Skip Buying Guide? See Our Lists of the Best Mattresses To Buy 2021
Sleeping seems like the most natural thing in the world, and getting the best sleep possible shouldn’t be more difficult than lying down and closing your eyes. However, there are a lot of things that can derail your attempts to get a good night’s sleep, and the most important of those is the surface you are laying on. Mattresses make a big difference in how well you sleep, how deeply you sleep and if you wake up feeling refreshed or feeling like you have been hit by a truck.
A bad sleep surface can make you toss and turn, leave your more vulnerable body areas unsupported, and end up causing you a great deal of pain. One of the most thorough sleep studies done covered 128 people on a variety of mattresses of different levels of firmness for a long 4-week period of time. The Krystal and Edinger study proved that mattresses not only matter, they have a big impact on our physical well-being when we are awake as well.
Age of Mattresses Can Cause Physical Distress
A 2009 study showed that the surface you sleep on can lead to high stress levels. The key factor seemed to be mattress age. It isn’t unusual for people to use a mattress until it is so far gone that it almost has no shape whatsoever. That means it doesn’t have any support left either. New beds proved to lower stress levels based on the number of headaches, racing thoughts while trying to get to sleep, shifting and tossing, as well as overall nervousness and irritability during the following day.
Older mattresses also increase the likelihood of an accumulation of dust mites. As disgusting as it may seem, these little bugs feed off of the dead skin you naturally shed during the night, and you can have pillows and mattresses full of them without ever seeing them. Dust mites do not cause a specific illness, instead they aggravate allergies and you may be suffering without understanding where the issues are.
Mattress Quality Considerations
In general, people go about selecting mattresses the wrong way. Most people go out and shop for a mattress in a “window shopping” manner, testing the feel of a mattress when they are wide awake. Unfortunately, this does not do a good job in telling that person how a mattress will react to their bodies during the night when they are asleep, and their bodies are fully relaxed in a REM stage sleep.
During REM sleep your body relaxes in a way it cannot when you are awake, even lying down. The skeletal muscles that surround the spine will never relax fully when you are awake, and therefore, may give you a false impression when testing mattresses during the day. So, how do you go about finding the best mattress for your sleep comfort without testing them while shopping? Read on…
Position Matters when Choosing a Mattress
Believe it or not, the most important thing to consider when looking for a mattress is your typical sleeping position. The best mattress for side sleepers is not necessarily the best for people who prefer to sleep on their backs.
The best mattress for back sleepers will be one that provides the most support for the spine. A mattress that is too soft will sink in and allow the spine to curve in an unnatural position, pushing the vertebra out of position. A medium-firm memory foam mattress is a great choice for back sleepers, and back sleepers should consider a mattress without a topper or pillow top.
Side sleepers have a different set of needs. Even though sleeping on the side is one of the healthiest positions for people to lie in, the best mattress for side sleepers will provide a lot of relief for common pressure points. Memory foam is an excellent choice because it distributes weight evenly, keeping joints protected and offering the most support for curved areas. Side sleepers generally need the mattress to give well in the widest areas of the body like the shoulder and hip areas. People who are side sleepers should look for soft, plush mattresses, and yet make sure there is plenty of support underlying those areas.
Now for the toughest position—stomach sleeping. The best mattress for stomach sleepers will keep the pressure off of the chest. The reason stomach sleepers have so much difficulty is the position interferes with breathing and puts a great deal of strain on the heart. The last thing you want when sleeping on your stomach is a mattress that is hard and unforgiving. Spring coil mattresses are extremely harsh and not designed to alleviate the pressure anywhere on the body, much less keep the spine in the right position. When sleeping on the stomach, your spine curves unnaturally upwards, creating a deep concave curve in the lumbar region. It is no wonder that many stomach sleepers also have lower back problems that persist throughout the day.
It is easy for experts to say “change your sleep position” if you sleep on your stomach. It is much harder to do. As a stomach sleeper myself, I can attest to the difficulty of convincing your body that you can change the way you prefer sleeping. At some point you just give up and go back to where you are most comfortable, even knowing you will wake up with pain. You can get rid of the pain by choosing the best mattress for stomach sleepers, a mattress that is firm enough to prevent sagging spine syndrome, and still soft enough to allow the pressure to be removed from the chest, freeing up the lungs and taking the stress off the heart.
What to Look for in a Great Support Mattress
Quality is usually not as subjective as some manufacturers would like you to think it is. A good quality mattress will have enough inner material to perform the way it supposed to without wearing down too quickly. It should have strong stitching at the seams, and offer a strong warranty. Make sure you understand the limits of the warranty offered. Most mattresses come with a 10 to 15 year warranty. However you must keep all of the paperwork including the receipt from the sale for the warranty to be valid. Some are also pro-rated and having a 15 year warranty does not mean you will get a full refund or replacement after 11 years like you would after 11 days. Whether you by in-store on online, when buying your mattress make sure you or someone you trust is available on the day of delivery, so that someone can inspect the mattress for any defects upon arrival.
+ When It’s Not All about You
Of course, your personal comfort is important, but when you have a partner sharing your bed, it is important to consider their sleep needs as well. If two people have vastly different requirements or comfort preferences, a dual mattress may be the best choice. Some dual mattresses are a single platform with the ability to fill each side differently. Some waterbeds and air beds fit that choice option. Some provide a way to set a different temperature on each side of a mattress. Waterbeds with individual chambers can allow two users to set each side to a different temperature. However, another common problem for partners is tossing and turning. When one partner is a restless sleeper, a memory foam, latex or dual-chamber air mattress is a great choice to allow the quieter sleeper to get undisturbed rest.
+ Types of Mattresses
There are eight major types of mattresses that encompass all of the varieties possible. These types include:
- Innerspring: Coiled springs make up the inner chamber of these mattresses. While higher-quality innerspring mattresses can provide decent sleep support, they are the least forgiving, and provide the least amount of weight distribution.
- Hybrid: Hybrid mattresses contain one or more of the various types of mattresses, such as an innerspring mattress with a memory foam padding on top to help improve the weight distribution. Or a Waterbed core with a gel or memory foam top section.
- Waterbed: simple waterbeds are a large, heavy-duty plastic casing that is filled with water. Treatments may be required to keep the water clean for prolonged use. There are several varieties of waterbeds that can change the overall makeup of a simple water case. There are hard-sided waterbeds that provide a more rectangular feel and do not require the heavy wood framework that traditional waterbeds must have to keep them in place.There are cylinder waterbeds comprised of a number of individual tubes filled with water placed inside of a mattress frame. These are the most visually similar to a standard mattress, and still give users the familiar waterbed feel. Waterbeds provide excellent adaptability to body shape, but do not offer as much firm support. They are a good mattress for back sleepers, may be acceptable for side sleepers, but are generally not as good for stomach sleepers. One excellent quality that waterbeds provide is the ability to adjust the level of water to the exact level of firmness desired.
- Memory Foam: Visco, or memory foam, is one of the most popular support type mattresses. They are generally good for any sleep position, and offer the best weight distribution, joint relief and pain free sleeping surfaces.
- Pillow Top: Pillow top mattresses can be any type of mattress, but with the added plush, fill stuffing on top that add an extra layer of comfort. While pillow tops are undeniably comfortable, and their fluffy softness may make you feel great initially, great care should be taken in choosing this addition. Pillow tops may create a surface that is too soft to provide support for back sleepers.
They are also usually too soft for stomach sleeping. Pillow tops on a memory foam or other mattress type are good choices for side sleepers.
- Gel: A gel mattress may sound like it is a version of a waterbed except with a thicker substance inside the chamber. However, gel is really more of a very small, flexible foam particle that has a gel coating. The coating gives the foam fibers a slightly more giving feel than standard foam and also allows heat to dissipate better for a cooler sleeping surface.
- Air Bed: Air beds resemble waterbeds in the way they are constructed. They consist of a rubber outer shell that is filled with air instead of water. Like a waterbed, the air bed can be filled to various levels to provide a precise level of firmness.
- Latex: Latex pads are a form of foam mattress, but they are less resilient than memory foam. They push back harder, and are a firmer surface. For people who are looking to sink into a foam bed, the latex may feel too unforgiving, yet they offer excellent support for back and stomach sleepers. They may also be the best mattress for stomach sleepers and back sleepers because they do not accumulate heat the way other foam mattresses often do.
+ Finding the Best Mattress for the Money While Maintaining Quality
According to the Sleep Foundation, people should evaluate and change their mattresses when any sign of wear is present every seven years. That’s a pretty pricey proposition for some people. However, quality of sleep is important for everybody, and cost, while it is a factor, shouldn’t be allowed to compromise your health. Check out the review of the 10 best mattresses that have a price below $300 if you are looking for great deals on mattresses with solid performance statistics.
Reviews like these can help buyers find the best options for their needs. Learning what has worked for others, but reading reviews is one good way to make decisions. Another is considering the group of highest rated mattresses in your budget group and looking for the type of mattress that best suits your living and sleeping situations. The review of the 10 best mattresses that have a price between $300 and $500 will give a good view of what to expect from this price range, and since the review covers only the top 10 rated mattresses of various material types, it is a good bet you can find just the right one for your health and rest.
If you want a true resort-quality mattress, be prepared to pay a little more. The higher price does make it harder for some people to replace these mattresses as often as they should, but known that those that are shown in reports such as the review of the 10 best mattresses that have a price between $500 and $1000 will offer the highest level of comfort, style and likely durability.
+ Is a Mattress Topper the Right Choice for You?
Sometimes a mattress pad can add extra comfort to a high-end mattress. They allow you to customize the amount of cushioning rather than settling for a pre-selected pillow top. Along with toppers there are also mattress pads, these both protect the mattress you buy from stains and keep dead skin cells from building up inside the mattress, they also have a layer of padding that increase the comfort of your sleeping area. When mattress toppers really come in handy are when people feel too hot sleeping on memory foam mattresses or if they have a partner who likes warm mattresses and they prefer a cooler surface.
- Best Selling Mattress Pads
- Best Selling Mattress Toppers
- Best Selling Mattress Protectors
- Best Selling Mattress Encasements
+ 4 Frequently Asked Questions
#1: I have a lot of back pain in the morning. What type of mattress will help most?
One way to judge if your mattress is causing your back pain is to see if the pain you feel when you first wake up can be alleviated with some light stretching for several minutes. If the pain persists beyond a reasonable attempt to work out kinks, you may have an underlying problem that is more than an unsupportive mattress. However, both types of pain can be improved with a good support surface. Even pain from disc injuries and swollen muscles can be reduced when you have a mattress designed to give you a more restful night’s sleep. The best mattress for lower back pain are memory foam, foam or waterbed style mattresses.
#2: Are memory foam mattresses flame resistant?
Yes, all mattresses created after 2007 are required to have enough flame retardant to be considered fire proof.
#3: What price range should I consider to get the best mattress, but not destroy my budget?
Everyone’s budget is different. Getting the right mattress for your needs should be a priority, then consider the cost and look for a mattress in your budget that meets the same standards as your preferred choice. You can start by looking over the review of the 10 best mattresses that have the price below $300 and work from there.
#4: Do I always need to buy a box spring with my mattress?
No, in many cases the box spring you already have will work fine with a new mattress. Check your existing set to see if there are any breaks, sags or exposed areas. If it is in good condition most new mattresses will work fine on top so long as the size stays the same. In the case of certain style specific mattress types like standard waterbeds, or foam, a containment frame is required, or a solid, non-spring surface. There is no solution for a frame requirement. However, when a new mattress requires a non-spring surface, a sheet of plywood on top of the box spring will provide the solid surface needed.
+ Make Your Mattress Last with Proper Care
While wear and tear will eventually break down the surface of any mattress, there are things you can to do keep your mattress in the best shape possible, and improve the cleanliness of the surface you sleep on.
- Use Pads: Mattress pads are the best way to prevent dirt and debris as well as moisture from night sweats, illness or bodily excretions from invading the inner core of the mattress. Since deep washing isn’t possible, it is important to prevent anything from seeping down past the surface of the mattress so that it remains fresh and healthy for you for years.
- Air it Out: Air out the mattress regularly, not just when it is new. New mattresses frequently carry an odor from packaging and shipping, especially foam type mattresses, but all mattresses will gather odors from body and atmosphere emissions over time. Let the mattress air out in a well-ventilated area (open all the bedroom windows) every time you change the sheets for the best results.
- Keep the Tag: No, it is not against the law to remove the tag. The warning on the tag about removal is for manufacturers and sellers. However, that tag contains vital information for identification and warranty use, so keep it in place.
+ Best Mattresses for Special Needs
There are certain times in life when your mattress has to provide extra benefits, such as when you are pregnant. Pregnant women have specific support requirements. Most of the time, when a woman is pregnant she has a hard time sleeping on her back and just forget about stomach sleeping. The only position that is truly comfortable is on the side, but the side sleeping position can post problems for the spine and not support the stomach enough. A memory foam mattress is usually the best choice for pregnant sleepers.
I hope that you have found enough information to get started on your search for the best mattress for the money you have available. Your mattress matters. You spend at least eight hours a day on it. That’s more than almost any other single piece of furniture in your life, and it is responsible for giving you a healthy, comfortable place to relax and prepare for the day ahead. Make sure you are getting the best mattress for side sleepers or the position you prefer the best, and live better, healthier and more productively.
Last updated: 3/2021