If you sleep for eight hours a day and live to be 80 years old, you will have spent approximately 9,733 days snoozing. Assuming that most of this time is spent in bed, it makes sense that you should put some thought and effort into buying a mattress.
Consumer Reports says that you should replace your mattress every 10 years or sooner if it hasn’t been cared for properly. Since you’ll have to repeat this task several times throughout your life, wouldn’t it be nice to know the formula for finding what works for you? When you consider the qualities that you should look for in a mattress, the decision is ultimately very personal. Therefore, understanding your specific needs will help you pinpoint what to look for in a mattress.
Understanding the Level of Firmness You Need
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 93 percent of Americans believe that a comfortable mattress is one of the major keys to a good night’s sleep. In a survey, more people said that a mattress was essential to getting good shuteye than a comfortable pillow or feel-good sheets and blankets.
But your preference for a specific firmness might be very different from someone else’s. It helps to understand what firmness and support mean when it comes to a mattress.
For example, Huffington Post says that a pillow top doesn’t necessarily provide a softer surface than a mattress without one. It’s just a marketing ploy to distinguish certain brands and mattresses from others.
Firmness is highly subjective, but most people get a good sense of how firm or soft a mattress is when they first lie on it. If the mattress responds by pushing back with a stiff surface, it’s firm. If it hugs your body with a balanced amount of push back, it probably has a medium level of firmness. If you feel like you’re surrounded by a cloud as you sink into the mattress, it’s most likely soft.
Find a Mattress That Suits Your Sleeping Style
Your weight and sleeping style can influence the type of mattress that’s most comfortable for you. According to a nationwide survey, about 74 percent of people sleep on their sides.
Good Housekeeping explains that side sleepers usually need a mattress that allows their body contours to sink in. The mattress should be soft enough to allow pressure to disperse at the heaviest points, such as the hips and shoulders.
The 16 percent of people who sleep on their stomach might prefer a firm mattress. Otherwise, their abdomens might sag into the surface, creating an uncomfortable curve in the spine. Plus, a soft mattress that envelops you while you sleep on your stomach might feel smothering.
Only 10 percent of people sleep on their back. A medium mattress should keep back sleepers’ spines in proper alignment.
Pick Your Material
The material that a mattress is made from can affect everything from how supported you feel to your body temperature. A foundation with metal springs tends to be bouncy but supportive.
A pocketed innerspring system uses individual coils. Only the springs that are underneath your body will compress. Therefore, these tend to minimize motion across the mattress and are ideal for people who sleep with a partner.
Memory foam mattresses have less bounce. It feels like you sink into the top layers, but the foam supports you well as it compresses. These mattresses come in different levels of firmness. However, the sleeping surface has a distinct ability to hug your body that some people don’t like.
Latex mattresses are similar to memory foam in that they don’t contain springs. The inner layer is usually made from support foam, while the layers closer to the surface are made of latex. Latex mattresses have more bounce and a faster response time. They don’t contour to your body as exactly as memory phone does. If you like the qualities of memory foam but feel too enclosed by that type of mattress, you might prefer latex.
The material can also determine how much the mattress jiggles when you or your partner moves. Consumer Reports says that an average person tosses or turns up to 60 times per night. If you wake up every time your partner shifts, you might want to look into a mattress with pocket coils or separate air chambers. Latex and memory foam mattresses are also good choices for motion isolation.
If you have allergies, you should know that dust mites don’t accumulate on memory foam as easily as they do on innerspring coils, according to Fighting Dustmites. However, you can encase any mattress in an allergen-resistant cover.
One of the downfalls of foam mattresses is that they retain body heat. Many are constructed with designs that maximize airflow, but you may feel warmer when your body is hugged by the material. People who sleep hot might prefer an innerspring mattress with a fiberfill top. You can also try getting a mattress topper that can be taken off and washed.
There isn’t a universal mattress preference and lying on a mattress in a showroom may not be enough to help you decide what’s best for you. Look for a mattress brand with a lengthy return policy so that you have time to test it out in a real-life setting before you decide to keep the investment.