MattressReport

August 2022

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How to Choose the Best Mattress for You

A great mattress can make or break your night. The right mattress can improve your sleep quality, help you wake up without pain, and let you face the day fully rejuvenated. Buying a new one is a big decision and a major investment. But with so many mattresses on the market, it can be difficult to choose one that will suit your needs.

There are a lot of things to consider when you're purchasing a mattress, like firmness, size, materials, and comfort, just to name a few. We've put together some insight to help you decide what you need in a mattress.

Sleep Position & Firmness

You may not spend a lot of time analyzing how you sleep, but before you buy a mattress, make sure you know your sleep position. Do you sleep on your back, stomach, side, or a combination? Your preferred sleep position will play a big role in which brand caters to your sleep style and which firmness level will serve you best.

Once you've figured out your sleep position, it will help you choose a firmness. On the most simplistic level, it breaks down like this:

Side Sleepers - Usually prefer the softer side of medium

Side sleepers usually enjoy a mattress that is on the softer side, in the 3-6 range, because it allows their shoulders and hips to sink into the mattress. The extra softness provides comfort and support for their lower back. Side sleepers also need a pillow that will provide extra support for their head and neck.

Back Sleepers - Usually prefer medium-firm but have a broad range of choices

Back sleepers have a lot of range when it comes to their needs, which means that personal firmness preference will sway your final choice because there isn't one mattress that will work for all back sleepers. Someone who sleeps on their back should be satisfied with a mattress anywhere in the 4-8 range.

Stomach Sleepers - Usually prefer the firmer side of medium

Stomach sleeping can be a little tough on the body and if you sleep that way you'll probably benefit from a mattress that provides sufficient firmness and support to maintain spinal alignment. Most mattresses in the 5-7 range will provide that support but anything too soft will can put unnecessary stress on the back.

With all that that said, here's a funny thing about the mattress industry - there's no real standardization when it comes to firmness levels. A 5 in one brand may feel just a little different than a 5 in another. So it's not always apples to apples. Fortunately, mattresses are generally rated on a scale of 1-10 with one being the softest and ten being the hardest, you'll almost never see a mattress on either end of the scale. Instead, most mattresses tend to fall between the 4-8 range and most brand sites indicate that their best-selling and most-popular mattresses are typically in the 5-7 range.

Support

Support and firmness are not the same things. Firmness is about how hard or soft a mattress feels, while support speaks to the mattress's ability to promote spinal alignment. Even the plushest mattresses still have support layers added for back health and pressure point reduction. But, the effectiveness of those support systems may also be affected by your body size.

Body Size

Body size and weight are other important things to keep in mind when you're looking for a mattress. Larger people may benefit from firmer mattresses and mattresses with coil systems to provide adequate support. Lighter sleepers, tend to sink less into softer mattresses and may find firmer mattresses too hard. Lighter sleepers can be comfortable on both memory foam and hybrid mattresses but may prefer those with plusher tops.

Sleep Temperature

While you're assessing your sleep position in preparation for choosing a mattress, give your sleep temperature some attention. If you find yourself sweating at night or frequently kicking off the covers, you may sleep hot. If you tend to shiver at night or wake up and reach for more blankets, you may sleep cold.

Memory foam tends to retain heat because its molding properties are activated by body heat. While technological advances in memory foam have incorporated cooling features, an all-foam mattress may still run a bit warm for a naturally hot sleeper. A cold sleeper, however, may benefit from a mattress that gives a little extra heat. A hybrid mattress with coils may offer a bit more airflow for hot sleepers while memory foam layers can still provide warmth for cooler sleepers.

Overall Comfort

Comfort is probably what most of us think of as the most important feature of a mattress. Comfort involves temperature, sleep style, size, firmness, support systems, and materials. Basically, all of the above. So, this is where you'll find a lot of discretion associated with your personal preference. Thicker, more cushiony tops may allow for a little contouring to provide that slight “sinking into it” feeling that many sleepers want. If you'd rather feel like you remain on top of the mattress, look for a comfort top that offers a little more buoyancy.

Finding the optimal mattress for you is a combination of factors, but it mostly revolves around knowing how you sleep and what you like. Make sure you can easily articulate your habits, preferences, and current pain points to focus on mattress brands that address those specific needs. From there take full advantage of mattress sleep trials to ensure the mattress you keep is the one that will serve you the best.