What to Look for in a Mattress if You're 250 Pounds or More
One key to a good night's rest, night after night, is to match your choice of mattress to your sleep preferences and body type. After all, what feels "just right" to one person can easily feel too soft—or rock hard—to another.
That's especially true if you weigh 250 pounds or more. Heavier people often don't get the performance they want from a mattress, because most conventional mattresses aren't made with the needs of high-weight sleepers in mind. Support, durability, and sleeping cool are key considerations, along with plush comfort for cushioning and pressure relief.
"A comfortable, supportive, and relaxing mattress will go a long way toward the goal of better quality sleep," says Terry Cralle, RN, certified clinical sleep educator and Saatva sleep consultant. "With the wide array of mattresses currently available, there is plenty of variety to provide comfort and support for every body type."
Here's what high-weight sleepers should look for in a mattress.
People who weigh over 230 pounds or so will generally sleep better on a firmer mattress than a softer one, says “Sleep Doctor" Michael Breus, PhD, author of Good Night: The Sleep Doctor's 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health. A medium-firm to firm mattress will help keep a heavier person's spine aligned without sagging.
A thicker mattress is often a better option for heavy people, says Keith Cushner, co-founder of the sleep education site Tuck. That's because thicker mattresses are more supportive when compressed. Cushner's general rule is that a mattress should be at least 12 inches thick for proper support.
When it comes to mattress materials, you have a lot to choose from. Most mattresses fall into one of five categories: innerspring, hybrid, memory foam, latex, and adjustable air. Each has its own pros and cons.
Innerspring and hybrid
Innerspring and hybrid mattresses are both made with a support base of steel springs plus layers of padding and fabric. In the case of hybrids, the additional layers may include memory foam, latex, or both. These can be good picks for high-weight people, says Cushner. Innersprings provide a solid base of support, and the open-coil construction allows for maximum airflow. Comfort layers of foam and/or latex provide contouring pressure relief and also help with motion transfer, so a person moving on one side of the bed doesn't jostle a sleeping partner, making it the perfect mattress for heavier couples.
Our Best Mattress for People Weighing 300 Pounds or More
Latex is another good option if you're a larger person. Because of its natural resilience and durability, latex provides an "uplifting" feeling similar to that of an innerspring mattress, with the contouring quality of foam. While latex does not sleep as cool as innerspring or hybrid mattresses, the material's open-cell structure keeps it relatively temperature neutral.
Memory foam should not be your first choice if you're looking for the best mattress for heavy people, says Cushner. That's because this material's signature characteristic—its ability to compress and mold easily to your shape—can make a person feel "stuck" in the mattress. The main complaint heavier sleepers have about memory foam? That it's too soft and tends to sag, says Cushner. Memory foam also sleeps hotter than other materials, Breus notes, so anyone who gets too warm at night may want to steer clear. "If you like the body-hugging feel of memory foam, consider latex instead," says Cralle. "It's buoyant and breathable." (Here's why some mattresses sleep hot and what to do about it.)
Adjustable air mattresses have air chambers that can be filled and emptied to increase or reduce the level of firmness on each side of the bed. These customizable beds can also be great options, says Cushner, especially for couples of different sizes or sleep preferences.
Our Best Adjustable Air Bed for Your Body Type
Something you may never have thought about is how supportive the edges of your mattress are. But edge support can make a big difference when it comes to comfort, performance, and ease of movement. Memory foam mattresses, for example, will compress on the edges, while innerspring and hybrid mattresses typically have stronger edge support. "A firmer, more supportive edge makes it easier to get in and out of bed or sit on the mattress to do things like put on socks and shoes," Cralle says.
Nearly all mattresses these days have some foam layers (even many adjustable air mattresses). The density of the foam can make a big difference in mattress durability, says Cushner. Foam density is typically expressed in pounds per cubic foot, so look for a mattress with higher density foam (5-lb. or greater) for the longest-lasting comfort.
Once you've chosen a good mattress, you'll need to make sure you put it on the right surface, or else it won't hold up as long or provide the support that it should. If you plan to keep your old box spring (a.k.a. foundation), make sure it's in tiptop shape and that it has adequate center support for a queen size mattress or larger. Most manufacturers sell foundations that are specially designed to go along with their beds; in some cases, the warranty even requires that you use the matching foundation. If ease of getting in and out of bed is an issue, you usually have the option of pairing a thicker mattress with a lower foundation, for the most comfortable height setup.
For more advice on choosing the right mattress, here's how to pick a mattress based on your sleep position.