Motion transfer refers to movement on one side of the mattress affecting the other side—and it’s one of the biggest challenges couples who sleep together can come across.
For couples that consist of one or two light sleepers, motion transfer could have you waking up numerous times throughout the night, causing poor sleep quality and morning tiredness.
Whether you’ve fallen victim to motion transfer—or you’re the one keeping your partner up all night—lucky for you, there are solutions! Here, we’ll go into detail about why motion transfer happens and what you can do to put a stop to it for better sleep.
Why does motion transfer in a mattress happen?
While there are many reasons why sleepers toss and turn (snoring partners, stress, diet, medical conditions, and more), the reasons why those movements transfer over to your partner’s side come down to what you both sleep on.
Let’s take a box spring, for example. A box spring is a rectangular wooden box that your mattress sits on top of. It’s filled with metal coils that promote better airflow and act as shock absorbers, reducing motion transfer. Over time, as the box spring ages, it will no longer be supportive and eventually cause motion transfer.
Like box springs, a loose bed frame can also cause motion transfer. As time passes, the fastening becomes loose, especially in wooden bed frames, which causes the bed to wobble as you or your partner move in your sleep.
Besides the base of your bed, your mattress can be the leading cause of motion transfer. Certain mattress types such as innerspring mattresses have poor motion isolation because they have an interconnected coil system and little to no comfort layers. Coils are bouncy, so even the smallest of movements will ripple throughout the mattress.
How to reduce motion transfer in bed
If you and your partner are experiencing motion transfer, check out these six tips that can help you isolate mattress and bed movement in no time.
1. Choose the right mattress type
There are countless mattress types, and each type will vary from brand to brand (which we all know can get confusing when mattress shopping). However, there are some mattress qualities to look out for that can help reduce motion transfer.
Memory foam, for instance, is excellent for motion isolation because it absorbs movement rather than transferring it to the surrounding areas.
If you don’t like memory foam, then you can try a hybrid mattress that features pocketed coils; these coils are individually-wrapped to dynamically respond to your body’s movements and reduce motion transfer.
On the other hand, innerspring mattresses have interconnected coils with bounciness that will make changing your sleep position or getting out of bed noticeable to your partner.
2. Opt for a split king mattress
A split king mattress is a mattress that’s split down the middle. These mattresses are meant for couples with different sleep preferences, allowing them to personalize their side of the bed to avoid disturbing their partners. Hence, this option is great for eliminating motion transfer.
3. Get a new foundation
Your mattress foundation, whether it’s a box spring, slats, or bed frame, contributes to how well your bed curbs motion transfer.
The older your foundation is, the more likely it will wobble and squeak—and if it has coils, the bouncier and springier it will become.
If your mattress foundation is old, consider purchasing a new one and ensure it’s set up properly to avoid motion transfer at all costs.
4. Add a mattress topper to your bed
Mattress toppers are meant to add an extra layer of comfort, but they can also help reduce motion transfer. Those made with materials such as memory foam or polyfoam can help isolate more movement.
However, keep in mind a mattress topper will only help to a certain extent. If the motion transfer is deep, mechanical transfer caused by coils, then a topper will only lessen some motion transfer but not all.
5. Sleep in separate beds
When you and your partner’s sleep preferences are too contrasting, sometimes changing your mattress or adding a topper won’t prevent motion transfer—and sleepless nights will still feel inevitable.
That’s when sleeping in separate beds could be an appropriate solution to get complete motion isolation. Don’t be alarmed, though—sleeping separately can be a positive decision for your relationship.
By doing so, you avoid sleep disturbances and poor sleep quality that can lead to crankiness and irritability with one another.
6. Calm your stress before bed
Now that we’ve gone over all the external factors that cause motion transfer, let’s draw attention to a huge internal factor: stress. It’s no secret that stress directly impacts your sleep, from how long you snooze, to what time you snooze, to your ability to stay asleep.
When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to sleep later than your partner and wake up more throughout the night, causing motion transfer.
To ease your stress, opt for a warm bath, a good read, journaling, or even a talk with someone about what’s on your mind so you (and your partner) can get a good night’s rest.
Allevite motion transfer with a Saatva mattress
Saatva Classic Innerspring Mattress
Our flagship luxury mattress is expertly engineered with coil-on-coil construction for durability, a layer of memory foam for enhanced back support, and a cushiony Euro pillow top for extra comfort.
Loom and Leaf Memory Foam Mattress
Premium memory foam, handcrafted in the U.S. with eco-friendly materials. Breathable organic cotton, cooling spinal gel, and layers of high-density support foam assure a cool, comfortable night's sleep.
Memory Foam Hybrid Mattress
This memory foam hybrid mattress features the perfect balance of body-contouring and responsive feel. Enjoy the innovative cooling system, which prevents overheating.
What causes motion transfer in a mattress?
Certain mattress types such as innerspring mattresses have poor motion isolation due to their interconnected coils. The springiness of these coils makes changing your sleep position or getting out of bed transfer over to your partner’s side.
How can I reduce the movement of my mattress?
To reduce motion transfer, avoid innerspring mattresses and consider a hybrid, memory foam, or split king mattress instead as they absorb and isolate body movements. You could also replace your old mattress foundation with a sturdier, more supportive one.
How do you stop motion transfer?
You and your partner can stop motion transfer by sleeping in separate beds to avoid all sleep disturbances you might cause each other. Each of you can also do self-care activities to ease the stress that causes tossing and turning throughout the night.
Will a mattress topper stop motion transfer?
A mattress topper can stop motion transfer—to an extent. If the mattress has deep, mechanical transfer caused by an interconnected coil system, then motion transfer will be minimized but not eliminated.
Shop Saatva mattresses to reduce motion transfer in bed
Motion transfer can disturb your sleep, leading to poor sleep quality that can affect the overall health of your relationship.
Fortunately, Saatva offers a wide range of mattresses that perform well in motion isolation, including memory foam mattresses and hybrid innerspring mattresses, as well as a variety of mattress foundations and toppers.
Check out our wide range of high-quality mattresses so you and your partner can start experiencing better sleep. All of our mattresses come with a 365-night home trial so you can try one out before deciding if it’s right for you.
Take our online mattress quiz to find out which of our mattresses is your perfect match.