How to Choose a Mattress Based on Your Body Weight

Understanding how to choose a mattress based on your body weight and shape can help you to sleep peacefully and wake up without aches and pains

By Nicole Gleichmann

Have you ever tried out one of your friend’s mattresses, thought it was firm, but they swear that it’s soft? This difference in opinion could be due not only to your preference in comfort, but also in your body type. How much you weigh and how curvy your body is has a huge effect on how a mattress feels to you. It also influences what you should look for in a mattress.

Body weight is one of the most important factors to consider when you’re choosing a mattress. The same bed will feel different to one person who is 120 lbs and 5 feet tall than to someone 250 lbs and 6 feet tall. Furthermore, the position your body is in while you sleep will play a role in determining your ideal mattress.

By the end of this article, you will understand how your body type and sleep habits influence what mattress is best for you.

What Are the Different Types of Mattresses?

Before we jump into which type of mattress is best for people of different shapes and sizes, let’s go over the most common mattress types.

Innerspring/Coils

Innerspring mattresses are the type of mattress that most of us grew up using. They are comprised of one or more layers of coils. More coils typically offer higher quality and better comfort. These mattresses sleep cool and provide good support.

Memory Foam

Memory foam mattresses are known for their comfort, support, and pressure relief. They conform to all shapes and sizes and absorb movement, making them one of the top mattress choices for couples. Be careful when selecting a memory foam mattress as some can sleep hot, while others have advanced layers to help keep you cool.

Latex

Latex mattresses are another type of foam mattress; however, you will find that they have a bit more bounce and a bit less countering than memory foam mattresses. This makes them comfortable and responsive without being too warm or hard to move around on.

Pillow Top

Pillow-top mattresses are those that have a soft, plush side at the top of the mattress. Although they are most common on traditional innerspring mattresses, pillow tops can be incorporated into both innerspring and foam mattresses. They add a bit of contouring and softness to a mattress.

Hybrid

As the name implies, a hybrid mattress is a combination of two or more of the above mattress types. You can find mattresses with a bottom coil layer and a top foam layer made from either memory foam or latex. You can even find latex/memory foam hybrids. By combining different layers, mattress companies design hybrids for specific purposes such as offering ample support while allowing for body contouring on the top layer.

Air Hybrids

You’ve probably heard of Sleep Number mattresses. These mattresses are adjustable, allowing two people who share one bed to each choose their ideal level of support. The way that these mattresses work is through allowing an adjustable quantity of air in a chamber on each side of the mattress. The more air, the firmer the mattress. Above the mattress you will find a variety of layers, such as a pillow top or foam layer to add extra comfort and support.

Adjustable

Adjustable mattresses are those that have a base that can change position, such as tilting the top portion of the bed upwards and providing more support for the knees. Foam mattresses are usually used in conjunction with the adjustable base to provide support and variable positioning that can help those who need it.

Considering Body Weight and Shape When Choosing a Mattress

Unless you fall right into the average weight category (150-200 pounds), typical mattress reviews might end up disappointing you. You could try out a mattress that’s supposed to be breathable and keep you cool, but you may still find yourself waking up hot throughout the night, feeling like you’re sinking into a marshmallow. Or you might read that the mattress has some give while providing great support, but you feel as if you’re lying on something stiff with no give whatsoever.

These differences in experience are related to weight and body shape. When you read about mattresses, the information is typically written to the average consumer. If you fall below or above average body weight or you’re extra skinny or curvy, there are some things you should know.

1. Heavier People Are More Prone to Sleeping Hot

Because you are more likely to sink deeper into a mattress, your body temperature can more easily become elevated to uncomfortable levels. If you find that you sleep hot sometimes, keep this in mind when choosing a mattress. You don’t want one that sinks in too much or one made of a material that doesn’t breathe well.

Do: Try firm mattresses as they can keep you from sinking too deep and overheating, or try memory foam mattresses with cooling layers built in.

Don’t: Use memory foam mattresses or soft mattresses that aren’t specifically designed to breathe well.

2. Mattresses Feel Softer When You Weigh More

The more you weigh, the more pressure you will put on the surface level of a mattress when you lie down on it. This means that you will feel less supported on mattresses than someone with an average body weight. Mattresses will tend to feel softer to you, and you will usually need a firmer mattress to provide optimal comfort and support. Without enough support, you sacrifice spinal alignment, causing body pain the following day.

Do: Opt for a firmer mattress with a thick upper support layer. A softer mattress often doesn’t offer the support that you require, and a greater support layer is needed so that you are comfortable when you lie down and sink in.

Don’t: Choose an extra soft mattress or one that has a thin support layer: you aren’t likely to get the comfort and support core that you need.

3. Lighter People Find Mattresses More Firm

Just as a mattress feels softer and less supportive to someone who weighs more than average, someone who weighs less than average can find mattresses extra firm. When you’re lighter, the surface of a mattress won’t sink in as much, which can leave a gap between your lumbar spine and the mattress. Throughout the night, this can become quite uncomfortable for certain pressure points, leading to pain.

Do: Choose a soft to medium mattress as a firm mattress is unlikely to offer the contouring that you need. Foam mattresses can also be a good choice, but you may want to pick one with moderate-density foam.

Don’t: Purchase a firm innerspring mattress, a memory foam, or latex mattress with a dense top layer as your body may not sink in well.

4. Curves Require Cushion

When you lie down on a mattress, your body needs to align in a way that supports every inch: from your head to your toes. If you have big hips, for instance, they will need to sink in further than the rest of your body. Because of this, you will need a thick upper layer to allow for support and comfort.

Do: Try a pillow top on any mattress that you choose as the extra softness can help hug your curves.

Don’t: Sleep directly on an extra firm mattress: they are likely to be parts of your body that won’t be supported due to a gap in different points of contact with the mattress.

5. Straight Body, Less Cushion Needed

If your body is pretty straight from head to toe, you may not need a mattress that contours as much as other people. This often means that simpler mattress options work well for you.

Do: Try out a variety of mattress firmness when it comes to support as you might find soft to firm mattresses comfortable.

Don’t: Pay extra for a thick upper support layer or pillow top unless you enjoy the extra soft feel. You don’t need them as much because, without many curves, you won’t sink in as far.

6. Average Body Weight and Shape

If you find that your body weight and shape are fairly average, your options when it comes to mattresses are a bit more straightforward. The reviews that you read and descriptions that you find are typically written with you in mind.

Do: Think about what you want from a mattress. Do you like soft or firm? Bounce or contour? Use your preferences to decide, but remember that medium firmness is likely to be the best.

Don’t: Pick a bed that is too soft or too firm. Typically, softer beds are better for lighter people and firmer beds better for heavier people. You are likely to do best avoiding extremely soft or firm mattresses.

Don’t Forget Sleep Position

While weight plays a huge part in choosing the best mattress for you, there are other important factors too. One of the biggest is how you sleep. Side sleepers, stomach sleepers, and back sleepers each have unique needs from a mattress.

Side Sleepers

Because the side of your body has more contours (think hips and shoulders), side sleepers need a bit more cushion to remove pressure from these areas. Side sleepers will be better off with soft to firm mattresses that allow contouring. Pillow-top and memory foam mattresses are two good options.

Back Sleepers

Back sleepers need less support than side sleepers thanks to fewer curves found along the backside of the body. They will usually do best with a firm mattress because a soft mattress will not allow proper spinal positioning. Innerspring, latex, and memory foam mattresses, as long as they are medium to firm, are likely to be a good fit. Avoid mattresses that are too soft, like a pillow top, as you may find it leads to lower back or neck pain.

Stomach Sleepers

If you sleep on your stomach, a firm mattress is the way to go. Too soft of a mattress will not give your spine enough support, leading to pain in multiple parts of your body.


Summary

You want to take weight, body shape, and how you sleep into consideration when you’re picking out a mattress. The best thing to do is jot down what categories you fit into, the needs for that category, and then try to find a happy medium. If you’re not sure, you can go into a store to actually try out a mattress for yourself or purchase one with a money-back guarantee so you can send it back if you find that it’s not the right fit.


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