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Best Mattress for Athletes

What is the Best Mattress for Athletes?

If you’re an athlete, there’s a good chance you’ve spent thousands of hours training and developing specialized diet plans. But there is one area that you may have overlooked: sleep.

Getting proper sleep is essential to boosting athletic performance, yet research indicates that professional athletes tend to get much less sleep than recommended. Many athletes rank sleep way down on the priority list, after training, traveling, and other obligations. Ironically, athletes may actually need even more sleep than the average person because of the strain they put their bodies through.

Training schedules, traveling, pre-competition nerves, and other factors all influence the amount of sleep that athletes get. As an athlete, you may also have trouble sleeping if you’re feeling sore after training. Promoting a healthy sleep environment can help you capitalize on the time you do spend in bed. And a healthy sleep environment starts with your mattress!

We’ll share our top picks for the best mattresses for athletes and the ways in which they excel. We also discuss how body type, preferred sleep position, and other factors may influence your mattress choice. We’ll end with an overview of what you should look for in a sports mattress.

Our Top Picks

Bear – Best for Recovery
  • Mattress Type: Foam
  • Firmness Level: Medium (5)
  • Price: $800
Molecule 2 – Advanced Airflow
  • Mattress Type: Foam
  • Firmness Level: Medium (5)
  • Price: $1,499
Eight Sleep Pod – Active Cooling Tech
  • Mattress Type: Foam
  • Firmness Level: Medium (5)
  • Price: $2,495
Helix Sunset– Best for Side Sleepers
  • Mattress Type: Foam
  • Firmness Level: Medium (5)
  • Price: $1,199
Casper Wave – Best Targeted Support
  • Mattress Type: Foam
  • Firmness Level: Medium (5)
  • Price: $850
Brooklyn Bedding Aurora – Best Cooling
  • Mattress Type: Foam
  • Firmness Level: Medium (5)
  • Price: $1,099

Bear – Best for Recovery

Price: $800

Height: 10"

Firmness: Medium (5)

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Pressure Point Relief: 4/5

Sleeps Cool: 3/5

Motion Isolation: 4/5

Edge Support: 2/5

Durability: 3/5

Ease of Movement: 3/5

Sex: 2/5

Off-Gassing: 2/5

Bear Mattress

Highlights:

  • Celliant fabric leverages body heat to help with tissue recovery
  • Gel and graphite infusions help the mattress sleep cool
  • Conforming foams provide above-average pressure relief and motion isolation

Ideal For:

  • Athletes recovering from injuries
  • People under 200 pounds
  • Those who sleep hot on all-foam mattresses

The all-foam Bear mattress is made with three layers of open-cell foam. The top layer is memory foam infused with gel and graphite, designed to help with temperature regulation. Under this is a transitional layer of polyfoam that adds some bounce, and finally a high-density polyfoam support core. The foam layers work together to provide a pressure-relieving cradle without restricting motion on top of the bed. With its medium firmness level, the Bear mattress is best suited to side sleepers and those under 200 pounds.

The mattress features a cover made of Celliant fabric. This fabric is designed to aid in tissue recovery by converting body heat into infrared light and reflecting it back at the sleeper. According to Bear, this enhances tissue oxygen levels and helps aid recovery, contributing to a better night’s rest. In addition, superior motion isolation ensures that athletes can get the rest they need without being disturbed by their partner’s movements.

Bear has priced this mattress at a below-average price point compared to competing all-foam models. The mattress ships free and comes with a 10-year warranty and 100-night sleep trial. To allow time for your body to adjust to the feel of the new mattress, Bear requests that you sleep on it for at least 30 nights before initiating a return.


Molecule 2 – Advanced Airflow

Price: $1,499

Height: 12.25"

Firmness: Medium (5)

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Pressure Point Relief: 4/5

Sleeps Cool: 3/5

Motion Isolation: 4/5

Edge Support: 2/5

Durability: 4/5

Ease of Movement: 2/5

Sex: 2/5

Off-Gassing: 3/5

molecule 2 mattress

Highlights:

  • Open-cell foams and moisture-wicking cover help regulate temperature
  • Memory foam limits motion transfer and provides pressure relief
  • Zoned foams provide extra lumbar support

Ideal For:

  • Sleepers under 200 pounds
  • Couples
  • Those who sleep hot on all-foam beds

The Molecule 2 is a 3-layer foam mattress with memory foam and polyfoam comfort layers and a high-density polyfoam base. The transitional layer is zoned in 5 sections, featuring enhanced lumbar support and targeted pressure relief. Due to its “medium” firmness level, the Molecule 2 is best suited to athletes who weigh less than 200 pounds.

A polyester and lycra spandex cover material wicks moisture away from the sleeper to reduce heat build-up. The mattress also contains open-cell foams, which boost airflow compared to a traditional memory foam mattress. The memory foam conforms closely, alleviating pressure points and absorbing motion to prevent it from transferring across the bed.

In addition to being CertiPUR-US certified, Molecule makes its foams with a variable pressure foaming process that lowers emissions during the manufacturing process. Molecule offers a 100-night sleep trial with a mandatory 30-day break-in period. The mattress ships free and is backed by a limited lifetime warranty.


Eight Sleep Pod – Active Cooling Tech

Price: $2,495

Height: 11"

Firmness: Medium (5)

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Pressure Point Relief: 4/5

Sleeps Cool: 5/5

Motion Isolation: 3/5

Edge Support: 3/5

Durability: 3/5

Ease of Movement: 3/5

Sex: 3/5

Off-Gassing: 2/5

eight sleep pod

Highlights:

  • Smart technology tracks sleep data
  • Sophisticated temperature regulation for each side of the bed
  • Four layers of foam provide pressure relief for recovering athletes

Ideal For:

  • People who need to keep track of their sleep data
  • Those who sleep hot or cold
  • Couples

Eight Sleep has designed a smart mattress with advanced temperature regulation and sleep tracking properties. The Eight Sleep Pod contains a sensory grid that tracks biometrics like sleep phases, heart rate, and respiratory rate while you sleep. The same grid also contains water tubes that attach to a thermal engine. Controllable via a smartphone app, this allows users to customize the temperature for each side of the bed within a range of 55-110 degrees. There is also the option to set the bed to adjust the temperature automatically in coordination with your sleep data.

Four layers of foam, plus pressure point relief in the grid itself, help minimize pressure points in recovering athletes. The top layer of foam is similar to latex and is quite responsive, providing a buoyant surface that does not offer the close hug of memory foam. Next are several layers of polyfoam and memory foam which help alleviate pressure points, and finally a high-density polyfoam base layer. Together, these foams offer pressure relief and motion isolation to help couples sleep soundly without disrupting one another.

Eight Sleep offers a 2-year limited warranty for the smart components and a 10-year limited warranty for the mattress itself. Shipping is free and the bed comes with a 100-night sleep trial.


Level Sleep – Best Zoned Support

Price: $1,199

Height: 11"

Firmness: Medium (5)

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Pressure Point Relief: 4/5

Sleeps Cool: 3/5

Motion Isolation: 3/5

Edge Support: 3/5

Durability: 3/5

Ease of Movement: 3/5

Sex: 3/5

Off-Gassing: 3/5

level sleep mattress

Highlights:

  • Three firmness zones align the spine and provide targeted pressure relief
  • Responsive surface facilitates movement
  • Relatively strong edges increase the usable sleep surface

Ideal For:

  • Those who suffer from back pain
  • Side sleepers and people under 130 pounds
  • Couples

The Level Sleep mattress contains 1 inch of plush high-resilience polyfoam in the top layer to even out the sleep surface and provide some initial cushioning. Under this is a zoned transition layer with three firmness levels. Soft (3) foams under the head and feet, firm (7) foam under the lumbar area, and medium (5) foam under the hips cradle the body and promote even spinal alignment. The support core consists of 7 inches of high-resilience polyfoam.

As the mattress has no memory foam, it offers some conforming but still allows for easy movement on top of the bed. Despite the varying firmness levels, the mattress has an overall “medium” feel that is best suited to side sleepers and those who weigh less than 130 pounds.

The bed transfers some motion, but not to the extent of a hybrid or innerspring mattress. The mattress is silent when bearing weight and has stronger edges than other foam mattresses, meaning that couples can share the bed without experiencing feelings of roll-off around the perimeter.

Level Sleep offers a year-long sleep trial and forever warranty, as well as free shipping.


Zoma Sports Mattress – Best Balanced Comfort

Price: $850

Height: 11"

Firmness: Medium (5)

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Pressure Point Relief: 4/5

Sleeps Cool: 2/5

Motion Isolation: 3/5

Edge Support: 3/5

Durability: 3/5

Ease of Movement: 3/5

Sex: 3/5

Off-Gassing: 3/5

zoma sports mattress

Highlights:

  • Zoned comfort layer forms cradling pressure relief
  • Memory foam absorbs motion and provides a quiet sleep surface
  • Sufficiently responsive for sex

Ideal For:

  • Athletes recovering from injuries
  • Couples
  • Back and side sleepers under 200 pounds

Zoma is a new company whose flagship all-foam mattress is specifically designed for athletes. The Zoma Sports Mattress has three layers of foam. The top layer contains a proprietary zoned foam with firmer foam under the hips and lower back. Polyfoam transitional and base layers provide a stable support system for the spine.

The Zoma Sports mattress is designed to provide extra pressure relief, helping speed along muscle recovery in athletes. The memory foam forms a cushioning cradle around potential pressure points, soothing sore spots. As an all-foam bed with a relatively plush surface, the Zoma Sports mattress is best suited to side and back sleepers under 200 pounds who won’t sink too far into the mattress.

The Zoma is silent when bearing weight and does fairly well at preventing motion transfer. The mattress also has decent edge support for an all-foam bed, which enables full use of the bed when sharing the bed with a partner. Couples will also appreciate the slightly responsive feel of the bed. This makes it easier to move around and is conducive to sex.

Zoma backs the mattress with a 100-night sleep trial and 10-year warranty. The company offers free shipping in the contiguous U.S.


Purple – Best Pressure Relief

Price: $1,099

Height: 9.25"

Firmness: Medium Firm (6)

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Pressure Point Relief: 4/5

Sleeps Cool: 5/5

Motion Isolation: 4/5

Edge Support: 3/5

Durability: 3/5

Ease of Movement: 3/5

Sex: 4/5

Off-Gassing: 3/5

purple mattress

Highlights:

  • Proprietary grid material provides great pressure relief and motion isolation
  • Healthy airflow through the grid prevents heat build-up
  • Much more responsive than a memory foam mattress

Ideal For:

  • Side and back sleepers under 200 pounds
  • People who are very active in bed
  • Those who sleep hot

Made of a hyper-elastic polymer, Purple’s pressure-relieving grid responds to pressure points by providing pain relief on a par with memory foam or latex. The column structure allows for significantly more room for airflow, keeping the mattress incredibly cool through the night. The flagship Purple Mattress contains 2 inches of this material over a layer of high-density transitional polyfoam and a high-density polyfoam support core. This construction provides the ideal amount of support for most athletes under 200 pounds, especially when sleeping on the side or back.

The Purple mattress has been updated since its original iteration, featuring improved edge support and a stretchy, breathable cover that allows the grid to act to its full potential. The bed has an almost instant response to pressure that makes for less sink and a much more responsive surface than memory foam. This makes it very well-suited to sex and to combination sleepers. Although it has a unique construction, the Purple is still a foam mattress at heart, meaning it does a stellar job at isolating motion so as not to disturb your sleeping partner.

Purple offers a 100-night sleep trial but asks that you try out the mattress for 21 nights before requesting a return. The mattress ships free in the continental U.S. and is backed by a 10-year warranty.

Read Our Full Purple Mattress Review


Why Do Athletes Need Their Sleep?

Getting a good night’s sleep is important for everyone, but it’s especially important for athletes. Sleep is when the body repairs muscles and tissues, and lack of quality sleep has been shown to affect reaction times, reflexes, speed, and coordination in athletes. Not surprisingly, poor sleep has been linked to increased risk of injury in elite athletes.

Athletes who get enough sleep are more alert and report a better mood, which can be especially important on competition days. And that’s not to mention the general benefits of sleep on our immune systems, digestion, body temperature, memory, attention, decision-making, and hormone levels.

Slower reaction time and concentration lapses can affect performance in athletes who play team sports, as well as athletes who need to focus on fine-tuning every fiber of their body to win an important race. A study published in the journal Sleep found that basketball players on the Stanford University men’s varsity team clocked faster sprint times, threw shots with greater accuracy, and had faster reaction times when increasing their nightly sleep to 10+ hours per night.

While you sleep, your brain goes through several different sleep phases during which it repairs and builds different parts of the body. All of these sleep phases are important, but the two that are most important for athletes are deep sleep and REM sleep. Deep sleep promotes muscle and tissue repair, strengthens the immune system, and gives you energy to face the next day. During REM sleep, it’s your brain that benefits, boosting areas like learning and memory.

What Kind of Mattress Should Athletes Sleep On?

The best bed for athletes is one that helps you recover after a training session and prepares your mind and body for the next day. As an athlete, you’ll want to sink into a bed that cushions your sore spots at the end of the day. However, a great mattress will also keep your spine aligned, so you don’t wake up with new pressure points.

Your body type will make a difference when choosing your mattress. The most common types of mattresses you’ll see are memory foam, latex, hybrid, and innerspring. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Latex mattresses are breathable and provide very good pressure relief. They tend to have above-average durability, but they also tend to be expensive. A cheaper alternative is memory foam, which molds to the shape of your body. Memory foam provides excellent pressure relief that many athletes appreciate after a tough training session.

The main problem with foam mattresses is that they sometimes lack support for heavier people. Athletes such as bodybuilders who need a more supportive mattress may want to check out hybrid mattresses, which have comfort layers made of memory foam or latex and a more supportive base made of pocketed coils.

Some people prefer innerspring mattresses, the classic coil mattresses that most people grew up with. However, these often cause pressure build-up as they have a firm surface. A fifth type of mattress is airbed mattresses, which use adjustable air chambers to provide personalized firmness levels. These are a fantastic choice for people who want to fine-tune the firmness to their liking, but they tend to be very expensive.

If you’re an athlete, chances are you also have a healthy metabolism that keeps you sweating during the night. In that case, you’ll want to steer clear of materials that can be a heat sink, such as traditional memory foam. Latex and hybrid mattresses are both good options for people who sleep hot, and even some memory foam mattresses have innovative features to let your body heat dissipate overnight. You may also want to look for phase-change materials in the cover, or covers made of Celliant fabric that is designed to convert your body heat into infrared light that helps repair your muscles while keeping you cool.

At the end of the day, the best mattress is the one that feels most comfortable to you. Just keep in mind that mattresses made with cheaper foams, synthetic latex, or low-quality coils won’t last as long as their better-quality counterparts. This can lead to sagging and body indentations that affect a mattress’s performance.

What Mattress Thickness is Best for Athletes?

The average height of a mattress is 10 inches, but this can vary considerably. You can find 8-inch foam mattresses, 15-inch hybrid mattresses, and everything in between.

Since the height of a mattress dictates how many layers you can fit in it, it’s an important factor to consider when choosing a bed. You’ll want at least 3 or 4 inches of comfort layers, to prevent your body from sinking through the softer top layers and hitting the uncomfortable support core. However, you don’t want to sacrifice room in the support core either, as this is what’s holding your spine in line.

We usually recommend that athletes choose a mattress that’s at least 11 inches tall. If this is a foam mattress, for example, it leaves room for a 7-inch base and 4 inches of comfort layer. In a hybrid mattress, an 11-inch profile gives room for an 8-inch pocketed coil base and 3 inches of comfort layers.

To allow plenty of room to sprawl out and choose a comfortable sleeping position, most athletes should go for a bigger bed. Even if you sleep by yourself, why not splurge on a queen size mattress? After all, your sleep is one of your most important weapons against the competition. Athletes who are taller than the average person may want a California king size mattress that can accommodate a few extra inches of height.

Which Mattress Firmness is Best for Athletes?

The firmness of a mattress refers to how soft or hard it feels. Firmness is usually described on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being extremely plush and 10 being extremely firm. The vast majority of sleepers prefer a mattress that ranks between 5 and 7 on the firmness scale. This firmness level cushions pressure points without allowing too much sinkage.

Your body type and preferred sleeping position play a huge role when choosing your mattress firmness. Athletes such as dancers or gymnasts will usually prefer a mattress that falls on the plush side, perhaps a 4 or a 5 on the firmness scale. These lighter sleepers exert less pressure on the mattress, so they may experience pressure points on firmer mattresses.

Heavier athletes such as boxers or football players, in turn, should choose a firmer mattress between a 6 and an 8 on the firmness scale. If a mattress is too plush, heavier body parts can sink in too far and lead to spinal misalignment.

Athletes that are somewhere in between should find the most comfortable surface on a mattress that falls between a 5 and a 7 on the firmness scale. This tends to be the Goldilocks zone that keeps the spine aligned while alleviating any pressure points that may form.

Some mattresses offer zoning in the comfort or support layers, with more support in some parts and more cushioning in others. If you’re recovering from an injury, if you have back pain, or if you simply find yourself unable to find a mattress with the right firmness for you, this might be something to look into.

How Does Sleeping Position Impact the Best Bed for Athletes?

When it comes to sleeping position, side sleepers usually go for plusher mattresses. These form a pressure-relieving cradle around the hips and shoulders and allow the spine to stay on an even plane. In contrast, stomach sleepers prefer firmer mattresses that prevent sagging under the hips. Mattresses that are too plush can cause lower back pain where the hips sink in, as well as added pressure in the neck.

Back sleepers tend to fall somewhere in the middle, requiring an even balance of support and pressure relief. Sleeping on the back is generally considered the best position, as it mimics the natural alignment of the spine without putting extra pressure on any one area. Some mattresses feature added lumbar support, which may be especially useful for heavier athletes or athletes who suffer from back pain.