When it comes time to purchase a new mattress, you’ll have a lot of different — and occasionally confusing – buying options to sort through. Regardless if you’re buying a mattress for yourself, your children, or anyone else in your family, you’ll have to make decisions about when to get rid of your old mattress, what size or type of mattress suits your family best, and then arm yourself with some basic mattress know-how to help you choose wisely.
Here’s a handy mattress buying guide that will simplify the purchasing process by giving you a little insight as to what type of mattress will work best for your particular sleeping needs.
When and Why You Should Replace Your Old Mattress
Unsure if you should replace your mattress or not? If that’s the case, there are a few key points you should pay attention to. If you’re experiencing back pain, restless or uncomfortable sleep, or notice visible damage to your mattress, that’s a clear sign it might be time to buy a new one.
While the longevity of a mattresses varies depending on the materials used (for example, a latex or custom foam mattress will typically last longer than a pillowtop mattress), the average life of a mattress is 7-8 years. If your mattress is older than 8 years, or too small for your growing children, or getting a little crowded as you toss about next to your significant other, you should consider upgrading.
How Sleep Position Determines Mattress Type
Size, weight, and the position you customarily sleep in are all factors you’ll need to ponder before shelling out your hard-earned money for a new mattress. People who sleep on their back or stomach tend to favor a firmer mattress that offers exceptional support, while folks who like to cozy up their side frequently prefer a comfy, pressure-relieving softer mattress to cradle them.
And then we have “combination sleepers” and men and women of differing sizes. Combination sleepers, who change position throughout the night, can benefit from a memory foam or hybrid mattress that adjusts to the contours of their varying positions, while heavier sleepers will likely get better rest with a firmer mattress with lumbar support that supports their weight, while keeping them from overheating at the same time.
Choosing the Right Mattress Size
The mattress size you ultimately choose will depend on the size of the person or the number of people sleeping on it, if you’re sleeping solo or sharing, the size of your bedroom, and if your pets (cats, dogs, maybe even a snuggly rabbit or two) sleep with you.
From the smallest to the largest, these are the standard mattress sizes you’ll find in the US:
Twin 39″ X 75″
Twin XL 39″ X 80″
Full 54″ X 75″
Queen 60″ X 80″
King 75″ X 80″
California King 72″ X 84″
So, a little common sense applies when deciding on the correct mattress size. A smaller person (or child) in a cramped space would probably do just fine with a Twin or Twin XL, while a couple, or someone who’s tall or tosses and turns while they slumber — like they’re on a rowboat on a turbulent ocean — might do better with a big ole California King.
Distinguishing Between Different Mattress Materials and Quality
As you’ve probably already gathered, mattresses can be constructed out of a variety of materials or combinations of different materials, and it’s important you understand the primary differences between them.
Here are some of the most common mattress core and comfort layers in use today, which you’ll run across while shopping online, or in person at a brick and mortar store:
Latex mattresses offer an incredible level of relaxation and relief from back pain, but their higher cost and heavier weight (often making them difficult to handle) sometimes puts people off. The main advantages of sleeping on durable, long-lasting latex (made from rubber trees) come from this spongy material’s ability to keep sleepers cool, while also keeping their spines supported and aligned.
Mattresses made with memory foam (usually a better choice than polyfoam, which is less durable, and offers less support), absorb motion better than latex. A memory foam core also excels when it comes to molding to your body, and providing substantial joint and pain relief. One con is the fact that foam mattresses aren’t as cool as latex, and tend to sag and show depressions earlier on.
Also known as a coil mattress, innerspring mattresses — made out of steel coils — are found everywhere, and were the go-to sleeping surface back in the day, and are still very common today. The quality of this type of mattress depends on the number of coils and number of coil layers deployed to support your weight, as well as the materials (latex, gel memory foam, etc.) used for the comfort layers, which will of course affect the overall price.
A hybrid mattress is any mattress that combines at least two different kinds of support systems. An excellent example of this is a mattress with an innerspring core with a foam or latex comfort layer. Hybrid mattresses, which are usually reasonably priced, are the ideal choice for people who want to preserve the feel of a traditional mattress, but still take advantage of the pain relief, motion reduction, and other benefits foam and latex offers.
Factors to Consider When Shopping for a New Mattress
While other mattresses choices are available, like pillowtop and gel foam mattresses, we’ve covered the fundamentals about mattress types, size, and construction materials, along with the pros and cons associated with the most common mattresses on the market today.
Of course, price, customer reviews and the quality of the warranty offered should go into your final mattress-purchasing decision. But with a little research and some common sense, you should be able to hunt down a mattress that’s right for you or your loved ones, guaranteeing that everyone gets a good night’s sleep.