Shopping for a mattress has never been more complicated. Memory foam, gel, latex, innerspring – every brand seems to have its own language. If you don't know what to look for, you could end up paying way too much for something that doesn't fit your sleep style.
What Size Should I Choose?
First, decide what size you need – if you have a small room you may opt for a full-size bed, or you may want the spacious comfort of a California king. King and Queen sizes often come with a split box spring (two smaller box springs that form together) for maneuverability. This is a great time to shop for a replacement box spring, as well. Failure to do this could void the warranty on your new mattress, and it could also shorten the lifespan by not providing enough support. You can often get a discount by buying both at the same time!
What Materials Do I Choose?
The two main types of mattresses are traditional innerspring and memory foam. Innersprings have seen innovations in recent years, such as “pocketed coil” technology that allows each spring to move separately. Memory foam (originally developed by NASA), can come in a variety of options. It may feature cooling gel or be paired with another material such as latex foam (for added support), and may be made of two or more layers.
If you get hot easily, look for breathable materials that will let air flow freely, and consider something with cooling gel. Also, you should choose an option with good support – if you sink deep into your bed, it will absorb and retain more of your body heat than if you stay closer to the surface.
How Soft Should It Be?
The next consideration when choosing your mattress is more personal – How do you sleep? You may like to sleep on a rock-hard surface, or you might crave one as plush as your pillow.
The materials used will affect the softness to some extent, such as latex foam creating stability, as mentioned above. However, additional cushioning really determines how soft your bed will be. There are three styles of cushion: pillowtop, Eurotop, and tight top. Pillowtops have visible cushioning sewn onto the top, while Eurotop has the cushioning sewn inside. A tight top has no added cushion, for an extra firm sleep. Try to avoid choosing something too soft or too firm, as this can create painful problems over time.
When you have decided what is important to you, you will be better prepared to face the showroom. You will be able to find the best mattress that fits your budget without being pushed into buying something with features you don't need. Look for a store that will let you try out your purchase at home for a period of time. Some places offer a 100-night warranty, while others don't accept returns at all, so be sure to ask.