Picking the right furniture for your home is not always easy. Many people end up either spending a ton of time searching for their next mattress, or they just go for the cheapest option. While you might think that a standard memory foam mattress is “good enough”, I’d highly recommend also looking at an orthopedic mattress. Your sleep might make the difference between great days ahead or you just being grumpy and stressed all the time. So, let’s take a look at what orthopedic mattresses are and analyze the best orthopedic mattress + it’s competitors.
What is an orthopedic mattress?
An orthopedic mattress is designed for the sole purpose of supporting your back and joints — it tends to also be comfortable for the rest of your body but it’s designed for joint and back suport. The goal is to support your skeleton while you sleep so that you wake up without any aches or pains. Unlike traditional mattresses, orthopedic mattresses provide a high level of support and prevent stiffness. Usually, an orthopedic mattress may be fitted with springs. The 12.5 gauge springs are the most preferred because they last longer than their counterparts (an alternative to 12.5 guage would be 15 guage springs which are present on some mattresses). But not all orthopedic mattresses have springs. Some contain gel foam or memory foam as a support layer instead.
Types of orthopedic mattresses
Orthopedic mattresses come in different designs, shapes and sizes. Each type has its fair share of merits and limitations. The most common types of orthopedic mattresses are:
Coil Sprung Orthopedic Mattress
The key feature of a coil sprung mattress is that it’s extremely firm, making it an excellent choice for people with back pain. It provides a relatively rigid surface, enabling you to maintain a good posture when you sleep. A coil sprung mattress is the cheapest among all orthopedic mattresses and you can think of it as a step up from sleeping on the floor (it’s really stiff!). The coils used in these mattresses are open sprung — meaning that each coil is positioned right next to another. This construction makes the mattress pretty durable and comfortable because there isn’t much spacing between springs for you to sag into or feel any lumps.
Pocket Sprung Orthopedic Mattress
The Pocket Sprung is an improvement of the coil spring orthopedic mattress. It has a higher number of springs so it tends to be a bit more comfortable. With the pocket sprung orthopedic mattress, each spring is designed as an individual “pocket” with padding. This construction makes the mattress more responsive to the movements of your body. Also, the well-padded separate pockets make it less likely for you to feel the springs through the top layer. Also, since the pockets keep the springs separated, it’s more comfortable to share your bed with someone else. You don’t feel your partner’s movements as much in the bed as you would with the standard coil sprung orthopedic mattress above.
Memory Foam Orthopedic Mattress
What makes memory foam mattresses stand out is the viscoelastic material used in their construction. This fabric, which was first used in 1960 by NASA, is capable of molding to your body shape. When it’s heated it becomes softer and if it’s cooled then it becomes stiffer. So you can imagine that memory foam next to your body will contour to you while also providing stiffness where it isn’t in contact with your body heat. This supports your natural sleeping position and relieves any strain placed on your joints or pressure points. Also, anytime you get off from the mattress, it regains its original shape. A memory foam orthopedic mattress also ensures that your spine and neck are aligned correctly. They excel when it comes to weight distribution, which is why you’ve probably seen ads where people are jumping around on the mattress without dropping wine glasses sitting on the other side. For these reasons, memory foam orthopedic mattresses are the most preferred and also the most expensive. You’ll routinely see them in hospitals, senior care facilities and nursing homes.
Coir Orthopedic Mattress
Rubberized coir mattresses wick moisture away from the sleeper, provide excellent ventilation, and also a lot of comfort. This is especially valuable for people who are older or suffer from back pains and expect to be in bed for an extended duration since the wicking technology ensures comfort and coolness rather than a sweaty mess. Take a look at this orthopaedic mattress from SleepSpa which demonstrates rubberized coir technology.
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What’s the Best Orthopedic Mattress?
Continental Sleep is one of the most popular mattress brands in the USA, so it comes as no surprise that their Orthopedic Mattress is highly-rated and #1 on our list of best orthopedic mattresses. What really makes it amazing is this technology called the “whisper shield” which minimizes noise as you turn. It actually works! I didn’t hear my wife turning at night when she was sleeping next to me. Also, this orthopedic mattress has a nonskid filler cloth on the outside which helps the mattress stay on top of the box spring (the non-skid is on the bottom of the mattress). While the mattress is 9 inch in thickness, the box spring that comes with it is 8-inch in thickness and is made of high-quality wood…..The other exciting feature of this mattress are their encased springs. So, along with the whisper shield I talked about before, they also have really nice foam-encased springs which aren’t lumpy so you don’t feel them while sleeping. For people who are lazy like me, they might also enjoy that this mattress comes ready-to-use and doesn’t need to be assembled (unlike memory foam mattresses which take some time to expand).
Things we like and why it’s rated as the #1 best orthopedic mattress on our list
- Provides optimal back support, has perfect edge supports
- Silent because of the whisper shield
- Ultra luxurious because of the encased springs
- Comes with a box spring
- Has a vinyl cover that’s waterproof
Things we do not like
- Really firm mattress so it may not work for everyone
- The box spring isn’t really highlighted much when speaking about this combination. The one that comes with the mattress may have some manufacturing issues so be prepared to send it back. We didn’t have any issues with it but some of the other reviewers on amazon found that the top layer of the box spring is a thin and easy to damage material.
The first thing you will note about the Spinal Solution mattress is the premium-grade foam used in its construction. This foam is incredibly comfortable to sleep on. Along with the foam, the inner springs provide a medium firmness to support your head, neck and entire body when you sleep. This combination of foam + spring does wonders for keeping the bed supportive and to prevent you from feeling your partner’s motion. Similar to the Continental Sleep above, I found that I couldn’t feel my wife’s motion on this one in-store. Spinal solutions call this the “anti-rolling effect”. Also, the mattress comes with a water-resistant cover that helps keep it clean. Water-resistant is not the same as water proof! So you might want to eventually get a waterproof mattress protector if you end up buying this mattress. I’ve linked you to the guide we have on waterproof mattress protectors.
I haven’t really had this mattress for a long time but it seems like it has a solid construction….and they’ve priced it adequately high as well. I hope that it provides good value for money over time. As a side note, this orthopedic mattress comes in two size options, twin or queen size. Each weighs about thirty pounds, making it bulky but incredibly supportive.
Things we like
- Comes with a fluid-resistant vinyl cover
- Offers excellent comfort
- Can’t really hear your partner tossing and turning at night
Things we do not like and why we rated it as our #2 best orthopedic mattress in our list
- In my mind, an orthopedic mattress should be firm but this one is medium-firm. So, depending on your preferences, you may not like this bed as much.
- Only available as twin and queen. So you can’t get the king or cal king for your larger bed rooms.
Here’s a great example of a coil sprung orthopedic mattress. Signature Sleep, the mastermind behind this invention, has integrated a laundry list of features that make it a high-quality mattress. One of these handy additions is the 10-inch independently-encased coils, which allow it to distribute your weight uniformly. Each spring is encased and padded so that it doesn’t feel lumpy. Similar to our #1 best orthopedic mattress above, I thought this was made the mattress really firm and supportive. To make it also contour to a sleeper, they’ve added a 1-inch, 3 zone foam, to the uppermost layer of the mattress. The middle section of the mattress is firmer than the rest, enabling it to support your lower back and hips. It’s an interesting overall design – firm base due to the coil springs, foam makes it feel like it’s hugging you, and the extra firmness near the middle provides lower back support. And, to top it off, this orthopedic mattress also comes with a bamboo ticking cover. While it’s not water resistant like our #1 and #2 best orthopedic mattress above, it does absorb moisture and sleep cool. You’ll need a good waterproof mattress protector to go with this mattress as well.
Things we like
- Very firm springs but comes with a soft bamboo cover
- Sleeps pretty cool and provides a combination of contour (because of the foam) along with lower back support due to the extra mid-riff firmness.
- Weight distribution across the mattress with springs is decent.
Things we do not like
- Not nearly as comfortable as our other top orthopedic mattresses
- Over time it might get indents where you sleep. The springs aren’t of the highest quality, perhaps… We didn’t get to test it for very long so I can’t say much about this but several reviewers on amazon seem to think so.
We’ve also listed this Serta as part of our list of the best memory foam mattress and its competitors. It’s a nice, high quality orthopedic mattress. The interesting thing about the design of this mattress is that it has several foam layers and the combination of layers makes this contour well to my body + to give support. It’s not nearly as firm as the coil sprung mattresses like #3 above so as you’d imagine, I gave it a lower rating on my list — orthopedic mattresses should be firm in my mind. The first layer is 1-inch thick and made of gel-memory foam. Gel-memory foam is preferred by mattress manufacturers because it provides a cool and cradling effect.The second layer has a thickness of two inches and is fabricated from open cell memory foam. Apart from offering you additional comfort, this foam also provides a cushioning while you sleep. This foam layer is also responsible for distributing your weight uniformly. The third layer is three inches thick and consists of ActivAir foam. As the name suggests, the purpose of this foam is to enhance the airflow and breathability of the mattress. The last layer is the base and is eight inches thick. This base is designed with quality materials that make the mattress durable. Serta Gel-memory foam has a medium firm feel. There isn’t much differentiating this bed from other memory foam beds so I wouldn’t say it’s a pure orthopedic bed, but it is firmer than some of the other memory foam models so I had it on this list. If you’d like to compare, you can see the full guide to memory foam mattresses.
Things we like and why it’s #4 on our best orthopedic mattress list
- Incredibly firm for a foam based-mattress model
- Has no unpleasant smell like other foam mattresses
- It’s couple-friendly. I didn’t really feel it when my partner turned while we tested it.
- Helps get rid of back pain because it’s so supportive
Things we do not like
- Takes a while to fully expand so be prepared to sleep in your sleeping bag for a night
- Not firm enough for me but some people might like that it’s softer
- Pricey – you could also go with the zinus green tea mattress and be happy (for a much lower price)
Do you wake up with neck or back pains? A good orthopedic mattress provides optimal comfort while ensuring that your neck and spine remain aligned properly throughout the night. There are different orthopedic mattresses so you should weigh the pros and cons of each type before deciding what to go for. For a restful night, consider picking any the orthopedic mattresses in our review. You might also consider looking at our other guides on platform beds (to put your mattress on top), lumbar support pillows (for when you are at your office desk and get back pain), and waterproof mattress protectors since most of these mattresses are just water resistant, not water proof. We hope you found our guide useful!