How to Choose the Best Mattress for Your Body Type
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
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 it's 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.
TIP: Because the springs are what make the mattress supportive, it is important to take their construction into consideration. Ask the salesperson (or refer to the placard if there is one) what the coil count is. A standard twin-size mattress should have at least 300, a queen should have 375 and a king should have 450.
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 provide 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 twenty years ago but in the long run 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.
TIP: When ordering, it is highly recommended that you purchase the box spring that comes with the mattress as a set. They are custom made specifically to support one another and they belong together.
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.