The Best Mattress for Athletes

Elite athletes have reported sleeping on sustainable cardboard beds, leading to mixed reviews on comfort and back pain. Sleep is crucial for athletic performance and recovery. The best mattresses for athletes offer spinal alignment, lumbar support, anti-sagging features, cooling properties, and adjustability. Proper sleep surfaces enhance recovery and overall performance.

You may have seen the recent social media posts from elite athletes sleeping on cardboard beds as they get ready for the biggest professional challenge of their careers.

Apparently, the beds these top athletes are currently sleeping on ahead of this summer’s competition are made of sustainable cardboard that will be recycled afterward. The reviews on comfort, however, are pretty mixed. Some athletes say the beds are too hard to sleep soundly on, while others say the beds are even causing them to experience back pain.

We’ve previously reported on how sleep is crucial for athletes—and it turns out the right mattress can go a long way toward supporting performance and recovery.

Whether you’re a professional athlete, daily workout enthusiast, or just a weekend warrior, you want to make sure your muscles get the rest they require at the end of the day. Ahead, where share how to choose the best mattress for athletes.

The importance of finding the best mattress for athletes

You don’t have to be a professional athlete to benefit from the same approach to sleep that the pros take. Still, every athlete (whether you’re a pro or not) knows that the pathway to peak performance is as much about recovery as it is preparation.

Sleep plays a leading role in recovery because it replenishes energy, revitalizes the nervous system, and releases critical hormones that aid in mood and muscle development.

“Simple drills and exercise become impossible without proper amounts of sleep,” Jamal Liggin, a professional trainer of many top football players, previously told Saatva. College coaches have embraced that philosophy too, monitoring players’ sleep and even tucking them in at night.

Much has been made about professional athletes’ unique and regimented sleeping habits. Michael Phelps, to cite just one example, famously slept in an altitude chamber prior to competing in London in 2012 so he could get acclimated for high-altitude competition.

Most of us aren’t going to these (dare we say) heights when it comes to our sleep. But there are simple ways non-professionals can improve athletic performance, starting with the right sleep surface.

The best mattresses for athletes: 5 features to look for in a mattress

A body that’s in pain, or one that can’t get comfortable, isn’t going to get restorative rest. Finding the best mattress type for athletes comes down to a variety of factors.

Here are the top five qualities athletes look for in a mattress:

1. Comfort level

The key to pain-free and regenerative rest is a good mattress that maintains your spine in proper alignment. That means taking your sleeping position into account when choosing a comfort level.

If you’re a side sleeper, then a slightly softer mattress will help take pressure off hips and shoulders and keep numbness or tingling at bay. If you sleep on your stomach, then a firmer mattress will guard against waking up with back pain.

Back sleepers have more flexibility in mattress choices (this is actually the healthiest position for your body), but generally, a slightly firmer mattress is ideal for keeping your spine in a neutral position overnight.

2. Lumbar support

Any sort of pain can seriously throw you off your fitness game, so protecting your back while you sleep is a must for professional and amateur athletes alike.

The best mattresses for athletes come with added lumbar support, in the form of reinforced foams or other zoned support in the center of the mattress, where most of the body’s weight is typically concentrated.

That keeps hips and shoulders from sinking too low and preserves the natural curvature of the spine.

Sleeping on a mattress without adequate lumbar support night after night could cause lower back pain and can even lead to early-onset arthritis.

3. Anti-sagging

The best bed for athletes should have anti-sagging features, so if yours is dipping in, it may be time for an upgrade. Mattresses that sag don’t give your spine the support it needs. This causes fitful sleep, which makes for sub-optimal performance, on and off the field.

If an innerspring mattress is your bed of choice, then look for one that features a solid base of support coils along with foam-encased edge support, as both of these will help prevent sagging.

In a memory foam mattress, the denser the foam, the less likely the mattress is to sag.

4. Cooling features

Working out gets you all hot and sweaty, so pick a mattress that you can be sure will sleep cool. Certain mattress materials (like foam) trap body heat, while others (like coils) are better at promoting air circulation.

A hybrid mattress—one that combines innerspring coils with foam—might be a good option because they’re strategically layered to promote airflow.

Latex mattresses sleep naturally cool, so they’re another safe bet if sleeping hot is an issue that concerns you.

Many memory foam mattresses these days incorporate cooling features, such as gels and heat-dissipating graphite layers. (Learn about the benefits of eco-friendly memory foam.)

5. Adjustability

After a long session at the gym, we bet that all you want to do is stretch out your muscles and relax. Enter adjustable base beds for athletes: Elevating your legs post-workout will help aid in muscle recovery while you sleep, so you don’t have to worry about waking up with annoying aches and pains.

Choose the best mattress for athletes at Saatva

Saatva HD Mattress

This luxury hybrid innerspring mattress is specifically engineered to support people weighing between 300 and 500 pounds. Plush upper layers made of foam and latex deliver comfort, while a high-durability coil base offers support.

Choose the best mattress for athletes at Saatva

Saatva Classic Innerspring Mattress

Our flagship luxury mattress is expertly engineered with coil-on-coil construction for durability, a layer of memory foam for enhanced back support, and a cushiony Euro pillow top for extra comfort.

Choose the best mattress for athletes at Saatva

Solaire Adjustable Firmness Mattress

Featuring precise 50 firmness settings on each side of the bed for personal customization. Natural latex and gel-infused memory foam layers provide luxurious comfort and support.

Choose the best mattress for athletes at Saatva

Zenhaven Latex Mattress

Natural latex responds to every curve for pressure-free support and responsive comfort. Natural latex is supple, resilient, and durable, for the ultimate in elevated sleep. (It’s naturally hypoallergenic too.)

Choose the best mattress for athletes at Saatva

Contour5 Mattress

Luxurious body-hugging feel and pressure relief with 3” of ultra-premium, high-density 5-lb memory foam.

Choose the best mattress for athletes at Saatva

Latex Hybrid Mattress

This hybrid mattress combines the pressure-free support of natural latex with the classic innerspring feel. Handcrafted with pure materials for the ultimate in cool and healthy sleep.

Choose the best mattress for athletes at Saatva

Memory Foam Hybrid Mattress

This memory foam hybrid mattress features the perfect balance of body-contouring and responsive feel. Enjoy the innovative cooling system, which prevents overheating.

Choose the best mattress for athletes at Saatva

Adjustable Base Plus

With weightless, Zero Gravity support, the Saatva Adjustable Base Plus allows you to set your ideal position for sleeping—and living—with one touch of the remote.


What mattress do most athletes use?

Athletes typically use mattresses that feature added lumbar support to help keep their spine in a neutral position while they sleep. As for mattress type, beds that sleep cool (such as innerspring mattresses, latex mattresses, or gel-infused memory foam mattresses) can help athletes stay comfortable overnight.

What type of mattress is best for muscle recovery?

The best type of mattress for muscle recovery is one that maintains your spine in proper alignment while you sleep. Look for a mattress with added lumbar support in the center third, where most of your body weight lies, to help protect your back while you sleep. Elevating your legs in bed with an

adjustable base
saatva adjustable base plus
Saatva Adjustable Base Plus

Our deluxe adjustable base with even more customized comfort options

can also aid in muscle recovery.

Get the best mattress for athletes at Saatva

Saatva offers a wide range of mattresses suitable for athletes, including

hybrid innerspring mattresses
saatva hd mattress
Saatva HD

The first luxury hybrid innerspring for bigger bodies


latex mattresses
zenhaven latex mattress

Our dual-sided organic natural latex mattress for buoyant, pressure-relieving comfort

, and

memory foam mattresses
saatva contour5

The most luxurious memory foam with adaptive cooling & body-hugging support


All of our mattresses come with a 365-night home trial and white glove delivery. Take our mattress quiz to find your perfect match.

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