How to Choose the Right Mattress for You

With so many options to choose from, mattress shopping can easily feel overwhelming. Whether you’re just beginning your search or have been looking for a while, it’s helpful to keep in mind that there really is no perfect mattress for everyone, but there is a perfect mattress for you. Deciding which is best comes down to figuring out what you need and want when it comes to support and comfort. Of course, if you have a bed partner, their preferences will also influence your choice, but rest assured there’s a right mattress out there for every couple. 

African couple shopping for beds

Tanya Constantine / Getty Images

Mattress Replacements

While every household is different, replacing your mattress is something that should be done every six to eight years. Some factors influence the lifespan of your mattress, and you should take them into consideration when deciding if now is the right time to change it.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have you been thinking about getting a new mattress? 
  • Is your mattress saggy or damaged in certain areas?
  • Do you sleep better in other beds, such as hotel beds or guest rooms?
  • Are you noticing an increase in allergies or asthma?
  • Do you wake up in the morning with joint or muscle stiffness, numb arms, or a sore neck?
  • Do you wake up in the night and have trouble falling back to sleep?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, and especially if it has been a few years since you last renewed your mattress, it’s likely time to consider a change. 

What You Need

A mattress is an investment in your sleep quality, and it is something that you will have for years to come, so you should not rush your decision. Take time to consider what you really need.

Your Sleeping Position

Whichever mattress allows you to get quality sleep in your preferred sleeping position is a good choice. 

Here are some general recommendations:

  • Back sleepers: Choose a firm mattress that supports the spine or a memory foam option that allows adequate spine contouring while providing proper support and structure. A softer mattress may not offer enough support to keep your spine aligned while you sleep, meaning you may wake up feeling stiff or sore
  • Side sleepers: Pick a soft mattress that provides equal weight distribution and a cushioning effect that reduce stress and pressure on your shoulders and hips. Softer mattresses include medium-soft, memory foam, or pillow-top options.
  • Stomach sleepers: Get a mattress that provides the most support to prevent your spine from being pulled into the mattress but also offers enough cushioning to allow for equal weight distribution.

Combination Sleepers

Combination sleepers move around throughout the night. They may start on their side, switch to their stomach, and wake up on their back. They may find themselves most comfortable on a combination-type mattress like a medium-firm option.

If you’re still unsure, try out the mattress in a store with the SLEEP test, which stands for:

  • Select a mattress
  • Lie down in your typical sleep position
  • Evaluate the level of comfort and support
  • Educate yourself about each selection
  • Partners should test beds together

Your Health Issues

If you have health issues like sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, or generalized back pain, you will need to take them into consideration when choosing a mattress material and firmness. 

Best Mattress for Sleep Apnea

Research has shown that mattresses with a mild degree of head-of-bed elevation (HOBE), otherwise known as adjustable mattresses, may be particularly beneficial for people with sleep apnea. This type of mattress allows the person to elevate their head enough to improve airflow and prevent obstruction without interfering with sleep.

For people with hip or shoulder pain from osteoarthritis, a mattress that provides proper support and cushioning for your joints (e.g., medium-firm or memory foam, depending on your sleep position) may be best. Research suggests that people with generalized back pain may want to choose a medium-firm or self-adjustable mattress that helps with spinal alignment.

If you have questions about which mattress would be best for your condition, talk to your doctor or physiotherapist. 

How Much Firmness You Like

The firmness of a mattress does not always reflect its overall level of support. This means you shouldn’t count on the firmest mattress being the most supportive, but it also means you can still get the support you need from a softer mattress.

Ultimately, it is up to you and your personal preference. If you like a plush-feeling mattress but require spinal support, soft and pillow-top mattresses offer the best of both. You can also choose a firmer mattress with your ideal level of support and then add a thin or thick plush mattress cover on top

Your Weight

Your body weight can also contribute to the level of mattress firmness and support you need. While there are no set rules for which body type fits which mattress, there are some general guidelines you can consider when thinking about getting a new mattress:

  • Under 150 pounds: You may sleep best in a medium-firm bed that doesn’t sink too much (such as soft and plush options).
  • Between 150 and 200 pounds: You may find the standard medium-firm mattress offers the ideal support and comfort.
  • More than 200 pounds: You may feel best in a firm option that prevents sinkage. 

Your Partner

You and your bed partner may have different mattress preferences, and that is OK. There is still a right mattress out there for you both. The best choice is always the one that maximizes the comfort and sleep quality of both partners because, let’s face it, when your bed partner is not sleeping well, it almost always impacts your sleep too. Generally, choosing a material that isolates the other person’s movements is ideal over one that transfers movement.

Size

There are six standard mattress sizes ranging from twin to California king.

Mattress Size Dimensions (Width x Length)
California King

72'' x 84''

King 76'' x 80''
Queen

60'' x 80''

Full 54'' x 75''
Twin XL 38'' x 80''
Twin 38'' x 75''

You may also find customizable options or mattress retailers that source nonstandard sizes beyond the California king, including the Olympic queen and Alaskan king. Deciding what you really need and want comes down to personal preference.

Factors that can influence your decision include:

  • Your height: Taller people may require longer mattress options like the California king.
  • Number of sleeping partners: These might include a spouse, children, and pets.
  • Sleeping positions: If you move a lot, you may want more room.
  • Bedroom size: Make sure you have enough room before choosing a larger size.
  • Budget: King and California king mattresses are on the higher end in terms of price, so your budget will need to be adjusted depending on what size you desire. 
  • Desired bedding options: Queen-size mattresses typically have the most readily available options for styles of matching sheets, comforters, duvets, pillowcases, etc.

Your Budget

Before reading reviews, shopping online, or talking to any sales professionals, it’s a good idea to consider your budget, including any applicable taxes. This will help you narrow down your search and will let you know if now is the right time to invest in a new mattress. Depending on the time of year, you may want to wait a month or two to take advantage of seasonal sales that typically take place around New Year’s, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and late summer (back-to-school time). 

How Much Is Too Much?

The amount you spend on a mattress is a personal choice based on how much you can afford to spend and what you feel is a reasonable price to pay. A few things to consider: 

  • The highest price does not always mean the best quality.
  • Going with the least expensive option may mean sacrificing durability, eco-friendliness, and sleep quality.
  • Aim for a midrange price (typically around $1,000 for a queen).

Choosing the Material

Always check the product description to see what your mattress is made of to ensure you’re making the right choice for you and your bed partners.

Latex

Latex mattresses are typically made from rubber or a synthetic material that offers gentle bounce-back when you’re moving around during sleep. This helps with weight distribution and provides support for your joints when switching positions among side, back, and stomach sleeping. Latex doesn’t trap heat and is therefore also a good choice for people who feel hot when they sleep and for people concerned about allergens (e.g., dust mites, mildew, mold). 

Memory Foam

Memory foam mattresses are generally a good choice for people who sleep in the same position throughout the night or who share a bed and are looking for motion isolation.

Not all memory foam mattresses are the same, though. Many do offer an inner open-cell design that allows for more airflow than you may expect. This helps reduce heat and moisture trapping, which is helpful for hot sleepers and people with allergies.

You can also purchase antibacterial and moisture-wicking mattress covers that are durable and machine-washable, which further helps reduce allergen buildup. 

Innerspring 

Innerspring mattresses are also known as coil mattresses. If you read "coil" and think of squeaky springs, you’re not alone. The design of these mattresses has evolved considerably over the years, but their price point has remained reasonable. You can move comfortably without waking your partner, and the coils provide full-body support.

Coil mattresses are durable and do not trap body heat like other options on this list. Since they allow for consistent airflow (i.e., they don’t trap moisture that encourages dust mites, mold, or mildew), they are also allergy-friendly. 

Hybrid

Hybrid mattresses are those that contain several materials, meaning they may have innersprings underneath a layer of latex underneath an organic cotton top. While endless material combinations exist, they are all designed to offer the best of the available mattress technologies. These mattresses are typically allergy-friendly and acceptable for people who become hot while they sleep. 

Where to Buy a Mattress

There are pros and cons to where you might choose to buy your mattress. In the end, it will come down to what you are most comfortable with and which option has the right mattress available for you when you want to purchase. 

Online

Purchasing a mattress online significantly increases your options, especially if you live in a smaller city where mattress stores are few and far between.

Online shopping allows you to:

  • Compare prices within stores and between different stores
  • Read buyer reviews
  • Contact customer support for more information
  • Set up delivery dates while simultaneously comparing their availability with yours via online schedulers
  • Get a full breakdown of cost, including taxes, without sitting down with a salesperson
  • Have the privacy to think and talk it over without the added pressure of a person who may be anxiously waiting to make a sale

The only real drawback is that you can’t complete the SLEEP test before purchase. However, almost every mattress retailer has a no-risk sleep trial period for mattresses. 

In Stores

Working to reduce the spread of COVID-19 has changed the way we shop. Depending on where you live, you may or may not be able to shop in store for a mattress, and you may or may not be permitted to do the SLEEP test anyway.

However, some people will always prefer the experience of in-store shopping, which includes:

  • Seeing the actual mattress before purchasing
  • Talking directly to a sales adviser
  • A chance to support local retailers over big-box stores

Warranties

Mattress warranties offer money-back protection in case you receive a mattress with defects or flaws. For example, if your mattress is delivered with a tear or discoloration, the manufacturer will replace it free of charge.

This is standard practice, but there are additional warranties available, which include coverage for specific conditions and time frames. These are store- or manufacturer-specific, and typically require you to register to maintain your eligibility. Be sure to get a written record of your specific warranty and read it through to understand what is covered. 

Warranties on mattresses are different than no-risk sleep trial periods. Trial periods give customers a set amount of time to decide if the mattress is the best fit. If you don’t get good sleep on the new mattress, you can call the store or supplier to have it returned for a full refund.

A Word From Verywell

Buying a new mattress is a big decision and investment, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Choosing the right mattress is all about you! Start by thinking about your budget and then figure out what your favorite sleep position is and go from there. Remember that you can also go online and read reviews to help you in the decision-making process. Most mattress companies and brands are extremely helpful and willing to give you a set time with your mattress to decide in your own home whether it is the one you’ve been looking for.

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Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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