How To Choose The Best Mattress

If you're looking for a new mattress but have no idea where to start, you've come to the right place. We're here to help give you some great tips and helpful advice about things to consider when looking for a new mattress. After all, according to the Sleep Foundation, adults need about seven to nine hours of sleep nightly. That means, on average, we spend about a third of our lives on our mattresses! Therefore, agonizing over finding just the right one is perfectly natural. There are so many different variables and seemingly endless kinds of sleepers.

Half of all U.S. citizens report feeling lethargic and sleepy at least three or more days a week. Additionally, between 10% and 30% of adults have chronic insomnia, and when referring to older adults, the percentage jumps from 30% to 48%. This sounds like an awful lot of people who aren't sleeping on a mattress that's conducive to their best sleep. And with all the choices that are out there today, doesn't that seem like a shame? Read on for some helpful information about choosing the best mattress so you can get the best night's sleep possible.

Familiarize yourself with the types of mattresses

Mattress and bed trends come and go, for instance, some of us remember when waterbeds were in. Nowadays, you'd be hard-pressed to find a new one, although they're still sold by a few select retailers. According to Casper, there are just a few main types to familiarize yourself with. They include innerspring, memory foam, gel-infused foam, polyfoam, hybrid, and latex. 

Innerspring mattresses are one of the most common types and are great for those on a budget. They are made with a supportive combination of coils and springs and are good for those with back pain (via Mattress Firm). Memory foam mattresses provide full body support and relief from pressure that can help body pain sufferers. The stable surface also makes it so people that sleep together can move around without bothering the other person. Hybrid mattresses combine spring and foam to bring you the best of both worlds. Some manufacturers also offer latex foam options for users that want the support of memory foam with a firmer surface. Gel-infused foam mattresses help warm sleepers stay cool, and polyfoam is a high-resiliency foam similar to memory foam but can be very expensive. 

Choose your level of firmness

It's a well-known fact that some people sleep better with a firm mattress, some people prefer a soft mattress, and some prefer somewhere in between. It's therefore perfectly understandable that purchasing a new mattress can be a challenge. Sleepopolis explains that a perfect mattress should allow your body to be aligned from head to toe and eliminate the feeling of pressure in any specific area. A lot of this alignment is determined by the shape and curvature of your spine. This makes it important to find the just-right mattress to fully support your spine and its unique shape.

This is why choosing the best mattress includes deciding how firm the mattress should be. According to the Sleep Foundation, support and firmness are two different qualities of a mattress, though they are often intermingled. The level of support comes from the internal structure of the mattress and how it's designed. The firmness has to do with the outer layer that your body makes contact with and how soft or firm the material is. This ranges from extra soft to extra firm. Everything from your body weight, body temperature, and personal preference can come into play when determining your ideal firmness level.

Understand the role of sleep position

Most of us are familiar with the fact that we sleep in a specific position the majority of the time. According to Mattress Advisor, the mattress firmness you choose can be partially decided by knowing your typical sleep position. There are just three main types of sleep positions, side sleepers, back sleepers, and stomach sleepers. The vast majority of people sleep on their sides, especially women. Very few people sleep on their backs because of the lack of spine support and the prevalence of snoring in this position. There's also a small number of people that sleep on their stomachs. However, this can lead to a painful misalignment of the spine. Of course, there are also combination sleepers, in which case you're advised to choose the dominant position you find yourself in most often.

When shopping for mattresses, keep in mind that the firmness range is given on a scale of 1-10, with 1 representing the softest and 10 being the most firm. Sleeping on your side is good for your circulation and spine, and a mattress firmness anywhere between 3 and 7 can provide great support. For back sleepers, a firmness level of between 5 and 8 is ideal to provide more spinal support. Stomach sleepers should look for a mattress with a firmness between 6 and 9 to minimize it sinking under their body weight.

Know your body type

Your body type and size also play a role in proper mattress selection. Whether you were born a man or woman can be a big factor. Michael Breus, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, tells Saatva, "Women often have more of a dip in the small of their back, so if you're a woman and you're a back sleeper, you should make sure the mattress has latex or foam on top. That way it can mold to your body and support you while you sleep." 

Your height and weight matter as well. Taller sleepers might need the added length that a king or California-king mattress provides. However, shorter sleepers might have a difficult time getting in and out of taller, thicker mattress options. The amount you weigh can also help you determine the level of support that you require. One common situation is having two partners with different body types. In this case, you can opt for a split king, with each person having a half designed for their body type. Or, look into dual-adjustable options where you can each choose the just-right settings for your individual sides.

Consider types of mattress fabrics

In addition to firmness, support, and comfort level, another decision to make when choosing the right mattress is the fabric covering. According to John Ryan By Design, this is called mattress ticking. Choosing the right one for your needs can be overwhelming due to the multitude of choices and the features available. 

The most common of these coverings is damask. This is a soft and breathable option that comes in a high range of price points. This reflects the diversity of the quality levels and fabric types that are available. A lower-priced option that is often used on economy-level mattresses is stitchbond. This material is stiff and uncomfortable but is resilient if durability is a top priority.

Knit mattress coverings are typically called micro quilts and are often made from stretchy synthetic fabrics. These are super soft and highly breathable for ultimate comfort. This is a popular choice for covering mid-range mattresses including memory foam options. For those wanting to invest more, there are specialty mattress coverings as well. These claim to feature additional benefits like allergen reduction and elimination of bacteria. There are also fabrics that provide temperature control and pleasant fragrances for those willing to pay the higher price point.

Signs it's time for a new mattress

Although we've already gone over lots of great information on how to choose the best mattress, one thing you might still be wondering is, how do you know when to buy a new mattress? Well according to CreditDonkey, there are a few things you can use as a guide, such as the age of your current one. Most mattresses should last around eight years, but there are other signs besides old age to give you some clues. For example, if you toss and turn all night and just can't seem to find a comfortable position, it could very well be your mattress. An outdated mattress could also be the culprit if you wake up sore in the morning.

Inspect the look and feel of your mattress for more clues. Is it starting to feel lumpy and uneven? Is it beginning to sag where you sleep? These could be signs it's time to replace your mattress. Lastly, if your body type or health conditions have changed, it's time to reevaluate if your mattress is still the right one for your needs.

Best mattress for back pain

According to NCBI, an estimated 23% of the global population deals with chronic pain in their lower back. That could mean that there's a significant number of people looking for mattress options that reduce back issues. While of course, it's not a one-size-fits-all answer, there are definitely some tips you should know.

Keep in mind that comfort and support are two different things. For back pain, a combination of the two is best (via Mattress Firm). A hybrid mattress may be the answer for those with chronic back pain, because it has memory foam for comfort on the top, with an innerspring support system for added support. Memory foam is also considered a good choice for those with back pain because it can mold to the unique shape of your body, providing head-to-toe support. If you are looking for a firmer option, a quality innerspring mattress can provide extra support and keep your spine aligned. Trying various mattresses is the best way to see which provides you with the most relief from your pain. Look for options with generous return policies or trial periods that allow you to put them to the test long-term.

Affordable alternatives

If you don't have the funds to invest in a new mattress or you'd like to enhance a budget-friendly mattress or make an uncomfortable bed cozier, add a mattress topper. According to Casper, these accessories are made from the same quality materials, like memory foam or latex, that go into high-end mattresses. For those looking for softer options, you can also get them in comfy down, cotton, and fiberfill. They're made for comfort, so choosing the best mattress topper is solely a personal preference.

Additionally, there are also a few mattress picks that are priced at a great value to consider (via Mattress Nerd). Nectar is a top choice in affordability and quality. It features medium-firm support that's great for a variety of sleeping positions. Plus it has a trial period and lifetime warranty so you can be confident in your purchase. If you are looking for a luxury mattress at an impressive price, check out the DreamCloud Original hybrid options. This mattress features a gel-infused memory foam that works well for those that overheat while sleeping. It's covered in a cushy cashmere cover and is highly rated for its medium firm support.