For the last six years that I’ve lived out of home, I can’t help but wake up with lower back pain that tends to disappear within five minutes of getting out of bed. I’ve tried different sleeping positions, using a pillow between my legs and sleeping pillow-less, but nothing seems to do the trick. I’ve put the problem down to my far-too-soft mattress, which I’ve learned can cause plenty of back problems even if it does make me feel like I’m sleeping on a cloud.
That’s why I’ve wanted to try a different mattress to find out if it’ll make a major difference in the way that I sleep and if my back pain is truly correlated with my bed. The folk at Emma Sleep offered to let me review the Zero Gravity mattress, which is known for its cooling and pressure-relieving properties.
What is “zero gravity” and what does it mean?
The zero-gravity feature, sometimes referred to as “Zero-G”, is said to mirror the feeling of weightlessness that an astronaut experiences while floating through space. When the idea is applied to a mattress, it can be hard to picture.
Unlike normal mattresses, a zero-gravity mattress is malleable instead of stiff. When paired with an adjustable bed frame, you can tweak your sleeping position to relieve pressure and support your back using a remote control. This can help prop you up into a sitting position, or add some bend beneath your knees while asleep.
Now that we all know what a Zero-Gravity bed is, what’s it like to sleep on one? For starters, I do not own a Zero-G bedframe, nor was I provided with one during this review. However, I can tell you what it’s like to sleep on Emma’s Zero-Gravity mattress and the differences I’ve noticed over the last month.
When Emma Sleep’s Zero Gravity mattress arrived, it came in a seven-foot-ish tall box, with two wheels beneath it so you can drag it from room to room easily. Unboxing it was a two-person effort, since it’s difficult to pull the mattress out of the box it’s tightly packed into. The box itself is difficult to discard, especially since you have to cut off the wheels if you want to stuff the cardboard in your recycling bin.
The moment you cut open the vacuum-sealed plastic, the mattress begins to expand. Admittedly, there is a strong chemical smell that comes with the mattress, but it will fade in just over a week if you’re patient.
The mattress itself is surprisingly slim (25cm in height) once fully expanded, with its six layers sealed together with a breathable cotton cover that’s secured by a zip.
Doing what I think anyone would do upon getting a new mattress, I jumped on it. Big mistake. The mattress is fairly firm, so there was a solid impact when I landed on it. My previous mattress was ultra plushy and soft, so the Zero Gravity mattress was a huge adjustment for me. While I think my opinion might be skewed because of how cushy my last bed was, I’m going to rate this a seven or eight out of 10 on the firmness scale.
The other interesting thing to note is that dressing the bed is like attempting to dress deadweight. Most mattresses maintain their shape when lifted up or pulled along the floor, but not the Zero Gravity mattress. Instead, it’s limp and difficult to grasp, which at times makes stripping and re-doing the bed an extra chore. It’s to be expected, however, that it’s “bonelessness” is part of why it works on compatible bed frames. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t wave and curve in the way you’d need it to.
Ogres have layers, mattresses have layers
Emma’s Zero-Gravity mattress has plenty in common with both onions and ogres. Consisting of a whopping seven layers, you wouldn’t think this mattress was hiding anything beneath its thin, zippered exterior.
The six layers consist of a breathable cover, foam, AirGrid layer, more foam, AeroFlex pocket springs and even more foam. Each of the aforementioned layers work together to create a highly-breathable and adaptable sleeping experience.
For me, it was the AirGrid layer that made the biggest impact. I’m a restless sleeper and suffer from self (and cat)-inflicted insomnia, so I find that I need to slip out of bed multiple times a night. With my previous bed, I always managed to wake up my partner no matter how hard I tried to get in and out gently. And vice versa whenever he has to get up early for work.
With the Zero-Gravity mattress, I’ve found that it’s much easier for me to jump out of bed and return and he’s none the wiser.
An eye-watering price tag
The last thing I want to mention before we dive into my final thoughts is its cost. The Emma Zero-Gravity mattress’ price starts at $3,730 for a single and up to $5,595 for a king. That’s definitely more expensive than your average mattress, but the truth is, you’re paying for a specialty bed.
When you take a look at Emma Sleep’s other mattresses, such as its Comfort Premium or Diamond Hybrid, you’ll find much more cost-effective alternatives that will suit an ordinary bed frame just fine.
How is it to sleep with?
Over the last month, I’ve learnt that a firmer mattress is not the solution to my chronic back pain. During this period, I’ve even been reviewing different pillows before and after switching mattresses and haven’t noticed a major difference.
That doesn’t mean you’ll have the same personal issues that I suffer. If anything, the mattress has contributed to my process of elimination and now I’m wondering whether my day-to-day ergonomics are playing a part.
While the firmness did take some getting used to, I’m happy to report that this is a perfectly great mattress. While I don’t feel like I’ve used it to its full potential, I do think it serves just as well on a normal bed frame.
My biggest takeaway was the little motion disturbance I mentioned earlier on. But the AirGrid actually serves an additional purpose: cooling. My partner and I tend to overheat at night, so the AirGrid layer is really helpful in terms of dissipating excessive body heat.
I’m currently sleeping with Bonny’s Winter down doona, which is an extra warm option made for people who live in cooler climates or homes with poor insulation. At times, it can actually cause me to overheat, but during winter, I’ve found that when paired with the Zero Gravity mattress, I’ve managed to come out in the middle.
AirGrid technology is also helpful in terms of weight distribution and relieving pressure. The problem with soft mattresses is that when sleeping with a partner, a heavier bedmate can result in an uneven distribution and cause them to sink further into the mattress, making the surface unbalanced for the lighter partner. With Emma’s Zero Gravity bed, I’ve found that it reacted quickly to any tossing and turning, preventing both of our weights from affecting our respective sides of the bed.
In terms of sleeping positions, I’ve found the sleeping on my back gives me the most comfortable sleep on this Emma mattress. While sleeping on my side is fine, I feel that it doesn’t quite hug my hips as well as my old mattress used to. Sleeping on my stomach is less than ideal, since the firmness makes it uncomfortable for me cuddle my pillows.
Should you buy Emma Sleep’s Zero Gravity Mattress?
The truth is – you don’t need to own a Zero-G bed frame to sleep on this mattress, however, I don’t believe it’s worth the massive price tag if you’re not going to use it to its full potential. And by that I mean, if you’re eyeing off this particular mattress, then you might as well upgrade your bed frame for a Zero-Gravity one.
Ultimately, Emma’s Zero Gravity mattress is an excellent choice for those interested in trying out a Zero-G bed, back sleepers, or those who love Emma products and want to try sleeping on a firmer bed. It’s a supportive and cooling mattress that really has your back, but works some magic when it comes to evenly distributing the weight between partners by ensuring an undisturbed sleep.
Where to buy: Emma Sleep (from $3,730)
Emma Sleep offers a free 100-night free trial for all of its mattresses, so you can try them out in the comfort of your own home. This means that if you decide it’s not to your liking, you can make a move to return it, which we love.