Serious athletes need a lot of sleep. If they’re losing even an hour due to a poorly constructed mattress, it can make a huge difference in performance.

One thing all athletes can do to get things together at night is finally upgrade from that old hand-me-down mattress to something that really supports their body and natural sleep patterns.

Mattresses can be confusing, so this is a huge chance to mess up (or so you think). We’ve compiled a list of our favorite mattresses for athletes and answered a few questions you might have about how to choose the right one. Let’s take a look.

Why Do I Need A New Mattress?

Sleep is a vital part of the recovery system of the body. When you train, you continually break down and repair muscle, tissue, and bone. Sleep is when the body makes a majority of strides in ridding the body of toxins and repairing itself. Miss out on rest and you miss out on your recovery.

Athletes in training mode might need as many as ten hours of sleep per night although most athletes under normal circumstances still need the more common seven to nine.

Sleep is crucial for reflexes and coordination. It helps the mind stay alert and motivated. During deep sleep, recovery hormones are released allowing the immune system and the nervous system to repair.

What Do I Look For?

You should consider a few things in a mattress specific for athletes.

Contouring and Support

Old mattresses had just a single layer for support and neglected the way the body sleeps naturally. Your body would conform to the mattress, putting a lot of pressure on wide points such as the shoulders while compressing the lower back or torso region. Your spine would bend out of shape, and you’d wake up in pain.

Mattresses now have contouring systems that relieve pressure and keep the spine in alignment. If you’re a side sleeper, your hips and back sink further into the mattress while the contouring layers fill in around your lumbar region and torso. This supports your spine and keeps you in position.

Position Changes

Tossing and turning makes pressure and pain worse and increases the likelihood that you’ll wrench your spine or back muscles. With a correctly contouring mattress, you have plenty of support, but the contouring layers discourage position changes by helping you get comfortable in the first place.

Firmness Level

Most athletes benefit from a medium firm mattress so that there’s some give for pressure points and plenty of support, but it might depend on what position you sleep in usually. Side sleepers can get away with a softer mattress than back sleepers, and stomach sleepers need the firmest style of mattress.

That said, if you’re a particularly lightweight person, you may need a mattress that’s rated softer. This allows your body to sink into the contour layers even if you don’t weight enough to do that on standard firm beds.

If you’re heavier than average, you definitely need a firmer bed and possibly one that’s explicitly made with heavier people in mind. Your body will sink through contouring layers much faster than other sleepers, and you might lose the support of the mattress otherwise.

Temperature Regulation

Athletes can get warm in the night. Some memory foam mattresses and hybrid mattresses trap body heat in the core of the mattress and make you a hot, sweaty mess. Mattresses that help disperse heat are a good choice.

First, open cell foam materials help airflow and breathability, especially in the layers close to your skin. Second, gel infusions or phase change materials actively disperse heat away from your body and return the mattress to the ambient temperature of the room very quickly.

Latex and innersprings are also more breathable than memory foam. Also, cover materials made of organic cotton, or a new type of material, Tencel, are often cooler than other synthetic style materials.

Edge Support And Motion Isolation

Two huge factors in a mattress that’s supportive and tough enough for an athlete’s body are edge support and motion isolation. If the mattress is reinforced through the edges, you can sleep right to the side without losing any kind of support or feeling too much compression.

Compression on the sides can get you out of alignment or cause you to have to reposition frequently throughout the night. Plus, it’s annoying trying to sit on the bed and tie your shoes if you keep sliding off.

Motion transfer can also wake you up in the night if your partner is restless. Every time he or she wakes up in the middle of the night or changes positions, you get jostled awake. A mattress with better motion isolation prevents that movement from spreading all throughout the bed and waking you up.

It also prevents the massive dip under a heavier partner. If you roll towards each other in the middle of the night because the mattress is slanted towards one partner, you need better motion isolation.

Technology

Some modern mattresses take advantage of technology to give you insights into your sleep habits and to adjust circumstances to help you sleep better. If you’re a serious athlete, you may consider something like this to help you with training purposes.

Many of these high-tech mattresses have sensors built into the surface of the mattress, and that information goes to a smart device, so you can make decisions. They can adjust the temperature of the bed as you sleep and connect to other pieces of your smart home.

Sometimes the tech is in the material. Celliant fiber technology shows promise with increasing oxygen flow to your tissues while you sleep. You should see better temperature regulation and more oxygenation of the tissues in your body. Studies are preliminary but promising.

The Best Mattresses For Athletes

We have a few high-tech options on the list, but each one still conforms to our contouring and supporting layers requirements.

Molecule Mattress – Best Overall

Molecule Mattress

Molecule is a mattress company dedicated to athletes and their recovery. It uses technology that encourages recovery during sleep and supports the spine and joints.

The cover materials react to your body heat to disperse it and return the surface to the ambient temperature of the room. It wicks moisture and has an antimicrobial surface. Microban is a certified antimicrobial treatment that improves the life and health of the mattress.

The next layer is an extreme open cell layer that has more airflow than traditional memory foam even when your body compresses it. The next layer is a transitional layer with diamond and hexagon shapes to increase air flow. It also reduces pressure on joints and other compression sites.

The final layer is a dense support foam that still allows air flow but pushes back against your spine to provide support and structural integrity to the mattress. There’s excellent motion isolation, and the bed stays cooler than comparable mattresses on the market.

This targeted support helps you get into position and stay there instead of waking multiple times in the night to change positions. It keeps you cooler as well, so heat won’t wake you up either.

You get the mattress for 101 nights to try out. If you don’t like it, you can return it and receive a full refund. It has a limited lifetime warranty to protect you against defects. Make sure your mattress is adequately supported so that you don’t accidentally void the warranty.

You don’t have the option of white glove delivery, so make sure you have someone there to help you with it if you’re unable to maneuver the new mattress. The upside is you don’t’ have to arrange your entire day around the mattress delivery.

We aren’t 100% sure on the technology of some modern mattresses, and Celliant studies are still preliminary. We like that this is an excellent all-purpose mattress for athletes and recovery without any gimmicks.

Bear Classic – Runner-Up

Bear is also designed for athlete recovery. It uses a new type of high tech fabric with celliant technology. Celliant is relatively new and shows promise in speeding recovery along. It helps to recycle energy from your body to increase the oxygenation of your tissues and speed recovery and restfulness.

The fibers transform the body’s energy into an infrared light that’s supposed to harness your body’s natural energy and healing properties. Although studies are still somewhat early, they do show promise that this can actually be a better sleep.

The next layer in their classic model is graphite infused gel foam that helps disperse heat and return the mattress quickly to room temperature. The next layer is a responsive foam that provides comfort and bounces back to more closely mimic the movement you get from a classic innerspring model.

The bottom layers are transitional support and dense support foams. They provide pressure relief and help the spine decompress while pushing back to make sure that it stays aligned and your body is supported.

Bear also has a hybrid model that uses the same Celliant technology in the cover if you like the feel of innerspring, but personally, we love the almost zero motion transfer for recovering athletes, plus the excellent contouring with the memory foam layers.

You can try out the mattress for 100 nights to see if it’s actually right for you. Sleep on the mattress for a few weeks to allow old pains to disappear and to see if you feel like the Celliant cover is giving you a more restful sleep. If it isn’t, you can return it for a full refund.

The mattress has a limited ten-year warranty to protect you against mattress defects. Make sure the mattress is supported. A poorly supported mattress can void the warranty by causing unnatural sagging and wear and tear.

We aren’t 100% sold on the Celliant technology just yet, but the components of the rest of the mattress certainly check out for us. We think you’ll be pleased.

Yaasa – Best Hybrid

Yaasa is a hybrid mattress designed for cooling. It uses a gel layer that prevents heat from building up in the core of the bed while contouring to your natural curves. The next layer is an adaptive foam that determines the firmness level of your Yaasa mattress. You have two options, firm and soft, but both are very supportive.

We recommend the firm if you’re an athlete because it provides a substantial amount of support. If you’re lighter than average weight, you might want the soft.

Underneath is a layer of pocketed, full-sized coils that reach from edge to edge to minimize side compression and to be as supportive as possible. It’s an excellent option for those who just love the innerspring feel but who need more response than traditional memory foam.

The coils are sandwiched between layers of air so that there’s less motion transfer and better structural support. Although the mattress isn’t made explicitly with athletes in mind, it is a very cool and very supportive mattress with plenty of structural integrity.

You can try it out for 100 nights before deciding if it’s right for you. Sleep on it for a few weeks to allow your body to adjust, and if you still don’t like it then, you can return it for a full refund. You’re covered against defects with a ten-year warranty as long as your bed is adequately supported.

You’ll have to set your mattress up yourself so make sure you’ve got someone around if that isn’t possible.

Airweave Advanced Mattress – Best Ultra Firm

Airweave is a Japanese company that wants to bring the technology of Japanese sleeping to the United States. The Airweave uses an air-fiber core that’s more breathable than traditional memory foam. It compresses well and encourages you to find a comfortable position and stay there instead of tossing and turning.

Airfiber woven core increases breathability and prevents heat from building up in the core of the mattress. You stay cooler more naturally with a mattress that uses recycled materials. You can remove the cover to wash it, and the interior core is rinse-able with water to remove dust and allergens.

It’s very firm, but it distributes weight evenly and reduces compression. You can choose your level of firmness (regular or firm) by removing the cover and flipping the adjustable pad underneath. Over time, you can just replace the parts of your mattress as they wear out rather than investing in a new bed every time.

You have 100 nights to try out the mattress to decide if it’s right for you. It might take some time to get used to this type of modular mattress, but it’s excellent if you want some control over the support or if you’re particularly sensitive to dust and germs. We love that all of it is washable without paying a specialist.

It comes with a ten-year warranty for defects. Make sure your mattress is adequately supported so that you don’t accidentally void the warranty.

Eight – Best High-Tech Option

Eight mattresses use a high-tech option to revolutionize your sleep. They have sensors built right into the surface of the mattress to record vitals and learn about your sleep habits. These sensors send your sleep information to a smart device, adjust the temperature of the bed, and connect to other pieces of your smart home including Nest and IFTTT.

We like the Saturn Plus because it’s a medium firm option, which most athletes will find very supportive. They also have a hybrid option that’s a bit on the softer side, but we think athletes will find the contouring layers soft enough while still providing maximum support.

It’s a simple mattress. There are two inches of contouring foam followed by two inches of transitional foam. The bottom layer is a dense support foam that provides structural integrity and edge support.

You can get the mattress without the tech if you want a budget option, but we wouldn’t do that. The technology can be an excellent tool for an athlete who wants to learn how sleep plays into recovery with a way to track patterns.

You can try the mattress for 100 nights before deciding if it’s right for you. After you sleep on it for a few weeks, just return it for a full refund if you decide it isn’t the one. You’re also covered by a ten-year warranty on the mattress itself and a full year warranty on the tech alone.

It doesn’t have white glove delivery, so make sure you can handle maneuvering the mattress alone or have someone available who can help.

Our Final Thoughts

We love that mattress companies have started considering the unique needs of athletes. We’re really excited about the new type of fiber in Celliant covers and can’t wait to see how the studies end up playing out. There’s a lot of potential in mattress technology for athletes because recovery is so closely linked with sleep quality. Hopefully, as we begin to understand how the body sleeps, we’ll also learn a little more about exercise and the body.

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