Please note, Our Sleep Guide is proudly supported by our readers. The product links you’ll find on Our Sleep Guide are referrals and if you purchase an item we do make a small compensation. Please see our disclosure page for full details.
3 Easy Steps to Finding Your New Mattress
Is it time for a new mattress?
Is your mattress no longer comfortable? Are you waking up with a sore back or shoulder? Is your bed sagging to the point that you are rolling into the center? These are a few indicators that it may be time for a new mattress.
There are a lot of numbers that are thrown around when determining how frequently you should replace your mattress. However, I don’t believe that there is one magic number that applies when it is time to get a new mattress. The only determining factor is YOU and YOUR COMFORT. And that is why our mattress guide is here to help you.
How to choose your next mattress:
Today there are a plethora of options out there for you. You no longer even need to go to a mattress store; it can be as easy as clicking a button and having a mattress delivered right to your door. However, choosing which one will be best for you may be a little trickier if you don’t know what you need to look for. That is why our sleep guide is here to help you on your journey to a great night’s sleep.
Below our mattress guide goes through the steps that will help you narrow down your options so that finding what will work for you will be as easy as 1 – 2 – 3!
#1 – PRICE: What is the budget you are working with?
Having an idea of how much you can spend on a mattress will help narrow down your options with little or no research needed at all. This is why I like to start with budget, because that is typically set before you even begin your search. The only thing I like to stress when it comes to budget is the word value.
Value is key because you want to make sure that what you are spending your money on is the best quality, durability and feel for you in your price range. You will find several mattresses that are in your price range, but knowing among those what is going to get you the best bang for your buck is another story. And that is why there are a few more steps in our mattress guide to help you figure out what mattress is best for you.
- What Size Do You Need?
At this point you will also want to figure out what size mattress you will be getting, if you don’t already know. This will affect your budget, because the size will vary the pricing from mattress to mattress. Below is a chart with the exact measurements of each mattress size to give you a better idea of the space you will need to accommodate each one.
- Step 1 in a nutshell: Figure out what your budget is and focus on finding the best valued mattress in your price range. Also, make sure you have figured out what size you will be purchasing too so you can work that into your budget equation.
#2 – FEEL: What is your comfort and sleeping preferences?
The next step in determining what mattress will be best for you is to identify your preferred comfort and firmness level. This also applies to your partner if you share your bed. To help determine this you want to look at a few key factors that will play a part in finding what’s just right. They are what positions you sleep in and how firm or soft you prefer your mattress to be. These two things combine will indicate what FEEL will be best for you.
What position do you sleep in?
Depending on what position you find yourself sleeping in most often can help you determine the proper support and firmness your mattress should be.
- Sleeping on your Stomach
Stomach sleepers will benefit from a medium-firm to firm mattress. When sleeping on your stomach you need to make sure you have a more solid surface to prevent your back from bowing. If a mattress is too soft and you sleep on your stomach you may have lower back pain and just be less comfortable for an extended period of time.
- Sleeping on your Side
Side sleepers will typically prefer a mattress that is more on the soft to medium side. You will still want a solid support system to keep your spine aligned and supported. However, having a softer top will allow for your hip and shoulder to sink in to be more comfortable.
- Sleeping on your Back
Back sleepers tend to be able to have more range for what’s comfortable to them. Any feel, soft to firm, is fine for a back sleeper. It is more or less preference as well as proper support that is important for back sleepers.
- Sleeping in All Positions
If you change between sleeping on your back, stomach and side you will probably do best with a medium to medium-firm mattress. Regardless of what position you are in you want to make sure that your mattress has proper support and enough cushion on the top to contour to your body, but not so much that you aren’t able to easy move. If you change positions frequently you may benefit from a mattress that has a more responsive feel. Something that incorporates latex or a latex like feel will help you move easier and not feel stuck.
How firm or soft do you like your mattress?
Even though sleeping positions can play a part in determining the firmness or softness of your mattress your personal preference also needs to be accounted for. Just because there is a typical rule of thumb when choosing firmness that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to follow it. Taking into account what type of feel you prefer, as well as the guaranteed fact that a mattress will only get softer over time, may make a difference when figuring the ideal level of firmness you will like.
A softer mattress will be more hugging and pliable, creating the feeling of being “in” the bed. Softer mattresses will use softer foams on the top layers but should still have a solid core and base from proper spine alignment and support. A soft mattress will allow you to sink into the mattress further and will be more ideal for side sleepers and back sleepers that like to feel more cocooned. A soft mattress would not be recommended for stomach sleepers, because it will not provide the proper support for your back. On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest, a soft mattress should fall around a 3.
A medium mattress sounds like the “baby bear preference” of mattresses, not too soft and not too firm. It should be something that will allow you to be “in” the bed enough to feel a bit of sink and hug, but not so much that you feel engulfed. Medium mattresses should again have a solid foundation but be just plush enough to minimally mold to around your body. A medium mattress would be good for side and back sleepers as well as sleepers who are infrequently on their stomach. On a scale of 1 to 10, a medium mattress will fall around a 5.
A medium-firm mattress is probably the most popular feel of mattresses out there. A medium-firm feel is going to be a little firmer than medium, but not too firm. This feel is going to be preferred over others mostly because it should be comfortable for all sleeping positions and multiple sized people. Medium-firm mattresses will still have plush top layers that will provide you with plenty of support and a minor amount of give. It should be just soft enough to feel enjoyable in all sleeping positions and allow you to move easily. On a scale of 1 to 10, a medium-firm mattress will fall around a 6.5.
A firm mattress is going to be for someone who doesn’t want to sink into the mattress at all, this is for someone who likes to feel “on” the mattress. This type of mattress is for someone who likes very solid support and little to no give in the top comfort layers. A firm mattress will have a surface with minimal to no sink and will not contour to you body very much. This mattress feel is great for predominant stomach sleepers because of it’s ample support, however, it may be less ideal for side sleepers since it doesn’t let your shoulders or hip sink in. On a scale of 1 to 10, a firm mattress will fall around an 8.
*Who is sleeping on the mattress?
One thing to also note when considering feel is who will be sleeping on your new mattress? This is going to make a big difference with how much wear the mattress will be getting and correlate with how long it will comfortably last. Let’s take a logical look at this one with an example.
*Brand A is popular mattress that many people purchase. One customer of Brand A is Barb. She is a 120lb woman who sleeps solo on her queen mattress 3-4 nights a week, due to traveling for her job. She prefers sleeping on her back and likes a medium to medium firm mattress.
Another customer is Roger and Sandy who sleep every night in their bed. Roger is 220lbs and sleeps on his back and likes a medium feel. Sandy is 165lbs and sleeps on her side and likes a soft to medium soft feel.
Brand A may initially feel great to both of these customers, however, Barb, who puts less wear on her mattress will get more life and longevity out of the mattress than Roger and Sandy. This is just due to the simple fact that less weight is continuously being put on this mattress.
- Step 2 in a nutshell: Figure out what your ideal sleeping position(s) and preference of feel are going to be to pinpoint your desired comfort needs in a mattress and narrow your search down that much more.
#3 – MATERIALS: What materials and type of mattress do you want?
When looking for a new mattress you are going to have several options when it comes to the type and materials each mattress is made of. In the third step of our mattress guide we will go through both of these topics and help you figure out what types of mattresses are available, as well as the components that they consist of.
What type will be best for you?
The first question to ask when it comes to your mattress materials is what style is best for you? The most common types to choose from are All Foam Mattresses, Hybrid Mattresses and Innerspring Mattresses. All will have pros and cons and determining which one is best for you will help you get that much closer to finding your perfect mattress. Below we go through the basics of each of these styles, as well as a few pros and cons that each have.
- All Foam Mattress Basics:
An all foam mattress is several varying layers of foams laminated together to create a solid piece of foam that makes up your mattress. All foam mattresses use any combination of Latex foam, memory foam and poly foam. Typically the bottom half of the mattress will be a denser base foam that will create the foundation and core of the mattress. This denser foam will have softer and higher end foams layered over it to create specific feels and qualities that will appeal to sleepers.
Pros: Minimal motion transfer, highlights the specific feel of the comfort foams used & lighter in weight for moving.
Cons: May hold more heat, may have minimal edge support & may be less durable.
- Innerspring Mattress Basics:
Coil, or Innerspring mattresses, have a foundation or core that consists of a coil system. Foams and pillow tops are then used over the coil system to create comfort layers. A coil system is usually made of varying gauges of steel and create a very durable and solid support system. This mattress has a more traditional feel and allows for a springier feel that helps dissipate heat. The focus of these mattresses are the coil system and the support they provide. Sometimes memory foams and latex layers are added, but typically in very minimal amounts.
Pros: Dissipates heat, typically better edge support & typically more durable.
Cons: May have more motion transfer & compressing into a box may compromise the integrity, doesn’t provide the specific feel that foam mattresses do.
- Hybrid Mattress Basics:
Hybrid mattresses are in a sense the best of both worlds. A hybrid mattress is going to take the benefits of foam mattresses and coil mattresses by using varying combinations of high end foams with a coil systems. The coil system in a hybrid mattress can be minimal or more substantial depending on how much support you want from coils. They then have layers of various foams added above and/or below the coil system to create a happy medium and specific feel. Hybrids are nice options for people who want to try memory foam and latex mattresses and get a true feel of the foams but don’t want to commit to having an all foam mattress.
Pros: Better heat dissipation, still have the feel of specific foams, possibly more durable depending on the specific materials used & good compromise between coil and all foam options.
Cons: Potentially some motion transfer, but minimal & potential of compromising the integrity of certain materials when compressed.
What materials will be best for you?
Now that you have a better idea of the different types of mattresses taking a closer look at the specific materials can help you figure out the last step in our mattress guide. Certain materials have advantages and disadvantages that are going to vary the feel, firmness and quality of each bed. This can translate into how your body will respond as well as the life span you can expect from that mattress.
Naturally using higher end materials are going to outlast less expensive, lower quality materials; however there is a higher price tag associated usually. There are also specific comfort qualities that different materials will have, some being more appealing to you than others. Below are a few basics on what to expect from materials typically used in mattresses. This can help you determine what materials you may prefer and help in narrowing down your search for your new mattress.
Latex, Memory Foam and Poly Foams are the three kinds of foam that you will find in all mattresses. We will go through some specifics on these foams and what to expect for feel, durability and their manufacturing process.
- Latex Foam
Latex Foam Feel: A naturally springy and responsive material that is also breathable and aerated to keep you cool while you sleep. This foam will be the most durable of the foams and should relieve pressure points, reduce over heating and be comfortable, yet easy to move on. Because of the quality and durability of latex there will be a higher price typically associated with this material.
Latex Foam Manufacturing: Natural latex is made from the sap of the rubber tree and is processed in two ways to create either Dunlop latex or Talalay latex. Dunlop latex is typically more dense and durable while Talalay will be more consistent and a little lighter. Both of these types of latex and be adjusted to be firmer or softer depending on the manufacturing process. Both types of latex will outlast memory foam and poly foam.
There is also synthetic latex. That is made of the sap of the rubber trees but has added fillers that dilute the sap to cut down on the cost. This affects the quality and durability of the finished product as well as increases the carcinogenic factor. *Note: Depending on the ratio of tree sap to fillers latex manufacturers can still call synthetic latex “natural” depending on the percentages.
- Memory Foam
Memory Foam Feel: This is a conforming, hugging foam that has a very slow response time and warms with your body heat. This foam is the next most durable and can vary in density and quality. Memory foam will also help relieve pressure points and help distribute your weight evenly and contour to your body. In many instances it will have cooling properties added to off set the heat retention. Memory foam will typically be less expensive than latex but usually more expensive than poly foams, much of the price has to do with the quality too.
Memory Foam Manufacturing: Memory foam is a visco-elastic polyurethane foam that has specific properties that are more sensitive to pressure and temperature. This foam is associated with a conforming, hugging feel that molds to your shape with the help of the warmth of your body temperature. It also has a slower reaction time and is known to hold heat. Not all memory foams are created equal. The densities will vary anywhere from less than 1.5lbs/ft cubed to 8lbs/ft cubed. This will make a huge difference in quality weight and firmness.
- Polyurethane(Poly) Foam
Poly Foam Feel: Poly foam is a broad term that covers many foams that vary in quality, feel and materials. Many poly foams will try to duplicate the feel or benefits of latex and memory foam, but with less expensive materials. This foam is the least durable of the foams used in mattresses and will also usually be the least expensive.
Polyurethane Foam Manufacturing: Poly foam is a manmade foam that uses various petrochemicals to create foam. All poly foams will be less expensive and have less quality than latex and memory foam. These foams differ widely based on the combination of chemicals, quality and process by which they’re made. The higher the density the more durable poly foam will be. However, poly foam still breaks down over time.
Coil on Coil, Pocketed Coils, Micro Coils & Zoned Coils are the most common coil sets you will find in mattresses today. Below are some specifics on these coil systems and what to look for when searching for a mattress.
- Coil on Coil System:
A coil on coil system is comprised of two coil systems that are layered on top of one another to provide the support, durability and benefits of both coils sets. Typically a thicker, more substantial coil system is below a lighter more springy coil system to provide a layer of dense core support with an added layer of flexible support. In many instances either one or both coil sets are pocketed, or wrapped, to reduce motion transfer.
- Pocketed Coil System:
A pocketed coil system is a coil system in which each of the coils is individually wrapped in material to help reduce the motion transfer. A pocketed coil system can vary is size and coil count but will always be considered pocketed if each coil is surrounded by fabric. Sometimes this coil set is also referred to as wrapped.
- Micro Coil System:
A micro coil system is a coil system that is made of miniature coils. These coils are typically shorter and have a thinner gauge steel and take more to create the necessary support than a standard coil system. These coils allow for flexible support with added heat dissipation and responsiveness. These coils can be used in hybrid mattresses alone to add to the support or they can be added to a more substantial coil system to make a coil on coil system. Micro coils add support without adding a lot of bulk or weight and can be more pliable when compressing a mattress to fit into a box.
- Zoned Coil System:
Zoned coil systems refer to coil systems that have designated zones use thicker or thinner gauge steel or more or less coils depending on the specific support needed in that area or zone. Typically the area under the lumbar and back will have denser, heavier coils that provide more support due to the bulk of the weight resting on that zone. The areas under the feet and head will have slightly less substantial coils since less weight and pressure will be resting on it. This helps create ideal comfort and durability.
Mattress Coil Count & Guage:
When looking at a mattress that has a coil system there are a few basics to understand when determining the quality of this type of core. The coil count is one. This is the number of total coils in the mattress and typically the more coils the better stability and durability the mattress will have. However, sometimes this is NOT the case and knowing the gauge of the coil will coincide with the coil count.
The coil gauge is referring to the actual thickness of the coil and this can affect the quality as well. Coil gauges are rated with the lower the number being a thicker coil and a higher number being thinner. Thus a 12 gauge coil will be thicker than a 17 gauge coil. Sometimes a heavier gauge coil system with less coils will be more durable than a thinner gauge coil system with more coils. Let’s take a look at an example of how coil count and gauge work hand in hand.
*Peter is looking for a new queen innerspring mattress. He is torn between Brand A and Brand B and he is trying to figure out which one has a heavier duty coil system. Brand A has 800 coils that are made with 16 gauge steel. Brand B has 650 coils made with a 13.5 gauge steel. Initially he sees the numbers of Brand A and thinks that has to be the better coil system since there are more coils. However, the gauge of the coils in Brand B are substantially heavier and thicker. And even though there are 150 less, they actually create a stronger core.
- Step 3 in a nutshell: Finding out more about the mattress styles and materials will give you the necessary insight to choose what mattresses will be best for you and be the last step in what to focus on when finding your new mattress.
Now you know & knowing is half the battle:
Now that you have had a chance to read our mattress guide you should know the three things to look for when buying a new mattress (1. Price 2. Feel & 3. Materials). Next it’s time to start looking at the mattresses and the easiest way for that is going to our Mattress Reviews. All of our thorough reviews are listed on one easy to read table with each mattress clearly labeled with price, feel and materials, as well as our overall rating. You can then find which ones fit your needs and read the full reviews to determine your new mattress. Also, for a quick side by side comparison check out our Comparison Tool for a simple mini review. This should make for an easy journey on finding your new mattress.
Also, if you have any questions on your way to finding a new mattress please feel free to contact us.
Justin & Crystal
DISCOVER EVEN MORE HELPFUL SLEEP TIPS AND STRATEGIES
GET ACCESS TO OUR FREE FACEBOOK GROUP NOW AND JOIN THE CONVERSATION