Mattress buyer guide. Part 2

  • Size does matter
  • Support

Size does matter

When selecting your new mattress, size does matter. The mattress should always be longer than the person sleeping on it is tall. A mattress that is too short can keep you from getting a good and restful sleep.

The width of the mattress is important too. Even if you like to cuddle with your sleeping partner, you need your own space to sleep. Check the width of the mattress by lying on your back with your hands behind your head; your elbows should be on the bed and not touching your partner.

Most people turn or roll over 40 -60 times a night. Make sure your mattress allows room for you to wiggle without falling out—or pushing your partner out.

Standard mattress sizes

Twin mattresses, also called “singles,” measure 39” by 75” and are best for children or small individuals. The length is really not designed for comfortable sleep for any person taller than 5’5”. Twin mattresses are often made with less quality and durability than their larger counterparts.

The Twin XL is 80” long by 39” wide, and is better for a tall person or a teenager.

The Full mattress, also known as the “double,” is 54” by 75” and is the best size for a single adult. When two people share a full mattress, they have about as much space in width as a crib mattress, a mere 27 inches each.

Queen mattresses are the most popular size mattress today. They measure 60” by 80” and are ideal for couples who like to cuddle. The width allows room to move, without taking up as much space in the bedroom.

King mattresses are 76” by 80”. The width is the equivalent of two twin mattresses. A king is the best choice for couples who like to have their own sleeping space while still sharing a bed.

California King mattresses sacrifice some of that width for length. They measure 72” by 84” and are the most common size for adjustable beds.

Of course, you will want to be sure to choose a mattress that fits both your sleeping style and your living space. A California King might seem less comfortable if you have to climb over the dresser to get into it.


Support is determined by the mattress type. The type is determined by the core of the mattress. Support is related to, but not equal to, firmness. Any mattress, whether firm or soft, should support your body and spine.

There are generally four types of mattresses, which are described below. Essentially the choice for most shoppers will come down to coil/spring mattress or foam mattress. Each type has its benefits and its drawbacks.

The coil or innerspring mattress is the most common mattress choice for many shoppers. They range in price from $300 to $1500. Innerspring mattresses are good for side and back sleepers who are not experiencing any back pain. The springs, or coils, are made from steel and these mattresses tend to be the bounciest.

Innerspring mattresses can come in a variety of styles of springs, each offering its own twist on comfort and support. Some brands of innerspring mattresses come with individually wrapped, or pocketed, coils to reduce mattress-wide bounce. Pocketed coils will make the sleeping movements of your partner less disturbing to your own sleep.

Innerspring mattresses are also available as pillow tops, with either foam or fiberfill making up the top. Pillow top mattresses provide solid support with squishy comfortable softness.

Some manufacturers are now making hybrids, coils with foam layers to provide the support and softness desired by some sleepers.

Memory foam mattresses are becoming more popular as their price has declined over the last decade. They are still more expensive than the coil mattress, ringing in at $650-$3000. Memory foams are good for those who sleep primarily on their back and for those with body pain. These mattresses can be purchased with for dual firmness for partners who want or need different levels.

The benefits of these mattresses are that they conform to the sleeper’s body, providing that cushion or hugging feeling; they isolate movement, so one partner’s restlessness doesn’t bother the other, and they are far less likely to contain allergens.

Drawbacks to the memory foam are that they can be hard to move around on, with that body-hugging conformity; they are made from synthetic materials that require airing out before use and may have a lingering chemical or plastic smell, and they have a reputation for retaining heat. Some manufacturers are now adding a cool gel layer to the memory foam to counter the heat retention.

Latex foam mattresses are comparable in price with memory foam mattresses. They are more breathable than memory foam, so they are less likely to retain heat. They are heavy and hard to turn but are firmer than memory foam. They are extremely durable, although cheap brands will develop lumps. In addition, they are antimicrobial and less likely to contain allergens, which is great for allergy sufferers.

Air-filled or adjustable air mattresses run from $700 to $4000. These mattresses are great for both back and side sleepers. They are especially beneficial for people who suffer from back or neck pain and arthritis. The dually adjustable sides offer flexibility and control, but some owners complain that adjusting the bed at night disturbs their partners. Also, the foam supports the divide the adjustable sides can become uncomfortable over time.

Recently, in response to complaints about chemicals in mattresses and in an effort to support the green environmental conservation movement, some manufacturers are offering natural or organic mattresses. These mattresses are among the highest priced non-custom mattresses with a price tag of up to twenty thousand. They offer an organic alternative to memory foam and latex foam. They have no chemical smells and are better for the environment.

Not all natural mattresses are equally organic. Since the word natural isn’t regulated, anyone can use it. Some mattresses will be labeled organic, even if only some of the materials are certified organic. If you are seeking a truly organic mattress, look for certification from GOTS or GOLS. To meet the GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) at least 95% of the materials must be certified organic.

GOTS also prohibits the use of harmful ingredients like dyes and some chemicals. GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard) requires that any latex must come from a certified, organic source. Prices for certified mattresses start at about $2000.


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