What is a Therapeutic Mattress? (Pros v Cons)

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  • This article has been written by the site owner Dan Cartwright – a mattress testing expert who has been testing products and writing online reviews since 2015 to help buyers make the best purchasing decisions for their needs.

If you’re trying to find out what a therapeutic mattress is, then you might be struggling to find a clear answer due to the confusion between mattress brands with similar-sounding names.

A therapeutic mattress is any mattress that has the ability to offer relief from conditions that cause sleep disruption. Therapeutic mattresses are not restricted in their availability to hospitals or specific mattress brands – any mattress can have therapeutic potential if it suits the sleeper’s requirements.

The rest of this article explains in more detail the differences and similarities between therapeutic, orthopedic, Tempur-Pedic, and Therapedic mattresses – as well as discussing the pros and cons of therapeutic mattresses.

Related: click here to see the top 3 therapeutic mattresses I’ve personally slept on.

What is a Therapeutic Mattress?

A therapeutic mattress is any mattress whose qualities are able to help you get a better night’s sleep by lessening the effects of any conditions that disrupt your sleep.

Whilst some mattress brands would like to have you believe that only THEIR mattresses are capable of being ‘therapeutic’, the truth is that ANY mattress can have therapeutic capabilities if the design, materials, firmness, and other qualities are suitable for your sleeping style and can ease the discomfort of any ailments that cause insomnia.

More details below.

The Most Therapeutic Elements of a Mattress Explained

For example, here are some of the most common qualities of a mattress that can have therapeutic potential:

Memory Foam

Memory Foam Mattress Layers
Memory Foam Comfort Layers

High-quality memory foam is one of the most therapeutic components of a mattress because it offers better pressure relief than the polyfoam and other materials found in regular mattresses.

This means that the upper surface of the mattress can conform to your body shape more precisely in order to reduce pressure points – you can see how far memory foam sinks in by looking at the picture I took of my memory foam topped mattress above.

This makes memory foam topped mattresses potentially highly therapeutic because they can help to alleviate the pressure that causes conditions like sciatica, arthritis, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, back pain, and osteoporosis to feel worse when lying down on a non-adaptive surface.

Mattresses with thick, adaptive layers of memory foam in the upper comfort layer – like the Puffy Lux Hybrid – are ideal for treating postural conditions like kyphosis, lordosis, and scoliosis because the foam can adapt to your unique posture without creating friction points.

Latex Foam

The Nolah Natural 11 Inch Mattress
Latex Foam in Upper Section of Mattress

Whilst latex foam is slightly less adaptive than memory foam it’s easier to move around in and is more breathable.

You can see in the picture of my Nolah Natural mattress embedded above that the latex foam in the upper comfort layer has holes in it to help replace trapped hot air with cooler ambient air as you turn over.

This means that in addition to being good at alleviating pressure points, latex foam is very cooling and responsive.

Therefore, latex foam topped mattresses have therapeutic potential for treating conditions like night sweats, the menopause, and restlessness.

Look for latex foam that’s all-natural – or even organic – to ensure that there are no synthetic components for maximum allergy control.

Hybrid Design

Mend Hybrid Mattress
Mend Hybrid Mattress

A hybrid mattress has coils in the support core and foam in the upper comfort layers.

You can see an example of this hybrid design in the picture above, where I have cut open the side of my Mend Adapt hybrid mattress.

High-quality hybrid mattresses are some of the best mattresses that you can buy on the market and their therapeutic potential comes from their capacity to provide both exceptional pressure relief and support that can combat a massive range of conditions.

Look for hybrid mattresses that have individually encased ‘pocket’ coils because the springs can adapt one-by-one to your body shape to provide the best support – crucial for catering to postural defects that can cause insomnia.

Look for either high-quality memory foam or natural latex foam in the top layers of your hybrid mattress to offer the most therapeutic potential in terms of pressure relief.

All-foam Design

The Puffy Original All-Foam Mattress
The Puffy Original All-Foam Mattress

A mattress that’s made entirely of latex foam, polyfoam, or a combination of foams has therapeutic potential for lighter weighted sleepers under 150 lbs because these mattresses allow you to sink in more to alleviate pressure on your body – which can help ease the discomfort of conditions like arthritis and anorexia.

In the image example above, you can see that my all-foam Puffy Original mattress has high-density polyfoam in the base layer to provide support, whilst the upper comfort layer contains memory foam for pressure relief.

If you are on the lighter side, then make sure that you select a soft, medium-soft, or extra-soft mattress (especially if you are a side sleeper) to facilitate the best pressure relief and weight distribution.

Because all-foam mattresses are still available in firmer settings that may be uncomfortable for lighter weighted sleepers since it keeps you more ‘on top’ of the materials (which increases pressure points).

Hypoallergenic Cover

The Soft Cover of the Sweetnight Twilight Mattress
The Soft Cover of the Sweetnight Twilight Mattress

A hypoallergenic cover is one that is less likely to cause skin irritation or cause an allergic reaction – which is important if you have eczema, sensitive skin, a dust mite allergy, or chemical sensitivities.

Look for covers that are made from 100% organic cotton or are specifically labeled as being hypoallergenic for the most therapeutic benefit – the image above shows the soft cotton cover of my own personal Sweetnight Twilight mattress.

Click here to see why this is one of the best budget therapeutic mattresses to buy online.

Fiberglass-Free Fire Barrier

Nolah Natural With Natural Fire Barrier
Nolah Natural Mattress With Natural Fire Barrier

Some mattresses contain fiberglass in the fire barrier.

You want to avoid fiberglass in your mattress because this compound can cause skin irritation, allergic reactions, and contaminate your home.

Look for mattresses with a natural fire barrier made from wool, thistle, or anything that’s not fiberglass – in the image above, you can see where I’ve labeled the wool fire barrier in my own Nolah Natural mattress.

Yes, some mattresses that I’ve personally tested contain fiberglass that’s woven into the fire barrier where it won’t cause any problems – which contrasts with fiberglass that’s layered into the mattress and can escape easily.

But for the avoidance of any issues, you should look for a 100% fiberglass-free mattress if you have conditions like asthma, eczema, or other allergies to avoid issues.

Click here to see the best fiberglass-free mattresses that I’ve personally tested.

Extra-Thick Profile

The Extra Thick 15" Nolah Evolution Mattress
The Extra Thick 15″ Nolah Evolution Mattress

A mattress that’s 12 inches thick – or even thicker – has greater therapeutic potential than a thinner mattress of the same quality because a thicker profile reduces the chance of excessive material compression.

This is especially important if you struggle with obesity or you weigh more than 230 lbs because the mattress will provide more pushback and cushioning.

Look for a hybrid design with a robust coil core – the 15″ Nolah Evolution is perfect.

Compatible With an Adjustable Base

The therapeutic potential of any mattress can be enhanced significantly by pairing it with an adjustable base because it allows for custom postural adjustments and can make getting in and out of bed easier.

This can specifically benefit conditions like back pain, arthritis, chronic pain, disc problems, GERD, acid reflux, stomach ulcers, hip pain, and obesity.

The key is to get a mattress and adjustable frame that are compatible.

The easiest way to do this is to buy the mattress and the base at the same time from the same brand so you know they will work together.

Click here to see the best therapeutic mattresses and adjustable bases that work together.

Is a Therapeutic Mattress the Same as a Tempur-Pedic Bed?

Tempur-Pedic is a mattress brand, whilst a therapeutic mattress is any mattress that has the capacity to alleviate the symptoms of conditions that cause sleep disruption – therefore they are not exclusively the same thing, but Tempur-Pedic mattresses have therapeutic potential.

Click here to see the most therapeutic Tempur-Pedic mattresses that I’ve reviewed.

Is a Therapeutic Mattress the Same as a Therapedic Bed?

A Therapedic mattress is not the same thing as a therapeutic mattress because Therapedic is a brand whilst a therapeutic mattress can be any mattress with the potential to combat certain conditions that lead to insomnia – but Therapedic’s mattresses do have therapeutic potential.

Is a Therapeutic Mattress the Same as an Orthapedic Bed?

An orthopedic mattress is designed to offer more support for your bones and joints, whilst a therapeutic mattress can offer this along with extra features like better pressure relief, so they are not exactly the same thing – although an orthopedic mattress does confer some therapeutic benefits in terms of postural support.

How Much Does a Therapeutic Mattress Cost?

Therapeutic mattresses typically cost between $400 and $1999 depending on the size, quality, brand name, and the materials used – latex foam, genuine organic labeling, and a hybrid design tend to push the price up.

Click here to get discounts on the best therapeutic mattresses.

Can a Therapeutic Mattress Fix Back Pain?

A therapeutic mattress can fix back pain if the firmness, materials, and design are well suited to your dominant sleeping position, body type, body weight, and your back pain gets worse when lying on an incompatible mattress.

Click here to see the most therapeutic mattresses and bed frames to fix back pain.

What is Therapeutic Memory Foam?

Therapeutic memory foam is high-quality memory foam that adapts to the contours of your body more precisely than regular polyfoam to offer better pressure relief to alleviate the discomfort of pressure aggravated conditions like sciatica – any memory foam can be therapeutic if it’s high quality (meaning it’s not restricted to a single mattress brand).

Find out if memory foam is good for back pain here.

Do You Need a Boxspring With a Therapeutic Mattress?

Unless specified by the brand, a therapeutic mattress won’t require a box spring because most modern mattresses that you can buy online with therapeutic benefits have high-quality support cores built-in – meaning that most bed bases (and sometimes even the floor) will provide enough support.

Click here to see the best mattresses to buy that don’t need a box spring.

Therapeutic Mattress Benefits

Below, I have listed some of the specific benefits of therapeutic mattresses based on my own personal experience of sleeping in them.

1: Can Help Alleviate Pressure-Aggravated Conditions

Mattresses with memory foam in the upper comfort layer have huge therapeutic potential because the adaptiveness of the foams means that they can soften pressure points and enhance body weight distribution to alleviate the discomfort of conditions that get worse when sleeping on a firm, non-adaptive sleeping surface.

More specifically, conditions like sciatica, carpal tunnel, arthritis, piriformis syndrome, and fibromyalgia can be made more bearable by sleeping on a memory foam topped mattress in the correct firmness.

Latex foam is also a viable option for offering pressure relief, although it tends to be slightly less adaptive than memory foam but is more cooling and easier to move around in.

2: May Help to Accommodate Postural Issues

Conditions that are made worse by sleeping in poor posture – such as back pain, kyphosis, lordosis, scoliosis, and even obesity – can be managed at night by choosing a hybrid mattress with pocket coils to provide a more adaptive sleeping surface with better support.

3: Not Limited to Reducing Physical Pain

A therapeutic mattress can also help to alleviate the discomfort of conditions like allergies, night sweats, and sensitive skin.

In such cases, natural latex foam and hypoallergenic covers with a breathable design can provide therapeutic relief.

Therapeutic Mattress Considerations

Here are a few points to keep in mind before you buy your therapeutic mattress:

1: Works Better With an Adjustable Bed

All mattresses can increase their therapeutic potential by being paired with an adjustable frame because it allows for better mobility and postural correction.

Even the most basic of adjustable beds offers the capability to raise the upper portion of the bed to help alleviate snoring, acid reflux, stomach ulcer pain, COPD, sleep apnea, and make it easier to breathe with blocked sinuses.

More advanced adjustable beds allow for leg elevation to assist with conditions like fluid build-up in the legs (edema).

Adjustable beds with the Zero Gravity setting position the upper and lower parts of the bed so that the pressure is removed from your lower back to help reduce pain.

I have also used adjustable beds with a massage feature to help reduce muscle soreness after exercise.

Finally, adjustable beds are ideal for helping you to get in and out of bed more easily – which is a great benefit if you are pregnant or have mobility issues.

Click here to see the best therapeutic adjustable beds and compatible mattresses.

2: Needs to Fit Your Sleeping Style

For a mattress to have therapeutic potential, it must have the right specs to fit your dominant sleeping style, body type, body weight, and cater to the specifics of your condition in such a way that it lessens or eliminates the symptomatic disturbances to your sleep.

The easiest way to do this is to click the button below to see the best therapeutic mattresses that I’ve reviewed because I have specified the exact conditions that each mattress can assist with.

This is much easier than trawling through manufacturer’s sites hoping that the mattress will be right for you.


Medical Disclaimer

No part of this website offers medical advice – always consult with your doctor before buying a mattress or sleep aid to help with your condition.