How to Create the Ideal Bed for You

Pick the best (and most comfortable) mattress, pillow, sheets, and bed cover.

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How to Create Your Ideal Bed
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We all know how important sleep is to our physical and mental health—and how a night spent tossing and turning can derail the entire next day. While stress and other factors play a role, one simple way to help set yourself up for sleep success is to build a better bed. By investing in a truly comfortable mattress, cooling bed sheets, and your "perfect match" pillow, you can give yourself the best shot at a good night's sleep.

01 of 05

Pick Your Perfect Mattress Style

Jonny Valiant

Take your time when selecting a mattress. "You'll spend a third of your life on it over the next eight to 10 years," says Perry Davis, a division president at Leggett & Platt, a company that makes bedding components in Carthage, Missouri. There are three main types, plus modern hybrids of these styles.

  • Innerspring construction (steel coils topped with layers of padding) is the most common. One good measure of how well it will support your body is the number of coils it contains. Davis recommends a minimum of 350 coils for a full-size mattress, 480 for a queen, and 580 for a king.
  • Air-filled models (composed of air chambers surrounded by foam) let you adjust the firmness. Opt for a top layer of high-density foam.
  • Foam mattresses come in latex (made of natural or synthetic rubber), polyurethane (which varies in density), and viscoelastic (for example: memory foam, which molds to your body's shape). Foam retains heat well, so if you get hot while sleeping, look for open-cell construction for maximum breathability.
  • Hybrid mattresses may be the best option for couples who have conflicting opinions. A combination spring mattress base topped with a layer of memory foam may be just the compromise you're looking for.

Not sure which mattress type works best for you? The traditional method is an old-fashioned visit to a mattress store, where you can often try lying down on various models. Remember to lay in your usual sleep position to get a better feel for the mattress.

Many direct-to-consumer mattress companies will let you test a mattress for free for a certain number of days. Sounds like too much hassle to return? Some popular online mattress brands are partnering with brick-and-mortars so you can test them out in-store. For example, some West Elm stores carry Leesa mattresses, and Raymour and Flanigan offers Casper mattresses.

02 of 05

Shop for Your Dream Mattress

Leesa Hybrid Mattress

Once you narrow down what type of mattress works best for you, check out our shopping guides.

Best Hybrid Mattress: Lessa Hybrid Mattress

With an innerspring coil system (over 1,000 coils!), plus layers of memory foam and polyfoam, this mattress is the best of both worlds. The top layer of foam is aerated, making it cool for those who sleep hot, and it's great at isolating motion.

Best Foam Mattress (Even for Side Sleepers): Nectar

A dense base layer of foam and edge support provide the structure that side-sleepers need for proper spinal alignment. Translation: no more back pain.

Best Coil Mattress: Parachute Mattress

Unlike most modern mattress companies, Parachute doesn't include any foam in its dreamily supportive mattress. Constructed from eco-friendly materials—steel coils, organic cotton, and pure wool—you'll feel good about sleeping on a chemical-free mattress.

Best Adjustable Air Mattress: Sleep Number

There's a reason Sleep Number became a household name: With two adjustable sides to the mattress, you and your partner can each get your ideal bed (no compromise necessary!). Its latest smart mattress can even sense your movements and adjust the firmness to keep you sleeping soundly.

Best Cooling Mattress: Helix Midnight Luxe

A breathable pillow top keeps the surface of this mattress cool, while the dense foam layer below provides plenty of support.

03 of 05

Find the Best Pillow

Parachute Side Sleeper Pillow Review

When it comes to keeping your bed cool and your spine aligned, finding the right pillow is just as important as choosing a mattress.

Best Pillow for Side Sleepers: Parachute Down Alternative Side Sleeper Pillow

Choose a supportive pillow that will keep your neck in a neutral position, maintaining its natural curve. Without that support, neck muscles can tense up, leading to headaches or even migraines. This firm down pillow is gusseted to take the strain off your neck. Or look for a contoured foam pillow whose front mound fills in the space between neck and shoulder.

Best Pillow if You Sleep on Your Stomach: Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim Gel Memory Foam Pillow

Density isn't as important here, since lying on your stomach requires less neck support. Down also compresses easily, so air passages aren't restricted when you turn your neck to sleep.

Best Cooling Pillow if You Sleep Hot: Slumber Cloud Cirrus Pillow

This pillow keeps its cool, thanks to NASA-engineered technology. Enough said.

Best Pillow Cover if You Have Allergies: Cotton Bed Bug, Dust Mite & Allergy Control Pillow Protector

Note that dust mites like to burrow into down. Keep them away with a mite-proof cover.

04 of 05

Choose the Right Bed Sheets

Brooklinen Sheet Set, Gray Linen

Whether you sleep hot or want to snuggle up with the warmest sheets possible, we've got you (and your bed) covered.

Best Cooling Bed Sheets: Brooklinen Linen Core Sheet Set

Linen is well-known for being the most breathable bedding material, and Brooklinen's set comes in seven sophisticated colors.

Best-Selling Microfiber Sheets: Mellanni 1800 Thread Count Microfiber Bed Sheets

There's a reason these bed sheets are consistently on top of Amazon's bestsellers list: They're smooth, comfortable, and very affordable.

Best Warm Flannel Sheets: Looma Home Flannel Sheet Set

Need a warm and cozy sheet set to make it through winter? These 100 percent cotton sheets are soft and snuggly, and they only get better as you wash them.

Best for Those With Sensitive Skin: Aizome Sheets

These chemical-free, hypoallergenic sheets are crafted from organic cotton. Choose from unbleached or natural, indigo-dyed sheet sets.

05 of 05

The Ideal Bedcovers

Jonny Valiant

Essential for snuggling on winter nights, covers include quilts (filled with cotton or polyester batting; some are machine-washable and some aren't), decorative coverlets, and simple blankets. (Note: Blankets with borders tend to hold up best.) Comforters are usually filled with cotton, silk, synthetic fibers, or down. Not sure which material to choose?

  • Cotton is breathable.
  • Fleece is plush (and often composed of polyester fibers made from recycled plastic bottles).
  • Wool is dense, warm, and a natural insulator. (Virgin wool, which has never been processed into a textile, is especially supple.)
  • Down is warm. Always ask about the product's "fill power," or the space an ounce of down fills (550 is good; more than 800 is considered luxury). Also ask about the source of the down.. "Geese from cold regions have bigger tufts of fluffy down," says Ursula Terrasi, owner of Scandia Down, a down retailer. For an ultrasoft option, Terrasi recommends eiderdown, which is collected from the eider, a Northern European sea duck. Opt for a lining that's downproof, meaning it has a weave tight enough to prevent feathers from poking through.

Wash duvet covers weekly, and once a month if you use a top sheet. Launder down comforters twice a year, or every three to five years if covered. Throw a few clean tennis balls into the dryer to prevent the down from clumping, and fluff the comforter when you make the bed to redistribute the down.

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