Woman relaxes on mattress

Find the perfect mattress for restful nights with this buyer's guide!

Published 6th January 2023
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A good night’s sleep is essential for a healthy lifestyle, and a quality mattress is the key to getting it. It’s important to find the right mattress that will provide support, comfort and durability.

The trouble is, mattresses come in different sizes and styles, and there are all those materials to choose from. That makes it difficult to know which one is best for you. This guide will help you find the perfect mattress for your needs by providing an overview of the different types of mattresses available, as well as factors to consider when making your purchase.

Types of mattress

When shopping for a mattress, it’s important to understand the different types available so you can make an informed decision. Here are some of the most popular types of mattresses on the market today:

Innerspring mattress

Innerspring mattresses are made with steel coils for support and layers of padding on top for comfort. They provide good airflow and temperature regulation, making them ideal for hot sleepers. There are two subtypes of innerspring mattress: open spring ones and pocket sprung ones.

Open spring mattresses: The original spring-based mattress, an open coil mattress is made up of large, interconnected springs held together by wire with padding on the top. These mattresses are often the cheapest kind of mattress. They're lightweight, so moving or flipping the mattress over is easy, but they may not be as comfortable or long-lasting as other kinds.

Pocket sprung mattresses: Pocket sprung mattresses are made up of individual pockets that contain springs. Each pocket is sewn into its own fabric sleeve, which allows the springs to move independently of one another. This can provide more targeted support and reduce motion transfer, making pocket sprung mattresses a popular choice for people who share their bed with a partner. Pocket sprung mattresses are generally more expensive than open coil mattresses, but they may provide a higher level of comfort and support, although not as much as more advanced mattresses.

Memory foam mattress

Memory foam mattresses use a layer of polyurethane foam as their base instead of springs. This foam has had special chemicals added to it to make it more elastic and springy.

When you lie on memory foam, your body heats it up and the foam moulds itself around the unique shape of your body. This distributes your body weight evenly and can promote neutral spine alignment, which helps prevent chronic back pain and neck pain.

Memory foam mattresses are hypoallergenic (causes few or no allergic reactions), so they're great for people with sensitive skin. They also offer motion isolation, meaning that if one person moves around in bed, the other person won’t feel it.

Latex mattresses

Latex mattresses are made from latex foam. That can be natural latex from the rubber tree or synthetic. Because latex is naturally very springy, latex mattresses are similar to memory foam mattresses: They'll mould to your body's shape and provide excellent support. However, latex returns to its original shape faster than memory foam, giving it a lighter, springier feel.

The big issue with latex mattresses is that they tend to be the most expensive type of mattress. They also don't absorb your movement as much as memory foam mattresses, so they're not as good for sleeping next to someone. Dust mites can't live in latex, so they can cut down irritation that way, but many people have latex allergies. Find out if you're allergic before you buy!

Hybrid mattresses

Hybrid mattresses combine the support of innersprings with the comfort of memory foam or latex layers. They combine the extra support of a memory foam or latex layer with the better breathability and temperature of springs. They are typically more expensive as a result.

Types of mattress

Once you’ve narrowed down what type of mattress you want, it’s time to decide how large your mattress should be. In the UK, there are four mattress sizes:

If you already own a bed frame, then the choice is easy - buy a mattress that fits it! Bed frames are sold in the same sizes as mattresses, so it's easy to find a match.

If you're buying a mattress and bed frame together there are some other things to consider: You should make sure that the size of the mattress will fit in your bedroom and leave enough space for other furniture and activities.

If you sleep alone, you may be comfortable on a smaller mattress, such as a twin or a single. However, if you share your bed with a partner, you will likely want a larger mattress, such as a king, to provide enough space for both of you. You should also take account of your sleeping style. If you tend to spread out as you sleep, a larger mattress is better, even if you sleep alone.

Firmness

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices based on type and size, it's time to look at firmness. 'Firmness' here refers to the balance between support and comfort that each mattress offers. Most brands offer a range of firmness levels from 'soft' to 'firm'.

Which one you choose depends on your personal taste. Some people may prefer a very firm mattress, while others may prefer a softer, more plush one. However, most bed experts recommend choosing mattress firmness based on how you sleep:

  • Side sleepers: Soft and medium-soft mattresses.
  • Back sleepers: Medium mattresses.
  • Front sleepers: Firm mattresses

You should also pick a firm mattress if you suffer from lower back pain, as the extra support can help reduce pain. Some mattresses, called orthopaedic mattresses, are specially designed to minimise aches and pains when you lie on them.

That's all of the advice we have for buying a mattress! A mattress lying on the floor doesn't make for the most comfortable night's sleep, so make sure you buy a bed frame and a set of pillows to go with it. Also, make sure to keep your new mattress clean with mattress toppers and other bedding!

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