How to select the best mattress for your needs. Part 1

A mattress guide

Mattresses are a pretty big purchase for most people. Nobody wants to make a mattress decision lightly; after all, you spend more than a third of your life on one. Your bed is a place to sleep, a place to make love, even a place to relax and read a book or watch tv while propped up on pillows.

Your mattress is the most intimate furnishing of your most private room, and, ideally, one you rarely need to replace. You buy a new one; you want to get it right. So: what should you look for? What do you consider when buying the most important piece of furniture in your daily life?

The answer to that last question is plain: price, comfort, and materials.


The price ranges for a mattress is huge– we’re talking as low as $80 for a clearance twin at Ikea to as much as $12,000 for a no-expense-spared, adjustable luxury king-sized Duxiana or Tempur-Pedic piece. The breadth of cost and quality in between those two points is staggering.

That’s why it’s a good idea to have a personal budget in mind before you started shopping: you don’t want to them to upsell you on something that’ll send you into $10k worth of debt, but you also don’t want to get stuck sleeping on a brick just because it was affordable. Whatever you end up purchasing, you want to make sure what you pay is what you get when it comes to quality materials, durability, and comfort.


Comfort is vital when it comes to sleeping, lounging, or cuddling on your mattress. What makes a mattress comfortable for you and your loved ones depends on whether or not you have chronic pain or breathing trouble that affects your sleep, your typical sleep positions, and your personal preference.

In this section, we’ll talk about how different issues affect whether you should choose a soft, medium, medium-firm, or firm mattress to maximize comfort.

Back problems and snoring

The most common medical problems exacerbated by the wrong mattress are lower back problems and breathing trouble (which can cause snoring).

According to WebMD, lower back pain can be soothed when a sleeper’s spine stays aligned all night and ligaments can relax. Doctors recommend memory foam mattresses to keep posture steady during sleep. Alternately, back pain patients with wide hips are often helped by any soft mattress, while firm mattresses help those with narrow hips.

Of course, doctors do note that all patients’ pain improved when sleeping on any new mattress; in one study, most patients slept on mattresses that were almost ten years old, which is too old to be maximally effective.

When it comes to snoring, the best mattresses are those that let you sleep on your side or those that let you sleep slightly elevated, rather than requiring you to lie completely flat when sleeping. Snoring happens when someone’s airways are constricted, and both side sleeping and elevated sleeping opens those airways up. Which brings us to…

Sleep positions

There are four positions a person might sleep in. Some people sleep on their stomachs, some on their sides, some on their backs, and some move around a bit in the night.

  • Stomach sleepers benefit from medium-to-firm mattresses, as these prevent the back pain that can come from this sleep position.
  • Side sleepers often prefer soft mattresses so there isn’t too much pressure on the single point of the hip or shoulder.
  • Back sleepers can do with any kind of mattress firmness; it’s all a personal preference.

And if you move around a lot? Aim for something in the middle, to average things out.


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