Beds are important - each individual person is going to have their own, specific preferences when it comes to the surface they sleep on. That’s why it’s very important - crucial, even, - to learn how to choose a mattress.
Choosing a mattress doesn’t have to be a difficult process, though! There are many misconceptions related to the process of going to a shop (or browsing online), seeing all the different options and mattress features, and having to somehow instantly know what you want.
In this guide, I’ll teach you how to choose a mattress that would last you for more than a year or two. We’ll talk about some common rules of thumb, go through the entire process, touch on the main things that you should consider, and so on.
By the end of this article, you should have a pretty good foundation of information on how to select a mattress that’s best for you.
Table of Contents
Why Learn How to Choose a Mattress?
The natural first question that you might have is “why should I learn how to choose a mattress, in the first place?”.
While it might seem trivial for some, learning “what mattress is best for me” is a very important point in the entire process of picking out the right product. There are a few reasons why that’s the case.
First of all, choosing a mattress isn’t the same as going to the shop and trying to pick out a candy bar. A proper bed will serve you for up to a decade and sometimes even more. Imagine spending a decade sleeping on a surface that’s uncomfortable (or even bad for you) every single night! You’d probably become a completely different person solemnly because of that.
Just as you would do when picking out a new car or a place to rent, the process of how to choose a mattress should be a responsible one. If you put in the time and the effort in becoming more knowledgeable on the topic, you’ll thank yourself later.
Another big reason why you should learn how to pick a mattress somewhat ties in with the first one - health concerns.
An increasing amount of people suffer from back, shoulder, neck and hip pain every single year. It has become “common” to talk about back problems when hanging out with your friends or colleagues - the amount of sitting that the average middle-class citizen does during the day is partially responsible for that.
What many people don’t know, however, is that the bed you sleep in often plays a big role in your back health preservation. Furthermore, if you’re smart about choosing a mattress that’s right for you, it’s very likely that you’ll be able to eliminate these problems, altogether!
With all of that said, let’s move on to actually talking about how to choose a mattress.
Picking Out the Right Bed - The Essentials
While various mattress-related terminology can get confusing, choosing the right mattress doesn’t have to be difficult at all. To make things as simple as possible, we’ll talk about some of the most important criteria that you should pay attention to when you’re in a mattress store online or in real life.
The criteria aren’t outlined in any particular order, unless stated otherwise. Additionally, just so you could have some points of reference, I’ll give you examples of some of the best mattress providers that represent the specific criteria we’ll be talking about.
First up, the obvious - the size of the bed.
Most of the time, this is going to be the very first thing that people consider when looking at how to choose a mattress. Since there is a ton of different situations for why you might be purchasing a mattress, there is also a significant amount of sizes to pick from.
If we were to look at the statistics, it seems that the most popular size for a mattress is the Queen one - it’s big, but not the biggest option in the market. Queen-sized mattresses are perfect for couples - in most cases, they accommodate two people very well, and there is still space left for comfort.
When it comes to Queen-sized beds, Casper would probably have to be one of the leading mattress providers. The company offers a foam mattress that will be perfect for anyone who likes to sleep on a softer surface.
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Mattress types are often the topic where people tend to get lost the most. There are many different ways that a mattress might be designed and built, and if you want to really learn how to choose a mattress, you’re going to have to know the difference.
Thankfully, this topic doesn’t have to be difficult.
A pretty good rule of thumb is to remember the 4 main types of mattresses - foam, innerspring, latex and hybrid ones. Each of these groups have their own specific pros and cons, and they encompass the majority of the best mattresses around.
- Foam beds are usually very soft and isolate motion well, but they might sleep hot and have weaker edge support. Memory foam has back-healing abilities, so if you do suffer from this problem and are trying to find out “what mattress is best for me”, do look for this material in your future bed. Provider-wise, Nectar if often considered to be one of the best memory foam mattresses around.
- Innerspring mattresses used to be the norm, but now, there’s less and less of them left in the market. This doesn’t mean that they’re bad, though - on the contrary, if you like responsiveness and firmness, an innerspring mattress is likely going to be great for you.
In the innerspring mattress category, Saatva has to be the leader by a longshot - the company offers some of the best old-schooled innerspring products around.
- Latex mattresses are seemingly the new trend around the corner. They are often cooler an more responsive than foam beds, but also not as firm as innerspring ones. When it comes to providers, Avocado makes great organic latex mattresses.
- Finally, a hybrid mattress can be a mix of any other two (or more) materials packed into the shape of a bed. Hybrids are often the solution for many people who want the best of both worlds - they tend to combine the better qualities of each of the mattress categories, which is what a lot of people are looking for, in the first place! By popular opinion, the New Purple mattress is one of the best hybrids to hit the market.
As you can see for yourself, picking the right material when you’re learning how to choose a mattress doesn’t have to be difficult - all you have to do is remember these four mattress categories and you’re set!
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While this is more of a subjective criterion, it’s equally as important as the rest.
Each individual person looking at how to select a mattress is going to have some specific requirements for their new bed. These will differ for everyone, but there are a few bigger groups that are worth mentioning.
Back Pain and Spine Alignment
I’ve already mentioned this, but quite a few people are going to be looking for a mattress that would eliminate their back pain and align their spine. Depending on what type of a sleeper you are, different mattresses are going to suit you better - back sleepers might need a firmer mattress, while side ones should look for a bit of a softer surface that would let their hips and shoulders sink a bit.
As far as back pain is concerned, though, the general consensus is that the before-mentioned Nectar is going to be one of the better options.
While it’s not all that common, some people might have (or even develop) allergies to some of the materials that are used in the construction of the mattress. There is a pretty simple way to avoid this, though - latex.
Latex mattresses - especially organic ones - are often seen as the best bet for people who have allergies and need a specific type of a bed. Once again, if you’re interested in an organic (or even vegan) latex mattress, you should keep your sights fixed on Avocado.
Temperature neutrality is often one of the more important features for people who are looking at how to select a mattress. Honestly, it’s rather rare to find a person who would prefer to sleep warm - most people turn towards cooler mattress options.
As far as cool mattresses go, the New Purple is going to be your best bet. With their special technology, the company behind the mattress has become famous for providing its customer with one of the best cooling mattresses in the industry.
Finally, sex. Couples that are trying to find out how to pick a mattress are usually concerned with this aspect, in addition to everything mentioned above.
Innerspring mattresses are most well-known for providing the couples with that extra needed bounce to their relationship (both literally and figuratively speaking). You’ll find that the before-mentioned Saatva is one of the best choices in the department mattress provider-wise.
Up to this point, we’ve covered many different criteria, aspects and features surrounding the process of learning how to choose a mattress. Now, in order to help you to better understand how to pick a mattress, let’s quickly run down the main things we’ve talked about.
In order to find out “what mattress is best for me”, you’ll have to make a few decisions. First of all, the size and type of the mattress. Sizing will depend on whether you’re looking for a bed for yourself, or are there any more people involved.
Type is a bit of a more difficult subject, and will depend on your specific wants and needs. Allergies, temperature neutrality, the need for edge support, responsiveness and material are just a few of these - you should really think about your priorities, and perhaps even list them down and see which mattress type fits them best.
Finally, after you know how to choose a mattress, all that’s left to do is to purchase it and sleep happily ever after. However, what if you’ve actually made a mistake and you see that you don’t really like your new bed all that much..?
Don’t worry - most of the high-tier mattress providers have what are known as “sleeping trials”. These are special time periods (usually 100 or 120 nights) during which you can return the mattress for a full refund. So, even if you do make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world!
A final point worth mentioning is that you should always read through the best mattress reviews before fully committing to purchasing a mattress. It isn’t rare for people to accidentally purchase a bed that literally breaks down in the first couple of nights - this could easily be avoided by reading through and using reviews as a guide, though.
If there is one single thing that you’ll take out of this “How to Choose a Mattress” guide, it should be this - choosing the right mattress for yourself is a responsible task. Too often do people brush it off as a “no biggy”, only to soon become utterly disappointed with their new product, and have to go through the process of changing it yet again.
Quality sleep will help you to not only feel better, in general, but will also aid in the memory and concentration departments. That said, in order to get that quality sleep, it's important to purchase a proper mattress - that's why this guide is important.
Other than that, if you’ve read the entire tutorial up to this point, congratulations - you now know how to choose a mattress that will serve you for many years to come!
If you ever find yourself between a rock and a hard place when trying to decide on the optimal product, you can always come back to this article and use it as a point of reference for all of your future mattress-related purchases.
I honestly hope that this “How to Choose a Mattress” tutorial was useful to you, and that you will now feel more confident when venturing out to purchase a new bed. Don't forget to check out our other tutorials, too - who knows, maybe they hold the secret inspiration that you need to make the final decision between two great mattress brands?
Scientific ReferencesContributed by Alex Savy, Sleep Science Coach
1. Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health: 'Mattresses for Chronic Back or Neck Pain: A Review of the Clinical Effectiveness and Guidelines [Internet].'
2. Monika Schönauer, BSc, Annedore Pawlizki, PhD, Corinna Köck, MSc, and Steffen Gais, PhD: 'Exploring the Effect of Sleep and Reduced Interference on Different Forms of Declarative Memory'