Ryan Fiorenzi
July 6, 2021

Mattress Selection for Heavy People

Mattress selection is very important if you’re a big person. Your weight alone is one of the most important factors we rely on in our mattress recommendations at Start Sleeping. Your mattress is responsible for distributing your weight and supporting your body along your entire spine so you can get the best sleep possible and wake up pain-free, something many heavy people are unfortunately unable to achieve.

Sleep is critically important for anyone but even more so for big and heavy people. Being overweight or simply heavy is frequently associated with comfort challenges, breathing issues, poor sleep quality, back and neck pain. Most mattresses are designed for the average person, so if you consider yourself big and tall, obese, overweight, or just above average size, you should carefully consider which mattress you buy. Choosing the right mattress if you are heavy can often make a more significant difference for you than it would if you are average-sized.

As with any mattress choice, your sleeping position, weight, and budget all go into your decision. Durability and cooling are also other factors you’ll want to think about. Fortunately, now there are many mattress options designed to properly support heavy sleepers, which is excellent news for you.


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Sleep and Your Weight

Your weight and your sleep are related. Being overweight or obese has a proven relationship with the amount of sleep you get and the quality of the sleep itself. Obesity has been correlated with shorter sleeping durations in some 50 different published studies worldwide and is a well researched and studied topic.

Sleep apnea, a common but often undiagnosed condition among the obese, plays a key role in reducing sleep duration, quality and can even cause dangerous and sometimes fatal sleeping conditions. If you're overweight, make sure you read up on our guide to sleep apnea.

Ideal Sleep Position

Before we dive into mattress specifics, it’s important to understand what goes into an ideal sleeping position. Whether you’re big or small and regardless of your sleeping position, your goal is to maintain neutral spine alignment. This means your spine is resting in a neutral position where it is free of any twisting, flexing or tension from your muscles. While simple in concept it can be hard to achieve since your pillow, mattress and your body all need to be working together as one. This harmony can be further complicated if you’re heavier. 

Common Challenges For Heavy Sleepers

Lower Back Support -If you tend to carry your weight in your hips or butt, you may have issues with lower back support both for side and back sleeping. Carrying weight in these areas will often elevate your hips, forcing your lower back to bend to compensate. Having your back flexing like this for hours night after night can lead to severe back pain. To address this, consider using a lumbar pillow or night roll to add extra support to your lower back. You may want to experiment with different thicknesses. It also helps to have someone observe your position when laying on your bed because some of these alignment challenges are difficult to address first hand since you can't see the overall position of your body.

  • Twisting Spine - A twisting spine is particularly common for those who carry their weight in their stomach and sleep on their side. The weight from your stomach can laterally pull on your middle and lower back, causing a slight twist in the spine. Placing a wide enough night roll, lumbar or regular pillow can help minimize this effect.
  • Comfort - Carrying extra weight puts a strain on your body as it is. You may find many situations in your daily life where comfort is hard to achieve. Comfort in your bed may be one of the best examples of this challenge.
  • Sleep Duration - Many heavy sleepers have trouble getting enough sleep and according to CDC data, obese people self reports a high rate of frequent insufficient sleep.
  • Sleeping Hot - Obese and heavy sleepers often report trouble sleeping hot, as well as many other sleepers. With extra body mass, it’s even more critical that your mattress, pillow, and bedding work to cool you down at night. Lowering your room temperature can also make a big difference if you’re not looking to replace bedding.

All these factors can work against your overall sleep quality and how well you are able to recuperate at night.

Special Considerations for Heavy People

Heavy sleepers ask a lot of their mattresses. It’s important to find a mattress that is designed for you and not someone else. While there are cheaper mass-market options out there, we encourage you to shop for a mattress that is designed for someone your weight. This is one of the best ways to ensure you get the right amount of support.

  • Weight distribution - One of the most common issues heavy people run into with their mattress is its ability to level and distribute your weight across a wide area. Even if the mattress has the right level of firmness, sometimes your weight can overcome the entire mattress system leading to a lack of support due to the concentration of your weight, usually in your lower torso area.
  • Firmness - Mattress firmness should have a direct relationship with your weight. Generally, the heavier you are, the firmer your mattress should be. You’re looking for a balance, so you need a mattress that pushes back as much as you are pushing down.
  • Durability - Heavy sleepers are tough on their mattresses, and many regular mattresses are only stress tested up to 250 pounds. In addition, many warranties exclude sleepers over certain weight limits. You want a mattress that will not only last but continue to perform over time.
  • Edge Support - Mattresses with good edge support make entering and exiting your bed easier and reduce the lack of support you may feel when near the edge of the bed. Many quality beds are designed with extra firmness near the edge to counter the effect. This is a great feature to look for as a heavy sleeper.
  • Mattress Base - Online mattresses have popularized the platform-style mattress base that essentially eliminates the need for a box spring. Make sure you check the specs of any platform you’re considering using as many are designed to a low price point and not necessarily up to the task of supporting a heavy sleeper, especially two people.
  • Mattress Type - We’ll talk in more detail below, but some mattress types are not suitable for sleepers 250 lbs and above. While some varieties may feel comfortable and supportive, not all mattress types will hold up long term.

Types of Mattresses

Foam - Foam mattresses have risen in popularity as many new brands started selling bed-in-a-box mattresses online about ten years ago. Foam mattresses are generally a great budget-friendly option for average-weight sleepers, especially side sleepers, due to their ability to conform to the shape of your body. Foam mattresses start to lose their luster at and above the 250 lbs mark (a standard ceiling for mattress testing and design). While there are various foam mattress designs, one of the most common issues for heavy people is overcoming and compressing the 1 to 3-inch outer “comfort” layer. This can be very uncomfortable since the middle-density layer found in many foam mattresses is extremely firm. While there are various foam types such as latex, memory foam, and gel, most of them do not perform well for heavy sleepers 250lbs and up.

Traditional Innerspring - The traditional innerspring mattress has been around for the better part of a century, and it’s changed very little. An innerspring mattress usually consists of a network of springs locked in a grid at the top and bottom of the springs. Since they are locked in with one another, they are not the most effective with pressure point relief and simply do not conform to your body which is especially problematic for side sleepers. There are other issues, such as motion transfer and noise. The two pros are durability and heat dissipation. With most of the internals of the mattress consisting of springs and air, there aren’t many materials that trap heat.

Hybrids - While there is a lot of variety in the hybrid mattress category, most of them combine features of foam and innerspring mattress designs. The result is a mattress with the pressure relief and contouring of a memory foam mattress with the firmness and support of an innerspring mattress. In many ways, it’s the best of both worlds, but we still recommend searching for a hybrid that is designed for your weight.

Our recommendation is to find a mattress that is designed, tested, and warrantied to support your weight and sleeping position. Most likely, mattresses that meet these requirements will be hybrid designs versus solid foam or traditional innerspring designs. While some solid foam mattresses can work for heavy people, it’s essential to make sure the warranty covers you four or five years down the road, where years of use often start to take their toll.

Best Mattresses for Heavy People

We’ve invested around 29 hours of research creating this mattress guide geared toward sleepers 250 lbs and up. We've also supplemented our research with an in-depth interview with a chiropractor who regularly helps patients with their sleeping positions and sleep-related back and neck pain. You can learn more about our review process here

Best Value

  • When it comes to value for money, it’s hard to beat the Brooklyn Bedding TitanFlex. When it comes to mattresses that are designed specifically for heavy sleepers it’s hard to find a mattress at this price point. 
  • A hybrid design, our favorite mattress type for heavy sleepers, offers the best of both memory foam and innerspring design and offers durability and firmness heavy sleepers need.
  • With a 10 year warranty without caveats that exclude your weight, you can have peace of mind that this Brooklyn Bedding will stand by its product.
  • Weight Limit: 900 pounds total, or up to 450 pounds per person for you and a partner.
  • Warranty: 10 Years
  • Trial: 120 Nights

    Best Budget

    • While we will be the first to tell you that heavy sleepers typically don’t find long-term success with memory foam products and they should steer clear of mattresses not designed specifically for them, this comes with one exception: the Nectar Mattress.
    • Due to the above-average firmness and best in the business warranty, and above-average advertised weight limit of 650 pounds, even if you end up making a warranty claim or experiencing issues five or even ten years down the road, Nectar has a history of standing by their products.
    • Weight Limit: 650 pounds total or up to 350 pounds per person for you and a partner
    • Warranty: Lifetime coined “Nectar Forever Warranty”
    • Trial: 365 Nights

      Best for Side Sleeping

      • While easily the most expensive mattress on our list, the Saatava HD is a mattress designed for heavy people, and it is particularly great for those of us 300 to 500 pounds.
      • While most mattresses include free shipping these days, Saatava also provides setup of your new mattress and removal of your old one, something that often becomes a headache, especially if you have a large and heavy mattress to remove. 
      • Weight Limit: 100 pounds total or up to 500 pounds per person for you and a partner
      • Warranty: 10 Years
      • Trial: 120 Nights

      Brooklyn Bedding Aurora Firm

      Brooklyn Bedding Aurora Firm - Best Mattresses for Heavy People

      Best for Stomach and Back Sleeping

      • The Aurora from Brooklyn Bedding is a great choice for heavy stomach and back sleepers as it is available in a firm option and includes very high weight limits in its design.
      • Includes cutting-edge and patented materials designed to provide a cooling and supportive sleeping experience.
      • Weight Limit: 900 pounds or up to 450 lbs per person for you and a partner
      • Warranty: 10 Years
      • Trial: 120 Nights
      •  

      Best Cooling (people under 300 lbs)

      • While Purple is another mattress not exclusively designed for heavy sleepers, its unique design offers the best cooling, a common complaint among heavy sleepers. It also properly supports sleepers up to 300 lbs which is higher than the industry average of 250 lbs.
      • With free shipping and returns, Purple offers a truly risk-free trial experience.
      • Weight Limit: 600 lbs total or up to 300 lbs per person for you and a partner
      • Warranty: 10 Years
      • Trial 100 Nights

        Comparison Table

        Mattress

        Type

        Warranty

        Trial

        Total Weight Limit

        Weight Limit 2 People

        TitanFlex

        Hybrid

        10 Years

        120 Nights

        900 lbs

        450 lbs

        Nectar

        Foam

        Lifetime

        365 Nights

        650 lbs

        325 lbs

        Saatava HD

        Hybrid

        20 Years

        120 Nights

        1,000 lbs

        500 lbs

        BB Aurora

        Hybrid

        10 Years

        120 Nights

        900 lbs

        450 lbs

        Purple

        Foam Hybrid

        10 Years

        100 Night

        600 lbs

        300 lbs

        Frequently Asked Questions

        Here are our answers to the most frequently asked questions about mattresses for heavy people.

        While there is a lot of conflicting information out there about the best mattress type, we’ve seen a firm hybrid mattress work the best at supporting sleepers 250 lbs and up. Hybrid mattresses, especially firm ones, seem to do two things well: They contour and support the shape of your body without being overcome by a heavy person’s weight like many all-foam mattresses tend to do. Hybrid mattresses are also typically more durable and will last longer with a heavy person’s use. While this advice is general, you do have to consider the warranty offered. Some mattress companies like Nectar, which makes an all-foam mattress, provide a lifetime warranty and stand by their product, even for the demands of heavy sleepers.

        References