How to find the Best Mattress for your Needs And Make Sense of Reviews
The ultimate guide to finding the perfect mattress for your individual needs within your budget.
Are you looking for the best mattress for your preferred sleeping position?
Or for your current weight or a special condition like back pain?
Or just for your budget?
Finding the right mattress for your needs can be challenging.
The mattress world has changed a lot in the last decade and the online mattress world is now a huge marketplace, with plenty of competition and lots of variety.
Gone is the idea that you have to be in a showroom, trying out a bed in person.
Instead, long sleep trial periods, great warranties and a thorough number of customer reviews mean that you can make a solid mattress purchase online, without risk.
The main issue now is figuring out how to choose the mattress best for your needs and budget and not all online mattress companies are made alike.
That’s why we’ve created this go to handy mattress guide to help you make the best-informed decision.
The Best Mattress for all Sleeping Types & Situations
Although there are some mattress companies that make just one model and there are some great “middle of the road”, suit-most-people beds out there, one mattress doesn’t necessarily fit all.
So, there are some specific things to consider, in terms of mattress construction, if you are wanting to buy a bed that caters to your body type and sleeping position:
Pressure points on the hips and shoulders and the natural contour of your side mean that side sleepers need a softer bed than back sleepers, with a cushioning layer of foam on the top:
Heavy people (over 230 pounds) wear out beds faster and compress the upper layers of the bed, so you need a thicker bed with supportive layers under compression:
Couples need a bed that suits most people, so a middle of the road or hybrid/modular mattress that offers two firmness levels is best:
Don’t waste money on a kids size bed that your child will grow out of in a year or two. Instead, choose a durable, quality mattress of at least twin size that will accommodate your kid as they grow, so you get your money’s worth:
The Best Mattress for Everyone With Special Requirements
There are some special health conditions that require a bit of extra attention when choosing a mattress, so keep these points in mind if you have any of the following conditions or concerns:
How much should you spend on a mattress?
Buying a mattress can be an expensive undertaking, so it’s important that you get the mattress that’s right for you.
While low cost mattress options can be found in stores, a benefit to buying online is that you get the chance to try them out, as many online mattresses have long sleep trials.
Buying a mattress from somewhere like a big box retailer can be kind of a blind purchase, with little idea of its quality or reviews. The online marketplace is full of transparent reviews from customers of all sizes and sleep positions, so you can get honest feedback on the beds you are interested in.
Take advantage of the transparency of the online review world and buy the best quality bed you can for your budget. Here are some guidelines of what you should be looking for, in each price bracket:
One of the most important things you can do before choosing to buy a mattress is to get informed about the different mattress types and how construction matters in everything from feel and density to price.
Whether you choose an innerspring mattress, a latex or memory foam bed or a hybrid, we’ve broken down the pros and cons of each for you, to save you some time and confusion.
Memory Foam vs. Latex vs. Innerspring vs. Hybrid
7 Mattress Types Explained
If you haven’t shopped for a mattress in awhile, you might be surprised by all the mattresses on the market today. Gone are the days of just choosing between firm and soft support.
These days, you can find everything from traditional coil spring mattresses to high tech memory foam or adjustable mattresses and everything in between.
Choosing between all the different types of mattresses can be overwhelming and confusing to start. Let’s break down each type of mattress so you can make an informed buying decision.
Innerspring Or Coil Mattresses
This traditional type of mattress uses a steel coil pocket support system wrapped in fabric.
Manufacturers offer several different types of spring systems.
These systems include units with springs connected into a single unit and individually wrapped pocketed coils.
Aside from supporting spring systems, the spring shapes, coil sizes, and number of coils in a mattress vary.
The mattress’s coils or innersprings make up the core of the mattress and provide it structure and support. Coil count doesn’t always matter, but the basic idea is is the more coils, the more points of support for the sleeper.
Padding and secondary coils may cover this innerspring system. The type and amount of padding can vary. Generally, the more padding a mattress offers, the more luxury it may be.
Memory Foam Mattresses
Since the mid-1990s, memory foam mattresses have soared in popularity and availability.
The traditional memory foam mattress features memory foam in the comfort layer only, meaning the support layer is either a polyurethane foam or a more traditional innerspring design.
In comparison to other comfort layers, memory foam is very good at relieving pressure points. It’s slow response to your body sinking into it gives the sensation of floating or melting into your bed.
Gel mattresses use foam mattress technology but infuse gel into the foam’s support system or upholstery layers or both. The gel foam gives sleepers a different support, feel and heat dissipation features.
Like other foam mattresses, a gel mattress starts out with a thick layer of supportive polyfoam to build solid base for all of the other comfort layers on top of it.
The gel infused layer is usually the top layer since it needs close contact to your body to provide it's heat regulation benefits.
Hybrid mattresses get their name because they literally are creating by combining other mattress types to make a hybrid.
Most hybrid mattresses have an innerspring core surrounded by layers of foam or gel foamIn theory, this allows you take advantage of the best of both technologies while minimising the drawbacks.
Latex mattresses use latex foam as either the support system or in the upholstered layers.
These mattresses are made from either natural or synthetic rubber.
While there are firmness options available, they have a reputation for very firm, uniform support.
Adjustable mattresses allow you to raise and lower your head and/or feet with adjustable controls that are found on both side of a two person bed.
Typically, this type of bed allows the feet and the head to adjust to different levels, which allows for greater comfort during sleep.
For those of you unfamiliar with how this would work, picture a hospital bed with its raising and lowering features.
Adjustable beds offers you a potentially excellent night sleep and unique functionality. But as with other mattresses, adjustable mattresses come with their own set of pros and cons (see table above).
Unlike other mattresses, zoned mattresses use different materials and/or levels of firmness in different parts or "zones" of a mattress support layer.
The construction combines the comfort of pressure relief with proper support and spinal alignment.
There are several types of zoned mattresses.
The most common zoned mattress type has a firmer layer of support under the area of the mattress where the hips would be since this area of the body has the most weight.
There are two softer zones above and below this for the shoulders and head area and the legs. The idea with this construction is to offer the most support and push back on the body where the body pushes on the mattress the most.
Mattress Size Chart - Which Size is right for you?
Most often, you’ll see mattresses for sale in the standard twin, queen and king sizes, but sometimes there are other options and it can make your head spin.
Twin XL, full, doubles and California kings - what does this all mean in terms of measurements and what mattress should you buy for your height?
Take a look at this chart to find the best size for you.
27" X 52"
39" X 75"
39" X 80"
39" X 80"
54" X 75"
60" X 80"
76" X 80"
72" X 84"
Where to buy a mattress
There are many different types of places to shop for a new bed these days and now, even big box membership based retailers are selling mattresses. It can all be a bit confusing and the customer experience is different depending on where you go.
Here are some of the basic differences in the options:
It’s pretty clear that buying mattresses online is the way of the future, but what are the advantages to not seeing the bed in person?
Other options to buy a mattress include:
Mattress Specialty Stores
A mattress speciality store is probably the best place to go if you’re looking to buy a mattress in person. Specialized sales staff and a range of brands, it has its advantages:
Box retailers have the advantage of being able to offer lower prices than furniture or department stores and might not have commission sales staff.
Furniture stores are not that much different than department stores except you may have a better chance at getting someone that knows slightly more about furniture, since that’s all they sell.
At a department store you have a better chance of finding sales staff that work in one specific area, such as the furniture department and so they may know more about the mattresses sold there.
When to Buy a New Mattress?
The National Sleep Foundation suggests that the average lifespan of a mattress is about eight years but that if you are older, you might need to replace your bed more frequently if you have back problems.
That being said, there is no hard and fast rule about when your mattress is done but if it’s not comfortable anymore, or is sagging or showing signs of wear, it’s time to get a new one.
How long your bed will last will also depend on its main materials and the average lifespans are as follows:
20 years +
What makes a good mattress?
There are a few things to look for when considering what makes an overall good mattress. These can be broken down into common points that you can use as a checklist when choosing which mattress to buy.
Look for the following when picking a bed and if your chosen mattress doesn’t meet any of the below requirements, consider if it’s the right one for you.
Price / Value
When looking for a good mattress, price should reflect value.
If the price of a mattress is exponentially higher than others, value should likewise increase.
A higher priced mattress should have high quality, natural materials.
Buying online reduces the price so you’re getting better value for money, due to the reduced costs of not having a retail outlet, no sales staff.
Durability of a mattress is directly dependent on how much wear and tear a bed gets (how much you use it) and how heavy you are as the upper layers of a bed will compress over time.
In order to determine if a mattress will be durable, look for firm and supportive base layers, made from high density foam or an innerspring bed.
This will support the upper layers of the mattress as they compress under weight. The higher quality the layers of the mattress are, the longer it will last.
Again, high density base layers or innerspring coils make for a bed that is the most supportive. A bed that leans towards the medium firm to firm end of the scale will support the spine more than soft, lower density foam bed.
If you have back problems or require more support than the average person, look for beds geared to those with back problems, with regions of more support in the torso, or individually pocket coils, with varying zones of support.
Odor / Smell / Off Gassing
Choose a bed made with natural materials, if odor or off gassing is of concern to you. CertiPUR-US certification ensures the bed doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals that can harm air quality and indicates that any smell is temporary and not harmful.
Check out reliable reviews to see if customers have issues with off gassing and smell. Many beds will need a few days of airing out before use but this does not necessarily indicate dangerous materials.
If motion transfer is a concern for you, pick a bed with a high density base layer of foam as this will absorb movement, like getting in and out of the bed and turning over.
Innerspring coil mattresses tend to be more motion sensitive than all foam beds and a bed on the firmer side will also absorb more motion than a soft or bouncy bed.
If you are a heavy customers, someone with mobility issues or an edge sleeper, edge support is important.
A firm bed will offer more edge support than a soft bed and mattresses with thick layers of memory foam will be less supportive than high density foams or latex beds.
Some innerspring coil mattresses have reinforced, more heavy duty coils around the edge to reduce edge sinkage.
If you sleep hot, look for a mattress with a cooling gel top layer or gel infused memory foam.
Some mattresses have specially designed cooling features within the layers of the mattresses, like air pockets and channels. Others have proprietary cooling technology like fans in the bed base.
A mattress cover made from cotton, bamboo or other natural materials is best for wicking sweat and drying quickly.
Just because a mattress has a long warranty, doesn’t mean it will last that long. A warranty is meant to cover any manufacturing defects and can protect against a certain amount of sagging, depending on the brand.
Look for a bed with a warranty over 5 years but do know that research has shown that even a bed with a warranty of 20 years, might not last even 10.
In general, findings do suggest that the longer the warranty, the longer the bed will last and the better materials it is made with. Be wary of beds that don’t offer warranties.
A good mattress company offers a long sleep trial period so you can try out the bed for a few months and see how you like it. If you don’t like it or it doesn’t work for you, they should have an open and transparent return policy that is hassle free.
A mattress company that sets themselves apart from the rest will be communicative and ideally will have an online chat option so you can ask questions whenever they come up.
Customer support should be informative about the beds they sell and, if they have multiple mattress types, be able to recommend the one best for you.
They should be informed as to their return policy and should be overall interested in making sure you are satisfied.
Company integrity can be measured in a number of ways but look for a mattress company with a reputation for good customer service and overall customer satisfaction.
A company that stands behind their product and is transparent, easy to get a hold of and dedicated to making you happy is key.
If you are interested in companies that do some good in the world, check out the mattress companies that have charitable or philanthropic missions.
If eco-friendliness is a concern, consider choosing a 100 percent natural latex bed that will eventually biodegrade. CertiPUR-US mattresses do not have harmful off gassing and don’t leach toxic chemicals into the air.
Make sure you choose a bed with eco certifications. Some of the most common are listed below. Beds made with other natural materials, like cotton, wool and bamboo lend to the overall eco-friendliness of the mattress.
Pick one of these if you’re looking for a bed easy on the environment.
Understanding Mattress Certificates
There are many, many certifications out there that you will see on mattresses, some of them more recognized and valid than others.
Global Organic Textile Standard and CertiPUR-US are probably the most common and legitiimate two you will see but there are plenty of others.
A legitimate certification group will have a proper website and it should be easy to find information on what this certification means. Watch out for meaningless or made up certifications or labels like “natural” that can’t back up their claims.
Check out more info on this topic here.
CertiPUR-US: CertiPUR-US is a company administered by a non-profit organization that ensures a standard of regulation for foam by offering certification.
CertiPUR-US foams must meet a number of standards and must not be made with ozone depleters, environmentally harmful fire retardants, must not include mercury, lead or any other heavy metals and must not contain formaldehyde.
CertiPUR-US foams must also not contain phthalates and must have low VOC emissions or Volatile Organic Compounds that do not exceed .5 parts per million.
Other mattresses might hold a number of other certifications, particularly if the bed has some organic materials. This list is not remotely exhaustive and there are many different types of certifications, with varying degrees of credibility, but you may see any of the following:
GOLS or Global Organic Latex Standard: Obviously, one you’ll only come across in organic latex mattresses, the GOLS certification program ensures that the latex in the mattress contains more than 95 percent of certified organic raw material.
The Worst Mattresses: Which to avoid
Without going into specific brands and name calling, there are a few things you’re going to want to avoid when buying a mattress. These include:
A closing look at the mattress industry
Over the past decade and really, over the past five years, the entire mattress industry has shifted from one that was dominated by four to five major brands, only sold in brick and mortar stores, to a wide range of online options.
With this comes new innovations in mattress technology, new materials and lower prices.
Where there used to be just one basic type of mattress, (innerspring coil, where “luxury” meant “pillow top”), now you can choose from multiple densities of foam, made from different proprietary materials, latex, memory foam or a combination.
Mattresses were once a “one size fits all” industry but now there are mattresses for every body type and sleep position.
New mattresses have gel infused cooling technology, as well as organic and natural materials and there is a wealth of options for all budgets. The perception about purchasing online is also shifting, as people are coming around to seeing how low risk and convenient it really is.
From the research phase, all the way to the purchasing, buying a mattress online is easy and long sleep trial periods and great warranties mean there are few downsides.
Many online mattress companies have been around for quite a few years and have stood the test of time, making adjustments and improvements along the way. New start-ups like Casper, Leesa, Purple and others are catching up quickly and competition to make the best new bed is fierce.
Most companies offer chat services, competitive discounts and easy returns. With no brick and mortar shop and no commission sales staff, overhead is low and so the savings are partly passed on to the customer, with better quality mattresses coming out, at lower prices than similar in store products.
Purchasing a bed online is the easiest and most cost-effective way of getting the perfect bed and it is, quite simply, the smart way.