Shopping for a mattress can be bewildering. With the endless options available on the market, it might seem like you don’t know where to start. We’ve put together a quick guide on how you can find the right mattress.
The most important factor to determine is the furniture proportion to your bedroom. Some people like to keep their bedrooms minimal while others prefer to include furniture like bedside tables, dressers and armchairs. It’s important to measure your space and have all furniture planned out before you purchase anything. Do you share your bed? Consider how much breathing space you both want or are used to.
In the US, most mattresses are available in single, twin, full, queen, king and California king size. The main difference between a king and a California king is that the latter is longer and more of a rectangle shape. A standard king is 76 inches wide by 80 inches long, while California king is 72 inches wide by 84 inches long. Go for king and California king size for extra length if you are tall. In Australia and the UK, mattresses are available in single, double, queen, king and super king size.
Mattress firmness can be determined on a numerical scale of 1 to 10 across three common firmness levels: soft, medium, firm. 1-2= soft, 3-4=medium soft, 5-7= medium firm, 7-10=firm. This scale helps you understand what to expect when you lay on a mattress, but individual preference is subjective. There is a difference between ‘firm support’ and ‘firm feel.’ According to most manufacturers, firmness refers to the ‘feel’ of the mattress.
A common misconception is that a “firmer” mattress is better because it offers more support. However, there are many other important factors to consider when selecting the right firmness such as your sleeping position, habits, weight, body conditions (i.e. if you suffer from chronic back pain), as well as your personal definitions for soft, medium and firm.
To first narrow down your options, select the mattresses that are suitable for your weight and sleeping position. The right firmness should feel like it’s moulding to your shape with ample support, you should feel like your spine is aligned and you are receiving optimal relief on all pressure points. A mattress too soft will feel like it’s sagging in the center without proper back support; whereas a mattress too firm will feel like your back is curving upwards and put too much pressure on your shoulders and hip.
3. Types and materials
The most common types of mattresses are latex, memory foam, innerspring and hybrid. Each of these has its own pros and cons, and then there’s an environmental impact to consider. Although there are no standardized guidelines for what makes a mattress eco-friendly, there are some independent certifications you can look out for when it comes to selecting a non-toxic mattress.
- Oeko-Tex Standard 100: Ensures a textile product does not contain any substances that are harmful to human health.
- Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): Products must contain 70-95% organic fibers, and production methods must meet specific environmental and social criteria.
Mattresses that are organic and eco-friendly are widely available and they offer different benefits to sleepers. Here’s a quick comparison between the different types of mattresses.
Latex: Offers quick response to pressure, it’s a bouncy and spongy material.
Pros: Offers sturdy support and available in a wide price range. It’s important to note that not all latex mattresses are made with natural latex derived from rubber sap trees; synthetic latex mattresses made with Styrene-Butadiene Rubber (SBR) are more affordable but contain more harmful chemicals. Go for an all-natural latex mattress for breathability; it is also very resistant to dust mites and mold.
Cons: Not ideal for sleepers who require deep pressure relief as it doesn’t provide the “body contouring” feeling you’d get from a memory foam mattress.
Memory foam: Made primarily with polyurethane, which is often referred to as “viscoelastic” polyurethane foam with a bubbly structure to create airflow. It is designed to mold to the body slowly with body heat in response to pressure.
Pros: Offers excellent pressure relief at sensitive body parts such as shoulders, lower back and hips.
Cons: Memory foam traps body heat, meaning it is not as breathable and not ideal for hot sleepers. However, you can choose a memory foam mattress with a cooling gel topper.
Innerspring: A widely popular mattress type, innerspring offers a bouncy, supportive and firm feeling thanks to its inbuilt steel coils.
Pros: Great amount of support for a wide range of sleepers, suitable for back sleepers and stomach sleepers.
Cons: Not suitable for sleepers who require deep pressure point relief.
Hybrid: A combination, typically comprised of an innerspring mattress with foam or latex as a top layer.
Pros: A well-balanced mattress that is suitable for most sleepers as it offers ample support and mobility from the springs with added comfort and pressure point relief from the foam/latex topper.
Cons: Has lower quality motion isolation. Models with innerspring coils won’t isolate movement as well as those with pocketed coils. Innerspring mattresses are generally more expensive than other mattress types.
4. Where & when to buy
A mattress can be a big investment. There are a lot of new ways to buy a mattress these days, from online direct-to-consumer companies to speciality stores to big-box stores to department stores. Can’t get to a store or feel overwhelmed with options? Most online mattress companies now offer at-home trials that last between one month to a year, and even offer free pick up if the new mattress isn’t quite right for you.
If you choose to shop in person, May is the best month to get a bargain on a new mattress at a mattress showroom. The industry tends to roll out its new models in June through September, so it seeks to clear out the older models in May.
The Better Sleep Council recommends replacing your mattress every 7 to 10 years, depending on comfort and support. The truth is that the life of a mattress varies widely and depends on how you take care of it, how you sleep on it and how often you rotate it.
- Purchase from direct-to-consumer mattresses and bedding companies to take advantage of their at-home trial and free return.
- Research online to learn more about the certifications that brands have received for their products and materials.
- Complete your dreamy set up with breathable and silky soft CleanBamboo bedsheets to maximize sleep comfort.
- Protect your mattress against stains, damage, spills and accidents with a water-resistant mattress protector from the beginning to extend longevity. Choose one with a quilted top for extra cushioning.