How to Choose a Mattress

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Did you know the average person spends about one-third of their life sleeping? That’s a significant amount of time spent on your mattress, making it one of the most important investments you can make for your health and well-being. Sleeping on the wrong mattress can lead to many problems, from chronic back pain to poor sleep quality, affecting your daily life and overall health.

Choosing the right mattress, however, can be daunting. With so many options available, how do you know which one is right for you? This comprehensive guide simplifies the process and provides you with all the information you need to make an informed decision. Whether you’re a side sleeper looking for extra support, someone with allergies needing a hypoallergenic option, or just overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices, we’ve got you covered.

In this guide, we’ll explore the various types of mattresses, delve into the specifics of mattress sizes and firmness levels, discuss the best options for different sleeping positions and health considerations, and much more. By the end of this guide, you’ll have a clear understanding of what to look for and how to choose the perfect mattress that meets your needs.

Types of Mattresses

Your journey to finding the perfect mattress begins with understanding the various types available. Each type has its own advantages tailored to specific sleep needs and preferences. In this section, we dive into the most popular mattress options—memory foam, latex, hybrid, innerspring, adjustable air beds, and organic mattresses—so you can make an informed choice that suits your lifestyle.

Memory Foam Mattresses

Memory foam mattresses are made from viscoelastic polyurethane foam, known for its contouring and pressure-relieving properties. This type of foam adapts to your body shape, providing excellent support and comfort.


  • Pressure Relief: Memory foam distributes weight evenly, reducing pressure points.
  • Motion Isolation: It absorbs movement, making it ideal for couples.
  • Support: Maintains natural spinal alignment.


  • Heat Retention: Can retain body heat.
  • Odor: May emit a chemical smell initially.

Latex Mattresses

Latex mattresses are known for their durability and support, offering a bouncy feel that many sleepers appreciate. Made from natural or synthetic rubber, they are a great choice for those looking for a long-lasting and hypoallergenic mattress.


  • Durability: Known for their longevity.
  • Support and Comfort: Offers a responsive, bouncy feel.
  • Hypoallergenic: Resistant to dust mites, mold, and bacteria.


  • Cost: Generally more expensive than other types.
    Weight: Heavier and harder to move.

Hybrid Mattresses

Hybrid mattresses combine the best features of different mattress types to offer a balanced sleep experience. By integrating innerspring coils with foam layers (such as memory foam or latex), hybrid mattresses offer the best of both worlds.


  • Balanced Features: Hybrids offer the supportive feel of innerspring coils and the contouring comfort of foam layers.
  • Temperature Regulation: The coil layer promotes better airflow, helping to keep the mattress cool throughout the night.
  • Versatility: These mattresses are designed to suit a wide range of sleepers by combining the benefits of multiple materials.


  • Cost: Hybrid mattresses can be more expensive due to the combination of high-quality materials.
  • Weight: Hybrids tend to be heavier, making them more difficult to move and set up.

Adjustable Air Beds

Adjustable air beds offer customizable firmness levels by using air chambers as their primary support system. This flexibility makes them popular for those with specific support needs or preferences that may change over time.


  • Customizable Firmness: You can adjust the firmness of the mattress by adding or removing air, making it easy to find the perfect level of support for your needs.
  • Versatility: These beds are great for couples with different firmness preferences, as each side of the bed can usually be adjusted independently.
  • Support: Adjustable air beds provide consistent support that can be tailored to different parts of the body, which can be beneficial for those with specific health concerns.


  • Cost: Adjustable air beds can be expensive due to their advanced technology and customization options.
  • Maintenance: The air chambers and pumps may require maintenance and occasional repairs, which can be inconvenient and costly.
  • Noise: Adjusting the firmness level may produce noise, which could be disruptive.

Organic Mattresses

Organic mattresses are crafted from natural and organic materials, such as organic cotton, wool, and latex. These mattresses are an excellent choice for those prioritizing sustainability and health, as they are free from harmful chemicals and synthetic materials.


  • Eco-Friendly: Made from sustainable materials and produced through environmentally friendly manufacturing processes, organic mattresses are a great choice for eco-conscious consumers.
  • Health: Free from harmful chemicals, these mattresses are ideal for those with allergies or sensitivities to synthetic materials.
  • Durability: Often more durable due to the high-quality natural materials used, leading to a longer lifespan compared to some conventional mattresses.


  • Cost: Organic mattresses can be more expensive than conventional options due to the premium materials and manufacturing processes.
  • Availability: They may not be as widely available as other types of mattresses, making them harder to find and try before purchase.
Mike, from ASL Reviews, opens up the Airpedic 850 to reveal the foam comfort layers.
Inside look at a hybrid mattress
Inside an adjustable air bed: a look at the adjustable air chambers

Mattress Sizes

Choosing the right mattress size is crucial for both comfort and practicality. Here’s a breakdown of standard mattress sizes and some tips on choosing the best one for your needs and space.

Overview of Standard Mattress Sizes

  • Twin (38″ x 75″)
  • Twin XL (38″ x 80″)
  • Full (54″ x 75″)
  • Queen (60″ x 80″)
  • King (76″ x 80″)
  • California King (72″ x 84″)

For detailed information on each mattress size, including their ideal uses and more, check out our Guide to US Mattress Sizes.

Choosing the Right Size Based on Your Needs and Space

Room Size and Layout

  • Measure your bedroom to ensure the mattress fits comfortably without making the room feel cramped.
  • Consider the placement of furniture and the flow of the room to ensure easy movement around the bed.

Sleeping Arrangements

  • Single Sleepers: Depending on your height and space preference, a twin, twin XL, or full mattress should suffice.
  • Couples: A Queen, King, or California King mattress provides ample space for two people. King sizes are preferable if you need extra room. For detailed comparisons, see our guide on King vs. California King Mattresses.
  • Families and Pets: A King or California King offers the most space if you share your bed with children or pets.

Future Needs

Consider any potential changes in your sleeping arrangements or living situation. For example, a Queen or King mattress might be a better long-term investment if you plan to move to a larger space or share the bed in the future.

Personal Preferences
Think about your sleeping habits and comfort needs. Do you prefer more space to stretch out? Do you share your bed with a partner or pets? These factors can influence the best mattress size for you. For information on non-standard options, check out our Non-Standard Mattress Sizes Guide.

Infographic of standard US bed sizes and dimensions including Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, and California King.

Mattress Firmness

Choosing the right mattress firmness is essential for achieving comfortable and supportive sleep. Mattress firmness affects how a mattress feels, how it supports your body, and how it alleviates pressure points. Here’s a guide to understanding mattress firmness and choosing the right level for your sleeping position.

Understanding Firmness Levels

Mattress firmness is often rated on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest. Here’s a breakdown of the firmness levels:

  • Ultra Soft (1-2): These mattresses offer an ultra-plush, sinking feel. They are ideal for those who prefer to sink deeply into their mattress.
  • Soft (3-4): Soft mattresses provide a soft, cushioned feel with more support than ultra-soft mattresses. They are suitable for those who need contouring with moderate sinkage.
  • Medium (5-6): Medium mattresses offer a balanced feel with a mix of support and comfort. They are ideal for a wide range of sleepers who need a combination of firmness and cushioning.
  • Firm (7-8): Provides a firmer feel with slight cushioning. Firm mattresses are often preferred by back sleepers and those who need extra support.
  • Very Firm (9-10): Offers the least amount of give, providing maximum support. It is ideal for those who prefer to sleep on top of the mattress rather than in it and need the most support.
Firmness Scale 1-10 highlights a 10.0 or Extremely Firm firmness.

Choosing the Right Firmness for Your Sleeping Position

Your sleeping position plays a crucial role in determining the ideal mattress firmness. Here’s how to match firmness levels to different sleeping positions:


Recommended Firmness

Why It’s Ideal

Side Sleepers

Ultra Soft to Medium (1-6)

Side sleepers need a mattress that can contour to the curves of their body, especially the shoulders and hips, to prevent pressure points and maintain proper spinal alignment. Check out the best mattresses for side sleepers.

Back Sleepers

Medium to Firm (5-8)

Back sleepers require a mattress that offers support to maintain the spine’s natural curve while providing enough cushioning for comfort.

Stomach Sleepers

Firm to Very Firm (7-10)
Stomach sleepers need a firmer mattress to prevent their hips from sinking too deeply, which can lead to spine misalignment and back pain.

Combination Sleepers

Soft to Medium-Firm (3-7)

Combination sleepers who switch positions throughout the night benefit from a mattress that balances support and comfort across multiple positions.

Factors to Consider

  • Body Weight: Heavier individuals may prefer a firmer mattress for better support, while lighter individuals might find a softer mattress more comfortable.
  • Health Conditions: Consider health issues like back pain, arthritis, or pressure sores. Specific firmness levels can help alleviate musculoskeletal discomfort associated with these conditions.
  • Personal Preference: Ultimately, personal comfort is key. Consider testing different firmness levels to find what feels best for you.

Mattress Preference Considerations

Choosing a mattress involves more than just understanding types and sizes. Different sleepers have unique needs and preferences. Here are some considerations for specific groups of sleepers:

Hot Sleepers

If you tend to sleep hot, it’s important to choose a mattress that helps regulate your body temperature. Here are some key features to look for:

  • Cooling Materials: Look for mattresses made with cooling technologies, such as gel-infused memory foam, breathable latex, or innerspring coils that promote airflow. For more options, check out our article on the best mattresses for hot sleepers.
  • Temperature Regulation: Opt for mattresses with moisture-wicking covers or phase-change materials that help regulate body temperature throughout the night. Understanding the ideal sleep temperature can also help you make a more informed decision about your mattress. Learn how to stay cool at night for optimal sleep.


Choosing a mattress as a couple involves considering both partners’ needs and preferences. It’s important to find a mattress that minimizes disturbances from movements, provides ample support around the edges, and suits both individuals’ comfort levels. Here are some key features to look for:

  • Motion Isolation: Memory foam and hybrid mattresses with foam layers excel in minimizing motion transfer, preventing disturbances from a partner’s movements.
  • Edge Support: Consider mattresses with reinforced edges to maximize usable surface area, making it easier for both partners to sleep comfortably.


For seniors, selecting a mattress that facilitates ease of movement, offers significant pressure relief, and provides strong edge support is crucial. These features help alleviate common concerns such as joint and back pain and make getting in and out of bed easier. Here are the important considerations:

  • Ease of Movement: Latex and hybrid mattresses offer a responsive surface that makes moving and getting out of bed easier.
  • Pressure Relief: Look for mattresses with excellent pressure-relieving properties to alleviate joint and back pain, which are common concerns for seniors.
  • Edge Support: Mattresses with strong edge support can help seniors get in and out of bed more easily and provide a stable sitting surface.

Lightweight Sleepers

Lightweight sleepers often benefit from softer mattresses that provide better contouring and pressure relief without feeling too firm. It’s also important to consider the material sensitivity to ensure optimal comfort. Look for:

  • Softer Mattresses: Lighter individuals may find softer mattresses more comfortable as they provide better contouring and pressure relief without feeling too firm.
  • Material Sensitivity: Memory foam and softer latex are often ideal for lighter sleepers, offering adequate support while cushioning the body.

Heavyweight Sleepers

Heavier individuals need mattresses that offer firm support to prevent sinking too deeply, which can lead to misalignment and discomfort. Durability is also a key factor, as the mattress should withstand additional weight without compromising its longevity and performance. Consider the following features:

  • Firmness and Support: Heavier individuals generally need firmer mattresses to prevent sinking too deeply, which can lead to misalignment and discomfort.
  • Durability: Look for high-density foams and robust coil systems that can withstand additional weight without compromising longevity and performance.

Health Considerations When Choosing a Mattress

Various health conditions can influence the type of mattress that will provide the best support and comfort. Here’s a brief overview of some common health considerations:

  • Back Pain: A mattress that supports the spine’s natural alignment and provides pressure relief can help alleviate back pain.
  • Hip Pain: A mattress with balanced support and pressure relief can reduce hip pain.
  • Shoulder Pain: A softer mattress that contours to the body can help reduce shoulder pain.
  • Arthritis: Look for a mattress that offers both support and cushioning to reduce joint pain and stiffness.
  • Allergies: Choose hypoallergenic materials and breathable fabrics to reduce allergy symptoms.
  • Acid Reflux: Using a mattress compatible with an adjustable base to elevate the upper body can help alleviate symptoms.
  • Sleep Apnea: An adjustable bed that allows for upper body elevation can help reduce symptoms and improve sleep quality.

For more detailed recommendations tailored to specific health conditions, such as Peripheral Artery Disease and Scoliosis, check back soon for our comprehensive guide on Health Disorders and Sleep.

Selecting a Mattress Based on Health Needs

Understanding what to look for in a mattress based on specific health conditions can significantly enhance your sleep quality. By focusing on the features that address your particular needs, you can find a mattress that improves both comfort and support, contributing to overall health and well-being.

Next, we’ll discuss other important buying considerations, including budget, online vs. in-store purchases, and understanding mattress warranties and trial periods.

Buying Considerations

Several factors can influence your decision beyond just comfort and support. Here are key considerations to keep in mind:

Budget and Pricing

Your budget plays a significant role in determining the type of mattress you can afford. Understanding how pricing works can help you make a more informed decision. For recommendations on affordable options, check out our top picks for the best cheap mattresses.


  • Set a Budget: Before you start shopping, determine how much you are willing to spend. Mattresses can cost from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.
  • Value vs. Cost: A higher price doesn’t always mean better quality. Look for mattresses that offer the best value for your budget.
  • Sales and Discounts: Look for sales, discounts, and promotional offers. Major holidays and annual sales events often provide significant savings.


  • Compare prices across different retailers.
  • Consider financing options if available.
  • Remember to account for additional costs like delivery, setup, and removal of your old mattress.

Online vs. In-Store Purchases

Both online and in-store purchases have their advantages and disadvantages. Knowing the pros and cons of each can help you decide which method is best for you.

Online Purchases:

  • Convenience: Shop from the comfort of your home with a wider selection of options.
  • Better Prices: Online retailers often have lower overhead costs, which can translate into savings for you.
  • Sleep Trials: Many online retailers offer sleep trials, allowing you to try the mattress from the comfort of your home. If you’re not satisfied, you can return or exchange it within the trial period, which typically ranges from 30 to 120 nights.

In-Store Purchases:

  • Try Before You Buy: Test the mattress in person to get a feel for its comfort and support.
  • Expert Advice: Sales associates can provide personalized recommendations and answer questions.
  • Immediate Availability: Take your mattress home the same day without waiting for shipping.


  • If buying online: Check the return policy and trial period carefully. Ensure you understand the terms of the sleep trial and what is required if you decide to return the mattress.
  • If buying in-store: Compare prices with online options to ensure you get a good deal. Don’t be afraid to ask about any available sleep trial periods, even for in-store purchases.

Trial Periods and Return Policies

Many mattress companies offer trial periods and return policies to ensure you’re satisfied with your purchase. These policies provide peace of mind and allow you to test the mattress in your own home.


  • Trial Period: This period can range from 30 to 365 nights, with most falling between 90 and 120. It gives you ample time to decide if the mattress suits you.
  • Return Policy: Understand the terms of returning a mattress if it doesn’t meet your expectations. Some companies offer free returns, while others may charge a fee.
  • Exchange Options: Some companies allow you to exchange your mattress for a different model or firmness level during the trial period.


  • Make sure to test the mattress thoroughly during the trial period.
  • Check if there are any conditions for returns or exchanges, such as a minimum trial period.

Understanding Mattress Warranties

A mattress warranty protects against defects and premature wear. Understanding what is covered and how long it lasts can help you confidently choose a mattress.

  • Length of Warranty: Warranties typically range from 5 to 25 years. A longer warranty indicates a manufacturer’s confidence in their product’s durability.
  • What’s Covered: Common issues covered include defects in materials, workmanship, and sagging beyond a certain depth.
  • What’s Not Covered: Normal wear and tear, comfort preference changes, and physical damage are usually not covered.


  • Read the warranty terms carefully before purchasing.
  • Keep your proof of purchase and warranty information in a safe place.
  • Follow the care instructions provided to avoid voiding the warranty.

Consider Purchase Details When Mattress Shopping

Considering factors like budget, purchase method, warranties, and trial periods can help you make a well-informed decision when buying a mattress. By understanding these aspects, you can find a mattress that fits your comfort needs and provides peace of mind and value for your investment.

Next, we’ll wrap up with some final thoughts and a summary of key points to remember when choosing the perfect mattress.


Choosing the right mattress is a significant decision that can greatly impact your sleep quality and overall health. To make an informed choice, start by understanding your specific needs. Consider your sleeping position, any health conditions, and your personal preferences to determine which type of mattress will provide the best support and comfort for you.

Next, take the time to research and compare different mattress types and their benefits. Look into various brands and models to find the one that fits your criteria. Setting a budget ahead of time is crucial; it will help you focus on mattresses that offer the best value within your price range. Remember to account for additional costs such as delivery and setup when planning your purchase.

Utilizing sleep trials offered by many online retailers can be extremely beneficial. These trials allow you to test the mattress in the comfort of your home, ensuring it meets your expectations before making a final decision. Lastly, always check the warranty and return policy before purchasing. Understanding the terms will protect you in case the mattress does not meet your needs.

By following the advice in this guide, you can confidently choose a mattress that will provide the comfort, support, and quality necessary for a restful night’s sleep. Ready to find your perfect mattress? Visit our mattress reviews for in-depth reviews and comparisons of the best mattresses on the market today, or check out our buying guides for more detailed advice on making the best choice for your sleep needs.

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