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What is Motion Isolation?
Important for couples

Last updated on August 19, 2020

Minimizing disturbance from other movements on the bed can be especially important if you are a light sleeper, and/or if you have pets, children, or a restless partner.

Mattresses that boast good motion isolation (also called motion separation) help keep movement localized on a mattress, so that you aren't jostled awake in the night when your partner gets in and out of bed. Those with kids or pets might also appreciate motion isoltion properties of a bed.

Today, many brands have very good motion isolation. Beds with foam, memory foam, or latex in the top comfort layers are generally best at this, but beds with pocketed coil support cores can also do well.

Tempur-Pedic was the first mattress company to make a big deal of motion isolation back in 2008. Remember the commercials with the wine glass on the bed where a person jumped on the bed and the glass didn't tip?

How Does GoodBed Evaluate Motion Isolation?

In our GoodBed Expert Reviews, we test for motion isolation in two ways. 

With a bowing pin resting on the bed on top of a small piece of glass, we first drop a 16-lb. bowling ball onto the bed. This helps us gauge motion transfer on the surface of the bed. This is the type of movement that could disturb you if your partner tends to change position frequently during the night, or if you have a small pet that likes to jump up on the bed. If the bowling pin tips over, then motion isolation on the surface level isn't very good.

Next, our 200-lb. tester drops his entire body weight on to the bed to see if the bowling pin tips over. This simulates a partner getting in and out of bed. Here, we're also looking for how the pin behaves: Does it wiggle and recover? Does it drop? Or does it barely move at all?

We rate motion isolation on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being poor and 10 being excellent.

Testing Motion Isolation

Which Mattress is Best for Couples?

As you can imagine, motion isolation is usually a priority for couples shopping together for a mattress. It can be especially important if one or both of you are light sleepers, or if one part of the couple works a different shift and has a different bed time or wake time than the other.

Good motion isolation could also be a priority for a single sleeper that has pets or children that like to jump into bed. So if your 150-pound great dane likes to take over half of your bed, choosing the best motion-isolating mattress can matter, even if you aren't part of a couple.

Of course, other factors will also impact your decision, but for couples, low motion transfer may to a top priority.

Some mattresses that have particularly impressed us in our tests with respect to motion isolation include:

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