Mattress Buying Guide
The Ultimate Mattress Website: How to Choose & Buy the Right Mattress
Which bed mattress is the best for you?
Mattress buying is not easy. Not to mention, the average mattress isn't cheap. Our goal is to help you understand mattresses. This site will show you more than just where to buy a mattress, but how to choose one that will fit you, or your family perfectly. A mattress is an important purchase that will stick with you for the next eight to 10 years. Buying the wrong one will not only leave you with an unsatisfying place to rest but can also adversely affect your health. We want you to enjoy the deepest sleep possible, and our guide will help you find a mattress that will do just that. The following manual details how you should go about shopping for a mattress and the key factors you should consider to help you with your decision.
The first step in shopping for a mattress is deciding on the size you want. Top factors to consider include the following:
- the number people using the mattress
- size of the bedroom
- the heights and weights of the people to be sleeping in the bed.
When considering height, you typically want the mattress to extend at least six inches longer than the tallest person using the bed.
The width of the bed should allow you to lie down with your hands behind your head with your elbows out. Your elbows should not go off the mattress and, if testing with a partner, elbows should not touch when they take the same position.
Space: When considering available space in the bedroom, it may be helpful to take measurements of the room to see what size mattress fits best.
- Sizes For Adults
Average-size adults (For men: 5'8" weighing between 160 lbs. and 180 lbs. / For women: 5'4" weighing between 100 lbs. and 130 lbs.) typically want to choose queen, king, or California king sizes. These large beds vary in size, with queen being the smallest of the bunch and California king being the longest. All three sizes offer ample sleeping space for one person. Two people may fit comfortably on all three sizes; however, king and California king models are more accommodating to partners.
- Sizes For Children
Smaller sized twin and full mattress generally suit children and teens. When shopping for children, remember they will be using the mattress for a minimum of seven or eight years, so you want to choose models for them to grow into to reduce the probability of having to buy multiple mattresses for the same child. If bedroom space is an issue, the narrow twin size proves accommodating. Infants need crib sized mattresses that fit snugly in cribs without any gaps, rather than out of.
Check out our mattress size chart to get the exact measurements of each mattress size.
If you buy a mattress solely because it is the cheapest one you can find, you will most likely be left unsatisfied; however, people with tight budgets do not need to worry. Quality mattresses exist in every price bracket. Generally, as price increases, the quality of the mattresses available also increases. With a greater budget, you'll find higher-quality materials, newer sleep technologies, and more amenities.
Comfort & Support
In order to understand and obtain the greatest satisfaction and benefit from your new mattress and enjoy healthy deep sleep one must know the difference between comfort and support. Comfort refers to the top layers of a mattress while support refers to the lower layers. Comfort is synonymous with pressure relief while support is synonymous with spinal alignment. The top layers of a mattress usually contain memory foam, gel memory foam, foam and fibers whose primary purpose is to provide pressure relief in areas of your body that touch the mattress. To a lesser extent, they also can provide temperature regulation to keep your body at a cool comfortable optimum sleeping temperature.
The bottom layers of a mattress are usually made of a block of foam, innersprings or air chambers. The function of all three of these is to keep you spine in proper alignment. After your body compresses the top (comfort) layers of the mattress it sinks into this layer and this layer supports your body and spine to keep it in correct anatomical alignment. While we are sleeping, we should experience the same body alignment as though we were standing with good posture. Just like the arch of our foot, our body has arches the need support while we are sleeping. Our mattress should support the body uniformly and fill in all the arches. Proper support remains the top priority in finding the right mattress because support ensures healthy rest.
Generally, individuals want mattresses offering enough cushioning to allow the hips and shoulders to sink a bit to reach proper spinal alignment. People with lower back issues require mattress support that evenly distributes weight and maintains proper body alignment. Mattresses with inadequate cushioning often result in discomforting pressure points in these areas. On the other end of the spectrum, mattresses that allow you to sink too far down will cause a hammock effect, also throwing your spine out of proper alignment.
Technology & Support
When searching for a mattress, look for the features inside each model that are designed specifically for support. A conforming layer or custom contouring to your body shape are favorable amenities when looking for quality support. If you are looking at a mattress in store, be sure to ask the salesperson what support technologies comprise each specific model you view.
To properly gauge firmness you should lay down on the mattress in the position in which you sleep for at least five minutes.
Comfort Level/LayersFor many people, comfort layer considerations follows closely after support when buying a mattress. Knowing the comfort levels that best fit your tastes will help you find the right mattress. Some people believe softer means better, which is not always the case. Every individual has personal comfort preferences. Something that feels too firm to one person can be a delight for another. Common comfort levels you can shop for include extra firm, firm, plush, and ultra plush. Most people prefer cushion firm, some prefer plush and others prefer firm mattress comfort levels. Also, it is important to note that there is no set standard for firmness, and comfort level may vary a little bit by brand.
Also called ultra firm, extra firm provides the least give of all comfort levels. Featuring firmly packed top-layer cushioning, extra firm appeals to people that like a sturdy sleep surface. This solid mattress type generally works best for people that sleep on their backs or stomachs. Side sleepers generally need some extra cushioning in order to maintain proper spinal alignment.
Extra Firm Products:
Cushion Firm/ Medium
Considered an in-between comfort level, firm serves as a good middle ground between too soft and too rigid. This comfort level provides some give in order for the body to sink in and align properly but usually offers enough support so that you won't experience a hammock effect. Back, stomach, and side sleepers may all like the comfort a firm mattress offers.
Extra Firm Products:
Back sleepers tend to prefer plush (as opposed to side sleepers who can run the gamut of comfort levels). Still somewhat of an in-between comfort level, plush mattresses lean toward the softer side of comfort. Thick upholstery makes these mattresses feel cushiony, and sturdy cores lend necessary support. The comfort level is a common choice for back and side sleepers. People who experience upper back or neck pain often choose plush, as well.
Ultra plush offers supreme softness. Thick upholstered layers on the surface of the mattress allow sleepers to really sink down into the mattress. If you want to sleep on top of pillow-like softness, look for an ultra-plush mattress. Stomach sleepers usually do not feel comfortable on ultra plush surfaces.
The most popular and widely available bed design, innerspring technology has been around for years and continues to be improved upon to this day. Innerspring mattresses are durable and maintain their intended comfort levels for many years. In any innerspring mattress, you want to look for a supportive coil system. These treated coils remain strong after prolonged use and keep the bed from sagging. Many innerspring mattresses use individually wrapped, free-moving coils, which provide responsive, custom-contouring support. The design also cuts down on motion transfer, so if one person moves, it will not interrupt a partner's sleep.
Perhaps the best pressure-relieving mattress material, memory foam evenly distributes weight to reduce pressure points on the body. The material's unique shock-absorbing qualities also cut down motion transfer for uninterrupted rest. Many quality memory foam mattresses come with gel infusion, which provides added body support and may reduce heat buildup commonly associated with the mattress type. Individuals with dust mite allergies may also want to consider memory foam because the pests cannot live inside this mattress type. Quality memory foam mattresses may last extended periods of time, with some featuring 20-year warranties.
Several studies have shown that memory foam mattresses are able to noticeably reduce the symptoms of lower back pain. Without question; memory foam mattresses are likely the most popular type of mattress available today and are much-improved from their original designs. More porous foams such as the BioPur make by Amerisleep offer better temperature control than original memory foam materials.
Memory Foam Products:
Gel Memory Foam
Gel memory foam mattresses feature traditional foam surfaces with added gel padding. The idea behind the added gel material serves to redistribute heat transmitted by bed occupants to maximize comfort. Traditional memory foam mattresses lacking the gel material often trap body heat and cause sweating and tossing and turning. Gel materials are often used as a substitute for, or a complement to, memory foam. This squishy material is capable of contouring to the nooks and crannies of our bodies (elbows, knees, ear lobes).
Gel Memory Foam Products:
Hybrid designs combine the best of both worlds. A memory foam, or gel memory foam, top layer provides ample comfort and custom body-cradling support. An innerspring base provides added support and also gives the mattress the familiar spring feel that many people recognize.
Hybrid designs have become quite popular in their ability to capture the benefits of both innerspring and memory foam benefits while reducing the downsides of both. For example; Tomorrow Sleep’s new hybrid memory foam + micro coil mattresses have a layer of micro coils as a base support layer and contouring foam layers on top. This allows better airflow to keep the foam from retaining too much heat while providing a buffer between hard steel and your back.
Additional Features to Look At
- Edge Support Designs
Standard in most mattresses, edge support designs increase the amount of usable sleep surface on the bed. The design allows users to sleep closer to the edge and prevents occupants from rolling off and over. The feature also supports enhanced side-to-side stability.
- Temperature Regulation
Many mattress manufacturers incorporate innovative designs that keep mattresses cool throughout the night. Shoppers interested in memory foam mattresses especially want to focus on amenities that regulate temperatures because basic memory foam tends to retain heat making the sleep environment less comfortable. Common cooling solutions include gel-infused memory foam that disperses heat, temperature regulation fabrics, and the use of latex materials that stay cooler. Many mattress types may use mesh top layers and air circulating designs that reduce heat buildup by allowing air to move across the sleep surface.
- Coil Count
Coil count, as the name sounds, refers to the number of coils inside the mattress. High coil count is thought to be beneficial because larger numbers of coils means more points of pressure relief. However, dont get hung up on coil count. Its not just the number of coils, but the gauge of the wire, and how those wires are constructed. A mattress with a high coil count and lower gauge could be as effective as one with a low coil count and higer guage. Some mattresses may have a coil density count in addition or instead of a traditional coil count. The number applies to mattresses that feature thick foam encasements inside for edge support and have less room for coils. Coil density applies to what the coil count feels like rather than the actual number of coils inside.
Where to Buy a Mattress
With a wide range of options, choosing the right place to buy a mattress can be overwhelming. The first major choice is deciding to shop online or at a store in person.
The internet offers an abundance of mattress-selling e-commerce sites of varying reputability. The process of shopping online is quick and pain-free because you can easily filter results according to your shopping guidelines, such as price, material, and comfort level. The major drawback with only shopping online is that you can never test out the mattress before committing to buy it.
Stores offer you the ability to personally shop for and test out mattresses. Places where you can shop for mattresses include furniture retailers, mattress warehouses, big box stores, and mattress specialty stores. Shopping in person gives you the ability to feel what you will be sleeping on before making any purchase decisions. Although more time consuming than shopping online, it is very important to test your mattress before buying it. For example, stores like Go have mattress specialist are highly trained and many have years of industry experience.
- Our Suggestion
Both shopping online and in store have pros and cons, and we suggest you do both. Starting your search online is a fantastic way to narrow down choices by your desires. Once you have an idea of what you want, come into a store and try some mattress models out. We suggest using our website to narrow down your selection, and then come into the store to try out your picks. We make the process easy because the selection online will be available in store for you try out.
How to Test a Mattress
Don't just sit on the mattress or lie down for a moment. Take several minutes to really feel what sleeping on the surface of your intended purchase will be like. A mattress may feel soft and cozy at first touch, but after several minutes of testing, you may find the mattress overly soft and lacking in support. You may begin to overheat or feel like there isn't enough room. We suggest lying on the mattress anywhere from five to 15 minutes. When lying down, mimic the sleeping position you usually take and stay that way for the entire test. If you do not like the feel of the mattress after the test, you will not like it at home and should move on to another model. Also if you feel any pressure at any portion of your body, look for a mattress better suited to your needs.
Testing Edge Support
You may also test edge support by sitting on the edge of the bed for a moment. If you feel as though you are caving into the box spring below, the mattress does not have very good edge support. If you are unsure from your test, simply ask a salesperson about the edge support or foam encasement inside the mattress. Many innerspring mattresses utilize either foam encasement or a steel border rod to increase edge support. Added edge support gives you an increased amount of usable sleep surface.
Take your time when shopping for a mattress. Avoid rush decisions, become educated, and make a decision to buy if you find a great deal. Make sure you get the right amount of support and feel comfortable when lying down. You want to be happy with your purchase, which should last you into the next decade.