How to Choose the Right Mattress

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Considering we spend about a third of our lives in bed, it’s incredibly important to make sure you’re going to the land of nod on the right mattress.  A good bed, provides correct support and comfort. It plays an important role in relieving and preventing back pain and ensures you get a good night’s sleep. To help you find out how to choose the right mattress, here’s some straight shooting advice and myth busting.

Understanding the Different Types of Mattresses

There are four main types of mattresses:

  • Memory foam mattresses are topped with a layer of temperature-sensitive viscoelastic material (memory foam) that offers even support and moulds to the shape of your body. Since they tend to get warm over the course of the night, a memory foam mattress may not be best if you need a cool sleeping surface under you.
  • Latex foam mattresses are made from either natural or synthetic rubber, and are known for providing a very firm, bouncy support that moulds to the body and offers uniform support throughout the bed. They are a good option if you suffer from allergies as latex doesn’t harbour dust mites but can be tricky to move due to their weight.
  • Pocket spring mattresses are made from individual springs, which are sealed in separate fabric pockets. This means they operate independently from each other,  so when one person moves around they are less likely to disturb the springs on the other side of the bed. Pocket spring mattresses can also be customised to have different firmness on each side of the bed. It’s also worth noting that since they’re usually filled with natural materials, such as lambswool, pocket spring mattresses can sometimes exacerbate allergies.
  • Continuous coil mattresses are made from a single looped wire while  open-coil mattress are made of single springs fixed together by one wire. They’re often the most affordable mattress option and are light and easy to lift. But, since the springs move as one unit, you are more likely to be disturbed by your partner moving around in the night.

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How to Choose the Right Mattress

  • Contrary to popular belief, a mattress doesn’t have to be firm to be good for your back. In fact, a medium firm bed that is supportive and has proper cushioning is often your best bet.
  • Since mattresses soften with age and wear, it’s a good idea to buy one that’s somewhat firmer than what you are used to.
  • The term ‘orthopaedic’ generally just means an extra firm bed; it is not based on any medical or other common standard.
  • Ideally, your mattress should be at least 10-15 centimetres longer than the tallest person sleeping on it.
  • Comfort is such a subjective things, so take your cue from Goldilocks and make sure you lie on a few mattresses in store! Get the salesperson to bring you a test pillow so you can try the bed in the same position you sleep. Give yourself time to relax and settle into the mattress. Also try rolling over as this is a great indicator as to whether the mattress is too soft, too firm or just right.
  • When looking at mattresses, you will notice that they come in a range of thicknesses. Keep in mind that the thickest mattress isn’t always the softest one, so again, it’s best to test them out and judge for yourself.
  • Visual clues for durability are straight seams; tight, uniform quilting; and good, sturdy handles on the sides
  • If you’re buying a new mattress but keeping your old base, measure both to make sure they fit well together.

Sweet dreams!

Image 1: Photographer Nick Hudson for Elle UK 05/2014 // Image 2: Photographer: Catherine Ekström via
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