Skip to main content

How to Pick the Perfect Mattress for a Good Night's Sleep

Linda is a seasoned writer and bedroom authority. She loves sharing design trends, decor ideas, and useful tips with her readers.

We all long for a good night's sleep. Make the dream a reality by researching different mattress types!

We all long for a good night's sleep. Make the dream a reality by researching different mattress types!

How to Choose a Mattress

A good night’s sleep typically occurs when several key elements are in place. You must be completely relaxed—not worried and stressed out. The room temperature has to be just so. The environment must be dark and quiet. Most importantly, your mattress should provide the utmost comfort. Without a comfortable mattress, you'll wake feeling tired and sore instead of well-rested. So, let’s lay the groundwork for a restful night of slumber by selecting the perfect mattress.

In This Article

  • Innerspring
  • Latex Foam
  • Memory Foam
  • Air Chamber Mattress
  • General Mattress Buying Tips
Cross-section of an individually pocketed innerspring mattress.

Cross-section of an individually pocketed innerspring mattress.


Chances are, you currently have an innerspring mattress because they are still the most popular mattress type in America. This is due to their reasonable price when compared to other mattress types available today. They are also pretty darned comfortable too. If you are committed to purchasing a quality product, I recommend this one.

Innerspring mattresses support with a network of steel coil springs. The majority of new mattresses today feature individually pocketed coils that not only extend the life of the mattress, but they also keep the coils from eventually poking through the mattress cushioning.

A layer of cushioning covers the coils to provide extra comfort. You can choose from a pillow top (filled with polyester batting and/or down), latex, memory foam, or a combination of several cushioning materials. In addition, innerspring mattresses also offer a wide variety of firmness options (based on coil configuration). These options are dependent on your budget and personal preference.

In the case of innerspring mattresses, you will probably get what you pay for. So, it is best to avoid the budget mattresses unless you are outfitting a seldom-used guest bedroom. Cheaper innerspring mattresses lack a sufficient number of springs and have substandard top cushioning. This means you’ll most likely wake up with a stiff back and will probably have to replace the mattress in a few years.

Organic foam bed using natural latex encased in organic cotton and wool batting.

Organic foam bed using natural latex encased in organic cotton and wool batting.

Latex Foam

Latex foam mattresses have been popular in Europe for years and are rapidly gaining in popularity in the U.S. These mattresses are made from natural and synthetic latex rubber foam. They feature a latex foam core rather than springs for support. Latex foam mattresses tend to feel very firm for people used to sleeping on innerspring mattresses.

The support across the bed is consistent, and latex conforms to the body, preventing painful pressure points and subsequent back and joint pain. Most of today’s latex mattresses are designed to be breathable—they don't hold heat like their early predecessors.

Many manufacturers use latex that is naturally antimicrobial, hypoallergenic, and resistant to dust mites. If you want to try sleeping on a latex mattress but don’t want to invest the money right away, purchase a latex mattress topper to determine if it is the right solution for you.

Memory foam mattresses conform to the shape of your body.

Memory foam mattresses conform to the shape of your body.

Memory Foam

Memory foam mattresses are also becoming more popular. This type of mattress boasts the same type of foam that NASA developed for the space program. Memory foam consists of multiple layers of different densities of foam that respond to your body’s temperature. The foam softens and envelops your body, delivering optimum spinal and joint support. However, this can pose a problem for those of us who tend to get hot at night.

As with latex foam, memory foam is good if your partner is a restless sleeper. Memory foam absorbs movement, unlike an innerspring mattress. These mattresses tend to be very expensive. However, some manufacturers offer a trial period after which you can return the mattress if not satisfied. Or you can purchase a memory foam topper to see if this type of mattress is right for you.

Air chamber mattresses let you choose the firmness you want based on a number system.

Air chamber mattresses let you choose the firmness you want based on a number system.

Air Chamber Mattress

Don’t confuse this type of mattress with the inflatable air mattresses designed for last-minute guests. When you compare the price tags, you certainly won’t confuse one with the other.

Air chamber mattresses feature air-filled compartments for support rather than coils or latex foam cores. They look just like a traditional innerspring mattress and have a layer of top foam to cushion your body.

One of the biggest selling features of these mattresses is the ability to individually control the comfort level on either side of the bed. Higher-priced versions of these mattresses have two separate air chambers and remote dial to help each person find their exact sleep setting. If you prefer a softer mattress and your partner likes sleeping on a firm mattress, simply grab your remote controls and find the perfect setting for each of you.

Picking the right mattress is crucial.

Picking the right mattress is crucial.

General Mattress Buying Tips

  • When to Buy a New Mattress: If your mattress is between 8 and 10 years old or if you wake up with low back or hip pain that takes more than 30 minutes to work itself out, it's time to purchase a new one.
  • Take the Mattress for a Test Sleep: Experts suggest laying on mattresses in the store. Assume your typical sleeping position and try to remain there for at least 15 minutes. They also recommend bringing your pillow from home. You may draw a crowd, but hopefully, you’ll end up purchasing the right one.
  • Try to Go for Comfort Over Price: If possible, try to take price out of the equation when testing mattresses. The best choice will ultimately be the one that feels the most comfortable to you. Think of your dream mattress as a long-term investment for your health. Try out each mattress you're interested in before asking the salesperson about the price. If you’re lucky, you’ll end up choosing one of the more moderately priced models.

Common Sense Approach to Choosing a Mattress

© 2012 Linda Chechar

Start a Conversation!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on July 31, 2015:

Thank you, Reginald! Glad you liked the Hub. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Greatly appreciated! :)

Reginald Thomas from Connecticut on July 31, 2015:

Great Hub Linda! I enjoyed how you broke down the areas and the topics.

You kept it simple and not confusing to the reader. Congrats!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on June 17, 2015:

brakel2, I would have to agree that things made 15 years ago are probably better than what you can buy today. That aside, I have read a lot about memory foam mattresses off-gassing. They do contain VOCs, but in researching the chemicals, they're non-toxic. Some people are known to have allergies associated with the chemicals (fire retardants, binders, etc.). If you have a problem with the odor, I understand it eventually dissapates, however that could be a negative--it would be for me. Good luck with your mattress search! Thanks for reading and sharing!

Audrey Selig from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on June 17, 2015:

Hi - We are so confused in looking for a mattress. mostly because we hear all the stories about the smell that makes some people sick. This article helps me, but it seems like mattresses from fifteen years ago were so much better. Can you give any information about the memory foam odors and their lingering effect? Thanks for sharing. Blessings, Audrey Sharing this hub.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on November 04, 2012:

That is so true, Joan! I'm relieved to hear the manufacturer stood up for you even if the retailer didn't. It is a sizable purchase and the consumer should be protected. Thanks for reading my Hub and sharing your experience! :)

JoanCA on November 04, 2012:

We last bought a mattress about 5 years ago. We bought a pillowtop mattress that started sagging after a couple of months. Even though there was supposed to be a guarantee on the mattress, the store insisted that it wasn't sagging. Luckily the manufacturer agreed that it was and we got a replacement. It's a big purchase and people really need to be informed before buying a mattress. You could easily get stuck with a painful purchase.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on October 31, 2012:

Thanks meloncauli! I would love to get a better mattress as I have back and hip problems. Maybe someday! So glad you stopped by for a read. I appreciate your comment and vote! :)

meloncauli from UK on October 31, 2012:

Great hub Linda!

I so need one of the memory foam mattresses as I have awful back problems. I have neck problems and bought some memory foam pillows but I don't like them much! Voted up :)

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on October 25, 2012:

Robert, selecting the proper mattress now will help you age gracefully without as many aches and pains along the way. Purchasing the best mattress you can afford is a great investment -- in more ways than one! Thanks for reading and commenting! :)

Robert Erich from California on October 25, 2012:

This is great! I've never spent this much time thinking about my mattress. Although I should - finally got off of a foam pad (not mattress) that I was sleeping on in the house my brother and I just purchased. It felt GREAT to sleep on a real mattress again. However, stepping it up to that Latex foam mattress seems like a comfortable and intelligent idea. ;)

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on October 19, 2012:

Thanks, teaches! I know you won't get the full effect testing a mattress in the store, but trying each one out for a few minutes may give you a better indication of their comfort @ home. Glad this Hub may help in your decision-making process!

Dianna Mendez on October 18, 2012:

We are in the market for a new mattress for our guest room and you can bet I will be taking your advice on this. I won't be shy about testing it out, if you can't feel the comfort in the show room demo, then it is probably not going to work well at home. Great hub post!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on October 18, 2012:

Tireless, I think we probably all have been on that lifelong search. I am pretty pleased with the mattress we currently have, and didn't pay a king's ransom for it. Although I'm sure I would really, really like a $30,000+ Kluft mattress! ;)

Judy Specht from California on October 18, 2012:

I loved when the guy in the video said, "Every bed in the showroom will feel better than the one at home, you are here for a purpose."

I have been searching for the perfect mattress most of my life. Your hub may help.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on October 17, 2012:

Everythingdazzles, those Sleep Number or Tempur-Pedic mattresses are to die for. But you're right, the prices are prohibitive!

Janelle from Houston on October 17, 2012:

Great hub! If I was rich I would totally get a temperpedic those mattresses are pure heaven!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on October 17, 2012:

NotPC, take all of these mattress choices into consideration. The good new is you have the luxury of time to do your research before you buy. Best of luck finding a mattress you'll be happy with for many years to come!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on October 17, 2012:

Carol, I'm glad this Hub came at a good time. Hope it can help others as well. Thanks for voting and sharing! Much appreciated! :)

NotPC on October 17, 2012:

I am planning on getting a new mattress in about a month and I'm glad you posted this because it gave me the push I needed to start thinking about mattresses!

carol stanley from Arizona on October 17, 2012:

this is a timely hub. I was just saying to my husband our mattress is really getting old. Time to think about a new one. I will bookmark this for its great information. Thanks for writing this and voting up and sharing for other mattress buyers.