Mattress Selection

“You weren’t kidding about so many choices. We took our time and went through the process and found the bed of our dreams.”

You have decided on size and determined a budget, now its time to pick a mattress. Assuming you have a reasonable budget, consider all options: Air, Innerspring, Latex and Memory Foam. There are also hundreds of hybrids, but this list covers all the basic categories. Let’s look at each one.

Air – Select Comfort (Sleep Number) is probably the best known brand in this category, but there are others. These beds allow each person to customize the amount of air (pressure) underneath them. You also have the ability to change over time to accommodate changing preferences, gains or losses in weight due to pregnancy or other factors. Air mattresses tend to be pricier. There are a few that are priced competitively with innersprings, but they usually have very limited features and poor conformance. At that level, you truly are buying an “air mattress” and that might not be the right solution for your long term needs.

Innerspring – This is the best best known type of mattress. The innerspring mattress has been around over a hundred years and there are so many types its not worth discussing here. The main thing to remember is that the human body was not designed to sleep on steel springs. Therefore, you must find a mattress that has enough support AND enough comfort layers to cradle your body in the correct position. Not enough padding or too much can be problematic and there is a very thin line between the two. This is why it is so important to test mattresses until you find the one that works best. Innerspring mattresses will be the most economical and have the greatest range of price options.

Latex – Is one of my favorite foams. It is a derivative from rubber trees and is natural. It breathes, its durable and springs back very quickly imitating innersprings without the pressure. It is also expensive. Some retailers try and push mattresses WITH latex as latex mattresses. This is not the same. You want to try a LATEX mattress. Check the Law Tag to make sure latex makes up a majority of the upholstery. A mattress with a high percentage of latex might be better than others, but it is not a LATEX mattress.

Memory Foam – Tempur-pedic is by far the best known of the memory foam manufacturers. Although it seems everyone is trying their best to create their own version. Memory foam conforms to the body, and this is the key – it remembers its shape, not yours. No other mattress will be as durable. There will be minimal motion transfer, and more times than not, perfect spinal alignment without any pressure. Assuming of course you have a good quality, high density mattress. In my opinion these are the best solutions, IF you like the way they feel. But again, the lower quality ones are worthless.

Comfort trumps every other factor when choosing a mattress.

If you don’t have a strong preference for category, go to a store that offers a wide selection – ideally mattresses from all 4 categories. Lie on a few and see if you can narrow down a category preference. From there, its on to picking a brand and model.

Why Should I Buy A Brand Name Mattress? – There are compelling reasons why the S-Brands have dominated the mattress industry. These are companies that have sold mattresses for over a hundred years and invested millions in research and development. They have warranties and reputations that have stood the test of time. If Purple Hippo Mattress Company truly built a better mouse trap, there is no doubt they would jump to the top in mattress sales. Tempur-pedic proved that with their meteoric rise to the top of the industry.

For the specialty mattresses (air, latex and memory foam), it is a simple process of comfort and price. The number of quality options is quite small.

With innerspring mattresses, the choices are in the thousands. Ideally, find the same model in a firm, plush and pillowtop. Lie on each in your natural sleeping position for about five minutes. You should be able to select a comfort preference from this exercise.

Once a comfort preference is determined, you can narrow down by brand and price. Once you narrow it down to one or two, start spending more time on each to make sure you have the right support AND comfort. Learn the differences in coil design, comfort layers and see if you feel the difference. If you don’t feel the difference, don’t pay the difference.

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  1. Kay says:

    I have found your website to be very helpful. I noticed in this mattress selection article you do not say anything about poured polyurethane foam mattresses. I slept on a Marriott bed for two nights that was so comfortable that I took off the bedding to find out what kind of mattress it was – it was a 7″ foam polyurethane mattress. I am looking to recreate that experience, except would prefer to purchase from a local retailer rather than shop marriott (steep delivery charges and no trial period policy). Some people have recomended latex as the better quality foam mattress, but I do not find it at all to be the same – I found that even the showroom models of 100% talalay, “custom made” (e.g. not mass produced) latex beds that were 1-3 years old were already experiencing softening where people had tried them out, such that the sides were slightly sloped towards the edge of the bed, and the middle was firmer. The Marriott bed I slept on in 2011 was built in 2002, and showed no signs of sagging/softening. I was wondering what your opinion is of poured polyurethane foam mattresses, and what some good options are available on the general market. Thank you.

  2. says:

    Virtually all foam beds, aside from latex, are some type of polyurethane. The majority of memory foam beds, including Tempur-Pedic fall into this category. I am a big fan of Tempur material as I have blogged often – that is what I sleep on. I have sold most of the major manufacturers knock-offs with dreadul results – sagging, poor alignment and generally lots of returns and unhappy customer experiences. There are hundreds of manufacturers out there and I have not tried every one. I would strongly caution you about foam beds that are not from Tempur-Pedic. From my experience, I have seen few that are worth a darn. But if the comfort is right along with the price, go for it. Make sure you understand the exchange and return policy. If you cannot return or exchange it with minimal hurdles, don’t buy it.

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