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Is a Deep Mattress Better? The Importance of a Good Mattress for Spinal Health

Sleep is an essential part of our lives, and the quality of our sleep affects our physical and mental well-being. One crucial factor that contributes to a good night’s sleep is the mattress we sleep on. A comfortable and supportive mattress is vital for maintaining spinal health and reducing the risk of back pain. But how can you determine if a deep mattress is the answer to your sleep-related woes? As a chiropractor, mattress designer, and sleep researcher, I’m here to shed some light on this intriguing question.

A deep mattress might be preferable for some, offering extra comfort, support, and durability. Suitability depends on personal preference, sleep position, and body weight. Side sleepers and heavier individuals may find deep mattresses beneficial, while others could prefer thinner alternatives for ease of movement and cost-efficiency.

In this article, I will reveal whether a deep mattress is indeed the better option for most people. Drawing from my 20 years of experience in sleep science and sleep ergonomics, I will discuss the relationship between mattress depth, spinal alignment, and overall sleep quality. In a nutshell, a deep mattress can provide improved support and comfort for some individuals, but it is crucial to consider factors such as body type and sleeping position to find the perfect fit.

What is a Deep Mattress?

A deep mattress, also known as a thick or high-profile mattress, typically measures 12 inches or more in depth. These mattresses often contain several layers of materials, including memory foam, latex, and innerspring systems, designed to provide optimum support and comfort.

Pros of Deep Mattresses

Enhanced Contouring and Pressure Relief

Deep mattresses are known for providing better support, especially for people with lighter body weights. The additional layers and materials used in a deep mattress can help distribute weight more evenly, reducing pressure points and promoting spinal alignment.

Durability and Longevity

Thicker mattresses tend to be more durable and longer-lasting than thinner ones. The multiple layers and high-quality materials used in deep mattresses can withstand wear and tear better, maintaining their supportive and comfortable properties for an extended period.

Motion Isolation

If you share your bed with a partner, a deep mattress can offer improved motion isolation. The layers of foam and other materials absorb movement, preventing it from transferring across the bed and disturbing your partner’s sleep.

Cons of Deep Mattresses

Heavy and Difficult to Move

One downside to deep mattresses is their weight. The extra layers and materials make them significantly heavier than thinner mattresses, making it challenging to move or change bed linens.

Heat Retention

Thick mattresses, particularly those made with memory foam, can retain heat, making them less suitable for hot sleepers. To mitigate this issue, look for mattresses with cooling technologies, such as gel-infused memory foam or breathable covers.

Higher Cost

Deep mattresses are generally more expensive than their thinner counterparts due to the additional layers and materials used. However, investing in a high-quality mattress can be a wise decision for your long-term spinal health and comfort.

Reduced Support

Deep mattresses are known for providing better support, especially for people with heavier body weights. The additional layers and materials used in a deep mattress can help distribute weight more evenly, reducing pressure points and promoting spinal alignment.

The Chiropractor’s Perspective

The Role of Spinal Alignment

A chiropractor who is also a mattress designer understands the importance of spinal alignment during sleep. An ideal mattress should maintain the natural curve of the spine, keeping it in a neutral position to prevent strain on the muscles and ligaments.

The Importance of Proper Support

A deep mattress may provide the necessary support for individuals with specific needs, such as those with heavier body weights or chronic pain. It is crucial to choose a mattress that offers the right level of support for your body type and sleeping position to reduce the risk of developing spinal issues or exacerbating existing ones.

How to Choose the Right Mattress

Consider Your Sleeping Position

Your preferred sleeping position plays a significant role in determining the best mattress for you. Side sleepers typically require a softer mattress to accommodate the natural curves of the body, while back and stomach sleepers need a firmer mattress to maintain proper spinal alignment.

Test the Mattress Before Buying

Whenever possible, it’s a good idea to test a mattress in-store before making a purchase. Lie down in your usual sleeping position for at least 10-15 minutes to gauge the mattress’s comfort and support. If you’re purchasing online, look for companies that offer in-home trial periods, allowing you to test the mattress risk-free.

Look for a Trial Period and Warranty

Investing in a mattress is a significant decision, so it’s essential to have the option to return or exchange it if it doesn’t meet your expectations. Choose a mattress brand that offers a generous trial period and a comprehensive warranty to protect your investment.

Mattress Firmness and Material Considerations

Mattress Firmness: Understanding the Complexities

Mattress firmness is often misunderstood, with many people mistakenly believing that a firmer mattress is always the better option. However, it is essential to distinguish between firmness and support; firmness relates to the initial feel of the mattress, while support refers to the mattress’s ability to maintain proper spinal alignment.

Factors Determining Mattress Firmness

Various factors influence mattress firmness, such as responsiveness, density, and the materials used in its construction. Responsiveness refers to how quickly a mattress adjusts to changes in pressure, while density is the amount of material packed into a given volume of the mattress. Mattress materials include memory foam, latex, innerspring, and hybrid combinations, each with their unique characteristics.

Criticisms of Memory Foam

Memory foam mattresses have certain drawbacks, including heat retention properties, which can cause discomfort for hot sleepers or during warm seasons. Their slow responsiveness can make it difficult for sleepers to change positions or move during the night, making them unsuitable for those who prefer a bouncy or responsive sleeping surface.

The Importance of Support and Contouring

Support is essential for maintaining the natural curve of the spine and preventing back pain. Contouring plays a significant role in a mattress, with the top 5-10 cm needing to contour to the body’s curves to prevent compression and pressure points. When choosing a mattress, consider factors such as body type, sleeping position, and personal preference.


Mattress Types: Pros and Cons

Innerspring Mattresses


  • Affordability: Innerspring mattresses are generally more affordable than other mattress types.
  • Durability: The coils in innerspring mattresses can provide good support over time.


  • Lack of durability: Innerspring mattresses can sag and lose support over time, leading to discomfort.
  • Poor pressure relief: These mattresses might not provide the necessary pressure relief for sensitive joints and muscles.

Memory Foam Mattresses


  • Pressure relief: Memory foam is known for its ability to contour to the body, providing excellent pressure relief.
  • Support: These mattresses offer good support, especially for those with back or joint pain.


  • Off-gassing: Memory foam can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that might be harmful to one’s health.
  • Breakdown over time: Memory foam mattresses can lose support over time, making them an unappealing option for environmentally conscious consumers.

Hybrid Mattresses


  • Combination of materials: Hybrid mattresses attempt to combine the benefits of both innerspring and foam mattresses.
  • Improved support: The combination of materials can provide improved support compared to traditional mattresses.


  • Durability concerns: The combination of materials can lead to premature breakdown and sagging.
  • Poor investment: Hybrid mattresses may not be a wise investment for those seeking a long-lasting mattress.

Natural Latex Mattresses


  • Unparalleled support: Natural latex mattresses offer excellent support and pressure relief.
  • Resistance to allergens: Latex is naturally resistant to allergens and dust mites, making it an ideal choice for allergy sufferers.

Challenges in Designing Natural Latex Mattresses

Natural latex mattresses come with their own set of challenges, such as high responsiveness and density, which can make designing a 100% natural latex mattress difficult.

Creating the Ideal Natural Latex Mattress

To create the perfect natural latex mattress, it is essential to utilise medical testing equipment, such as an EMG machine, to gather accurate data on muscle activity during sleep. This data allows mattress designers to identify and address pressure points, leading to better support and pressure relief.

The Benefits of Medical Testing Equipment

Using medical testing equipment enables designers to make informed decisions when designing a natural latex mattress, resulting in improved sleep quality for users.

Mattress Durability

When choosing a new mattress, durability is an important factor to consider. Different mattress materials have varying levels of durability, which can impact how long a mattress maintains its desirable properties. It is crucial to examine the materials used in both the comfort and support layers of a mattress to estimate its durability, rather than relying on manufacturer warranties.

Material Lifespan

Material Lifespan (Comfort Layer) Lifespan (Support Layer)
Latex foam 15+ years 15+ years
High quality memory foam (5.0 lbs or higher) 10-15 years Avoid
1.5 lb HD polyfoam or higher 7-10 years 7-10 years
Mid quality memory foam (4.0 lbs range) 5-7 years Avoid
Conventional polyfoam less than 1.5 lbs 2-3 years Avoid
Cheap memory foam in the 3 lb range or less 2-3 years Avoid
Innerspring Avoid 5-7 years
HR polyfoam 7-10 years 7-10 years
HD polyfoam 7-10 years 7-10 years
Cheap lower quality innersprings 2-3 years 2-3 years
Conventional polyfoam 2-3 years Avoid


Is a deep mattress better? The answer ultimately depends on your individual needs, preferences, and budget. While deep mattresses provide enhanced support, durability, and motion isolation, they can also be heavy, retain heat, and carry a higher price tag. A chiropractor who is a mattress designer understands the importance of spinal alignment and proper support, so it’s essential to consider these factors when choosing a mattress. Always test a mattress before buying, and look for a trial period and warranty to ensure you make the right decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Do deep mattresses need special bed frames? While deep mattresses can fit on most standard bed frames, you may want to invest in a more robust frame or a bed base designed to accommodate the additional weight and thickness.
  2. Can I use a deep mattress with an adjustable bed? Many deep mattresses are compatible with adjustable beds, but it’s essential to verify with the manufacturer or retailer to ensure proper functionality and support.
  3. How do I clean and maintain a deep mattress? Regularly rotating your mattress can help prolong its lifespan. For cleaning, use a vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment to remove dust and debris, and spot clean stains with a mild detergent and water solution.
  4. What type of sheets should I use for a deep mattress? Look for sheets with deep pockets, designed specifically for thicker mattresses. These sheets will fit snugly around the corners and edges of your mattress, ensuring they stay in place during sleep.
  5. How often should I replace my deep mattress? The lifespan of a deep mattress can vary depending on the materials used and the quality of construction. Generally, it’s recommended to replace your mattress every 7-10 years, or when you start noticing a decline in comfort and support.