A good night’s sleep is one of the most important pillars to leading a healthy life. And it’s all the more true if you have an active life, like an athlete. While there are many factors involved in getting there, a good mattress is perhaps one of the crucial factors and one that you can control. That’s what we are here to discuss today.
The Importance of Sleep for Athletes
Tennis champion Serena Williams once said that she enjoys going to bed around 7 PM. Cyclist Lance Amstrong has a dare for everyone to get six to eight hours of sleep. It’s no secret that good sleep improves mood, performance and concentration. Those are three things every athlete does not just want but also needs.
When you sleep, the body takes that time to repair memory and release hormones that rejuvenate you in the morning and get you ready for the day ahead. Let’s not forget that it is a nightmare to train without getting adequate sleep. Sleep is the only time your body is able to dedicate 100% of its energy to recovery, which means when you sleep you grow and if you don’t allow yourself to maximize your sleep then you are not maximizing your growth. Check out our “3 Ways Sleep Can Impact Gains” post that explains the importance of getting some closed eye in more detail.
There’s a reason whenever lions and tigers are spotted in the wild they’re usually sleeping…
Sleep in Recovery from Sports, Weightlifting, Training
Everyone needs sleep but how much is required for you, depends on your lifestyle. Sometimes your metabolism decides that and sometimes it’s the stage of life you are in. But for athletes in particular, it is determined by the amount of activity of the day or what lies ahead. When it comes to intensely strenuous sports like bodybuilding the effort for recovery increases.
For example if a normal person goes for a short jog or a bike ride they may feel sore, they may go to a regular relaxing massage, get some extra sleep, and they’ll be just fine. For a bodybuilder however, with an extra 10-50 pounds of muscle on them recovery looks very different and can range from ice baths to extra heavy duty pneumatic percussion massage therapy to help relax extra large muscle bodies.
While young folks are good with seven to eight hours of night time rest, those in serious athletic training need a little extra. That is because when your body is extra tired, your muscles are sore and the nervous system experiences extra stress.
Your body rebuilds the system while you are asleep. It is like a low-intensity recovery session after training and helps athletes prevent injuries the following day. In fact, there is a downside to not getting enough sleep.
Studies have shown that sleep deprivation in athletes causes:
- Increase in levels of stress hormones like cortisol
- Decrease in glycogen synthesis
- Increase in aerobic endurance
- Increase in perceived exertion
- Changes in mood
- Slower recovery in muscles
Sometimes all you need is a good mattress to avoid all of these. Let’s take a look at how to pick one.
Beds for Athletes: What to Look For
There are several factors that influence REM sleep in athletes. It is important to note that it takes about three months for a new mattress to adjust to your body and vice versa. That is why, when it comes to picking a mattress, you should look for these features.
- Comfort and support are obviously important. But for athletes, it means looking for a mattress with at least three layers of support. One of them must be a higher density foam layer.
- It is not uncommon for some folks in pain to shift positions after a few hours of sleep. This is probably because the mattress you have isn’t providing enough relief at the pressure points in your body. High-density foam mattresses with a slow response are often helpful for pain in the shoulders and hips.
- Spinal alignment is another critical factor. Your ears, shoulders and hips are meant to be aligned no matter how you sleep. For that to happen, your mattress should have adjustable firmness.
- Since it takes a while for your body to adjust to the mattress, you might want to consider buying a mattress from a company that allows a trial period of at least 100 days. A lot of bed-in-a-box companies offer just that.
When we think of large-size beds, California king is one of the top names on our mind. And for good reason. Contrary to popular belief, these aren’t the biggest mattresses in the business. These beds actually have lesser surface area than the standard king size mattresses.
But regular mattresses are more of a square and Cal kings are long and narrow rectangle mattresses. Tall athletes looking for sound sleep don’t need width but need length. And they aren’t really that much more expensive than a regular king size mattress.
Next up is the Wyoming King, which is the smallest of all oversized mattresses. It is 84 x 84 inches and is as long as the Cal king mattress. Where it differs is in width. If you want your mattress to have that same length but also about 12 inches more width, this is the one. It’s a spacious one for couples and can accommodate a child too.
The Alaska king is on the other end of the spectrum as the largest oversized mattress. It is 108 x 108 inches and is good for a whole family looking to luxuriously sprawl across the mattress. So, you get your sleep and won’t be bothered if the person next to you has a different sleep schedule.
Beds with Extra Support for Extra Weight
When we think of athletes, it is natural to imagine a person with a large build. While not all of them are that way, a lot of them are. This section is for them. The thickness and firmness of a bed is determined by the support laters, foam density and coil gauge.
Hard vs Soft Mattresses?
The first question is always whether a mattress should be firm or soft. And that decision is based on a few things. Simply put, firm mattresses are good for you if you weigh over, let’s say, 230 pounds. It is also good for you whether you sleep on your stomach or your back.
A soft mattress, on the other hand, is for those who weigh less than, let’s say, 130 pounds. It suits those who sleep on one side very well. These mattresses are also good for those who have arthritis or suffer from joint pain and need pressure relief.
Does Quality Matter?
As you might have realized by now, quality is a subjective word in the context of buying a mattress. What works for you might not work for a person with different requirements or has a different body type.
While it cannot be denied that there are a few mattresses that work for everyone, if you are an athlete, you will have special requirements and the quality of your mattress very much impacts your sleep.
Are They Worth the Price?
Now, getting a good mattress doesn’t mean you should pick up the most expensive product. You must find one that suits your needs. However, here’s a tip. If you didn’t know it already, prices vary from one brand to another and in some cases, there is room to negotiate too.
You can decide the budget beforehand after some light research (good job coming to us). With the market teeming with choices, you are highly likely to find something that matches your needs and is in your budget too.
And don’t fall for the “sale” prices. It is likely that the retail price has been inflated to make the difference look attractive. This is a textbook sales move.
But if you cheap out on a mattress, you might end up with one that doesn’t meet your unique needs even if it is well made. One must admit that most of these brands that make mattresses that are a tad bit expensive do ensure durability. You can get one of those and have them last a decade than buy a cheap one that you’ll have to change often.
Cheap mattresses are also likely to sink with weight and not recover.They might sag or develop indentations. They might have an unhealthy chemical-like smell for weeks.
Top 3 Popular Brands for Athletes
Now that we have the basics in place, let’s look at some of the choices out there.
The Bear Hybrid is excellent for recovery thanks to its cover that’s made of Celliant fabric. It’s designed to absorb body heat and convert it into infrared energy.
It increases tissue oxygenation and muscle recovery which will make you feel more comfortable after exercise. It has two foam layers that take care of contouring and spinal alignment.
Brooklyn Spartan Hybrid
The Brooklyn Spartan Hybrid is another great bed for athletes. It is designed to convert body heat into infrared energy and helps recovery after training. It increases tissue oxygenation and improves blood flow to make that happen.
It comes in three levels of firmness and all of them provide body contouring which is great for pressure relief. It has layers of poly foam and memory foam that keep your alignment intact.
Eight Sleep Pod
The Eight Sleep Pod is made of state-of-the-art technology called Active Grid. It’s a layer under the pod’s cover that records sleep data and lets you monitor your sleep quality. This is particularly useful on training days.
It also has instant heating and cooling settings thanks to the Active Grid which is connected to a hub. It has layers of poly foam and memory foam for pressure relief and to align the spine. It reduces pressure on your back and supports the midsection. It is expensive but comes with a lot of features.
Pros & Cons of Buying Online vs In-Store
While we are used to buying most things online, there is an advantage to actually going to the store. You get to check it out firsthand to decide whether you like the mattress.
On the other hand, checking it out on the store bed only tells you so much. So, you can do your research and buy a mattress online if you’re getting a trial period of more than 100 days and also a free return policy.
Or, better yet, check out the mattress at the store and then buy the mattress wherever you’re getting the best price for it—we’d bet that would be online.
Skinny Yoked Summary
The best athletes on the planet live for the game. They know that sleepless nights result in exhausted mornings. Their physical condition is just as important as the state of their mind.
And to keep it in order, athletes focus on eating and sleeping well. But whether you’re an athlete or not, exhaustion is the last thing you need. So, plan your happy and healthy sleep with the right kind of mattress.