Any athlete will be able to tell you that one of the most important parts of any training routine is recovery. You need to let your body heal quickly and efficiently after intense physical activity to lower the chance of injury and allow you to get back to the next training session of your chosen sport of choice quickly.

One of the most important parts of recovery after physical activity is a good night’s sleep. It’s the cornerstone of any athletic workout, and if you’re not getting enough quality rest throughout the night, you’re going to be performing sub-optimally.

With that in mind, today we’re going to be looking at mattresses for athletes that are designed to help promote recovery while being supremely comfortable at the same time.

Let’s get started.

What Makes A Mattress Suitable For Athletes?

Before we get into the product recommendation section of this article, it’s a good idea for us to take a look at the qualities that a good mattress for muscle recovery should have.

Spinal Alignment

The stresses that are put on the bones and joints of athletes are much more intense than people who live a less active lifestyle. Your back is obviously the cornerstone of your entire skeletal system, and regardless of what sport you take part in – you need to keep it in tip-top condition.

Side sleeping is the most common sleeping position, and it’s also one of the worst for spinal alignment as there’s a natural curvature when we lie down like this. Try and find mattresses that mitigate this with either zoned support sections or reactive support features.

Motion Isolation

One often overlooked quality a mattress made for athletes needs to have is motion isolation. When you’re sleeping with a partner of a different size, sometimes when they move throughout the night it can make the mattress move – which either wakes you up or brings you out of deep REM sleep (reducing overall sleep quality).

If your sleeping partner is much bigger or smaller than you, this should be one of your top priorities.

Support / Pressure Relief

Ensuring that you’ve got a supportive mattress is important for anyone, but it’s much more important for athletes. After you finally get back into bed after a long day training or competing there’s a good chance you’re going to be feeling the burn slightly. You don’t want this to be made worse by inadequate support from your mattress.

If your mattress supports you properly your muscles and joints won’t have to compensate throughout the night and you won’t have points of high pressure. This lets them relax and recover more efficiently, and you’re going to feel much more refreshed when you wake up. Check out high-density foams for this, they’re better than spring based mattresses in terms of support.

Comfort

It might sound obvious, but ensuring that your mattress is comfortable is one of the most important things athletes need to be taking into account. You can have the best support and optimal spinal alignment, but if you’re not comfortable – you’re not going to be getting a good night’s sleep.

The quality of your sleep is almost as important (or possibly more important) than all the other points in this section. If you’re tossing and turning at night and spending ages trying to find a position you feel comfortable in – you’re seriously hindering your recovery potential.

If you ensure that you feel like you’ve died and gone to heaven every time you lie down on your mattress then you’re already well on your way to recovering quicker and performing better than ever.

How Does A Good Mattress Help With Muscle Recovery?

There’s no special magic feature that you’re going to find in a mattress that is going to make your muscles recover faster. That’s fantasy land.

If it existed we’d all know about it, every gym addict would be talking about it, and we’d all be training harder for longer thanks to this miracle material that heals us just by lying on it while we sleep.

All the healing and recovery that takes place while you sleep is all natural. It’s all you.

A good mattress can help with muscle recovery by increasing the quality of your sleep. There are all these fancy buzzwords and marketing gimmicks that talk about special materials and features – but almost none of them are backed up with studies.

Sleep quality should be your first, second, and third priority.

Want some proof?

In 2013 a study was conducted on baseball players assessing their quality of sleep. 40% of the baseball players who had poor quality sleep were on average still playing 3 seasons later. On the other hand, over 70% of the players who got great sleep were still active and playing after the same amount of time.

In 2007 swimmers took part in a study that looked at how much more time in bed would affect their performance. Over around 7 weeks the participants slept for around 10 hours per day. There was a noticeable improvement in their stroke rates and quicker reaction times were observed in most of the participants.

So don’t go looking for a magic mattress.

Instead find one that’s going to give you the best night’s sleep possible while supporting you, reducing pressure points, and promoting proper spinal alignment.

That’s the secret.

5 Tips for Athletes to get a Better Nights Sleep

  1. No Blue Light – Blue light doesn’t exist in nature after dark. A sleep hormone called melatonin is produced in much lower quantities when we are exposed to blue light (as it simulates daylight).  Avoid screens an hour or so before bed, and get a filter like flux to create yellow light on the screens you can’t avoid.
  2. Take Melatonin Supplements – Cutting blue light will increase your natural melatonin production, but melatonin supplements can also improve your sleep quality and help you fall asleep faster.
  3. Get Comfortable – Sleep quality is the name of the game when it comes to recovery. Ensuring your comfortable from the moment you lie down is one of the best ways to drift off quicker into a deeper sleep than ever before.
  4. Get More Sleep – While getting better sleep is good, getting more sleep is best. There’s no substitute for an extra hour or two of sleep recovery. If you can get to bed earlier (or wake up later) you’re going to notice the difference.
  5. Cut The Caffeine – It should go without saying, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t cut caffeine out of their diet in the evening. Once you’re home from work, stay caffeine free until the morning.

Overall Best Mattress for Athletes

So now we know a little bit about what you should be looking out for in a mattress for athletes, and we also know how to get the best night’s rest possible for optimal recovery.

We’ve searched high and low to try and find what we think are the best products on the market for athletes – and without a doubt, the best choice is the Bear mattress.

Bear’s products have been specifically designed to address the needs of athletes who require high-quality sleep to promote recovery. They’ve got two mattresses on the market at the moment – the standard and the hybrid. Both of these products have some interesting technology and features inside of them, but the most interesting one is undoubtedly Celliant.

Celliant

Celliant is a material that Bear has spent a huge amount of time and money developing to be the perfect material for mattresses used by athletes. It’s got some pretty incredible properties that we’ve never seen in any other mattress.

The most impressive property is the way that it converts your body heat into infrared light. We’d love to be able to sit here and explain to you how Celliant does this, but quite honestly we’ve got no idea.

What we do know however is that studies have shown that infrared light can potentially help with muscle recovery. It helps oxygenate your blood, improve circulation, and assist thermoregulation too.

It sounds like a marketing gimmick, but Celliant has been independently verified and tested in 5 different clinical studies – it actually does create infrared light.

We’re unsure of the quantities of light it creates (Bear don’t say on their site), but it has been FDA approved as a medical device – so the quantities of light have got to be significant.

The other layers in the bear are not quite as advanced as Celliant, but they’re still very interesting.

Cooling Gel Memory Foam

There’s a layer of cooling gel memory foam in the standard Bear mattress that’s particularly interesting. As you probably already know, memory foam has a bit of a bad reputation for overheating throughout the night. Cooling gel memory foam is one of the ways that engineers have come up with to combat this problem.

Cooling gel is a great thermal conductor, which means it wants to spread the heat out instead of keeping it in one place – this reduces hotspots and results in a cooler sensation when you’re lying on the mattress.

Graphite is an excellent thermal conductor, and Bear have added it into the cooling gel to further increase the already impressive properties of the material. It’s a super cool sleeping surface.

Independent Coils

The main difference between the standard bear and the bear hybrid is that the hybrid product has an independently coiled section (and the standard one does not).

People are often confusing independent coils with the old horrible innerspring mattresses of the past – but they’re entirely different things.

Innerspring mattresses are essentially one big spring made up of many coils that are all connected to one another. When you press down on one part of an innerspring mattress, the coils next door to wherever you’re applying pressure will contract too. This creates a general dip in the spring that’s kind of like your body shape (but not really).

As you’ve guessed from the name, the coils in independent coil systems are not attached to one another at all. This means that when you press down on a coil, only that coil will compress and the surrounding coils will remain as they were.

With this feature, the coiled layer can contour to your body much more accurately compared to the general “dip” that’s created with an innerspring product. This results in the layer providing massive amounts of support, which is perfect for athletes.

Verdict

While many other mattresses on the market are good options for athletes, there are very few other products that are specifically designed to cater to the needs of people with an active lifestyle.

The Bear mattress is hands down the best product on the market if you’re looking to get a good night’s sleep and recover from your training and competitions quicker than ever.

Pros And Cons – Bear Mattress

Pros

  • Excellent support
  • Graphite cooling memory foam
  • Celliant cover
  • Infrared light promotes recovery
  • Extremely comfortable

Con

  • Could be a little cheaper

Pros And Cons – Bear Hybrid

Pros

  • Excellent support
  • Cooling gel memory foam
  • Celliant quilted top
  • Infrared light promotes recovery
  • Extremely comfortable
  • Independent coil system

Con

  • More expensive than the standard Bear mattress
  • Doesn’t have the graphite infused cooling gel

Best Value Pick: Nectar

The only problem with the Bear mattress is that it’s a little bit on the pricey side. Considering the technology inside the mattress it’s incredible value for money, but there’s no avoiding the fact it’s a premium product with a premium price tag.

If you’re on a budget but still want to recover from physical activity as quickly and efficiently as possible – then we recommend you check out the Nectar.

Tencel Covering

The covering of this product is made from Tencel. Tencel is an all natural material that has been made from processed wood fibers. It’s incredibly soft and durable, and it’s also great at wicking away sweat from you during the night. It’s super breathable too, which works well with all the other cooling tech inside the product.

Quilted Cooling Gel Memory Foam

This quilted cooling gel memory foam is one of the softest memory foams we’ve ever seen that has a cooling gel infusion. It’s designed to provide a lovely amount of support while giving you a resort style luxury that makes you feel like you’re on vacation in a 5-star hotel every time you lie down.

The cooling gel in this product works exceptionally well to solve the overheating issues that memory foam is known for (that we talked about above in the Bear mattress section).

It’s not got any fancy additions (whereas the Bear has graphite) but regardless – it does an excellent job of cooling.

Gel Memory Foam

This is another layer of cooling gel memory foam, this time it’s a standard foam that’s not quilted – apart from that it’s pretty much the same as the layer above.

Hi Core Memory Foam

This layer provides much of the support of the mattress.

Hi Core memory foam is a reasonably complex version of memory foam that is tough to explain without going into a huge amount of detail. Just know that it’s a highly supportive foam (more supportive than normal memory foam) that contours and relieves pressure points exceptionally well.

Hi Core foam is known to get a little hot throughout the night, but as it is this far down in the product (and is covered by two layers of cooling gel memory foam) it’s not a problem.

High-Density Support Foam

This base layer is the most boring layer of all, it’s designed to create a strong and stable platform for the softer more comfortable and supportive layers above to rest on.

Pros And Cons

Pro

  • Cheaper than the Bear Mattress (and the Bear Hybrid)
  • Sleeps very cool
  • Promotes quick recovery
  • Will give you a great deep sleep
  • Very supportive

Con

  • No graphite in the cooling gel
  • No independent coils
  • No Celliant

Two Other Great Mattresses

To end this article we are going to briefly mention two other products that you should probably check out. They were runners-up in our research that were beaten by the two products above – yet they’re worth a special mention.

PerformaSleep

This is a great product that provides huge amounts of support. It’s a pure foam mattress that is infused with copper in the same way that the Bear is infused with graphite for cooling. It’s got some pretty interesting technology in the materials to promote a healthy night’s sleep and is worthy of your consideration.

Rest

This is more of a machine than a mattress. It contains several air pumps that can be adjusted to be as firm or as soft as you would like them to be. You can perfectly optimize your bed to provide you with support exactly where you need it – it’s expensive, but it’s awesome.

Conclusion

So there you have it, that’s what we think are the best mattresses for weightlifters and athletes on the market right now.

Improving your performance isn’t something that only happens at the gym or on the field, without proper rest you’re not achieving your true potential.

Invest in any of the mattresses we’ve talked about today and we’re certain you’ll see a noticeable improvement in recovery times.

Sweet dreams.

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