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What Is an Orthopedic Mattress? (+ Our Top Orthopedic Picks)

An orthopedic mattress is any mattress designed to provide better joint support and pressure relief while you sleep. Here, we’re diving into the details of different types of orthopedic mattresses, who they’re best for and how they work, plus a few of our favorite selections.

Why Are Some Mattresses More Comfortable Than Others?

If you’ve spent any time at all surfing the web for mattresses, you’ve probably, early on, came to this conclusion: there are a lot of different mattress types. Some are plush, some are firm, some are medium firm, some are extra firm (and each of those can come with the options of pillow tops, memory foam, latex, hybrid layers and/or innersprings). That’s to say nothing of add-on features, such as cooling tech and motion separation. Plus, there are all those different brands. With so many options to choose from and with so much confusing mattress terminology, how anyone can pick just one mattress can be baffling – if you’re not equipped with the right kind of mattress intel. Here, we’re giving you just that: an easy way to boost your mattress IQ via fast mattress facts designed to help you distinguish between every type of mattress out there.
  • Plush mattresses are designed with a softer surface (they’re not as firm as other mattresses).
  • Medium mattresses are not so soft but not so firm, either. They find middle ground for comfort.
  • Firm mattresses feel harder (denser) than plush mattresses and more supportive.
  • Memory foam mattresses are made with foam layers that remember your form, contouring around your shape while you sleep.
  • Innerspring mattresses are made with metal coiled springs and feel bouncier than foam mattresses.
  • Latex mattresses are made of rubber latex and provide a unique feel that’s cooler and tighter than foam but not as bouncy as springs.
  • Hybrid mattresses are made with both foam and springs, so that they’re not so bouncy as innerspring mattresses, but not so contouring as memory foam mattresses, either.
  • Cooling mattresses are mostly foam mattresses that contain components like gel beads to lower the mattress temperature.
  • Motion separation mattresses are for couples; they are designed to prevent the whole mattress from moving when one person gets in or out of bed.
  • Adjustable base mattresses can be used with power beds, which are beds that can be raised up (making it easier to sit up in bed while watching TV or reading a book).
  • Brand mattresses differ from brand to brand. The best way to tell whether one brand is better for you than another is to try it out in person.

Because of all of these different types, it’s easy to see why some mattresses feel more comfortable than others. Different body weights, sleeping positions and preferences require different specifications, and if you were to sleep on a random mattress (from the list above) without first checking its type, you’ll most likely find that it doesn’t suit your comfort.

What Is an Orthopedic Mattress?

So, where do orthopedic mattresses come into all of this? Technically, everywhere. The term orthopedic mattress isn’t, technically, an official term. There’s not a specific set of requirements that makes a mattress orthopedic (and sets it apart from all other mattress types). Because of this, ‘orthopedic mattress’ is often slapped onto a mattress’s label by retailers to help it sell; doing your research ahead of time is paramount to ensuring you’re actually getting a mattress that can cater to your unique sleep needs, from an orthopedic perspective.

Who Can Benefit From an Orthopedic Mattress?

Technically? Everyone can benefit from an orthopedic mattress, since the term simply refers to any mattress designed to help keep your spine in proper alignment while you sleep (something we all, no matter our body type or comfort preferences, need). Not-so-technically, the beneficiaries of orthopedic mattresses are those who suffer from back pain or spinal problems, since an orthopedic mattress will deliver precision support and pressure relief for an individual’s unique sleeping positions.

What Are the Types of Orthopedic Mattresses?

Since technically every (quality-made) mattress is an “orthopedic mattress,” the types run the gamut of every mattress type in general. With that said, many orthopedic problems stem from a weak spine, so many of the people who need an orthopedic mattress will benefit the most from extra-supportive mattresses. Here are the main types of these kinds of orthopedic beds:

  • Firm innerspring: A firm innerspring mattress has remained a classic even as new materials (like memory foam) competed for popularity. The reason is simple: for many sufferers of orthopedic pain, softness in a mattress can cause the spine to sink in, placing pressure on the joints. A quality firm innerspring mattress, made of metal, will target the biggest pressure points of the spine to keep them aligned and supported.
  • Extra-firm hybrid: Sometimes, a too-firm mattress can actually do more harm than good for your orthopedic health, forcing the joints into unnatural positions and wreaking havoc on your neck and spine. To add some room for decompressing, a hybrid mattress may be your better fit, as it contains layers of adaptive foam (but isn’t foam only). To ensure you’re still getting maximum support for the areas where you do need orthopedic pressure-relief, though, opt for a hybrid in the highest comfort level possible (this won’t negate the foam’s contouring effects).
  • Firm latex mattresses: Latex mattresses are known to improve blood flow during the night, since they contour with and around your body (rather than fighting against it). Orthopedically-speaking, this helps the muscles to relax, decreasing likelihood of waking up with orthopedic pain. (While foam mattresses also provide contouring, latex tends to be more recommended for support and pressure-relief.)

Which Are the Best Orthopedic Mattresses?

Need some specific product recs? Here are a few of the highest-quality designs recommended by sleep experts:

  • Revive Granite Extra Firm: For a firmer feel; orthopedic pain-sufferers tend to appreciate the high support levels, mixed with the contour of foam.
  • Diamond Aspen Cool Latex Hybrid Firm: Latex is new to the market, but a superstar in every capacity. For orthopedic pain, the tight cushion is at once bouncy and contouring.
  • Revive H2 Firm Hybrid: A tad less firm than the Granite, but still very supportive, offering the unbeatable spring-foam combo.

Mattresses for Orthopedic Support

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Editorial Disclaimer: Articles featuring tips and advice are intended for educational purposes and only as general recommendations. Always practice personal discretion when using and caring for furniture, decor and related items.