How Do You Select A Good Mattress

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Choosing the best mattress type

Find the best mattress for your body and budget. We look at the pros and cons of different types – from memory foam mattresses to pocket sprung and latex.

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Memory foam, pocket sprung, latex, open coil, continuous coil. not sure which type of mattress is best for you? We look at the pros and cons of the main types of mattresses to help you find the best.

There are four main mattress types to choose from. Most mattress manufacturers make more than one type – different varieties go through a different manufacturing process and cost different amounts. Price isn’t everything, though, as what is most important is what you as an individual find comfortable.

Read on to help you decide which type of mattress to buy. Once you’ve made up your mind, you can use the filters on our independent mattress reviews to find your perfect mattress.

Spring vs foam mattresses

Watch our video below to find out the key differences between the main mattress types, including what each one is made up of and how it will affect your sleep.

Use our interactive tool below for more information on the differences between spring and foam mattresses.

Keep reading for more information on the main type of mattress. Or, if you already know which type you want, find out how to buy the best mattress.

Pocket sprung mattresses

In pocket sprung mattresses, the springs are sewn into individual fabric pockets. Pocket sprung mattresses are the most popular type of mattress among Which? members – more than half of the members we surveyed about their mattress had bought a pocket sprung one.

Pocket sprung mattresses don’t mould to your shape in the same way that memory foam mattresses do, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they offer less support. They also tend not to be as warm as memory foam mattresses, which could be an important consideration if you tend to find yourself too warm at night.

We’ve tested some great pocket sprung mattresses at a range of different prices, so you’re sure to find one that suits you. Go to our Best Buy mattresses page to see the very best.

Memory foam mattresses

Memory foam mattresses, also known as memory mattresses, are topped with a layer of temperature-sensitive viscoelastic material (memory foam). They can be expensive, but we’ve found some fantastic memory foam mattresses for less than £400.

This makes the shape of the mattress change to fit the shape of your body, and it also tends to make the mattress feel warmer.

Everything you need to know about this increasingly popular type of mattress can be found in our memory foam mattresses guide.

If you already know that you want to buy a memory foam mattress, you can find the right model for your budget and body type by reading our mattress reviews.

Continuous coil and open coil spring mattresses

These mattresses are cheaper than other types of bed mattress.

  • Continuous coil mattresses are made from a single looped wire
  • Open coil mattresses are made of single springs fixed together by one wire.

Because the springs move as one unit, you’re more likely to be disturbed by your partner moving around during the night. The coils in these mattresses wear out more quickly than pocket springs, so you’re likely to end up rolling together eventually.

When we surveyed Which? members to find out more about mattresses, those who own an open-coil mattress are less likely to say that it helps them to get a good night’s sleep than those who own other types of mattress.

You can find out more about our survey results, including which brands to look out for, in our full mattress brand reviews.

Latex mattresses

Latex is a less common type of mattress which features a core made up of layers of springy latex. These mattresses tend to be more expensive, but manufacturers claim that they are more resilient and able to better keep their shape.

Manufacturer Dunlopillo specialises in latex beds, although the Dunlopillo mattresses we’ve reviewed don’t come cheap.

Mattress toppers

These are different from mattress protectors in that they add a layer of extra padding to your existing bed. Mattress toppers can be made of memory foam or other materials. However, they can be as expensive as buying a new mattress in some cases, and won’t provide more support if your old mattress is already sagging.

Discover which are the best mattress topper brands according to our survey of more than 1,000 mattress topper owners.

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.

Choosing the Best Mattress

How to Date a Mattress

Follow these simple suggestions for how to select the mattress of your dreams!

  1. Dollars and sense.Before you research your mattress options, determine your budget and consider your personal needs. A mattress is an investment in your health and well-being.
  2. Do your homework.Research your options before you go to a store, narrowing down the mattress size and mattress type that suits your individual needs. Think back to a time when you had an amazing sleep at a hotel or friend’s house. Use that as your starting point to help narrow down choices.
  3. Consider online reviews.Seeing what types of mattresses other shoppers have liked or disliked may help you decide what mattress type is the fit for you. Read reviews on websites you trust, but be aware that some receive funding or free products from brands that they review. Also, the more reviews a website has, the more likely it is to be a reliable source.
  4. Store selection.Furniture stores, department stores, sleep specialty shops and online retailers all sell mattresses. Look for a retailer that provides you with the amount of information and attention you need. If you don’t know where to shop, ask friends and family for suggestions.
  5. Rely on a pro.Work with knowledgeable salespeople who can guide you through your bedding choices. Ask questions and look for detailed explanations when needed. If you don’t feel your salesperson is knowledgeable or helpful, take your business elsewhere.
  6. Go for a test drive.Once you’ve found a few mattresses you’re interested in, try them out using the S.L.E.E.P. test. Take off your shoes and lie down in various positions. (It’s best to go mattress shopping in comfortable pants so you can move around.)
  7. Get comfy.While testing out a mattress, spend extra time in the position you usually sleep in. It can take up to 15 minutes to relax enough to feel the true support of a mattress, so don’t rush it. The more time you take in a store, the less likely you’ll have buyer’s remorse later on.

Take the S.L.E.E.P. Test

To try out a mattress, follow the S.L.E.E.P. steps:

Select a mattress.
Lie down in your typical sleep position.
Evaluate the level of comfort and support.
Educate yourself about each selection.
Partners should test beds together.

Take the confusion out of mattress shopping

This straight talk about mattress shopping will help you make good decisions.

Comparison shopping secrets

Comparison shopping for a mattress can help you make the best choice and feel confident in your decision. As you’re shopping, take time to really consider each mattress type – both the feel and the construction – versus simply comparing one brand to another.

  • Look inside.Ask the salesperson if they can show you illustrated or actual cutaways of the interior of the various mattress and foundation choices. Seeing how each mattress is made can help you understand the differences.
  • Consider service. Compare store services such as delivery, financing and removal of your old mattress.
  • Weigh your investment.Consider the cost-per-day value of a mattress (you‘ll be on it 6-8 hours each day for about seven years) and buy the best you can afford. That is 1/3 of your life!
  • Shop smart.Look for the best value, not the lowest price. Good deals are out there, but there is a direct relationship in the price of a mattress to its quality, so shop around and find the best quality sleep set that makes sense for you.

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.

Innerspring (Coils)

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.

Latex

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

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.

Hybrid

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:

Adjustable

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.

Pillow-Top

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.

Waterbed

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.

Stomach

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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: 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.

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