There are people out there who can sleep anywhere. I’m not one of those people. I need to sleep somewhere soft or else my whole body hurts. Camping is tough. Sleeping on the floor when there aren’t enough beds when staying out of town is tough. I’m curvy and my hips and shoulders need a soft place to land. We can’t all nap with a pillow on the hardwood floor like my Uncle Barry.
We spend one-third of our lives in bed, so that bed should be amazing! The right mattress needs to be comfortable and firm enough to provide support.
IS IT TIME FOR A NEW MATTRESS?
You’ll likely know if it’s time. I think a lot of us keep our mattress for so long because we don’t want to spend the money on a new one. A mattress is necessary, but it isn’t exactly a fun purchase. It’s also awkward shopping for one. Lying down on dozens of beds in a big public showroom while pushy sales people watch is just weird.
If you’re no longer sleeping comfortably, if your mattress is 7-10 years old, if your sleep is restless, you’re waking up with aches and pains, your mattress is squeaky or creaky, it’s probably time for a new one. Also, if your mattress shows visible signs of wear and tear, or has a noticeable sag in the middle, causing you to roll into the dents and grooves. If your once-comfortable mattress is no longer supporting you - it’s now too firm or too soft, or if you’re waking-up stuffed-up and sneezing from allergies, your mattress could be harboring mold, mildew, or dust mites. If you and your bed partner aren’t sleeping well together, it could be time for a new mattress that promises less motion transfer, or more room for both of you.
There are several types of mattresses: memory foam, inner spring or coil, latex foam, adjustable base, hammocks. I’ll go over a few of the main types.
MEMORY FOAM A memory foam mattress is great if you are looking for support and comfort. Perfect for side sleepers, they’re popular because of the way the memory foam conforms to your body as you sleep. Memory foam mattresses contain several layers of foam that prevent the tendency to sag in the middle. These mattresses are very popular for being vacuum-sealed and shipped to your doorstep in easy-to-carry boxes. Memory foam takes a few weeks to a few months to break-in and get used to, so give it’s worth giving it more than one 20-second try.
INNERSPRING / COIL An Innerspring or coil mattresses uses an internal support of metal springs. You can measure the quality of support by how many coils are in the design. Back, side and stomach sleepers can be comfortable on the right type of innerspring mattress.
LATEX Latex mattresses have been around since the 50's and are some of the healthiest and most eco-friendly mattresses on the market. They’re not known to be the most comfortable though since the more natural they are the firmer they are. Sleeping on a latex mattress can be good for people with allergies, except for a latex allergy, and latex sleeps cooler than memory foam.
Water beds are still around, but not nearly as popular as they were in the 80’s when 1 in 5 Americans slept on one. Waterbeds are best for back sleepers and people who love feeling like they’re floating on the ocean. I do have to say, one of the best night’s of sleep I’ve ever had was on a heated waterbed.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to test a mattress before you decide. Falling on to a mattress in a showroom and lying there for ten seconds is not going to give you the information you need to make an informed decision. Go for the mattress with the trial period, or a good return policy.
The first time I dropped onto an Endy mattress, I said, “Nope. Too firm.” But the mattress had just come folded in a vacuum-sealed package, and I wasn’t aware of the memory foam break-in period. If I had tried that mattress briefly in a showroom somewhere, I’m sure I would have moved on to the next, dismissing it as not for me even though it checked all the boxes for me otherwise. Taking advantage of the 100-night trial gave me enough time to get used to it, for the mattress to break-in, and for me to make a fair assumption.
Any company that cares enough to make a comfortable mattress they believe in should know how important it is for the customer to try it out first. It’s not a small purchase, and you should have some time to decide.
THE RIGHT MATTRESS FOR YOUR SLEEPING POSITION
If you’re a back sleeper, a plush or softer mattress will provide cushioning for pressure point areas.
If you’re a side sleeper, look for a soft-to-medium mattress so your hip bone and shoulder are able to sink down a bit into the mattress.
If you're a stomach sleeper, it’s recommended that you look for a medium-firm mattress (paired with a flatter pillow) to keep your back and neck aligned. A slightly firmer bed helps support the spine and hips, with enough cushioning on top to conform to the natural arch in your lumbar region. Opt for a medium-firm surface as opposed to very firm, since you still need a little give to accommodate your body’s contours and reduce pressure on your ribs and hipbones.
If you’re a combination sleeper, (switching back and forth from your side and back) a mattress with a medium-firm support layer will be most comfortable. Choose the comfort layer that’s best for the position you’re in most often. But be careful not to go too soft with the comfort layer because it can make it tough to switch positions.
So, the general consensus seems to be: choose a mattress that doesn’t hurt your body. There are always rules and exceptions, but if it feels good to you and you’re waking up without needing to see a chiropractor, chances are you’ve chosen correctly.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING A MATTRESS
Look for high-quality materials that are safe. Your body is going to be lying on that sucker for the next eight-to-ten years, you should know what you’re breathing-in. Do your research, go to the boring pages on their website to find out what materials they’re using and if they go through third-party testing.
I’ve said this twice already, but look for a trial period or a return policy. You can’t know after 30 seconds of lying on a mattress if it’s going to be comfortable for the next several years.
Price point - You’ll want to stay within your budget, but remember, you get what you pay for. There are plenty of cheap mattresses out there, but you’re likely going to be getting cheaper quality with less support and unsafe materials. Your sleep health is very important, so consider a good quality mattress a higher priority.
If you sleep with a partner, consider motion transfer. Could your partner change positions without catapulting you into the air?
What mattress company should you go with? There are SO MANY to choose from. I would start by asking friends and family for recommendations. The world of mattress shopping is changing, and the newest thing is buying a mattress online.