The age-old question and one that only one person in the universe can find the answer to – you!
No mattress salesperson can possibly know which mattress is the best for your needs. Ultimately, it’s your body that will make the final decision.
Which is why the 100 night trial being offered by a lot of mattress sellers is the best thing to happen to mattress shopping in hundreds of years. It is only once you’ve spent a few nights sleeping on a mattress that you will know if it really suits you. If it doesn’t, you’ll want to send it back so that you can try something else.
However, knowing which type of mattress might be better for the way that you sleep can cut down on some of the confusion before you even start shopping.
You might want to check out our article Types of mattresses first, to help you understand some of the types mentioned below.
If you sleep on your side – as a large group of the population does. You’ll need a very responsive style of mattress – one that allows your hips and shoulders to sink to a certain degree but one that also props up your legs and your waist area. The ideal here is to try to keep your spine in its natural alignment while you sleep so you don’t want your hips to sink too far (as if you were in a hammock).
A pocket spring mattress is the clear winner here. The individual springs allow for maximum conformity to your body. The springs under your hips will give quite a bit but still keep enough tension so that you don’t sink too far. Whereas the springs under your waist will stand strong, propping this area up slightly.
You are going to want a fair amount of comfort in the upper areas of the bed so that your shoulders and upper arms don’t get pins and needles in them. Avoid any mattress labelled as ‘Firm’ and try the softer offerings first.
If you sleep on your back – you are lucky in the sense that you will find comfort in more mattress styles than a side-sleeper. However, your backside still needs to sink slightly, just enough so that your hips are not higher than your upper legs so we still recommend that you avoid incredibly firm mattresses. A firmer level of support in the foundation of the mattress but with a good amount of comfort is what you’re probably looking for. You’ll find this in every mattress type from solid foam through to pocket spring.
If you sleep on your stomach – you’ll need a great amount of comfort in the upper layers of the bed and a less responsive foundation. Woman who sleep on their stomachs especially, may benefit from a solid foam mattress style, as long as it’s a softer style of foam mattress.
These are the types of mattresses to avoid if you know that you have the following issues.
IF YOU'RE CONCERNED ABOUT HEAT IN A MATTRESS – avoid a solid foam mattress at all costs. There is no getting around it – foam holds heat (which is why foam is used to insulate houses) so it stands to reason that the more foam in a mattress, the more heat that it will hold.
The foam industry’s attempt to counter this problem by infusing foams with cooling gel doesn’t hold up in my mind. Considering that the substance that is mixed with the foam is akin to the cooling gel that you get in ice packs, you have to wonder how that actually works? It certainly is a great marketing story. However, the cynic in me knows that the cooling gel costs less than the foam – so it lowers the cost of the finished product. The ‘Gel-Infused foam’ story is then used to convince the consumer to pay more for a mattress.
Instead of paying more for gel-infused foams, you are better off to avoid any mattress with too much foam. An innerspring mattress will be best for you. Look for a mattress with softer, more responsive springs. This way you will get some comfort in the spring unit without needing lots of comfort in the foams.
IF YOU'RE CONCERNED ABOUT PARTNER DISTURBANCE – avoid the old-fashioned spring unit styles such as Bonnell, Continuous coil or Offset coils (aka Posturpedic springs or LFK springs). These spring unit styles are robust and quite often sold as ‘commercial’ mattresses for hotel accommodation or for heavyweight people who might need more support than a pocket spring can give them.
The entire spring unit is tied together with rows of metal ‘helical coils’ (these are long corkscrew wires that twist through the top of each spring as they are inserted across the top of the entire spring unit). This means that the entire unit moves whenever weight is placed on one section of the mattress. So, if your partner turns over or sits on the side of the bed, you will feel the mattress wobble slightly.
The best style of mattress for avoiding partner disturbance is a solid foam mattress. You’ll get no movement at all here – as shown so famously by the wine glass video. In second place is a pocket spring style of mattress – where each spring is independent of each other so there is no lateral movement in the mattress when your partner rolls over.
IF YOU WANT A MORE 'RESPONSIVE' TYPE OF SUPPORT, without just sinking into the mattress – then a solid foam mattress probably won’t be right for you. Foams lack the ability to ‘prop you up’ like springs do.
If you imagine pushing a spring together, the more force you apply the spring, the more force it applies back.
A spring unit will tend to prop up the heaviest parts of your body so that you don’t sink too much, helping the spine to stay as close to it’s natural alignment as possible while you sleep. Foam doesn’t have the ability to do this, so manufacturers need to use a very firm foam as the foundational layer in a solid foam mattress. This can contribute to what sleepers describe as a ‘dead’ feel to the mattress.
Our recommendation here is our 'Just Perfect' mattress.
IF YOU HAVE A SHOULDER/ LEG OR HIP INJURY – you need more comfort in the mattress than most. Avoid firm mattresses or those without a pillow-top construction and steer more towards anything labelled 'Plush'.
This doesn't mean that you such a soft mattress that you feel like you're sleeping in a hammock, this will end up causing you new issues with your back. Instead, you'll need a good level of support to keep you in the right posture whilst you sleep, but with lots of cushioning in the comfort layers.