The Definitive Guide to Buying a Mattress
Shopping for a mattress has never been easier if you’re armed with this info.
Replacing your mattress can be exhausting. Navigating the stores and websites, debating between foam and springs, and determining how much to spend can leave you feeling like you need a good nap.
Instead, skip the stress and follow these tips from Lexie Sachs, Senior Textiles Analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute, that will help you navigate the world of mattresses.
Where to Shop for a Mattress
Laying down in the store isn’t the only way to go anymore. New mattress-in-a-box companies have won over thousands of customers with convenient shipping and free trial periods. Online mattress buying has seen a serious boom, but it’s not right for everyone. Here’s what you need to know.
Shop in the store if.
Go the traditional route ifyouwant a greater variety and to feel them before buying.In a mattress store, you should never pay full price. Always shop the sales, and don’t be afraid to negotiate with the salesperson. Most stores will also offer removal of your existing mattress. The downside is it can feel overwhelming and it’s harder to compare prices to know if you’re getting a good deal. A big mistake is rushing the decision by quickly lying down on many different mattresses to find the one that feels best. If you’re going to invest in a mattress,take the time to recline for a while (at least 10 minutes)and make sure you don’t feel any pressure or pain.
Shop online if.
This newer route offers agreat alternative if you have trouble making decisions, since there are fewer options. Plus, you can shop from home!These mattresses generally arrive in a box at your doorstep within a few days and include free shipping and a money-back guarantee (even if you simply don’t like the mattress!) so there’s minimal risk. Online, the price is usually final, but it doesn’t include markups for being sold at a physical store. The downsides are that you typically have to set it up yourself and deal with getting rid of your old mattress.
Either way, always ask about the return policy.Not happy with your pick? You may get a partial refund if you bought it in a store, but online companies often arrange to pick it up for a local charity and will give back 100% of your money. Make sure you can test out a new mattress for a month risk-free; that way, you can get used to it before making a decision.
The Best Mattresses You Can Buy Online
The name Casper is synonymous with "mattress-in-a-box." Itsfour foam layers range from soft to firmto offer comfort and support, which our testers loved (especially the under-40 crowd). There’s both a less expensive version (with less layers) and a pricier one (with more).
Tuft & Needle was priced lowest among its competitors, but still stands out as atop mattress on Amazon. This simple model has two layers of foam: a firm, support layer on the bottom and a cushy, cooling layer on top. Our panel particularly liked the friendly customer service.
Unsure if you need a soft or firm option? This foam style gives you both: Justflip the mattress to change the support level. It has copper built-in to help keep you cool and avoid the overheating that is typically associated with memory foam.
Fill out a survey about your sleep habits, andHelix builds a "custom" mattress for youwith layers of foam, latex, and microcoils. They can even personalize each side, so you and your sleeping partner don’t have to fight about which mattress to get.
How to Choose Your Perfect Mattress
There are three common types of mattresses:innerspring, foam, and adjustable. There’s no one "right" material to choose, but in general, side sleepers need a softer mattress, stomach sleepers need a firm one, and back sleepers fall somewhere in between. Beyond the types of mattresses and firmness, you’ll need to think about a few other factors. From sleep style to negotiating with a bedfellow, here’s what to look for based on your needs:
If you like a bed with bounce
Traditional innerspring styleshave that familiar bouncy feel and may be firmer. Interconnected coils are extra-durable, but individual "pocketed" coils, each covered with fabric, reduce the ripple effect that happens when someone on one side of the bed moves.
If you prefer a firmer base
Memory foam optionshave less spring and offer more pressure relief. To determine quality, look at the density and thickness of the foam, which will determine how deep you’ll sink. The newer, online mattresses generally use several different layers of foam, with heavier ones on the bottom for support and lighter, cooler kinds on the top for comfort.
If you want a plush top
Innerspring mattressestypically have either a fiberfill or foam outer layer, covered in quilted ticking. But even if you want an uber-plush feel, don’t be swayed by a thick-looking pillowtop as it can compress over time. It’s often best to choose a firmer, well-quilted mattress, and then cover it with a replaceable mattress topper.
If you like to change it up
Consider anair-filled mattress, like Sleep Number, which has a remote that controls how much air is inside. Two side-by-side chambers allow you and your partner to customize the mattress firmness separately. There are also foam mattresses (like the ones from Layla) with soft and firm sides, so you can just flip it over as needed, and modular designs that let you move around the springs on the inside.
If you sleep on your side
You’ll want a surface that will support your body weight, and conform to your shape.Innerspringsmay have more pressure relief than some foam or latex mattresses, but asoft foam mattressor one with built-in pressure relief points around the shoulders and hips can work for side sleepers, too
If you sleep on your stomach
The last thing a stomach-sleeper probably wants is an enveloping memory foam — it would feel smothering! Instead, a firmer bed will provide the best support. Consider afirm foam, dense innerspring, or air-filled mattress.
If you sleep on your back
You’ll wantsomething in the middle— a surface that supports, but has some give so your spine is kept in a healthy alignment. You’ll find happiness with any of the mattress types, but you should do your best princess-and-the-pea impression to see what feels best to you.
If your partner tosses and turns all night
Consider aninnerspring mattress with pocketed coils, or memory foam, latex, or a dual-chamber air-filled mattress. Medium-firm picks will all have good "motion isolation." But remember, these models could actually be less comfortable on the body of a restless sleeper, as there’s little forgiveness against one’s movements.
If you and your partner’s preferences don’t match
Theair-filled mattresses with dual chamberscan help, or check out the online mattress company Helix. Each person can fill out a questionnaire and have a side customized based on the responses.
If you sleep hot
Manufacturers can get carried away with claims about cooling properties, especially when you consider all the layers (protectors, toppers, sheets, and so on) that go on top of the mattress. That said,foam or latexcan hold in body heat, especially if they’re very soft and a lot of your body sinks in. Newer technology helps alleviate this issue and you can always accessorize your bed with toppers and sheets that offer cooling benefits.
If you have allergies
Foam and latexare both inherently antimicrobial and resistant to dust mites and mold. If you opt for innerspring or air topped with fiberfill, be sure to encase it in an allergen-resistant cover to keep irritants at bay.
If you have back pain
Memory foam and/or latexis best for those with back pain since it molds to your body for support.
If you’re concerned about chemicals
Look forfoams certified by CertiPUR-USas well as certifications for other materials like GOLS for latex or Oeko-Tex for other fabrics to feel more confident about your purchase.
If you can’t decide what matters most
Some savvy manufacturers make ahybrid-style mattressthat combines the buoyancy of an innerspring core with the motion isolation of memory foam. It’s a best-of-both-worlds option that can satisfy many partner disputes and sleeping styles.
How to choose a mattress: Tips on how to buy the best mattress for your bed and budget
Take the right steps to buy a better mattress and get yourself a good night’s sleep
Few things come down to personal preference more than choosing a mattress. What can feel like a cloud to one person can be back pain in the making for another. What makes the decision even harder is the sheer range of options, with mattresses available in practically every budget and type you can think of.
From new-age bed-in-a-box mattresses to the more traditional, feels-like-it-weighs-a-tonne pocket-sprung alternatives only found in specialist bed shops, you’ve got a lot of choice. The good news is that certain considerations make the decision-making process easier – read on to find out what they are.
How to choose a mattress
When should I change my mattress?
The National Bed Federation recommends you change your mattress every seven years (although really good ones can last eight to ten years – in some cases even more). They warn that quite often a mattress has worn out before you realise. Indeed, the Sleep Council points out that after seven years, your mattress will have had over 20,000 hours of wear and tear, to go with the half-pint of fluid lost each night and pound of dead skin cells shed each year.
Tell-tale signs that you need a new mattress include finding that you sleep better in other beds, and realising that you don’t sleep as well as you did a year or so ago. If you start to wake up with stiffness or pain it may also be a sign that you need to splash the cash.
A mattress that’s right for you and not worn out will mean you move about less, awaken less and are less disturbed by your partner. You’re also less likely to wake up feeling groggy or with any aches or pains.
How big should my mattress be?
People don’t buy big enough beds, warns the Sleep Council. Many people, for instance, don’t realise that a double bed is only 135cm wide – that’s not even two single beds and nowhere near enough room for two adults to sleep comfortably without disturbing each other. Even moving up one size to a kingsize mattress – at 150cm – can make a big difference.
The bottom line is that if you share your bed, buy as big a bed as you can fit in your bedroom; disturbance from a partner is one of the most common sleeping problems. Also, don’t forget to match the size of your mattress to your bed frame – European mattress sizes, for instance, differ slightly to standard UK sizes.
Should I try before I buy?
Besides being the right size, your mattress should provide the correct support and comfort levels. That’s why it’s important to either try before you buy or get a mattress with a trial period. That means either trying it out in the shop – taking time to lie on it in your natural sleeping position or, if you buy one online, looking for one that comes with a 100-day trial period.
What are the different types of mattresses?
There are five main types:
Pocket sprung– this is the most traditional type of mattress and has a bouncy, springy feel, thanks to the springs which are sewn into individual fabric pockets. These springs – available with different levels of tension – also make the mattress supportive and durable. Pocket-sprung mattresses can be filled with all manner of different materials to suit your needs, including wool for comfort and breathability. Unlike latex and memory foam, they don’t mould to your body or warm you at night.
Our favourite pocket-sprung mattress: Sealy Nostromo
Memory foam– These don’t have much spring, instead moulding to the shape of your body, which means that you’re less likely to disturb your partner when you move at night. They keep their shape well and many of the ‘new generation’ ones arrive ready rolled (easy to fit in your boot) or even vacuum-packed (and delivered to your door). On the downside, they can hold body heat, making you feel hot and clammy – particularly if they are very soft.
Our favourite memory-foam mattress for front sleepers and restless sleepers: Leesa
Price:From £397 (single size) |Buy now from Leesa
Latex– These are similar to memory foam, but with a bit more spring. Natural latex is superior to synthetic latex, and it’s also antimicrobial and resistant against mould and dust mites. There are two types of latex – the heavier, denser Dunlop latex, and Talalay latex, which is lighter and softer. These are also available in the "new generation" style, with the downside that they’re similarly prone to holding body heat. Some latex mattresses claim to last more than 20 years.
Our favourite latex mattress: Dunlopillo Royal Sovereign
Hybrids– these combos are mix-and-match versions of the mattress types. For example, pocket-sprung core (so you get the buoyancy) with a foam top layer (so you get the moulding effect).
Our favourite hybrid mattress: Otty Hybrid
Price:From £350 (single) |Buy now from Otty
Continuous coil or open coil– the first is made from a single looped wire, while the latter is made from single springs fixed together with one wire. While these are the most wallet-friendly of all mattresses, they can be uncomfortable (in the worst cases you actually feel the coils) and the whole thing moves if you move, meaning you are very likely to disturb your partner. Coil mattresses also wear out the quickest, and you might well find you and your partner meet in the middle when the sagging makes you roll inwards.
Should my natural sleeping position influence which mattress I buy?
Yes. Different sleeping positions require different types and amounts of support, so it makes sense to pick your mattress accordingly.
Side sleepers– here you need a mattress with a lot of pressure relief, especially at the points in which your body pushes down the most (you can work these out by imagining yourself lying on a floor). Pocket sprung with a soft top is best, although some memory foam or latex mattresses can also work well. Avoid very firm mattresses, which may cause pain at the key pressure points.
Front sleepers– again a pocket sprung mattress can work well for supporting you in all the right places, whereas with memory foam you might feel restrained. Latex can also work well as there’s more bounce-back.
Back sleepers– any mattress type can work for back sleepers but look for one with good support and some give so your spine stays well aligned while you sleep.
Should I buy a soft, medium or firm mattress?
As a general rule, heavier people tend to prefer firm support, while lighter people find medium or soft mattresses more comfortable. However, you need to consider your sleeping position and personal preference too. In fact, personal preference counts for more than you probably think.
Don’t assume firm mattresses are automatically better for bad backs and older people – that’s a myth (see the link below). And remember that if you and your partner have different preferences, you can get mattresses where each half has a different tension (with or without a zip).
Do some mattresses require a certain type of bed base?
Your bed base can affect both the feel and the performance of your mattress, so always check which type of base the mattress manufacturer recommends you use. Many suggest a base with sprung slats, which provides good support and absorbs movement as you move about in your sleep. A platform base can also support any mattress, providing a firmer foundation. It’s worth noting that a slatted base can cause a mattress to bulge over the years, so you should make sure the slats are no more than 70mm apart to ensure its full longevity.
Do all mattresses need turning?
Most mattresses need to be turned regularly to ensure even wear and tear. Consider this when buying one, particularly as many mattresses are extremely heavy. Some mattresses only need rotating rather than turning, although even that can be a tricky job when it weighs a tonne. You can, however, buy mattresses that don’t need turning or rotating.
How important is the warranty?
Check the warranty, not only for the number of years it lasts, but also for the fine print. Most warranties cover manufacturing defects, which will probably happen quite quickly – for example, a popped spring, or foam not bouncing back. But if something happens and you haven’t used the recommended bed base or have failed to use a mattress protector when they insist you need one, the warranty could be invalid.
How much do I need to spend?
It used to be the case that a cheap mattress was a false economy, but we found that there are exceptions, such as the Ikea Morgedal, which costs just £125 for a single. That’s not to say that mattresses costing thousands of pounds aren’t worth it, though – just make sure to do your research first.
How to Pick Your Perfect Mattress
Ready for a new mattress? Here’s how to find the one that suits you best.
Getting a good night’s sleep depends on a lot of different factors — comfort, stress level, room temperature вЂ“ but to get it right, you’ve got to start with the basics and your mattress is the first building block to a restful slumber.
If you’re in the market for a new mattress and have recently taken a stroll down the aisle of a bedding store, you know that there is a dizzying array from which to choose. How do you know which mattress is best for you?
To start, says Arya Nick Shamie, MD, associate professor of orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center, the mattress needs to support your body in a neutral position, one in which your spine has a nice curvature and your buttocks, heels, shoulders, and head are supported in proper alignment
"If the mattress is too firm, it will push on those main pressure points and take you out of alignment," Shamie tells WebMD. "If it’s too soft, those pressure points won’t be properly supported, so your whole body flops back." Both of these scenarios can lead to an achy morning.
Generally speaking, one type or brand of bed isn’t better than another, says Michael Breus, PhD, a WebMD sleep expert and author ofBeauty Sleep: Look Younger, Lose Weight, and Feel Great Through Better Sleep.But he does find that a firmer bed seems to be better for people with lower back pain.
In fact, researchers in Spain studied people with long-term back pain and found that on a 10-point hard-to-soft scale people who slept on a medium-to-firm mattress (5.6 on the scale) had less back pain than those who slept on a softer mattress.
Is It Time for a New Mattress?
How do you know if the bed you’re sleeping on is the right one?
"If you wake up in the morning and have some low back pain and can stretch and get rid of it in 15 or 30 minutes, that means you’re on an inappropriate mattress for you," Breus says.
The right mattress, on the other hand, is one on which you feel no pressure, almost like you’re floating in air, Breus says.
If you’re looking for a new mattress, experts suggest testing it in the store and laying down on each mattress in the position in which you normally sleep. Breus suggests spending at least 10 to 15 minutes on the bed. And, bring your own pillow! The more you can replicate the way you’ll be sleeping on the mattress once you get it home, the better your chances of picking the right one.
Innerspring mattresses are still by far the most widely used. They support you with coil springs, and in most built today, each coil is individually enclosed. This helps the bed weather years of use and prevents the coils from popping out of the mattress. On top of the coils are a wide variety of materials added for comfort, from pillow to latex to memory foam. It’s all a matter of preference.
Salespeople may try to sell you on the idea that more coils mean more comfort, but that’s not necessarily true, Breus and Shamie say.
"You don’t really need a coil count above 390," Breus says. Beyond that, the difference in feel is so small it would be difficult to notice.
Pros:There are plenty of innerspring mattresses on the market from which to choose. They range in firmness, the fluffiness of the pillow top, and in price to fit nearly every preference and pocket book.
Cons:There’s no direct relationship in most cases between price and comfort, but Shamie suggests steering clear of the cheapest innerspring mattress. If there aren’t enough springs and cushion to offer you proper support, he says, you’ll likely wake up with an aching back.
Conditions:For someone who is very overweight, spring mattresses may offer a firmer support, making them easier to get in and out of, Breus says. Firmer versions are good for people with back pain. But spring-based mattresses can be comfortable for almost anyone.
Memory Foam Mattresses
Memory foam mattresses are growing in popularity. They are made of layers of different densities of foam that respond to weight and temperature, and are known for comfort because they contour to the specific shape of your body. Memory foam toppers are also available.
Pros:By molding to the shape of your body as your weight shifts through the night, memory foam reduces pressure points, and relieves pain. Memory foam also absorbs movement, so if you sleep with a partner, you’re not likely to be disturbed by his tossing and turning.
Cons:One of the biggest complaints with memory foam mattresses is that because these mattresses are temperature sensitive, softening and molding with your body heat, they can make you feel extremely hot during the night. Breus also says memory foam mattresses have been known to emit an unpleasant chemical smell.
Conditions:"If you have a hard time getting comfortable, if you have chronic fatigue, or some type of muscle pain, then a memory foam mattress would work well for you, assuming you don’t have temperature issues," Breus says.
Latex mattresses are made from either natural or synthetic rubber, and are known for providing a very firm, bouncy support that is uniform throughout the bed.
Pros:"Quite frankly, I think one of the best materials is latex," Breus says. He likes it for being very firm and supportive, but also for providing comfort similar to memory foam. Unlike the memory foam mattresses, however, Breus says latex pushes back, ultimately providing more support.
Cons:If you don’t like the feel of a firm mattress, latex is probably not the right choice for you.
Conditions: Either a latex mattress or latex mattress topper is great for relieving back pain because they offer the best combination of comfort and support, Breus says.
We’re not talking about the blow-up mattresses you put your holiday guests on for a few days. Higher-end air beds look like a standard innerspring mattress, but use air-filled chambers instead of coils, and are covered by a foam layer on top.
Shamie notes that air beds have long been used for patients with spinal cord injuries who are lying in bed for a long time. They can be adjusted so they don’t continue to press on the same areas of the body, which helps to avoid skin breakdown in patients who can’t move.
Pros:"Couples who have dramatic differences in their individual preference for comfort and firmness levels might do very well with an air mattress," Breus says. The reason is that the firmness of each side of the bed can be altered. If you like it firmer than your partner, these beds can be adjusted for that.
Like latex and memory foam, you can also find air toppers for your mattress.
Cons:Shamie says people sometimes fail to make their air bed firm enough and wake up with back aches. Less sophisticated air mattresses also pop up on one side when you sit on the opposite end. For that reason Breus says, you want multiple chambers so that doesn’t occur.
Conditions:These beds are particularly useful when sleeping partners have different needs. If one of you has a bad back, one side can be made firmer than the other to provide greater support.
These beds are able to bend and elevate at varying angles. As a result, the mattress has to be flexible. Different types of mattresses can be used on an adjustable bed вЂ“ memory foam, latex, or air, for example. Spring mattresses are more difficult to use, however, because the springs don’t handle the bending well.
Pros:For people who have difficulty getting in and out of bed or who like to watch television in bed, Shamie says, adjustables can make life easier by moving you closer to where you need to be.
Conditions:If you suffer from sleep apnea, sleeping flat can make the condition worse by cutting off airways and causing the tongue to fall into the back of the throat, Shamie says. People who experience acid reflux can also benefit by sleeping in a bed that elevates their upper body.
Shamie also suggests adjustable beds for people with hip or back pain who have a hard time moving from a lying position to sitting up or standing.
When you have guests staying for a night or two, sofa beds come in handy. The mattresses in these beds tend to be very thin so they are flexible enough to fold and collapse into the couch. It’s a great convenience to have a sofa bed, but you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who raves about their comfort.
Pros:Sofa beds are convenient, especially if you have limited space. But from a health perspective, Shamie and Breus don’t see any advantages.
Cons:A night or two on a sofa bed is OK. But "this is probably the worst kind of bed you can sleep on long-term," Shamie says. The mattresses used in most sofa beds are very thin and the springs quite weak. "It really leads to an uncomfortable situation," Shamie says.
If you’re really tight for space and need a bed that folds up, Shamie says that futons, while not the most supportive, are better for your back than the typical sofa bed.
Conditions:There are no conditions for which a sofa bed will be helpful, according to the experts. But if you have a bad back or hips, these beds will be especially uncomfortable.
When to Part With Your Old Mattress
Today’s mattresses are made to last a lifetime. But you probably shouldn’t plan on keeping yours for that long. Our bodies change over time, Breus says, so the mattress that was once a joy to sleep on may no longer feel comfortable a few years down the road.
In addition, mattresses collect dust mites, fungus, and other germs that can exacerbate allergies and impact your sleep patterns. After 10 to 15 years, it’s time to think about buying a new bed.
Ultimately, the experts say that the best bed for you is the one that feels most comfortable. And remember, Shamie says, "There’s no mattress that’s going to save your body when you get only five hours of sleep." In order to feel your best, you need to get enough restвЂ¦ no matter what type of mattress you’re sleeping on.
Arya Nick Shamie, MD, associate professor of orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery, Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center.
Breus, Michael, PhD, WebMD sleep expert and author ofBeauty Sleep: Look Younger, Lose Weight, and Feel Great Through Better Sleep
Kovacs, FM.The Lancet, November 2003; vol 362: pp 1599-1604.
How To Choose a Mattress in 5 Easy Steps – The Definitive Guide
I think you will agree with me when I say that choosing the right mattress is no easy task?
First, you have to dispose of your old one and then go through a tedious process of selecting a new bed that will serve you well for years to come.
And having couple dozen options, manufacturers and handful types and materials doesn’t help, does it?
Luckily for you, you canfind out exactly how to pick a new mattressand most important thing to consider.
Table of contents (use it to jump to a certain section)
If you are in a hurry jump to our conclusion and summary.
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Step 1: Do You Really Need A New Mattress?
Many people change their beds after just a few years, and that’s perfectly fine if you can afford it. The fact is, it’s not a small investment, so take a moment to determine do you really need a new.
Generally, after seven or eight years you will most likely need a new mattress. Of course, it depends on the quality and material (we will cover the types and materials later in this article). And if you feel back or neck pain it might, your bedding is a good place to start.
Here is the average mattress lifespan in years based on material and type:
Step 2: Determine your Budget
A bit of personal backstory here…
Several years back I went to a store and purchased amattress priced at $2500which was not even the most expensive one there. During the first year or so it was perfect, and I felt rejuvenated, and I slept like a baby during that time.
But, something happened.
My new and awesome mattress started sagging and losing support and needless to say my back and neck suffered.
Another two years had passed until I decided to buy a new oneonline at $850and this is the same one I’m using today after three years. Back to reality.
Not anyone will have the budget to walk into a store and buy something for several thousand dollars. Luckily, these days there are manyonline optionsyou can choose from rangingfrom $500 to $1200. There are also Black Friday bed deals (and Cyber Monday) that can result in additional savings as well.
Don’t get confused here. More money does not mean better quality. If you think that some of these online options are somehow worse than in-store ones, you are badly mistaken.Stores tend to inflate the prices as much as 1000%.
Here are some guidelines for you:
- Don’t always go with the cheapest option you find– This is a rule of thumb for most products you buy online. Spending less than $500 for a queen mattress simply because it means lower durability, more toxins and lower sleep quality in general.
- Higher Price does not mean Higher Quality– I bet you know this one, but it’s worth mentioning.
- Go with $1000 range for Queen size– This is usually where you will find the best bang for your buck.
- King / Cal King will cost slightly more– I would increase the budget for King and California King to $1400-1500 as you will have many more choices in that range.
- Now that you have your new budget set, I’m guessing you are asking yourself“what type of mattress is best for me?”Let’s dig in.
Step 3: Choose Your Ideal Type and Material
Ok, so this is where most people will go with their personal preference rather than anything else. If someone says “latex is the best,” I would not take this as final until I read other opinions and test it myself. Here are the most common options you will find these days.
This is the most traditional form of the mattress, and as of late, it’s received a bad rap. However, it is important to understand the potential benefits you could receive from going the traditional route, as well as the reasons why this option has lost its luster.
An obvious pro to purchasing a bed with springs is that it is one of themost affordable optionson the market, due in part to a decrease in demand and also in part to so many other options that have the potential to be more comfortable andbetter for overall health.
Another consideration is that these mattresses are known to last for decades. Spring beds are exceedingly durable. Being that the springs are typically made from different types of metals, they tend to keep their shape for many years.
Additionally, being that they are the most traditional style, they are also the most familiar. People recognize and understand what they are getting when they purchase a bed with springs. There is no guess work with this option like there may be with memory foam or other newer options.
The last notable advantage to this style of bed is that, because of the amount of space located between the springs, this option allows for the most circulation of air. This flow helps to keep the temperature down, allowing for acooler night’s sleep.
Example of the coil mattresses structure
Ideal for: People who want strong support, durability, cooling and great bounce. It also has an excellent edge support.
These mattresses are known for their fantastic cooling and comfort. Latex has a good bounce, responsiveness too.
Authentic latex foam is made from a tree called Hevea-Brasilenis tree, specifically from the white liquid extracted from it. Latex is harvested, and when the excess water is removed, you end up with raw material fantastic for various products, bedding systems being one of them.
It’s also great because you don’t get off-gassing and odors like with memory foam products.
Example of the latex bed structure
There are two types to choose from:
- Natural – More healthy option and environment-friendly. But it’s also more expensive so expect to pay around $2000 for a good natural latex mattress
- Synthetic – Made by mixing synthetic polymers with natural tree sap. Less expensive of course but less healthy in turn.
Latex is best forpeople who want good cooling, responsiveness, and bounce.
Memory foam was first developed in the 1970’s by NASA as a safety material for seat cushions to protect pilots and passengers during plane crashes. Since then, the material has blossomed into the burgeoning product employed by virtually every mattress maker.
Example of the memory foam bed structure
Why has it become so popular? The answer is that it is said to provide superior comfort and support for the entire body. Anyone who’s pressed their hand into this material immediately understands its appeal.
Memory foam uniquelyconforms to every inch of the bodythat is pressed into it. When you lift your body from the material, it slowly regains its original form, essentially making it perfect for every body type and every sleeper.
Another unique property of memory foam is itsmotion isolationcapabilities. You may have seen those commercials with a lady jumping on a mattress with a glass of wine at the other end. Miraculously, the wine doesn’t spill.
The wine doesn’t spill because the energy from jumping is not transferred to other parts of the mattress. This translates to better sleeping for partners, because the tossing and turning of one does not affect the other, a feature that is not found among any of the other options on the market.
One of the most common issues that people experience is that thematerial retains heat. If you are someone who requires a cool night sleep, the memory foam option may not be the best choice for you. While the manufacturers are coming up with new and better ways to keep the heat down, the jury is still out as to whether or not they’ve succeeded.
Ideal For: People who want body shaping, contour, pressure relief and good support.
The hybrid mattress is an unusual combination of both traditional spring and memory foam. Providing the best of both worlds, this option offers the contouring and lack of motion transfer of foam coupled with the support of springs.
Structure of the hybrid bed- example
The term “hybrid” is very loosely used to describe the combination we just mentioned. However, the amount of foam for these beds varies widely depending on the level of firmness desired. Some options employ less than 1.5 inches of foam, lending to the fact that they more closely resemble that of a traditional spring bed rather than the more modern memory foam option.
To find the most optimal version of a hybrid, it’s best to choose the one that hasclose to 3 inches of foam. Anything above that, and you might as well forego the springs all together.
One negative aspect of these beds is the fact that they are one of the more expensive offerings you’ll find. Purchasing one of these could put you in the multiples of thousands of dollars, a significant investment, but a worthy one if you plan to enjoy it long term.
Good For: People who want best all around product with good support, bounce, cooling and pressure relief.
And now the three less common but still important types:
These beds offer a unique ability tochange the sleeping positionbased on your preference. You can elevate the head or feet giving you more options than traditional products. These beds provide extra comfort for people suffering from chronic lumbar pain or just want to be slightly elevated to prevent snoring. They do look ugly though most of the time.
Perfect for: People with certain medical conditions like snoring, older sleepers and people with lower back pain.
These are usually coil, latex or memory foam beds buthave a layer of soft material sewn into the cover to make it more comfortable. These are also considered more luxurious and usually cost a bit more than standard options.
Good for: People who prefer more padding and softer feel.
A rather weird option, but sometimes very fun especially if you love waterbed sex. Some of the most common reasons for opting in for this type is a backache and arthritis relief. These beds are also great for people with allergies.
Good for: People with back pain, arthritis and allergies and anyone looking for something less conventional.
Step 4. Determine your Ideal Sleeping Position and Firmness
Most of us have a unique way of sleeping every night. No matter if you sleep on your side, stomach or back, or even if you switch throughout the night you will have to consider and choose the ideal type of bed based on your preference. So, take a moment and think, what’s your favorite sleeping position because that determines theideal firmness of your new bed.
The most important factor for back sleepers is firmness and support. If your mattress is too soft, your body will sink and cause back pain. You will need one that’s soft enough to provide pressure relief but still provides enough support. On a scale of 1-10, the perfect range would be 5-7.
According to The Better Sleep Council, only roughly 15% of people are back sleepers. Being that you are unique, it’ll take a special mattress to offer you the night’s rest you are seeking.
It’s the consensus that memory foam mattresses provide the highest level of comfort for people who sleep on their backs. This is because it provides adequate contouring to the spine while maintaining a longevity of proper support and structure.
Many people who often sleep on their sides, endure discomfort and pain in their hip joints and shoulders.It’s usually due to unsuitable bedding.
It’s advised that you go with a bit softer option than for a back sleeper as these they provide for an equal distribution of pressure while you’re sleeping on your side.
Ideally, you want to choose a mattress with firmness level of 3-6 (out of 10) which falls undermedium soft.
This is considered the worst sleeping position. The most important thing for stomach sleepers is to provide equal distribution of weight across your entire body as your torso will apply most pressure. If the mattress is too soft (not enough support) your spine will curve causing back pain.
You will want to look for something in 5-7 range, which falls undermedium to medium-firm. The good thing is that most options are in this range.
Step 5. Consider your Weight as a Factor
On first glance, you might be asking yourself,what does weight have to do with choosing a mattress?
The truth is, support, hug, feel, sinkage and even cooling will depend on your body type and weight. Another harsh truth is that there is no “best” mattress for every one of us.
Let’s take a look at the following guidelines how to choose an ideal firmness level based on your weight:
- Light (Less than 150 pounds)– You will want a medium firm bed around5-6 firmnessthat doesn’t sink too much. If you are lighter than 150 lbs, you can even go with four since most beds are rated for average sleeper of 180lbs.
If you want a softer feel or if you are a side sleeper you can opt for 3-4 firmness range. These are soft orplush options.
- Average (150-200 pounds)– Like with the previous category you can choose industrystandard of 5-7, providing perfect support and comfort.
Some sleepers will want to opt for more softer beds, and that’s perfectly fine, just go with 3-5 range if you sleep on your side and you are all set.
- Heavier Person (200+ pounds)– Heavier people can cause more pressure points on their back, and ideally you want to choose a firmer option to adjust for sinkage. If you are having problems with cooling, you ought to consider coil mattresses.
Ideally, choose a thick (12”) or thicker bed. This will provide good support and soft feel.
How to Select the Right Mattress for You – Summary
Hopefully, you have finished reading the above but even if you haven’t these five steps will ease your task of choosing a mattress for you or your family.
- Do you need a new mattress?– If your current bed is over eight years old, I’d consider replacing it no matter what. If you are having trouble sleeping or experiencing back or neck pain I would start searching.
- What is your current budget?– Don’t go with the cheapest option you find. Aim for $700-1200 range for a standard queen size bed (see top options). Of course, if you are buying smaller ones for your kid or teenager, the price will be considerably lower. Don’t spend less than $400 though. The quality drop-off is huge.
- What are your ideal type and material?– This is hands down the biggest challenge. Memory foam offers good contour and hug but sleeps hot. Traditional coil ones provide good bounce and cooling and are generally more durable. I recommend foam or hybrid to most people except for heavier sleepers who should opt for innerspring.
- What’s your preferred sleeping position?– This determines your ideal firmness level. On a scale of 1-10 (one being soft and ten being very firm), back sleepers will want to opt for a medium firm (4-7), side sleepers for more softer option (3-5) and stomach sleepers will need more support to avoid sinking (6-7 range).
- What’s your body type and weight?– Lighter sleepers (150lbs or less) will want a 1-2 points softer mattress to get the same feel like an average (180lbs) person. On the other hand, if you are a heavier person you will need more support and thicker mattress to support the weight.
Author: Sleep Advisor
Our team covers as many areas of expertise as we do time zones, but none of us started here as a so-called expert on sleep. What we do share is a willingness to ask questions (lots of them), seek experts, and dig deep into conventional wisdom to see if maybe there might be a better path towards healthy living. We apply what we learn not only to our company culture, but also how we deliver information to our over 12.7M readers.
Sleep research is changing all the time, and we are 100% dedicated to keeping up with breakthroughs and innovations. You live better if you sleep better. Whatever has brought you here, we wish you luck on your journey towards better rest.
How to Choose a Mattress: A Buyer’s Guide
Choosing a mattress seems simple enough, but the fact is that finding the right mattress isn’t always an easy decision. With hundreds of models and options to choose from, it’s easy to get overwhelmed while mattress shopping.
Selecting the right mattress is more important than you might think. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says sleep loss has reached epidemic levels in the United States. In terms of return on investment, a consistent good night’s sleep pays high dividends when it comes to overall well-being. Given the reality that we spend a third of our lives in bed, it’s well worth taking the time to choose your next mattress wisely.
Selecting a mattress is about as intimate as purchases get. It is, after all, something you return to night after night, year after year. But in a world where shopping means translating often confusing industry jargon, choosing a mattress can be as technical as it is personal.
Here’s everything you need to know to choose a mattress that’s just right for you.
When Should You Replace Your Mattress?
When it comes to lifespan, the industry wants you to consider replacing your old mattress every five to seven years, but many experts say the timeline is rarely cut and dry. When all is said and done, it depends on the product, how often you use it, and personal preferences. Industry insiders say a well-made, high-quality mattress can last eight to 10 years (or longer).
These are some tell-tale signs that it’s time to go mattress shopping:
- You wake up with aches, pains, and stiffness in your back, shoulders, or neck.
- You uncharacteristically toss and turn during the night and don’t feel as refreshed in the morning.
- Your mattress shows obvious signs of wear and tear, such as a sagging surface or protruding springs
- You find yourself lying on top of peaks, sinking into valleys, or rolling toward the edge of your mattress.
- You hear creaking and other noises when you move around in bed.
- You can’t remember the last time you bought a new mattress.
Invented in 1871 by Heinrich Westphal, traditional innerspring mattresses are constructed from steel coils in a range of configurations that provide a familiar bouncy feel. Innersprings are frequently the least expensive and most widely sold options. Interconnected coils are the most durable while individual pocketed fabric-covered coils provide motion isolation, which prevents the wavelike shift that happens when a sleeping partner moves during the night.
Lifespan:Well-made innersprings can last as long as any mattress (up to 10 years or longer), but within the first few years of sleeping on them, many owners report sagging issues that affect support and comfort.
Construction:Innersprings are made from steel coils with gauges that range from 12 to 18 (18 being the thinnest and most easily compressed and 12 being the thickest and firmest). These coils are often cushioned by a fiberfill or foam outer layer and encased in quilted fabric.
Example of a Saatva innerspring mattress
Price range:Innersprings can be as low as $100 or tens of thousands for shoppers inclined to splurge. The average price for a spring-based queen mattress in stores hovers between $800 and $1,200. While offerings in the popular Simmons Beautyrest line can sell for a premium, Saatva’s comparable but more attractively-priced online luxury mattress can be had for only $899.
Typical firmness:Innersprings firmness can vary widely (from soft to very firm) depending on model among high-profile brands including Serta, Sealy and Simmons. Smaller, lesser-known brands usually offer only medium and firm options.
Who should consider this type?For the most part, innersprings appeal to consumers who appreciate the traditional and familiar springy feel that coil-constructed mattresses provide. They also get high marks from shoppers looking for the added give and bounce that generally makes sexual intimacy more comfortable and satisfying.
Sleeping positions best suited for the mattress:Innerspring mattress can be well-suited for all types of sleepers depending on the firmness of a particular model.
Weight/size:Innersprings, which can range from about 65 to 125 pounds, average about 100 pounds in queen size. Thickness can vary from as little as six inches to more than 14 inches.
Locations:Depending on style and size, innerspring mattress can fit well in almost any home environment, but rigid large conventional box spring foundations may not easily navigate narrow staircases or small doorways (split designs are an option).
Latex mattresses have a firmness similar to memory foam models with additional springiness. Most are made from natural latex derived from the sap of the rubber tree, though some are synthetic. All come with the benefit of being antimicrobial and resistant to both mold and dust mites. Some are made with Dunlop latex, which is heavier and more dense than its lighter counterpart, Talalay latex, which tends to have a softer feel.
Lifespan:Well-constructed, multiple layered latex mattresses can easily last 10 years under heavy use. Some all-natural latex mattresses can last up to 20 years or longer.
Construction:Latex mattresses use either plant-derived (natural) or petroleum-based (synthetic) latex foam as their core support system, with some also relying on the material for the upholstery layers (with or without added memory foam).
Example of a Brooklyn Bedding latex mattress
Price range:Though prices can vary widely, most latex mattresses cost between $850 to $2,400. Brooklyn Bedding’s #BestMattressEver goes for just $750 in queen size.
Typical firmness:Latex firmness varies greatly from soft to medium to firm. Generally, layers can be shifted or replaced to change the level of firmness. Some latex mattresses can be custom-ordered in a split configuration, with a different firmness on each side.
Who should consider this type?Sleepers who are sensitivity to allergens including dust mites, mold, mildew, bacteria, and other organisms. Green-minded consumers concerned about environmental impact and off-gassing often opt for tree sap-based latex beds.
Sleeping positions best suited for the mattress:Latex mattresses can be constructed and configured for side, back, or stomach sleepers.
Weight/size:Latex mattresses in queen size generally weigh in between 100 and 150 pounds, and average about 125 pounds in queen size. Their thickness varies from a thin three inches to a large 15 inches or so.
Locations:The hefty weight of thick and high-density versions of latex mattress means they usually require more than one person to move and are best suited for more spacious bedrooms.
Memory foam mattresses are made from the pressure-sensitive material developed by NASA as a way to cushion astronauts from high G-forces during takeoffs and landings. They tend to have much less bounce-back than innersprings and are appreciated for their ability to offer pressure relief. Memory foam offers enveloping support that conforms or molds your body. When not in use, the mattress springs back to its original shape.
Lifespan:With good durability that exceeds most traditional sleep surfaces, a high-quality memory foam mattress has an average life expectancy of 10 years, with many lasting even longer.
Construction:These mattresses typically have a high-density base (usually conventional foam), which acts as supportive material, with memory foam and sometimes latex or gel foam layered on top.
Example of a Leesa memory foam mattress
Price range:The average bed-in-a-box memory foam in queen size retails in the neighborhood of $155 to more than $4,000. The Tuft & Needle T&H Mattress retails for just $600.
Typical firmness:Memory foam mattresses have varying degrees of firmness depending on the thickness and density of the materials used. Three pound or less density makes for a softer bed, four to five pounds balances softness with support and six-pound-plus density offers long-lasting firmness.
Who should consider this type?Memory foam appeals to anyone who prefers a mattress that conforms to the body, eliminating pressure points. It’s also a great choice for shoppers who like the convenience of buying online and having an efficiently compressed mattress in a box delivered right to their doors.
Sleeping positions best suited for the mattress:Memory foam can provide a good night’s sleep in any position, but is considered the best option for side sleepers.
Weight/size:Queen-sized memory foam mattresses tend to between 100 and 150 pounds and average about 125 pounds with thickness ranging from six to 13 inches-plus.
Locations:The rise of e-commerce bed-in-a-box brands like Leesa, Casper and Tuft & Needle has made modern memory foam mattresses convenient options for almost any type of space.
Hybrid mattresses combine a traditional coiled support system as a foundation with added cushioning from one or more types of foam.
Lifespan:Well-made hybrid mattresses have longevity similar to traditional innersprings, lasting up to 10 years or more. However, they are prone to a similar level of sagging over time.
Construction:Hybrid mattresses often feature a traditional steel coil spring support system topped by varying combinations of memory foam, latex, or gel.
Typical firmness:Like conventional spring-based mattresses, hybrids have a variety of firmness options that run the gamut from soft to very firm.Price range:Hybrid mattress prices can vary a great deal, but the average cost is somewhere around $600 to $4,000 or more. Helix Sleep sells a hybrid, personalized to your specifications for $900.
Who should consider this type?Hybrids are attractive options for consumers drawn to the secure support and bouncy feel of traditional spring sleepers, but also like the contouring comfort of the modern foam sleep experience.
Sleeping positions best suited for the mattress:Depending upon model, hybrids come in configurations that provide suitable comfort for those who sleep on the side, back, or stomach.
Weight/size:The inclusion of foam layers makes most queen hybrids lighter than conventional all-coil innersprings, weighing about 115 pounds with thicknesses averaging 12 inches or more.
Locations:Much like their spring-only cousins, hybrid mattresses can be used in a variety of dwellings, but the stiffness, thickness, and weight of some models can limit their use to roomier environs.
Though designed to look like conventional mattresses, adjustable beds allow sleepers to elevate, lower, or bend various parts of the sleep surface to a position most comfortable at any given time.
Lifespan:Sleep surfaces specifically designed to flex with thousands of adjustments over their lifetime provide good longevity, offering a lifespan on par with their conventional counterparts.
Construction:Many owners of adjustable bed bases use conventional foam or air bed mattresses, but adjustable mattresses feature a hinged articulation system that allows them to naturally bend, providing a smooth, bunch-free sleeping surface.
|Example of a Tempurpedic adjustable mattress. NOTE: The company does not release thickness or specs.|
Price range:Adjustable mattresses in queen size can range in price from a few hundred dollars at entry level to a few thousand on the high end, though they average about $700 to $5,000. Loom & Leaf offers an online-only gel-cooled memory foam in queen for only $999.
Typical firmness:Adjustables’ firmness can vary significantly (soft, medium or firm) depending on construction and model. In queen and king size, they can be split, allowing for partners sharing the bed to have a different level of firmness on each side.
Who should consider this type?Many individuals with medical conditions (chronic back, shoulder, and neck pain or acid reflux) find that adjustables provide superior sleep comfort.
Sleeping positions best suited for the mattress:Since they can lay flat, adjustable beds can be used in all sleep positions, but they are ideal for back and side sleepers.
Weight/size:Adjustable mattresses are slightly heavier than conventional types of the same size, but their substantial frames can often make them heavier than conventional beds.
Locations:Adjustable beds, with their bulky, heavy steel-framed bases, can easily weigh several hundred pounds, limiting their use to larger spaces in many cases.
Pillow top mattresses generally have thick and soft upholstery layers of fiber and foam materials stitched onto the tops of mattresses.
Lifespan:Despite positive owner experiences indicating that pillow top mattresses initially minimize pressure points, relieve pain, and promote better sleep, the benefits tend to only last for a few years at most before sagging (sometimes just for several months). New generation two-sided flippable designs have more longevity.
Construction:Most often built over innerspring and airbed cores, pillow top mattresses are made up of several inches of top padding that can consist of standard, latex or memory foam, fiberfill, cotton, or wool.
|Example of a Sealy Posturepedic pillowtop mattress|
Price range:Pillow top mattresses on average cost about 30 percent more than comparable conventional sleep surfaces. The Serta Fitzpatrick Pillow Top (list price $1,999) is currently discounted to only $475.
Typical firmness:Pillow top firmness can vary from soft to very firm depending on the core they are built on, but the mattresses tend to be softer due to the additional padding on top.
Who should consider this type?Sleepers prone to pain due to pressure points generally appreciate pillow tops’ body-hugging qualities.
Sleeping positions best suited for the mattress:Their ability to disperse and conform make pillow tops beneficial to both side and back sleepers, who have reported high levels of satisfaction with them.
Weight/size:With their added padding, pillow top mattresses generally weigh roughly 20 percent more and are thicker than conventional mattresses of similar construction.
Locations:Mattresses with pillow tops tend to be bulky and heavy, making them better choices in larger settings.
Airbed mattresses can be custom-inflated to a desired firmness using either manual inflation or an integrated electric pump. An integrated pump makes inflation and deflation to the desired firmness fast and simple.
Lifespan:Well-made airbeds can last significantly longer than conventional mattresses, but tend to suffer from mechanical problems that require repair or replacement, including air leaks and pump or controller malfunctions.
Construction:Air mattresses use adjustable vinyl or rubber chambers filled with varying levels of air for primary support and often include a comfort layer consisting of foam, latex, fiber, or a combination of materials. Some models also have dual chambers that allow owners to inflate each individual half of the bed to firmness to suit each person sharing the bed.
|Example of a Sleep Number airbed mattress|
Price range:Airbed costs can span from less than $20 for a bare-bones manual blow-up to thousands for high-tech models by high-profile makers, but the average mattress costs between $500 to $4,000. The Sleep Number c2 model in queen is selling for just $999.98.
Typical firmness:Airbed firmness is adjustable to the needs and wants of the owner. An inherent downside is that air pressure can automatically fluctuate depending on the sleeper’s weight, body position, room temperature, and barometric pressure.
Who should consider this type?Airbeds’ adjustability gives them great appeal to sleepers who want varying degrees of firmness on any given occasion. They are also ideal for couples with significant differences in sleep preference.
Sleeping positions best suited for the mattress:The adjustable nature of airbed mattresses makes them suitable for side, back, or stomach sleepers.
Weight/size:Airbed mattresses are significantly lighter than their conventional counterparts, with weights ranging from next to nothing (a couple pounds) to 40 pounds or more and thicknesses as much as 24 inches.
Locations:Airbeds’ ability to deflate means they can be used in virtually any setting, even the smallest rooms or studio apartments.
Waterbeds, which employ a water chamber support system, are designed to look much like conventional beds. They are built in one of two styles: hard sided and soft sided. Hard-sided beds have a water chamber inside a rectangular wood frame, while soft-sided versions encase chambers with a frame of rigid foam zipped in a fabric casing.
Lifespan:Waterbed sleep surfaces generally have a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years, but it’s not uncommon for them to last 20 years or more.
Construction:Waterbed mattresses, which rest on top of a platform, are built in either a classic free flow style, without obstructions to the water’s natural motion within the mattress, or waveless, which uses baffles or fiber that limit the flow of water during movement. They often feature memory foam or gel tops.
Example of a typical waterbed mattress
Price range:Waterbed mattresses costs can run from $50 basic models to high end beds for $1,800 or more.
Typical firmness:Though affected by the layer(s) of cushioning on top of water-filled chamber(s), waterbeds’ firmness can be adjusted to fit the preferences of the sleeper. Water can be added for a firmer feel, or it can be drained to achieve a softer sleep surface.
Who should consider this type?Sleepers seeking the buoyant feel and total body support of floating on water, minimal surface pressure, a hypoallergenic surface, and a controllable sleeping temperature.
Sleeping positions best suited for the mattress:Waterbed mattresses tend to be good choices for side sleepers, since their natural give tends not to alleviate pressure point stress on the shoulders and hips.
Weight/size:When empty, size and weight are not issues for waterbed mattresses, but filled waterbeds can weight 1,500 pounds or more.
Locations:The cumbersome nature of waterbeds, which need to be filled and emptied to be moved, means they are not convenient options for consumers who move frequently. Their size and heavy filled weight generally make them best suited to larger spaces.
The futon mattress, a thicker, Westernized version of the traditional Japanese sleeping mat, is a versatile, space-saving sleep surface that can be used on a futon frame, mattress foundation, or directly onto the floor.
Lifespan:Futon mattresses, on average, have limited lifespans, providing only a few years of service, but well-made versions can last as long as some conventional sleep surfaces.
Construction:Futon mattresses are traditionally made from multiple layers of 100 percent cotton fabric, but many contemporary takes contain springs, foam, gel, or a combination of materials.
Example of a typical futon mattress
Price range:Futons generally start at only $50 and go as high as $400 for premium types, with an average price of about $150 to $175 ($130 to $150 online).
Typical firmness:Futon firmness can vary a great deal, from quite soft to very firm, but many tend to be on the softer side.
Who should consider this type?Budget-conscious buyers and those who only need a sleep surface for occasional use (for example, as a periodic guest bed). Also, consumers seeking dual-purpose furniture than can double as a makeshift sofa.
Sleeping positions best suited for the mattress:Most futon mattresses are best for back and stomach sleepers.
Weight/size:Futon mattresses in queen size generally weigh in between 10 and 80 pounds, averaging 40 to 50 pounds or so. Their thickness generally ranges from three to 10 inches.
Locations:Given their smaller size and lighter weight, futon mattresses are ideal for tight spaces or temporary use in almost any environment.
How to Choose Mattress Firmness
Firmness can best be described as the feel of a mattress when you lie down on it, as opposed to support, which is what keeps the body securely aloft and in proper alignment.
Firm mattresses offer little give and provide above-average push-back or resistance when depressed. Soft mattresses tend to envelop the sleeper in cloudlike comfort with plush cushioning that contours and hugs the body. Medium firmness balances the supportive feel of firm mattresses with the pressure-point relief of soft surfaces.
There is no ideal level of firmness for a mattress and every sleeper has a firmness preference that works best for them.
Determining Your Firmness Needs
A good starting point for identifying your best firmness level is considering how you sleep.
Firmness for Side Sleepers
Side sleepers create several pressure points where the head, shoulders, hips, legs and feet come into contact with the mattress. People who sleep on their sides rarely remain in one position. Quite often, they shift from sleeping with both legs extended to one leg straightened and the other bent at the knee to both legs bent. This shifting means that side sleepers typically need a soft or medium mattress capable of conforming to the body’s natural curves while lying on their side.
When choosing the right mattress, honing in on the right firmness is crucial, since people who sleep on their side need a mattress with a good balance of firmness. The mattress should be firm enough to provide support and soft enough to hug the natural curves of the body while sleeping.
Firmness for Back Sleepers
Back sleepers often suffer from neck, shoulder, and back pain, especially when sleeping on an improper mattress or one past its prime. Having the right level of firmness is especially important for back sleepers, since a mattress that is too soft will not offer a sufficient amount of push back tends to create potentially painful pressure points while sleeping. Making matters worse, an inadequate mattress that doesn’t provide proper support can lead to improper spinal alignment, something that can lead to chronic back pain.
Slightly soft, medium, and moderately firm mattresses can all be good choices, so long as the sleep surface offers ample support while providing pressure relief.
Firmness for Stomach Sleepers
Sleeping on your stomach can cause lower back issues, adequate support is crucial for stomach sleepers. Since the torso is the primary point of pressure on the mattress, stomach sleepers need a sleep surface that provides equal support along the entire length and width of their bodies. Mattresses that are too soft create a situation where the torso sinks into the bed, causing the sleeper’s spine to bow, resulting in alignment issues and lower back pain and discomfort.
Stomach sleepers usually require medium or slightly firm mattresses that keep the spine straight throughout the night.
Body weight is often overlooked when shopping for a mattress, but everything from support to contouring to sleep temperature can be affected by how much you weigh and your individual body type.
Light sleepers (under 110 pounds), who tend not to sink into mattresses as deeply, can experience discomfort sleeping on firm, dense mattresses. Universal comfort mattresses are often the best choices for light sleepers. Since mattress firmness is rated for average sleepers, people who carry less weight may want to choose a mattress that is slightly softer.
Medium sleepers (110 to 200 pounds) can generally have the pick of the litter, since most mattresses are designed with them in mind. Mattresses with a medium, medium firm, or luxury firm rating, as well as those in the universal comfort range should be comfortable.
Heavy sleepers (over 200 pounds), who place much more pressure on mattresses than average sleepers, should consider firmer mattresses with thicker comfort layers (four inches or more), since they offer greater support and cushion that holds up better under more weight. Other things to consider are mattresses that sleep cooler and those that offer increased edge support, such as luxury innersprings.
Consider these general guidelines for weight, firmness, and sleeping position:
|110 pounds or less||Soft||Side and Stomach||Plush, pressure-relieving comfort|
|110 to 200 pounds||Medium||Side and Back||Ideal for back pain sufferers|
|Over 200 pounds||Firm||Side and Back||Can prevent and reduce back pain|
Common Mattress Myths
The world of sleep is filled with facts that don’t stand up to real-world scrutiny. These are ten claims, half truths, and falsehoods fueled by the mattress industry and misinformed consumers:
Myth #1:Firm mattresses prevent back pain.Sleeping on a mattress that is too firm actually creates aches and pains, since they tend not to give at pressure points, which can lead to tossing and turning.
Myth #2:The more springs, the better.While innerspring mattresses with higher coil counts can be superior, that only holds true if the springs are made from heavy-gauge metal.
Myth #3:Gel provides a cooler sleep.Although gel is supposed to provide a cooling effect, that’s not always the case, especially when it’s buried deep beneath the top layers.
Myth #4:Never keep a mattress for longer than seven years.A common misconception created by the industry, the truth is that mattress life varies considerably. Some may need to be replaced in five years, while others could last 20 or more, depending on quality, how you sleep on it, and other factors.
Myth #5:One size fits all. This fast-growing marketing trend among newcomer mattress companies leads consumers to believe that all mattresses are essentially the same. It’s always important to consider your sleeping position, any medical condition, age, weight, personal preferences, and past experiences when choosing a mattress.
Myth #6:Get the longest possible warranty.The truth is, in most cases, a lifetime warranty only refers to workmanship and materials and doesn’t cover normal wear and tear.
Myth #7:You need a box spring.Box springs were first invented as shock absorbers at a time when mattresses were much thinner. These days, they simply raise the profile of beds to make them higher and are often an unnecessary cost. Most mattresses only need a solid platform underneath.
Myth #8:Doing a showroom test lie-down matters.The reality is the only true way to do a mattress a test run is to sleep on it for several hours minimum, which is why many companies now offer returnable trial periods.
Myth #9:Flip your mattress regularly.Most modern mattresses are one-sided, meaning they should never be flipped. Read your manufacturer’s instructions to find out when or if your mattress should be flipped or rotated.
Myth #10:More expensive means better.Quality generally comes at a price, but a higher price tag doesn’t necessarily guarantee a superior product. In fact, many lesser known brands sell models on par with big-name makers for up to 50 percent less.
The Quick Guide to Choosing a Mattress
When should you replace your mattress?Deciding when to replace your old mattress depends on a number of factors: its age and condition, your particular lifestyle, and budgetary considerations. Most mattresses should be replaced between seven to 10 years.
What mattress type should you get?Use your sleep lifestyle and other relevant factors to determine the kind of mattress you should buy.
What firmness is right for you?Getting a desired firmness makes choosing a mattress a very personal decision. Consider your body type and sleep style before settling on your firmness sweet spot.
How much do you have to spend?Although budget factors into the equation, expect to spend somewhere between $800 and $1,000 on a quality mattress. When evaluating the broad range of available options, keep in mind that spending less could mean settling for sub-par quality, leaving you with a mattress that will need to be replaced sooner rather than later.
What positions do you sleep in and how much do you weigh?Be sure to take into account your body type and sleep style when searching for a new mattress.
Where do you live?Don’t forget to any space limitations that could impact your mattress purchase, keeping in mind that offerings like box-delivered memory foam could end up being a better choice for small spaces like apartments and homes with limited square footage.
A Word About Mattress Prices
Manufacturer retail prices are usually much higher than the actual prices you’ll find in both online shops and brick-and-mortar stores. Unlike many traditional retailers, who employ sales pressure tactics and offer few true bargains, the highly competitive nature of the Internet means online mattress shoppers can find deals unavailable anywhere else and get the most for their money.
Many online mattresses brands also offer perks like free shipping and no-hassle returns to make for an attractive shopping experience.