Mattress Buying Guide : Everything You Ever Needed To Know
Here’s a sleepy statistic: you’re going to spend roughly one-third of your life in bed. If you manage to get your 8 hours every night, that equates to approximately 26 years that you’ll spend in slumberland.
Given that it’s more time than you’ll spend eating, working or socialising, you could say it’s pretty important to choose the best mattress that’ll give you the zzz’s you need.
That’s why we created the definitive mattress buying guide. We hope it’s the only guide you will ever need!
Buying a mattress can be a challenge. A quick google search brings back more than 420 million results. With so much information out there, it can be hard to find answers to questions like ‘Are springs or memory foam better’ or ‘what’s the best mattress for back pain?
So we wanted to take the stress out of your search. In this mattress buying guide, we’ll walk you through the process of choosing the right mattress for your sleeping style. We’ll cover what materials and features you should look for and show you how to pick a mattress that’ll give you your best night’s sleep ever.
As one of the leading furniture shops in Jersey, you could say we know a thing or two about it!
So, perk yourself up and let’s jump in!
How Often Should I Change My Mattress?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of selecting your new mattress, it’s important to know when your current one is exhausted (excuse the pun).
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average lifespan of a mattress is eight years and most high-quality mattresses should last that long. But some sleep experts consider the timeframe to be shorter, especially as we age, because our bodies need a better foundation for sleep.
Time scales aside, one of the best ways to know if you’re mattress is on its last legs is to evaluate how you’re sleeping on it :
- Are you waking up sore and stiff?
- Do you find yourself self tossing and turning in the middle of the night trying to get comfortable?
- Can you see sagging or irregularities in the shape of your mattress?
These warning signs point towards a weakening mattress that’s no longer balancing your weight properly.
The true lifespan of your mattress will be affected by a number of things, such as the weight, firmness, the type of material used in its construction, how well you look after it and the type of bed base that it sits on top of.
So, keep eight years as a rough guideline in your head, but if you’re not getting a good night’s rest or are waking up with aches, then it’s time to investigate if your mattress could be the reason.
What Materials Are Best For A Mattress?
Open coil, polyester batting, foam encasements, phase-changing memory, 50/50 hybrid… to the uninitiated, choosing a mattress material can be intimidating. However, there are really only four main types of mattresses you need to think about.
Pocket Sprung Mattresses
Kicking off with the most popular type of mattress, we have pocket sprung mattresses. These are constructed by sewing springs into individual fabric pockets.
Pocket sprung mattresses tend to be less warm than memory foam, which could be something to think about if you live in a cold climate.
Additionally, they don’t conform to your body like memory foam, but that doesn’t mean they offer less support – as we’ll see later, pocket sprung mattresses are suited better to certain sleeping positions.
Memory Foam Mattresses
Memory Foam mattresses are usually fitted with temperature-sensitive viscoelastic material. This type of mattress conforms to the shape of your body and tend to offer reduced pressure across your body.
Additionally, they resist bacteria and dust-mites too. However, typically, they’re more expensive than their pocket-sprung cousins and might be too warm for some people.
Continuous and Open Coil Spring Mattresses
Next, we have continuous and open coil spring mattresses. These are constructed from a single looped wire or single springs fastened together by one wire.
In most tests, these mattresses don’t quite match up to the others in terms of comfort or longevity, but they’re almost always the most affordable type of mattress.
Latex construction is less common but fast becoming popular due to their comfort and durability. Latex is made from the sap of the rubber tree which lends its snooze-enhancing elasticity and promotes a natural sleeping experience.
They offer excellent pressure distribution and good air circulation. However, these benefits usually come at a slightly higher price than memory foam.
Remember that the material you choose will have the largest effect on the price of your mattress.
However, price isn’t everything when it comes to mattress shopping – it’s not an accurate measure of how well a mattress will suit you.
What’s most important is that you find a mattress that supports your specific needs.
And one of the key factors in finding a great mattress for you is assessing whether you’re a firm-mattress person or a soft-mattress person.
How To Choose The Right Mattress Firmness
Right off the bat, let’s get it out there – choosing the ideal mattress firmness is tricky business. That’s because mattress firmness is highly subjective. Soft and firm mean totally different things to different people. And It’s made even trickier if you have a partner who doesn’t share the same firmness-penchant that you do.
It’s almost impossible to communicate the ideal firmness for you via the internet. Although, having said that, they’re certain levels of firmness that tend to work better for different sleeping positions, so that’s a good place to start.
Top tip: Head down to your local furniture shop and try out a range of different mattresses – from very soft up to the very firm. Judge your reaction after lying down for 20 seconds and you’ll know pretty quickly which end of the spectrum you tend towards.
If you naturally sleep on your side, then it’s likely you’ll need a softer mattress to get the most from your sleep.
This is because a softer mattress will conform better to the curves of your body and help relieve pressure on your neck and shoulders.
In contrast to side-sleepers, those who catch their shut-eye on their backs usually sleep best by cranking up the firmness in their mattress.
A mattress that’s too soft will create pressure-points for back-sleepers which makes for pains and a maybe even a feeling of grumpiness the next day. Additionally, greater push-back helps to keep spinal-alignment on point, which helps keep your back happy.
If you sleep on your front, then like back-sleepers, you would probably be more suited to a firmer mattress, because of the additional support that it offers.
Since most of your torso will be applying most of the pressure to the mattress, a firmer mattress will distribute weight better than a softer one.
If the mattress is too soft, you’ll sag in the middle, leaving you at greater risk of back and neck pain. When sleeping on your front, you want to get as flat as possible – so it might even be worth considering a mattress that some other people would describe as ‘hard’!
What Determines The Price of A Mattress?
A quick browse online shows the massive price range that exists in the world of mattresses. You can get your hands on a mattress for anything from £200 right up to £50,000+. So what’s going on here?
As mentioned earlier, the materials that go into a mattress greatly affect its final retail price. This means that in general, sprung mattresses are the most affordable, followed by pocket-sprung, memory foam and eventually latex at the opposite end of the spectrum.
Additionally, the variety and quality of filler materials will also change the price-point – with all-natural materials bumping the price up significantly.
Price is generally a good indicator of quality and longevity. Having said that, you don’t want to go super-cheap. A cheap mattress is unlikely to provide you with great rest, let alone last more than a few years before it needs replacing. While £1,000 upwards might seem like a lot to hand over at once, if you’re going to use the mattress for 8 years, it will probably be worth the investment..
Once you’ve decided on which size and characteristics you want in your mattress, it’s usually a good idea to set a budget. This will help you narrow down your options.
What Sizes of Mattress are Available?
If you’re buying your first mattress, it’s easy to choose the wrong size. It’s usually something you will only do wrong once though!
And it doesn’t matter how comfy the mattress is, if it doesn’t have enough room for you or worse still, if your room doesn’t have enough space for it, all that comfiness counts for nothing.
So let’s break down the standard mattress sizes and discover which is right for you.
Single Mattress Size
At the smallest end of the mattress scale, we have the single mattress size. Single beds clock in at 190cm long by 90cm wide and are probably the mattress you had growing up as a kid.
They’re good for smaller spaces like studio apartments but for most fully grown adults, space can be a little tight.
Most full-sized mattresses are also 190cm long but offer an extra 45cm in width clocking in at 135cm wide. This mattress size provides much more room for one person and lets you spread out a little while sleeping.
It’s even possible to sleep two on a full-size mattress if you manage to avoid engaging in elbow warfare. However, for most couples, the full-sized is a little on the small side.
King Size Mattress
Next, we have the king size mattress. This is 150cm wide and 200cm long. This means that both you and your partner can spread out without fear of disturbing each other.
Super King Mattress
The Super King size mattress stands 180cm wide and 200cm long, making it a good deal roomier than the king size mattress. Super-Kings are usually a good fit for master bedrooms and rooms that are designed to fit larger beds.
What’s The Best Mattress Thickness?
Ok, by now you have a handle on mattress materials and mattress sizes but what about mattress thickness? We’ve all been to a hotel and climbed onto a thick, plush mattress and there’s no doubting it’s an impressively comfortable experience.
The most common thickness for a mattress is between 15 – 25cm. But you’ll find some more luxurious mattresses that clock in at 30cm and even up to 40cm thick. But how thick does your mattress have to be to get a great night’s sleep?
The truth is that the ideal thickness of your mattress is determined by a number of things and no mattress is a perfect fit for everyone. Most people will get away with a mattress that’s between 20-25cm thick, but here are some factors to consider:
Bodyweight & mattress thickness
A heavier body puts more pressure on a mattress and so a thicker mattress helps to best distribute the weight. The heavier the person is, the thicker the mattress would probably need to be.
Height preference & mattress thickness
It’s also wise to keep in mind that mattress thickness will affect the appearance and functionality of your bed.
You should calculate the total height of your bed by adding your mattress thickness to your bed frame.
If you’ve got mobility issues then getting in and out of an especially tall or low bed every day might pose a challenge you’d rather avoid.
Also, if your bed is going into a smallish room, then think about keeping the mattress lower rather than taller so it doesn’t dominate the room and make the space feel tiny.
Is A Branded Mattress or Non-Branded Mattress Better?
You’ve probably heard of the big brand mattress producers like ViSpring, Sealy, and Hypnos. If you don’t know much about mattresses, buying a brand name mattress is usually a good way to ensure quality and performance.
Afterall, recognised brands became famous due to the quality of materials and craftsmanship that goes into their product.
What Are Mattress Toppers and Do You Need One?
A mattress topper serves as an extra pad that sits on top of your mattress. Toppers provide you with extra cushioning and support. Many people wonder if buying a mattress topper is a good idea. After all, most of us know somebody who sings their praises. Is it a good idea to hand over more money for a mattress topper when you’re already splashing the cash for a perfectly good mattress? The answer is, it depends.
Benefits of a Mattress Topper
Mattress toppers are a great way to tweak the feel of your bed. If you find that you’ve purchased a mattress that’s too firm or too soft, a topper can save you from discomfort. Also, high-end mattress toppers can help a less-expensive bed to feel more comfortable. While a topper is no substitution for a quality mattress, a good one can go a long way in making your bed more pleasant.
If your old mattress has seen better days and you need a new one but don’t want to make the financial commitment just yet, a topper can also be a great way to buy yourself a few more months of comfort.
Additionally, if you’re changing up the material of your mattress, a mattress topper is a great way to sneak-preview what sleeping on another material might feel like.
Lastly, a mattress topper could potentially extend the life of your mattress by a few years. This is because the topper reduces the pressure on the mattress beneath and absorbs the brunt of the wear and tear. As you can imagine, replacing a mattress topper is way cheaper than replacing the whole mattress.
How to choose a mattress topper
If you decide to choose a mattress topper, you want to consider the same criteria that you would when choosing a mattress. Just like mattresses, toppers come in all shapes, sizes, and materials.
One of the most important things to look at is that the topper matches the exact dimensions of your bed. The quality of material used in mattress toppers also varies wildly, so make sure to test it out before you buy it.
Do Quilted Tops Make a Difference?
In traditional mattress manufacturing, tufting is a way to bind together the multiple layers of a mattress. It’s useful to prevent sagging and shifting of materials over time and adds greater longevity to a mattress. But tufting isn’t the only way to make a mattress – you can use another technique known as quilting.
Quilted mattresses are made using long threads to hold the soft layers in place. Quilted mattresses have a flatter surface unlike tufted mattresses that have ‘peaks’ and ‘valleys’. Because of this, many people prefer quilted mattresses saying that they feel more even.
One method of production is not inherently superior to the other and the difference largely boils down to personal preference. So if you’re not sure whether you’d prefer a quilted or tufted mattress, your best bet is to head down to your local mattress shop, jump on both types and see which you find more agreeable.
Putting It All Together
Shopping for a new mattress can be exciting but tiring. All the trekking around showrooms and debating between materials can leave you in the mood for nothing other than a good nap.
But the struggle is worth it – trust us!
Hopefully, the information provided in this guide helps navigate the world of mattress buying and makes the process just that little bit easier. If you didn’t have the energy to read the whole guide here’s the super-fast key takeaways you need to know:
- Decide if it’s time to replace your mattress – if it’s been 8 years since you last bought one or you’ve not been sleeping well lately, start doing research now.
- Decide how much you want to spend – Mattresses range from £200-£50000+. While the price is usually a reliable indicator of quality, most people don’t need to spend more than about £1,000 to get a great night’s sleep.
- Know what type of material you want – forgetting about the intricacies of different materials, ask yourself do I want foam or coils? Foam is better if you’re a side-sleeper and like the feeling of being hugged. Coils are better if you’re often too warm and like a bit of spring in a bed.
- Know what firmness you want – usually, firmness is dictated by your sleeping position. If you’re a side sleeper opt for a softer bed. If you sleep on your back or stomach opt for a firmer bed to maximise comfort.
- Know what thickness you want – The thickness should correlate to your bodyweight. A 25cm thick mattress will suit most people. If you’re heavier, consider opting for a thicker mattress to ensure longevity and get the best night’s sleep.
- Decide on your manufacturer – Brand names usually guarantee high quality.
- Consider if you want a mattress topper – Mattress toppers are great to tweak the feel of your bed and prolong the life of your mattress. They’re not necessary and will add to the initial costs but they usually pay for themselves over the long run.
Best of luck on your mattress shopping journey and thanks for reading our mattress buying guide.
Buying a new mattress which can involve a lot of work which involves much thinking and planning. But remember that the hassle will seem like a distant memory when you’re dozing off to sleep on a brand new ultra-comfortable mattress before waking up 8 blissful hours later full of beans and ready to take on the world!