- Sleep Help
- Sleep Guides
- How Sleep Works
- Sleep Resources
Finding a new mattress can be a confusing, frustrating process. Choosing a mattress based on material composition, price, and other factors requires extensive product research — no easy task, considering hundreds of brands and retailers offer new mattresses online and in brick-and-mortar stores.
This guide will explore the following:
You should consider buying a new mattress if:
A lot of factors affect the lifespan of a mattress. Some mattress types, such as latex and airbed mattresses, are more durable than others and less susceptible to wear and tear. Sleep habits are another consideration, as a mattress that is used night after night will deteriorate quicker than one that is used less frequently. However, the general rule of thumb is that you should replace your mattress every seven years — regardless of how long the bed is covered under warranty.
Some mattresses provide better overall support than others, regardless of their age. If you wake up in pain or begin to develop pressure points that didn’t previously bother you, then you should consider replacing your current mattress — even if it is fairly new.
All mattresses are prone to sagging in the sleep surface after enough use. Indentations may also develop in places where sleepers have higher concentrations of weight. Excessive sagging and deep indentations both undermine mattress support, and can cause discomfort for sleepers.
Excessive weight gain or loss can change how your mattress feels, since factors like preferred firmness and support often depend on body weight. Medical diagnoses are another point to consider, especially for sleep disorders that affect certain individuals more disproportionately. For example, sleep apnea primarily affects back sleepers (since they are more prone to snoring); a mattress designed for back sleepers may no longer be suitable if the owner has been diagnosed with sleep apnea.
Whether you want to replace the mattress you’ve used since college or a more expensive bed seems more suitable than your current model — sometimes it’s good to upgrade your mattress even if it’s not needed. Not surprisingly, roughly two-thirds of mattress owners report higher satisfaction rates after replacing their old mattress with a more expensive model.
When it comes to choosing a new mattress, there are two types of things you must consider: (1) what type of sleeper you are, and (2) the basic qualities of mattresses available on the market. By considering your unique sleeping qualities within the context of what types mattresses are available, you’ll be able to narrow your options significantly.
Please note that although we’ve found that certain mattress types tend work better with certain types of sleepers, mattress preference is ultimately subjective. Consequently, we recommend going to a local store and trying different mattress types before purchasing online.
Everyone has their favorite position to sleep in. Different positions have different support requirements, so your ideal mattress will depend on whether you are a side, back, stomach, or combination sleeper.
In general, stomach and back sleepers prefer firmer, less conforming mattresses while softer or conforming mattresses are perfect for supporting side sleepers.
Heavier sleepers tend to sleep hotter (see below) and experience more sinkage on soft mattresses than their lighter peers. Most lighter sleepers tend to choose softer mattresses while heavier sleepers prefer firmer options. Supportive, less-conforming mattresses like innerspring and hybrid choices are also popular among heavy sleepers.
If you have a different preference than what is suggested for your weight group, make sure your mattress provides adequate support. For example, a heavier side-sleeper might choose a latex or foam mattress to avoid problems with pressure points. This is perfectly fine so long as it provides support and is not too difficult to move on.
Some mattresses sleep warmer than others. For example, soft, conforming mattresses allow less airflow around your body and trap more heat than firmer options. Mattress material can also retain heat, like foam mattresses with solid support cores.
If temperature regulation is an important factor for you, consider choosing a hybrid or innerspring mattress style. These allow for more air circulation and sleep considerably cooler.
Five material types make up the bulk of mattresses on the market. These include:
|Innerspring||Steel coils support a comfort layer of polyfoam|
|Foam||Either pure polyfoam or a combination of supportive polyfoam and memory foam|
|Latex||Latex or high-density polyfoam support core with a natural or synthetic latex comfort layer|
|Hybrid||2+ inches of memory foam or latex for comfort and pocketed coils for support|
|Airbed||Air chambers are inflated or deflated to reach the desired firmness|
To learn more about these materials, see the What Types of Mattresses Are Available? section below.
Most mattresses are available in six standard sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full/Double, Queen, King, and California King. Some models come in additional sizes (such as Full XL or Short Queen). They may also be available in ‘split’ Queen, King, or California sizes, which include two separate mattresses that can be pushed together or separated.
|Mattress Size||Dimensions||Comfortably Fits|
|Twin||38” x 75”||1 person|
|Twin XL||38” x 80”||1 person|
|Full/Double||54” x 75”||1 person with a pet, 2 adults, no pets|
|Queen||60” x 80”||1 person with a pet, 2 adults, no pets|
|King||76” x 80”||1 adult with pet(s) or child(ren), 2 adults with a large pet or child|
|California King||72” x 84”||1 adult with multiple pets or children, 2 adults with multiple pets or children|
Mattress firmness preferences are often tied to two factors: sleep position and sleeper weight. Those who sleep on their side typically prefer softer mattresses, while back and stomach sleepers tend to feel most comfortable on ‘medium firm’ or firmer mattresses. In terms of weight, lighter individuals (less than 130 pounds) may require softer mattresses in order to experience more conforming and pressure relief; heavier individuals (more than 230 pounds), on the other hand, often need firmer mattresses to prevent excessive sinkage. For couples with contrasting firmness preferences, a dual-firmness mattress with different firmness settings on each side may be the most suitable option.
|SCALE RATING||FIRMNESS LEVEL||CHARACTERISTICS|
|1||Extra Soft||The sleep surface will sink very deeply and conform closely|
|2-3||Soft||The sleep surface sinks and conforms to a significant extent|
|4||Medium Soft||The surface sinks somewhat and conforms fairly closely|
|5||Medium||The surface does not sink much and will conform to a noticeable extent|
|6||Medium Firm||The surface sinks very little and conforms to a moderate extent|
|7-8||Firm||The surface remains even with little to no sinking; conforming is minimal|
|9-10||Extra Firm||No sinkage and little to no conforming|
|WEIGHT GROUP||WEIGHT RANGE||TYPICAL NEEDS AND PREFERENCES||IDEAL FIRMNESS SETTINGS FOR MOST|
|Light||Less than 130 lbs.||This weight group tends to prefer softer mattresses that conform very closely||‘Soft’ (2-3)
‘Medium Soft (4)
|Average||130 to 230 lbs.||This weight group often prefers beds that offer a balance of soft padding and firm support||‘Medium Soft’ (4)
‘Medium Firm’ (6)
|Heavy||More than 230 lbs.||This weight group usually prefers firmer beds with strong support and minimal conforming||‘Medium Firm’ (6)
‘Extra Firm’ (9)
Most mattresses measure at least 10 inches (10″) in height, though mattress thickness varies from less than five inches (5″) to more than 15 inches (15″). Your body weight may affect your preferred thickness. Lighter individuals may prefer shorter beds, whereas heavier people tend to feel more comfortable on thicker beds.
Mattress types vary significantly in terms of price-point. Generally speaking, foam and innerspring models have lower prices than latex, hybrid, and airbed models. However, this varies significantly by brand and model. The graph below lists the average price for different types of Queen-size mattresses.
When our research team reviews a mattress, we focus on nine performance factors. By using these to judge mattress quality, we are able to gain a well-rounded perspective on each mattress’s benefits and drawbacks.
Durability refers to how long a mattress will continue to perform throughout prolonged use. The average mattress will perform without excessive deterioration for seven years before it should be replaced.
Movement in bed creates motion transfer that may be felt across the rest of the mattress; for couples, this can cause sleep disruptions whenever someone gets into or out of bed or shifts positions. Mattresses with softer, more adaptive comfort layers minimize motion transfer and isolate it to smaller areas of the sleep surface. This can reduce the risk of nighttime disruptions for sleep partners.
Some mattresses conform closely to the sleeper’s body to help align the spine and prevent pressure points from developing, while others offer little to no pressure relief. How closely a mattress conforms is linked to its comfort layer, or the cover and topmost layer(s). Models with thicker comfort layers made of memory foam and/or latex tend to offer the best conforming.
Mattresses that are bouncier and more responsive tend to be better for sex. Mattresses that are not responsive may cause couples to sink too deeply, which can negatively affect sex.
Some beds absorb and trap body heat more than others. This causes sleepers to feel warmer than usual, potentially disrupting sleep.
Virtually all mattresses emit harmless off-gassing particles when they are new, but only foam and to a lesser extent latex carry an unpleasant odor. In most cases, off-gassing smells dissipate in a matter of days (especially when the mattress is kept in a well-ventilated room). However, some models produce excessively strong odors that can persist for much longer.
All mattresses are prone to sinkage at the edges of the bed where people tend to sit when they get up from or into bed. Mattresses with good edge support exhibit less sinkage when weight is applied to the the sides of the bed.
This category refers to the degree to which a mattress makes noise when a sleeper moves around on it. Noisy mattresses can often be detrimental to couples, as one sleeper’s movements can more easily wake up the other sleeper.
When discussing mattresses, support refers to the bed’s ability to provide a flat, even surface that helps align the spine and pelvis, and does not sink beneath heavier areas of the body.
Next, let’s look at the most common mattress types. Every mattress on the market is unique, but the vast majority of models fall into one of the following five categories.
Construction: These are all-foam mattresses. The comfort system features at least one layer of polyfoam and/or memory foam, while the support core is almost always made from high-density polyfoam.
Factors to consider: Use the following factors to determine which foam mattress is most suitable for you.
Average Lifespan: 7 years
Average Price (Queen): $1,044.16
Construction: The comfort layer features at least one layer of latex, a substance extracted from the sap of rubber trees; the latex may be mostly natural or synthetic. The support core may also be made from latex or, alternatively, high-density polyfoam (similar to foam/memory foam mattresses).
Factors to Consider: Use the following factors to determine which latex mattress is most suitable for you.
Average Lifespan: 8.5 years
Average Price (Queen): $1,970.51
Construction: Most innerspring mattresses have one or two layers of polyfoam in the comfort system. The support core features evenly spaced steel coils, as well as a base polyfoam layer in most cases.
Factors to Consider: Use the following factors to determine which innerspring mattress is most suitable for you.
|Bonnell coils||Hourglass-shaped and normally found in cheaper innersprings.|
|Offset coils||Hourglass-shaped (like bonnell coils), but their bottom is straightened to create a hinging effect for more even support. They are more durable than other mattress coils, and usually found in more expensive models.|
|Continuous wire coils||These coils form rows of single steel wires that are joined at the sides to create a hinging motion (similar to offset coils). These coils are durable, but the mattresses do not conform as closely as other innersprings.
|Pocketed coils||Usually found in hybrids, but some innersprings feature them as well. Each coil is wrapped in fabric or cloth. This minimizes noise and reduces more motion transfer than other innerspring coils.|
Average Lifespan: 5.5 years
Average Price (Queen): $1,037.97
Construction: By definition, a true hybrid is constructed with at least two inches (2″) of memory foam and/or latex in the comfort system and a pocketed coil support core. Other models may be listed as hybrids, but this label is technically inaccurate.
Factors to Consider: Use the following factors to determine which hybrid mattress is most suitable for you.
Average Lifespan: 6 years
Average Price (Queen): $2,076.70
Construction: Most airbeds either have thin foam comfort layers or no comfort layer at all. The support core features at least two individual air chambers that can be inflated or deflated to adjust mattress firmness and support.
Factors to Consider: Use the following factors to determine which airbed mattress is most suitable for you.
Average Lifespan: 8 years
Average Price (Queen): $2,282.75
The table below summarizes the key differences and similarities between the five mattress types described above.
|Foam||HD polyfoam support core with a memory foam comfort layer||– Affordable
– Motion isolation
– Conforms closely
|– More likely to have off-gassing/odor issues
– Can be difficult to move on
|Latex||HD polyfoam, latex, or coil support for a latex comfort layer||– Durable
– Natural latex is available
– Conforms to the body
|– More expensive, less available
– Can have an odor
– Poor support at the edges
|Innerspring||A coil support core (offset, pocketed, continuous or bonnel) with a memory foam or polyfoam comfort layer||– Popular and widely available
– Wide range of firmness options
|– Shorter lifespan
– Poor motion isolation
– Springs can become noisy over time
|Hybrid||A pocketed coil support core and thick comfort layer of memory foam, polyfoam, or unique materials||– Conforms and supports well
– Wide range of firmness options
– Good temperature regulation
|– More expensive than almost all other options
– Off-gassing can be an issue
|Airbed||Adjustable air chambers; any comfort layer is usually polyfoam or memory foam||– Easy to adjust to your needs
– Can relieve muscle pain
– Split-bed options available
|– The most expensive mattress type
– Costly to repair
– Noisier than other mattresses
Once you’ve settled on a mattress type, the next steps are purchasing and ordering your new bed. All mattress brands and retailers have different policies, so it’s important to inquire about the following points prior to placing your order:
In today’s marketplace, mattress shoppers can choose from a wide range of buying venues. Those who wish to purchase a mattress online can choose from the following two options:
Buying a mattress directly from the source often results in the most savings, and many mattress brand websites feature live chat tools that allow shoppers to communicate directly with customer service personnel. Buying a mattress from the brand also ensures a full sleep trial and warranty coverage.
Retail sites like Amazon.com carry a wide selection of mattresses, including mattresses from other brands and models that are exclusive to the site. Mattress prices may be lower, or at least on par with the brand’s listed price-point. However, customers may not qualify for the brand’s full sleep trial if they order through these sites; Amazon.com, for instance, offers a standard 30-night sleep trial in these instances. Ordering through these sites usually does not affect warranty coverage as long as the site is an authorized retailer, but shoppers should still inquire to ensure they receive coverage.
Additionally, mattress shoppers may find a bed at the following brick-and-mortar locations:
These large brick-and-mortar establishments typically carry the widest selection of mattress models and bedding materials. They may be privately owned stores or part of larger chains. If you visit a chain-based specialty store, you may be able to negotiate the price of a new mattress to some extent. Mattress specialty stores often offer delivery and in-home assembly services.
Retail chains like Costco, Walmart, and Target often carry a limited supply of mattresses on hand. Some allow shoppers to purchase a mattress on the company’s website and then pick it up at the nearest store location. Others offer mattress delivery services. Big box retailers are unlikely to provide dedicated sales staff that specialize in mattresses.
Like big box retailers, larger furniture and department store chains may carry a small selection of mattresses in brick-and-mortar locations. They may or may not have dedicated sales staff that specialize in mattress sales, depending on the chain.
Now let’s dispel some widespread myths about mattress performance and purchasing.
Lastly, let’s recap all of the important considerations we’ve covered in this guide. When choosing a new mattress, be sure to take the following questions into account:
There are two major categories of specialty mattresses: those made of unique materials, and those meant for unique purposes. While some specialty mattresses have similar purchase criteria to conventional mattresses, some require further research. Follow the links to read our buyer’s guides for each category.
If buying natural products is important to you, consider choosing an organic mattress. While no mattress is 100% organic, green options ranging from 60-90% natural/organic are available. However, they tend to be more expensive and have a smaller selection of options. For extra peace of mind, choose a mattress with green certifications.
App-based controls and sleep tracking technology make smart mattresses a cutting-edge ally in the search for healthy sleep. While expensive, these advanced mattresses can monitor and score your sleep health, then adjust to offer comfort and support. If these features appeal to you, most smart mattress manufacturers offer 90 or 100-night trials.
While they sound similar, air mattresses are very different than airbeds. Air mattresses are meant to be temporary solutions rather than full-time beds like airbeds. However, they make an excellent choice for guests, camping, and other situations. Choosing the right air mattress is important, with a range of models and many factors to consider.
Babies and young toddlers have unique sleep needs, making crib mattresses an essential yet potentially confusing purchase. Follow our crib mattress buying guide to learn more about what to consider when making your choice, then read our reviews to learn which crib mattresses we recommend.
Most mattresses are now one-sided, with a comfort layer that is meant to always stay on top. However, if two-sided mattresses appeal you, there are high-quality flippable options available. These are rarely more expensive than one-sided versions while offering versatility and an improved lifespan. They also make a good choice for sleepers with varying firmness needs, as each side generally has a different firmness level.
Choosing the right mattress for your RV’s sleep space can be headache-inducing. While almost all mattress types can be used, the best RV mattresses we’ve found are memory foam or innerspring. Both specialized RV mattresses and ordinary mattresses with a low profile can be a good fit.
Pets deserve a good night’s rest just like everyone else. Choose the right dog bed by focusing on both your dog’s needs (support for physical problems, size, softness, warmth) and your desires (anti-odor capabilities, aesthetics, waterproofing). Some options can be expensive, but budget-minded dog guardians can find excellent choices under $100.
We understand that shopping for a new mattress can be confusing and frustrating at times. If you have any questions about mattress buying, please shoot us an email and we’ll get back to you shortly.