What’s the best mattress? Should I get innerspring, foam, latex, gel? Should I get softer or firmer? What’s the deal with hybrid beds?
Buying a mattress is not easy. Hopefully these pointers can help out.
#1 – Alignment
How the mattress supports you is the single most important aspect of picking out a new bed. Bring a shopping partner to validate which bed you are best supported on. If you look like you are in a hammock, the mattress is not supportive enough for you. If your body is forming an arch, the mattress is too hard for you. Alignment should be checked while you are trying mattresses on your back as well as your side.
#2 – Comfort
Typically there are only a handful of mattresses that provide the ideal alignment for you. Once you have discovered some, try them each out for at least 15 minutes in as many positions you can. While on your back you should feel a gentle pressure in the small of your back. While on your side you should feel an absence of pressure against your hips and shoulders. If you sleep near the edge of the bed at home, try them in the store that way. Make sure you feel supported by the edge of the bed. If you sleep close together at home, try each bed that way as well. You want to pick a mattress that doesn’t sink in the center when you are both there.
#3 – Temperature
Ok, this is also part of the comfort category. However, it is important enough to highlight separately. If you are cold or hot you will not sleep very well. Many mattresses are build to be temperature regulating. Foam mattresses, no matter the claim, sleep warmer than innerspring mattresses. An independent study has proven this, but years of experience hearing customers complain of getting too hot in foam mattresses, including gel memory foam and the latest “phase changing” materials, has validated innersprings are the only modern mattress than can sleep temperature neutral. Outlast is a coating used on fabrics that is an excellent temperature regulator, as well as natural wool. Yes, wool. Wool is a hygroscopic insulator – giving the added benefit of not feeling wet while actually wet. Therefore, if you do sweat no matter how well the temperature regulating properties of the mattress, wool will not feel wet – which is an added bonus in helping you sleep better. Like being too hot or too cold, feeling wet definitely prevents people from sleeping well.
#4 – Surface Tactility
Don’t be afraid of the technical verbiage here. Some people are sensitive to the surface feel of a mattress. Typically people with fibromyalgia have lots of comfort issues with a tufted mattress. Smooth top mattresses, like many memory foam or latex mattress have, are an excellent choice for people sensitive to the bumps at the surface of the bed. Hybrid models are the best choice because you get the benefit of not having tufts, but also the temperature regulating benefits of an innerspring mattress.
#5 – Durability
Once you have found the best mattress for your alignment and comfort, you should buy it unless there is a mattress that is as good or better for alignment and comfort that is built with better components. Mattresses are not cheap, so saving a few bucks now is something you’ll surely regret later. Against what many national brands and retailers are promoting, mattresses can last much longer than 5-10 years. Low density polyurethane foam is something everyone should stay away from. It compresses 80% over 10 years. If you have two inches of it, you’ll have a body impression over 1 1/2″ deep over 10 years. Higher density polyurethane is much better for not compressing over time, but is softens up dramatically within the first few months. All major foam mattress brands use polyurethane under the well advertised memory foam and will soften up to 50% over the first couple of years. Latex foam, high density memory foams, and synthetics like Omalon foam are superior to polyurethane and should be your top choices in the comfort layers any mattress contains if you want your mattress to last. The higher the coil count in an innerspring mattress the longer it will last. If the mattress set is made with a traditional box spring, it will last even longer because the flexible box spring works as a shock absorber taking on some of the work of supporting one to two people every night. A flippable mattress will also increase the life of the mattress. If you can flip and rotate the mattress, you are wearing the entire surface of the mattress evenly over time. If you don’t flip and/or rotate, you will wear only the spots you sleep at night and leave lots of areas of the mattress unused and therefore not broken in or worn over time.