What is the Best Mattress for Sex?
Finding a mattress suitable for your other bedroom needs

Last updated on January 18, 2019

Hardly a week goes by that one of readers doesn’t ask “What’s the best mattress for sex?”

It’s a completely valid question. While mattress shopping, sleeping is most people’s first priority, so it’s easy to forget that we spend a good deal of time using our mattresses for other activities too. In fact, one study revealed that fully 85% of respondents never even thought about intimacy needs when shopping for a mattress. The tricky thing is that sometimes, your mattress preferences for sleeping can be at odds with your preferences for sex...

Just as we all have unique requirements from our mattress when it comes to sleeping — e.g., How often do you sleep on your side? How important is motion isolation to you? Etc. — we certainly have our own needs and preferences when to comes to using our beds for late night (or early morning) intimacy. In some cases, factors that are a concern when sleeping can also be a concern during sex (e.g., overheating), while in other cases you may find that things that aren’t a concern for sleeping — like the relative weights of you and your partner — can have a big impact on which mattress you’ll find most pleasant for sex.

Fortunately, the same criteria we use when evaluating mattresses for sleeping – e.g., bounce, memory feel, cushioning depth, edge support, temperature, etc. – are also useful when thinking about your ‘extracurricular’ mattress activities. So, once you read this guide to understand your needs and preferences (and your partner’s too!), you can use the GoodBed ratings in our in-depth mattress reviews to readily determine the sexual suitability of the bed you’re considering.


Below is a rundown of the criteria that tends to be most relevant in determining whether a mattress will be good for sex for you and your partner.  For any mattress that we’ve reviewed in depth, you’ll be able to find assessments of how we’ve rated it on each of these metrics, so you can use those ratings to decide how well that mattress will suit your ‘passion preferences.’

Bounce

A mattress that has some bounce will provide resistance and return of energy, pushing your body back up when you push down. For sex, that can mean partners won’t tire out as quickly because the mattress will be doing some of the work in moving your bodies for you.  In a published study of this topic that was conducted by a large component supplier (and overseen by GoodBed to ensure its objectivity), the majority of couples reported that they preferred sex on a mattress that has more bounce, though it’s worth noting that roughly 1/4 of couples did not share this opinion (more on this in the “memory feel” section below).

In general, hybrid mattresses (which use springs for support underneath their premium foam comfort layers) and traditional innerspring mattresses have the most bounce, followed by beds containing micro-coils, latex, and a few other “latex-like” foams.  By contrast, most of today’s all-foam and memory foam mattresses have little to no bounce.

Memory Feel

On the flip side of our “responsiveness” spectrum is memory feel.  Memory foam often takes several seconds to recover its shape, and what we call “memory feel” is sometimes described as that sensation of slowly melting into the bed. 

While memory foam mattresses have many great attributes, some people find the inherently shock-absorbing quality of memory foam to be counter-productive for sex.  In the aforementioned study, a number of couples reported that sex on memory foam felt “dead” or like “quicksand,” and some even disliked it enough that they found themselves co-opting other locations outside their bedroom for their amorous activities.

However, other respondents reported a much more positive view of sex on memory foam.  Specifically, they cited its ability to hold you in place in a specific position as an attribute that gives each partner more control over finer movements.  One couple even noted that a partner that is on top can use the added stability provided by memory foam in order to gain more “traction.”

In general, the more memory foam contained within a mattress, the more “memory feel” that mattress will have.  That said, different types of memory foam can be faster or slower to respond and recover, giving them different feels in this regard.  Also, the closer the memory foam is to the top of the mattress, the more likely it is to be a factor (positively or negatively) during sex.

Cushioning Depth + Softness

Separate from “memory feel” are the oft-related questions of how much softness a mattress has and how deeply you sink into it.  These factors can determine how “squishy” a mattress feels, and can be the difference between “sleeping on” your mattress (a.k.a., a floating sensation) vs. “sleeping in” (a.k.a., a hugged or cradled sensation).  Irrespective of your preferences when sleeping, it may also be worth considering what you prefer on this dimension during sex.  For example, if you’re the partner on the bottom, you might feel smothered or trapped by a deeply fluffy mattress – this can be particularly true if your partner is significantly heavier than you. Likewise, if you are on top, you might find movement more difficult or less stable on a squishy mattress, as hands and knees sink more deeply into the bed.

All else being equal, mattresses with thicker or softer cushioning layers (eg, pillow-tops) will tend to have greater cushioning depth and softness than those without such characteristics.  In addition, all-foam mattresses will tend to have more overall “squish” than mattresses with innerspring support.

Edge Support

A standard part of all our reviews is an examination of edge support – how stable you feel while sitting or laying right on the edge of the mattress. While we typically discuss this in the context of sleeping along the edge or sitting on the edge to tie your shoes, many people also report that having a mattress with a strong edge is useful for sex.  For example, if you and your partner enjoy positions where one person is lying on the bed while the other is standing on the floor, or where one partner is kneeling or leaning against the edge of the mattress, you’ll want to prioritize a bed that has some integrity around its perimeter.

In general, innerspring mattresses are more likely to have specific features that are designed to give the mattress more edge support than other types of mattresses.  However, air beds and even foam mattresses can also contain such features.

Temperature

Some people are more prone to overheating during the night, which can make temperature a big priority when choosing a mattress.  But even if you don’t get hot when sleeping, you may find that an elevated body temperature is an issue during more rambunctious activities on your mattress. Sure, a little steam can be hot, but too much can be distracting and even a turn-off.  On the margin, beds with more airflow and/or other good cooling features will be less prone to getting hot.  Likewise, for those on the bottom, cushioning depth can come into play here as well – the less you sink into the mattress, the more of your body is exposed to the air and thereby able to dispel excess heat.

Ease of Repositioning

Not all mattresses are equally easy to move around on – and for people with limited mobility, this can lead to unnecessary waking, discomfort and sleep loss.  But even if repositioning has never been a challenge or concern for you when sleeping, you may find it to be more of a factor when you and your partner are dancing in the sheets.

Ease of repositioning is something we cover in all of our reviews.  In general, mattresses with less memory feel, more bounce, less cushioning depth, and less softness will tend to be easier for repositioning.

Adjustable Base Compatibility

One thing we get asked about more and more is adjustable base compatibility.  This is partly due to the increased functionality of today’s adjustable bases (wireless remotes, charging ports, programmable features, etc.).  But perhaps the biggest driving factor for the popularity of adjustable bases has been younger people discovering the joys of using their beds in an elevated position – whether for reading, working, watching TV, or yes… having sex!  Champions of the latter tend to cite the ability to enhance favorite positions or even access/invent new positions that wouldn’t otherwise be comfortable.  And it probably doesn’t hurt that most higher-end adjustable bases also come with a built-in vibrating massage feature (no kidding!).

While not all mattresses are designed for use with an adjustable base, most memory foam, latex, hybrid, and even air mattresses are.  When we evaluate adjustable base compatibility in our reviews, we consider not only whether it can be safely bent without damaging it or voiding its warranty, but also how well it conforms to the curves of an adjustable base and whether anything strange happens (e.g., bowing or bunching) when the mattress is in a bent position.

Noise

When it comes to having sex discretely, there is nothing worse than a noisy mattress.  Fortunately, due to the growing prevalence of pocketed coil mattresses (not to mention all-foam mattresses), squeaky mattresses are harder and harder to find these days – particularly in mid-level mattresses and above.

The thing that can make mattress coils squeak is when metal rubs against metal.  With pocketed coils, there is a fabric pocket around each coil. This type of coil design prevents metal from one coil from touching metal from another coil -- ergo, no noise.  And naturally, a mattress that contains only foam is not going to squeak either. 

If noise is a concern for you, it is more likely to come from whatever you have underneath the mattress – e.g. your foundation, platform, adjustable base, or frame.  In such components, noise can result from metal rubbing against other metal, or even from wood creaking or rubbing against other wood.  You should also be cautious about mattresses featuring “connected coil” design, since that style of innerspring does involve metal touching other metal.


We hope we’ve given you some new things to think about while mattress shopping! Remember, you can always use our unbiased owner reviews, in-depth editorial reviews, and Mattress Match Quiz to find a mattress that suits ALL of your needs.

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