The press furore about the Belgian World Cup Squad being announced via a TV news report about their mattresses has focused on the massive gaffe that occurred. What I found most interesting is that from the report it was clear they were sleeping in bed in a box mattress which are usually made from foam.


From my experience of working with elite athletes they are often sleeping on mattresses and under duvets inappropriate for them when it comes to temperature regulation. There has always been a popular misconception that foam, memory or latex mattresses are better for sports people because they offer superior support. However, what they also do, due to elite athletes having a higher metabolic rate they are more prone to being hot sleepers in the night and a mattress with a solid construct, or even a topper of foam or latex can make this problem worse. You may be thinking, “but James you can new dangled foams and processes that help keep you cool.” You would be kind of right. Products like Gel Foam and Castellated reflex foam mattresses (which we often branded as sports mattresses) are better than traditional memory foam. However, from my experience they are nowhere near as efficient at wicking away moisture and creating a sleep environment conducive to a good night’s sleep as a mattress that uses springs and natural fillings in its construction.


If support is an issue then a sportsperson can use an adjustable bed to create a sleep surface that is supportive, and it can be adjusted to support the injury in question.


What also concerns me is when sports teams sign sponsorship deals with a mattress manufacturer. To be honest I am sure the players don't all use the mattress that the club has signed the sponsorship deal with, in the same way that Manchester United's first team squad don't all drive Chevrolets, but the idea that a squad of elite athletes should all sleep on the same mattress is frankly ridiculous. Elite athletes should avid working direct with mattress brands as they don't have the knowledge to advise what is best for them. In addition to this sleep experts working with elite athletes shouldn’t work with one kind, or brand of mattress. When we are creating the right sleep environment for the individual athlete we need to focus on them as an individual.


It is often said that sleep is an athlete's number one recovery tool. The foundation that the sleep is built on is the mattress and there is no one size fits all solution to which mattress is best for sports people.