How To Choose A Mattress? A Perfect Guide For You! Update 10/2022

Getting enough sleep is widely acknowledged as one of the most effective methods for preserving and enhancing our health. The quality of our mattress has a significant impact on how well we sleep, however many individuals ignore this and continue to use a mattress that lacks adequate support and comfort.

Investing in a new mattress can be a significant expense, but it can open the door to a better night’s sleep. When making a large purchase, it’s important to do your research and make an informed decision.

In order to assist you understand how to choose a mattress, we break down the most important information piece-by-piece. With this advice, you’ll be able to discover a mattress that’s just appropriate for your body and your sleep habits, ensuring that you get a good night’s rest night after night.

Mattress Types

Choosing a new mattress can be a daunting task, especially when you’re just beginning started. You can get a sense of where you’re going by thinking about the different varieties of mattresses.
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Foam, innerspring, hybrid, latex, and airbed mattresses are the most common, but there are a slew of others as well. The most well-known are innersprings, which have long been a fixture in homes across the country. Other mattress kinds, on the other hand, have become increasingly popular in recent years.

By giving a more dynamic performance, these other mattress kinds have gained a wider audience. With the rise of the online mattress market, they’ve also gotten more reasonable and accessible..

Having a basic understanding of the differences between different mattress kinds will help you narrow down your options as you continue your search for the ideal mattress.

  • Foam: These mattresses are made entirely with foam and no coils. They tend to provide above-average contouring to the body, pressure relief, and motion isolation, making them a good fit for side sleepers and couples. Among foams that are used in these mattresses, memory foam is the most well-known.
  • Innerspring: An innerspring mattress has a coil-based support system and few other layers. While the coils offer some support, innersprings often lack in pressure relief. Their sleeping surface is bouncier and has limited motion isolation. With a lower price point, these are more popular among budget shoppers.
  • Hybrid: Hybrids have two central elements: an innerspring support core and a substantial foam comfort system. The comfort layers can include foam or latex, and sometimes will even include a shorter layer of coils (called micro-coils). These mattresses provide a blend of bounce and contouring with low heat retention and can be a good fit for sleepers in any position depending on exactly how they are built.
  • Latex: When all of the layers of a mattress are made with latex rubber, some call it an all-latex or true-latex mattress. For simplicity’s sake, we just use the term latex mattress. These offer top-notch bounce and durability with moderate contouring. When made with natural and organic latex, they are a top pick among eco-conscious shoppers.
  • Airbed: Airbeds are built with an air chamber as their support core. A pump — controlled by a smartphone or remote — is built into the mattress to add or remove air with the push of a button, giving sleepers the utmost in firmness flexibility. Couples love airbeds because each side can be set to a different firmness level.

Firmness

Since we’ve already started to discuss firmness, I thought we might as well dedicate an entire section to the measure. Put simply, firmness refers to how hard or soft a mattress feels. While it might seem like a simple question to answer, determining a bed’s firmness (and the firmness that you, the sleeper, needs) can actually be quite tricky. That’s because the feel and firmness of a mattress depends on your own personal definitions for soft, medium, and firm as well as your specific body type, weight, and size.

This conversation can get further complicated by the fact that many consumers confuse support with firmness. A supportive mattress is one that sets the spine in an even line without creating pressure points and can be achieved on a soft, medium-firm, or firm mattress. Firmness refers only to the actual “feel” of the bed. Long story short, you can find a supportive mattress all across the firmness spectrum.

With this in mind, the average preferred firmness level for sleepers falls between the 4-7 out of 10 range. As we discussed above, certain sleepers will either want to dip into the lower end of that range or the higher end, depending on their preferred sleeping positions.

How to Choose a Mattress for Back Pain

There are myriad potential causes of back pain, but an unsupportive mattress is one factor that should not be underestimated. In people without back problems, proper support may prevent pain from arising, and in people who already have back issues, the right mattress may help with cushioning and comfort.

Choosing the best mattress for back pain means considering the nature of that pain alongside other mattress needs and preferences. Some back pain is short-term and comes on suddenly. This is known as acute back pain. Other times, the pain persists over a long period of time and is known as chronic back pain. Back problems can start out as acute, such as from an injury, and become chronic.

A person with acute back pain may need only temporary relief from their mattress. This may mean using extra pillows or adjusting their sleeping position. For chronic back pain, more significant steps may be needed, such as choosing a mattress that is firmer or softer. Finding the right levels of comfort as well as pressure relief can help keep the spine properly oriented during sleep.

The optimal mattress may also depend on where a person experiences back pain.

Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain affects the bottom five vertebrae (L1-L5) in the lumbar area. It is the most common type of back pain and one of the leading reasons why Americans visit their doctor. This back region is vulnerable to bending and twisting that can harm the muscles and the spine itself.

Spending too many hours in a bad sleeping position can cause lower back aches. For side sleepers, this can arise if the shoulders and hips aren’t supported, throwing the whole spine off-kilter. For back and stomach sleepers, it may occur because of a mattress that is too soft or too firm, putting pressure on the natural curvature of the lumbar spine.

In general, side sleepers should look for Medium Soft to Medium Firm mattresses that can cushion their impact points. Back and stomach sleepers should look for Medium Firm to Firm beds that have only light conforming.

Middle and Upper Back Pain

Middle and upper back pain are far less common. The anatomy in these regions is more stable, reducing the likelihood of sprains and strains from twisting movements. Pain in these areas can be tied to more serious problems and should be checked out by a doctor.

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In some cases, poor posture can create undue tension in the middle or upper back. A pressure-relieving mattress that contributes to spinal alignment can reduce the risk of this kind of pain. Having a quality pillow with the right amount of loft can also ensure that the neck and upper spine have adequate support.

Sleeping Positions

What position are you in when you normally tuck in to fall asleep? And in what position do you find yourself when you wake up?

The answers to these questions can provide key insight to help choose a mattress. The parts of your body that need more support in order to maintain spinal alignment vary based on your sleeping posture. For that reason, choosing a mattress to suit your sleeping position can boost comfort and help avoid aches and pains.

Back Sleepers

Back sleepers put the greatest pressure on their lower back. If a mattress is too soft, the torso can sink in more deeply than the upper back and lower body, and this U-shape can create strain. If a mattress is too firm, there won’t be any accommodation of the slight curve in the lower back. As a result, back sleepers do best with a Medium Firm to Firm mattress with light to moderate contouring.

Side Sleepers

Side sleepers have sharp pressure points where the body is the widest, most notably at the shoulders and hips. On a too-soft mattress, those points will dip out of line with the rest of the spine. On a too-firm mattress, they will feel the impact at those points and be prone to misalignment. Consequently, side sleepers do best with Medium Soft to Medium Firm mattresses.

Stomach Sleepers

Stomach sleepers are like back sleepers and put the most pressure on the lumbar spine. They usually do best with a Firm mattress that can keep them out of a U-shape and that won’t feel suffocating when lying face-down on the mattress.

Combination Sleepers

Combination sleepers find themselves in more than one position through the night. They typically should choose a mattress based on the position they spend the most time in. If there’s no primary position, Medium Firm offers the best bet across the sleeping positions. These sleepers should also look for a responsive mattress that facilitates easy movement on the bed.

How Much Do You Weigh?

Weight is another huge factor to consider when choosing a new mattress as the sinkage, hug, feel, cooling, and support of a bed can be highly affected by how much you weigh.

In fact, depending on your weight and overall body type, you may find that you need a specific type of mattress to satisfy your unique slumber needs. So, I’m going to walk through a few different weight categories to demonstrate what kinds of mattresses might work best within each class.

For reference, I’m breaking it down into light sleepers (those folks who weigh 150 lbs. or less), average sleepers (those who weigh between 150 lbs. and 200 lbs.), and heavy sleepers (those who weigh 200 lbs. or more).

Light Sleepers

Though light sleepers might fall within the same weight range (again, typically at or below 150 lbs.), that doesn’t mean they all sleep the same. Therefore, I’m going to provide mattress recommendations based on the different feels these sleepers might be after.

  • Soft Feel (4-6/10 on the firmness scale): As a light sleeper, you shouldn’t have any trouble landing on a soft mattress. You’re not as likely to sink through the materials as other sleepers might be, so you should be well-satisfied on any sort of all-foam bed, preferably one with a memory foam comfort layer.
  • Medium Feel (5.5-7/10 on the firmness scale): Lighter weight sleepers won’t sink as deeply into their mattress, which can make beds with super dense or thick top layers of foam uncomfortable for these folks. So, if you’re a lighter individual, I recommend going with a mattress that’s .5-1 firmness points lower than the feel you actually need. This is because most medium-firm mattresses are rated with an average weight sleeper in mind (typically around 180 lbs.)
  • Firm Feel (7-9/10 on the firmness scale): Lighter sleepers after a firm feel will want to prioritize mattresses with thin comfort layers. In fact, they might be better off with a simple pillow top or quilted cover comfort layer. Why? Well, these folks aren’t going to sink as readily through any top layers of foam, so don’t need to be buffeted from ultra-supportive foundational layers.

Average Sleepers

Again, we’re going to explore this weight category (from those who weigh 150 lbs. to around 200 lbs.) by breaking things down into different firmness needs.

  • Soft Feel (4-6/10 on the firmness scale): Your needs are pretty similar to lighter sleepers in this area. If you weigh closer to 150 lbs., you can follow the exact same rules as we outlined above for lightweight sleepers. But if you’re closer to 200 lbs., you’ll likely want to go for a mattress with thick top layers of foam to provide plenty of cushion as you press into the structure.
  • Medium Feel (5.5-7/10 on the firmness scale): This is probably going to be the easiest feel for average-sized sleepers to satisfy. Since most mattresses are designed with both average-weight sleepers and medium firmness in mind, you should have no issue finding a bed to meet this need. In general, medium firmness is achieved when there’s a balance of comfort and support layers.
  • Firm Feel (7-9/10 on the firmness scale): If you’re on the prowl for something firmer, you’ll want to reduce the thickness of your comfort layers and increase the thickness of your support layers. Average-sized sleepers will press into the structure more than light sleepers will, so they’ll need extra support in the base to achieve a “firm” feel.

Heavy Sleepers

Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult for heavier folks (those who weigh over 200 lbs.) to find a comfortable mattress. That’s not to say that there aren’t cozy options out there, but many brands build their beds with only one type of sleeper in mind. As frustrating as this is, there are some tips and tricks you can use to find a mattress to satisfy all your firmness and support needs.

  • Weighing in at 4 to 6 to 10 on the firmness scale, I like taller beds that incorporate thick top layers of foam over firmer sections of coil. If you’re a heavy sleeper, you’ll want to make sure your mattress has at least 4-5 inches of foam on the top for your body to sink into.
  • I’d keep the top layers of foam substantial, but lower their thickness by an inch or two for a medium-firm feel (5-7/10 on the stiffness scale). Medium-firmness mattresses should be in the 7 to 8/10 range for heavier people, even though the industry guideline is 6 to 6 1/2. For people who prefer a medium-firm feel, what other sleepers might consider firm should be just right.
  • Finally, if you’re a heavier sleeper searching for a firm mattress, I’d suggest an innerspring mattress with a pillow top layer that rates 7-9 on the firmness scale. To get the best night’s sleep, you’ll want a mattress that falls between between an 8 and a 9 on the firmness scale.

Pricing

It comes down to this: What’s your financial situation, and can you afford it? It’s vital to consider about this issue before you begin your search, because every consumer will have a different answer. Thanks to a wide range of pricing points, choosing a bed you love and that fits your budget shouldn’t be an issue. There are, however, a few things to keep in mind when it comes to this.

  • Despite my best efforts, I can’t promise that a luxurious mattress will cost you less than $200, and I know you do too. As a result, make sure your goals are in line with your available resources. And don’t forget that there are many of affordable mattresses that are equally as comfy as their more expensive counterparts.
  • Brand Name, Shame on You: Make sure you don’t get deceived by the flashy ads! A comfortable mattress isn’t necessarily one you see cropping up all over the place. Do your homework and focus on your individual sleep requirements instead than being distracted by clever ad tactics.
  • A Warranty Is In Order: Your mattress purchase can be enhanced in numerous ways. With a robust warranty, it’s easy to find the best brand. Lifetime warranties are common on bed-in-a-box mattresses, so you can rest easy knowing that if anything goes wrong with it, it will be taken care of. To find out how long your mattress will last, look at the warranty.
  • If you’re on a tight budget, I propose shopping around the holidays. Keep your eyes out for exceptional discounts and bargains around President’s Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day, when most mattress brands conduct major sales.
  • Some of the most popular mattress brands on the market are available year-round at Sleepopolis, and we’d like to tell you about it. See whether your favorite mattress is on our special specials page!

What Type Of Mattress Do You Need?

This is the final step before deciding on a new mattress: figuring out what kind of bed you need based on the information we’ve gathered thus far. I’ll go over some of the more popular options with you below. This is what they are like, and who could enjoy them the most.

Memory Foam

With their sluggish response to pressure and deep contoured hug, memory foam mattresses are a popular choice for anyone looking for a comfortable night’s sleep. As a result, they greatly reduce pressure on the shoulders, hips, and lower back, all of which are sensitive areas.

The dense material has a minor drawback in that it tends to trap and absorb body heat. Because many people naturally sleep hot, this can be a serious problem. In the modern era, however, most memory foam products are infused with cooling substances like as copper, gel, or graphite to alleviate this problem.

I believe that memory foam is better for those who prefer to feel like they are “in” rather than “on top” of their mattress. If you are a side sleeper, you may benefit from the mattress’s deep contouring hug.

Stomach sleepers may not be able to get a good night’s rest on a memory foam mattress. If you’re looking for a mattress that’s as firm as possible, you should avoid memory foam.

Most Popular Memory Foam Mattresses: The Nectar, Amerisleep, and Loom & Leaf mattresses are some of my favorite memory foam mattresses.

Latex

Latex foam is springy and energetic because it responds quickly to pressure. It’s also a natural material, making it a good choice for eco-conscious sleepers looking for an organic mattress. For those who sleep hot, this is a good alternative because it is inherently cold.

Latex is a good choice for a wide spectrum of sleepers, although I prefer it for those who sleep on their backs and stomachs. Because of the natural bounce of latex foam, these people should be able to move around and change positions easily. And, as previously said, eco-conscious sleepers will appreciate the organic materials used in its construction.

Latex mattresses may not be the greatest option for those who require profound pressure alleviation in the shoulders or hips. You won’t receive the same level of comfort from this mattress as you would with a memory foam one.
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The Plushbeds Botanical Bliss, Zenhaven, and Avocado mattresses are some of my favorites when it comes to latex mattresses.

Innerspring

Innerspring mattresses are bouncy, supportive, and firm. They are one of the most popular and commonly used mattress types. These beds are best suited for individuals who like a more classic, “old-school” look.

Innerspring mattresses are best suited for back, stomach, and heavy sleepers who need a lot of support. For people who prefer a bouncy structure, they may also be a good fit.

Innerspring mattresses aren’t the best choice for people who suffer from pressure points in their hips, shoulders, or backs, so you may want to look elsewhere.

If you’re looking for a mattress that relieves pressure points, check out our lists of the best mattresses for back pain, best mattresses for shoulder pain, and best mattresses for hip discomfort.

The Saatva, WinkBed, and Layla Hybrid mattresses are good places to start your search for an innerspring mattress. However, you can find innerspring mattresses all around.

Hybrid

The hybrid mattress is a novel form of mattress that mixes foam layers with coils or springs to provide both pressure relief and support in one mattress type. The “balanced” sensation of these mattresses sets them apart from traditional innerspring beds.

Hybrid mattresses can work well for a wide spectrum of sleepers, but I prefer them for back and combination sleepers. These beds have a lot to offer these people, both in terms of assistance and mobility.

Hybrid mattresses aren’t always harmful for everybody because there are so many varieties on the market. Side sleepers will want a hybrid with memory foam, while back sleepers may prefer a hybrid with latex. The trick here is to focus on the sorts of foams utilized in the upper layers.

DreamCloud, Leesa Hybrid, and Casper Hybrid are three of my personal favorites when it comes to hybrid mattresses.

How to Choose a Mattress for a Child

Children need a good night’s sleep. More sleep is needed by children than adults, and it’s crucial for their growth at all ages. Choosing a good mattress for your child’s bed is an essential part of ensuring that they get the rest they need.

Knowing how to pick a mattress for a child and how to pick a mattress for an adult have a lot in common, but there are also important differences to consider.

When purchasing a bed for a child, especially an infant who will be sleeping in a crib, parents place a higher priority on the child’s safety. The safety of the mattress is of the foremost importance when purchasing one.

The size of the bed is another difference. According to the child’s age and predicted growth, it is important to consider the right mattress size.

Children may be allowed to utilize a smaller size (Twin or TwinXL) of an adult-sized bed, depending on their age. Parental preference may dictate a mattress designed for youngsters. Adults can choose from a broader variety of mattress types, models, and brands when they shop for a new bed.

Another topic of contention is the price of a mattress for children. Many children’s beds are smaller and thinner, which means that they are less expensive because of this. However, there are certain children’s beds that have a lot of extra amenities and a price tag comparable to that of an adult mattress.

How to Choose a Crib Mattress

It is important to consider a number of factors while purchasing a crib mattress. Safety is the most important consideration when purchasing a crib mattress. The following are critical components of a secure crib mattress:

  • Assuring that the crib mattress complies with the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) guidelines for lead and other chemicals.
  • If the crib mattress is CPSC-approved, it is safe to use in a full-size crib. A minimum of 27.25 inches wide by 51.25 inches long is required for this size. A maximum thickness of six inches is recommended.
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) can be reduced by using a firm crib mattress (SIDS).
  • Toys, blankets, and pillows should not be placed on top of the mattress. Suffocation and Sudden Newborn Death Syndrome (SIDS) can occur when an infant is suffocated or smothered by soft or loose things in their cot.

When looking into crib mattresses, it is important to consider elements such as ease of use and convenience as well as safety.

  • Simple to Clean: A crib mattress is bound to get dirty, therefore the design should make cleanup a snap. A waterproof cover (often made of vinyl) or a waterproof backing can be found on some baby mattresses. These characteristics, say many parents, make cleanup a breeze.
  • To clean a crib mattress, you’ll likely need to pull it out of the crib. This is a strong selling feature for lightweight mattresses like foam.
  • Foam and innerspring mattresses can be utilized to produce a firm sleeping surface. As an additional option, crib mattresses can be made from a variety of unique materials and components, including those that are environmentally friendly.
  • A baby mattress with a reversible firmness design allows you to change the firmness of each side of the mattress. The mattress can simply be switched over as your child grows bigger and no longer requires as much firmness, allowing you to get more use out of your purchase.

How to Choose a Mattress Topper

Consider a mattress topper as an option if your budget doesn’t allow for the purchase of a new mattress. Even while this method isn’t as good as a new mattress, it’s an alternative if you can’t afford to buy a new one.

Fitted sheets are placed on top of a topper, which rests on top of the mattress. When it comes to changing the hardness level of your mattress, this is the best tool for the job at hand. The contouring, motion isolation, and bounce that some toppers can provide in comparison to your old bed are other possibilities.

One to four inches in thickness, most tops are made of a single material. These include memory foam, polyfoam and latex as well as cotton or polyester as well as wool. The advantages and disadvantages of each of these materials are unique.

The same factors that influence the purchase of a new mattress should be considered when selecting a mattress topper.

  • The position you are currently in as you sleep.
  • Your physical make-up.
  • Firmness to your liking.
  • Choosing the right type of material for your project.
  • Your financial situation.

To get the most out of your new topper, consider how it will interact with your current mattress when comparing the pros and cons of different mattress toppings. For instance, even if you use a memory foam topper on a springy mattress, motion will still be transferred.

In the end, if you decide to buy a topper, you must be realistic about your expectations. A mattress topper isn’t as long-lasting as a brand-new mattress, and it won’t be able to revitalize an old one. Adding a topper to a worn-out and sinking mattress will only result in the topper sagging as well.
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Important Mattress Questions

Your mattress’ age is an important factor to consider.

Your very first task is to respond to this query. Why? If you’ve got a mattress that’s more than five years old, it may be time for a new one. If you’ve owned your current bed for more than eight years, it’s time to shop for a new one. While this isn’t an absolute guideline, a good place to start is by checking in with your mattress and seeing if it’s doing its job of getting you to sleep well!

The easiest approach to evaluate if it’s time to get a new mattress is to pay attention to your body’s signals rather than rely on statistics. In the morning, are you experiencing new pains? Do you having a hard time sleeping because you can’t find a comfortable position? Are there any new dips in your mattress that can’t be repaired simply rotating it on a regular basis? To say goodbye to your bed, answer yes to any of the following questions.

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