Heavy weight person and mattress selection. What to consider when shopping for a mattress for big people?

So, how do you choose a  good mattress for a heavy person? Is it necessary to take body weight and shape into consideration when choosing a mattress? Absolutely yes! Body weight plays an important role when making a decision of which mattress to buy.

Body Weight and Mattress Selection

We are all unique, our bodies have different shapes and weight, and all of us require a good night’s sleep. To achieve that good night’s sleep, you need to get the right mattress. My recommendations will follow, but first allow me to break down the factors of this topic. It is important to eliminate any misunderstanding and help you to make the right choice:

  • First, let me certify that I am speaking strictly of poundage. I am not referring to people who are overweight or underweight. I’m neither comparing men to women, nor young to old. I am simply talking in terms of weight. For example, a 12-year old boy and a 73-year old woman may each weigh 100 lbs.  A 21-year old basketball player and 60-year old bodybuilder may each weigh 230 lbs. A mattress cannot tell the difference; it doesn’t judge or discriminate. It is the sheer weight and shape of your body that it is meant to support.
  • Second, I believe, that there is a misunderstanding of the term FIRM MATTRESS and MATTRESS FIRMNESS, and I will explain the difference. Many people think that a firmer mattress gives more body support and is better for your back. It is common mistake, because our perception of the word FIRM is STRONG.  In mattress lingo it means something different. Think about a teddy bear and a football – one is soft, the other is firm. So, it is about the FEEL. When you lie down or even when you just touch the mattress you can tell if it is firm or soft. The definition of MATTRESS FIRMNESS or SOFTNESS is your emotional and physical feeling of  Comfort, which is completely personal. Comfort is in the top layers of the mattress.
  • Third, it is very easy to make a mistake if you dismiss the most important element of the mattress – SUPPORT. You cannot see it – it is the engine, covered by layers of foam – but it is there, like the foundation of a house, responsible for keeping your body and spine in perfect alignment. This support portion – the mattress engine – determines the Mattress Type: coil, memory foam, hybrid, air.
  • Forth,  there is one more element that comes into play when choosing the best mattress, and that is TEMPERATURE REGULATION. You want to be sure that a new mattress won’t contribute to having you sleep too warm. The Temperature Regulation feature is responsible for keeping your body at ideal sleeping temperature throughout the night. It includes the following: Breathable Design, which enhances airflow from the inside out, and Cooling Technology, such as moisture wicking technology and phase changing material (PCM), which reacts to the body temperature and dissipates heat.
As a result, the following recommendations are not for a specific brand. My goal is to teach you how to find a good mattress, taking body weight into consideration. Therefore, these apply to any brand or mattress type based on the dominant needs of each human body when in a horizontal position – COMFORT, SUPPORT and TEMPERATURE REGULATION.

Heavy person (about 200 lbs. +) and a Mattress. 

The main emphasis on the mattress SUPPORT.

The right mattress should bear all of your body weight while simultaneously supporting the correct posture in any Sleeping Position. There should be no “dipping” of the heaviest part of the body.

  • COMFORT

Medium Firm, Luxury or Cushion Firm, and a Firm mattress – these are the best choices for a heavy set person. In my experience, heavier people tend to like firmer mattresses, with firmer top layers, so they don’t sink down into the mattress too much.

  • SUPPORT

A heavier person needs more support; that is, a stronger core. This extra support requires more durable, higher quality components, as well as additional material. Hence, a higher price. Because of these requirements, I eliminate one mattress type that should never be offered to a heavyset person – a Continuous Coil or Bonnell Coil mattress. Although it is possible that this type of mattress may feel comfortable and supportive upon first laying on it (and the lower price may be tempting), I guarantee, that after a short period of time it will fail, resulting in a “hammock” effect. The mattress will sag where you are the heaviest. It will lose it ability to support and align and will be useless to you, thus being a bad investment.

Best mattress types for heavy people are:

        Pocketed coil or individually wrapped coil mattress. Some manufactures increase the quantity of the coils or enhance the type of coils, in the center third of the mattress, thus increasing the density. This provides the extra support needed in that  heaviest part of your body.

        Memory foam mattress. Its main feature is to distribute weight over the mattress surface evenly, conforming to the body shape and keeping it aligned.

        Hybrid mattress. This is the combination of coils and memory foam.

  • EDGE SUPPORT

It is an enhanced support at the perimeter of the mattress that is denser than the overall mattress. This enables you to use the entire mattress, up to and including the edge, without the feeling that you are sliding off.

  • TEMPERATURE REGULATION  feature is strongly recommended.

The more body there is, the more heat there is. A heavier person generates more heat than their lighter counterpart. This heat gets trapped between the body and the mattress. Even if you have nailed it on the support and comfort, without proper heat control, your mattress can be a nightmare. Ask for breathable design and cooling technology, which reacts to the body temperature and provides you with comfortable temperature throughout the night.

Common Mistake – getting a mattress (soft or firm) without enough support. This will result in body and spine misalignment. The heaviest part of the body – torso and hip area – will sink down into the mattress more than other parts of the body in any sleeping position, which may cause lower back pain.

Mattress for a Couple with a Big Weight Difference. Which mattress is good, when one partner is heavyweight and the other is lightweight?

Is it possible to find the best mattress for a couple with a big difference in weight which will work for both? Yes, it is possible. It is a combination Comfort and Support: adequate support from within and softer top layers for comfort.

  • COMFORT

Luxury Firm or Cushion Firm mattress – this is the best compromise.

  • SUPPORT

It is best to have the heavier partner’s requirements be the priority. So, follow the recommendations for a heavy person.  Consider the illustration at the top with 2 kettlebells. The heavier one sinks further than the lighter, yet it is supported by the mattress conforming to its shape.

Individually wrapped or pocketed coil, memory foam and hybrid are the best choices. Avoid continuous coil and Bonnel mattress.

  • MOTION SEPARATION

Equally as important to consider is Motion Separation. That is, when one partner moves the other doesn’t feel the movement and sleep is not interrupted. The best mattress type for eliminating transfer of motion is memory foam. If you don’t like the “sinking in” feeling of a memory foam, consider a hybrid or a pocketed coil mattress that has memory foam.

  • EDGE SUPPORT.

Good edge support allows you to sleep closer to the mattress edge without feeling like you are sliding off. It also increases sleeping space for both partners.

  • TEMPERATURE REGULATION is strongly recommended.

Ask for breathable design, which allows air to circulate in and out of the mattress. Otherwise, it is trapped between your body and the mattress. Ask for cooling technology, such as moisture wicking or phase changing material. These react to body temperature as it peaks and falls, and keep you constantly comfortable throughout the night.

I hope all the explanations and the recommendations, which were given in this article, will help you to find the right mattress for yourself or for your loved ones or for a guest room. But still the best way figure out which mattress is right is to “test drive” it. There are additional resources and tools on my website which will help you to make the right choice: MATTRESS QUIZ, MATTRESS SELECTION TECHNIQUE.