Which Mattress Is Best? A Buying Guide
There’s nothing better than a great night’s sleep: You wake up energised, happy and ready to take on whatever the day might throw at you. But if you’re experiencing aches and pains or are tossing and turning all night trying to get comfortable, it might be time to invest in a new mattress.
But which mattress is best? That is the all-important question. After all, we spend a third of our lives in the land of nod, so you need to make sure the one you buy is right for you.
We’ve put together a comprehensive mattress buying guide with pros and cons of all the different mattress types, the best type of mattress for back problems and even the best kind for side sleepers, so you can be sure your choice is the right one.
Best Type of Mattress for Back Problems
Back problems are very common, and the wrong mattress can either cause or exacerbate the issue. So which type of mattress is best for back pain?
The most recommended type would be one that’s labelled as orthopaedic. These are designed to provide optimum support and comfort, distribute weight evenly and promote good spinal alignment and a healthy posture.
Orthopaedic mattresses are often made with pocket spring systems and foam to provide the highest level of support for joints and pressure points.
However, pure memory foam and latex options are also good for people with back pain as they relieve pressure points by contouring to the body and cushioning joints.
It’s important to have the right pillows too. If they’re too thick or piled high, your neck will be curved upwards, rather than straight and aligned with the rest of your spine.
Generally there are four kinds of mattresses: open coil, pocket sprung, memory foam and latex – though there are lots of hybrid mattresses around too. Let us talk you through each type so you can make the most informed decision.
Open Coil vs Pocket Sprung
Both of these kinds of mattresses have spring systems, but the way the springs are laid out is different. This affects both the price and the overall comfort, though there are some great benefits to each.
Open coil mattresses have springs that are all connected by a continuous wire across the width of the mattress. This means that when you move, it will cause the springs across the width to move too because they’re all connected, which might affect the sleep of a partner if you often toss and turn, or vice versa.
This type of spring system can lose its form more quickly than other types, increasing the ‘roll together’ effect, whereby you and your sleeping partner both roll towards the middle. However, they are generally the least expensive of the mattress types and make excellent options if your budget is tight.
Pocket sprung mattresses contain springs that each come in their own individual pocket, so they move independently of one another which makes them more supportive. The individual pockets move to help promote spinal alignment and relieve pressure points – your shoulders and hips, for example. The higher the number of pockets, the more supportive the mattress will be.
You also won’t disturb a partner the same way as with an open coil mattress as you’ll only be causing the springs underneath you to move, rather than causing all the springs to shift in unison. The price of pocket sprung mattresses, however, tends to be higher than that of open coil types and often increases with the number of springs.
Latex vs Memory Foam
These kinds of mattresses are both made of foam, but have slightly different properties. Foam mattresses are becoming more and more popular so it’s well worth checking the pros and cons to see if they’d suit you.
Memory foam is a synthetic material with viscoelastic properties that contours to your body. It was actually invented by NASA to keep astronauts cushioned during flights! Now a popular mattress material, it’s ideal for those looking for more support as it reduces pressure on the spine and joints, leading to a more comfortable night’s sleep.
Hypoallergenic and anti-dust mite, it’s a great material for people with allergies or respiratory problems. Those with restless partners can sleep undisturbed on memory foam as it’s a very quiet material with no creaks and no transfer of movement. These mattresses are also low maintenance as there’s no need to flip them.
As beneficial as a memory foam mattress may be, especially when it comes to support, it does have some drawbacks, with one of the main disadvantages being heat retention. As it hugs your form it retains the heat, which some people may find makes them too hot – though with new cooling technology, such as cooling gel, this isn’t always a problem. They can also lose their form over time, meaning they don’t bounce back to their original form as quickly and sometimes develop dips. Lastly, they’re quite heavy but as they don’t need to be flipped, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Latex mattresses are made from either 100% natural latex, synthetic latex, or a blend of the two. Natural latex is biodegradable and derived from rubber tree sap, which means the trees are not cut down and can keep growing and producing sap for decades, making it the most eco-friendly of the mattress types. It’s more durable than the synthetic varieties and doesn’t have ‘off-gassing’ chemicals that emanate from it like synthetic mattresses do – though natural latex is generally more expensive than synthetic.
Like memory foam, it relieves back and joint pain by cushioning pressure points and promotes healthy spinal alignment. It’s also hypoallergenic and low maintenance as it repels harmful microorganisms and dust mites that can sometimes accumulate in non-foam mattresses.
However, unlike memory foam, it’s more durable. It bounces back to retain its shape much more quickly and maintains its original form over years, giving it a longer lifespan – on average, 12 to 20 years, which is much longer than other types of mattress.
It doesn’t retain heat like memory foam does, which can be an important point for those who don’t want to risk overheating at night.
What Is a Hybrid Mattress?
Some mattresses combine both springs and foam in separate layers to give you the best of both worlds. So you could have the support of pocket springs with a layer of foam or gel on top for additional comfort. It makes a great choice for those who like both the spring support and the contouring and pain-relieving attributes of latex or memory foam.
Best Type of Mattress for Side Sleepers
Side sleepers can suffer with incorrect spinal alignment and pain on pressure points including the shoulder and hip. These areas often need some extra support, so a memory foam or latex mattress makes a good choice. They can help relieve these pressure points and promote good spinal alignment, as can a hybrid mattress which features a layer of foam on top.
If you’re not a fan of foam, pocket sprung mattresses are also good as the pocket springs respond individually to extra pressure being applied in specific areas.
Side sleepers should steer clear of mattresses that are too firm. If you need a softer one but can’t quite manage the cost of a whole new mattress, you can always opt for a topper instead to soften your mattress and provide a little extra comfort.
Other Things to Consider
There’s lots to think about when investing in a mattress, and not just whether it’s spring or foam. To get the best night’s sleep, make sure you consider these points below too.
The deeper the mattress, the more comfortable it will be. Slimmer mattresses, however, tend to be great for those on a budget or for guest rooms.
Whether you just want an extra layer of comfort or can’t quite afford a brand new mattress, a topper makes a great investment. There are lots of different types of mattress toppers, with synthetic varieties often being cheaper yet sometimes a little hotter to sleep on. Natural options – those filled with wool or down, for example – don’t retain heat as they’re temperature-regulating but are generally a lot more expensive.
Whether you’re buying a new mattress or not, a mattress protector is well worth buying. It will keep more hygienic as sweat and dead skin won’t build up in the mattress, causing germs to breed and creating an unhealthy sleeping environment.
Waterproof covers are a must for children’s beds in case of accidents – but don’t forget your bed too if your kids sometimes end up in it! Mattresses can be a pain to clean so this helps to minimise maintenance. If you do need to find out how to clean a mattress though, we have a handy guide to help.
Flip Your Mattress!
Remember to flip your mattress every so often (if it can be flipped – some can’t) and/or turn it to make sure it’s used evenly and pressure marks don’t build up.
Now you know about all the different mattress types and everything else you need to consider, you’re in a great position to decide which mattress is best for you. A good night’s sleep is worth its weight in gold, so have a think about how the different options suit your needs and look forward to a comfortable, sound night’s sleep every day of the week.