How to Choose a Mattress

Learn how to choose a mattress

A good night’s sleep is a category that depends on many different factors, like comfort, level of stress, room temperature and many others. But to achieve one, we need to start from the most basic thing, the surface you sleep on. So, how to choose the right mattress to sleep on?

Where to start?

On the first glance, mattress replacing seems like a trivial thing to do. Well, saying it’s not trivial is pure understatement. Sometimes it turns to be very demanding and exhausting chore. Not only there is a wide variety of mattresses to choose from, there’s also the fact there’s no universally good mattress. In the end everything boils down to individual preferences, because one person’s comfort is another person’s pain.

For starters, the mattress should support your body in a neutral position. When you lay down, the mattress should keep your spine in a nice curvature and your head, shoulders, bottom and heels should be supported in an appropriate line. Stiff mattress will push on main body points and soft ones will make your body sink in. Both outcomes are not very desirable, since both will end up with rough awakening, in a literal sense. Having back pain after you wake up is one of the indicators you might need a new mattress. Luckily, there are many mattresses that are an exquisite blend of both firm and soft, offering optimal support. Take a look at our picks for the best mattress for back pain issues to find your ideal mattress.

An illustration of Proper spine sleeping position

What’s the right mattress for me?

The right mattress is the one you feel no pressure laying on, like you’re floating in the air. When choosing a new mattress it’s advisable to actually test it right there in the showroom, laying down and taking the position you usually sleep in. You should spend at least ten to fifteen minutes on the bed. And you should also replicate the way you’re usually sleeping, so it’s advisable to carry your own pillow or your teddy bear or other snuggle buddy. The better you replicate your sleeping conditions, the better chances you have to pick the right one.

This doesn’t have to be the case though – many companies offer 30 to a 100-day free trials on their mattresses, completely free. It’s just enough time for you to determine whether it’s the right mattress for your body type. Of course, it doesn’t only boil down to just support, you have to have a good night’s sleep on it. So, when you wake up, you will probably feel the difference in the morning.

a girl sleeping on a comfy mattress

The thing you might consider is that there are many types of mattresses, from the traditional spring ones, modern pocket spring ones, to memory foam and latex mattresses. Every single one of them has their own attributes that could make a necessary difference between good and bad night’s sleep. If you choose the right mattress type, you will be one step closer to achieving a better night’s sleep.

Choosing the best one is purely individual, because every single person has different criteria of good sleeping substrate. Even the individual’s body changes over the years, so the perfect mattress in their thirties won’t be so perfect in their forties or fifties. Additionally, mattresses collect dust mites, fungus and other germs that can cause allergies and damage the sleep pattern. So, although today’s mattresses are built to last a lifetime, the more realistic life expectation is 10 to 15 years.

Price, materials, types

Another thing to be considered is cost. Mattresses can go from few hundred to several thousand dollars. Usually, this is the category in which price is reflecting the performance. You have to pay the appropriate price for the durable and high quality materials. Of course, you can buy on sales or negotiate with the clerks. Luckily, besides that, many companies have bundles where they offer a major discount if you buy the whole package. In the next few paragraphs we’ll try to give you advice how to buy your own personalized, ideal mattress.

Recommended reading: Highest rated mattresses

Mattress topper on a wooden floor in a showroom

Let’s start with the foundation, which is the mattress core. If you like bouncy beds, the best choice is innerspring mattresses, which have that bouncy feel. You can even choose how springy you want it to be, depending on thickness and firmness of inner coils. Heavier people logically prefer thicker support, which is usually reserved for interconnected coils. Individual, so-called pocketed coils reduce the ripple effect which happens after someone on one side of the bed sits or moves. You can check our best bed frames picks to find the ideal base for your needs.

Avoid mattresses with fiberfill or foam outer layer. It looks great and it’s great for the first few months, but after that you’ll see it compressing and not coming back. Our advice is to choose a firm mattress and then to cover it with a replaceable cover.

If you prefer exceptionally firm base, there are memory foam mattresses, with polyurethane core, which have much less spring. If you take a seat on it, you’ll feel it doesn’t sink beyond the top layer. When you try to determine the quality of the mattress, you should ask for two things. First is the thickness of the foam layer. It varies from 2-6 inches (5-15cm), which determines how far down you’ll sink upon sitting. The second thing is density of the foam. 5 pounds per cubic foot (80kg per m3) is the sign of very high quality, 3 pounds per cubic foot (48kg per m3) is less so. This is the right mattress for everyone that loves to lie on a soft surface, but stay in a natural spine alignment at the same time.

For those of you who want their mattress a bit more buoyant, there are latex mattresses, which are similar to memory foam models in terms of firmness, just with more spring-back feeling. Natural latex is also antimicrobial and resistant to mold and dust mites. Concerning the price, they are on heavier side, but the makers claim them to last up to 20 years or more. This is the right mattress for people that want firmness and support. It’s also great for people with allergies, asthma or other respiratory issues. We have a general comparison between latex and memory foam mattress so we suggest you taking a look at it.

If you want to have your options open and to customize your bed depending on the circumstances, we’d like to propose you air filled vinyl or rubber mattresses, with remote control so you can set how much air will be inside. Many of these mattresses have two separate chambers, so you can customize the air amount separately for you and your partner. Similar to innerspring, the top surface is quilted fiberfill or foam.

Type: Firmness: Price: Anti-microbial: Lasts up to: Good for: Additional info:
Innerspring ☆☆☆☆ Low ☆☆☆ 6-8 years All sleeping positions Innerspring can be replaced
Pocketed spring ☆☆☆☆ Low-Mid ☆☆☆☆ 10-12 years All sleeping positions Pocketed springs can be replaced
Fiberfill ☆☆☆ Low ☆☆☆☆☆ 5-10 years Side and back sleepers Wears off easily
Memory foam ☆☆ Low-Mid ☆☆☆☆ 5-10 years (depending on density) Back sleepers You can choose the density of memory foam
Latex ☆☆☆☆☆ Mid-High ☆☆☆☆ 8-12 years All sleeping positions Best support but some find it too firm
Air-filled Customisable Low-Mid ☆☆☆☆ 4-8 years All sleeping positions It can have two customisable chambers
Hybrid Customisable Mid-High ☆☆☆☆ 10-15 years All sleeping positions You can choose from a myriad of combinations

What is your lifestyle?

Except the type, there are more important things you should consider in buying a mattress. That is your body type, sleep style, the preference of your bedfellow, or your lifestyle.

For the people who like to sleep on their side, they need a surface with a lot of pressure relief. Also, they need something to support and conform to their body shape. The most pressure relief mattresses are memory foam or the ones with the fluffy top layer. Innerspring may have more pressure relief than mattresses made from foam or latex. The best thing to find out is to actually test it all, with your own cushion and night cap.

If you like to lie on your belly, the least favorable type of mattress is the soft top memory foam. You’ll feel pressured and smothered. You’d want some firm top solution, like dense innerspring, air filled or latex mattress. All of you who sleep on your back, you’re kind of universal. Any mattress type is the right mattress for you, but it’s up to you personally to find out which is the perfect for your quality of sleep.

different sleeping positions illustrated

If you have a bed partner that tends to toss and turn all night, you might consider the materials with better motion isolation, like innerspring with pocket coils, memory foam, dual chamber air filled or latex mattresses. And if you and your partner’s preferences don’t match, we could recommend dual chambers. Mattresses with foam or latex topping hold body heat really well, especially if they are soft and a lot of body sinks in. If your body temperature rises during sleeping, it’s more preferable to have innerspring with fiberfill top. Or, even better, a removable feather or fiberfill topper.

For people prone to having allergies, foam and latex are the right choice. They are antimicrobial and resistant to dust mites and mold. And for the indecisive buyers, there are also hybrid style mattresses that combine every aforementioned trait in one product. But for that commodity you’d have to pay dearly, since those models aren’t very budget friendly.

Warranties

And last, but not least, be very conscious about warranties. One might think that a longer warranty is a display of confidence in the product, but it’s not really the case. The warranty is mostly a marketing trick, which usually covers manufacturer’s defects that happens in a year. Also, many warranties have plenty of fine print that can make your warranty void. The goal of the industry is to sell you as many mattresses as possible in a time frame of ten to fifteen years, although a good mattress should last you at least eight or ten.

All in all, there are many things to pay attention to, concerning buying the right mattress. After all, that’s the place you’ll spend a third of your life on.

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