Mattress Guides

What Does Responsiveness Mean in a Mattress?

Better responsiveness means a better sleep experience!

By Alex Reale

While shopping for a new mattress, you may come across various terms that contribute to its overall quality, such as “comfort layers,” and “firmness levels.” One commonly used term is “responsiveness.” You may be asking yourself, “What does responsiveness mean in a mattress?” 

In short, it’s the degree to which a mattress responds to motion and pressure, and it can have a significant impact on your sleep experience. Read on to learn more about mattress responsiveness, which mattresses excel in this area, and why exactly it’s such an important factor to consider while shopping.

What Does Good Responsiveness Look Like?

A mattress with high responsiveness has a bouncy, springy surface that makes it easier to move around and switch positions on. A low responsiveness score means that the mattress can cause you to sink in, and feel hugged or enveloped.

Since everyone has a different sleep personality, it can be tricky to pinpoint exactly which level of responsiveness is right for you. Overall, it can depend on numerous factors such as weight, level of activity, sleeping position, and more. Keep reading to learn more about which categories of sleepers responsiveness affects the most.

Who is Responsiveness Important For?

As you shop for a mattress, you need to ask yourself several questions to understand your sleep personality. By establishing this, you’ll be able to determine which qualities are most important for you to look for in a new mattress. Below are some of the types of people who should consider high responsiveness one of their top priorities.

Combination Sleepers

Everyone has a preferred sleep position. You can either be a stomach sleeper, back sleeper, side sleeper, or a combination sleeper, which means you shift positions throughout the night. Out of all the sleep positions, combination sleepers are the ones who can benefit from a highly responsive mattress the most.

Combination sleepers are prone to tossing and turning as they sleep, and due to their constant movement, they’ll want a mattress that can rapidly respond to these shifts. Memory foam mattresses may feel soft, but for combination sleepers, they don’t offer the right amount of responsiveness. As you’re shifting positions, the foam will feel like it’s hugging you and making you feel trapped, which can make it difficult to get restful sleep.

If you’re a combination sleeper, it’s recommended you check out either a latex foam mattress or a high-density responsive foam mattress for the right level of responsiveness.

Related: Best Mattresses for Combo Sleepers

People Who Have Trouble Getting Out of Bed

One of the hardest things to do in the morning is to get out of bed, both mentally and physically. Your body has to put a lot of stress on muscles, joints, and bones, and the less responsive your mattress, the harder it will be to get up each morning. 

If you sleep on a mattress with a low level of responsiveness, such as those made of poor-quality foam, getting out of bed can mean exacerbated knee pain and back pain, if these are problems that you suffer from. Mattresses with high responsiveness, on the other hand, will make springing out of bed much easier on your body. 

People Looking to Have Sex

Beds may be primarily for sleeping and relaxing, but they’re also great for having sex. As you probably know, sex can involve a good deal of movement. If you want the best possible experience, you’ll need to go with a mattress that has a high level of responsiveness. 

Mattresses that feature coils or latex in their construction supply the right amount of bounce to make sex more enjoyable, whereas pure memory foam mattresses might make it more of a chore due to the feeling of being “sucked into” the mattress surface.

Heavy People

Heavier people with more body weight want a mattress that can handle their larger frames while still being supportive. A highly responsive mattress will help people with a heavier body type keep their spine aligned while they sleep, and will prevent them from sinking in and becoming trapped within the bed. Our best mattresses for heavy people list has more information.

Hot Sleepers

Sleeping hot can be one of the most unpleasant feelings in the world, and believe it or not, the responsiveness of a mattress can impact your body temperature as you sleep. A mattress that isn’t very responsive can cause you to sink into the folds, giving you the sensation of being trapped and preventing your body heat from escaping. On the other hand, a very responsive and breathable mattress will keep you on the surface and promote healthy airflow, allowing your body to breathe and feel nice and refreshed.

Related: Best Cooling Mattresses

Which Kinds of Mattresses Have the Best Responsiveness?

Mattress companies employ a variety of materials in their mattresses, such as latex, foam, wool, springs, and more. Each of these materials comes with their own strengths and weaknesses in terms of durability, pricing, and responsiveness. Below is a comprehensive overview of the mattress types with the best responsiveness.

Innerspring

Innerspring mattresses are also referred to as coil mattresses because they’re made of numerous metal coils connected together. This springy construction gives innerspring mattresses the ability to create a highly responsive sleep surface. However, these responsive coil mattresses are not ideal for couples that share a bed because of the high level of motion transfer. Every time you or your partner moves, the other will feel it, and this can make for a poor sleep environment for light sleepers.

An alternative to traditional innerspring mattresses is the pocketed coil mattress, which follows the same principle, except the coils are individually wrapped instead of connected to each other. This means that each spring will react to your body independently, thus providing extra responsiveness. In addition to this, couples that share a bed won’t have to worry about motion transfer every time they turn over or get up. For a look at some of our favorites, head over to our best innerspring mattress page.

Hybrid

Hybrid mattresses produce a unique sleep experience. Made of a combination of springs and a top layer of plush memory foam (and sometimes latex), hybrid mattresses provide a high level of responsiveness along with a level of soft cushioning, body conforming, and pressure point relief. They provide a bouncy yet slightly hugging surface that is unlike anything you’ve experienced before. 

Related: Best Hybrid Mattresses

Latex

Most latex mattresses are made using sap from the rubber tree, making them a favorite of shoppers looking for natural sleep materials with high breathability. This latex composition also makes them a solid contender for most responsive mattress. 

Overall, latex features much more bounce and responsiveness than its memory foam counterpart, while it also delivers exceptional pressure relief and contouring compared to coils. Whether you care more about a good night’s sleep or a good time with your partner, a latex mattress is simply one of the best. Our best latex mattresses list has some of our favorite options.

Foam

All-foam beds can go either way when it comes to responsiveness. High-quality memory foam is designed to contour and conform to your body’s unique shape and curve. Responsive memory foam mattresses provide a comforting sleep surface that will give you a slight hug and support you as you change positions throughout the night, while still contributing to excellent spinal alignment.

Before you go purchasing a memory foam or polyfoam mattress, you need to realize that not all foam is created equal. Low-quality foam mattresses come with low responsiveness, so as you turn throughout the night, you may feel like you’re trapped in quicksand. Make sure you’re picking foam bedding that is properly constructed with high-quality memory foam layers to deliver the responsiveness you deserve.

No matter what kind of foam mattress you get, whether it’s high-response or low-response, you need to remember one important detail: most foam doesn’t yield a high amount of bounce. This may not entirely impact your sleep, but if you’re looking for a good mattress for sex, it can be a cause for concern.

The Relationship Between Firmness and Responsiveness

Every mattress has a specific level of firmness, which is rated on a scale from 1 to 10. Mattresses on the lower end of the mattress firmness scale are softer, and are usually made of latex or some form of foam. Mattresses that rate higher on the firmness scale are firmer and often consist of a spring and coil system.

Firmness and responsiveness have a strong relationship with one another. Typically, the higher the firmness, the better the responsiveness. As you shop for your new mattress, take a look at the firmness levels to help you decide if it can provide the right amount of response for you.

Responsiveness and Edge Support

Another term you may see a lot during your search for the right mattress is edge support. Edge support refers to the level of support (and responsiveness) around the perimeter of a mattress. 

It’s important to have a proper amount of edge support for your mattress for numerous reasons. Strong, thick edges will keep you from accidentally rolling out of bed in the middle of the night, or sliding off while sitting on the edge of the mattress. A strong, supportive edge can also make getting in and out of bed much easier so that you don’t have to put as much strain on your legs and lower back in the morning. Finally, edge support can minimize motion transfer, preventing you from disturbing your partner if you change positions or have to get out of bed.

Ideally, you’ll want to find a mattress that has a high level of edge support not only because of the aforementioned benefits, but also because it ties into the level of responsiveness. A bed with reinforced edges will offer a bouncier, more responsive sleep surface that can make for a much more enjoyable sleep experience.

Responsiveness Combats Sagging

A common problem that mattresses may face over time is sagging and sinkage. Older mattresses, or mattresses that have gone through a lot of use, may start to sag around the edges. This will affect the overall structural integrity of the mattress and make for a poor sleep experience. 

Sagging can be avoided in numerous ways. First, you’ll want to look at the various materials used in mattress construction. Memory foam mattresses are less likely to sag because they’re designed to revert to their original shape, whereas innerspring mattresses’ coils don’t have the same capability.

Next, you’ll need to look into edge support. Mattresses focused on high-quality edge support are less likely to succumb to sagging, but only if the edge support is properly constructed. Foam encased edges and thick metal coils are usually the best edge support materials to combat sagging.

Finally, you’ll want to check out a mattress’s level of responsiveness. A mattress that is highly responsive will be bouncy and firm enough to push back against the pressure put on it, making sagging unlikely to occur for a very long time. Over time, a mattress’s responsiveness may decline, which is why it’s crucial that you understand its warranty policy, as discussed further below.

Testing Out Responsiveness

Testing out a new mattress is complicated. It’s unlikely that you’ll feel right at home on a new mattress when you take it right out of the box. Like trying on a new pair of shoes, it will take some breaking-in, which is why a majority of mattress companies allow for a sleep trial period on their bed-in-a-box options.

Online mattress purchases usually come with a sleep trial period that lasts approximately 100 days from date of delivery (in some cases, it can be as little as 30 days or as much as 365 days, depending on the brand). Since it takes roughly one month for a new mattress to break in, this gives you ample time to try it out without having to stress about being stuck with it. You’ll be able to learn if the mattress’s responsiveness is up to your liking or not. If you decide that it’s too responsive or not responsive enough, the company will work with you to return the mattress for a full refund or exchange it for another option, usually hassle-free. Always make sure you double-check the sleep trial policy to ensure the process is simple enough for you.

Conclusion

If you’ve come to the conclusion that high responsiveness is important for you, we recommend a latex mattress. Innerspring and hybrid mattresses are good options as well, but a latex mattress is definitely our favorite option for a bouncy and springy sleep experience.