How To Choose The Right Mattress: 6 Simple Steps
Updated: Apr 29
Are you an unsatisfied sleeper looking for a new mattress?
If so, you’ve found the right place. The truth is, finding a new mattress that meets your need isn’t easy, and it requires some research to get it right.
Without a little legwork, it can be easy to accidentally buy a bed that meets none of your needs, leading to sleepless nights and major buyer’s regret.
But who has the time to do hours upon hours of research when buying a new mattress? Fortunately, that’s what we’re here for — we’ve done the work for you, so all you have to do is confidently select the bed that meets your specific needs.
Rest assured that when it comes to helping you find the mattress that’s right for you, we’ve left no stone unturned, and no step uncovered.
The question is: are you ready to give up countless nights of bad sleep for a permanently better sleeping experience? If the answer is “of course,” keep reading for our definitive guide on how to choose the perfect mattress in just six simple steps.
6 Simple steps to choose the perfect mattress
Step 1: Determine Why You Need A New Mattress
Let’s start with something easy: why are you in the mattress market right now?
Chances are you’re probably looking for a new mattress because you have a glaring problem with your current bed. Maybe you’ve had your mattress for over a decade, and it’s become too worn out to support you anymore.
Perhaps you bought an extremely firm bed that hurts your back in your sleep. Or you might be upgrading to a larger bed after moving in with a partner.
Whatever the reason for your decision to purchase a new mattress, use that decision as a bellwether in deciding what is most important for you as a sleeper.
If you really want a soft sleeping experience with form-fitting cushion beneath you, then you’ll want to pay special attention to our section about materials — specifically, memory foam mattresses — below.
However, if your main concern is how to get comfort as a side sleeper, our section on sleeping positions will be most important to you. Just remember that at the end of the day, you are the deciding factor when it comes to choosing the perfect bed for you.
Step 2: Settle On A Budget
Once you know why you’re in the market for a mattress, it’s time to start thinking about your budget.
This is always a smart consideration to begin with — and, fortunately, there are amazing mattress options out there that won’t break your bank account. Here are a few key considerations that will help you determine a budget that sounds right to you:
Don’t Skimp If You Can Afford It: Take this as your sign to avoid “budget beds” that sound too good to be true. The truth is, when it comes to mattresses, you get what you pay for — a $150 bargain buy mattress is not going to have all the bells and whistles that a $1500 mattress includes.
In fact, some budget mattresses actually end up costing you more in the end: medical fees for neck, back and hip pain do tend to run expensive, and medications and doctor visits for insomnia are not cheap, either. Combine that with the fact that these mattresses degrade quicker, and you might be buying a new cheap mattress each year if you’re not careful.
Don’t Marry A Single Brand: Hey, we get it. Those name brands do sound cool, and it’s fun to tell friends at dinner parties about the new as-seen-on-TV bed you just bought.
But the truth is, there are so many more options out there that are reasonably priced and extremely comfortable! In the end, you might even choose a name brand bed — but just be sure you’re choosing it because it’s what you really want.
Consider Buying Online: The bed-in-a-box revolution is here for a reason.
While there is the very real downside of being unable to try out a mattress ordered online, most beds ordered online offer trial periods, warranties and other features that allow you to sleep without worry until you know if you like what you’ve bought.
Step 3: Choose The Right Type And Material
When it comes to choosing the right bed for you, the type and material of your mattress may be one of the most important decisions you make. Let’s go through the advantages and disadvantages of some of the most well-known bed types and materials:
Memory Foam: The “king” of modern mattress materials, memory foam is an exceedingly popular option for bed buyers everywhere. Why? Simply put, memory foam is unrivaled when it comes to creating a comfortable sleeping experience that supports every inch of the body.
If you’ve ever laid on a memory foam mattress, you probably know what we mean. On top of its conforming properties, memory foam features incredible motion isolation, which is great if you share your bed with a partner.
Unfortunately, one of the lesser-known problems with memory foam beds is the fact that they retain heat. If you sweat in your sleep or find yourself warm often, a memory foam mattress might simply exacerbate the issue.
Latex: Not a fan of memory foam? Enter latex mattresses: a great option that offers superior cooling to memory foam.
Latex beds can be both natural and synthetic, with the former option being more environmentally friendly but also more expensive. Whether you choose one or the other, expect a cool sleeping experience, tight responsiveness and firmness, and significant “bounce” in your bed.
Spring Mattress: We know — spring mattresses are no longer the popular mainstay they once were — but certain aspects do make them a preferable option to other beds on the market.
For starters, did you know that spring mattresses are likely to keep you cooler at night than any other option? This is due to the amount of air between springs in an inner coil mattress. The improved air circulation means heat escapes much more easily, preventing you from overheating at night.
Other benefits of spring mattresses include strong and firm support as well as a “bounce” unrivaled by other beds. Lastly, and perhaps most important for budget-conscious bed buyers, spring mattresses will be the cheapest option on the market.
They are inexpensive due to reduced demand, and their design makes them hold shape and form longer than any other mattress type, meaning a spring mattress can last you for decades if you treat it right.
Other Options: Here’s your catch-all category for beds that don’t fall into any of the above categories. This includes hybrid beds, adjustable beds, pillow-top beds, and everyone’s favorite 1980s novelty mainstay: waterbeds.
We won’t go into too much detail on these lesser-known types of beds here, as most of them are for specific audiences and tastes, but we want to include them so that you know there are other options if the main material types just aren’t working for you.
Step 4: Consider Your Sleeping Position For Firmness
How can one bed be right for everyone when everyone sleeps differently?
Chances are you’re either a stomach sleeper, a side sleeper or a back sleeper — or some mix of all three. Once you take into account the way you like to sleep, it becomes easier to determine what type of firmness you need when choosing a mattress. Here’s the breakdown:
Side Sleepers: Think of how side sleepers lay and it’ll quickly become apparent why sleeping position has such a large impact on your ideal mattress firmness.
For side sleepers out there, your hips and shoulders dig into the mattress, meaning a soft, plush bed with a lot of “give” is a top priority. Deep pressure relief is best achieved with memory foam mattresses that sit around a 3-6 on the firmness scale (6.5 is the industry standard), so it’s worth considering picking up a contouring foam bed if you prefer sleeping on your side at night.
Stomach Sleepers: Everything you just read about side sleepers? Take that and do the opposite. We’re exaggerating, of course, but the truth is, if you sleep on your stomach, you will want a much firmer bed.
Because stomach sleepers rest in such a way that soft mattresses cause their hips to sink down below the spine and shoulders, causing spine unalignment.
That’s why stomach sleepers should probably choose a mattress that’s between 6.5-9.5 on the firmness scale — you will sleep better and with less pain this way.
Back Sleepers: If you’re a back sleeper, we have some bad news: you’re the picky one of the bunch.
If you have a firm mattress that’s rock hard, you’ll get bad tension all over, causing pain on your hips, shoulders, neck and back. If your mattress is too soft, however, your hips will sink and cause intense spine pain.
For these reasons, a mattress in the very middle of the firmness scale is best for you — somewhere between 4.5-7 ideally. Get this right and you can say goodbye to any comfortability you’re experiencing as a result of your sleeping position.
Combination Sleepers: Some of you out there are looking at this list and thinking… hang on a minute… I sleep in every position.
Back, stomach, side, you name it. If you’re the rare breed who changes their sleeping position from one night to the next, don’t worry: we’ve thought of you, too. If you’re a combination sleeper, you’re going to want a one-size-fits-all, jack-of-all-trades combination mattress that can do almost everything well.
That means medium firmness is a priority, as it’ll have the right balance between deep pressure relief and pressure point support. As far as materials go, a bed with more bounce is actually good, because you’ll be able to easily adjust your position without sinking too deep into your mattress. That means latex and hybrid material mattresses are probably a good option for you.
Step 5: Take Any Sleeping Partners Into Account
If you’re sleeping alongside someone each night, this is your reminder to consider their mattress wish-list, too. Sometimes this can be hard — one of you prefers memory foam, and another wants a latex bed.
Or maybe one of you is a side sleeper who would do well with a soft foam mattress, while the other is a stomach sleeper who wants a super-firm innerspring mattress. The trick here is to avoid getting frustrated at your inability to perfectly sync-up your mattress needs, because the truth is, if you do a little digging, there are some amazing mattress options that can meet both of your needs.
For instance, if one of you wants a firm sleeping experience while the other needs soft cushion, there are hybrid beds with inner coils that provide a firm base while cushioning soft sleepers with a layer of memory foam on top.
Or, if one of you overheats from memory foam mattresses while the other loves their contour and give, you can find a soft pillow-top mattress that provides the same plush and give of a foam mattress while keeping you both cool at night.
Again, the goal here is to land on a bed that meets both of your needs. Teamwork makes the dreams work, no?
Step 6: Look At Any Additional Features
There are loads of ways to add value to your mattress that don’t involve the mattress itself.
Adding an adjustable base beneath your bed, securing a great warranty, finding bed covers that prolong the life of your mattress, and choosing beds that offer trial periods and money-back guarantees are all ways to add value to your mattress.
What have we learned today? Simple: when it comes to finding the mattress of your dreams, a little research and digging goes a long way. Now that you’ve done your homework by consulting our all-in-one mattress buyer’s guide, we’re excited for you to confidently go out and choose the bed that’s right for you.