There’s nothing more important than a good night’s rest. When you don’t sleep well, your body and brain can’t perform at their optimal level. If you’re an athlete who depends on your body, you can’t risk waking up stiff, sore, or unrested.
- Affordable price tag
- Luxury three-layer construction
- Combines cooling and comfort
- Supportive for all body types
- Luxury Hybrid Design
- Sleeps cooler than memory foam
Unfortunately, if you’re sleeping on the wrong mattress, this could be a daily occurrence.
Many people don’t realize just how important it is to choose the right mattress. Picking a mattress is about more than just comfort – it’s about finding a mattress that supports your body and your spine throughout the night. Proper spine alignment is the key to relieving pressure which reduces joint pain and helps your body rest and recover while you sleep.
Not all mattresses are created equal and some are actually designed with professional athletes in mind. They are made to relieve pressure without compromising on support, specially engineered to help alleviate muscle aches and joint pain.
Before you start shopping for a new mattress, you should have some idea what to look for. We’ll cover the basics about essential mattress features for athletes and provide some tips for choosing the right mattress. You’ll also see our top picks for the best mattress for athletes.
What is Sleep Important for Athletes?
It’s no secret that a good night’s sleep boosts your cognitive performance. We’ve all had those days at work after a poor night of sleep when we just can’t seem to focus or get anything done.
Athletes put their bodies through more stress and strain than the average person. Not only do they need more calories to provide for their energy needs, but studies suggest they need more sleep as well. Most people need 7 to 9 hours of sleep, but athletes may need more. In the middle of training, athletes may require an additional hour of sleep on top of their daily needs.
But how does sleep actually affect athletic performance? It has to do with REM sleep.
Rapid Eye Movement or REM sleep is the period of sleep during which your eyes move quickly under your eyelids. REM sleep first happens within 90 minutes after you fall asleep and occurs throughout the night as part of the sleep cycle. Adults spend about 20% to 25% of the night in REM sleep. This is when dreams occur, and it is also the type of sleep thought to play a role in learning, mood, and memory.
Your brain consolidates memories while you sleep, but it is also when it releases key hormones that regulate essential bodily functions. Sleep deprivation has been linked to increased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. This may lead to decreased production of glycogen, stored energy that athletes often rely on during extended periods of exercise.
Without a good night’s sleep, athletes are at risk for low energy, fatigue, and poor concentration. It can even slow your post-game or post-workout recovery.
Now that you know why sleep is so important for athletes, you may be wondering how you can improve your sleep. There are plenty of simple ways to boost sleep quality by improving your sleep hygiene, but none of it will do you any good if you’re sleeping on the wrong mattress. Read on to learn what you should be looking for when shopping for a new mattress for athletes.
Tips for Choosing a New Mattress
Shopping for a new mattress can be tricky because there are so many options to choose from. You would think choosing a firmness level or type of mattress would help, but even then you have a lot of different options. If you’re an athlete, however, there are specific factors to consider that will help you find the best fit a little more quickly.
Here are some general things to think about when shopping for a new mattress:
- Thickness – Most mattresses are 10 to 12 inches thick, though you can also find low-profile and high-profile options. It’s largely a matter of preference, but the thickness of the mattress affects the level of support as well. The heavier you are, the thicker your mattress should be.
- Firmness – Choosing the right firmness level depends largely on your sleeping style and bodyweight. Medium-firm mattresses are generally recommended for most sleepers but if you are very lightweight, you may prefer a much softer mattress than a heavier person. The firmer the mattress is, the less it contours to the body – keep this in mind if you sleep on your side.
- Materials – Mattresses can be made from a wide variety of materials but the most common are foam, latex, and springs. Modern foam and latex mattresses are usually constructed in layers and offer contouring benefits for pressure relief. Spring mattresses tend to be a little more supportive. Hybrid mattresses combine two or more materials as well as their benefits.
- Support – A supportive mattress keeps your body on an even plane with minimal sagging – this is the key to keeping your spine in proper alignment. Any mattress you choose should have a sturdy and supportive base to prevent sagging and excessive sinkage.
- Pressure Relief – Though support is important, the mattress should sink a little bit under your body to prevent pressure points. The type of mattress material and its firmness affect the degree of pressure relief. Memory foam tends to be the most pressure-relieving option.
In the end, it comes down to finding the right mattress that works for you. The “perfect” mattress for one athlete might not be the right choice for another. It all depends on your body type, your sleeping style, and your personal preferences. We encourage you to spend some time thinking about what you want in a mattress, taking into consideration the factors listed above.
Once you have a better idea what you want, you’ll be ready to start looking at the options and that’s where we come in – we have 11 recommendations for you!
The Best Mattress for Athletes
If you don’t feel rested when you get out of bed in the morning, it’s probably your mattress. Your mattress affects your quality of sleep and how well your muscles rest and recover overnight. As an athlete, you can’t afford to feel anything but your best and a new mattress might be just what you need to start sleeping better, feeling better, and performing better.
We’ve done our best to provide you with a wide range of options for mattresses of different types to help you narrow down your pick. Here are our top choices for the best mattress for athletes:
Best Overall: Getting a good night’s sleep is important for everyone, but especially when you put your body through the wringer during the day. As an athlete, you want to know that your body is going to be able to properly rest and recover at night, which is just what Bear ensures. The Bear Hybrid is our top pick for the best mattress for athletes because it delivers the perfect combination of luxury comfort and cooling technology that leaves you feeling rested in the morning without stiffness or soreness.
The Bear Hybrid mattress features a six-layer construction starting with a base layer of high-density support foam. Next comes the Quantum Edge Coil System which delivers superior edge support and optimal spine alignment. The next three layers consist of premium memory foam that adapts to different body types and sleep positions while wicking away body heat, so you sleep cool each and every night. It’s all topped off with a hand-quilted fiber top and comes with a 100-night risk-free trial.
- Pros: Combines cooling and comfort, supportive for all body types, relieves sore muscles
- Cons: May not be firm enough for heavy sleepers or stomach sleepers
Best Budget-Friendly: You shouldn’t have to pay a fortune to get a good night’s sleep and Layla agrees. The Layla memory foam mattress is our top pick for budget-friendly mattresses for athletes because it offers excellent value and all the features you need. This mattress is unique in that it is double-sided – you simply flip it over to choose from a soft, plush feel or a firmer level of support. You’ll also enjoy a full 120 nights to test the mattress and if you don’t love it you can return it for a full refund.
The Layla memory foam mattress is “beautiful on the outside, special on the inside.” It is constructed with a support core foam layer in the middle to ensure maximum longevity for the mattress with minimal bounce. There’s also a layer of Max Airflow support foam with deep channeling that helps keep you cool as you sleep. On either side you’ll find a layer of cooling copper-gel memory foam that wicks away body heat and supports deep compression areas for a restful sleep. No matter which side you choose to sleep on, it will be the most comfortable night’s sleep you’ve had in ages.
- Pros: Flippable two-sided design, copper-infused memory foam for cooling, comfort and support
- Cons: Slow response foam may make it tough to change positions
Best Luxury: Sleep is important, so if you’re willing to make a significant investment then you deserve the best of the best. Our top pick for the best luxury mattress for athletes is the Spartan hybrid from Brooklyn Bedding. This mattress is uniquely designed with athletes in mind to deliver “active recovery while you sleep with Far Infrared Rays (FIR) technology.” The combination of FIR technology and cooling materials helps you sleep deeply so your body resets and rejuvenates quickly.
The Spartan hybrid from Brooklyn Bedding features a luxury hybrid design that combines the support of individually encased Ascension X coils with the pressure relief of premium memory foams. The mattress is built on a high-density foam base with three layers of premium foam over the coils. Swirl visco-elastic memory foam delivers advanced contouring and deep compression support while a layer of hyper-elastic TitanFlex foam adjusts to the body for cloud-like comfort. The top layer of CopperFlex foam offers targeted pressure relief for a total package that gives you the best sleep you’ve ever had.
- Pros: Luxury hybrid design, Far Infrared Rays (FIR) technology, advanced contouring and pressure relief
- Cons: Fairly expensive compared to other models, may not be best for stomach sleepers
Best Memory Foam: If you’re looking for a mattress that helps you wake up feeling rested and refreshed after a hard workout, we recommend memory foam. Memory foam conforms to the contours of your body to relieve pressure, giving you the support you need without making you feel stiff and sore. The Zoma mattress is our top pick for memory foam and it comes at a great price under $1,000. You can also choose the Zoma hybrid which combines premium memory foam with coils.
The Zoma mattress is designed to perform. Made with athletes in mind, this three-layer mattress is backed by years of research, design, and testing. It starts with a durable layer of support foam with a responsive layer of Reactiv foam over top. Next comes the cooling comfort of three-zone Triangulex gel memory foam topped with a cover made from ventilated AirCloth performance fabric. This mattress is just what you need to feel cool, comfortable, and supported for a restful night’s sleep. Plus, it ships free and comes with a 10-year warranty and a 100-night risk-free trial.
- Pros: Designed with athletes in mind, three-layer foam construction, cooling materials
- Cons: Could be stronger in edge support, some users feel stuck in the mattress
Best Innerspring: Comfort is everything, especially if you’re an athlete looking to get a good night’s sleep. If you’re used to sleeping on an innerspring mattress, you may be looking for something that feels familiar. We recommend a modern innerspring like the Saatva Classic. This mattress is uniquely designed with a coil-on-coil system and delivers the optimal combination of support and pressure relief you need to wake up feeling refreshed. Best of all, it comes with free white glove delivery and setup.
The Saatva Classic is an innerspring mattress designed with a coil-on-coil construction. It all starts with a base layer of durable steel coils triple tempered and oven-baked for maximum strength. These coils are surrounded by the Dual Perimeter edge support system and topped with a second layer of over 800 individually wrapped coils. This mattress also incorporates Spinal Zone Technology to deliver lumbar support where you need it most and is topped with a Euro pillow top and a luxury cover.
- Pros: Three firmness levels to choose from, luxury hybrid construction, breathable and supportive
- Cons: Hybrid mattresses tend to be fairly heavy, less contouring/hugging than foam mattresses
Best Hybrid: When you can’t decide on a specific type of mattress, you may want to consider a hybrid. Hybrid mattresses combine the benefits of two or more materials to give you a custom sleep experience. We recommend hybrid mattresses for athletes because you can customize your mattress according to your needs. One we think you should consider is the Casper Wave hybrid. This mattress features three layers of perforated foam with continuous ergonomic zones and gel pods to relieve aches and pains.
The Casper Wave hybrid combines the comfort of foam with the support of springs. This mattress helps you wake up feeling cool and refreshed so you can get back on the field feeling your best. The Casper Wave starts with a layer of resilient springs that give you added lift and support, not to mention a firm border for edge support. Next comes the Zoned Support Max layer which features continuous support zones utilizing gel pods under the waist and lower back to help keep your spine perfectly aligned. Top layers of Airscape foam keep you cool and comfortable while a luxury cover made from recycled materials holds it all together.
- Pros: Continuous ergonomic support, 3 layers of perforated breathable foam, relieves aches and pains
- Cons: Significantly more expensive than many models, may be too soft for some sleepers
Best Cooling: It’s difficult to get a good night’s sleep when you’re tossing and turning trying to get comfortable. Many people struggle to stay cool at night and the wrong mattress makes matters worse. If you’re looking for a cooling mattress, we recommend the Molecule 2. This mattress is air-engineered for comfort with advanced temperature regulation to deliver the best recovery-focused sleep of your life.
The Molecule 2 mattress is optimized for recovery and sleep, made with a geometric zoned reflex layer for targeted and adaptive support. The RecoveryFlo 5-zone dynamic response layer is precision-contoured to adjust as needed for different parts of the body, so you get the support you need where you need it. You’ll also enjoy an advanced cover that combines heat- and moisture-wicking technologies for an added degree of comfort. The Molecule 2 mattress features Microban AEGIS Microbe Shield technology to inhibit the growth of microbes, keeping you safe as well as cool. The mattress ships free and comes with a 100-night risk-free trial.
- Pros: Precision contouring for advanced relief, heat- and moisture-wicking technology, premium cover
- Cons: May not have enough bounce for some sleepers
Best Organic: Your body is your most powerful asset, so you want to treat it right. As an athlete, the mattress you choose matters because it determines how well your body heals and rejuvenates overnight. If you’re looking for a mattress made from premium-quality, natural materials we recommend Avocado. The Avocado Mattress is an all-natural mattress made with GOLS organic certified latex, GOTS organic certified wool, GOTS organic certified cotton, and over 1,400 pocketed support coils.
The Avocado Green mattress is made with the best of the best when it comes to materials so you can sleep well while doing good for the planet. This mattress delivers affordable organic luxury with a hand-tufted top. Choose from the standard models or go for the optional pillow-top, depending on your level of comfort. The pillow top is particularly recommended for athletes and others who need a higher degree of pressure relief. You’ll enjoy free shipping and a 1-year trial with a 25-year warranty.
- Pros: Available with optional pillow-top, balanced level of firmness, made with organic materials
- Cons: Could be stronger with motion isolation, may be too firm for petite or side sleepers
Best Innovative: As an athlete, you’re used to pushing your body to the max. If you want a mattress that is uniquely designed for performance, consider Purple. The Purple mattress features the innovative Purple Grid that eliminates pressure points and enables optimal airflow to keep you cool and comfortable all night long. It ships free and comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
The Purple mattress cradles your body perfectly, no matter your sleeping position, to support optimal spine alignment so you wake up feeling refreshed. The Purple Grid adapts to your sleeping position and features open air channels made from temperature-neutral materials that sleep cool. This mattress features motion isolating technology and is wrapped in a SoftFlex cover for an added degree of comfort and luxury. This is like no mattress you’ve ever seen.
- Pros: Innovative Purple Grid, temperature neutral materials, adapts to body type and position
- Cons: Edge support could be stronger, may not be firm enough for heavy sleepers
Best Adjustable: As an athlete, you’re always changing your workouts to improve your performance. This means your body feels different when you hit the bed at night, so you need a mattress that adjusts to your needs. The Luxi 3-in-1 is an adjustable mattress that features a premium foam construction with shape-matching technology so you can customize it to your specific preferences. Change the firmness at any time, on either side of the bed.
The Luxi 3-in-1 mattress is made from premium memory foam with an internal grid column layer to support breathability without compromising on pressure relief. This mattress features built-in-edge support and offers low motion transfer, making it a great choice for people who sleep with a partner. You can adjust the mattress to soft, medium, or firm and either side can be adjusted independently. Plus, it ships free and comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 1,000 night sleep pledge.
- Pros: Adjustable levels of firmness, memory foam construction, breathable for comfort and coolness
- Cons: Warranty is somewhat limited, may not be bouncy enough for some sleepers
Best Smart Bed: If you want the best of the best, we recommend the Eight Sleep Pod. More than just a mattress, this is a smart bed that delivers the best night of sleep of your life, guaranteed. You’ll sleep deeper and wake up more refreshed than ever thanks to advanced technology and premium materials. The Eight Sleep Pod features 5 layers of premium foam for comfort, rated at a medium level of firmness to deliver the perfect combination of support and pressure relief.
What really makes the Eight Sleep Pod work is the Active Grid cover made with Comfort Blend. Water flows from the Hub into this thin contouring layer to keep you cool and comfortable. It also includes sensors that track your biometrics, adjusting the temperature as needed and keeping track of your sleep. This Smart Bed is completely customizable and you can automate it as well. Plus, with Gentle Rise technology, you’ll wake up naturally and gradually so you don’t disrupt your partner.
- Pros: Cooling technology, 5 layers of premium foam, Active Grid cover with Comfort Blend
- Cons: Significantly more expensive than some models, may not have enough bounce for some
There is no guaranteed “best” mattress for athletes because everyone is unique. The key is to find a mattress you feel is comfortable that supports your body and relieves pressure where needed.
We’ve done our best to give you the information you need to know why sleep is so important for athletes and how choosing the right mattress can help you get a better night’s sleep.
We encourage you to do some of your own research to start figuring out what kind of mattress is the best choice for you. After all, there are hundreds of options out there! If you’re not sure where to start your search, consider some of the options we’ve recommended and reviewed above.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What type of bed is best for athletes? – The best bed for athletes is one that provides support for proper spine alignment but adjusts to the body as needed. A bed too firm can create pressure points, particularly for side sleepers, which may cause you to wake up feeling stiff or sore. Many athletes like memory foam and latex mattresses because they offer optimal pressure relief. If you’re a heavier individual, however, you may need something a little more supportive like an innerspring or hybrid mattress.
- How thick should a mattress for athletes be? – Most sleepers prefer a medium-profile mattress between 10 and 12 inches thick. Anything thinner may not provide the support you need, though it could be a good choice for adolescent athletes and very lightweight sleepers. As a general rule, the heavier you are the thicker your mattress should be. Mattress thickness isn’t always an indicator of support, but thicker mattresses do tend to be sturdier and more supportive than thinner mattresses.
- Do I need to buy a mattress specifically designed for athletes? – Not necessarily. Though some mattress brands like Bear are designed with athletes in mind, any mattress will work as long as it provides the support and pressure relief you need. Think about the features you want in a mattress then narrow down your options using those features.
- What firmness level is best for athletes? – Generally speaking, a medium to medium-firm mattress (5 to 7 on a 10-point scale) is recommended for most sleepers. A mattress too soft won’t provide the support you need while a mattress too firm can create pressure points. It’s partially a matter of preference which firmness level you select, but your bodyweight and sleeping style should factor into your decision as well.
- What is the best pillow for athletes? – Not only do you need to think about the type of mattress you choose as an athlete but consider your pillow as well. The wrong pillow won’t support your head and neck which can lead to aches and pains caused by poor spine alignment. The best pillow cushions your head and is soft enough to fill the gaps between your head and shoulders. When choosing between low-loft, medium-loft, and high-loft pillows, consider the firmness of your mattress to determine how much padding you need to keep your neck and spine in alignment while you sleep.