A Guide to Choosing the Right Mattress for You
The power of a good night's sleep should never be underestimated. As we sleep, our body's serotonin levels are restored, our immune systems are rejuvenated, and our memories are sharpened.
Because sleep is so integral to our everyday functioning, it is essential that we get a good night's rest. To do this, it is important to sleep on a mattress that is right for you. Doing so will cause you to wake up rejuvenated and refreshed, whereas sleeping on the wrong mattress will result in many sleepless nights, waking up cranky, and suffering from back pain.
Choosing the Right Mattress: How to Shop for a Mattress
Mattresses are displayed in stores for a reason. They aren't put there to look pretty; they're put there so you can test them out by laying down on them. Many people believe that proper mattress-shopping etiquette involves simply sitting on the edge of the mattress.
You cannot possibly make a decision just by doing that because 1.) You're going to spend the majority of your time laying on it, not sitting on it, and 2.) When you do lay down, it's not going to be on the edge of the mattress; it's going to be in the middle.
Get a feel for the mattress by laying on it in your usual sleep position. If there are two of you, lay on it at the same time to see how it supports your weight. Lie on it for at least 10 minutes.
You're going to be looking for two important factors: comfort and support. Support is determined by the coil springs inside the mattress and should be conducive to proper spine alignment. When laying on your side, your spine should be straight, and when you lay on your back, it should maintain its natural curve. Comfort comes from the padding, which serves to cushion your body from the support of the springs and should mould itself to your shape.
According to orthopedic experts, you should go for the firmest, most supportive mattress you find comfortable. A bed that is too firm will put pressure on the heavier parts of your body, particularly the hips, signaling your body to turn over and resulting in a night of tossing and turning. A bed that is too soft will result in your spine not being properly aligned. Your muscles will tense up and have to work harder to make up for the lack of support.
Types of Mattresses
We are constantly inundated with commercials for mail-order mattresses and stores that sell bedding. With so many to choose from, it can be difficult to figure out what's best for you. Here is a breakdown of the different types of mattresses and how they can best benefit your sleep.
Remember, no matter what the mattress comfort level is, they can all offer the same spine support depending on the coil count. Test out different beds to get a feel for which one is right for you.
Firm mattresses have flat-tops with no extra padding. They typically come with Edge Support for a firmer yet comfortable edge. Traditionally, firm to medium-firm mattresses have always been recommended for the relief of lower back pain. These mattresses score a 7.5 on a scale of 1–10, with 10 being the hardest. Mattress height is approximately 8.5".
- Sealy Giovanni Firm
- Sealy Posturepedic Baltico Firm
Cushion Firm mattresses are medium-firm beds. They offer firm support with a slight cushion at the top. On a scale of 1–10, with 10 being the hardest, customers rate cushion firm mattresses a 7. Mattress height runs from 9.5" to 11.5".
- Sealy Posturepedic Adriatic Cushion Firm
- Sealy Posturepedic Wyrick Cushion Firm
Plush mattresses are the softest you can get without purchasing a bed that has additional pillowtop padding. Extra foam layering above the coils provides extra comfort and plush support. On a scale of 1–10, with 10 being the hardest, customers rate plush mattresses a 6. Mattresses are around 10" in height.
- Sealy Posture Plush
- Sealy Islandia Plush
Memory Foam was created by NASA in the 1960s, but in the long run, it was never used in the space program—it ended up in mattresses instead. Previously too expensive for the average consumer, memory foam mattresses have become increasingly affordable over the past few years, resulting in their popularity skyrocketing.
Made from polyurethane, memory foam mattresses are firmer in cool temperatures and softer in warm temperatures. Because it reacts to changes in climate, it also responds to the body's natural heat, quickly moulding itself to the shape of a warm body.
Memory foam mattresses are denser and more supportive than standard mattresses. Keep in mind that it takes 15 minutes for the mattress to completely respond to your body's heat and settle into true form. What may feel just right at first may become too soft as the minutes pass, so give it a good, long chance.
You can buy memory foam mattresses as well as memory foam overlays, or toppers, to place on top of an existing mattress.
- Therapeutic 5" Memory Foam mattress (comparable to Tempur-pedic)
- Sealy True Form collection
Ultra Plush mattresses are super comfortable and sometimes include an additional pillowtop on top of the mattress (which is already plenty padded by itself.) On a scale of 1–10, with 10 being the hardest, ultra-plush mattresses are about a 4. With a height of approximately 16", depending on the model, these mattresses also sometimes require deeper fitted sheets than the standard mattress.
- Sealy Posturepedic Hoffman Estates Ultra Plush
- Sealy Posturepedic Granite Peaks Ultra Plush EuroPillowtop
Pillowtop mattresses have an extra layer of padding attached to the top of the mattress to provide additional comfort. Generally speaking, these beds are not very firm due to the top layer, or "pillow," that covers the entire surface, but they are incredibly comfortable.
Pillowtop mattresses were also rated a 6 on a scale from 1–10, with 10 being the hardest. Pillowtop mattresses usually require deeper fitted sheets than the standard mattress because they can run up to 19.5 inches high.
- Serta Marcel Pillowtop
Solutions for Couples
Unless you and your spouse have similar taste in comfort and support, chances are you're both going to be most comfortable on different beds. If one or both of you is willing to compromise, great. If not, several companies design mattresses made especially to accommodate two separate bodies with two separate ideas of what's comfortable.
Sleep Number Beds
The Select Comfort Sleep Number bed is rapidly gaining in popularity. You've probably seen at least a dozen commercials advertising its uniquely designed air chambers which it uses rather than metal and springs to provide a level of support that can be adjusted literally at the touch of a button.
The Firmness Control System is a remote attached to a pump that allows you to select the bed's firmness level. Even better, the 7000 and 9000 models come with two remotes that allow each person to select the comfort level for their side of the bed.
If you can't afford the pricey Select Comfort beds, which can run anywhere up to $4,000, then check out the more affordable alternatives such as the King 9000 Select Number Airbed shown here.
Tempur-pedic designs beds using the memory foam discussed above to ensure a good night's sleep for both parties. Because memory foam reacts to changes in temperature (firmer in cool, softer in warm), it reacts to the heat your body naturally emits throughout the evening, conforming to mould around your unique shape. When two people are in a full, queen, or king-size bed, the memory foam will mould around both of you, ensuring a better rest.
Memory foam mattresses are denser and more supportive than standard mattresses. Keep in mind that it takes 15 minutes for the mattress to completely respond to your body's heat and settle into true form. What may feel just right at first may become too soft as the minutes pass, so give it a good, long chance to adapt to your shape.
- Twin xtra-long: 39in wide x 80in long
- Twin: 39in wide x 75in long
- Full: 54in wide x 75in long
- Queen: 60in wide x 80in long
- King: 76in wide x 80in long
- California king: 72in wide x 84in long
Buying a Mattress Online
Purchasing a mattress online (as shown in the above examples from Amazon.com) is a great way to save money. But not many people will buy something as important as a mattress sight unseen. Luckily, there is a way to solve this dilemma.
First, look online to find a few mattresses you might be interested in. Let's say you're browsing on Amazon.com and spot a Sealy Posturepedic Granite Peaks Ultra Plush mattress set. Write down the manufacturer, model name and number if available, coil count, and other pertinent, descriptive information.
Next, go to the manufacturer's website and do a search to find a retailer near you who sells Sealy. Visit the store, find the Granite Peaks Ultra Plush, and test it out. Another option is to do this process in reverse, visit different stores, find a mattress that is comfortable, write down its information and then go online to order it.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Angelina Gudeeva on September 24, 2019:
I didn’t buy a mattress for myself, but for my mother at the cottage. She lives there for 5-6 months every year, they decided to update her bedroom. According to her, the mattress is good https://bestfutonmattress.net/best-comfortable-fut... after the garden there was no fatigue and the back did not hurt. At first, of course, she said that he was harsh and uncomfortable, we tried to turn him over, there was a side with a less rigid surface, which is more familiar to her! Now she has already returned home and ordered me the same mattress
Lynne on February 26, 2018:
The topic that this post does not cover is flame retardants and other chemicals are found in most conventional mattresses. You are about to buy a surface you will spend 1/3 of your life on, so you may want to know what it contains. Know what is in your mattress and choose the most natural materials you can find. I did the research and decided to make my own organic buckwheat hull mattress because I could not find an organic mattress I could afford. Turned out to be the best mattress for my back and provided the proper alignment. Buckwheat hulls are naturally fire resistant so they do not need the added chemicals to pass the required flame tests. Something to look into if you are in need of a new mattress.
sleepyhead on October 29, 2017:
Super comfy made up of flexible foams, super sturdy material and is a perfect mattress for all.
lisa on June 13, 2016:
mild lower scoliosis and narrow discs in my neck I wake up with neck pain on most mornings on a medium mattress, should I go with plush or medium firm....I do like a soft mattress for Comfort just comfortable how about the pain level.
Debra Hargrove from North Carolina on February 24, 2016:
Sleeping on the wrong mattress can cause painful problems with your neck, back, and spine. Your HUB covers great details about the importance of the many different choices with mattresses on the market. You have to make sure you are sleeping on the right mattress or you will wake up in pain. I learned about sleeping on the wrong mattress. It really makes a difference.
Sharon on October 19, 2015:
I bought a sleep number bed 6 years ago before I got married. I loved it! Now that I'm married I regret that I got a split mattress. I thought it would be nice for each person to be able to adjust their own side. We sleep together in the middle. After reading this article and the reviews, I will definitely keep my bed, just upgrade to a one piece mattress!
Reginald Thomas from Connecticut on July 31, 2015:
Lots of useful information for the person needing a new mattress set. Your opening statement was top notch. I also enjoyed your discussion on purchasing a set online.
Lola Dunn on May 23, 2013:
Ok really, people are actually correcting the author's grammer explaining the difference between the words "lay" and "lie"? Really?!
kenlyn on August 29, 2012:
You may have encountered the idea that the firmer a mattress, the better, to help ease back pain. However, there is good evidence which suggests a slightly more Goldilocks approach. A double-blinded study published in 2003 in the Lancet tested 313 participants experiencing chronic low back pain, by having them sleep on either medium-firm or firm innerspring mattresses. Those sleeping on the medium-firm mattresses experienced significantly more pain relief overall than those on the firm varieties, and the study’s interpretation of its findings was that medium-firm mattresses can help relieve chronic low back pain http://www.newsonhealthcare.com/how-do-i-choose-th...
Mitchell Cundifinson from central florida on August 21, 2012:
All of this is well and good as far as the coil count i can tell you its b.s. If you get to a time on your mattress when the coils matter then the top of it has given up and you got a shitty mattress. also the newer mattresses that don't have coils i.e I-comfort or old style tempurpedics are some of the best nights of sleep you will have period ever. you shoulda invest more then just 599 on queen too . You spend a lot more on your vehicles and you don't use it for 6-8 hours everyday do you ?
name on May 18, 2012:
This article is very helpful as I search for a good mattress. Whether you write lay, lie, or lye is totally beside the point as all I want is a good night's sleep. Thanks!
Samantha on March 11, 2012:
I definitely agree that a memory foam mattress is the way to go. I had a Tempur Pedic at one time, but recently got rid of it, because it didn't last. I did a lot of research and ended up getting a new one from www.doctorsmattress.com and couldn't be happier! Highly recommend them.
Jim on March 10, 2012:
Sorry, but though this is an informative article, I find it rather embarrassing for the writer that a fairly basic grammatical mistake repeatedly occurs. One doesn't 'lay' on a bed; one lies on a bed. One might get laid on a bed, but does so (usually) while lying down......
Bruno on February 19, 2012:
This article is interesting but the end is not acceptable ! If everybody does as you suggest, i.e. try at the store and buy online, pretty soon, there won't be any retail store to try the mattresses !
carol on February 19, 2012:
It would be nice if you would show a bit more respect for the local retailers with product on their floors and salespeople waiting on us patiently to help us find the right mattress. If you take up the time of the shop and salesperson, one would hope you would be seriously planning to purchase from them. If not, SHAME ON YOU!
BBG on February 04, 2012:
It is always impressive to see a web site suggest one goes to the bricks and mortar shop, get the benefits and then go for the online price. Life and society are what we make it...and we are not valuing service at all.
Kate on December 10, 2011:
I have a Sleep Number bed and I love it! I've had a three level spinal fusion in my lower back and a disc replacement in my neck. I love that I can change the firmness of my mattress daily if needed depending on how my back is on any given day. It was well worth the $1,500 price tag!
Cheryl on December 03, 2011:
We purchased a Tempur-pedic bed in Oct 2010 and ever since, I have had terrible back problems. I have mild/moderate Scoliosis and never had any issues with it but am now in and out of Spine doctors, Physical Therapy, Massage Therapists... and in pain! it may be just a coincidence but doubtful. I was told before I purchased it that if you are a "back sleeper" you'll love this bed anyone else will be a Chiropractors dream! I should have listened as these mattresses can set you back $3,000.
beedee on December 02, 2011:
Sealy, n sale at Bloomingdales 50 % off and then a "special% 20 off.. Which means the mattress is worth 20 percent of original quote. and we beleive we are getting a deal. NO! We are paying what it is worth, and no more. Those high "original" prices are hog wash.. to make us think we are getting a bargain!! No such thing. It is only worth what we pay..sale or no sale ticket. My Sealy collapsed in the middle after the first year ... and Sealy smartly does not guarantee depression... We shop for comfort, but they do not guaranty the firmness will stay!! DOn't beleive the sales!!
Doug on November 29, 2011:
I got a sleep number 5000 in 2006 and all it is a big headace i have problems with it every since exspecally if you had fusions in your neck and lower backnot a good bed
rosi on October 20, 2011:
I have and spinal cord problem due to which i am suffering form severe back pain kindly suggest which matress to go for
Keith Woodard on October 15, 2011:
Your sort is really informative. I already got an idea how to choose the best mattress for my body type. This is really useful for me if I have a plan to buy a new mattresses. Anyway, thanks for the information. Keep it up.
S. Bennison on September 05, 2011:
Thank you, interesting and helpful, but you must use the word lie instead of lay.
One lays a table cloth, but not a body. Lie down on the bed. Whey you're lying down on the bed. When you lie down on the bed. You should lie down on the bed for ten minutes. Forget the word "lay" unless you are using the past
tense. I lay down yesterday. I laid on the bed yesterday.
Mark Lambert on September 04, 2011:
Thanks for the info. Knowing what to look for made it easy to find out which stores were trying to sell me and which were trying to Help me. Anyone in Georgia go to a place called "The Mattress Store", they are great.
lester chen on August 01, 2011:
This is very useful and informative. Many people think that buying mattress is just like buying a cake that the only thing to consider is the design. This post shows what needs to be consider. Great one!
Jacquelyn Smith from Toronto, Canada on January 10, 2011:
Very informative hub. I'll keep these tips in mind when I'm at the store tomorrow!
Bruce on July 25, 2010:
This is a very well done page. Yeah, it pays off to do some good research before buying a bed. Getting good sleep is probably the most underrated thing we can do to be happier. http://www.twinsizemattress.org
sleep comfort adjustable beds on December 29, 2009:
I prefer to purchasing a mattress online because it is a great way to save money
greenrabbi on December 02, 2009:
Great post, buying a new mattress can be frustrating when you don't know what to look for. Thanks!
Me on April 15, 2009:
Hens lay (eggs). People lay items down. But only a hen can lay on a mattress. People lie on mattresses. And that's no lie.
dinkan53 from India on February 02, 2009:
hey, nice informative hub
Learn to Guitar on July 15, 2008:
Just know that they are so many factorc to consider to choose the best matress. Thanks for this helpful information.
marketingmaverick from BC, Canada on July 02, 2008:
Comprehensive would be the best word to describe your Hub! thanks for the great information.
Inspire Wisdom from Appalachian Mountains on April 25, 2008:
You really covered a vast variety of great products. I purchased a Sterns & Foster about 6 months ago because the salesman insisted it was the best for your back and knees. I wanted a different mattress that was cheaper, but he insisted it would be a waste of money. So, I charged that $1,000 mattress on the stores credit card and the mattress is awful. I then purchased a Sleep Number 5000 and received it this past week. It is amazng.
Thanks again for the great information.
Cheap Music Downloads on March 28, 2008:
Great Information, Choosing a good and correct matress defintely will help a lot on health and sleep with more comfortable. THanks
Dee Dee on December 20, 2007:
Isabella, which mattress did you buy? I, too, have scoliosis and have through two mattresses this year and am in the process of deciding upon a third...I am DYING for a good night's sleep!
Isabella Snow on October 04, 2007:
This is a great hub. I have scoliosis and have back pain most of the time, but its so much better now that I have good mattress. The couples thing is important, too.