- The best mattress ultimately comes down to an individual’s needs, but it should still offer an excellent balance of comfort, support, motion isolation, and breathability for a broad range of sleepers and sleeping styles.
- Our guide features mattresses that performed well in our tests, have long risk-free home trials, and are easy to unbox and set up.
- The Tempur-Pedic Cloud Mattress is our top pick because it offers contouring comfort that nurtures restful sleep, has terrific airflow for a cool sleep, and it passed our motion transfer tests.
- If you’re looking to outfit your mattress, check out our guides to the best sheets.
- Check out Business Insider Coupons for potentially even more savings.
Your mattress is the most important part of your sleep set up, so it goes without saying that you need to have the right one. That’s why I tested more than a dozen mattresses for this guide, relied on the reviews of colleagues, and consulted with Michael Breus, Ph.D., a board-certified psychologist in clinical sleep disorders and also known as “The Sleep Doctor,” and Dr. Luis Javier Peña-Hernández, a lung and sleep health specialist at the Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Disorders Institute of South Florida.
Each mattress I tested was a queen because it’s the most popular size, and each mattress that made the cut into our guide performed well in our tests, have long risk-free home trials, are easy to unbox and set up, and can be returned — although some brands will deduct certain fees. I’m a side and stomach sleeper and my wife is a back sleeper — between the two of us, we’ve got all the major sleeping styles covered. You can find the details of how we tested, models we looked at that barely missed our cut, and how to shop for a mattress at the end of our guide.
Best mattresses of 2020
- Best foam: Tempur-Pedic Cloud Mattress
- Best hybrid: Leesa Hybrid Mattress
- Best for hot sleepers: Tempur-Pedic PRObreeze Hybrid Mattress
- Best eco-friendly: Birch Mattress
- Best spring: Saatva Classic Mattress
- Best soft: Casper Nova Hybrid Mattress
- Best ultra-firm: Airweave Mattress
- Best budget: Zinus Cooling Gel Memory Foam Mattress
Prices and links are accurate as of 10/9/20. We rewrote this guide after consulting two experts and testing more than a dozen mattresses.
The best foam mattress
The Tempur-Pedic Cloud Mattress features contouring foam that cradles sleepers of all body types and sleeping styles while offering outstanding pressure relief and heat dissipation.
Pros: Great heat dissipation, outstanding motion isolation, 90-night trial, 10 inches thick with 3 layers of supportive and comforting Tempur foam that caters to all sleeping types
Cons: A shipping charge is deducted from your refund if you choose to return your bed, unimpressive edge support, no white-glove delivery
Rather than coming in a box, the Tempur-Pedic Cloud Mattress arrives in a reusable canvas bag with handles that make the bed easy to carry to your bedroom and set up. You just unzip the bag and pull on the other end of the bag to remove the mattress. Then, cut through the plastic and unroll. Like many foam mattresses, it had an odor that dissipated after a few hours.
There are three foam layers: a soft and responsive comfort top layer, a firmer support layer, and finally, a supportive and durable base. For a cooler sleep, there’s a polyester-blend stretch cover with moisture-wicking properties and excellent breathability. Overall, the mattress is 10 inches thick and weighs a little under 58 pounds for Queen. It’s extremely light compared to all the other mattresses I’ve tested — for context, the AirWeave is 10 inches of foam and weighs 71 pounds, and the 11-inch Leesa Hybrid, which mixes foam and springs, weighs 115 pounds. This makes setting up or relocating the mattress a lot easier.
Sleeping on the mattress, I was struck by how the patented foam contoured to my body and offered impressive pressure relief. I was comfortable on my stomach and my side, and my wife, who is a back sleeper, also enjoyed the feel. While testing the mattress, I was able to fall asleep within a few minutes of my head hitting the pillow.
All-foam mattresses trap heat, but this was not a problem with the Cloud and I never had issues with overheating. When I visited the bathroom at night, the heat dissipated while I was away making it cool enough to fall right back asleep.
The Cloud passed my motion isolation tests, and when my rambunctious terrier jumped onto the bed in the morning, I wouldn’t notice until he’d start licking my face.
On a more subjective level, the Cloud supported my back well. I suffer from lower back pain that tends to flare up when I overexert myself through exercise and sleep on an unsupportive mattress. While testing the mattress, I did engage in excessive running and weightlifting, yet I did not experience any back aggravation. If you find yourself in a similar situation, talk to your doctor first before considering a mattress switch.
There were only two negatives I found with the Cloud’s performance. The first is the poor edge support. I noticed significant sinking when I sat on the edge of the bed and when I laid right on the edge, I felt like I was going to fall off. Both are issues that would only happen in certain situations, so they aren’t dealbreakers. However, couples may want a King or Cal King for more space.
Tempur-Pedic offers a 90-night trial, which is a must since sleeping on a mattress is the best way to know if it’s right for you. White-glove delivery and mattress removal are available for an extra charge, and if you decide to return the Cloud, the company deducts shipping charges from your refund, which many other mattress companies do not.
The best hybrid mattress
The Leesa Hybrid Mattress has great edge support and motion isolation. The mix of memory foam and pocket springs lead to an average firmness that makes it an outstanding solution for many sleeping styles.
Pros: Average firmness that will appeal to a broad range of sleepers, the edge support and motion isolation are ideal for couples, 100-night risk-free home trial, made of foam and pocket springs for support and breathability, 10-year warranty
Cons: Heavy, hard to move around
For about a year, the Leesa Hybrid was the main mattress I slept on when I wasn’t testing others.
The bed is 11 inches thick and features five layers: a cooling premium foam top layer, a contouring memory foam layer, and 14.5-gauge pocket springs that help with breathability sandwiched by two core foam support layers. The foam is CertiPUR-US-certified, which means it isn’t made with a bunch of harmful chemicals and has low emissions. This checked out in my experience when I didn’t notice much of the new bed smell after unboxing the mattress.
My wife and I appreciate that its average firmness suited our backs, stomachs, and sides, and I was especially impressed with its motion isolation — I rarely noticed when my wife got up in the night to use the restroom or let the dog out. The edge support is also great thanks to the innerspring coils that go all the way to the very edge of the bed.
Unboxing the mattress was a task I tackled on my own, but I recommend getting help because the bed is heavy. I tested a King mattress for a previous version of this guide before I exclusively tested Queen sizes — a King is 142 pounds and a Queen is 115 pounds. Unlike the Tempur-Pedic Cloud, it may not be the best option if you relocate regularly.
That said, you can skip the whole unboxing process with Leesa’s white-glove delivery. For $150, a local shipping company will set the mattress up in your room and remove the packaging and your old bed.
Leesa offers a 100-night risk-free trial period, which should be long enough to determine if the bed is right for you. The company recommends giving it at least 30 nights to let your body and the mattress acclimate. If you decide to keep the mattress, it’s backed by a 10-year warranty. And if you decide to return it during the trial period, you receive a full refund without any return shipping costs.
The best mattress for hot sleepers
If you spend the night tossing and turning because you can’t find a cool spot, the Tempur-Pedic PRObreeze Hybrid Mattress should keep you from overheating and allow you to sleep comfortably through the night.
Pros: Medium firmness that suits an array of sleeping styles, excellent motion transfer dampening, sleeps cool, 10-year warranty, white-glove delivery
Cons: Heavy, subpar edge support, expensive, shipping deducted from refund if you choose to return the mattress during the trial period
The Tempur-Pedic PRObreeze Hybrid Mattress was made with hot sleepers in mind. There’s an outer cover that you can unzip and toss in the wash for better hygiene, and three layers of foam that are all geared toward absorbing excessive heat and improving breathability. Additionally, the foams conform to your body contours. At the base, the mattress has 1,000+ spring coils surrounded by a supportive foam border that provide support, durability, and breathability. All this adds up to a 12-inch thick mattress.
The PRObreeze is my current “first-string” mattress that I sleep on when I’m not testing other alternatives. As a hot sleeper, I’ve found it does an excellent job of keeping me from overheating. And my wife, with our little furnace of a rat terrier sleeping close to her, never complains of being too hot. Tempur-Pedic also offers a similar mattress in the series, called the LUXEbreeze, that offers an even cooler sleep at an even heftier price tag (currently $4,699) though I haven’t personally tested it yet.
Between my wife and I, we exhibit just about every sleeping style and we both find this slightly-firm mattress works well for our bodies. I also don’t feel when my wife or dog are moving around during the night — the motion dampening abilities are outstanding. However, the edge support could use some work. When sitting or lying on the edge, it sinks significantly.
The mattress is heavy at 123 pounds in Queen and it’s hard to move around. Fortunately, Tempur-Pedic includes white-glove delivery with the purchase of the PRObreeze so professionals will install it in the room of your choice and remove your old bed. The 90-night home trial and 10-year warranty are the same as the Cloud, which means that if you decide you don’t want the mattress within the trial period, a shipping charge will be deducted from your refund.
The best eco-friendly mattress
The Birch Mattress is made of sustainable, environmentally-friendly materials and offers firm and soft comfort options so you can rest easy.
Pros: Above-average firmness, soft topper available for an extra cost, very good motion isolation, made of natural materials, Greenguard Gold certified
Cons: Pillow top is slightly smaller than the mattress and doesn’t attach to it, not ideal for side sleepers without the pillow top, no white-glove delivery
From the cover to the latex and the wool, the Birch Mattress is made of eco-friendly materials. The cover is made of GOTS-certified organic cotton. Below that is a fire-retardant layer of natural wool fibers with rayon. Next, an organic wool layer offers temperature regulation and comfort.
Natural Talalay latex certified by several environmental organizations, including OEKO-Tex, makes up the next layer to provide pressure relief and support. The individually-wrapped coils also offer support and limit motion transfer while supplying edge support, and the base is organic wool batting for durability and stability. The mattress is also Greenguard Gold-certified to be free of harsh chemicals and handmade in the US. Overall, it measures 11 inches thick.
When I went to unbox the Birch, I found these materials proved hefty — 114 pounds for a Queen, to be exact. Though it didn’t come with special tools or instructions (you can find instructions online), it was a standard unboxing — remove the bed from the box and unwrap and cut through the layers of plastic. Within five minutes, the mattress was resting on the bed frame. Though it dissipated within hours, there was a slight initial odor.
The Birch Mattress on its own is firm, but for an extra cost, you can add a plush organic mattress topper to make the bed softer. I tested the mattress with the topper since I prefer a softer feel and I was much more comfortable, especially when laying on my side. Though, if you like a firmer feel, you might want to skip the topper. The topper doesn’t attach to the bed and it’s ever so slightly smaller than the mattress, so you might find that it’ll shift sometimes.
The Birch Mattress is an excellent solution for couples thanks to its outstanding edge support and motion isolation. I performed my motion isolation test on the bed four times, and it only failed once. When I sat on the side of the bed, I felt supported, and when I laid on the very edge, I didn’t feel like I was going to fall.
After testing the mattress, I gave it to my 6-foot-5, rail-thin, side-sleeping teenager with the topper installed. He deals with joint pain from constantly growing, and he appreciated that the bed helped soothe his pains. We both sleep hot, and the Birch did an adequate job of dissipating heat, but there’s room for improvement. Specifically, on hotter nights, the heat-dissipating abilities of the mattress could not keep up, and it would grow uncomfortable.
Lastly, Birch provides an impressive 25-year limited warranty and a 100-night sleep trial, which includes a full refund if you’re not satisfied after sleeping on the mattress for at least 30 nights.
The best spring mattress
If you prefer the support and comfort of a spring mattress, you’re sure to appreciate the Saatva Classic Mattress with its three firmness options and long 180-night home trial.
Pros: 180-night home trial, three firmness levels to choose from, great edge support, free in-home delivery and mattress removal
Cons: Fees associated with returns
The difference between spring and hybrid mattresses is subtle, and both are considered innerspring mattresses. For this guide, we consider a mattress to be a spring or innerspring if it has a layer of coils as the main support system and less foam than other components, while a hybrid mattress uses a mix of foam and springs to support your body
By this definition, the Saatva Classic Mattress is the best spring mattress. I didn’t test this personally, but my colleague Kylie Joyner did and had a positive experience.
The mattress has many unique features, including two layers of coils: a base of durable steel coils and then 884 individually-wrapped, 14.5-gauge comfort coils that move and shift to your body’s contours. The coils are surrounded by durable foam for extra edge support. The tufted Euro pillow top has an organic cotton cover with an antimicrobial treatment.
The mattress is available in three firmness levels: plush soft, firm, and luxury firm, which is the best-selling option and meant to be a true medium. This means you can customize the feel more than other mattresses.
Depending on your mattress height preference, you can choose from an 11.5-inch-thick and 14.5-inch-thick style. Both sizes feel and perform the same, the only difference is the 14.5-inch mattress has an extra two turns in the lower coil unit. It also weighs 10 pounds more in Queen at 120 pounds.
Saatva goes above and beyond with its home trial at 180 nights. However, if you decide you want to return the mattress, a $99 transportation fee is deducted from your refund. Another perk with Saatva is the free white-glove delivery and mattress removal included in the price of the mattress.
Joyner tested the Saatva Classic Mattress in Luxury Firm and enjoyed it from the moment she laid down. It provided an excellent combination of support and comfort. She liked that it didn’t sink like an all-foam mattress and that the support didn’t waver as she got closer to the edge. Joyner noted that there was some motion transfer, but it wasn’t enough to disturb her sleep when her partner rolled over in the night.
The best soft mattress
The Casper Nova Hybrid Mattress is ideal for side sleepers who are looking for a plush-comfort bed with great heat dissipation.
Pros: Made with eco-friendly materials, 100-night risk-free trial, good edge support, excellent heat dissipation, the plush comfort is ideal for side sleepers
Cons: Held on to its new bed smell, not the best for stomach or back sleepers, failed motion transfer tests
The Nova Hybrid is one of Casper’s newest and softest mattress, which is ideal for my side-sleeping body. When my muscles and joints were aching after pushing my body a little too hard running or lifting, the Nova Hybrid would cradle my body and offer pressure relief along with support in the right areas. This is thanks to the supportive foam layers with ergonomic zones that are firmer around the lower back, waist, and hips, and softer under the shoulders to help align your spine.
The mattress is made of CertiPUR-US certified foam, which is free from harsh chemicals, and the cover is partially composed of recycled bottles making them an eco-friendly alternative. There are two layers of Casper’s proprietary “Airscape” foam which are meant to help with the airflow, and the topmost layer has small perforations for extra breathability.
I tend to overheat in bed, but when sleeping on the Nova Hybrid, I never felt hot, which is impressive since I tested the mattress in the summer. When I used the bathroom in the night, the spot where I was sleeping was cooler when I returned, which helped me get back to sleep faster. The base layer of the mattress features individually-wrapped coils surrounded by a firm border of foam. The border helps the bed’s edge support. Overall, the mattress is 12 inches thick.
With all of the layers of foam and springs, the Nova Hybrid weighs a hefty 89 pounds and flops around as you try to move it. Fortunately, it comes with handles sewn into each corner to make it more manageable. During set up, the handles make flipping the mattress easier when it unfolded upside down — the only hiccup in the process. If you want to skip dealing with unboxing your mattress, Casper provides an in-home set up for a $149 fee, and the company’s delivery partner can also remove your old mattress.
Once freed from its vacuum-sealed confines, the bed had a strong odor to it that took several days to dissipate.
The motion dampening properties also leave much to be desired. The Nova Hybrid failed my motion transfer tests, and when sharing the bed with my wife and dog, I could feel when either of them moved.
The best ultra-firm mattress
The Airweave Mattress has a breathable foam core that offers ultra-firm support to all parts of the bed, even the very edges.
Pros: Features a soft insert to transform the bed from incredibly firm to just firm, great heat dissipation, outstanding edge support, decent motion isolation, 100-night sleep trial, machine-washable cover
Cons: Some assembly required, hard to move around, not recommended for side sleepers
The Airweave Mattress is one of the most unique beds I’ve ever tested — it’s modular and it requires more assembly than unrolling a vacuum-sealed log.
My Queen mattress arrived in two boxes, instead of the usual one. The modular design made it easy to carry up to my third-floor bedroom without help. Assembling the mattress was different and more involved than previous beds I’ve encountered too. The polyethylene core is broken into three blocks. You place these on the bottom half of the cover, seal up an inner cover, add the polyester soft layer, and zip on the top of the cover. With this level of assembly, white-glove delivery would be an attractive option. Unfortunately, Airweave does not currently offer this service.
I like that there’s a soft layer insert that you can easily remove if you’d prefer an ultra-firm mattress rather than just firm. Even with the soft layer, the mattress was firmer than I’d prefer and sleeping on my side was out of the question. I mainly slept on my stomach and a little on my back when testing this mattress, and I was surprisingly comfortable in these positions. I appreciated how cool the bed slept thanks to the breathable foam core.
In my experience, mattresses that are less than 10 inches thick are not supportive enough, but at 8 inches thick, the Airweave surprisingly offered plenty of support. With its short stature and light weight – the Queen only weighs 71.5 pounds – you might assume the mattress would be easy to move around, but it’s a beast. The foam blocks cause the mattress to flop around, which adds to the difficulty.
The Airweave is a great solution for anyone who loves firm mattresses. The edge support is excellent on all sides and the bed performed well in my motion transfer tests. When I dropped the bowling ball, the can rarely fell over on the first impact, but the bed is incredibly bouncy and the can would sometimes fall over upon the second bounce.
The best budget mattress
Back and stomach sleepers who are looking for a budget-friendly bed should strongly consider the Zinus Cooling Gel Memory Foam Mattress.
Pros: Affordable, 100-night trial, 10-year warranty, made of cooling gel memory foam, excellent motion isolation, 4 thickness options, great for back and stomach sleepers
Cons: Took a week to expand to full size, poor edge support
The Zinus Cooling Gel Memory Foam Mattress features one of my favorite materials to sleep on: gel memory foam. I’ve found it does an outstanding job of keeping my hot-sleeping body cool through the night, and the Zinus mattress was no exception.
The memory foam sinks in to comfort the contours of your body while still providing a firmer than average support. Because of this, I felt better sleeping on my stomach during testing, rather than my side. Back sleepers may also like the firmness of this model.
The mattress passed my motion transfer test with flying colors. When I was sleeping on it, my wife and dog were able to sneak into bed without jostling or waking me.
The mattress comes in Twin, Full, Queen, King, and Cal King, and you can choose from four thicknesses – 8, 10, 12, and 14 inches. I tested the 14-inch Queen. In general, I’ve found that mattresses that are 10 inches or thinner aren’t as comfortable so you should consider the thicker styles.
At under $400, you would expect there to be compromises, and there are a few, but they are easy to look past if you want to save a few dollars. First of all, the edge support is awful. It’s hard to lie on the edges and not fall off. The mattress also took a week to expand to its full size. Out of the box, it was about half its full thickness. The directions suggest it will only take 72 hours to expand – which is still longer than most — but that was not my experience. It also had an initial odor, but that went away the first night.
At 70 pounds, the mattress is easy to move around, especially since it is firmer and doesn’t flop around.
Since the mattress comes with a 100-night trial, it’s worth giving it a try if you’re looking for a low-cost solution. And, if you decide to keep it, you’re covered by a 10-year warranty.
What else we considered
We’ve tested dozens of mattresses over the years, and here are a few that barely missed the cut:
Casper Original ($1,095) – The Casper Original was our previous pick for the best all-foam mattress, and we still recommend it. We like the Casper Original because it works well for a wide array of sleeping styles, is made of eco-friendly materials, has excellent heat dissipation, and exhibits great motion dampening. However, it does not have good edge support. Read our full review.
Plank by Brooklyn Bedding ($1,249) – The Plank was our previous pick for the best ultra-firm mattress. I didn’t test this personally but based on our writer’s review, we think the Airweave Mattress is a better option because of its unique design and heat dissipation. We still think the Plank is a great bed with its two levels of firmness, exceptional edge support, and impressive motion isolation. Read our full review.
Saatva Solaire ($2,795) – As we test more air beds, we will likely give them their own category in our guide. At this point, I’ve only tested one and like it enough to give it an honorable mention. The Saatva Solaire has a built-in air pump controlled by a corded controller that allows you to pick from 50 firmness options for your ideal comfort level. I found it worked great, but the motion isolation left a lot to be desired. Plus, you can’t find the mattress in showrooms to test it out before buying. Fortunately, there’s a 120-night home trial period. Read our full review.
Amerisleep AS5 Hybrid ($2,199) – Amerisleep offers five mattresses, AS1 through AS5, each with a specific benefit. I’ve tested the AS3, the company’s best-selling bed, but I much prefer its softer, luxury mattress, AS5. Due to its soft feel, it’s an outstanding solution for anyone who prefers softer beds. Since it sleeps hot, people who get too cold in the night may also prefer this mattress. Also, it doesn’t have very good edge support and failed my motion isolation tests so it’s better suited for people who sleep alone. Overall, though, I like how it cradled my body.
Allswell Supreme Hybrid ($985) – This is one of the best mattresses you will find under $1,000. It features a combination of copper and graphite gel-infused memory foam and pocket coils, which give it a medium firmness that will appeal to many different types of sleepers. The edge support is great but it sleeps hot and is quite heavy. Also, it’s only available online and not in showrooms.
Intellibed Matrix Grand ($8,999) – I’m still in the process of testing the Intellibed Matrix Grand so it may make it into future updates of our guide. It’s the height of luxury and features seven layers of high-quality materials, including two gel layers that flex to provide localized pressure relief and to help align the spine. However, the King mattress I’m testing weighs 256 pounds so don’t plan on moving it, and at 17 inches thick, it’s hard to find fitted sheets that are deep enough to stay on the mattress.
In addition to sleeping on each mattress for several nights, there are many tests I put each model through. I tested all but two of the mattresses mentioned above. For the Saatva Classic and Plank, I extrapolated the key performance indicators based on my colleagues’ testing. The most important factors to consider are comfort, edge support, and motion isolation.
Here are the main attributes we look for and how we test them:
Comfort: This is a fairly subjective characteristic that is based on the firmness of a mattress, how hot it sleeps, and how supportive it feels. My measurement of firmness is based on testing dozens of mattresses and developing a feel for soft, average, and firm mattresses. To gauge heat dissipation, I sleep on the bed, get up for a few minutes, and return to it. I note whether or not the mattress is still hot where I was lying. A bed is supportive if it doesn’t leave me with stiffness or aches in the morning after testing.
Motion isolation: If you’ve ever spent the night with someone who moves around a lot in their sleep, you know how important motion isolation is. Without it, your sleeping partner’s movements will jostle you awake throughout the night. To test motion isolation, I place a 12-ounce can of pop in the middle of the mattress. Then I drop a 15-pound bowling ball from 4 feet above the mattress so it lands 12 inches from the can. If the can falls over time and time again the motion isolation is not very good. If the can stays upright, the bed does an excellent job of dampening motion transfer.
Edge support: To test edge support, I lay on the very edge of the bed and slowly roll off — literally. If I feel like I can roll a fair amount before actually falling, then the bed has good edge support. If I fall easily, then the edge support is not very good. I also sit on the side to put on my socks and shoes to assess how much the edge sinks.
Portability: Unless you’re constantly relocating or redecorating, it’s unlikely you’ll need to move your mattress often so this category doesn’t weigh heavily in our assessment. Still, it’s nice if you can easily rotate your mattress, a task that’s important for your bed’s longevity. And depending on how your bed is positioned, you may need to move the mattress to put on fitted sheets. I move each mattress several times to see how heavy it feels and if it flops around making it harder to move.
Trial and warranty: I look at the details of the warranty and home trial period, whether the mattress is available in showrooms, and whether there’s white-glove delivery. The only way to know if a mattress is right for you is to sleep on it for several nights, so we looked for fine print in the return policy and let you know about them.
How to shop for a mattress
Buying a mattress no longer requires heading to a mattress showroom and having a salesperson lurk over you as you lay on a mattress for 10 minutes to decide if it will suit you for the next decade. Online mattress retailers are getting a leg up on the traditional mattress stores by offering home trials.
To help you shop for a mattress, we spoke with Dr. Luis Javier Peña-Hernández, a lung and sleep health specialist at PCSI.
Peña-Hernández first suggests considering your medical history. “The right mattress is the most comfortable one for each person. However, consumers should consider their medical history, like respiratory diseases, allergies, scoliosis, or sleep apnea when purchasing a mattress; so they can make an informed decision regarding what type of materials are in their mattress or what features might prove to be healthier for them,” Peña-Hernández said. “Patients with COPD may benefit from mattresses that are designed for adjustable beds because elevating the head of the bed can sometimes facilitate easier breathing.”
After talking to your doctor, assess your sleeping style and preferred firmness level.
“The most common mattress problem that people report is the lack of comfortability which can result in fatigue or excessive sleepiness,” Peña-Hernández said. “It’s hard to keep up with the day-to-day when you’re not well-rested, and ultimately, it can affect your quality of life. Chronic fatigue can even have implications for your immunity and your health. A good mattress meets the criteria for the specific person’s needs and promotes a healthy, well-rested, rest.”
Though every person’s preferences are different, there are some patterns that certain body types and sleeping styles seem to prefer, according to Peña-Hernández.
- Side sleepers: “Vast research exists to support side sleepers benefit from medium-firm mattresses to support pressure point relief,” said Peña-Hernández. “Side sleepers can experience shoulder and lower back pain if the mattress is too unsupportive.”
- Back sleepers: Peña-Hernández recommends medium firmness for back sleepers. “Back sleepers should strive to maintain the natural S-curvature of the spine so the best mattress for back sleepers provides spinal support. A medium-firm mattress will help achieve this by redistributing weight and promoting healthy alignment but still contours to the body to provide cushioning where it is needed.”
- Stomach sleepers: Firmer mattresses tend to benefit stomach sleepers as well as heavier folks.
In addition to the above, you should also consider bodyweight and heat dissipation.
“Individuals concerned about their weight and weight-related complications should speak to their medical provider when considering a mattress, said Peña-Hernández. “Overweight individuals should consider a thicker mattress of at least 12 inches thick or more. Thinner mattresses won’t provide you with the support you need. Coil mattresses also provide a more durable construction.”
Softer mattresses are generally better for petite individuals since lighter individuals (under 130 pounds) don’t sink into beds as far. Breus also notes that as people get older, they would benefit a softer bed to address pain issues. “As we age, our skin gets thinner, which means less cushion.”
Firm mattresses aren’t necessarily more supportive. Instead, support is based on how well the bed cradles your body and allows your spine to relax. Since different parts of your body push down more on a mattress, such as the hips and shoulders, mattresses that offer zoned support in these areas tend to be more comfortable to a broader range of individuals. These beds also tend to cost more as the construction is more specialized.
If you overheat at night, you’ll want a mattress and even bedding that does an outstanding job of dissipating heat. “Hot sleepers should consider sheets and materials made of natural fibers for their breathability,” said Peña-Hernández. “Bamboo, cotton, linen, and hemp are good options as well as cooling sheets, especially sheets designed to wick moisture.”
What kind of mattress should you buy?
There are a handful of popular mattress types to choose from.
- Memory foam – When most people think of a bed-in-a-box, they think of memory foam mattresses. These are mattresses with multiple layers of foam that support and contour your body. However, due to the construction, all-foam mattresses also tend to trap heat.
- Latex foam – This is usually preferred by people looking for an eco-friendly foam that’s cooler and more responsive than traditional memory foam.
- Hybrid – These beds combine one of the above foams with spring coils. The coils tend to help with motion transfer and edge support making them a great option for couples. The coils also help with airflow for a cooler sleep.
- Spring – Also called innerspring or coil mattresses, these are your more traditional beds. Due to the responsive coils, they offer good support, edge support, cooling, and durability. However, they are generally more expensive and mostly found in showrooms and not online.
- Pillow-top – Pillow-tops are usually associated with innerspring mattresses but can be found on any of the above options. This is the smart solution for those who like a soft, cushy feel.
- Adjustable or air beds – These beds use an air pump to adjust the firmness of your mattress to suit your needs. They are among the most expensive option but may be an ideal long-term solution since your firmness needs change with time. Couples with drastically different firmness needs would also benefit from an adjustable air bed.
What size bed should you buy?
There are six standard bed sizes. In order from smallest to largest (and usually the least to most expensive), they are:
- Twin – If you are a smaller individual who sleeps alone, a Twin (38 inches wide by 75 inches long) will serve you well.
- Twin XL – This is the same width (38 inches) as the Twin but 5 inches longer, which makes it better for tall people who sleep alone.
- Full – With the same length (75 inches) as the Twin but 16 inches wider, the Full is designed for larger folks or anyone who just wants a bit more space
- Queen – The Queen is 80 inches long by 60 inches wide, and is meant for couples who are smaller.
- King – The King is 16 inches wider than the Queen and better for larger couples. I recommend it if you are choosing a mattress with subpar edge support and you’re concerned about feeling uncomfortable near the edges.
- California King – The Cal King is four inches longer but four inches narrower than the King, so it’s a smart alternative for taller couples.
For context, my wife and I are both slightly taller and heavier than average, and we share a bed with a dog and a full-body pillow. Queen mattresses are simply too small and uncomfortable for us, though it’s the size we test as it’s the most popular. We’ve found a King is more ideal for our needs.
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