Hunting for a new mattress can be a daunting task. There are so many choices on the market and so much to consider before you buy.
One thing to consider is the age of your mattress. A good mattress should last you at least six or seven years, and with care and quality materials it can even last for 10 to 15 years. If your mattress is past the decade mark, it may be time to start shopping around.
The simplest and surest sign you need a new mattress is if you’re waking up in pain, or in more pain than when you fell asleep. No mattress should cause you pain. The most important and most basic goal of a mattress is to leave you feeling refreshed in the morning.
Take a look at your mattress’s overall condition and if it has any of the following signs, it’s time to start looking at a new one:
- It’s losing its shape and has developed lumps or sagging
- It has tears, cracks or splits
- It isn’t clean or has a smell
- It’s developed extra noises (such as the sounds of springs creaking) or you’re feeling every movement your partner makes. This mostly applies to innerspring mattresses, as coils get noisier and transfer motion more as they wear out.
- You see a major uptick in any allergy or asthma symptoms after you sleep. Mattresses can attract and accumulate allergens, especially if you do not use a mattress cover.
Once you do know you need a new mattress, it can be overwhelming to consider the many choices you can make on the market. But knowing how to shop for your needs can make finding the right mattress easier, by whittling down your choices to what is the right fit for you.
What are the Most Common Mattress Types?
There are many different types of mattresses on the market today, enough to make your head spin. Not all of them are the best bed to sleep on every night, but they each have their pros and their cons. We dive into detail on each of them, to better inform you and to help you find the mattress right for your needs.
While foam is one of the more common bed types on the market now, it wasn’t always this way. Foam beds owe much of their popularity to the rise of bed-in-a-box brands, which introduced the concept of having a new bed shipped straight to your door. Foam is suited for this as it’s easy to compress and roll, allowing for convenient and compact delivery.
Not all foam beds are made the same. There is a lot of variation across brands in their construction of a foam mattress. Some common variations include:
- How the foam is made
- What the foam is made with
- The thickness of each of the mattress’s layers
A basic foam mattress has two foam layers. The bottom support layer is typically high-density poly-foam, while the top comfort layer is a soft, responsive foam such as memory foam to provide comfort. More layers can be added to create a bed that offers more support, such as a transition foam layer for added responsiveness and pressure-point relief.
Memory foam has grown in popularity, probably because it’s a soft material and molds itself to your body for comfort and pressure relief.
Memory foam is polyurethane foam processed for added elasticity and viscosity. This makes for a responsive bed, and sleepers who suffer from a chronic pain issue often love memory foam mattresses for the pressure relief. Because of its contouring nature, it takes the pressure off of sensitive areas such as your shoulders, back, spine, hips, and joints.
The conforming nature of memory foam also gives it better motion isolation. This makes memory foam an ideal choice for anyone who shares a bed or shifts positions as they sleep because it minimizes sleep disturbances.
Despite the name, memory foam mattresses tend to only have memory foam in their top layers. A bed made entirely out of the material would not provide needed support, so the bottom layers are comprised of high-density foam, often poly-foam.
When looking at memory foam mattresses, we recommend you read up on the density of each layer. The density of the foam isn’t the same as its firmness. Rather, it’s a way to describe the support it will provide you. A high-density foam should offer more support, and a low-density offers less.
The main downside to memory foam is it can retain too much body heat. Some manufacturers may infuse memory foam with cooling gels or other materials such as charcoal, copper, or graphite to absorb or wick away unwanted heat. Additionally, memory foam is open-cell, allowing for better air circulation. Look for “advanced open-cell foams” with increased air circulation.
Memory foam mattress users sometimes complain about a smell when they first open the bed. Typically, the smell will dissipate within a few weeks at most. This happens because of something called VOCs, which are a part of memory foam mattresses’ manufacturing process.
VOCs stands for volatile organic compounds and they are called such because they are unstable compounds and chemicals that deteriorate at room temperature. They release odors as they break down. VOCs are in new cars, furniture, and hundreds of other everyday items. Some VOCs are even released by humans and plants as part of their biological processes.
If it’s a concern for you, look for mattresses made with “low VOCs” or “free of toxic VOCs.” Be skeptical of any brand claiming they use no VOCs during production since this is simply unfeasible when it comes to making a memory foam mattress. It is possible to cut down on VOCs in the process by replacing some chemicals with plant-based materials instead.
Latex is made from natural or synthetic rubber. More and more customers are seeing latex mattresses as an alternative to memory foam, particularly those seeking another option for pain relief.
Latex has a similar feel to memory foam but has a few key differences. Latex is a more breathable material than memory foam, allowing it to cool you naturally. It is bouncy and responsive, keeping you lifted, while memory foam cradles the body. If you miss the bounciness of an innerspring but need the conforming pressure-relief of foam, latex may be the way to go.
Memory foam does have the advantage of offering better motion isolation than latex does thanks to its lack of bounce. If you’re sharing a bed, a latex mattress may not be the best option.
A natural latex mattress is more durable on average than a memory foam bed, with some models lasting you up to 15 years. However, this durability can also be a drawback. Latex makes for an inherently firm bed because of its structure, and sometimes customers are surprised by just how firm it can feel. Some brands rectify this with an added plush pillow top.
Latex beds are some of the more expensive beds on the market. Some customers see this as a worthwhile investment since natural latex mattresses can last more than a decade. The process used to create natural latex has less environmental impact than other foam beds, so it’s also a good option if you want to be an ecologically conscious consumer.
There are two main types of latex on the market, Dunlop and Talalay. It takes a few more steps to create Talalay latex, so it tends to be the more expensive of the two. Talalay latex is also viewed as softer than Dunlop latex, which is why Dunlop latex can often be found in a mattress’s base layers.
Synthetic latex is not as environmentally friendly as natural latex and comes with a shorter lifespan. Synthetic latex also has less of a bounce to it than natural latex, feeling more like memory foam than natural latex does.
Polyurethane foam, often shortened to just poly-foam, may be the most basic kind of foam on the market. It has a similar feel to memory foam but costs less to make, and is used not just in beds but also in couches and car seats. Poly-foam is affordable, but the quality of it can vary. It’s low-density and likely to deteriorate over time.
Convoluted foam, or “egg-crate foam,” is typically not found in mattress top layers because of its inherent stiffness. However, this stiffness does make it a fairly popular choice as a transition layer to maintain the bed’s structure. A layer of convoluted foam also helps to keep a bed cool as it circulates air better than memory foam does.
Innerspring mattresses are an old mainstay, having been around since the late 1800s. Even as other mattress types have risen in popularity, innersprings continue to be the best-selling mattress type.
The exact composition of an innerspring mattress can vary, but often you’ll find it’s made up of:
- A foundation, typically wool, as the base for the coil support system.
- A support core made of coils and springs. The exact count and type of coils can vary.
- A comfort layer made from materials such as memory foam, poly-foam, cotton, or down.
- A pillow top to give the mattress edge support, extra cushioning, and aesthetic appeal.
Because much of an innerspring is made up of coils with space in between, it’s naturally more breathable than a foam mattress. If you’re a hot sleeper, an innerspring mattress may be the best bed for you. Innersprings are also more bouncy than a memory foam bed, thanks to their coil systems.
However, innerspring mattresses are rated low when it comes to customer satisfaction. They can’t mold to the body as well as an all-foam or hybrid bed can because they lack responsiveness and specialized support. If you’re in need of a bed for pain relief or are a side sleeper, you may want to consider another mattress type.
A hybrid mattress seeks to provide the best of both a foam bed and an innerspring mattress. To qualify as a hybrid, a mattress must have at least 3 inches of foam and an innerspring coil system, which is in the base. The coils are typically wrapped in foam or fabric to prevent motion transfer.
Because of its coil construction, a hybrid bed offers more lift than a foam bed. It keeps you more on top of the mattress with its added bounce but does not provide as much pressure-point relief or motion isolation as a memory foam mattress.
Hybrids are some of the more expensive beds on the market because of the mix of high-quality parts that goes into their construction. They have an average lifespan of six to seven years according to data from Sleep Like The Dead.
The draw of an air mattress is its convenience and low expense. You can find them for under or around $100.
An air mattress works best on a flat surface like the floor, rather than in a bed frame, because of its fragile nature. Air mattresses are prone to developing holes. Some air mattresses come with repair kits to address this.
Air mattresses also require set up with an air pump. Sometimes it’s included with the mattress, sometimes it must be purchased separately.
An air mattress is most suited for short-term use such as traveling or camping. Long-term use of an air mattress may mean waking up one morning on the floor, your bed deflated in the night from an unexpected puncture.
Waterbeds got their start as a master’s thesis project the late 60s, and were popular in the late 80s. But they’ve fallen out of favor over the decades since.
While the classic design of a waterbed is a vinyl bag filled with water, newer variations contain the water in a much smaller chamber of the bed known as the “bladder.” Foam layers or fabric surrounds the bladder.
A 2015 study suggests waterbeds may have health benefits. The study looked at patients with spinal injuries in prolonged bed confinement over 16 months. Twenty-one patients lay on “improvised waterbeds” while a control group of 30 lay on foam beds. Patients that used a waterbed were less likely to develop pressure ulcers. The study cautioned that further research is needed for confirmation.
Many waterbeds are also hypoallergenic because of the plastic encasement that keeps it from absorbing allergens and irritants.
There are quite a few practical drawbacks to a waterbed, however. Waterbeds, like air mattresses, can develop holes. And worse, unlike an air bed where with a puncture you just have the hiss of escaping air and a bed that can’t keep its shape, a leaking waterbed can mean a watery mess in your bedroom.
Installing your waterbed can also be quite the chore. Typically, you snake a hose of some sort into your bedroom to fill it up, and as waterbeds can hold hundreds of gallons of water it may take a while for your bed to completely inflate. Draining it involves a similar amount of work, and draining is needed to move or sometimes to clean the mattress.
Finally, the moisture in a waterbed can lead to bacteria build-up over time, which may leave your bed with a funky smell. It is difficult and tedious work to clean out the bacteria in a waterbed and you may have to replace parts of the mattress instead.
Futons and Couch Beds
The main draw of a futon or a couch bed is their interchangeability. They’re easy to move and store when not in use. They can be a couch by day and a bed by night if you’re pressed for space.
However, they are not known for their comfort. And they’re not a good match for anyone with chronic pain or posture issues.
A futon or couch bed is probably best suited for someone young and spry, or for those who want a bed on hand for the occasional guest.
If you’ll be using a couch bed regularly, look for one with innerspring coils for support. For a guest bed, a simple foam bed should suffice.
What is the Best Mattress for Athletes?
If you’re an athlete or just physically active a lot, search for a bed to promote your body’s recovery. Look for a mattress with materials that relieve pressure and a supportive core underneath it all.
Memory foam or hybrid beds can be good choices for someone with an active, athletic lifestyle, with top layers that conform to the body and offer relief to pressure points.
For memory foam, look for a mattress with cooling technologies, be it be infused gels or advanced open-cell design for breathability. As an athlete, you’re already at risk of sleeping hot, as muscle mass helps keep you warm. Your perfect bed should keep you cool.
Hybrid mattresses can similarly offer the support and cushion needed for recovery, as well as airflow in their coiled layers for a cool night’s sleep.
What is the Best Mattress for Couples?
It can be a challenge to share a bed with someone— what if one of you likes the bed with more of a firm feel than the other?
Relationships are all about compromise, which is one way to find a mattress suited to the two of you. If you want a mattress comfortable for most sleepers, you might try a mattress with medium firmness.
Mattress brands often advertise at least one mattress as “universally comfortable” and typically they are medium in firmness. The exact feel may vary depending on the material, as some materials are just naturally more firm. And firmness is subjective enough that what one brand calls medium, another may classify as medium-firm.
Couples who need drastically different firmnesses might want to consider the customization a split king mattress offers. A split king is basically two twin XL mattresses placed side by side. They can be used on adjustable bases, and each side can move independently.
A split king also eliminates motion transfer. Using two separate mattresses means your movements shouldn’t disturb your sleeping partner.
What is the Best Mattress by Body Type?
If we all had the same build, there would be a lot fewer mattress options on the market. But we do not, and so we have to mattress shop with our weight in mind, as the best firmness for you will depend on it.
For the purposes of buying a mattress, an overweight person is someone who weighs more than 230 pounds. If this sounds like you, we recommend a mattress that can fully take on your weight.
The best mattresses for heavier sleepers are typically on the thicker side, and the firmer end of the firmness scale. We recommend beds at least 12 inches thick, and we advise against any bed thinner than 10 inches if you’re a larger sleeper. Too soft or too thin, and your bed can break down too soon.
A heavyset sleeper may also want to look for mattresses advertising enhanced edge support. Edge support refers to how a mattress is firmer at the edges to keep you from feeling as if you’re about to roll or fall over the edge.
Edge support makes it easier to sit on the edge of the bed and to get out of the bed, but it comes with the trade-off of reducing your sleep surface. Without edge support, your sleeping surface increases but your mattress can feel softer at the edge, giving the illusion you’re about to roll off. Innerspring and hybrid mattresses tend to offer more edge support than memory foam or latex beds.
If you’re a larger person who loves the feel of a memory foam bed, you’ll need to be a smart shopper and look for a mattress at least 12 inches thick with a supportive, high-density foam base. Hybrids and innersprings typically provide the support you need.
Conversely, those who are petite or lightweight (under 130 pounds) will need to look for mattresses softer than the norm. Foam mattresses are a good choice if you’re a lightweight sleeper, particularly memory foam with its contouring cushiness.
We break down weight ranges and the best firmness level for each below.
|Body Weight||Firmness to Look For|
|Less than 130 pounds||Medium-soft to soft|
|Between 130 to 230 pounds||Medium to medium-firm|
|More than 230 pounds||Medium-firm to firm|
What is the Best Mattress for Back Pain?
Back pain is a common complaint. It equally affects men and women and may manifest as a dull-but-constant ache or sudden, incapacitating pain, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. And naturally, any pain you’re in is liable to affect your sleep.
The wrong mattress can make or break you when it comes to handling back pain. You need a bed to keep your spine in a neutral alignment so it’s not raised or lowered out of place. Your mattress must support your back and ease pressure on your body.
A foam or a hybrid would likely be your best option because they offer pain relief, support, and softness. The right firmness will depend on your sleep style, which we go into further detail about below. You may also want to consider an adjustable bed frame, as it offers customizable setups to further reduce pressure on your body and better ease any pain.
What is the Best Mattress for Arthritis?
When we talk about arthritis, we’re not just talking about one disease. Arthritis is an informal term for one of the more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions to do with joint pain and joint disease, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Arthritis is America’s leading cause of disability, affecting more than 50 million adults. It develops more frequently as we age and is most common in women. Symptoms can include swelling, stiffness, and pain in the joints.
Treatments and lifestyle practices such as regular exercise, a healthy diet and weight, medication and assistive devices, and hot and cold therapies can keep arthritis under control.
A good mattress can soothe your pains as you sleep. Those with arthritis should look into a mattress with top layers offering pressure relief to aching joints. This can mean a memory foam or latex bed, or a hybrid mattress if you want coil support.
What is the Best Mattress for Acid Reflux (GER and GERD)?
Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) occurs when the contents of your stomach come rushing back up your esophagus. When stomach acid makes contact with your esophagus it can cause heartburn, although not everyone experiences the feeling of heartburn. It’s also known as acid reflux, acid indigestion, and acid regurgitation.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a more serious and longer-lasting form of GER, and can lead to serious health problems over time such as issues with your teeth, esophagus, and lungs.
Acid reflux can worsen at night because you’re lying down, and gravity is no longer working to keep the contents of your stomach in place. Wedge pillows and adjustable bases can work to prevent symptoms of acid reflux by keeping you elevated. You can also prevent acid reflux symptoms by sleeping on your side, so we recommend a mattress soft enough to let you do so comfortably.
Can a Mattress Cure Insomnia?
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder characterized by difficulty falling or staying asleep, resulting in too little sleep or sleep that’s not restful enough. It can be short-term, caused by recent life events such as stress, pressure at work, or a traumatic loss, or it can be chronic, lasting for a month or more.
Sometimes chronic insomnia is a symptom of something else in your life, such as another medical condition or sleep disorder, or a side effect of medication you’re taking. Sometimes it is its own primary disorder, rooted in unspecific causes.
If you suffer from insomnia, your days are likely filled with sleepiness and a lack of energy. A good mattress is not a cure-all for insomnia, but the right mattress can still be helpful.
A bed with consistent support to keep you from tossing and turning is a necessity. We also recommend a mattress that isn’t noisy at night to minimize sleep disturbances, so we advise staying away from innerspring and hybrid beds with their potentially creaky springs.
Consider instead a memory foam or latex mattress. They can ease any pain or anxiety keeping you from sleep, and the material is quiet and prevents motion transfer.
Can a Mattress Treat Sleep Apnea and Snoring?
We include sleep apnea and snoring in one section as they’re quite similar, rooted in obstructed airways that can cause sleep disruptions. Snoring is the less serious of the two.
The sound of snoring comes from your breathing being blocked while you sleep. Tissues atop your airway vibrate as you breathe, a sound emerging as the air flows past. Severe snoring can mean disturbed sleep that leaves you tired during the day.
You may be more susceptible to snoring if you have a soft, thick palate or are overweight. Sleeping on your back can also cause snoring, so if it’s an issue for you or your partner, try switching to snoozing on your side.
Sleep apnea is a common condition. There are three different types rooted in different causes.
- Obstructive sleep apnea is when muscles in the back of your throat relax, blocking your airway. You may wake up choking in the night if you have obstructive sleep apnea.
- Central sleep apnea is when the brain does not send signals to breathe.
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome has elements of both obstructive and central sleep apnea in one patient.
If you suspect you have sleep apnea, your doctor can order a sleep study for diagnosis.
Mattresses on their own cannot cure your symptoms. However, investing in an adjustable base or buying a wedge pillow or a pillow with medium to high-loft can help. These will elevate your head to better open your airways, preventing snoring.
Changing your sleep style can alleviate your symptoms as well. We recommend sleeping on your side if you are not already doing so.
Can Your Mattress Help with Restless Legs Syndrome?
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is exactly what it says, an irresistible urge to move your legs. Symptoms are often most severe at night when you’re trying to fall asleep. It’s estimated up to 7 to 10 percent of the U.S. population may have restless legs syndrome, and the disorder is more likely to occur in women than in men.
A suitable mattress for someone with RLS will allow the person to shift positions without feeling stuck, which means a mattress with motion isolation is crucial. We recommend RLS patients consider memory foam, latex, and hybrid mattresses, and avoid innerspring mattresses as the springs transfer motion and may even creak or squeak as you move around. We also recommend a bed with a medium firmness to accommodate the various sleep styles you may shift between.
An adjustable bed frame can further ease your symptoms by elevating your legs for better blood circulation. And if you splurge on an adjustable bed frame with a massage feature, it can give your legs some added pain relief.
Do Mattresses Make Allergies Worse?
It’s no fun to be sneezing and sniffling from allergies, whether it’s a seasonal or chronic condition. A common source of indoor allergens is dust mites, which feed on dead skin you shed every day. Dust mites can live in your mattresses, as well as elsewhere in your home.
A hypoallergenic mattress, such as latex or memory foam, can prevent dust mites from making their way into your bed, especially if you pair it with an anti-allergy cover for further protection.
If you use an anti-allergy mattress cover, be sure to give it the occasional wash. Exactly how often you should wash it should be in the manufacturer’s directions. Vacuuming and cleaning your mattress at least twice a year can also prevent the build-up of allergens.
You may also want to consider latex or memory foam pillows encased in mite-proof covers for further allergen prevention.
What is the Best Mattress Firmness?
The right firmness for you depends on a lot of different factors, from your body weight and sleeping position to the mattress’s material and construction. But the basic goal of a mattress, beyond giving you a cushion to sleep on, is to keep your spine in a neutral, healthy alignment. The correct firmness for you will help to achieve that goal.
The Indentation Load Deflection (ILD) rating is the most objective measure of a mattress’s firmness. It’s used to gauge how much weight a mattress can take on before it is indented to 25 percent of its thickness. The higher the ILD rating, the firmer the mattress is. This number is usually not openly advertised, and you may have to ask a customer service representative if you wish to know.
What brands mostly use to discuss a mattress’s firmness is the simpler yet more subjective firmness scale, running from 1 to 10, with 1 as the softest mattress, while 10 is the firmest. Most mattresses fall between three to eight, as beds at either extreme are typically impractical.
Where a mattress falls on the scale exactly can vary a bit from company to company, but you should find it close to as follows:
|Firmness Scale Rating||Firmness Description|
|2 and 3||Soft|
|7 and 8||Firm|
|9 and 10||Extra-firm|
We discussed earlier how overweight sleepers will need a firmer mattress, while lightweight sleepers will need to look at mattresses on the softer side. As a reminder, you qualify as an overweight sleeper if you’re more than 230 pounds, and lightweight if you’re under 130 pounds.
Firmness can vary by brand, so it’s always a good idea to browse customer reviews to see what everyone is saying. Was the mattress firmer or softer than expected, or was it just right? You don’t want to be Goldilocks, going from bed to bed looking for what’s right, so a little bit of research can save you a lot of trouble.
What is the Best Mattress Thickness?
The thickness or height of a mattress is a byproduct of its design. Knowing the thickness can tell you a little bit more about what to expect from the mattress. There’s a wide range out there, from 5 inches to 20 inches, and which one is best for you can depend on your sleep style and body weight.
Generally, a taller, thicker mattress provides more support. When you lie down, too much pressure can settle on your stomach, hips, and shoulders from your body weight. More support can mean more cushion for these pressure point areas.
A taller mattress is often a plusher mattress as well, as you may notice when you compare a bed that’s billed as soft to a bed classified as firm. Firmer mattresses are typically thinner beds, although a bed that’s too thin may lack needed support and firmness.
Unless you’re shopping on a truly tight budget of $500 or less, we recommend you do not buy a mattress less than 10 inches thick for regular use. Any bed thinner than this may lack needed support or durability. More heavyset sleepers should consider mattresses at least 12 inches thick to better take on their weight.
If you’re buying a layered bed such as a foam or hybrid mattress, take a look at the thickness of the first layer. A thicker top layer allows you more room to sink and settle into the mattress. We advise looking for a mattress with a top layer at least 2 inches thick for your comfort.
What are the Most Common Mattress Sizes?
Mattress size is important to keep in mind as you determine how your new mattress is going to fit into your life. Do you need a bed that can fit into a studio apartment, or are you looking to buy a bigger bed to allow you freedom of movement or space to share? The right size mattress can mean everything!
|Size Name||Dimensions in Inches|
|Twin||38 x 75|
|Twin XL||38 x 80|
|Full||54 x 75|
|Full XL||54 x 80|
|Queen||60 x 80|
|King||76 x 80|
|California King||72 x 84|
Twin and Twin XL
A twin or twin XL bed is often the first “real” bed we have after we’re too old for cribs and toddler beds. They’re also used in bunk beds.
When buying a child’s first real bed, consider a twin XL if you have the space and budget for it. Those five extra inches can make a big difference as a child grows to their full height, preventing you from having to buy another mattress and bed frame down the line.
Similarly, twin XL mattresses are found in many college dormitories to better accommodate all sleepers.
Full and Full XL
Full beds, also known as double beds, can give you a bit more room than a twin bed while still fitting into most smaller spaces. With 16 added inches, you can sprawl out your arms and legs in comfort.
Full-size beds are best suited to single sleepers who want space to spread out. Couples can share a full bed and sleep soundly, but we recommend a queen-size mattress or larger for anyone who is sharing a bed.
Queen beds are a popular choice for couples because they fit into most bedrooms and provide enough room for two. Split the bed in half, and you each have 30 inches of sleeping surface.
Of course, a queen size mattress is also perfect for a single sleeper who likes the room to spread out, with six more inches than a full bed.
King mattresses are generally the largest beds you can buy unless you order a specialty oversized mattress.
A king mattress is equal in size to two twin XL mattresses laid side by side. A split king mattress is essentially just this, designed to be two mattresses in one to fit each half of a couple’s sleep preferences. A king mattress is ideal for couples, and you can find a mattress to suit both of you or go for a bed split down the middle.
But if you’re a single sleeper who has the space and budget for it, there’s no reason why you can’t sleep comfortably on a king-size mattress.
The minimum room size you can comfortably squeeze a king into is a space 12 feet by 10 feet. This will leave room for not just the mattress and bedframe, but space to move around and other furniture. Anything smaller, and you should reconsider and choose a queen bed instead.
California king mattresses have similar dimensions to a standard king, as a California king is longer by 4 inches but also narrower by 4 inches. A California king offers slightly less surface area than a standard king, with 6048 square inches compared to a standard king’s 6080 square inches.
For taller sleepers, a California king may be the right bed. But if you want a little bit more room to move side to side, the standard king may be the better choice.
California king and standard kings have comparable prices, so don’t worry about which size gives you more for your money. Just focus on which one works best with your space and sleep needs.
What are the Most Common Sleep Styles?
We’ve talked a lot about what you need to know about mattresses. But to find the mattress truly right for you, you need to understand yourself as well. Mostly, it’s important to understand the sleep style you gravitate to. Someone who sleeps on their side is going to need different things from a mattress than someone who sleeps on their back.
Side sleeping is the most popular of the three main sleep styles. We can break it down further into four different positions:
- Fetal: named for how it resembles a fetus’s position. Sleepers bend both legs at the knees and curl their knees to their chests.
- Log: a sleeper’s arms and legs extended from their body.
- Yearner: sleepers keep their back and legs straight but reach their arms out as if seeking something.
- Sprinter: sleepers keep their arms, back, and one leg straight, while the other leg is bent at the knee.
Sleeping on your side comes with a few health benefits. It’s the position most efficient at clearing waste proteins from your brain, according to a 2015 study. Your glymphatic system flushes away your waste proteins and does most of its work while you sleep, and your sleep position influences how effective it is at doing so.
Researchers in the study examined MRI images of brains in the three different sleep styles, and side sleeping had “a clear advantage” when it came to clearing out waste proteins.
And why is this important? It’s thought the build-up of waste proteins may be tied to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and that the glymphatic system works to prevent such diseases from developing.
A later 2019 study hypothesizes better blood flow from lying on your side may be behind a more active glymphatic system, but cautions more research needs to be done.
The sides aren’t created equal when it comes to what’s good for you. Sleeping on your right side may promote a healthier heart than sleeping on your left. Right-side sleepers create more space in their chest cavity that gravity draws the heart into, alleviating pressure, whereas left-side sleepers have gravity pulling their hearts into the walls of their rib cages.
A study in 2003 examined a group of patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) and a control group. Those with CHF said it was uncomfortable for them to sleep on their left side and avoided doing so. The control group, however, did not shy away from sleeping on their left side. The study noted the findings are in keeping with the idea that left-side sleeping is harmful to your heart’s health.
Side sleepers will want a soft mattress with the needed give to take the pressure off their shoulders and hips while still offering support. Look at memory foam, latex, and hybrid mattresses in the soft to medium range if you’re a side sleeper. Innerspring mattresses are not recommended for side sleepers.
Side sleepers may also want to consider body or knee pillows to better keep the hips aligned.
Sleeping on your back is the position most naturally suited to keep your spine healthy and aligned. Your weight is evenly distributed, so you have less chance of developing aches and pains.
We can break back sleeping down into two different positions:
- Soldier: lying on the back with arms down at sides
- Starfish: lying on the back with arms up
Back sleeping may not be for you if you snore or have sleep apnea. Your airway can become obstructed from gravity pressing down on the soft tissues in your throat, and a switch to side sleeping may be needed.
You should also avoid sleeping on your back if you suffer from acid reflux. Sleeping flat on your back can make it easier for stomach acid to travel up your esophagus. This acid can cause irritation and pain by traveling where it should not be. If you have symptoms of acid reflux, switching to side sleeping can help.
As a back sleeper, you want to keep your posture natural and close to how it would be if you were standing upright. Back sleepers should look at medium-firm to firm mattresses and should consider foam or hybrid mattresses.
To prevent neck pain, sleep with a pillow providing a medium to high loft. A medium-loft pillow is between 3 to 5 inches thick, while a high-loft pillow starts at 5 inches thick.
We do not recommend stomach sleeping, as doing so for long periods of time can come with health setbacks.
The most serious consequence the average stomach sleeper is likely to face from lying on their stomach is back pain. Sleeping on your stomach shifts your center of gravity to your torso area, which may cause your hips and stomach to sink into your mattress, creating an unwanted arch in your spine. This arch stresses your spine and may aggravate any lower back pain.
Sleeping on your stomach also strains your neck, as you’re likely to have to twist your head to the side to breathe while you sleep. It’s an unnatural position for you to hold and isn’t good for spinal health.
There are other less serious side effects of lying on the stomach like restless sleeping, signs of premature aging, and acne breakouts.
For those of you who can’t change your sleep style, we recommend a firm mattress. Look at foam, innerspring, and hybrid beds. We also advise you to sleep with a pillow under your lower abdomen and use a thin head pillow, or forgo a head pillow entirely.
Many sleepers don’t just stick to one of the above sleep positions, and instead, move throughout many in the night. For combo sleepers, we recommend a mattress providing a balanced feel. A medium to medium-firm mattress meets most sleep needs. We also recommend a mattress to prevent motion transfer, since you’ll shift positions as you sleep.
If you want a more specific recommendation, keep track of the position you tend to wake up in and consider that your dominant sleep style.
How Much Should a Mattress Cost?
Your mattress budget may be one of your bigger questions as you shop. You can find mattresses retailing between $100 to $4,000, so how do you know what’s a good price to pay?
A good first step is to ask yourself what you want and need from a mattress. Some questions to ask yourself include:
- How much support do you need from your bed?
- How much care and maintenance will you put into it?
- Do you have any health needs to take into account?
- Do you want a mattress that’s organic or eco-friendly?
- Do you intend to use this bed on a regular basis for many years, or is it a bed you only need for a few months? Will you only use it a few times (such as a guest bed)?
If you just need a surface to sleep on and don’t care how long it lasts, it’ll be easier to find something in your budget range than if you need a hypoallergenic mattress suitable for chronic back pain and durable enough to last a few years. The more you want and need out of a mattress, the more work you may have to do to find the right one.
Just what can drive up the price of a bed? There’s a few different factors that can increase cost:
- Specialty foam, such as gel memory foam or foam infused with another cooling agent.
- Organic or certified materials, as there’s more of a process in manufacturing them.
- Latex foam tends to cost more because it’s one of the more durable materials.
- Hybrid beds can cost more because they need to have a mix of high-quality parts.
- Pillow tops. These are found on innerspring, hybrid, and sometimes even latex mattresses for added cushion.
- Beds made to meet a certain need, like a mattress specifically for someone with chronic back pain. Sometimes extra materials have to be included in the mattress, increasing the cost.
- A lengthy warranty. Typically, a mattress warranty runs for 10 years. If a brand offers more than this, they may factor it into the price.
- White glove delivery. White glove delivery is where the company will not only deliver your mattress but set it up and take away your old mattress. Sometimes this is a service you can add on for an extra charge, but sometimes it’s built into the price.
It’s safe to say mattresses under $300 will not last as long as you would like them to. A high-priced mattress may have unneeded special features and at worst may be compensating for a lack of comfort. For a queen-size mattress, we suggest you budget between $1,000 to $1,500. Be cautious of anything costing far more than this.
There are a few things we recommend you not skimp on when it comes to your next mattress. Always go for a mattress made with quality materials that comes with free shipping, a 100-night sleep trial, and a warranty good for at least 10 years. Approach a new mattress as an investment meant to last you years, and shop accordingly.
Shopping on a Budget
So you’re looking for the right mattress on a tight budget. It’s quite possible to find a quality mattress for less than $1000, but we have a few tips and tricks on how to get a good mattress at an affordable price.
First, shop online. Online mattress manufacturers can offer deeper discounts on their mattresses than brick-and-mortar stores because they don’t have to worry about certain costs such as renting and staffing a storefront.
Wait for the big sales. Many mattresses go on sale around President’s Day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day. And of course, there’s the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in November to keep an eye out for.
Always go for a new mattress. There’s too much uncertainty in buying a used bed— you’ll have to wonder if it’s clean and free of irritants such as bed bugs and allergens.
Do You Need a Mattress Foundation?
We’ve talked a lot about mattresses, but we can’t neglect the foundations, bases, and bed frames you can place them on. There’s no one foundation right for all mattresses, as different beds will work best with different bases. And you have plenty of choices, from platform beds to metal bed frames to adjustable bases.
Most companies will suggest what foundations work well with their mattresses, and some even sell their own. Sometimes the wrong choice of foundation can even void your warranty, so be sure to double-check what the exact specifications are.
Your ideal foundation will depend on the type of mattress you have. Innerspring mattresses and some hybrids will work fine with a box spring. Foam mattresses (whether memory foam, poly-foam, or latex) need a base without a lot of gaps, as spaces that are too wide can cause your mattress to sink and lose its structure. Some hybrids need this kind of support as well.
If money is tight or you want to take some time to shop around for the right bed frame, most floors work fine as a temporary or permanent foundation. As long as it’s solid, flat, and gives uniform support it should do, although the floor can trap heat if air can’t flow out through the bottom of the mattress.
Adjustable Bed Frames
Adjustable bases offer the freedom of customization, allowing you to find the sleep position best for you. Some positions would be unfeasible or impossible without an adjustable bed, such as the zero-gravity position.
An adjustable bed frame can be helpful if you live with a chronic health issue such as sleep apnea, acid reflux, asthma, or chronic pain. The angles an adjustable bed allows you to sleep in can open airways, reduce nasal drip and promote proper digestion. Certain positions can also ease pressure on your body and better distribute your weight.
Adjustable bed frames can be costly, ranging in price from several hundred to thousands of dollars. You can save on costs by finding a brand that discounts a new mattress and adjustable bed frame if bought together.
As you would with a mattress, thoroughly read through the attached sleep trial, warranty, and return policy before buying. Some adjustable bed frames are final sale items, so you should be confident it’s what is right for you.
What is a Mattress Sleep Trial?
Sleep trials go hand in hand with bed-in-a-box brands, although they can be attached to other in-store only mattresses. Online shopping meant customers no longer had a showroom where they could try out a physical mattress. A sleep trial was a guarantee shoppers would not be stuck with a bed that wasn’t their perfect match.
A sleep trial is trial period where you can try out a mattress to be sure it’s the right one for you, and if not you can return or exchange it for a better suited one.
Many brands offer 90-day to 120-day trial periods, and some even give you a full year to be certain. It takes about a month to fully adjust to a new mattress, so always look for a sleep trial covering at least that much.
What is a Good Mattress Warranty?
Warranties are something we expect from our purchases as a simple guard against the inevitable human or mechanical failure that can lead to a defective product.
Warranties for mattresses can vary, but generally, they cover the following:
- Sagging beyond a certain point, typically at least an inch
- Tears, splits, or rips in the mattress or cover
- A defective cover zipper
- Burst or sagging coils
You can expect a warranty to cover the first 10 years, as per industry standard. Sometimes mattress warranties extend beyond this. If they do, usually it’s prorated, meaning you will pay part of the costs for repairs or a new mattress.
Take a close look at what each warranty requires to remain effective. You may need to put it on a certain foundation or use a certain cover, while others may use less exact wording and require you keep it stain-free. You may also need to keep your proof of purchase and mattress tags attached to make any future claims.
We strongly advise against buying a mattress without a warranty. A warranty is a seal of the company’s faith in its product, so buying a mattress without one introduces more risk.
How long should a mattress last?
Ten years is a reasonable expectation for how long your new mattress should last. It’s the industry standard for mattress warranties. With care, your mattress can last longer.
If you want to lengthen the lifespan of your mattress, you can:
- Follow any care and cleaning directions given by the manufacturer.
- Purchase a mattress cover for protection. A mattress cover is not the same thing as a mattress pad, and you can use the two together.
- Make sure it has the right support system. For example, if you have a memory foam mattress it needs to be on a solid, flat foundation, not a box spring.
- Give it some sun every month or two. Strip the bed (but keep the cover on if you’re concerned about bed bugs or dust mites) and let sunlight air the bed out for several hours to prevent excess moisture collecting.
- Avoid eating and drinking in bed, as any spills can deteriorate the bed’s materials.
- Vacuum it every one to three months.
- Rotate your bed.
Can You Return a Mattress?
So you’re not happy with your mattress and you would like to return it. It’s a bit counterproductive, but before it comes to that— before you even purchase the mattress— it’s best you know all the details of the company’s return policy.
For a start, you should know how to initiate a return with the company. You may have to make a phone call or send off an email, or perhaps all you have to do is hold a live chat with a customer representative.
Check if there’s a wait period before you can make a return, or if the return period is shorter than your sleep trial period. Some will require you to wait as many as 60 days before you can return your bed.
Some brands will only allow you to exchange it for another mattress instead of issuing a full money-back refund. You may also not be refunded the difference if you exchange your mattress for a less expensive bed.
Look for any hidden return fees. Do you have to pay to ship it back? Will there be a restocking fee? Does your discount affect your refund? Reach out to customer service if you’re unsure about any additional fees you may responsible for.
Can You Trust Mattress Ratings and Reviews?
Before you commit to a mattress, it’s a good idea to read as many customer reviews as you can. Reviews should be displayed on the company website, and it’s a bad sign if you can’t find any.
Spare a moment to read lower star reviews to see why customers were unhappy. Were they dissatisfied with the mattress? Did it arrive in poor condition, or was it firmer than they expected? Did they have a bad customer service experience, or was their delivery delayed? You can see what the common complaints are, and you may even be able to filter reviews by terms relevant to you, such as “back pain” or “sleeping with a partner.”
When looking at a mattress’s rating, you might want to take a glance at the number of reviews averaged for the rating. A mattress with four and a half stars is more impressive if it’s averaged from 30,000 reviews than if it’s averaged from three.
And take it as a red flag if you have difficulty finding any lower rating reviews on the company website. It’s a sign the company is reluctant to take on criticism and customer feedback.
Don’t just look at the reviews on the company website but anywhere else they might be sold. Look for reviews on Amazon and Google Customer Reviews, and if you want to be really thorough check what comments are left on a company’s Facebook page.
A simple way to judge how much you can trust a mattress company is by how much information you can find on it. Companies should be open about where and how their mattresses are made, how long your sleep trial and warranty will last, what the return policy is, and any other information you could reasonably want to know.
To learn more about the company’s policy and practices, you can read the About and Frequently Asked Questions pages on the company website. And then reach out to customer service with any unanswered questions you have.
Any certifications a company claims to have, such as CertiPUR-US®, should be followed by the registered trademark symbol (®). You can also independently verify it with the certifier. CertiPUR-US®, for example, has a list of certified companies. Don’t be afraid to do a little bit of legwork and investigate company claims.
And take a look at the company’s profile on Better Business Bureau. It’s not always the best place for information, but it can give you more of an idea about how the company operates.
Making Mattress Shopping Easier
We’ve laid out the facts and figures behind mattresses to give you the confidence to find the most comfortable mattress for yourself. The best mattress is one that has you waking up feeling better than when you went to sleep. You should be refreshed and energized, ready to face a new day.
Our Recommendation: Zoma Mattress
Our Zoma Mattress was designed to provide athletes with the pain relief and muscle recovery their bodies would demand. Because of these high standards we strove to meet, the Zoma Mattress is suitable for nearly anyone, regardless of lifestyle or athletic ability. We aim to help you achieve big by giving you a full and restful night of sleep every night.
While Zoma is relatively new on the mattress scene, it was designed by a team that has more than 25 years of experience in the mattress industry. The Zoma Mattress is the result of drawing upon that experience and supplanting it with extensive research.
What sets Zoma apart from other mattresses is the unique materials we use in our mattress’s three layers of foam, bringing it to a total height of 11 inches. These materials work together to promote faster muscle recovery and deeper sleep to help you reach your peak performance.
The first layer is 2 inches of conforming and cooling gel-infused memory foam. It molds to your body for optimal pain and pressure relief as you sleep, while the gels keep you cool and prevent unneeded heat from disturbing your sleep. The first layer also contains Triangulex™, which provides additional relief to pressure-point sensitive areas. The midsection of the first layer is solid for support but breaks away into segmented triangles in the shoulder and leg area for extra comfort.
The second layer is 2 inches of our responsive and bouncy Reactiv™ foam. Made from poly-foam, Reactiv™ is latex-like and works to provide more support and transition between layers.
The third and last layer is the foundation of our mattress, 7 inches of Support+ foam. The Support+ foam is what gives the bed its structure and durability.
The mattress cover is made mostly of polyester, with a little bit of elastane thrown in to give it some stretch. This provides better breathability and helps keep you cool at night.
The Zoma Mattress retails at $750 for a queen size mattress and comes with a risk-free 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty. Our warranty covers sagging that exceeds ¾ of an inch, to ensure you’re not without the support you need for a good night’s sleep.
If you’re not satisfied with your Zoma Mattress during your sleep trial, we will work with one of our local partners to pick up your bed for a full refund. No need to fret about hanging onto the box or sending it back.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should you rotate your mattress?
Mattresses can be rotated between once every three months to once a year. The company you purchase from may have a given recommendation for how often you should rotate your mattress, so be sure to check first. Rotation is to even out wear, so you may need to rotate more frequently if you’re not confident in your bed’s construction.
If your mattress is two-sided, you can also flip it to extend wear. But many mattresses made today are one-sided and not meant to be flipped, such as a memory foam bed. Flipping these mattresses may even void the warranty. Always check first if your mattress is flippable.
And if you have chronic pain or back issues, don’t be afraid to ask for help in rotating or flipping your mattress. It can be a job requiring two people, especially if you have a bigger, heavier bed.
Did We Help You Find Your Next Bed?
We know this guide has been quite the read, but we felt it necessary to leave you as informed as possible on how to find your perfect bed. “Best” can be a subjective term, so you should look for what works best for you when it comes to your sleep needs, preferences, and budget.
Never be afraid to ask questions as you shop, and do your research. A good mattress should last you 10 years or more, so don’t be afraid to invest a little bit of time now to get the most you can out of one.
Don’t give in to pressure and buy a mattress you’re less than confident in. There will always be mattresses on sale. If needed, take a night to think any decisions over before you buy.
If you want more information on finding a mattress to meet a certain need, such as finding a bed for a side sleeper or someone with chronic back pain, be sure to check out our other guides. And if you have any questions or comments for us, leave them in our comment section below.