Mattress Buying Guide: Top Things to Consider When Replacing Your Mattress
If you’ve decided to invest in a new mattress, then you’ll want to make sure you’re choosing the right one for your unique needs. With roughly a third of our lives spent in bed and sleep being such a crucial element of our well-being, it’s vital to get a high-quality mattress that will deliver peaceful and pain-free sleeps every night.
Criteria for Selecting a New Mattress
You may soon realize there’s a lot to consider when buying a new mattress. Today’s mattress technology means there are more designs available than ever. While this may cause confusion, it’s also beneficial for consumers as each person has unique sleep needs and preferences. To help narrow down your choice to the right mattress for you, we’ve put together these top criteria to consider when purchasing your next mattress.
We each have our preferred sleep styles—back, side or stomach. Some people sleep one way out of habit while others may sleep in a certain position because they suffer chronic pain. While the safest and healthiest sleep position is on your back, that’s not always possible for some people. Some sleepers simply find it more comfortable to sleep on their side or stomach.
Depending on how you sleep, you’ll require a certain mattress comfort level to accommodate your sleep position. For example, people who sleep on their side need softer mattresses for their hips, while people who sleep on their stomachs need extra-soft mattresses to protect their low backs.
Firm or Soft Mattress for Comfort
Mattresses range in comfort levels, which is one of the biggest sources of confusion in mattress shopping. One important point to make is that comfort is not the same thing as support. Comfort generally refers to how firm or soft a mattress is. The support level means how well the mattress promotes spinal alignment. There’s a common misconception that the firmer the mattress, the more support it provides. This isn’t always the case, as a firm mattress may feel comfortable to someone, but it doesn’t necessarily support their spine correctly or offer relief from pressure points.
Comfort is a subjective term, but it’s generally thought of on a scale from 1 to 10 with 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest mattress level. Here are how soft and firm mattresses compare:
- Soft Mattresses: Falling between 1 and 3 on the firmness scale, soft mattresses are designed to let your body sink in. They typically have a plush, pillow-top layer quilted over the main mattress material to provide extra cloud-like comfort. Soft and extra-soft mattresses don’t tend to offer enough support because of the high sink amount.
- Firm Mattresses: At the high end of the scale, firm mattresses fall between 7 and 10. A firm mattress feels very stiff, allowing little to no sink. While extra-firm mattresses might feel more supportive, they’re not always conducive to proper spinal alignment because they don’t naturally contour the body’s shape.
Most mattresses will strike a balance—some softness but not too much sink. These are the most common firmness levels, ranging from 4 to 6 on the firmness scale.
Back Pain and Injuries
If you’re shopping for a mattress because you have chronic back pain or injuries, it’s essential to find one with excellent support. Mattresses that offer good support are ones designed to conform to your body so that your spine is cradled in a neutral position that’s aligned no matter how you sleep. People with back conditions require the right mattress that will offer pressure-relief and help them decompress their spinal discs.
Most mattresses in the medium firmness range provide good support. They’re soft enough to allow for the body to sink in, but still firm enough to prevent deeper sinking. You’ll likely notice better quality sleeps on mattresses with better support, as you won’t be interrupted by back and hip pain. Given how much time we spend asleep, it’s essential to get the best support possible from your mattress.
Compare Mattress Materials
Mattress materials have come a long way in recent years, giving consumers more options than ever. From innerspring and pocketed coils to memory foam and gel, mattress material selection can be overwhelming. While innerspring and coil mattresses remain the most widely available option, memory foam mattresses are becoming increasingly popular. Hybrid options built with multiple layers of different materials are also popular as they offer consumers a compromise.
Here’s a comparison between traditional innerspring mattresses and memory foam mattress material:
- Innerspring Mattresses: Innerspring is the original mattress design and remains popular today because of its affordability. While there are several types of innerspring mattresses, from continuous coil to pocketed, they all generally contain rows of steel coils that compress when weight is added. The result is a springing feeling when pressure is released, often causing motion transfer between partners. Some innerspring mattresses are better than others at distributing weight evenly for spinal alignment, though they don’t offer the same support you’d get from a memory foam mattress.
- Memory Foam Mattresses: Originally designed by NASA engineers, memory foam is becoming more popular today as a mattress option because of its spine health benefits. Memory foam is a cushioning material that absorbs your body’s weight and cradles you supportively. The term “memory” refers to the material’s ability to retain the shape of your body after it’s contoured itself to your unique position. For this reason, memory foam is one of the best mattress materials for side sleepers and those with back pain because it keeps your posture neutral and provides pressure-relief from your spine.
Motion transfer is a significant consideration for couples, especially when one person tosses and turns or is on a different sleep schedule. Mattresses today are designed to limit how much you feel your partner tossing in the night, so you remain undisturbed. Typically, spring mattresses cause more motion transfer because the “springing” creates waves throughout the mattress.
Compared to innerspring mattresses, memory foam or gel materials are naturally better at reducing motion transfer because they absorb weight better and prevent the bouncing feeling.
A mattress is an investment in your health, so it’s necessary to get the most value possible from your purchase. This means you want a bed that will last. Over time, mattresses will naturally start to lose their firmness, and you may notice sagging in parts where the most body weight is applied.
Mattress lifespans range depending on their material. Traditional coil mattresses typically maintain their shape as long as 5 to 8 years. Foam and gel mattresses tend to hold their shape for 8 to 10 years or longer, depending on the thickness and density of the foam and the layers that cover it.
Another critical aspect of shopping for mattresses is your personal preferences and needs. While spinal support isn’t a subjective matter, comfort usually is. Some people are much more prone to temperature fluctuations in the night and tend to overheat. Mattress materials that promote cooling as opposed to trapping in body heat are much better for hot sleepers.
For people with allergies, materials that are naturally antimicrobial won’t harbor dust mites and mold. Latex and foam materials or mattresses with hypoallergenic covers tend to be better for people with sensitivities to allergens. If you have concerns about toxins or off-gassing, there are mattresses made without the use of certain harmful substances.
When shopping for a new bed, your buying decisions don’t just end with the mattress itself. You’ll need to consider your entire sleep experience, including bases, pillows and linens. At Relax The Back, we believe in the benefits of adjustable bases in helping your body better achieve its neutral posture. An adjustable base allows you to raise and lower your mattress so that it cradles your body and alleviates painful pressure points you may experience throughout the night.
Another important aspect of achieving a neutral posture during sleep is the type of pillow you use. Whether you’re a back, side or stomach sleeper, different pillow firmness levels help you achieve a more neutral posture in any position. Having your head and neck too high or too low can misalign your cervical spine, leading to chronic neck and upper back pain. Choosing the right pillow is just as important as picking the right mattress.
Tips for Buying Your Next Mattress
Fully reviewing your options and deciding on your must-have criteria can help you narrow down your choice in the right mattress for you. Now that you know what it is you’re looking for and understand how mattresses can help protect your back health, here are some additional tips to follow when shopping for your next mattress:
- Ask About Trial Periods and Warranties: Many mattress companies today offer a trial period, allowing you to sleep on your new mattress for up to 90 days with the option for a refund if you’re not satisfied. It’s also important to ask about the manufacturer’s warranty in case your product develops any defects down the line.
- Invest in the Best Mattress You Can Afford: As with all big purchases in life, it’s wise to invest in the best quality mattress you can. Your mattress is one purchase where you don’t want to settle. Many retailers have financing options available with some offering zero-percent interest. Having budgeting options like this takes the financial pressure off and can allow you to get the best mattress possible.
- Talk to Spine Health Experts: There are lots of great resources to help you understand mattress designs, materials and support levels. However, if you’re investing in a mattress because you want to improve your well-being, then your best resource is a spine health expert. Relax The Back consultants are available to discuss your unique mattress needs and help you find the right product that meets your criteria. Come visit us at any of our locations across North America.
Tempur-Pedic® Mattresses From Relax The Back
Tempur-Pedic® mattresses from Relax the Back are designed to relieve spinal pressure by conforming to your body’s natural curves. The patented foam technology in a Tempur-Pedic mattress offers the best memory properties compared to other foam mattresses. This means that Tempur-Pedic materials are better at contouring the body and evenly distributing weight to provide a comfortable, pain-free sleep.
Tempur-Pedic mattresses from Relax The Back are available in different firmness levels, giving you personalized comfort and support. Tempur-Pedic’s Breeze mattresses are designed with a layer of cooling fabric that senses your body’s temperature and dissipates heat to regulate your comfort levels throughout the night. For couples, Tempur-Pedic also offers split mattresses so each person can get the sleep experience they desire.
While shopping for world-class Tempur-Pedic mattresses at Relax The Back, also browse our adjustable bases for even further support and comfort options that promote better alignment. And don’t forget to complete your entire sleep package with our ergonomic pillows and luxurious bed linens.