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. 

nice bedroom

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:

Best Mattress for Side Sleepers

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:

  • Look for a bed with a cushioning layer of soft foam at the top layer. Memory or latex foam are the best.
  • Look for a mattress that is medium firm to soft - ideally a mattress of 6 or under on the firmness scale
  • Look for a mattress that is known to be supportive throughout the spine, with a high density base layer of foam or supportive innerspring coils.

Best Mattress for Back & Stomach Sleepers

Stomach and back sleepers need support throughout the body and a bit of firmness to keep the spine aligned:

  • Pick a mattress that is on the medium firm to firm end of the scale as it will avoid sagging in the middle, causing your back to curve. 4-7 on the firmness scale is best.
  • A high-density foam support layer with cushioning latex or memory foam is the best option here. Look for beds with thinner top layers of foam as thicker will cause your spine to curve. Think 2 to 3 inches.
  • Keep in mind that back and stomach sleepers have more of their body on the bed than a side sleeper, which might mean that you sleep hotter. Look for cooling top layers and moisture wicking fabric covers.

Best Mattress for Heavy People

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:

  • Look for a bed with cooling top layers, breathable inner foam layers and moisture wicking fabric covers as heavy people tend to sleep hot.
  • Look for a bed with a medium firm to firm feel with high density base foam layers or innerspring coils. 4-7 on the firmer scale is best and a mattress on the thicker side (over 12 inches) will have more layers to support your weight and better edge support.

Best Mattress for Small & Light People

A lightweight person (under 130 pounds) doesn’t need a super thick mattress because their body won’t compress the bed enough to hit those lower base layers.

  • Choose a bed that is medium to soft, as extra firm mattresses can hurt the pressure points of those that don’t have a lot of meat on their bones. A firmness level of 5 and under is best with cushioning memory foam or plant based foam top layers, particularly those beds with multiple cushioning layers are best for light people.

Best Mattress for Couples

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:

  • Choose a bed that is has high density, supportive base layers, which absorb movement when turning over or getting into or out of bed. A foam bed is best over innerspring as they tend to move less.
  • Choose a mattress in the firmness range of 5.5 and over, designed to suit most body types because couples tend to not necessarily sleep the same or like the same type of bed. A medium firm to firm mattress supports most people.
  • Don’t forget to choose a bed that is good for sex, too! Look for something with a bit of bounce, like a mattress with some latex and thick memory foam is a no-no, as you’ll just sink in.

Best Mattress for Children

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:

  • Choose a supportive bed on the firmer side (5.5 on the firmness scale or over) which will keep their growing spine aligned.
  • Make sure you look at natural materials and choose a bed that doesn’t have any toxic off gassing. CertiPUR-US certified is the international certification you want to keep an eye out for.
  • Kids sleep hot and accidents happen! Look for a bed that has a moisture wicking, easy to clean cover.

Best Mattress for Hot Sleepers

Hot sleepers should choose beds known for their cooling materials that don’t hug the contours of the body:

  • Stay away from beds with soft, thick memory foam top layers that tend to hug around the body, making you hotter. Latex upper layers, gel or gel infused are much cooler and thinner layers of memory foam are okay.
  • Take a look at new innovations in cooling technology, like cooling adjustable bases, air channels between layers and new materials in top layers and covers. Mattress have come a long way in recent years in terms of materials and there is plenty out there geared for the hot sleeper.
  • Choose moisture wicking, cooling and antibacterial covers and avoid anything vinyl, synthetic or materials that don't breathe. Wool, cotton or Tencel are great options.

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:

Best Mattress for Back Pain

If you have sciatic nerve pain, problems with pressure points, arthritis, fibromyalgia or other conditions, you need to pick a bed that’s suited to your condition that helps you sleep through the night:

  • Choose a bed that is medium firm to firm (5.5 or higher on the firmness scale) with cushioning in the top layer because this will offer support to stabilize your spine. If you have problems with your back, chances are a soft bed isn’t going to work for you.
  • Make sure you buy a bed that is actually made for how you sleep. If you are using a bed that is best for stomach sleepers and you are actually a side sleeper, this is going to cause extra pain.
  • Check for mattress features that cater to those with back pain. Some companies make mattresses specifically for those with back problems and some have more support in the lower back and torso areas of the mattress.

Best Mattress for Shoulder & Hip Pain

Those with shoulder and hip pain specifically, which can include sensitive pressure points, arthritis, sciatica and other conditions should choose a bed that caters to your condition:

  • Buy a bed with a medium to firm level of firmness, as above, but cushioning in the top layer. Memory foam is good as long as it’s not too thick and latex is even better as it has more resistance and provides more of a “floating on top” feel. Sinking in too deeply could cause hip pain from sagging.
  • Again, choose a bed with supportive, high density base layers of foam so that there aren’t any problems with sagging at the hips.

Best Mattress for Acid Reflux

Conditions like acid reflux, GERD and chronic heartburn can cause sleepless nights. Choosing the right bed can lessen and even eliminate these issues:

  • Look for a bed with an adjustable frame. Keeping your head elevated above your stomach can prevent acid from coming up into your esophagus.
  • Buy a special wedge pillow, designed just for those suffering from acid reflux. These are especially good for couples who may not both want an elevated bed frame.
  • Pick a special wedge that fits underneath a regular mattress, which makes for an affordable option if you don’t want to splash out for an adjustable frame. These are good if you sleep solo.

Best Mattress for Arthritis

Trying to sleep with arthritis can mean tossing and turning and sleepless nights. Arthritis can affect any joint but can be especially bothersome for side sleepers with pain in their hips, shoulders or elbows:

  • If you have arthritis, especially if it’s in your hips, choose a mattress that is supportive enough keep your spine stabilized but cushioning through the hips and shoulders. A mattress with solid base layers and a memory foam or latex upper layer is the best choice.
  • Make sure you also choose a mattress with low motion transfer. No matter how comfortable you are in your new bed, those with arthritis tend to have to move a bit more than regular sleepers and you don't want to keep up your partner, when moving.
  • Consider a mattress specially designed for those with back pain. Orthopaedic mattresses or beds with individual pocket coils can be good for those who need more support in some places than others. Certain foam mattresses are also designed specifically for those with back pain and have more support throughout the torso and lower back.
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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:

$1500+

  • Mattresses in the $1000 range and over should contain most or many natural, plant based materials
  • Look for multiple layers of high quality, high density materials
  • The company should have an excellent track record and back up their beds with a long warranty and sleep trial period.
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    Higher priced beds tend to offer luxury features, like sleep tracking, a cooling base, adjustable comfort or temperature levels or other technologically advanced features.
  • check-square-o
    These mattresses are usually branded as luxury and so they should be, with high level of customer satisfaction and top reviews.
  • check-square-o
    Higher priced mattresses tend to have long sleep trials so you can test them out and return the if they don’t work for you, so there is little risk, compared to a cheap mattress with no sleep trial and warranty, which you might be stuck with if it’s not good for you.

$500-$1500

  • This is where you will find most quality online mattresses and there are a wide range in the $500-1500 price bracket.
  • They should feature high quality materials, but not necessarily all natural and might be made from foam layers, innerspring coils or a hybrid between the two.
  • They should also feature a long sleep trial and a good warranty.
  • check-square-o
    There are a good variety of quality mattresses in this bracket.

$250-500

  • Just because they’re cheap, doesn’t mean they are all bad. Look for reviews and company reputation.
  • There are some great mattresses in the $250-500 range that offer a range of features, including memory foam, some natural materials like green tea infused layers and long warranties and sleep trials.
  • No warranty, no returns and no company contact info is a good indication you are getting something of low quality.
  • check-square-o
    Mattresses in the $250 and under range might be comprised of one or two layers and the lower end of the scale might include innerspring coil mattresses for kid’s beds or single layer futon mattresses.
  • check-square-o
    Some may not necessarily have a long warranty or any sleep trial period.

What types of mattress should i buy?

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

Mattress Type

Pros

Cons

Memory Foam

  • Affordable
  • Great Motion Isolation
  • Hugs your body
  • Can sleep hot
  • Poor Edge Support
  • Off-Gassing (first 1-3 days)
  • Worse for sex

Latex

  • Firm and supportive but provide comfort similar to memory foam.
  • Better edge support than memory foam
  • Most durable option of all mattress types
  • 100% organic / natural options available
  • More bounce than memory foam (better for sex)
  • More expensive (especially organic options)
  • Some off-gassing / small in the first fe days that many sleepers find to be a turn off.
  • Latex retains heat
  • Not as soft as memory foam can be
  • Very heavy and bulky

Innerspring

  • Cheaper than other mattress types
  • Great edge support
  • Superior availability
  • More bounce than memory foam (great for sex)
  • Sleeps cooler than memory foam
  • Shorter lifetime than other mattress types
  • Inferior motion isolation
  • Can be noisy
  • In general lower customer satisfaction

Hybrid

  • Offer the support of a traditional innerspring mattress while giving you the even weight distribution of gel or memory foam mattresses
  • Superior airflow and cooling capabilities
  • Many firmness options available
  • Average motion transfer (better than innerspring, worse than memory foam)
  • Durability and lifespan are questionable
  • Very bulky and heavy
  • Off-gassing possible
  • More expensive than memory foam & innerspring alternatives

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

Coil & Innerspring Mattress

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

memory foam mattress

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

Gel Mattress

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

hybrid mattress

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

Latex Mattress

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

memory foam mattress

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).

Zoned Mattresses

Zoned Mattress

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.

mattress size chart

Mattress Size

Meassurements

Crib

27" X 52"

Twin

39" X 75"

Twin XL

39" X 80"

Full

39" X 80"

Full XL

54" X 75"

Queen

60" X 80"

King

76" X 80"

California King

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:

Online Shops

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?

Pros

Cons

  • Buying online allows you to make a low risk, informative purchase, as there is access to transparent reviews, and you can learn a lot before buying.
  • If you have a health condition that makes sleeping difficult like back pain or if you are obese, you can get unbiased reviews from people with similar problems, to find the bed that’s best for you.Great return policies, sleep trial periods and warranties.
  • Lower overhead means savings for you. No storefront, commission sales staff and inflated pricing.
  • In home delivery.
  • Way more options online than you can find in stores, which have a limited inventory
  • Can’t try before you buy
  • You have to wait for your mattress to arrive

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:

Pros

Cons

  • A selection of beds and brands to compare and choose from.
  • Specialized staff that only sell mattresses.
  • Salespeople who are working on commission and might try to steer you towards one brand over another.
  • Limited to the brands they sell.
  • Tend to be pricier than online or box retailers.
  • Not as easy access to transparent, online reviews.
  • Short or no sleep trial period, you can only try for a few minutes in store.

Box Retailers

Box retailers have the advantage of being able to offer lower prices than furniture or department stores and might not have commission sales staff.

Pros

Cons

  • Potentially lower prices than a department store or mattress retailer.
  • No commission sales staff.
  • Can’t try before you buy.
  • Not as much access to online reviews.
  • Mattresses at box stores are often in boxes, stacked on their sides and can’t be looked at or tested in store.
  • Low chance of any informative sales staff knowing the specifics about the mattress.
  • Discount mattresses sold at warehouse stores are of varying qualities and countries of origin. Materials can also be suspect.

Furniture Stores

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.

Pros

Cons

  • You may be able to see a variety of mattress brands in one location.
  • You may be able to return directly to the store rather than to the mattress manufacturer.
  • You can only try in store for a few minutes but online offers sleep trials of at least 100 days.
  • Selection may be limited to the specific brands the store carries.
  • Little access to online reviews or transparency.
  • You might not be dealing with someone who specializes in mattresses.
  • You may be dealing with pushy commission based sales staff with their own agenda of which mattress they’d like to sell and substantial markup.

Department Stores

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.

Pros

Cons

  • Specific place in the store for mattresses and dedicated salespeople
  • You can compare different brands in one location
  • Salesperson might be working on commission or geared towards selling a specific mattress
  • Can be higher priced than online or box stores
  • Salesperson might not be a mattress expert or know much about the construction
  • You can try before you buy but only for a few minutes. You need to test long term and online mattress tend to offer a minimum of 100 days.

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:

Material

Lifetime

Latex

20 years +

Innerspring

6-10 years

Hybrid

6-10 years

Memory Foam

8-10 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

Durability

Overall Support

Odor / Smell / Off Gassing

Motion Transfer

Edge Support

Heat Retention

Warranty

Return Policy

Customer Support

Company Integrity

Eco Friendliness

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:

greenguard certificate

Greenguard: Greenguard is another certification organization that requires that the material meets stringent requirements for low VOC emissions and is completely safe for indoor air quality.

ecocert organic mattress certification

Organic Content Standard 100: This certification is awarded to any product that contains 95 percent or more organic material. It has nothing to do with VOCs or any other issues.

gols certificate

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:

  • Low density, cheap foam
  • No warranty
  • Over inflated price for the quality of the materials
  • times-circle
    No sleep trial period
  • times-circle
    Mattresses without clear branding or manufacturing location
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    Mattresses without, at least, CertiPUR-US certification
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    Mattresses that make lofty claims they can’t possibly deliver on (cancer fighting, arthritis curing, etc.)
  • times-circle
    Mattresses that aren’t the right bed for your body type and sleep position
flowerbed

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.

Final Thoughts

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, LeesaPurple 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.

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