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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.
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 Thickness||Quality 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 Foam||Density Category||Measurement (PCF)||Suitability for Heavy Sleepers (230 Pounds or More)|
|Polyfoam||Low Density||Less than 1.2 PCF||Poor to Fair|
|Medium Density||1.2 PCF to 1.7 PCF||Fair|
|High Density||1.8 PCF to 2.5 PCF||Fair to Very Good|
|Memory Foam||Low Density||Lower than 4 PCF||Poor to Fair|
|Medium Density||4 PCF to 6 PCF||Fair to Good|
|High Density||Higher than 6 PCF||Good 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 Type||Expected Lifespan|
|Innerspring||5 to 6 Years|
|Foam||6 to 7 Years|
|Latex||8 Years or Longer|
|Hybrid||6 to 7 Years|
|Airbed||8 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.
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.
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:
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 Type||Innerspring||Memory Foam||Latex||Hybrid||Airbed|
|Comfort Layer||At least 1 layer of foam||At least 1 layer of polyfoam or memory foam||At 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 Core||Steel coils|
Base polyfoam layer
|High-density polyfoam||May be latex or high-density polyfoam||Pocketed Coils|
Base polyfoam layer
|Individual, adjustable air chambers|
|Average Thickness||9″ to 15″||7″ to 14″||7″ to 13″||10″ to 16″||8″ to 15″|
|Average Firmness||Medium Firm to Firm||Medium Soft to Medium Firm||Medium Soft to Medium Firm||Medium to Medium Firm||Varies|
Most airbeds have adjustable firmness
|Heat Retention/Sleeping Hot||Good to Very Good||Poor to Fair||Fair to Good||Fair to Good||Fair to Good|
|Edge Support||Very Good||Poor||Poor to Fair||Good to Very Good||Fair to Good|
|Average Lifespan||5 to 6 years||6 to 7 years||8 years or longer||6 to 7 years||8 years or longer if properly maintained|
|Heavy Back Sleepers||Fair||Good||Good||Good||Good|
|Heavy Side Sleepers||Fair||Fair||Good||Good||Fair|
|Heavy Stomach Sleepers||Poor||Fair||Good||Fair||Fair|
|Dual Firmness Options||Not usually available||Somewhat common||Available from select manufacturers||Somewhat common||Not 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|
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.
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:
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.