Because lack of comfort can make sleeping difficult, buying the right mattress for your bed is serious business. Not getting enough restful sleep can contribute to pain and other health problems.  

Although there isn't a lot of research proving that one type of mattress is better than another, the mattress you choose may help alleviate back pain and contribute to improving your overall health. Therefore, it helps to know what to look for in a mattress.    

Buy the right size mattress.

Consider your personal preferences and needs when shopping for a new mattress. You need a mattress big enough to allow you adequate space to move around. Otherwise, you will wake up with achy muscles that continued to work all night as you tried to find a comfortable position.

If you are buying a mattress to sleep a couple, keep in mind that a full-size mattress is only 15 inches wider that a twin size, whereas a queen size mattress gives you 6 inches more in width and 5 inches more in length than a full-size mattress. For sprawlers who like lots of space in bed, a king-size mattress measures 76 inches wide – approximately the width of two twin beds pushed together – and about 80 inches long.

Ask questions about the interior construction of a mattress.

Before purchasing a new mattress, there are several factors to consider about the mattress construction.

  • Number of spring coils

  • Thickness of the wire in the coils – thicker, stiffer wire means a firmer mattress

  • Padding – more padding on top of the mattress usually costs you more, but it provides more comfort

  • Insulation mattress padding – a layer placed on top of the spring coils to keep you from feeling them

Foam mattresses are made either from one or multiple types of foam in different shapes and densities, both factors which affect how much support a mattress provides. The type of foam also affects how soft and durable a mattress will be. Keep in mind that low-density foam mattresses offer less support and are less durable besides.

If you are looking for a mattress that offers more support and a better fit for the contour of your body, an innerspring mattress with a greater number of coils offers more points of support. However, the number of spring coils alone doesn't guarantee better support. The gauge, or thickness, of the coils matters too. If you still aren't sure what type of mattress will offer you the most comfort, a hybrid mattress gives you spring coils and a foam surface both.

Consider a pillow top mattress if you are a larger person looking to relieve pressure points and pain. The extra layer of cushioning between you and the underlying mattress coils may help you feel more comfortable. But if you sleep on your stomach, you can sink too far into the mattress, which interferes with proper neck and shoulder alignment; therefore, you may prefer a firmer mattress.

Making the Right Choice

With all the choices available, shopping for a new mattress can be confusing. But a retailer (such as The Mattress Store) who gives you accurate information about the materials inside a mattress can help you make the right choice. A key point to keep in mind before buying is that in addition to the personal comfort factors you are looking for, a healthy mattress is one with a design that will keep your spine in the same natural alignment as when you are standing.