How To Choose a Mattress for a Good Night’s Sleep

Experts say to focus on size, durability, and customer service when choosing the right mattress for you.

Getting a good night's sleep is essential for maintaining proper health. From heart health to muscle pains, sleep can play a large role in our overall well-being. While many factors can affect sleep quality and duration, choosing the right mattress can be crucial to achieving restful and rejuvenating sleep.

With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right mattress for your needs. Despite the convenience of mattresses in a box that easily ship to your home, it may be even harder for buyers to understand how to test and choose a mattress purchased online. So, we asked mattress experts for tips on how to decide which mattress will deliver the best quality sleep for you.

What to Consider When Choosing a Mattress

When shopping for a mattress, Isabella Gordon, sleep science coach and co-founder of Sleep Society, says, “It’s important to consider your sleeping position, body type, and experience level.”

One of the most important factors is your sleep position. While a softer mattress may provide the cushioning side sleepers need to cushion their shoulders and hips, a firm mattress may help back and stomach sleepers keep their spine in proper alignment.

Gordon recommends looking for “mattresses with multiple layers of foam or puffed polymer with varying firmness levels, so you can adjust the comfort and support depending on your needs.” Other factors to consider include the size of the mattress, its breathability (to reduce heat build-up), your budget, and any specific health concerns you may have.

Also, if you’re looking for a mattress for a sofa sleeper, know that you’ll look for different characteristics than your standard bedroom mattress. Megan Anderson, director of merchandising transformation at Mattress Firm, says size matters. “You want to know the actual size of the sofa itself, but also the size of the mattress that it can convert to…If you’re wanting the sofa to act as a guest bed, you’ll want to make sure the mattress will be big enough to hold those guests,” she explains. You’ll also want to make sure the thickness is appropriate to fold properly into the sofa, so that it’s easy to open and convert to a sleeper whenever needed. If the sizing is off—too thick, too thin, too wide, too short—a sleeper mattress can quickly go from a great convenience to a big pain.

Because no single mattress will be perfect for every possible sleeper, it’s important to read the fine print. Before you buy, know how long you have to try and return a mattress. You’ll want to make sure that they’ll haul it back for free and that there are no shipping or restocking charges. Many companies offer up to 90 days so that you can really settle in and adjust over a longer period of time.

Types of Mattresses

There are several types of mattresses available on the market today. Mattress types are based on their construction and materials. The most common types include innerspring, memory foam, latex, hybrid, and air mattresses. 


This is the most traditional of mattresses. They are made of coils covered by padding and a fabric cover. Their coils compress with applied pressure and spring back when the pressure is removed. They have good airflow, are bouncy, and adjust to contour your body.  

Memory foam 

These mattresses contour to your body shape and provide excellent pressure relief, but memory foam is not firm or springy. (Kids will not enjoy bouncing on these beds.)


A hybrid mattress can combine the best features of both innerspring and memory foam mattresses. It has a mix of foam on top and spring underneath that gives pressure relief and support.


This material is hypoallergenic and provides a bouncy and responsive feel with medium firmness. 

Tips for Choosing the Right Mattress

Research and compare different types of mattresses and brands to find the one that best suits your needs and budget.

When calculating costs, don't forget to factor in additional costs, such as delivery and disposal fees for your old mattress. If you can wait for a sale, that’s a great time to buy. “Major holidays usually bring in major savings," Anderson adds. "You can sign up to receive emails from your favorite retailers so you don’t miss any sale details."

When shopping for a mattress, Gordon says that “choosing one that matches your body type and sleeping style is important.” For example, “individuals who experience hot flashes during the night should look for mattresses with cooling materials, such as memory foam or gel-infused foam,” she says. If you have a hard time sleeping or have specific medical concerns, it’s worthwhile to go to a store and test out the options in person.

If you’d prefer to purchase online, don't forget to compare customer reviews—especially the ones referring to customer service and returns. Make sure to also get an adequate trial period. Check the mattress's durability and look for reviews from customers who have had their beds for a long time. After all, many people keep the same mattress for decades.

While you're at it, buy a mattress protector to keep your mattress clean and stain-free for the long haul.

How to Test a Mattress

When testing a mattress in person, lie down on it for at least 10-15 minutes. This may seem like a long time, but it’s really not. After all, you’ll spend 6-10 hours per night on it for years to come.

Toss, turn, try different sleeping positions, and get a feel for the mattress' firmness and support in each position. Lie on your back, side, and stomach, to ensure that the mattress provides adequate support for your preferred sleep position, height, and weight. Take the opportunity to ask questions about the manufacturer, construction, and materials. There are many new materials that are flame-retardant, non-toxic, organic, and more. While in the store, or on the phone with a representative, ask more questions to better understand what the different options mean for your health and safety.

We spend a third of our lives sleeping—or at least trying to sleep—and a top-quality, comfortable mattress is a big part of achieving a deep, restful night. With proper research, comparison shopping, and testing, you can find the right mattress to support your overall health goals and improve your sleep hygiene.

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