Your mattress is one of the most important purchases you'll make – we all need a great night's sleep! And the quality of your slumber comes down to the quality of your mattress. We spend around a third of our lives in bed, so getting the right support from your mattress is vital. But there are a lot of features you need to take into account when choosing the perfect mattress, so in this guide we'll take a look at how to decide on the right one for you. Once you know which type of mattress you are looking for you can compare mattresses online using our mattress comparison tool
The first step in choosing your perfect mattress is getting the right size for your needs. Mattresses come in a huge range of sizes, with them differing slightly from country to country. In the UK, these are the main sizes you're likely to come across:
|Small single||75 x 190cm|
|Single||90 x 190cm|
|Small double||120 x 190cm|
|Double||135 x 190cm|
|King size||150 x 198cm|
|Super king size||180 x 198cm|
Some manufacturers also make even bigger mattress, such as the Emperor at 200 x 200cm and a 7ft bed at 215 x 215cm. When it comes to choosing a size of mattress, you may already have a bed frame in which case you'll buy the correct size for that. However, if you're starting from scratch, consider your height, weight and who you'll be sharing a bed with, and choose one that allows plenty of space for a comfortable night.
Everyone has a preference when it comes to mattresses and their firmness. But the firmness that you need also depends on your height and weight. Do note, the below descriptions are merely a general guide and will vary slightly with different manufacturers.
A soft mattress is suitable for those of a light to average build, and also offers support for those who sleep on their sides, or change sleeping position frequently through the night.
A good 'all round' mattress for those of average build, as it will support most sleeping positions.
Again, these are suitable for people of average build and particularly support those who sleep on their backs or stomach.
Firm mattresses support those of a larger build, but are also fantastic for those with back problems as they keep your back in a more stable position.
Apart from size, the most defining feature of a mattress is its filling. Let's look at the main types:
The most popular modern choice, memory foam mattresses mould to your body to give optimum support. They're also ideal for allergy sufferers, as they're hypoallergenic and have benefits for those with joint pain.
Memory Foam mattresses to consider: Eve, Leesa
Often used alongside memory foam, latex is highly breathable and helps prevent overheating. Also suitable for allergy sufferers, latex is long lasting and helps provide a firmer support.
Latex mattresses to consider: Bruno
Gel is another breathable material offering high levels of comfort and support. They are also popular as they're slightly cooler than memory foam.
These are the mattresses that most of us grew up sleeping on. They have one or more layers of steel spring coils to provide support. The number of coils, layers of coils and coil type does vary but you'll find that the more coils there are the better support you'll have.
There are more and more hybrid mattresses being introduced on the market. They're a combination of latex, memory or other polyurethane foams, coils or other materials designed to give the best of both worlds.
Hybrid mattresses to consider: Simba, Casper, Hyde & Sleep
In addition to fillings, some mattresses also contain springs. There are two types – open sprung and pocket sprung. Open sprung mattresses are a more budget conscious option, as the springs are just one long piece of metal coiled into shapes. As they move as one, the springs are more prone to wear and tear, meaning that these mattresses won't last as long. Pocket sprung mattresses contain thousands of individual springs in separate stitched pocket sleeves. This means that each spring moves individually and provides great support for all parts of the body.
There are a variety of finishes for mattresses, all offering different things and helping to improve the functionality.
This is the most common and recognisable form of mattress finish, where tape is threaded through the mattress to give a full and dimpled surface. This keeps the mattress and its filling in shape.
Most commonly found on memory foam, latex and gel mattresses, the quilted cover is stitched directly to the mattress filling.
These mattresses have a layer of pillow attached to their top to provide an extra level of comfort and softness.
In addition to all these factors, it's also worth investing in a mattress protector to keep your mattress protected from stains and deterioration. Mattress protectors are also machine washable.
We've talked about the terms surrounding mattresses, but how do you apply these to your own requirements? The first thing to consider is the amount of support, or firmness, that you like. So…
Memory foam mattresses – particularly those with a polyurethane core have a lot less spring, as they don't tend to sink below the top layer. The thickness of this foam layer can vary enormously (from around 2 to 6 inches), which will dictate how far you'll sink.
A latex mattress is similar to a memory foam one in terms of firmness but gives more spring. And the best thing about latex is that a good quality mattress can last you a lot longer than other mattresses – with some manufacturers predicting over 20 years of use.
Traditional innerspring mattresses have a more bouncy feel, although you can control how springy the mattress is. Look for the rating of the metal coils, with 12 being the thickest and firmest coils and 18 the thinnest.
In addition to considering your support requirements, you also need to think about your lifestyle and how you sleep.
If you sleep on your stomach you will really want to avoid a mattress that makes you feel smothered. So you'll probably want to avoid memory foam as it moulds to your shape. A dense innerspring or latex mattress will suit you far better.
Sleeping on your side creates pressure points, so it's important to choose a mattress that moulds to your shape. Memory foam mattresses are the obvious choice here, as this is what they're designed to do.
It's important to keep your spine supported if you sleep on your back but you should find that most modern mattresses will support you well, meaning that you have the pick of the bunch!