How much thought did you put into your last mattress purchase? Most people spend a third of each day on a mattress and two hours or less in a car, yet comfort tends to be a greater factor when people buy a car than when they choose a mattress. Mattresses today offer a variety of support types and well as support levels, both of which can have a profound impact of the quality of your sleep. Pronto’s Mattress Buying Guide will take you inside the mattress so you can choose the one that’s best for your back and your budget.
Mattresses come in four standard sizes: twin, full, queen and king. Couples should choose a queen- or king-sized mattress for the greatest freedom of movement. If you’re tall, choose a California king-sized mattress or look for a mattress with extra length.
Look for innerspring coil mattresses with 680 or more standard-sized coils; large coil mattresses should feature a minimum of 400 coils. Individuals with arthritis or joint sensitivity may benefit from memory-foam mattresses that mold to the body’s shape. If you and your partner have different sleep needs, consider an adjustable air mattress for customized support on each side.
Choose a mattress that’s thick enough to offer the support you need, but not so thick it overpowers your bed or makes getting into and out of bed difficult. For innerspring mattresses, find out how much of the thickness is coil (thicker coils deliver better support) and how much is foam (thick foam looks comfortable, but may not be).
Good mattresses will hold your spine in the same position as when you’re standing up. A mattress that’s not firm enough allows your hips and spine to sag, which can cause stiffness. Extra-firm mattresses may have thicker wire in their coils, which makes them more durable.
Unless you have a platform bed, you’ll need to purchase a box spring to help distribute the weight of the mattress and your sleeping body and prevent sagging over time.
A foundation that distributes the weight of an innerspring mattress and prevents sagging.
The number of innerspring coils located inside a mattress. The standard coil count in a full-sized bed is 312.
A material used in mattress construction that responds to heat and pressure, conforming itself to the shape of your body. Once you get off the mattress, the foam reverts to its normal shape.
A mattress with a big pillow-like surface that is filled with soft material for extra comfort.
A measurement of the thickness of the metal wire used in innerspring mattress coils. Thicker-gauge wire provides firmer support and lasts longer than thinner wire.
Standard mattress sizes match up with the common bed sizes of twin, full, queen and king. Twin mattresses are the smallest at 38” x 75”, and they are fine for one person. Full-size mattresses offer a little more width at 53” x 75”, which will accommodate two people who don’t mind being close once in a while.
Couples should invest in a queen-sized (60” x 80”) or a king-sized mattress (76” x 80”) that offers additional width and length. If you are especially tall, choose a California king-sized mattress (72” x 84”) or look for specially designed mattresses that have longer lengths.
Traditional coil mattresses are a standard choice for many buyers and are the most readily available type of mattress. These mattresses generally have a box-spring foundation with an innerspring mattress on top. When buying a coil mattress, consider the density of its coils. The more coils a mattress has, the smaller and the more flexible they are, which helps the mattress adjust to your body and provide good support.
Generally you’ll want to look for 680 coils or more for a mattress. Heavier people should look for a mattress with larger coils that distribute weight more evenly; larger coiled mattresses generally have around 400 coils per mattress. Avoid “never-flip” mattresses: These mattresses only have foam padding on one side and when the padding wears out or tears, you’ll need to buy a new mattress.
Latex memory foam mattresses react to heat and pressure, which lets them mold to the shape of your body. Before investing in one of these mattresses, it helps to understand how you sleep. While memory foam creates a supportive cocoon, it also limits your ability to move once you’ve sunk in, which is a disadvantage for those who toss and turn in their sleep. However, people with joint sensitivity, arthritis and other conditions may benefit from the extra support and reduced mobility. Avoid latex if you’re sleeping in a very hot room, as these mattresses don’t absorb perspiration and don’t breathe as well as other mattresses.
Air mattresses have a series of inflatable air chambers that provide support. Some larger air mattresses offer dual chambers that allow each side of the bed to be adjusted to different levels of firmness. An air mattress with dual chambers might be a good choice for couples, as each person can adjust their side to their individual preference. Air mattresses with smaller chambers provide more flexibility than those with large chambers.
If you suffer from allergies, look for hypoallergenic mattresses and mattress covers that defend against dust mites, mold, and other allergens. Otherwise, don’t spend more for mattress ticking; you’ll be covering it with sheets at home.
The thickness of a mattress is commonly referred to as its depth. Many mattresses use extra foam to increase comfort and depth, particularly firmer mattresses. Pillow-top mattresses have a layer of cushioning that makes less flexible coils more comfortable without sacrificing support. These mattresses are often stuffed with foam, feathers and other soft materials.
There’s no right thickness for a mattress, although there are plenty of wrong thicknesses. A mattress that’s too thick will tower over your bed, possibly hiding the headboard and making it tough to get your feet on the floor in the morning. Check the pocket depth of the fitted sheets you already own, so you don’t mistakenly purchase a mattress that requires you to replace all of your existing bed linens.
When you’re thinking about the thickness of an innerspring mattress, find out how much of the thickness is coils and how much is foam. Thicker, stronger coils will provide better support; thick foam looks comfy, but probably won’t help you sleep better.
The firmness of your mattress is largely a matter of personal preference, but in general a good mattress will keep your spine in the same position as it would be if you were standing up straight. A mattress with too much give allows your spine or hips sink while you sleep, which can leave you feeling stiff and uncomfortable in the morning.
Most mattresses come in the following levels of firmness: extra firm, traditional firm, cushiony firm, plush and extra plush. These names tell you little about the support a mattress provides, but they can tell you a bit about construction. A firmer mattress tends to have coils made with thicker-gauge wire, which is more durable over time.
Unless you’re buying a new bed, you’ll want to make sure that your existing bed frame can support your new mattress. For larger beds, you want to make sure to have a center support leg or beam to keep the frame and mattress from sagging over time.
The box spring is the foundation for an innerspring mattress. Box springs help to distribute the weight of a mattress and people sleeping on it, which keeps the mattress from developing sags. If you have a platform bed, a box spring is optional, as the bed itself will support the mattress.