Mattress Buying Guide
Buying a mattress is one of the most important investments you can make for your health, but trying to choose between different mattress stores, types, sizes, and technologies can make it a stressful experience. Here's what you need to know to get your search started.
Start with Size
This should be your easiest decision. California King is the biggest—a longer King, built for taller folks. Queen and Full size mattresses are very close in size, and almost always fit on the same frames, but measure first to be sure. Twin XLs are usually what you find in a dorm room, but they also fit on an adjustable bed base.
We put our mattresses in 3 comfort categories:
- Firm: Just what it sounds like—it has the least amount of give when you apply pressure.
- Plush: A sleep surface Baby Bear would call "just right."
- Ultra Plush: Has the most "squish" factor. If you like to sink into your mattress, this is the comfort level for you.
Within each of these categories, there is a lot of variety. The feel of a mattress is somewhat subjective, and two people may disagree on what a mattress feels like. It's important you try them out in a store to get what feels just right to you.
What Keeps You Up At Night?
Do you wake up from being too cold or too hot? Does your partner move around a lot? Do they snore? Do your pressure points bother you? Do you wake up with back pain?
If you frequently wake up from being too hot or too cold, consider what your mattress is made of. The #1 complaint of traditional memory foam mattresses (including Tempur-Pedic®) is that they "sleep hot." Traditional memory foam holds your body heat. If you sleep cold, this could be a great thing. If you sleep hot, look for a mattress that has "cool gel" technology of latex foams. Gel foam mattresses contain a mix of gel and foam that helps disperse heat and feels cool to the touch. Latex foams are naturally breathable, so they help with air flow, which helps regulate sleep temperature.
Do you sleep with someone that tosses and turns? Or maybe you sleep with pets that move around during the night? If this is a frequent concern, consider a memory foam mattress, or a gel memory foam mattress. Memory foam by its very nature dampens movement (sound booths are lined with this stuff!) and will minimize partner disturbance.
Oh the noise! Snoring is a common problem with several possible causes. An adjustable bed may help. By keeping the upper torso slightly elevated, your airways are less likely to be restricted. This can drastically reduce snoring. But there are lots of possible causes, so be sure to check with your doctor.
Do your pressure points bother you? If you are a side sleeper and bothered by your pressure points, you may want to consider a medium-level comfort (plush) type mattress. If you go too firm, there may not be enough give; too soft, there may not be enough support. Alternatively, consider a memory foam or gel memory foam mattress to help disperse the weight from pressure points.
You probably need a new or different mattress. Sleeping is when your body gets a chance to rest and heal—it shouldn't be causing you more pain!
An innerspring mattress contains some type of coil system. There are all kinds of spring systems: traditional, micro coils, pocketed coils, and layered combinations that provide additional support or motion dampening. If you need heavy-duty support, look for coils with a larger gauge (thickness). There is also a new mattress category emerging called "hybrid,"- which is a combination of an coils and memory foam.
Pillowtop & Eurotop
Did you know that the only difference between a "pillowtop" and a "eurotop" is how it is sewn to the mattress? Both of these types provide an additional layer of comfort of soft cushioning. These cushion layers can be made of cotton padding, memory foam, and/or gels that provide extra types of comfort and relieve sleep issues. You will find Pillowtop & Eurotop mattresses in the "Plush" or "Ultra Plush" comfort levels.
Latex is a naturally occuring substance found in plants like the rubber tree, but there are also synthetic forms available. Latex is naturally hypoallergenic and breathable, which helps regulate sleep temperature. It's also naturally resistant to bacteria, mildew, mold, and dust mites. Latex is very durable and maintains its "bounce," making it a great addition to a memory foam mattress. You can also find latex pillows.
Memory foam mattresses have become quite popular in the past decade, mostly thanks to Tempur-Pedic®. Memory foam provides the firmness needed for support and varying levels of softness for comfort. Due to the conforming nature of memory foam, you will have the feeling of "sinking in" to this type of mattress. The major complaint of traditional memory foam mattresses is that they "sleep hot" because they hold your body heat. If this is a concern, consider a gel memory foam mattress.
Gel Memory Foam
Gel memory foam mattresses are one of the newest technologies and they are taking comfort to a new level. The gel material provides a “cool” comfort that is cool to the touch, and helps regulate body temperature. In a gel foam mattress, gels are infused with memory foam to create a different overall feel compared to just memory foam. If you tend to sleep hot, this is the perfect mattress for you.
With a touch of a button, adjustable power bases allow you to adjust the incline of your upper and lower body to create perfectly customized comfort. Adjustable beds have been common in hospitals for years but have finally made their way into homes. King size adjustable beds are made with two connected Twin XL bases and mattresses, which allow partners to choose their own comfort. Look for beds that are "adjustable friendly." With an adjustable base, you do not need to purchase a foundation (box spring) or frame. And guess what else? They fit in most standard beds, headboard and all.
For more information on how to choose a new mattress, check out this article from WebMD®.