & Snow Hybrid a solid choice for shoppers with tight budgets. The sleep trial runs for 100 nights. If you keep the mattress after the return period ends, your purchase is further covered under a 15-year warranty.

The Titan Plus Luxe may be intended for heavier sleepers, but cushy foam layers make the mattress feel plush and inviting on the surface. This combination is ideal for people who enjoy close cushioning, but also need ample support.

  • Pros

    1. Gently contouring foam hybrid designed for people over 230 pounds

    2. Optional GlacioTex cover dissipates body heat on contact

    3. Below-average pricing compared to other hybrid models

  • Cons

    1. Too firm for most people under 130 pounds

    2. Strong off-gassing smells for the first few nights

Mattress Type

Hybrid

Firmness Options

Medium Firm (6)

Price Range

$749 – $1,649

Trial Period

120 nights (30-night requirement)

Many mattresses on the market today are suitable for people who weigh more than 230 pounds, but Brooklyn Bedding’s Titan Plus Luxe is one of the only models specifically designed for this weight group. Dense foam layers over robust coils ensure adequate cushioning for your sore spots and sturdy support to prevent deep sinkage. Athletes in particular can benefit from the Plus Luxe’s body-cradling and pressure-relieving abilities.

Three individual layers make up the Euro-top comfort system. The first is composed of memory foam infused with cooling gel to dissipate heat from the surface. Two layers of dense, responsive polyfoam provide additional contouring while pushing back against your weight to keep you on an even plane. The pocketed coils are engineered to move independently from one another, resulting in strong reinforcement without too much motion transfer.

As expected, this mattress fared well among members of our testing team who weigh more than 230 pounds across all three sleep positions. Back sleepers between 130 to 230 pounds also gave the Plus Luxe favorable ratings. Conversely, people who weigh less than 130 pounds will probably find the mattress too firm and a model that conforms more closely.

Overall, we found the Plus Luxe very balanced. The coils provide enough bounce to help you move on the surface and the perimeter feels stable, but the foam layers absorb movement well and reduce pressure buildup. We also gave the mattress high marks for temperature control. If you’re an exceptionally hot sleeper, you can upgrade to a cover made of GlacioTex, a material that captures and releases body heat.

Seven sizes are available, including a split California king for couples who share adjustable beds. The sticker price is below average for a hybrid and Brooklyn Bedding offers free ground shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S. Your sleep trial spans 120 nights in length. If you’re satisfied with the mattress when the trial ends, it’s covered under a 10-year warranty against workmanship defects.

The Lulu Original’s specialized cover is designed to help your body recover after strenuous workouts and other physical activities. Plush foam layers also cradle your body to alleviate sore spots in the shoulders, lower back, and hips.

  • Pros

    1. Unique cover is designed to improve tissue oxygenation and blood flow

    2. Designed for physically active people

    3. Excellent pressure relief, without the “sinking” feel of some foam beds

  • Cons

    1. Back and stomach sleepers over 230 pounds may not receive adequate support

    2. Perimeter can sink significantly when you get in out of bed

Mattress Type

Foam

Firmness Options

Medium Firm (6)

Price Range

$699 – $1,299

Trial Period

101 nights (28-night requirement)

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.

Dive Deeper – In-Depth Mattress Guides

If you’re not certain any of these choices are the right one for your needs, you can read through our recommendations categorized by sleep styles.

What You Should Look for in a Mattress

Which Mattress Thickness is Best for Athletes?

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.

What Mattress Firmness is Best for Athletes?

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.

The Ideal Sleep Environment for Athletes

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.

Pillows

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 best pillow will offer 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 PositionPillow Loft Recommended
BackMedium
SideMedium or High
StomachLow

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:

  • Memory foam: Some pillows contain a single piece of memory foam. They offer close conforming that is comparable to memory foam mattresses. Others contain shredded memory foam, which contours a bit and also sleeps somewhat cooler. Shredded memory foam pillows can often be adjusted for loft by adding or removing fill, whereas single-piece pillows have a fixed thickness.
  • Feather/Down: Feathers are the coarse outer plumage from geese and ducks, and down refers to the soft inner plumage. Feathers are often used to support the pillow’s center while down pads the outer chambers. That said feather/down pillows sink very deeply and provide minimal support.
  • Buckwheat: Buckwheat pillows are filled with hulls, the hard casings of buckwheat kernels. Some liken buckwheat pillows to stiff beanbags, but the material is very supportive and does not lose shape easily. You can also adjust your buckwheat pillow’s loft by adding or removing hulls.
  • Polyfill: Polyester fibers can be used as a less expensive down alternative fill, mimicking the soft and light texture of authentic feathers and down. Interlocking polyfoam, which provides more support, is also fairly common.

Mattress Toppers

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.

Bed Platforms, Foundations, and Box Springs

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.

What Mattress Features Are Important for Athletes?

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.

  • Mattress Type: All-foam mattresses conform closely to the body. Latex mattresses also contour, but a little less so, while airbeds can be adjusted for different contouring levels. If you want a mattress that conforms less and provides more support, then an innerspring or hybrid might be your best option.
  • Contouring: Some people want a deep body cradle while others like to sleep on a flush, even surface that barely sinks. If you’re unsure which contouring level is best for you, visit a brick-and-mortar mattress store to test different models. Online sleep trials can also help you narrow down your ideal setting.
  • Mattress Thickness: For a lot of sleepers, mattress thickness is somewhat negotiable. However, a bed’s profile can ultimately affect how supportive it feels, and how easy (or difficult) it will be getting on and off the mattress.
  • Quality Materials: Mattress materials are linked to durability. High-density foam, organic latex, thick coils, and other components will probably last longer than materials of lesser quality. Materials also impact breathability, pressure relief, edge support, and other performance factors.
  • Firmness Level: Firmness and contouring go hand in hand. A softer bed will hug the body much more closely than a firmer model. This potentially means more pressure relief and better alignment for lighter people, but also more sagging and discomfort for heavier individuals. The opposite is also true. Lighter people may find a firmer bed does not conform enough, whereas a heavier person might find this mattress ideal.
  • Pressure Relief: If you experience pressure points due to physical activity or other reasons, you should seek out mattresses that conform closely enough to your body without sinking, sagging, or losing support. Consider your body type and sleep position, as well.

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