Mattresses For Athletes That Encourage Rest And Recovery
Athletes put their bodies under enormous stress and therefore have to look after their health and well-being at all times. They need nutrition, hydration and the greatest recovery support. They also need an appropriate mattress so that their body can recover from the rigors of training and competing. The greatest mattresses for athletes provide a good night's rest and plenty of support for muscles and joints that are already working very hard.
It is important for athletes to get enough sleep - this enables them to train effectively and compete to the greatest of their ability. Beds for athletes must support all of the body to prevent niggling aches and pains that could adversely affect their performance. If you are looking for the best mattress for athletes, check out our comprehensive guide below.
Our Top Recommendations
Supportive mattress for people with an active lifestyle
Pressure relieving layer for shoulders and hips
Temperature regulation layer to remove excess body heat
Strong base layer for durability
10 year warranty
100 night sleep trial
Our top pick is the Bear Mattress which helps athletes to get a good night s sleep by supporting their entire body and dissipating body heat. It has been woven using a patented Celliant Infrared yarn that uses the body’s own natural energy to help it recover and promotes well-being which will help to maximize performance for those with an active lifestyle. This environmentally-friendly mattress has no unpleasant chemical smell. It has a mattress firmness level of 7.1 to provide plenty of support.
This mattress has four layers to ensure comfort and support. The top layer is a breathable sleep surface that helps athletes to improve their performance. The second mattress layer is made from gel memory foam and helps with temperature regulation. The third layer is called the transition layer because it offers balanced support to different parts of the body and relieves pressure which helps with muscle recovery. Finally, the base layer is made from high-density foam that supports the whole mattress structure and gives durability.
You also get free mattress shipping and returns, a 100 night sleep trial with no commitment and a 10 year warranty.
Learn more about Bear Mattress
Bear mattress for pressure relief
Pocketed coil layer providing edge support
Hand quilted top mattress layer to ensure well-being
Gel infused memory foam to keep you cool as you sleep
Provides both comfort and support for muscle recovery
20 year Bear Hybrid warranty for complete peace of mind
Voted the best hybrid mattress by The Sleep Foundation, the Bear Hybrid Mattress combines cooling technology with comfort to make it a great athlete mattress for active people. It features six layers to ensure you get a great night s sleep. The top layer is hand quilted and provides a premium sleep surface that ensures your well-being as you rest. The second mattress layer comprises cooling gel memory foam that removes excess body heat and keeps you cool. It makes you feel as if you are sleeping on a cloud!
The third layer of this Bear Hybrid Mattress is a premium comfort foam that adapts to suit all sleeping positions making it suitable for athletes who sleep on their backs, stomachs or sides. The narrow responsive transition foam layer of the bear mattress allows air to flow through the mattress and is there to relieve pressure – especially at areas such as the shoulders and hips. This can be especially useful for athletes who suffer with back pain. The thick pocketed coil layer (edge coil system) provides edge support on the Bear hybrid and makes it easy to get off the mattress. Finally, there is a high density, durable bottom layer to protect the life of the mattress. Harsh chemicals are not used in the manufacture of the the Bear Hybrid mattress making it an environmentally-friendly choice.
This Bear mattress comes with free shipping and returns, a 20 year warranty and 100 night sleep trial.
Learn more about Bear Hybrid Mattress
Foam mattress with several comfort layers
Soft upper layer made with woven side panels
Two inch thick purple grid layer engineered to flex
Pressure point relief for athletes
A layer of stainless steel coils that are individually wrapped
100 night commitment-free mattress trial for your peace of mind
The Purple Hybrid is an award winning mattress for athletes offering the highest standards of breathability and responsive support. It maintains the optimal temperature as you sleep using a combination of air channels and cooling gel. At the same time, this mattress reacts to pressure and provides the ultimate in support and pressure point relief for athletes.
The mattress highlights that make is especially suitable for athletes include a soft upper layer made with woven side panels that are breathable and allow air to flow around you as you sleep – perfect for those who sleep hot because they have an active lifestyle. Another highlight is the special two inch thick purple mattress grid layer. It’s manufactured from a temperature-neutral gel that is hyper-elastic and constructed in a grid flex pattern for pressure relieving. The hyper-elastic polymer of the grid layer offers superb durability.
As well as the memory foam elements, this mattress features a layer of stainless steel coils that are individually wrapped to give dynamic pressure relief but also plenty of support. The coil fabric is noise-reducing so there will be no more squeaky mattress to wake you up!
This athletic mattress is perfect for muscle recovery and is both non-toxic and hypoallergenic. It comes with free mattress shipping and free returns as well as a 10 year warranty. You also get a 100 night commitment-free mattress trial so that you can make sure that you are entirely happy with your mattress.
Learn more about Purple Hybrid Mattress
Versatile mattress can be medium firm or medium soft
Hugs the contours of your body and provides support
Copper cooling thermogel layer to relieve pressure
Deep channeling to maintain a cool temperature.
Motion isolation system
Free shipping and a lifetime warranty
The Layla Memory Foam Mattress features a superior copper gel that has been incorporated into the memory foam. It reacts to any increased pressure that you exert on the mattress with a firming response making it superior to traditional memory foam. This characteristic allows the mattress to hug the contours of your body and provide plenty of support especially around the areas of deep compression. Copper is also highly effective at conducting heat away from your body (copper is an efficient heat conductor) which helps people who sleep hot and is a very useful feature in a sports mattress. Copper is also anti-microbial so it keeps the mattress fresh and prevents unpleasant odors as you get hours of sleep.
This mattress for athletes is winner of the 2019 Forbes Memory Foam Mattress of the Year. Because it can be flipped over, it can be medium soft or medium firm (depending on the top layer that you select) and can suit side and back sleepers as well as athletes that prefer to sleep on their stomach. Both the soft and firm side feature a copper cooling thermogel layer that gets activated by your body temperature, a hexagon stitched pattern and a zipper that allows it to be removed for cleaning. Within the body of the mattress, there are two layers of copper gel memory foam: one has a soft and plush feel whilst the other has a firm and supportive feel. Both have anti-microbial and superior cooling properties making them suitable for a sports mattress.
For zoned support to help with pressure relief, there is a support foam layer with deep channeling to maintain a cool temperature. The thicker memory foam layer is four inches deep for comfort and durability. Also, it features a motion isolation system so that you are not disturbed by the other person in your bed.
It comes with two free Layla pillows, free shipping and a lifetime warranty. Also, for your complete peace of mind, you get a 120 night sleep trial with no commitment.
Learn more about Layla Memory Foam Mattress
Things to Consider
Athletes need to ignore the jargon associated with mattress descriptions and get down to what really matters. Mattresses for athletes have very particular characteristics and features that you should look out for. It's always sensible to read recovery mattress reviews and find out what other athletes have to say about a particular product. Here are the main things that you should consider.
The mattress type is important when it comes to choosing a product for active people. Athletes need a memory foam mattress that contours to the body. Several comfort layers that help with pressure points are ideal. This will support core muscles as you sleep and is especially important for side sleepers. Pressure relief is important for athletes because you don't want to put any more strain on muscles that are already working very hard. However, the potential disadvantage of some memory foam mattresses is that they can retain heat. Therefore, your top option is a mattress that has cooling technology. This can be introduced by the shape of the structure of the memory foam or by the type of foam. Copper is often added to the foam because it has heat conducting properties and will keep you cool.
The second option would be innerspring mattresses. These have a coil system that offers support and plenty of push back against your body as you sleep. They 'feel' bouncy which is preferred by some individuals. Also, they make it easy to move around thanks to the spring system. Modern springs are encased in fabric so that they are comfortable and do not make a noise. They are very good at keeping the spine aligned so that your posture is maintained as you sleep. A coil mattress does not trap heat like memory foam and therefore there is no problem with getting too hot as you sleep which is important for athletes.
If you like the features of an inner spring mattress but also want the comfort of a memory foam mattress, hybrid mattresses would be a good option. They combine the features of both. They offer athletes the additional support that they need and are especially good for spinal alignment offering a therapeutic rest. The foam is there to cushion sore joints and muscles. However, they have the temperature regulation and support of innersprings.
There are other alternatives such as an air mattress or a latex mattress. Air mattresses allow you to customize your sleeping experience as your needs change. Latex is a natural material that cushions sore joints as you sleep.
A mattress for athletes can be made from a range of materials - it is just a case of picking one that suits your particular needs. The most common, however, is memory foam.
Memory foam is a polymer (you may see this described as a hyper elastic polymer) which just means that it is made up of a lot of smaller molecules. It's a very versatile material and is used in many other household items such as sofas and insulation. Foam mattresses are made from a special type of high density foam called 'viscoelastic' which is a combination of two polymers. This is why memory foam is both viscos and elastic. It resists shape change and does not transfer energy readily. This allows it to support core muscles and gives it motion isolation properties. It also provides a comfort layer as it molds to your shape. However, due to the 'elastic' properties, it returns to its original shape when the force is taken away. There are three different types of memory foam but some mattresses use all three types combined in layers:
- Traditional: This was the original memory foam used for beds. It molds very well around the body but has a tendency to retain heat. This is a major issue for athlete's sleep. When you work out, your core body temperature increases and this can take several hours to cool down. If you go to bed before your body has cooled, you will become too hot and will not be able to sleep. To overcome this sleep problem, manufacturers started adding additional materials to the foam.
- Open-cell. This type of foam has the same chemicals as traditional memory foam however, the internal structure has been altered. Open-cell memory foam has pockets that allow air to flow around and moves heat away from the body. This keeps you cool as you sleep. Modern technology allows these pockets to be constructed without compromising the firmness of the mattress.
- Gel. Many modern memory foams incorporate gel into the polymer. It is usually pumped in as microbeads and creates pockets of material that absorbs heat from your body and then releases it away from where you are sleeping. Copper is often used in the gel because it helps with heat-dispersal as it is so conductive. It also helps with moisture wicking.
Increasingly, consumers are looking for products made from materials that are sustainable and that do not damage the planet. You may want to look out for an eco-friendly product or one that is made at least partly from recycled materials. Other athletes will want a product that is hypoallergenic if they suffer from allergies.
A must-have recovery mattress is one that will contour to areas of your body that require particular support such as the lower back. Zoned support is important for athletes as they sleep and this is largely down to spine alignment.
Athletes (and other people with a very active lifestyle) place significant stress on the bones and connective tissue of the spine. This is a particular problem for athletes who lift weights or who run for long distances (marathon runners). It is essential that they maintain spine alignment as they sleep. When you sleep, you place a lot of pressure on the lumbar spine region. This is true whatever your sleeping position.
If your mattress maintains your spine in a neutral position as you sleep, there is a reduced strain on the lower back and you are more likely to maintain a healthy posture. Experts agree that spine alignment is one of the key features to look out for in a mattress. For athletes who already have some tension and strain in their spine from training or competing, this is even more important. They need one that contours to their body shape and not one that lets them sink - pulling their spine out of alignment.
If the product description for the mattress includes a figure for contouring, you should be looking for at least an 8.5 out of a maximum of 10. This mattress will keep your spine aligned as you sleep and will prevent discomfort.
Memory foam mattresses come in many thicknesses but the greatest ones tend to be thicker. This is because they need to have several layers. There will probably be a comfort layer and then several support core layers made out of different types of foam.
Mattress thickness can vary from as little as 2 inches to over 16 inches. Athletes require a mattress that is thick enough for all necessary layers to be included. The very slim, low profile mattresses are not thick enough to accommodate the 2 to 3 inches of comfort layer that are needed.
Athletes with a larger build need to sleep on thicker mattresses so that they don't sink. This will put too much strain on their injured joints. Athletes that sleep on their sides, require more cushioning and need to sleep on a thicker mattress. Also, those who sleep on their backs, need a mattress that is around 10 to 12 inches thick to prevent spinal misalignment and reduce back pain.
Athletes who sleep on their stomach need a mattress that is about 10-inches thick so that it will resist sinking at the abdomen and maintain alignment of the spine.
Mattress firmness is a critical feature for athletes. Active people need to sleep on a surface that supports a neutral spine alignment to maintain a healthy posture. Above all, they must not feel that they are sinking into the bed as they sleep.
The mattress must be firm enough to pushback to align the spine and support major joints. This prevents aches and pains and reduces pressure on the lower back. For most athletes, a medium to firm mattress is ideal as it balances support with comfort.
However, the firmness required can vary from day to day and this is why a mattress that can be flipped over may be a good option. On training and competition days, an athlete's body will be put under considerable stress as they run, jump, lift weights and so on. On these days, they require a softer surface to sleep on to support their joints. This allows them to sink into the surface and get some pressure relief that is helpful for muscle recovery.
For rest days, athletes often prefer a firmer surface that offers more support - this is especially true for back and stomach sleepers. On these days, you would flip over the mattress and use the other side. An alternative, is to use a mattress topper.
Foam mattresses are particularly effective at pressure relief. They relieve pressure points which helps to reduce joint pain. They do this by distributing the weight of the body across the surface. This reduces the strain on sensitive pressure points such as the hips and shoulders.
Look carefully at the mattress description and choose one that scores at least 8 out of a maximum of 10 for pressure relief as this will cushion the sensitive joints. When joints are cushioned, they are less likely to ache and you are more likely to get the restorative sleep that will support athletic performance.
Q: What mattress do pro athletes use?
Pro athletes are very in tune with the needs of their bodies and know what is required to support their training programs. They also understand the type of mattress that suits their needs. It is a matter of personal choice but also depends on the type of sport that they compete in. Some athletes prefer innerspring mattresses because it offers support. They are especially good for spine alignment which is important in sports that involve a lot of bending and twisting.
Other pro athletes prefer hybrid mattresses as they get great spine alignment but also a cushioned effect that is comfortable for sore joints. They are also superior at providing pressure relief which can aid recovery after training.
Foam mattresses are an excellent option for pressure relief and will help with aching muscles but they retain heat. This can be a problem for pro athletes whose temperature may be elevated after a hard training session. Pro athletes would therefore choose a foam mattress with an additional cooling element such as copper gel that would conduct heat away from the body as they sleep.
Q: How much sleep do athletes need?
Sleep is extremely important for pro athletes if they are going to be able to perform to the greatest of their abilities. The mattress that they choose is a big part of this but their sleep position is also very important.
As athletes sleep, the biochemical processes in their bodies continue to work. The body needs enough sleep to make energy from glycogen - this is very important for athletic performance. Adequate sleep is also crucial for hormone production. Some hormones, such as testosterone and adrenaline are essential for athletic performance.
If an athlete has a mattress that allows them to get plenty of rest, it can improve their reaction time. For athletes, the difference of just tenths of a second in their reactions can mean the difference between success and failure.
It is also thought that getting plenty of sleep improves hand-eye co-ordination. We all know how clumsy we can be when we feel tired. For sports that involve throwing and catching, this is vitally important.
Finally, a good night's rest is very important for recovery. After a hard training session or competition, it is important that an athlete recovers quickly so that they can continue to work on their performance. Sleep is an important part of this.
Motion isolation is an important feature for athletes that sleep with another person. As your sleeping partner moves around, they set up waves of motion that travel across the bed and this can be very annoying. It is a particular problem if the person that you sleep with is very restless. Some mattresses have a special layer that stops movement from being transmitted which makes it more likely that both people in the bed will get a good night's sleep.
Q: Which mattress thickness is ideal for athletes?
There is no standard thickness for mattresses and they can vary from as little as 2 inches all the way up to over 16 inches. For athletes best recovery sleep to take place, the mattress must be thick enough to fit in all the layers that it requires including a comfort layer. Some mattresses have several comfort layers to provide adequate pressure relief.
The very slim mattresses are called low profile mattresses. These will not be thick enough to fulfill the needs of an athlete because there is not enough room to accommodate the 2 to 3 inches of comfort layer or the 5 to 6 inches of base layer that they require.
Thicker mattresses will suit athletes with a larger build because they will not sink. They also provide more support for injured joints and relieve aches and pains. For these reasons, they suit many athletes. However, they are more expensive and are heavier to move around which makes them less convenient for some users. Also, they make the bed much higher and may not suit some bed bases.
However, back sleepers would benefit from a mattress that's 10 to 12 inches thick and will therefore support the natural curve of the spine. This prevents spinal misalignment and will reduce back pain and muscle stiffness.
Stomach sleepers will need a 10-inch thick mattress which will keep the spine straight by resisting compression beneath the abdomen.
Q: What mattress firmness is good for athletes?
Athletes are just like everyone else in that they will have their own favorite type of mattress. Whilst there is not one particular firmness that athletes should stick to, there are a few factors that you should bear in mind.
Athletes don't need a mattress that is very firm. However, they do need a mattress that keeps the spine in a naturally aligned position. This will prevent back pain from getting in the way of their training schedule.
A medium firm mattress is often the greatest choice for athletes and memory foam mattresses are good at providing this firmness level. The medium firm support relieves tension at the pressure points such as the lower back.
Sleep position is also very important. Athletes that are side sleepers need to be very careful about not putting pressure on their joints. A mattress that provides pressure relief at the pressure points will be most suitable. Side sleepers may prefer a mattress that has pressure relief features in some of the layers.
Stomach sleepers will need a mattress that offers more support. However, this sleeping position can be problematic for athletes. It can put a lot of strain on the upper back and neck and this can lead to niggling pains that can get in the way of training. It is a particular problem if your hips sink into the mattress which causes tension in the lower back and can lead to pain.
Back sleepers require some contouring so that all parts of the body are supported. This is an ideal sleeping position for athletes as it reduces neck pain and puts little strain on the back. However, not everyone finds it comfortable.
For athletes that are undecided about what level of firmness will suit them, an air mattress is an excellent option. Many air mattresses have up to 50 custom firmness levels that are selected using a remote control. With some models, you can also adjust the elevation or lift your head or feet. They have a sturdy base layer to support the structure.
Treating Sleep Like a Sport - Better Sleep Council