Best Mattresses for Conditions That Affect Sleep

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Written by David Rubin

Reviewed by Dr. Michael Breus

Our Editorial Process

Table of Contents

Sleep is part of how your body recuperates. At the same time, many health conditions can pose challenges to quality sleep. Night sweats, pain, and acid reflux are just a few of the issues that can take a toll on both your sleep and overall well-being.

A mattress can’t take the place of medical care or a doctor’s recommended treatments, but it may help relieve symptoms and let you get a better night’s sleep.

Finding the best mattress and knowing how to optimize your bed can be a step toward sleeping and feeling better, so we’ll delve into the conditions and symptoms that can be impacted by a mattress, an adjustable bed frame, and other sleep accessories.

Conditions That Affect Sleep (And How the Right Mattress Can Help)

Your choice of mattress may play a role in how you experience certain health conditions. Learning about these conditions may help you find a mattress that offers relief.  

Night Sweats

Night sweats involve excessive perspiration that soaks your clothing and sheets. They are often related to other health issues, such as anxiety, drug use, certain medications, low blood sugar, or hyperhidrosis, which is excess sweating during both day and night. 

Regulating your body temperature may limit the severity of night sweats. A mattress with good cooling properties may prevent heat from building up around your body, and some research has found that using a cooling mattress pad can decrease sleep disruptions from hot flashes and night sweats. 

Some mattress materials are known for sleeping cool. Latex typically retains little heat and metal coils enable ventilating airflow. Specialty components, such as phase change material, may also promote temperature neutrality. 

Pregnancy

Pregnancy can wreak havoc on sleep. As the baby grows, finding a comfortable position at night becomes a challenge. As many as 40% of pregnant people experience pelvic pain that can spread to the hips, thighs, and lower back. Fragmented sleep may also result from frequent urination, kicks and other baby activity, and heartburn.

The right mattress can make it easier to minimize these problems during pregnancy. Doctors typically recommend sleeping on your left side during pregnancy because this position enhances blood flow both to your body and to the fetus. But this sleeping position requires a mattress that adequately cushions the shoulder and hip areas. 

A pressure-relieving mattress can not only limit impact around the joints but also promote spinal alignment. In one study, memory foam mattresses, which tend to offer significant pressure relief, reduced pain and enhanced sleep among a small group of pregnant sleepers. Other mattress materials that offer cushioning and spinal support may provide similar benefits. 

Menopause 

Menopause, a natural life stage, occurs when a person who menstruates stops having their period. The transition into menopause lasts several years, and during this time, hormonal changes can cause a range of symptoms affecting physical health, emotional wellness, and sleep. 

Hot flashes and night sweats are frequent concerns during the menopausal transition. A sudden onset of warmth and sweating can cause discomfort, provoke unwanted awakenings, and make it difficult to get back to sleep.

A breathable mattress can facilitate better temperature regulation, which can moderate the severity of hot flashes. Materials like gel infusions and phase change material are engineered to help dissipate heat. Although these specialty materials may not eliminate hot flashes, they may improve comfort and make it easier to sleep well during menopause.

Fibromyalgia 

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition marked by pain throughout the body. Other common symptoms include fatigue, mood changes, impaired thinking, and headaches. The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but it’s believed to be related to how the brain processes pain.

Sleeping problems are common among people with fibromyalgia, who often find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep without interruption. Lack of deep sleep may worsen pain and fatigue the next day.

Treatment for fibromyalgia normally combines medication, stress management techniques, and lifestyle changes. Managing pain and developing healthy sleep habits are important for people with fibromyalgia, and a supportive and comfortable mattress can be a step in the right direction.

Finding a mattress that matches your firmness preferences, cushions your body, and promotes spinal alignment can decrease strain on joints and muscles. As a result, choosing the right mattress may contribute to reduced pain and better sleep.

People with fibromyalgia often experience temperature sensitvity and heat intolerance and may benefit from a breathable mattress that promotes temperature neutrality. Those who are sensitive to cold may want to avoid mattresses containing phase change material or another cooling technology.

Mental Health and Sleep

Sleep quality has a big impact on your mental health, and finding the right sleep environment, routine, and sleep system is critical for a good night’s sleep. A comfortable mattress that meets your personal needs and preferences can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper, more restful sleep. The resulting high-quality sleep can reduce symptoms of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and stress. Other ways mattresses can improve your mental health include the following:

  • Pain relief: A mattress with comfort layers that cushion the body and a strong support system can alleviate shoulder, lower back, and hip pain. These types of pain can contribute to stress and mood problems. By reducing pain, your mattress can promote better sleep and, in doing so, improve your mental health.
  • Stress reduction: Lack of quality sleep can raise your stress levels. Conversely, a good night’s rest can reduce stress. This helps ensure you wake up feeling well-rested and ready to manage the daily challenges ahead. Over time, getting enough sleep can decrease the impact of stress on your mental health.
  • Strong cognitive function: Sleep plays a critical role in cognitive processes such as memory, concentration, and decision-making. A mattress that aligns with your body type, sleep position, and comfort preferences can significantly improve sleep quality and, in turn, contribute to your cognitive function the next day. This helps ensure sharp mental clarity and reduce your risk of cognitive decline.
  • Mood improvement: Sleep quality directly impacts your mood — for better or worse. Restful, high-quality sleep night after night improves your mood and helps you regulate your emotions. This reduces irritability and lowers the potential for mood swings. Poor quality sleep often has the opposite effect.

Your mattress alone is not a cure-all for mental health issues. That said, sleep quality is linked to mental health outcomes and a mattress suited to your needs and preferences can make a significant difference in how you feel each morning.

Adjustable Bed Frames: Who’s a Good Fit?

An adjustable bed frame lets you raise and lower the upper and lower sections of your bed. With an adjustable bed, you can position your body in ways that can help with certain health conditions.

Note that an adjustable bed frame requires a compatible mattress. Common mattress types that tend to work well with adjustable beds include memory foam, latex, and hybrid models.

Acid Reflux and GERD 

Acid reflux is when stomach acid pushes up into the esophagus. A well-known symptom of acid reflux is heartburn or indigestion. When bothersome reflux persists for a long period, it is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

GERD is more likely to occur during pregnancy and in people who smoke, use certain medicines, or are overweight or obese. Reflux typically gets worse when lying in bed at night, and it can interfere with quality sleep. In turn, insufficient sleep can exacerbate acid reflux. 

With an adjustable bed, you can raise the upper part of your body, which lets gravity fight against reflux. By minimizing symptoms, an adjustable bed may enable you to sleep with fewer interruptions from heartburn. 

Edema

Edema is another word for swelling from fluid buildup, and it commonly affects the legs and feet. Infections, injuries, some medications, surgical operations, and extended sitting or standing may lead to edema. Swelling also affects most people who are pregnant. Edema can also result from underlying conditions affecting vital organs like the liver and kidneys. 

An adjustable bed lets you easily elevate your legs above your heart, which can combat swelling in the lower body. While this does not address the underlying causes of edema, it may reduce the extent of swelling and any associated discomfort. 

Varicose Veins 

When veins in the legs get tangled and swollen, it can be a sign of varicose veins. This condition often involves swelling and heaviness in the legs along with skin color changes, itching, and pain. 

Varicose veins are a result of damage to the veins that prevents normal circulation. As a result, blood collects in the veins, causing further damage and swelling. High blood pressure can contribute to varicose veins. 

Using an adjustable bed to elevate the legs can stop blood from pooling in the legs. Regularly raising your legs may reduce short-term symptoms and may help keep varicose veins from getting worse and causing other health complications.

Nocturia

Nocturia is the medical term for having to get out of bed to urinate more than once during the night. It becomes more common with aging and affects around half of people over 50. It can be caused by increased urine production as well as health conditions that make it hard to completely empty the bladder. 

Multiple awakenings to go to the bathroom can cause sleep fragmentation and fatigue. Nocturia has been linked to missed work, negative mood, and a higher risk of falls and fractures from having to walk to the bathroom in the dark.

Using an adjustable bed to elevate your legs during the afternoon and evening can reduce nocturia. When you lie down, the fluid in your legs circulates through the body, which can increase urine production. Elevating the legs before bedtime helps prevent this from occurring during sleep. 

Snoring  

Snoring is the sound produced when you breathe through a narrowed airway and tissues in the throat start to flutter. Snoring happens during sleep because the muscles in the throat relax, leaving less space for air to flow. 

Snoring can occur as a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea, but not everyone who snores has OSA. For many people, snoring causes no health problems, but it may cause embarrassment or bother a bed partner. 

Snoring is common, affecting more than 40% of adults. Obesity, nasal congestion, alcohol consumption, and certain anatomical features of the mouth and throat can contribute to snoring. 

Raising the upper part of the bed with an adjustable bed frame may help limit snoring. By changing the positioning of the body, an adjustable bed may keep loose muscles from narrowing the airway, so you can breathe more freely and without loud snoring. 

Positional Obstructive Sleep Apnea 

Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder that affects an estimated 10% to 30% of adults in the U.S. People with OSA have sleep that is fragmented by recurring pauses in breathing or shallow breathing that occurs when the airway is obstructed. 

Daytime drowsiness and loud snoring with gasping or choking sounds are common symptoms of OSA. The condition is more common in men or people assigned male at birth, older adults, people with obesity, and those with facial features that contribute to narrowing of their airway.

Obstructed breathing is more likely in certain sleeping positions, such as back sleeping. This is sometimes known as positional OSA. 

For people who can’t switch away from back sleeping, using an adjustable bed with the upper body elevated may reduce breathing obstructions. However, this is unlikely to completely resolve OSA, and other treatments, such as using a CPAP machine, may be necessary even when using an adjustable bed. 

Limited Mobility 

Around 12% of adults in the U.S. have a disability that affects their physical mobility. Limited physical mobility can make it more difficult to carry out everyday activities, including adjusting sleep posture or getting in and out of bed. 

An adjustable bed frame can often help address these problems of restricted mobility, especially when also using a mattress with strong edge support. In addition, split adjustable bed frames make it possible for people with disabilities to share the bed with a partner, which for many people makes these frames preferable to an in-home hospital bed.

Sleep Accessories: Why They Matter

The symptoms of many different health conditions can be disruptive to everyday life and nightly sleep. It’s important to talk with a doctor about any ongoing or worsening symptoms to determine their underlying cause. Even if the reason for your symptoms isn’t clear, though, certain sleep products may enhance your comfort and your sleep. 

Overheating 

A wide range of factors affect body temperature, which can fluctuate throughout the day. Regardless of the cause, getting too hot may get in the way of quality rest. 

Types of sleep products that may provide relief include: 

  • Mattresses with cooling features or materials designed to regulate temperature
  • Specialty mattress pads with built-in temperature controls
  • Cooling mattress toppers that are placed above your existing mattress
  • Pillows that resist heat buildup
  • Cooling sheets and blankets made with breathable, lightweight materials
  • Loose-fitting pajamas made with airy and moisture-wicking fabrics

Aches and Pains

Dealing with pain is a challenge, and it can be even more frustrating when it interferes with sleep. Sometimes pain has a clear cause, but it can also arise without a direct explanation. 

You may be able to prevent or minimize pain by choosing a mattress that has the proper cushioning and support for your body’s needs. While optimal firmness level is subjective, in many cases, a medium firm mattress is best for issues like lower back pain. 

Other sleep accessories that can be used to boost your comfort and mitigate aches and pains include:

  • A high-quality pillow or contour pillow for neck and spine support
  • Extra pillows or a body pillow to bolster a body position with minimal tension and twisting
  • A wedge pillow to elevate key areas of your body
  • A mattress topper to modify the firmness, cushioning, or support of your existing mattress
  • A heating pad or heated mattress pad to soothe soreness

Mattress Shopping Tips

There are more ways than ever to shop for a mattress. You can find a huge selection and great deals online, or you also have the option of visiting a mattress showroom. 

When you need a mattress to help address different health conditions, it’s important to look closely at the return policy. You don’t want to get stuck with a mattress that doesn’t meet your needs — or worse, exacerbates your symptoms.

Shopping online tends to offer the most flexibility for mattress returns. Online mattresses usually have a sleep trial of at least 100 nights. During the trial, you can try out the mattress at home with the option to return it for a refund if you aren’t satisfied.

Other Sleep Conditions

Experts in sleep health have identified a number of disorders that can affect sleep. These conditions can involve disrupted sleep, abnormal behavior during sleep, or alterations of your circadian rhythm, which is the body’s internal 24-hour clock. 

In general, these sleep disorders can’t be resolved by choosing a different or better mattress. While improving your bedroom environment may still be beneficial, you should talk with your doctor if you have or think you may have any underlying sleep condition. 

Insomnia

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that involves difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, resulting in negative effects on health or cognitive functioning during waking hours. It can occur over the short or long term, and potential treatments include behavioral changes, counseling, and medications.

These disorders involve abnormal breathing during sleep. Well-known examples include obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea, which are characterized by recurrent pauses in breathing or shallow breathing during sleep. 

Sleep-related breathing disorders often cause daytime sleepiness and are usually diagnosed with an in-lab or at-home sleep study. Treatments focus on facilitating more consistent nighttime breathing.

Circadian Rhythm Sleep-Wake Disorders

People with these disorders have sleep-wake schedules that do not align with the external day-night cycle. For example, extreme “early birds” and “night owls” may have a circadian rhythm disorder. Treatment for these disorders depends on the type and cause of circadian disruption. 

Jet Lag Disorder 

Jet lag disorder develops after flights that cross multiple time zones, causing the body’s internal clock to be misaligned with the daylight hours at the traveler’s destination. Jet lag is one of the most common types of circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders, and it can cause sleep difficulties, upset stomach, and foggy thinking. 

Jet lag goes away after a person has adjusted to their new location, but this usually takes at least a few days. Treatment focuses on speeding up circadian realignment and reducing bothersome symptoms.

Shift Work Disorder

Shift work disorder occurs when nontraditional work hours, such as night shifts, disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Symptoms include difficulty sleeping and daytime drowsiness, which can raise the risk of work accidents. 

Like jet lag, shift work disorder is a type of circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorder. When a person’s work shifts can’t be adjusted, treatment for this disorder is designed to enhance alertness, promote safety, and optimize sleep during the hours available for rest. 

Central Disorders of Hypersomnolence

Central disorders of hypersomnolence are characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness. Narcolepsy, which can involve suddenly falling asleep at inappropriate times, is an example of this sleep disorder category. 

Diagnosing these conditions typically involves keeping a sleep diary and assessing sleepiness during specialized testing. The underlying cause of daytime drowsiness helps determine how it is treated.

Parasomnias 

Parasomnias are unusual and unwanted behaviors that arise during sleep or while a person is just falling asleep or waking up. Parasomnias include conditions like sleepwalking, sleep paralysis, night terrors, and sleep-related eating disorder.

Parasomnias tend to occur more often in children. Treatment varies based on the type of parasomnia and its causes and consequences.

People with sleep-related movement disorders experience repeated small movements that negatively affect their sleep. Compared to parasomnias, these disorders involve simpler movements. 

Types of sleep-related movement disorders include teeth grinding, sleep-related cramps, and periodic limb movement disorder. Some sleep-related movement disorders can be treated with medications.

Restless Legs Syndrome

When people with restless legs syndrome lie down, they experience uncomfortable sensations in their legs and a strong urge to move them. RLS is distinct from other sleep-related movement disorders because it doesn’t involve involuntary movements.

RLS makes it hard to get settled in bed, leading to sleep disruptions. It can be triggered by iron deficiency and other health conditions. Practical measures like exercise and massages can be taken to reduce discomfort in the legs, and some people also take medications to treat RLS.

References

About The Author

David Rubin

Certified Sleep Science Coach, Director of Product Testing


David is a Certified Sleep Science Coach with a lifelong passion for well-being and health optimization. His interest in sleep developed with the arrival of his son, when sleep suddenly became a precious commodity.

  • POSITION: Side Sleeper
  • TEMPERATURE: Hot Sleeper
  • CHRONOTYPE: Lion

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