What is Motion Transfer in a Mattress and How Does It Affect Sleep?

14th January , 2024

Do you find yourself awakened by a partner’s restless tosses and turns or while they take another trip to the toilet? Then, you are not alone. Many sleepers who share their bed with a partner experience this occurrence, which is known as “motion transfer”.

Motion transfer is a very common experience that can disrupt our rest or sleep without us even realising it. This article will explain all you need to know about motion transfer in a mattress, how it affects your sleep, and how to reduce it, taking insights from reputable mattress stores and manufacturers in Dubai.

What Exactly Is Motion Transfer in a Mattress

Motion transfer refers to the transmission of movement and vibrations from one side of the mattress to another. This happens when one person sharing a bed moves or shifts from their sleeping position, making the energy generated travel through the mattress and disturbing the sleeper on the other side of the bed.

In other words, motion transfer is the movement you experience from your partner’s end of the mattress to the spot you are sleeping on.

What Are the Causes Of Motion Transfer in Mattresses

In a mattress, motion transfer occurs due to the transmission of kinetic energy through its layers. When a person moves, the energy generated is transferred to the bedding.

Depending on factors like the construction and materials used, this energy can either be absorbed and isolated or transmitted across the mattress, causing disturbances on the other side.

How to Test for Motion Transfer

There are two ways you can test for motion transfer when you are choosing a mattress in a store: :

  1. Place any object with a flat base on one side of the bed. Then, walk to the other side of the bed and sit or lay on it.

  2. The second method is to make use of a seismograph tool or app on your phone to measure movements and then proceed to lie and move on the other side of the bed.

Both these methods allow us to see if the object moves and, if so, to what degree. You will be able to experience one of two occurrences. In some cases, you can see the object remain upright with minimal movements, or you can see it move, wobble, or even fall. The more sturdy or undisturbed the object remains, the better it is at reducing the impact of motion transfers.

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Which Factors Influence the Level of Motion Transfer

There are several factors that influence the level of motion that transfer a sleeper experience. Some of them include:

Mattress Type

The type of mattress plays a crucial role in the level or intensity of motion transfer. Generally, a traditional innerspring sleeping surface reflects a higher motion transfer due to the interconnected coil system. In comparison, a memory foam type has the lowest motion transfer intensity.


Going in line with type, the mattress materials also have a direct influence on motion transfer levels and intensity. Memory foam is renowned for its ability to absorb and isolate motion because of its viscoelastic properties. On the other hand, materials with high responsiveness, such as traditional spring coils, cause increased motion transfer.


The design and construction forms of the mattress directly affect its motion-transfer properties.

For example, sleeping surfaces with individually pocketed coils provide better motion isolation by allowing coils to move independently. This helps such bedding types reduce the transmission of movement. Layering materials strategically in a mattress to dampen vibrations can also minimise motion transfer.

The Impact Of Motion Transfer On Sleep

The impact of motion transfer on sleep is quite significant. The disturbance you experience from motion transfer can range from mild sensations to jolts and shakes, depending on the intensity of the movement.

Whichever intensity you experience, the resulting vibrations can travel across the layers of your bedding, causing disturbances for the other person sharing the bed. This disturbs sleep cycles, leading to fragmented sleep and a decrease in the overall quality of rest.

Mattress stores and manufacturers believe these effects of motion transfer are not limited to immediate consequences. With time, the cumulative effects of disturbed sleep patterns can lead to fatigue, daytime drowsiness, irritability, and decreased cognitive performance.

In worse cases, this can also lead to relationship strains, as both the partners sharing the bed can experience a decline in sleep quality. Poor sleep, in general, is the leading cause of many health concerns, including poor productivity levels and attention spans.

The best option to mitigate these effects of motion transfer is to select mattresses that can minimise or eliminate them altogether. This is where the concept of “motion isolation” comes in.

What Is Motion Isolation

The degree to which a mattress can isolate motion transfers so that one will not experience the toss, turns, and shifts of the other person sharing the bed is called “motion isolation”. In other words, it refers to the level at which a sleeping surface can limit the effects of motion transfers on the bed.

Some beddings are better at isolating motion than others. While this isn’t the only feature you should look for when buying a mattress, it could make a big difference in the amount and quality of sleep you get when sharing a bed with another.

Choosing a Mattress with Minimal Motion Transfer

Mattress stores and manufacturers recommend that considering these factors when choosing bedding can reduce the effects of motion transfer and related consequences.

Mattress Firmness

The firmness of your sleeping surface plays a crucial role in deciding the intensity of motion transfers. Generally, the firmer the mattress is, the better its motion isolation properties are, offering increased stability and minimising sinkage.

A firmer bedding also helps to absorb and distribute the energy created by movement, reducing its transfer across the layers. This means that when one person moves on a firmer mattress, the toss, turns, and shifts are less likely to transfer to the other side of the bed, resulting in fewer disturbances.

Material Quality

When choosing a mattress, it’s essential to prioritise high-quality materials that can perform better in minimising motion transfer.

Make sure to consider reputable stores that can ensure the use of premium materials that can perform better at motion isolation and durability, enhancing the overall sleep experience.

Personal Preferences

Everyone has different preferences when it comes to sleep. Factors like body weight, sleeping positions, and personal sensitivities to motion transfer can help in determining the right bedding options.

The motion isolation technology used in the mattress should also be considered in purchasing decisions, especially if you hope to share it with another partner.

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