Sleep Health

How the Right Mattress Can Help with Sleep Apnea

How the Right Mattress Can Help with Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common disorder that affects millions of Americans, causing repeated breathing interruptions during sleep. These disruptions can lead to daytime fatigue, mood changes, and serious health problems. While a CPAP machine is the most common treatment, did you know that your mattress can also significantly manage sleep apnea symptoms?

  • Over 29 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea [^1]
  • Up to 80% of cases remain undiagnosed
  • The right mattress can improve symptoms for a significant portion of patients

Key Takeaways and What It Means for You

Sleep Position Matters

Side sleeping can reduce sleep apnea symptoms by keeping your airway open. Choose a mattress that supports this position.

Spinal Alignment Is Crucial

A mattress that keeps your spine aligned can prevent airway obstruction. Look for a balance of support and pressure relief.

Adjustable Beds Can Help

Elevating your head and torso can ease breathing. Consider a mattress compatible with adjustable bases.

Firmness Depends on Individual Needs

The ideal firmness varies based on weight, sleep position, and preferences. Test different options to find your perfect fit.

Material Choice Impacts Comfort

Memory foam, hybrid, gel foam, and innerspring mattresses offer different benefits. Consider your specific needs when choosing.

Sleep Hygiene Is Essential

Create a sleep-friendly environment with a consistent schedule, relaxing bedtime routine, and comfortable bedding.

Acid Reflux Can Worsen Symptoms

Manage acid reflux by sleeping with your head elevated and avoiding triggers. Read more about how to sleep properly with acid reflux.

In-Person Testing Is Valuable

Visit a mattress store to try out different models and get expert guidance. Take advantage of sleep trials for at-home testing.

Severe Sleep Apnea Requires Medical Guidance

If your sleep apnea is severe, consult a doctor or sleep specialist for personalized treatment recommendations.

Whether you've already been diagnosed with sleep apnea or suspect you might have it, understanding the connection between your mattress and your symptoms can be a game-changer. Let's explore how you can optimize your sleep setup to control your sleep apnea and wake up feeling more refreshed.

Understanding the Mattress-Sleep Apnea Link

To understand how your mattress can impact your sleep apnea, you must understand the role of sleep position and spinal support. Let's break down these key factors and explore how they contribute to better breathing during sleep.

Side Sleeping: The Best Position for Sleep Apnea

If you have sleep apnea, your sleep position can greatly affect your symptoms.

  • Research shows that sleeping on your side, as opposed to your back, can help reduce the severity of sleep apnea [^3]
  • When you sleep on your side, gravity helps keep your airway open, making breathing easier.
  • The tongue and soft tissues in the throat are less likely to collapse and block the airway when you're in this position.
  • Studies have found that avoiding sleeping on your back can significantly improve sleep apnea symptoms.

That's why side sleeping is often recommended for people with this condition.

The Right Mattress Matters for Side Sleepers with Apnea

To comfortably maintain side sleeping, you need a mattress that offers the right pressure relief and support balance.

Mattress Features Why It Matters for Sleep Apnea

Contouring: Cushion pressure points like the hips and shoulders, making side sleeping more comfortable.

Support: Keeps your spine aligned and prevents you from sinking too deeply, which can worsen symptoms.

RELATED: How to Sleep on Your Side Properly

Spinal Alignment: The Key to Better Breathing

Proper spinal alignment is crucial for everyone, but it's especially important if you have sleep apnea.

  • When your spine is out of alignment, the tissues in your throat can relax and block your airway, worsening sleep apnea symptoms.
  • An unsupportive mattress can undermine its effectiveness even if you use a CPAP machine (a common sleep apnea treatment that helps keep your airway open).
  • Poor spinal alignment can still contribute to breathing difficulties, making you tired in the morning.

That's why choosing a mattress that promotes healthy spinal alignment in your preferred sleep position is essential.

Staying Cool and Comfortable with Sleep Apnea

Many people with sleep apnea experience night sweats, which can disrupt sleep and cause discomfort. The right mattress can help with this by promoting better temperature regulation.

  • Mattresses with breathable materials, like hybrid mattresses and innerspring mattresses, allow for better airflow.
  • This helps dissipate heat and moisture, keeping you cooler and more comfortable at night.
  • Gel foam mattresses incorporate special cooling technologies and are often seen as the best when it comes to cooler sleep.

Choosing a mattress that helps you maintain a comfortable temperature reduces sleep disruptions and helps you get more restful sleep, even with sleep apnea.

The Right Mattress: Your Sleep Apnea Treatment Ally

Choosing the right mattress can be a powerful tool in your sleep apnea treatment arsenal. Let's explore the features and types of mattresses that can help alleviate your symptoms.

Adjustable Beds: The Elevation Advantage


Reduced Airway Obstruction: Elevating the head can help keep the airway open, reducing mild to moderate sleep apnea symptoms.

Versatility: Adjustable beds can be paired with various mattress types, including many memory foam, gel, and hybrids.

Customizable Comfort: Find the perfect angle for your needs, whether a slight elevation for better breathing or a more upright position for reading or watching TV.

Adjustable beds can be a game-changer for sleep apnea sufferers of all ages.

Finding Your Perfect Support: Firmness Isn't Everything

When choosing a mattress for sleep apnea, firmness is just one piece of the puzzle.

  • Individual Needs: The ideal firmness level varies from person to person based on factors like body weight, sleep position, and personal preferences.
  • Pressure Relief vs. Support: While support is crucial for maintaining spinal alignment, pressure relief is equally important for reducing pain and discomfort that can disrupt sleep.
  • Heavy Sleepers: If you're a heavier individual with sleep apnea, look for a mattress that offers extra support to prevent excessive sinking, which can worsen symptoms.

The best mattress for sleep apnea is one that strikes a balance between support and pressure relief, tailored to your unique needs.

Materials Matter: Finding the Right Fit for You

The materials and construction of your mattress can greatly impact its effectiveness in managing sleep apnea symptoms. Here's how some of the most popular mattress types stack up:

  • Memory Foam Mattresses: A study by Danoff-Burg [^2] found that memory foam mattresses can significantly improve sleep quality and consistency, suggesting potential benefits for sleep apnea sufferers. Look for high-density foams that provide ample support without excessive sinking.
  • Hybrid Mattresses: Combining the contouring of memory foam or gel foam with the support of innerspring coils, hybrid mattresses can balance pressure relief and spinal alignment. The coils also promote better airflow, which can help regulate temperature.
  • Gel Foam Mattresses: Infused with cooling gel, these mattresses are designed to dissipate heat and maintain a comfortable sleeping temperature. This can be particularly beneficial for sleep apnea patients who experience night sweats.
  • Innerspring Mattresses: While traditional innerspring mattresses may not provide the same level of contouring as other types, newer models often incorporate comfort layers of foam or gel foam for added pressure relief. Look for individually pocketed coils for targeted support and reduced motion transfer.

Ultimately, the best mattress for your sleep apnea will depend on your needs and preferences. When choosing, consider your sleep position, body type, and other health concerns. Don't hesitate to contact a sleep specialist or mattress expert for personalized recommendations.

Optimizing Your Sleep Beyond the Mattress

While choosing the right mattress is crucial for managing sleep apnea symptoms, it's just one piece of the puzzle. Let's explore additional strategies to help you get the most restful sleep possible.

Sleep Hygiene Tailored to Sleep Apnea

Practicing good sleep hygiene can greatly improve the quality of your sleep, especially if you have sleep apnea.

  • Avoid Alcohol: Drinking alcohol, especially before bed, can relax the muscles in your throat, worsening sleep apnea symptoms.
  • Stick to a Schedule: Going to bed and waking up regularly can help your body's internal clock and improve sleep quality.
  • Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Wind down with calming activities like reading, gentle stretching, or a warm bath to signal your body that it's time to sleep.
  • Choose the Right Pillow: Look for a pillow that supports your head and neck in your preferred sleep position. Specialty pillows designed for sleep apnea can help keep your airway open.
  • Opt for Breathable Bedding: Lightweight, moisture-wicking sheets and blankets can help prevent overheating and night sweats, common in sleep apnea patients.

By optimizing your sleep environment and habits, you can create the best possible conditions for restful sleep.

Managing Acid Reflux: A Key Piece of the Puzzle

Acid reflux and sleep apnea often go hand in hand, with each condition exacerbating the other.

  • The Apnea-Reflux Connection: Sleep apnea can cause changes in pressure within the chest and abdomen, leading to acid reflux. In turn, the discomfort and sleep disruptions caused by acid reflux can worsen sleep apnea symptoms.
  • Wedge Pillows: Sleeping with your head and shoulders elevated can help prevent stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus. Wedge pillows are designed for this purpose, with a gradual slope supporting your upper body.
  • Mattress Matters: A too-soft mattress may not provide enough support for a wedge pillow, causing you to sink into the bed and reduce the pillow's effectiveness. Look for a mattress with a sturdy base layer that can support the incline of your wedge pillow.

If you suspect that acid reflux is contributing to your sleep apnea symptoms, talk to your doctor about treatment options. Lifestyle changes, such as avoiding large meals before bed and losing weight, can also help manage both conditions.

The Importance of Sleep Trials

  • What Is a Sleep Trial? Many mattress retailers offer sleep trials, which allow you to test out a mattress for a certain period (usually 30-100 nights) with the option to return it if you're unsatisfied.
  • Why It Matters for Sleep Apnea: Sleep trials are especially important when shopping for a mattress with sleep apnea in mind, as it may take some time to determine whether a mattress is helping or hindering your symptoms.
  • Look for Long Trials: The longer the sleep trial, the more time you have to ensure that the mattress fits your needs.

A Note on Severity

  • Mild to Moderate Sleep Apnea: Choosing a supportive and comfortable mattress can be an effective part of your treatment plan if your sleep apnea is mild to moderate.
  • Severe Sleep Apnea: If your sleep apnea is severe, it's important to consult with a doctor or sleep specialist for personalized advice. They can help you determine the best course of treatment, which may include a specific type of mattress or other sleep equipment.

Remember, the right mattress is just one part of managing your sleep apnea. Follow your doctor's recommendations and consistently use any prescribed treatments, such as a CPAP machine, for the best results.

Take Control of Your Sleep Apnea, Starting Tonight

Managing sleep apnea takes effort, but with the right tools and strategies, you can take control of your sleep and wake up feeling more refreshed. Your mattress is a powerful ally in this journey – by providing the support, comfort, and features you need, it can help you breathe easier and sleep more soundly.

But remember, your mattress is just one part of the equation. For the best results, it's important to follow your doctor's recommendations and consistently use any prescribed treatments, such as a CPAP machine. Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol, and practicing good sleep hygiene, can also make a big difference.

Ready to Find Better Sleep?

  • Visit Mancini's Sleepworld today and let our experts help you find the mattress that will change your sleep – and your life.
  • Take Our Mattress Quiz: Not sure where to start? Take our online mattress quiz for personalized recommendations based on your sleep style, preferences, and needs. It's a great way to narrow your options before visiting a store.
  • Browse Our Mattresses: Check out our collection of mattresses designed to help get you the best sleep possible. With a range of options from top brands, you're sure to find the perfect fit for your needs.
  • Try In-Store: Find a mattress store location near you to try out some of our best sleep apnea mattresses!.

Helpful Resources

Remember, you don't have to navigate sleep apnea alone. With the right resources, support, and strategies, you can take control of your sleep and wake up feeling your best.


  1. Peppard PE, Young T, Barnet JH, Palta M, Hagen EW, Hla KM. Increased prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing in adults. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2013;177(9):1006-1014.
  2. Danoff-Burg, S., Rus, H., Burke, C., Weaver, M., Carmon, K., Ledesma, D., & Rodriguez, R. (2023). 0959 Use of a Memory Foam Mattress Improves Sleep Quality and Consistency. SLEEP.
  3. Svatikova, A., Chervin, R., Wing, J., Sánchez, B., Migda, E., & Brown, D. (2011). Positional therapy in ischemic stroke patients with obstructive sleep apnea.. Sleep medicine, 12 3, 262-6 .

Mar 21, 2024