Best Mattresses for Larger People

Body weight plays a significant role in our experience with different mattress types and models. This is particularly true with individuals who weigh 230 pounds or more, since people with above-average weights often require certain mattress conditions and qualities in order to feel comfortably and properly supported while sleeping. Important considerations for heavier sleepers include mattress thickness, firmness, density, and temperature, as well as personal factors like sleep position.  

Below we will look at the unique design and functionality needs of people with above-average weights when it comes to finding the right mattress. Read on to learn more about key mattress shopping considerations for heavier individuals.

Please note: for the purposes of this page, we have defined anyone who weighs 230 pounds or more as having ‘above-average weight’. This can be somewhat misleading, since some people in this weight range are not technically ‘overweight’, while some people who weigh less may be considered ‘overweight.’ But in terms of mattress evaluation, we have determined that 230 pounds is the most suitable benchmark.

Important Mattress Considerations for Heavy People

Mattress Thickness: Mattress thickness generally ranges from six inches to 14 inches or more, and often varies by mattress type; all-foam mattresses, for instance, tend to be thinner than innersprings or hybrids.

People who weigh 230 pounds or more tend to put more pressure on their mattresses. As a result, they tend to feel most comfortable on thicker beds because they often provide better compression support. If the mattress is too thin, then the sleeper may experience uncomfortable sinking (especially in the center).

As a general rule, a mattress should be at least 12 to 13 inches thick in order to properly support a heavier individual. The table below features a detailed breakdown of mattress thickness for people with above-average weights.

Mattress ThicknessQuality of Sleep for Individuals Weighing 230 Pounds or More
Less than 6″Very Poor
6″ to 7″Poor
7″ to 8″Poor to Fair
8″ to 9″Fair
9″ to 10″Fair to Good
10″ to 11″Good
11″ to 12″Good to Very Good
12″ to 13″Very Good
More than 13″Very Good

Mattress Firmness: Mattresses sold today are often rated for firmness on a 1 to 10 scale, with one being the least firm and 10 being the firmest. Most models fall between 3, or Soft, and 8, or Firm.

People who weigh 230 pounds or more will sink more deeply into their mattress than lighter individuals, sometimes two inches deep or more depending on their body type. Because they exert more pressure, mattresses that are firmer may feel more comfortable and provide more pressure relief. Firmness is especially important for side- and stomach-sleepers; their weight is not distributed as evenly as back-sleepers, and they are more susceptible to pressure points in the neck, shoulders, lower back, and hips.

Generally speaking, heavier individuals tend to feel most comfortable and supported on mattresses that rate between 6, or Medium Firm, and 8, or Firm.

Mattress Foam Density: Most mattresses sold today, regardless of their support core, are constructed with at least one layer of polyfoam or memory foam in the comfort system. Foam density is used to determine how much weight the mattress can sufficiently support, and measured in pounds per cubic foot (PCF). Density is also related to overall mattress durability (see below for more information).

Polyfoam and memory foam each fall into the same three density categories, although the measurements for each differ. The table below provides a detailed breakdown.

Type of FoamDensity CategoryMeasurement (PCF)Suitability for Heavy Sleepers (230 Pounds or More)
PolyfoamLow DensityLess than 1.2 PCFPoor to Fair
Medium Density1.2 PCF to 1.7 PCFFair
High Density1.8 PCF to 2.5 PCFFair to Very Good
Memory FoamLow DensityLower than 4 PCFPoor to Fair
Medium Density4 PCF to 6 PCFFair to Good
High DensityHigher than 6 PCFGood to Very Good

It’s important to note that many mattress manufacturers do not openly disclose foam density specifications, but this information is generally available to those who contact customer service representatives online or over the phone.

Coil Gauge: The gauge, or thickness, of steel coils used in innersprings and hybrids can help shoppers determine how supportive the mattress will be. Gauge is expressed in numerals, and typically ranges from 12 (thickest) to 18 (thinnest). Certain coil types are linked to average gauge ranges. Offset coils, for instance, tend to be lower-gauge (or thicker), while pocketed coils (found in hybrids) tend to be higher-gauge.   

Edge Support: In addition to sleeping, mattresses may also be used for sitting — particularly at the edges where people often sit as they get up from or onto their mattress. Some mattresses are reinforced at the edges to provide maximum support and prevent sinkage where people tend to sit. Other mattresses offer little to no edge support, and owners frequently report significant sinkage at the edges.

Innersprings and hybrids tend to offer the strongest edge support, while foam and latex mattresses usually offer the least amount of edge support (if any at all).

Temperature Neutrality: Some mattress types, such as innersprings and hybrids, retain low amounts of body heat from sleepers and tend to be temperature-neutral during the night. Other mattress types — notably foam and memory foam models — can trap body heat and sleep hot as a result.

Sleeping hot is an issue for some overweight sleepers; they have a higher body mass than others, and thus produce more heat. The general rule-of-thumb is that polyfoam and memory foam mattresses will usually sleep too hot for people who weigh 230 pounds or more, but some models include layers of foam designed to keep them cooler, such as gel memory foams or latex. These mattresses may be more suitable than those built from inexpensive polyfoam or memory foam. But for those who sleep excessively hot on any type of foam, an innerspring or hybrid will likely be their best bet.

Mattress Durability: The lifespan of a mattress is linked to several other factors, including thickness, foam density, and edge support. As a result, people who weigh 230 pounds or more should research the expected longevity of any mattress they are considering. The table below lists average lifespan expectations for the five most commonly sold mattress types.

Mattress TypeExpected Lifespan
Innerspring5 to 6 Years
Foam6 to 7 Years
Latex 8 Years or Longer
Hybrid6 to 7 Years
Airbed8 Years or Longer if Properly Maintained

Weight Limit: Most mattress manufacturers list a ‘weight limit.’ Mattress owners that exceed the weight limit could potentially cause damage to the mattress. The weight limit will vary by brand and model, so be sure to inquire about this figure for every mattress you are considering. The vast majority of Queen- and King-size mattresses sold today can support at least 600 pounds.

Personal Considerations for Overweight Sleepers

In addition to qualities and capabilities of the mattress itself, here are a few more factors for heavier people to consider when shopping for a new mattress.

Sleep Position: As stated above, your experience with a mattress often comes down to whether you sleep on your back, side, or stomach.

  • Back sleepers: Back-sleeping helps align the spine and evenly distribute weight. As a result, back-sleepers with above-average weights may feel most comfortable on mattresses rated anywhere from Medium to Firm. They are also less susceptible to back pain and pressure, and are not as affected by mattress sagging.
  • Side sleepers: Side-sleeping, while popular with many individuals, does not align the spine and may lead to added pressure points in the neck, shoulders, back, and hips. Side-sleepers who weigh 230 pounds or more typically need mattresses that rate as Medium Firm or Firm because they conform closely enough to help align the spine and alleviate pressure points. Side-sleepers are also more sensitive to mattress sagging and indentations, so models with above-average durability are recommended.
  • Stomach sleepers: Stomach-sleeping is generally discouraged among heavier individuals because they tend to carry a significant amount of weight in their stomach. Sleeping this way can cause the stomach to sink deeply into the mattress, and can also lead to spinal problems since stomach-sleepers need to turn their heads in order to breathe. For this reason, stomach-sleepers who have above-average weights usually feel most comfortable on Firm mattresses.


Considerations for Couples: If you have an above-average weight and share your bed with another person, then it’s important to consider the following:

  • If one of you weighs 230 pounds or more, then the mattress may sag beneath the heavier person, as well as in the middle of the bed. Some mattress manufacturers offer ‘dual-firmness’ design options. For these models, each side of the bed has a different firmness rating. This can help prevent sagging, and also ensure that both people sleep comfortably.
  • If both of you weigh 230 pounds or more, then dual-firmness may not be necessary but you will want a bed that is thick, dense, and firm enough to support you and your sleep partner.

Mattress Types for Larger People

The table below looks at common qualities and characteristics found in the five most commonly sold mattress types: innerspring, foam, latex, hybrid, and airbed.

Mattress TypeInnerspringMemory FoamLatexHybridAirbed
Comfort LayerAt least 1 layer of foamAt least 1 layer of polyfoam or memory foamAt least 1 layer of latex
May have memory foam or polyfoam layers
At least two inches of memory foam and/or latex
May have polyfoam and/or microcoil layers
Some models have one to two polyfoam or memory foam layers
Support CoreSteel coils
Base polyfoam layer
High-density polyfoamMay be latex or high-density polyfoamPocketed Coils
Base polyfoam layer
Individual, adjustable air chambers
Average Thickness9″ to 15″7″ to 14″7″ to 13″10″ to 16″8″ to 15″
Average FirmnessMedium Firm to FirmMedium Soft to Medium FirmMedium Soft to Medium FirmMedium to Medium FirmVaries
Most airbeds have adjustable firmness
Heat Retention/Sleeping HotGood to Very GoodPoor to FairFair to GoodFair to GoodFair to Good
Edge SupportVery GoodPoorPoor to FairGood to Very GoodFair to Good
Average Lifespan5 to 6 years6 to 7 years8 years or longer6 to 7 years8 years or longer if properly maintained
Heavy Back SleepersFairGoodGoodGoodGood
Heavy Side SleepersFairFairGoodGoodFair
Heavy Stomach SleepersPoorFairGoodFairFair
Dual Firmness OptionsNot usually availableSomewhat commonAvailable from select manufacturersSomewhat commonNot usually available
Average Price Point$800 to $1,100$1,000 to $1,500$1,500 to $2,000$1,500 to $2,000$2,000 to $2,400

Warranty Considerations

A sagging surface can greatly undermine the bed’s ability to provide comfort, support, and pressure relief. Many mattresses will sag over time, and this is to be expected of most models. However, excessive sinking and indenting can lead to major pain and pressure — and in some cases, this will be covered under the mattress warranty.

When looking at different mattress models, be sure to inquire about sagging and indentations that are covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. Most warranties explicitly state how deep the sagging/indentations must be in order to qualify as a defect, but this figure varies from brand to brand. Generally speaking, most warranties will cover sagging and indentations that measure 1″ to 1 1/2″ deep. This sagging depth is associated with above-average pain and pressure. Some warranties will cover sagging and indentations that measure as little as 1/2″ deep, while some make no mention of covering sagging or indentations of any depth.

If sagging and indentation is covered under the warranty, also be sure to inquire about owner fees for repairing or replacing mattresses that develop this defect. Most warranties require mattress owners to cover shipping and handling costs associated with mattress repairs and returns; these usually fall between $100 and $200. However, some manufacturers will impose extra fees.

Nonprorated and prorated coverage are also important. Nonprorated coverage means that the owner will not pay to repair or replace their mattress on top of shipping and handling costs. Prorated coverage means that owners must pay a certain amount of the original product price based on how long they have owned the mattress; prorated charges tend to increase on a year-to-year basis. For people who have owned their mattress for 10 years or more, the prorated charges can amount to as much as 90% to 95% of the original mattress price. Some mattress warranties are entirely nonprorated for 10 to 20 years in length, while others offer only two to three years of nonprorated coverage and are prorated for the remainder of the warranty period.

The bottom line: when comparing mattress warranties, be sure to ask about sagging/indentation depth, mattress owner costs for repairing or replacing sagging defects, and how long the warranty will offer nonprorated coverage.

Conclusion

As you’ve seen, individuals who weigh 230 pounds or more must take several factors into consideration when shopping for a new mattress. Here is a final checklist for you to use when comparing different models:

  • How thick is the mattress?
  • What is the firmness rating?
  • How dense is the foam used in the mattress?
  • Does the mattress offer good edge support?
  • Does the mattress tend to sleep warm or hot?
  • What is the expected lifespan of the mattress?
  • How does the mattress feel for back-, side- or stomach-sleepers?
  • Is dual firmness available?
  • What is the ‘sagging depth’ covered under the warranty?
  • Do mattress owners need to pay extra fees for repairing or replacing mattresses with sagging defects?
  • Is the warranty mostly/entirely nonprorated? If no, what are the expected costs during the prorated coverage period?

For more information on different mattress types, please click the links found at the top of the mattress type data table in the previous section.