How to Reduce Motion Transfer in Bed

Does size of mattress matter

Kirk Forsyth of Gardner Mattress talks about reducing motion transfer in bed, including why it’s a problem, and what materials help prevent motion transfer in mattresses.

John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher and I’m here today with Kirk Forsyth, general manager at Gardner Mattress, which has been making high quality, custom made mattresses since 1933. Today our topic is how to reduce motion transfer in bed. Welcome, Kirk.

Kirk Forsyth: Thanks, John.

What Can Be Done to Reduce Motion Transfer in a Mattress?

John: Sure. Kirk, if two people are sleeping in a bed, and one person moves around a lot, and maybe wakes the other person up, or keeps them awake, what can be done about that?

Kirk: Well, there are certain materials or mattresses that might work better than others. It also depends on how big the bed is, how much space we have to work with, but there’s certainly some solutions. I would say first and foremost, if you’re going to go into a coil mattress or an innerspring product, you would really want to go with a pocket coil system because the coils move independently. They sort of dampen in motion a little bit, certainly a lot better than a traditional wire attached spring.

John: That’s your typical box spring, or your typical coil system, the coils are then attached to sort of a rack that’s on the top, and another one on the bottom. You’re saying that that doesn’t allow the Springs to move independently of each other.

Kirk:  Right. It’s actually a fairly rigid, spiral coil that holds all the springs together. It ties them all together. When you’re pushing on one, you’re really pushing out a whole area of springs and they tend to feel bouncier, too. Pocketed coils, where they’re attached by fabric, they definitely cut down on the motion transfer between people and also, the materials that are upholstered with those springs.

I hate to say that everyone’s kind of up and down on memory foam. We really like the material that we use, the version of it that we use. That tends to be the most motion dampening material that we have in our lineup. I think it does a very good job of that. I think our memory foam is a very user-friendly material to some of those. Some memory foams out there take a long time to conform to you and then a long time to go back up when you move and stuff. Ours is not like that. It’s a very fast moving material, but it really does help with motion transfer and very pressure related material, too.

In extreme cases, and again, this really just mainly works for kings, we’ve had to do twin extra long, so two mattresses, so that the cover isn’t attached, so that when one person, say, gets in, no matter what the materials, there’s still going to be a little bit of pull on the fabric on the surface. In extreme cases, even though they’re made up as one mattress pad, and fitted sheet, and all that, there are actually two mattresses underneath. That’s more of an extreme solution, but a solution nonetheless.

Connecting Two Twin XL Mattresses to Make a King

John: Is there anything that you’d have to do when you have, like you said, two twin extra long beds next to each other? Do you put any kind of piece of foam in the middle of them to kind of connect them or fill in that gap between the mattresses?

Kirk: Yeah, there is a product out there. I don’t actually have any brand names, but they used to be called a bridge or there’s a few other names for them, but they are…it’s like a strip that I believe has some foam in it that goes down the middle. Then there are straps that go around both mattresses all the way around. It really holds that thing in place and then you put all your bedding on top of that. I’m sure there’s probably still somewhat of a noticeable thing there, but ultimately I think the more important solution here is that they’re not being disturbed and woken up at night. Even though there’s that little strip there, they’re still getting a full night’s sleep, whereas if they had one mattress, maybe they weren’t. That solved that problem. Maybe it created a little other one, but the major problem is solved.

Split Box Springs and Motion Transfer

John: Right. Do all king mattresses have a split box spring where the box spring is actually in two pieces? Does that split box spring help a little bit with motion transfer? Can you do that on a queen size mattress as well?

Kirk: Firstly, yes. All kings have two piece box springs. There’s no such thing as a one piece box spring for a king mattress. Unless you lived on the first floor, it wouldn’t fit up a set of stairs, generally speaking.

John: Right.

Kirk: The weight would be outrageously heavy. Unfortunately, don’t think it’s going to help necessarily much with motion transfer and the same with queen splits. They’re really just designed for ease of delivery. Obviously, so not all king box springs will fit up a set of stairs, and so that’s why they’ve created the split box springs. We make all our king mattresses foldable, so they all fold in half to go up a set of stairs. We do do that with other products, too, for queens and even fulls at times we’ve built hinges into the mattress so they can be folded for delivery purposes, but unfortunately I do not believe that those are going to reduce motion transfer at all.

John: It’s more about the mattress that’s on top that’s creating that motion transfer.

Kirk: It’s all about the mattress. Well, what I would say though is say you were in trying a mattress that had a real coil box spring underneath it. You like the mattress, but it’s still a little too bouncy for you. Then we could provide you with a non-flux foundation, which will then reduce the motion overall in the bed. In that case, yes, that would help. When you go from a flexible box to a non-flexible box, that will definitely change the dynamic of how much movement or motion is into that as well. For sure.

Mattress Materials that Increase or Reduce Motion Transfer

John: Okay. You mentioned some materials, like the memory foam that really cut down a lot on motion transfer, and of course the pocketed coils, and other types of coils that will as well. Are there other types of materials in a mattress that tends to make motion transfer worse or better?

Kirk: I will do the worst part. Things that are going to be more motion producing would be, again, wire attached coils, I would say probably even firmer coils, firmer mattress springs that would be also on coil box springs. Some of maybe our signature lines are going to be on that bouncy or side because of just the nature of what they are. It’s a lot of upholstery, but the upholstery is very compacted so you’re closer to the springs, and your [inaudible] have relatively firm hard spring, and then underneath that you have another spring. All those things are going to create a more motion-centric kind of sensation or experience, whereas again, if we’re into things that have more layers of padding on top, that’s going to insulate the down force or then creation of motion in a mattress.

The more padding you have, it’s going to cut down on the motion. The different types of strings, so going from a regular string to a pocketed coil, that’s going to cut that motion. Well, let me put it this way, too. If we were building you a pocketed coil with a fair amount of padding on it, when you get on a mattress like that, your body weight is going to be absorbed by the padding and then the pocket coil. That type of a mattress wouldn’t engage a box spring. We would never use a coil box spring on that type of a mattress anyway. Obviously, that does enhance, so then again, it’s just less chance for motion to be created when you’re getting in and out, or you’re moving, or turning over and all that stuff.

Again, just much lower motion creating experience than our traditional signature tufted mattress, where there’s no paddling, compacted filling, firmer springs, coil box spring underneath. Those are going to create more motion, but if you like the firmer feel overall, I still think it’s a better fit than, say, something that has lots of padding on it.

Mattress Toppers and Motion Transfer

John: Okay. What if I have a mattress now and maybe it’s fairly new, but I’m dealing with some issues of motion transfer and I don’t really want to buy a whole new mattress? Can I get a mattress topper, like a memory foam topper to put on my mattress? Will that cut down on the motion transfer or is it really more about the mattress itself and that wouldn’t really help?

Kirk: It could cut down the motion transfer a little bit. The underlying problem is already there, but no. It could certainly. It just depends on what the material is, how thick it is. If it was maybe a three inch latex topper, or maybe a three inch memory foam topper, it’s going to absorb your body weight getting down into the mattress, which is the ultimate creation of the motion transfer. If you’re not engaging those springs as much, then not as much motion transfer is being created. Yes, that certainly could help.

John: Right. Right. It’s really how much you’re pushing down on the mattress itself so that then when you move around or you get off the mattress it springs back up. That’s where that motion transfer really comes from.

Kirk: Yes, right. Again, so how many layers of springs are we talking about? Are we just doing one of the mattress, or one of the mattress and one of the box springs? Then there’s two things in play there that are moving. If there are or you’re not engaging much of either one of those then there’s less motion.

John: All right. That’s great information, Kirk. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

Kirk: Of course. Thank you.

John: For more information about Gardner Mattress, you can visit the website at gardnermattress.com or call 1-800-564-2736.


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