Buying a new mattress is a big decision. You’ll spend one third of your life in your bed, and the quality of your mattress will have a huge impact on how enjoyable and restorative that time is—not to mention impacting the energy you have left to tackle the other two-thirds of your time. That said, many factors go into selecting a mattress. It can start to feel pretty overwhelming!
Luckily, by taking it one decision at a time, you can easily find the perfect mattress choice for you. We’ve created this mattress buying guide to help you with the first decision you need to make: what kind of mattress to buy. Read through the detailed descriptions below with your specific needs in mind, and you should be able to get a good sense of what type of mattress is right for you!
INNERSPRING COIL MATTRESSES
The most common mattress is innerspring which utilizes a steel coil support system. There are several types of spring systems including mattresses with springs that are connected to a single unit as well as individually wrap springs often referred to as pocket coils. The shapes, design, coil gauge, and number of coils can vary by mattress. The springs are then covered by padding and upholstery which come in various fibers, foams, and addition coil springs. In general, the more points of support the springs offer, the better the mattress can contour and support the sleeper using greater distribution.
Innerspring mattresses are very common and easy to find. They are available at nearly every mattress store and mattress warehouse. Because they are so common and the manufacturing process has been perfected over many years, an innerspring mattress is often the most affordable mattress. They also tend to allow the most movement in bed and tend to receive fewer complaints of sleeping hot as compared to the foam mattresses.
Although the innerspring mattress is the most common bed on the market, they often have lower satisfaction ratings with only 60 to 65% of consumers reporting satisfied. The most common complaints are comfort problems and longevity. Due to their steel spring design, innerspring beds tend to wear faster as the padding and springs compress with use. Innerspring beds typically need to be replaced every 5 to 7 years.
MEMORY FOAM MATTRESSES
Memory foam mattresses are quickly overtaking the innerspring mattress as one of the most common and sought after beds. Memory foam beds use high-density foam which was originally developed by NASA scientists as the mattress support system, within the upholstery layer, as a mattress overlay, or both. Introduced in the early 1990’s under the brand Tempur-Pedic, the foam was originally designed to absorb the G-force effects felt during take off of space flights. Memory foam has properties which allow it for contouring closely to the shape of the sleeper while distributing weight evenly over the entire surface to eliminate pressure points caused by heavier areas of the body like hips and shoulders.
Memory foam mattresses utilize a variety of foam thicknesses, anywhere from two to twelve inches, depending on the consumer’s desires. Memory foam is typically supported by a base foam with is denser and does not have the memory properties to provide a layer of support. A good memory foam mattress will have various layers of foam with different properties as well as provide air channels between layers to reduce heat. A bed with a spring core and memory foam layer would not be considered a true memory foam mattress. Only a mattress which is all foam and no springs can be considered a memory foam mattress.
The key factor to consider when shopping for a memory foam mattress is the bed’s foam type and density. An optimal density would be in the range of 4.0 to 5.3 lbs per square foot. Below that density, support from the foam will typically break down and offer sub-standard results. Anything higher than that density range will typically feel too firm or viscous for most people. There are also different foam formulations.
Standard Visco Mattress Foam
Temperature sensitive and slow responding to movements
Plant Based Mattress Foam
Uses natural oils and offers more breathability and a faster response to movements
Gel Infused Mattress Foam
Gel memory foam which is typically much cooler than standard or plant-based foams.
Memory foam mattresses are generally the highest rated in terms of owner satisfaction with approx. 80 to 83% of those surveyed reporting satisfaction. Memory Foam beds are a great option for anybody who suffers from aches and pains or back issues due to the memory foam’s ability to support the body’s natural alignment and reduced pressure on the body. Memory foam beds also last long with typical longevity coming in at 10 to 20 years. Lastly memory foam mattresses work best at prohibiting motion transfer which is perfect for couples sharing a bed.
There are a few potential downsides to memory foam mattresses. People who are very heavy should avoid these type of mattresses at all costs. People who are very sexually active should refrain from this type of mattress.
Latex mattresses are the newest innovation in mattress technology and natural organic latex is the best material for any premium mattress. This new mattress technology is becoming increasingly popular in the market because of its many benefits. Latex provides all the comfort of memory foam, with none of the heat retention issues or problems related to premature wear. Organic latex is renewable and recyclable, and can be manufactured without the need for any harsh chemicals, making it the healthy alternative.
Latex is both soft and supportive. It resists impressions and sleeps cool, quiet and dry. Latex conforms to your body and pressure points, helping to alleviate joint and back pain. A combination of Dunlop and Talalay latex mattresses can provide ideal support for just about any sleeping position and body type. Unlike memory foam, latex responds more quickly to pressure changes, with no lasting impressions left in the mattress when you move. All types of latex mattresses are quiet and reduce motion transfer across the bed very effectively. Unlike ultra firm spring mattresses or ultra soft memory foam, latex provides the perfect amount of cushioning and support for your lower back and spine. The durability of the latex mattress is unparalleled. Many latex mattresses, including our own, carry warranties of up to 20 years. If you are looking to maximize your investment, you should strongly consider a mattress that will not wear out quickly, with a great warranty for regular use and wear and tear.The latex process has been around for many years. Latex is naturally hypoallergenic, mold, mildew and dust mite resistant. If you suffer from allergies, latex is your best choice. Natural organic latex is made from the renewable and sustainable Hevea milk and does not require any harsh chemicals for processing or treatment.
Latex mattress are typically more expensive then any of the other kids of mattresses. The materials and manufacturing process is what makes the price as rich as it is.
The hottest trend in memory foam mattresses today is the gel mattress where layers of the bed utilize gel-infused or cooling foam. Gel foam is standard memory foam that is blended with a gel or gel beads which have a cooling effect on the mattress. The gel foam is used in the mattresses support system, upholstery layers, or both. The various blends of gel will offer consumers varying levels of heat dissipation, comfort, and feel.
Gel Memory foam is a great option for people who love the comfort and contouring ability of traditional memory foam but don’t enjoy the additional heat that comes from the memory foam while sleeping.
PILLOW TOP MATTRESSES
The pillow top mattress is often found in combination with a coil mattress. Pillow-top mattresses provide an additional upholstery layer with several inches of additional padding sewn into the top of the mattress. The padding used in a pillow top mattress can consist of memory foam, latex, fiberfill, wool, cotton, or regular foam. Some pillow tops have an integrated appearance with the mattress where others are merely lying on top. In comparison, a non-pillow top mattress often has only minimal to moderate padding.
A pillow top mattresses have an above average comfort and often score high on sleeper favorability and satisfaction ratings. Pillow tops that include memory foam also offer some pain-relief benefits and contouring ability.
Pillow top mattresses even with a individual pocketed coil will always have some sort of small motion transfer.
Hybrid mattresses are the latest fad for mattress shoppers. Offering the best of both worlds, hybrid mattresses combine two or more support systems, typically an innerspring support system with a combination of foam layers such as me memory foam, gel foams, nano coils, wool, and/or latex foams. A hybrid mattress allow sleepers to combine contour comfort with sturdy support.
The coil system in a hybrid mattress allows the mattress to retain the bounciness which of the coils, while the memory foam layers create the contouring comfort people have come to expect in a modern mattress. In addition, the coil system in a hybrid bed provides more contouring support than in the typical spring mattress.
Traditional coil springs referred to as bonnel innerspring’s, have been the go to innerspring in mattresses for 100 years. Bonnel innerspring’s offer durable pressure relief and last for years. The downside of bonnel springs is they are interconnected which means they don’t offer the motion separation and individualized contouring that pocket coil springs provide. Think of a bonnel spring mattress as one solid support frame that moves as a central unit rather than individual pockets of support. Bonnel coils are linked together with helical wire which does create a stable feel to the mattress. However, the nature of the interlinking means when you move in bed, your partner feels it.
Individually wrapped coils, often referred to as pocket springs, are the most popular coil support system used in modern mattresses. Pocket springs provide individualized comfort in a mattress by contouring to your body to relieve pressure points and provide comfort. In addition, pocket springs like memory foam to not transfer motion on the bed so your partner is undisturbed when you move during the night. Pocket springs achieve this effect by moving independently in their own encased pocket so they can contour precisely to the sleeper. Like traditional steel springs, pocket springs are extremely durable and will last for many years.
Latex is a dense foam made of rubber particles. Latex can be used throughout a mattress however the most common latex components are in the core and upper comfort layer of the mattress. Latex comes in both synthetic and organic options with the synthetic versions usually costing less than the organic versions. Natural latex is hypoallergenic and does qualify as a green or environmentally friendly material. The advantages of latex in a mattress is its firm, spine supporting properties as well as its long durability. Latex comes in a wide range of firmness options so sleepers can choose a latex that fits their comfort requirements.
Memory foam is made of a polyurethane molding and is used in mattresses as comfort layers and in some cases the support structure. The density of memory foam can be varied for different levels of firmness and some hybrid mattresses that use memory foam also include springs. The advantages of memory foam is its ability to conform to the back and body which in turn alleviates pressure points as well as its responsive properties that return it to its original form when moving during sleep.
Polyester batting is commonly used in pillow top mattresses and bed covers. The benefit of polyester batting is its ability to hold shape and thickness when compared to other fibers. Polyester is thick but light and keeps your body warm while resisting mold and mildew. Polyester batting is generally described as a non-woven, thermally bonded material of polyester fibers. Polyester batting can be made to feel either luxurious and soft, relatively firm, or substantially firm depending on the needs of the mattress. One of the downsides of polyester is its inability to deal with moisture. It often breaks down quickly for perspiration to an unrecoverable state. If you’ve ever bought a cheap blanket will with polyester, you’ll understand how the blanket loses its ability to keep you warm over time.
Wool is another material commonly used in mattresses for extra padding a temperature regulation. Why wool? Wool has a unique property that makes it comforting to lie on. Wool fibers have microscopic scales in each strand which wick moisture away and prevent a clammy feel. Used as batting within a mattress casing, wool promotes that comfortable sleep climate many sleepers are looking for. Another key benefit of wool is it meets federal fire safety requirements to reduce risks of fire without utilizing chemical flame retardants.
Cotton fiber is a breathable material commonly used both inside and outside of a mattress. Cotton fiber is typically used in mattresses due to its low cost to produce as well as its air trapping qualities that provide a mattress a comfortable feeling. It’s a good idea to avoid any mattress or futon that is filled exclusively with cotton due to cotton’s tendency to harden and flatten. If you’ve ever sat on an old futon, you’ll understand what we mean. Cotton attracts moisture which will cause it to compress or pack down over time.
Anyone craving a solid sleep surface would love an extra firm mattress. If extra firm fans desired anything firmer, they would need to pick the floor. People who are accustomed to extra firm mattresses usually want to stick with the comfort level. Oftentimes, older individuals or people who grew up with extra firm mattresses prefer the sturdy comfort extra firm offers. Generally, back sleepers like extra firm mattresses.
A sturdy comfort level, firm offers a bit more give than extra firm models. If you want a flat sleep surface with minimal padding, a firm mattress might be right for you. Most back and stomach sleepers prefer the firm comfort level.
Individuals looking for mid-level comfort prefer plush mattresses. The comfort level offers a delicate blend of softness with some resistance, which many people adore. Plush is usually best for side sleeping, the most common sleeping style. Back and stomach sleepers also typically enjoy plush mattresses.
People looking for the softest sleep surfaces possible choose ultra plush. Stomach sleepers often avoid ultra plush mattress because they tend to cause the body to make an irregular u-shape, which can be unhealthy for the back. Side sleepers commonly use ultra plush mattresses.