A plus size person in a bed.

Picking A Mattress For Plus Size People

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

This is a guest post submitted to STLBeds. We hope you enjoy it!

I have spent years being rather frustrated about my sleep, and not just at home. When I traveled, I never got a good night’s sleep; when I visited relatives, I never got a good night’s sleep; and at home, in my own “castle,” I never got a good night’s sleep. My solution? Do my own research and find a mattress and a bed that worked for me. It took a while, but for all of my “colleagues” out there, I am going to share what I have found out.

Highly-Rated Mattresses From Consumer Reports Do Not Apply

When consumer research organizations provide reports based upon studies they have conducted, they take an average sampling of people who use a specific product. In the case of mattresses, they tend to use people who are average in size. Their happiness with particular mattresses doesn’t apply to us full grown adults. I have found no studies that use only plus-size mattress consumers. But I did find some isolated studies, and am happy to report that I now know more about mattresses than the “average bear.”

Mattress Thickness Does Matter

 The larger the person, the thicker the mattress should be. Now, mattress thicknesses come in inches, starting at about 6 inches (these are really thin and probably best for young kids & spare bedrooms) and going up to an beyond 12-14 inches or more. I finally bought a mattress that was 12 inches thick, but here is the other thing:

  • Mattress support is in the bottom part of the “mattress”. It may be springs, or high density foam, air, or even latex rubber, but it is in the bottom part of the mattress.
  • We need at least 50% if not more of that mattress thickness to be very high quality support material. This gives a better sleep and it also means that the mattress should last longer. 


We, big people, tend to get hotter faster and more often than smaller people. I have begun to think of my fat as my own personal built-in heating blanket. One issue is that some materials retain heat more than others. Mattresses with high concentrations of foam, especially memory foam have a history of trapping the most heat; but if you buy a mattress with those gel beads, gel swirl, or even gel-infused memory foam, it is claimed that you will have a cooler sleep.

Wrong Answer:

It seems that nearly every review dealing with memory foam has a complaint of heat. Today the claims of the inclusion of “gel” is supposed to deal with those problems, but seems to be nothing more than another marketing gimmick. As a matter of fact Consumer Reports released a test results on the topic in February 2016 issue saying…. “Stop if you get hot” and “Memory foam mattresses with cooling gel inserts didn’t make a big difference”

There is an additional factor. Some of these memory foam beds have added special fabrics to deal with the common problems of heat retention. These are fabrics such as CoolMax® and Outlast® technology proactively manages to reduce heat retention and wick moisture and are widely used in active wear. Since this inclusion is newer I am going to say the jury is still out but shows real promise since it has been used very effectively in workout clothes like Under Armour® (identical technology). As expected, the firmer the mattress the less heat retention, this seems to be because you tend to lay more on the surface as apposed to sinking in where the heat can  be trapped..

Durability- Don’t Be Penny-Wise And Pound-Foolish

 If you want to save money in the long-term, then buy a really high-durability mattress. We plus size people tend to have to replace our mattresses more often than average-sized people. But if you buy the top of the line in durability, you will not have to replace so often. What makes a more durable mattress? This article will give you that specific information.

Mattress Types – There Is A Difference

 I had to do some research on the best mattress types – there are so many – latex, air, spring, foam, and several types of hybrids.

  • Air beds have great reviews by larger people, especially the sleep number beds. But the one caution is to buy one of the thicker models if you want real comfort. While their air chambers seem to perform well, many do complain of the quilted mattress tops compressing and breaking down and getting body indents. Another issue is the foam encasement parameters that make up the mattress sides prematurely breaking down and losing their shape under us big people.
  • Latex mattresses also got pretty good reviews, because they are dense. The only possible drawback is they are harder to find and cost. The real McCoy’s that are all rubber can be costly, however due to their extremely long life than can over the long haul be a reasonable investment. Staying cool did not look to be a complaint.
  • Memory foam also got high marks from larger folks, especially if it is high density. The kind of support that this mattress provides can mean less back pain, and that a big plus with me. If you choose a memory foam know that they can soften and compress with body impressions over time, and turning over, getting up and off of them can be somewhat of an issue.

Bad Choices

  • Inner Spring you can forget. These will sag and some can be quite noisy. Unless you are able to find the old style handmades (costly) or Mattresses that are built specifically for plus size people like baritatric, XL Extended Life by King Koil, or HD Heavy Duty by Therapedic.
  • Water Beds Can be a big no-no if mobility is an issue. Cost does tend to be lower and replacement is cheap. Choose high quality baffled mattresses with little to no motion or softside waterbeds that look like regular mattresses unless you want to and make exiting the mattress a lot easier.
  • Futon only if you are willing to buy 3 thicker mattresses and stack them.

I ended up with a 12-inch thick natural latex mattress that I could customize. And I am very pleased. Can I say that this is the best for you? Of course not. But if you’re looking for a mattress for a plus size person, maybe this bit of research on my part will at least narrow your selections a bit.

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