- How Sleep Works
- Sleep Disorders
- Sleep Resources
- Sleep Health
- Sleep Medicine
Athletic performance and physical recovery are both directly linked to sleep quality. Well-rested athletes are faster, more reflexive, and able to perform for longer durations than those who don’t get enough sleep. And at the end of the day, a comfortable, supportive sleep surface can alleviate aches and pains, promote good blood flow, and cool the body to a reasonable temperature. For these reasons, an athlete’s mattress choice is very important.
Some mattresses are better equipped to accommodate athletic individuals than others. These beds cushion sensitive areas – such as the neck, shoulders, lower back, and hips – and align the head, spine and pelvis. This helps reduce pressure points all over the body. Temperature neutrality is another important factor; beds that sleep excessively hot can have a negative effect on physical recovery. And because many athletes have larger-than-average bodies, a mattress that offers support to taller and/or heavier sleepers is usually the best option.
This guide will discuss these and other important criteria for selecting an athlete’s mattress. Below you will find our choices for the best mattresses for athletes sold today. Our picks are based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as intensive product research and analysis.
The Bear Mattress is our Editor’s Pick largely due to its cover, which is made of Celliant fabric. This material is engineered to absorb body heat, convert it into infrared energy, and transmit the energy back into the sleeper’s skin.
This process benefits sleepers in many ways, such as improved blood circulation, targeted pain and pressure relief, and a speedier physical recovery. Celliant also provides good temperature neutrality; as a result, the Bear Mattress sleeps cooler than most competing all-foam beds.
The Bear Mattress has comfort layers made of memory foam and polyfoam that conform closely to the sleeper’s body. This helps align the spine and prevent more pressure points from developing.
The bed also includes a high-density polyfoam support core, which helps maintain an even surface for sleeping. Other benefits of the Bear Mattress include good motion isolation and no noise – both of which may be beneficial for couples who awaken easily during the night.
The Bear is a high-value mattress, as well, with a price-point that is significantly lower than the cost of the average memory foam bed. The mattress qualifies for free delivery in the lower 48 states, and comes with a hassle-free 100-night sleep trial.
Many athletes prefer to have firmness options rather than sleep on a bed with the same firmness setting night after night. The Layla is a good pick for these individuals.
It offers a flippable design with one side that is ‘Medium Soft’ (4 on the 1-10 firmness scale) and another that is ‘Firm’ (7). Changing the firmness is as easy as flipping the mattress over – and the Layla is lightweight even by memory foam mattress standards and will cause minimal strain to rotate.
The Layla Mattress is also suitable for athletic recovery because both memory foam comfort layers are infused with copper, which accelerates blood flow and improves circulation in sleepers. The copper also cools down the foam to give the mattress great temperature neutrality.
The ‘Medium Soft’ side has an additional layer of convoluted polyfoam for added cushioning and pressure relief, while the shared polyfoam support core reinforces the even sleep surface.
Layla Sleep offers free shipping to customers anywhere in the contiguous U.S. The Layla Mattress is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a lifetime warranty, both of which are longer than average.
The Avocado Green is latex hybrid crafted from materials that are both high-quality and eco-friendly. These include comfort layers of breathable, moisture-wicking New Zealand wool and aerated Dunlop latex. These materials help keep the bed cool and comfortable for most sleepers, including athletes fresh from intense workouts.
The mattress also has a sturdy pocketed coil support core that reinforces the entire bed and helps minimize sagging and indentations from developing in the sleep surface. These imperfections can cause the surface to become uneven, and often lead to added aches and pains for physically active people.
The Avocado Green is available in two firmness settings, ‘Medium’ (5.5) and ‘Medium Firm’ (6.5). This range is best suited for sleepers who weigh at least 130 pounds, as this weight group often finds that softer beds sag excessively.
The thick latex layer also absorbs and minimizes a fair amount of motion transfer, and the coils do not produce much noise. Both of these attributes can benefit couples who awaken easily during the night.
Avocado offers free standard shipping to all 50 states, as well as White Glove delivery – which includes in-home assembly – for an extra charge. The mattress is backed by a 365-night sleep trial and a 20-year warranty.
Most people in the light weight group (less than 130 pounds) prefer softer mattresses that provide deep conforming and improve spinal alignment. The Casper Wave is optimal for athletes in this group because it is considered ‘Medium Soft’ (4.5) and constructed with thick comfort layers of polyfoam, memory foam, and blended latex.
These materials hug the body closely without sagging excessively to alleviate aches and pains in the sleeper’s most sensitive areas. The Wave also has a high-density foam base that reinforces the bed to prevent sagging and sinkage along the surface.
Its 11 1/2? profile is also ideal for taller people, who often struggle getting in and out of bed, as well as those who prefer thicker-than-average beds. Additionally, the Casper Wave isolates motion transfer very well and is virtually silent when bearing weight. These two factors can be beneficial to couples who experience sleep disruptions due to movement or noise.
The Casper Wave has an above-average price-point, but the mattress qualifies for free White Glove delivery anywhere in the contiguous U.S. This service includes in-home assembly and old mattress removal upon request. The Wave is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
A common complaint about innerspring mattresses is below-average pain and pressure relief. Most models are made with thin polyfoam comfort layers that provide minimal conforming and do not improve spinal alignment to a noticeable extent. The Saatva is a notable exception. Using innovative coil-on-coil construction and thick comfort layers, the mattress offers exceptional comfort and pain relief for athletes.
The mattress is made with memory foam, polyfoam, and pocketed coil comfort layers that provide targeted support to the sleeper’s body, which can help cut down on aches and pains. The bed also has a support core with steel-tempered bonnell coils, which offer robust reinforcement to the entire bed.
Good air circulation through the coil layers also allows the Saatva to sleep cool for most. The mattress is available in three firmness settings – ‘Medium Soft’ (4), ‘Medium Firm’ (6), and ‘Firm’ (7.5) – as well as 11 1/2″ and 14 1/2″ profiles. This range should accommodate most sleepers regardless of their weight or preferred position.
Saatva provides free White Glove delivery to all customers in the contiguous U.S. The mattress is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a 15-year warranty, both of which are longer than average.
Like our Editor’s Pick, the Bear Mattress, the Bear Hybrid is constructed with a Celliant fabric cover that aids circulation, provides pain relief, regulates body temperature, and hastens physical recovery for athletes.
As is the case with many hybrids, the Bear Hybrid also sleeps quite cool – but Bear’s model is available at a much lower price-point than the average hybrid, making it a high-value pick as well.
The mattress features polyfoam and memory foam comfort layers that provide close conforming and improve spinal alignment. And because the comfort layers are 5? thick, the Bear Hybrid isolates motion transfer better and sleeps quieter than the average hybrid.
The pocketed coil layer ensures good airflow, which helps with temperature neutrality, and also reinforces the edges to prevent sinkage around the perimeter of the bed.
Bear will ship this hybrid anywhere in the contiguous U.S. free-of-charge. The mattress is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a 20-year warranty.
Numerous studies have established a direct link between healthy sleep habits and strong athletic performance. Well-rested athletes are faster, stronger, more accurate, and quicker to react than those who do not receive enough sleep. Additionally, proper sleep can supplement exercise routines, allowing athletes to build muscle, strength, and endurance more effectively. Those who don’t enough sleep often pay the price physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Choosing the right mattress can greatly impact an athlete’s sleep habits and routines. However, it’s important to understand the key differences between mattress types — such as innerspring, foam, latex, and hybrid models — in terms of support, comfort, firmness, and other important sleep factors. This page will look at the most important sleep considerations for athletes of all ages, as well as some mattress comparing and buying tips.
We all require a good night’s sleep in order to wake up feeling refreshed and function the following day. However, athletes face unique considerations when it comes to sleep. Poor or inadequate sleep can lead to problems like slow reaction times, lengthier recovery times and diminished motor skills — all of which impact athletic performance.
Sleep deprivation and sleep debt are two important factors. Sleep deprivation is a condition characterized by lack of sleep that may be chronic or acute in nature. Sleep debt refers to incremental loss of sleep that accumulates over the course of a week or longer.
Let’s say an athletic person receives seven hours of sleep each night from Monday to Friday, rather than the recommended eight hours of nightly sleep. By Saturday, that person’s ‘sleep debt’ will reach five hours — and they will most likely feel the effects, which may include slower reaction times, lack of focus, and delayed physical recovery from athletic activities.
Sleep deprivation also impacts body chemistry. When we sleep, our bodies regulate production of the stress hormone known as cortisol. Lack of sleep can cause cortisol levels to rise. This hinders the body’s ability to produce glycogen and carbohydrates, which provide energy boosts during high-endurance activities (such as athletic events). As sleep debt accumulates and cortisol levels increase, our bodies become less and less equipped to perform. Many athletes rely on supplements to replenish their glycogen and carbohydrate levels, and these supplements may carry negative side effects.
Generally speaking, athletes require more sleep than non-athlete adults, particularly before and after major athletic events. The average man or woman requires seven to nine hours of sleep per night in order to properly function the next day.
However, adult athletes should get roughly 10 hours of sleep whenever they are training or competing on a regular basis. This helps ensure strong athletic performance, as well as a speedy physical recovery. Likewise, adolescent athletes are urged to get at least nine hours of sleep per night during their active seasons.
In addition to more overall sleep, athletes require steady sleep schedules that consist of both light and deep sleep. Light sleep, known as non-rapid-eye-movement (nREM) sleep, is associated with cell division and regeneration, which is crucial for muscle recovery. Cortisol regulation takes place primarily during REM sleep. Additionally, athletes may experience longer REM latency — the time from falling asleep until REM sleep begins — than non-athletes, and not getting enough REM sleep can negatively affect athletic performance and reaction time.
The following studies highlight the importance of sufficient sleep for athletes in different sports and activities.
Next, let’s look at important performance factors that athletes should consider when shopping for a new mattress.
When browsing and comparing different mattress brands and models, here are a few factors to keep in mind.
Firmness is directly tied to the topmost layers of a mattress, which are collectively known as the comfort layer or comfort system. Firmness is often measured on a numerical scale, with 1 being the least firm and 10 being the firmest; most mattresses sold today rate between a 3 (Soft) and an 8 (Firm).
Firmness preferences vary strongly from person to person, and often come down to two individual factors: bodyweight and sleep position. People with below-average weights (130 pounds or less) tend to feel most comfortable on mattresses that rate between a 3 and a 5 (Medium). If the mattress is firmer, then lightweight sleepers may weigh enough to sink deeply and experience close conforming.
Heavier sleepers (more than 230 pounds), on the other hand, typically prefer mattresses that rate between a 6 (Medium Firm) and an 8. If the mattress is less firm, then heavyweight sleepers may sink too deeply and experience discomfort and/or added pressure.
In terms of sleep position, those who sleep on their back utilize a position that naturally aligns the spine. As a result, they may feel comfortable on different firmness levels, often depending on their bodyweight. Side-sleepers do not utilize a position that aligns the spine, and often require a mattress that conforms to their body and targets pressure buildup.
Stomach-sleepers face a similar issue regarding spinal misalignment, but they usually prefer firmer mattresses. If the mattress is too soft, then stomach-sleepers may sink too deeply, requiring them to turn their heads; this can cause pressure buildup, especially in the neck and shoulders.
Some mattresses are designed to conform closely to sleeper’s bodies, forming a deep, contoured impression that helps align the spine and target pressure points along the shoulders, neck, back, and hips. Other mattresses do not conform as closely, and may not alleviate as much pressure. On the other hand, mattresses that sink too deeply can cause sleepers to feel more pressure in these sensitive areas.
Support in a mattress is regulated in the support core, or the layer(s) located below the comfort system. The support core is intended to withstand the sleeper’s weight by pushing back, creating a level surface that keeps the spine straight. Mattresses that do not offer inadequate support will eventually sag, which makes the surface uneven. This can cause pain and pressure along the body over time. Side- and stomach-sleepers in particular require mattresses that offer sufficient support.
A significant number of adults naturally sleep hot or warm. Some mattresses amplify this feeling by absorbing high levels of body heat, which causes the bed to feel uncomfortably hot or warm. These increases in temperature can negatively impact sleep and leave individuals feeling tired and unfocused. Other mattresses retain less body heat and sleep fairly cool by comparison. These models are usually the best bet for naturally hot sleepers. Likewise, those who naturally sleep cold should seek out mattresses that will keep them sufficiently warm throughout the night.
In addition to the factors listed above, here are a few more considerations for athletes to make when comparing different mattress types, brands, and models:
Now let’s go over five of the most popular mattress types sold today, including pros and cons for athlete sleepers associated with each type.
Memory foam, or viscoelastic polyfoam, is a polyurethane-based foam. When memory foam comes into contact with body temperatures, it sinks and conforms closely to the sleeper’s body. When cool, the foam retains its original, flattened surface. Memory foam mattresses typically have lower price-points.
Pros for Athletes
Cons for Athletes
Innerspring mattresses are the most widely sold mattresses today, accounting for roughly two-thirds of industry sales. These mattresses get their name from the steel coils that make up their support core; the coils are evenly spaced in order to properly distribute weight, and often reinforced with high-density polyfoam layers. Generally speaking, innersprings have medium to low price-points.
|Coil Type||Shape||Average Gauge||Average Price|
|Bonnell||Hourglass with rounded ends||12 to 18||Low|
|Offset||Hourglass with straightened ends||12 to 15||Medium|
|Continuous Wire||Straight line||15 to 18||Low|
|Pocketed||Spiral encased in fabric||17 to 18||High|
Pros for Athletes
Cons for Athletes
Latex is a substance extracted from rubber trees that is processed into a foam-like material. All-latex mattresses are highly durable and have above-average lifespans; as a result, the price-points for these mattresses are typically high. Mattresses made with latex and foam components are more susceptible to sagging and deterioration, and the price-points tend to be lower.
Pros for Athletes
Cons for Athletes
By definition, a hybrid mattress features at least two inches of memory foam and/or latex in the comfort layer and a pocketed coil support core. Some mattresses sold as hybrids do not meet this criteria, and should not be considered true hybrids. Most hybrid mattresses have above-average price-points.
Pros for Athletes
Cons for Athletes
An airbed offers adjustable firmness and support settings thanks to customizable air chambers that can be toggled remotely or manually, depending on the design. Airbeds are generally the most expensive mattresses on the market.
Pros for Athletes
Cons for Athletes
As you can see, a wide range of factors impact how a mattress feels to different athletes. For more information about this topic, please visit our Sleep and Athletes page, as well as our Mattress Buying Guide.