You'll often hear that you must visit a real store and test out the mattresses before buying, but that's not always the case. Getting the feel of a mattress before buying one is certainly important, but you can still buy a mattress online without trying it out, if you know exactly which model you need. For example, if you slept on a particular one at a friend’s or in the hotel.
If you happen to lie somewhere on the most comfortable mattress in the world, do not hesitate to ask the owner the name of the model and manufacturer. Perhaps one such question will solve your choice problems.
If you don’t have a favorite mattress model yet, you need to find it. Here's what you need to focus on when choosing:
- Type of mattress
Types of mattresses
There are inflatable, water, spring and springless mattresses. Consider the pros and cons of each type.
If you're looking for temporary accommodation for guests, or need a portable sleeping place, you should take a look at air mattresses. You can sleep on an air mattress for a couple of weeks quite comfortably, however, prolonged use of such a mattress will affect the health of your back in a negative way.
Advantages of an air mattress:
- Mobility. If you often move from place to place or temporarily rent an unfurnished apartment while waiting for moving into your own place, an air mattress can do you good service. However, it may not always be for a long time, since it is very easy to damage it.
- The bed can simply be deflated and put into the closet. You can use it for a party, for example.
- The simplest air mattress will cost you about 20 USD, more expensive models will cost about +/-100 USD.
Disadvantages of an air mattress:
- It does not provide the necessary support for the spine, so after a while, you may experience back and neck pain, and poor sleep. Among those who have been using inflatable mattresses for a long time, very few are satisfied. The rest complain of pain and a bad mood in the morning.
- The mattress is easy to damage, especially if you have animals at home. One joyful jump of a cat can put your sleeping place in disrepair. Over time, microscopic holes appear in the mattress (most often at the fastening points of individual air chambers). You will not be able to find exactly where the air comes out from, and by morning you might wake up almost on the floor.
- It is uncomfortable to sleep together with someone on an air mattress. When one is tossing or turning over, the other is going to feel all these movements.
- An air mattress is a good temporary solution, especially if you sleep on it alone. But do not take it as a long-term option.
In the simplest versions, there are no cameras, that is, the mattress is just a case filled with water. You can’t even sit on it without having a mini-tsunami. You will feel the waves during the turns or movements of a person sleeping next to you.
For couples, this option is completely unsuitable, since a lighter partner may be on the bubble, while the second one will fall into the water hole. And sleeping on such a mattress is pretty rocking, so the morning will not be very good.
The choice for couples is a water bed divided into two independent parts. Another option is a mattress consisting of several chambers filled with water. It will not go in waves from the slightest little move.
Advantages of a water mattress:
Perfectly adapts to the shape of the body, perfectly unloads the spine and joints. Blood circulates through the body freely, your arm or leg won’t become numb.
Dust mites will not live in the mattress.
It does not deform over time.
The water mattress is always installed in a special box with electric heating. Every night you will get to go to a warm bed and fall asleep faster. And also such warmth is useful to those who suffer from arthritis, rheumatism, muscle pain.
The mattress cover does not require special cleaning, just wipe the dust off with a cloth.
Contrary to all fears, the mattress is very difficult to damage. Damage can be repaired independently using the supplied repair kit. And the most cautious can even insure their bed.
Disadvantages of a water mattress:
Those who are comfortable with firm mattresses are unlikely to be able to adapt to water.
In the reviews, some complain of increased back pain, which suggests that such a mattress is not suitable for everyone. Consult a podiatrist before purchasing.
The mattress weighs from 220 to 1985 lbs. Of course, it will not break the floor in the apartment, but it will be difficult to move it to another corner. The process is complicated by the fact that the box of the mattress is connected to the outlet (remember about heating?). In general, rearrangement, repair or relocation will become the challenge.
In the mattress, you need to change the water every 2-3 years, and add a special conditioner to it once a year so that microorganisms do not start living in there.
The minimum cost of a double water mattress, on which you will not feel floating on the waves, is 1000 USD. You will also need a heater and a box. The total price of a water bed is about 2000 USD.
A good water mattress is not easy to find in a small town. You can take a chance and order on the Internet, trusting reviews of other buyers, but most likely, the cost of delivery will be intimidating. And you still have to look for a master who will correctly install the bed.
Almost everyone probably heard that there are mattresses with dependent and independent spring blocks.
Dependent Springs Mattresses
The springs are interconnected in a single canvas. You press on one - all of them come into motion.
Advantages of a mattress with dependent springs:
Perhaps the only pro of such a mattress is its cost. You can find pretty budget options. Although sometimes there are fillers in the mattress that raise the price to the level of quality springless mattresses or mattresses with independent spring blocks.
Disadvantages of a mattress with dependent springs:
Gradually, the mattress is deformed, becoming a hammock. Sleeping on it becomes uncomfortable. It becomes harmful to the back.
It is inconvenient for couples, since when one of the sleeping people is tossing around, the second one will feel vibrations. Also, a lighter partner may roll down to a heavier one.
The spring block can break, the sharp edges of the springs can pierce the mattress upholstery or stab through it.
The mattress is hard to transport. So when moving, you will have to leave it, sell it or hire at least a minibus for transportation.
A mattress with dependent springs is suitable for occasional use. You can buy it, for example, for a summer residence, choosing a cheaper model.
Independent Springs Mattresses
Each spring is in a fabric case and works autonomously. The number of springs varies from 250 to 1,000 per square meter. The more springs, the better the mattress adapts to the contours of your body.
Advantages of a mattress with independent springs:
It supports the spine in a natural position: if you sleep on your side, the springs will become punctured more under the shoulder and thigh, and less in the waist and knees area.
Models with independent springs are convenient for couples, especially since you can choose a mattress with different firmness on each half of it.
DIsadvantages of the mattress with independent springs:
It is also difficult to transport.
Springs can break.
Over time, the springs may begin to creak.
In general, mattress with independent spring blocks is a good choice for daily sleep.
It is easy to guess that this is a mattress consisting only of a cover and a certain filler.
Advantages of a springless mattress:
A quality springless mattress will provide the correct support for the spine. For back problems, it is these mattresses that are recommended.
It remains silent throughout the entire service life, unlike spring ones, which can begin to creak.
Convenient for transportation: usually such a mattress can be rolled up and transported even in a passenger car.
Disadvantages of a springless mattress:
The disadvantages of a springless mattress are the cons of its filler. We will talk about the types and properties of fillers a little later.
If you find a comfortable springless mattress for yourself, it will provide you with a sound and healthy sleep for many years. Such a mattress can be bought for children, since a spring mattress can quickly fail it when jumping on it.
Important factors to consider
As mentioned before, when it comes to mattresses, the type of matterss isn't the only thing you need to take into account. Other factors such as filler, covers and stiffness play an important role in the quality and comfort of the mattress.
Mattress covers are mainly made from cotton, sometimes adding synthetics for durability. Warm covers are made of wool. The cover can be two-sided: the cotton side is for summer, the woolen side is for winter. Sometimes covers are hypoallergenic and fireproof.
Types of Fillers
If everything is quite simple with covers, it’s not as easy with fillers. Almost all of them are used both in springless and spring mattresses. Most often you can find a combination of several materials.
Let's go through the properties of the most popular fillers.
The only advantage of a cotton mattress is its cost which can be around just 20 USD. But the cost of double models is comparable to the more modern types of mattresses, so the question arises: is there any point in buying a cotton mattress?
Cotton does not provide sufficient elasticity for proper support of the spine, rolls off pretty quickly, absorbs moisture, but does not breathe well, that is, the mattress must be regularly dried to avoid active reproduction of microorganisms. A cotton mattress can be considered as an inexpensive temporary solution.
A springless mattress with polyester batting filling is lightweight and inexpensive but also cannot provide the necessary support for the spine. But it is convenient to keep it at home or carry with you on hikes and trips. You can use it temporarily, and then put it in a closet in case guests arrive.
A polyester batting layer is often used in spring mattresses to provide softness.
Holofiber is commonly used with other materials. The holofiber layer gives elasticity and softness to a hard base made of coconut.
Holofiber is breathable, hypoallergenic and fairly durable.
This is a material obtained from synthetic polyester fiber, sometimes with the addition of natural materials: cotton, bamboo, coconut, wool. Holcon fibers are vertical springs, so the filler is magnificent and quickly restores shape if pressed.
Holcon is warm, light, does not absorb odors and moisture, hypoallergenic, inexpensive. Mattresses made from holcon only are rather thin. They can be used if you sleep on the couch or like to sleep on your stomach.
Polyurethane foam (foam rubber)
Of course, in high-quality mattresses you will not find that yellow thin foam rubber, which we used to see in older times.
Modern polyurethane foam for mattresses is resilient and elastic, and greatly repeats the shape of the body. A thick springless mattress made of foam rubber supports the back very well. Due to the porous texture, polyurethane foam breathes well, it is durable and hypoallergenic.
All kinds of foams are derivatives of polyurethane foam, in which additives of different densities are present, so that the rigidity of mattresses can vary. There are models with several zones of varying firmness, and they provide the correct support for the spine. Also, for example, silver ions can be added to the foam to protect against bacteria.
There are a lot of foam names, they may differ from manufacturers. In general, modern foams are elastic, resilient, hypoallergenic, and last 10–25 years.
A mattress with such a filler completely repeats the shape of the body, supporting it and unloading the spine and joints. In addition, the mattress isn’t bouncing and moving when your bedmate turns around, so your sleep will be more sound and calm.
However, not everyone can get used to diving into a mattress, and some are too hot on it. It will also be inconvenient for those who are used to sleeping on their stomach. However, the layer of such foam may be thin, and then the effect will not be too noticeable.
Artificial and Natural Latex
Manufacturers claim that dust mites do not live in latex. However, the same is said about foam mattresses. Latex provides good support for the spine. Thanks to the porous structure, the mattress breathes, so moisture evaporates instantly.
The disadvantages include the specific smell and heaviness of the mattress. Some owners note that after a few years a depression from the body appears on the mattress, which further interferes with the comfortable sleeping. They also sometimes complain that it is hot to sleep on a latex mattress.
The main differences between natural and synthetic latex:
Natural latex will last more than 30 years, some manufacturers even give a guarantee for this period. Synthetic latex mattresses will please you a little less.
Synthetic latex is firmer than natural.
Natural latex mattresses are more expensive than synthetic.
Perhaps the advantage of natural latex over other fillers, which we wrote about above, is precisely in its naturalness. And comfort is a subjective concept. On a foam mattress you may be as comfortable as on a latex one.
Coir is a natural filler made from coconut fiber. Coir is typically used to stiffen mattresses.
Hard fiber, obtained from sisal agave leaves. It is used as a layer between the spring block and the soft layer for the correct distribution of the load on the mattress.
Wool perfectly absorbs moisture and breathes; therefore, you feel warm and dry on such a mattress. A springless mattress filled only with wool will not provide proper support for the spine. However, wool is often used as one of the layers in orthopedic mattresses.
Natural material that removes moisture well. Used as an interlayer.
Typically, mattresses are divided into firm, medium firm and soft.
In firm models, coir, sisal, and thermally bonded silk predominate. Such mattresses can have a reinforced spring block, which allows them to withstand maximum loads. Recommended for people with a large body weight, as well as for problems with posture.
Medium firm mattresses
Medium firmness is achieved through a combination of firm and soft fillers. As a rule, coconut and sisal are used as a rigid base, and a layer of orthopedic foam or volumetric stitch gives comfort.
The softness of the mattress is given by various comfortable layers: latex, orthopedic foam, holofiber. The more materials are located above the spring block, the softer the mattress. Such models are suitable for the elderly and people with a fragile physique. Soft mattresses are also recommended for certain diseases of the lumbar spine.
The passport of the mattress indicates the maximum possible weight of the sleeping person. Focus on it, as well as on your sensations when testing the mattress in the store. If you have problems with your back or joints, it is advisable to consult an orthopedist. The old advice “the harder the better” does not work for many diseases.
It is also worth consulting with a good orthopedist if you are choosing a mattress for a child: the spine can be severely damaged from an incorrect position in the sleep.
There are models with sides of different firmness. This allows you to flip the mattress depending on your desire or health condition.
Double mattresses can have halves of different firmness. But if you can’t find a mattress that suits both partners, you can put two single mattresses on the bed, and eliminate the gap between them with a common mattress cover.
A properly selected cover will add stiffness or softness to the mattress.
There are two possible scenarios.
You buy both a bed and a mattress at the same time. Then you need to select the sizes based on the room and the physiological characteristics of those who will sleep on the bed.
When you understand how large the mattress should be, you just have to choose a suitable bed for it.
You have a bed, you need to pick up only a mattress. If the bed is new, the dimensions can be found in its passport. If the bed is old, you need to measure the inner perimeter of the bed, but in no case an old mattress, since over time its dimensions change due to inevitable deformation.
The cost of the mattress
Before you go searching for it, decide how much money you can and want to spend. Excessive savings are useless, unless, of course, you need a temporary option. But usually a mattress is bought for 10 or even 20 years.
Look at the cost of various models on the Internet to approximate the prices, and go to the store to test mattresses.
If you like a mattress that is too expensive, study its features and look for a mattress with the same characteristics from other manufacturers. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to find a cheaper analogue.
Mattress Buyer Checklist
1. Think in what position you sleep most often.
2. Remember what problems with your back, neck, joints bother you. If there are many problems, consult an orthopedist before buying a mattress.
3. Decide on a budget. There's really great mattresses around the $500 range,and some decent budget alternatives around the $300 price range.
4. Decide on the size of the mattress.
5. Explore mattress models in online stores, read reviews. Sometimes the opinions about the convenience of one mattress are completely opposite. Nevertheless, some information from the reviews is important,like about its durability and quality, etc.
6. Go to the store to test the mattresses. Feel free to lie down for a few minutes in the position in which you usually sleep. In the end, you buy a very expensive thing which will affect your health in a positive (preferably) or negative (unwanted) way.
7. Having looked at a suitable model, do not rush to purchasing it. Calmly think it over again, read the reviews about this particular mattress. If it costs too much, look for alternatives, check out our list of some of the best afforadable mattresses.
8. If the selected mattress is exactly right for you, test it again and buy it.