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How To Reduce Motion Transfer In Bed & Sleep Well

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Written By Alex Petrović

Certified Sleep Consultant

Featured image of how to reduce motion transfer in bed.

29 April 2024 6 min read

Today, we're tackling the question of how to reduce motion transfer in bed. Because, as we all know, sleeping with a loved one, while beautiful, can also lead to serious stress and reduced sleep quality if you keep accidentally waking each other up.

However, you shouldn't worry. There are quite a few things you can do to make your partner's movement undetectable. They will secure you both get a good night's sleep. This is because proper motion isolation will make sure that your side of the bed remains undisturbed, even if your partner tosses and turns during the night.

To that end, here are a few things you can personally try in order to reduce motion transfer in bed. That way you will have the best night's sleep once more.

Get a memory foam mattress

a hand pressing Inofia memory foam mattress topper

In terms of motion isolation, no other bed type can quite compete with all foam mattresses. This is because memory foam mattresses offer a soft sleeping surface. You can sink into it while you sleep, as it will adapt to your body on contact.

This means that the other side of the bed will be virtually untouched and unbothered, regardless of the amount of tossing and turning. Plus, memory foam mattresses tend to be extremely comfortable and can better your partner's sleep as well.

However, memory foam mattresses aren't without their faults either. For one, they don't always have the best temperature regulation. This means that if you or your partner are hot sleepers or like to cuddle during the night, you might find yourself overheating quite quickly.

Of course, that's not always the case. So, make sure to do your research. Avoid getting into a situation where you substitute your motion transfer problem with an overheating problem. And if you're wondering which foam mattresses are the best, we have you covered!

Get a hybrid mattress

an image of a man pressing Vesgantti Pro Hybrid mattress

Hybrid mattresses offer the same benefits as most foam mattresses, but they're a slightly safer option overall. Just like foam mattresses, hybrid mattresses offer a layer of memory foam that will adapt to your body and isolate your movements to your side of the bed.

On top of that, hybrid mattresses also tend to be a bit more varied. For example, hybrid mattresses offer different spring counts, spring types, foam types, and filling materials – all of which can affect the amount of motion transfer you experience at night.

So, you can choose a hybrid mattress with a soft but breathable memory foam cover, and a box spring that specializes in motion isolation. That way you get the best parts of both inner coil mattresses and memory foam mattresses! And if you're looking for a quick selection of the best hybrid mattresses, check out our list.

How to reduce motion transfer in bed – latex mattress

An image of Silentnight Mirapocket Latex 1400 2-Drawer Divan Bed

Just like in the previous two examples, latex mattresses offer motion isolation that makes your side of the bed feel completely separate from your partner's side.

This is because latex mattresses are very soft, allowing you to sink into the mattress and adapting to your body on a continuous basis. In fact, latex mattresses are even better in this department than memory foam mattresses.

Although memory foam mattress materials are very spongy and soft, they usually offer initial resistance. It takes a bit of time before the memory foam adapts to your body shape and it can even be firm upon first sleeping on them.

Latex on the other hand reacts extremely quickly, with even your first nap being noticeably comfortable. This is also why latex mattress materials offer slightly better motion isolation. However, you should keep in mind that latex mattresses are quite expensive, especially if you want the filling materials to be natural latex.

Get an air mattress

An image of an air mattress.

If you read the words “air mattress” and imagined one of those cheap, inflatable mattresses that you use to relax in the pool – this suggestion might seem rather strange. After all, air mattresses are notoriously bad when it comes to motion transfer.

However, you'd be surprised how far air mattresses have come. Higher-end air mattresses are made with a level of adaptability that very few mattresses can compete with.

For example, dual chamber air mattresses offer you and your partner the option to independently tweak your side of the bed. If your partner likes a firmer sleeping surface while you like to sleep on a cloud, that's possible with these mattresses.

And if you go even further up the price scale, you'll find some rather brilliant designs. Aside from just reducing motion transfer, certain dual-chamber air mattresses offer real-time adjustments during the night. This means that the mattress will adjust with your movements throughout the night, making sure that you're always getting the most optimal support.

How to reduce motion transfer in bed – inner coil mattress

a Silentnight miracoil ortho mattress in a bedroom

When it comes to motion transfer, springs are generally your enemy. Or at least that's what you'd think. However, there are a few different types of box springs that might just be the perfect choice for you.

The issue with most traditional innerspring mattresses is that any movement is transferred from one spring to another, making the whole mattress feel wobbly. That's because most beds (especially older ones) have a one-piece box spring.

However, newer mattresses come with two separate box springs, so that the movement of one doesn't affect the other. This is a really easy way to minimize motion transfer in bed. But that's not the only option if you're looking into innerspring mattresses.

You could always get an innerspring mattress with pocketed coils. This basically means that the coils are individually wrapped, minimizing the motion transfer between them. Not only do these pocketed coil mattresses offer the motion isolation you're looking for, but they also provide the support you'd want from a typical spring mattress.

Get a multisprung mattress

Tennyson 4000 Pocket Sprung Orthopaedic Mattress declaration tag

Since we're already talking about king box springs and the like, it's worth bringing up multisprung mattresses as well. Also known as “no roll together mattresses”, these mattresses were made with motion isolation in mind.

Unlike the previous examples, this mattress doesn't rely on multiple box springs nor does it have special types of coils. The secret to its success relies only on how the springs themselves are positioned.

With some spring mattresses, the springs are laid out horizontally, meaning that any movement can transfer through the springs like a wave and give your partner a rude awakening. This comes from the fact that the springs naturally bend towards the left or the right, making the entire bed wobbly.

However, with “no roll together mattresses” the springs are laid out vertically. This means that the “waves” from you turning over in your sleep will be contained to your side of the bed. Of course, this isn't as potent of a solution as just having different box springs altogether, but it can make a noticeable difference over the long run.

How to reduce motion transfer in bed – mattress topper

If getting a completely new mattress seems a bit too daunting of a task, a mattress topper is probably your best way forward.

However, you have to be careful with what mattress topper you end up getting. Primarily, you want to make sure that you get a topper that's more than 9cm thick. This is because toppers generally add comfort to the mattress as opposed to support, so it needs to be one of the thicker models in order to affect the motion transfer.

It's also important to remember the mattress types and get the appropriate topper. For example, if you already have a foam mattress, a foam topper isn't going to help much in terms of motion isolation. However, most innerspring mattresses would benefit from some added foam layers.

Secondly, think of the topper type and the materials used. Just like with mattresses, you want to get a memory foam topper or a topper made from latex. You can go for a spring topper as well (especially if you want some added pressure relief) but make sure that they have pocketed coils.

Get a different bed frame

an image of Dunelm Monaco Pine Bed Frame

Bed frames also play a much more important role than people give them credit for. After all, they're the support system of your mattress.

So, if you have a very old bed frame, it might be the reason behind your poor motion isolation. Especially if the bed frame uses nuts and bolts and is made out of wood. This is because wooden bed frames succumb to wear and tear rather drastically, often becoming unstable and wobbly.

Therefore, if you feel like the bed itself is moving when your sleeping partner rolls over, it's not just the mattress at fault. Because no amount of good motion isolation the mattress might offer can offset the entire bed swaying.

To this end, the most practical solution is to buy a completely new bed frame. And if you want to futureproof your bed along with bettering motion isolation, we suggest getting a bed frame with a slatted base.

Unlike the solid wood used for typical bed frame bases, slatted bases are made with flexible wood that's slightly arched. This will offer great motion isolation as the slats can move with the mattress instead of pushing against it. This is especially helpful if your mattress is naturally bouncy and your partner is a light sleeper.

Have separate beds

An image of a man sitting on the edge of bed.

This one might sound a bit harsh, but it does guarantee results. After all, you can't feel your partner moving around if they're in a completely separate bed. So, by definition, this method offers the best motion isolation.

However, the notion of sleeping in different beds might not appeal to some people. After all, they're still your loved ones, regardless of how much they move around at night. But don't worry, as there's a way to get around that issue as well.

Something as simple as getting a king-size bed frame and two twin xl mattresses can solve all of your issues. Not only will there virtually be zero motion transfer, but you can even get different mattress types in case you have different preferences.

And if you're worried about the crack between the mattresses, know that we have you covered there too. With mattress bridges (or mattress wedges) you can make the two mattresses feel like one, while also making it impossible to transfer motion. Truly a win-win for everyone.

Improve your sleep quality

An image of a young and beautiful woman sleeping alone.

Although it's easier to just blame the mattress or the bed, there's always something we can personally do in order to have better sleep as well. And better sleep means not being awakened as easily when your partner moves.

For example, having different sleep schedules is very normal, but you can always try to give your partner a headstart falling asleep if they're a light sleeper. And getting quality sleep will make you less likely to toss and turn during the night, which is just as important.

Light sleepers should especially look into bettering their sleep quality, because no matter how good at isolating motion a mattress might be, it can't get rid of all your problems. So, have a look at ways you can better your sleep quality.

Conclusion

Overall, understanding motion isolation is the first step towards bettering both your and your partner's sleep. Be it through a mattress that can absorb motion, or a more flexible bed frame, there are always steps you can take in order to secure a restful night's sleep. Hopefully, one of the methods we've described has been the answer you've been looking for.

You should always see a doctor when you have pain. He or she will be able to recommend pain relievers or some creams. Also you may get professional medical advice to try with some types of massage therapy or visit a physical therapist to work on improving your sciatica and thus promoting sleep quality.

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About the author

Alex Petrović
Sleep Consultant
A CPD certified Sleep Consultant with more than 2000 hours of research into all the different ways we can get a great night's sleep. As a former insomniac, I know how difficult life can be without a nightly recovery and I love that I get to share everything I've learned with you all. So hopefully we can all sleep soundly!
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