How To Select A Mattress

How To Test Beds Properly

If you are truly wanting the very best mattress for your body, go with an open mind and try all types of mattresses: air, foam, and innerspring. For the purposes of this post, I am going to focus on innerspring, but much of this will apply to other types of mattresses. For innerspring mattresses, generally speaking, stomach and back sleepers need to be on firm to plush mattresses. Side sleepers will usually end up between plush to pillow top.

Pillow Top Mattresses – I define a pillow top as having two seams. They are generally the softest mattresses, allowing the most conformance. These are also the silliest of the three types, since you can achieve the exact feel with only one seam on a plush with identical comfort layers. Pillow tops sound sexy, and can usually justify a higher price. If you sleep on your side, or simply like a softer feel, you will probably end up on a pillow top.

Plush Mattresses – Plush is your middle of the road feel, but they could be even softer than some pillow tops depending on what comfort layers are inside. Plush beds are very good as compromise beds. If one spouse likes soft, and the other firm, plush may be the way to go.

Good Fitting Mattress + Good Sleep

Good sleep comes from the right fitting mattress.

Firm Mattresses – Firm mattresses are usually your hard beds. Less comfort layers or much firmer ones are usually present. Keep in mind that as far as comfort goes, plush and firm mattresses can overlap in feel. If you are a side sleeper, be very wary of firm category mattresses. If you have the same mattress model available in all three comfort types, try each one and see if you can decide on a comfort preference. This will usually weed out several mattress choices. You do not want to try every mattress in the store. It is a waste of time and will confuse you.

How To Test A Mattress

Support – Start on your back without a pillow. Your upper back and shoulders should be flat against the mattress and your face looking up at the ceiling. Your lower back should feel supported, of filled in. Your hips should be slightly lower than the rest of your body. Your knees should have a slight bend in them and the feet ever so slightly elevated. If you feel like your shoulders are rolling in, or if you feel like you are in a hammock, it is too soft. If your lumbar area is not supported it may be too hard.

Pressure – Turn to your side. Have your partner or salesperson examine your alignment. You should be able to draw a relatively straight line along your spine parallel to the floor. Check pressure on your shoulder and hip. If you feel any discomfort or pain in these areas, the bed is too hard.

Comfort – Now turn to your natural sleeping position if different from the above positions. You should feel relaxed, aligned properly and no pressure. If you feel restless, or in any way not relaxed, there may be a comfort issue.

Repeat this process as you narrow down your selection, comparing two mattresses at a time. A GOOD salesperson should help you keep score so you can focus on how the mattress supports you. Once you are down to just one or two, start spending more time on each in your natural sleeping position.

Another helpful hint – Once you have a comfort preference, try one of each brand at about the same price point. Even if this price is higher than your budget, I recommend this to get a feel for each brand and the features/benefits that each have in their products.

Pick a mattress as firm as you can, BUT be comfortable. A firmer feel will resist body impressions better than a super soft one. But if you have to have a super soft pillow top to be comfortable, do it. Just make sure to rotate a softer mattress more frequently.


Image: graur codrin /

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