Sweet dreams are made of cozy linens, plush pillows, and the perfect mattress to help support you through the night. So whether you prefer your mattress on the softer side or something a bit more firm, we've pulled together everything you need to know to help you choose the right mattress.
The biggest factors that affect how well you sleep well at night are personal stress, comfort, and noise pollution. While reducing stress in your life 24/7 is easier said than done, ensuring that you sleep on a mattress that provides enough comfort and support is easier than you think.
"Comfort plays a big part when choosing the right mattress and research shows that it is the second most important factor that affects sleep quality," says Koala's Insights and Innovation lead, Vikram Viswanath. "As such, finding a mattress that feels supportive and keeps the spine aligned through the night is of paramount importance."
Here's what you need to know about choosing the right mattress for you.
Different Mattress Types
There are so many mattresses on the market that choosing a new one can seem overwhelming. Each manufacturer bedazzles with new technology and marketing speak, making it practically impossible to weigh up comparable products between brands — unless you bring it down to basics.
Keep in mind there are predominately four types of mattresses to choose from, so once you know what you like you can limit your search to that style and then select the appropriate bells and whistles.
Spring mattresses are perhaps the most common type of mattress. It's the spring system that provides support, so it's important to check the quality of the springs and the way they're arranged.
Pocket spring systems, where the springs are independent of each other, are generally considered the best. It's the padding surrounding the springs that supplies the comfort.
Many manufacturers will use the same spring system and then vary the padding to provide a range of different mattresses. Confusingly, a particular model produced by a manufacturer may be listed under different names at various retailers, making it hard to compare prices.
Latex is a natural hypo-allergenic material made from the sap of rubber trees. Good latex mattresses have pin-core holes incorporated into the design that allow them to breathe. Latex mattresses curve to the shape of your body, minimizing gaps between you and the mattress and providing a great cushioning experience.
Quality latex mattresses are expensive, but they can last up to 25 years. Plus, they're good for allergy sufferers as they are much less attractive to dust mites than traditional spring styles.
Also known as viscoelastic foam, memory foam was originally created by NASA to be used in astronauts' seats to soak up g-forces. It's made from polyurethane and conforms to the shape of your body. It takes about 15 minutes to fully respond to your body's warmth and doesn't spring back like regular foam.
Some testers have reported lying on this type of mattress felt like floating, as it supports high-load areas such as hips and shoulders, while others said the experience was more like being bogged in wet sand.
There is concern that memory foam may retain too much heat to be comfortable, but some companies are incorporating new, "temperature neutral" materials into their designs.
Pillow tops are inner-spring or latex mattresses that have a top layer of another material, such as feathers, memory foam, or latex, to provide a luxurious cushion, which they undoubtedly do — at first. The problem with pillow tops is the upper layer tends to wear out faster than the mattress.
Consider buying a separate pillow top, known as a mattress topper or overlay, and fitting it onto your mattress if this is the way you want to go. Pillow-top mattresses are not to be confused with memory-foam ones, which are designed to have two layers and will wear evenly.
When lying on your back in bed your spine should maintain its natural curve. You should be able to slide a hand under your lower back, but not easily as too big a gap means the mattress is too hard. When on your side, your spine should remain straight. If the mattress is too firm, you'll soon feel pressure on your hips and shoulders. If too soft, you'll sink into the mattress, causing your back to ache.
Anne Cooper, president of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Osteopathic Association, likes a mattress to be firm but not hard and to have consistent support under the middle of the back. Her advice is to look at inner-spring mattresses with a latex top, as the combination offers both support and cushioning.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Homes to Love.