If you are in the market for a new mattress you will be asking yourself the question – “What is the Best Type of Mattress for Me?” A comfortable supportive mattress is crucial to getting a good night’s sleep. However, with the wide variety of mattresses available today, choosing the best one for you can be a daunting task.
With so many different mattress types to choose from it can be difficult to understand which one will work best for you. Don’t worry, this guide will explain how sleeping position, body size, mattress firmness, size, cooling ability, and price play a role in determining the ideal mattress for you.
How To Find the Best Mattress Type For You
The best type of mattress for you is determined by a combination of personal preference and individual mattress characteristics. Specifically, we will explain how your preferred sleeping position and body size combined with mattress firmness, size, cooling ability, and individual budget will determine ‘the best type of mattress for me’. Our aim is to equip you with the knowledge you need to choose your ideal mattress, one that meets your individual sleeping requirements.
First up, let’s take a look at the top four mattress types on the market today. You can choose from memory foam, innerspring, hybrid, and latex mattresses. Other mattress types exist, but these are the big four and represent the best options for the vast majority of people. Each mattress type has a unique set of characteristics and benefits and the one best suited to you largely depends on your personal preferences and specific sleep needs.
Memory Foam Mattress
Memory foam mattresses are made using a specially formulated foam that allows your body weight to press into the surface. These mattresses are prized for their body contouring ability. The foam changes shape in response to the weight of the body pressing into it. The foam provides excellent cushioning and pressure relief.
Memory foam mattresses are great for side sleepers. Their ability to change shape and relieve pressure reduces strain on pinch points such as the shoulders hips and knees. They are also a great choice for couples and light sleepers. Memory foam demonstrates excellent motion isolation. They tend to limit motion to its area of origin. This means a movement made on one side of the bed can be only slightly felt on the other.
Memory foam mattresses are available in a range of firmness levels to match personal preferences. However, larger individuals may find they lack the support needed. And, the lack of responsive movement can make climbing in and out of bed difficult for heavier people and those with mobility issues.
Another trait you need to be aware of is the fact that foam tends to trap heat. The sleeping surface can become warm as airflow is restricted throughout the body of the mattress. This is bad news for individuals that tend to sleep hot and those that live in warmer climates. However, the Best Memory Foam Mattresses are infused with materials that combat this drawback.
• For more information check out The Pros & Cons of a Memory Foam Mattress.
An innerspring mattress is the most traditional mattress type out there. They are built using a coiled spring base with a small comfort layer on top. The springs are typically made using steel and can be one of four types – bonnell, offset, continuous, or encased. Each spring type has its own set of characteristics and benefits.
The greatest benefit of an innerspring mattress is its responsive movement. When you move, the bed moves with you. This distinctive quality can be felt as bounce and makes moving across the surface of the bed very easy. Responsive movement makes it easy to change sleeping position during the night and is a great feature for people with limited mobility.
Innerspring mattresses are among the cheapest on the market. If you’re looking for a quality mattress on a budget, a traditional innerspring could be your best bet. They are also highly durable mattresses, thanks largely to their metal spring base. The coiled springs are made of metal and last years.
Another great benefit of an innerspring is its ability to circulate air beneath the surface of the mattress. The spring base below allows air to freely move between the spring coils and this effectively cools the sleeping surface above.
The greatest drawback of an innerspring is its limited pressure relief. The top comfort layer is much smaller in depth compared to a foam and hybrid mattress. This limits the amount of soft cushioning and can have a negative impact on its ability to relieve pressure points and cradle body weight. Heavy people may struggle to find an innerspring that delivers the cushioning and support needed.
Hybrid mattresses are made by combining multiple different mattress types. The vast majority of hybrids are made by placing a memory foam or latex comfort layer on top of a spring support base. The difference between a hybrid and a traditional spring is that the hybrid has a much more substantial comfort layer above the springs.
Hybrids deliver a blend of strong support thanks to the spring base and soft cradling comfort thanks to the surface comfort layer. They are a great choice for people that want a bot of both worlds. Hybrids are a great choice for heavier people that want to enjoy a foam mattress but need the firm support and responsive movement of a spring base.
They also deliver excellent cooling – much better than an all-foam or latex mattress due to the presence of the spring base. The spring base facilitates air movement between the coils and this draws warm air away from the sleeping surface above.
Hybrids work well for all sleeping positions and are available in a wide range of firmness levels. The substantial comfort layer can be adapted to deliver firm cushioning or softer cradling support depending on the individual’s needs.
On the downside, these mattresses tend to be more expensive than an all-foam or innerspring mattress. The higher price is a result of combining two different mattress types into one. They are also heavy mattresses and can be difficult to lift and move into position. And, most importantly hybrids cannot be flipped. The spring base must always remain on the bottom.
• For more, check out The Pros & Cons of a Hybrid Mattress.
Latex mattresses are made using the sap from the rubber tree. It is a completely natural material and is an eco-friendly choice for mattress manufacturing. Latex rubber can be sustainably harvested, is 100% biodegradable, and can be produced using organic farming methods.
The biggest advantage of a latex foam mattress is its superb comfort and distinctive feel. Latex has a soft cradling feel similar to memory foam but with a distinctive bounce. They score highly for pressure relief and are a great choice for side sleepers and people with chronic joint pain.
Latex mattresses contour the shape of the body by allowing weight to press into the surface. And, their excellent responsive movement means they quickly bounce back to their original shape once the weight is removed. They are highly durable, and treated with care the best latex mattresses can last 15+ years.
They are naturally hypoallergenic and breathable. Latex foam facilitates airflow which helps keep the mattress cool while you sleep. On the downside, they tend to be expensive. Especially Talalay latex mattresses. And, they are heavy. Latex foam packs a punch and you will need help lifting and moving one of these mattresses. Finally, they are not suitable for anyone that suffers from a latex allergy.
• For more, check out Latex Foam Mattress Pros & Cons.
When considering the question – what is the best type of mattress for me? – we need to consider your personal sleeping preferences. And, chief among these is sleeping position. What is your preferred sleeping position? Are you a side sleeper, back sleeper, stomach sleeper, or a combination of all three? Determining your dominant sleeping position is key to choosing the best type of mattress for you.
Side sleepers need a mattress that contours the body and relieves pressure on the shoulders, knees, and hips. Mattresses with comfort layers that cradle body weight and allow it to press into the mattress surface work best. In general, medium-soft to medium-firm mattresses work best for side sleepers.
Back sleepers need a mattress with a more firm feel. Individuals that sleep on their back need a mattress that delivers firm support and maintains healthy spinal alignment. Back sleepers need a firmer mattress than side sleepers. If the mattress is too soft, the upper back will sick lower than the lower back. This can trigger chronic back pain. Back sleepers should choose a mattress with a medium-firm to firm feel with plenty of support.
Stomach sleepers require a mattress similar to back sleepers. If the mattress is too soft the body and especially the torso will sink into the surface. This unnatural alignment creates an uncomfortable feeling and can cause difficulty breathing. If you’re a stomach sleeper you should aim for a mattress with a medium-firm to firm feel.
Combination sleepers rotate through multiple positions during the night. If you are a combination sleeper it can be difficult to answer the question – what is the best type of mattress for me? Our advice is to determine the position you spend most of your time in and aim for a mattress that compliments that position.
Firmness is a subjective factor. Everyone has a personal preference and there’s no one size fits all. Here at Mattress Comfort Guide, we use a 1-10 scale to describe the firmness of a mattress. The softest mattresses score a 1, and the most firm a 10. Most mattresses fall somewhere in the 6-9 bracket.
If you’re looking for an exceptionally soft mattress you can aim for something with a score of 5 or below. And, if you need a mattress with almost no give and a very hard feel, you should go for a 10. Personal preference, sleeping position, and body size play an important role in determining the best firmness level for any individual. Especially body size, which we cover below.
Body size, and more specifically body weight, play a significant role in choosing the best type of mattress for you. Lightweight individuals need a softer mattress with lots of plush cushioning that allows their body weight to press into the mattress.
A lightweight individual will not feel comfortable on a firm mattress as it will cradle the body and deliver pressure relief. On the other hand, heavier individuals need a firmer mattress with reliable support that prevents them from sinking too deeply into the mattress.
Light People (Below 130 pounds)
Individuals that weigh less than 130 pounds should choose a soft mattress that gently cushions their body. Memory foam, latex, and hybrid mattresses with soft-feeling comfort layers work best. Avoid anything with a medium-firm to firm feel. Soft memory foam and latex are our personal favorites for this weight category.
Average People (130-220 pounds)
Average-size people have the most favorable options when it comes to choosing the best type of mattress. Most mattresses are designed with average-sized individuals in mind. People weighing between 130-220 pounds will find a wide range of suitable mattresses within all four mattress types – memory foam, innerspring, latex, and hybrid.
Heavier People (Above 220 pounds)
Heavier individuals weighing above 220 pounds need a mattress that delivers the firm support needed to prevent their body from sinking too deeply into the mattress surface. Hybrids are a great choice for heavy people. These mattresses combine the reliable support and responsive movement of a spring base with a plush comfort layer. However, firm memory foam and latex mattresses work well too.
There’s a mattress size out there for everybody. All you need to do is figure out your preferred bed size and choose a mattress to fit it. In the US there are 10 standard mattress sizes to choose from covering everything from babies and children right up to young adults, adults, and couples. Check out our mattress size chart below for an overview of the different sizes and how they stack up against each other.
• For more information see our comprehensive Bed Size Guide for an in-depth breakdown of mattress sizes.
Are you a hot sleeper? Or, do you live in a warm climate? If you do, you need to choose a type of mattress that delivers cooling ability. Some mattresses tend to trap heat, especially foam mattresses. Cheap polyfoam mattresses are the worst offenders. And, memory foam is not far behind. These mattresses do not facilitate airflow through the mattress body and the result is warm air accumulates on the mattress surface while you sleep.
The best memory foam mattresses have been adapted to include thermo-regulating technologies. For example, many memory foams have been infused with a special type of gel that conducts heat and actively cools the sleeping surface.
However, the best types of mattress for cooling ability are innerspring, hybrid, and latex. All of these mattresses facilitate airflow. This has the effect of allowing warm air to escape the mattress surface and be replaced by cooler air from below.
Innerspring and hybrids have coiled spring cores that allow air to move freely beneath the sleeping surface. And, latex foam is naturally breathable – air can freely move through the foam matrix.
Which mattress type is best for you? If you’re a hot sleeper you should choose an innerspring, latex, or hybrid mattress. If you have your heart set on a memory foam mattress, make sure you choose one that has been infused with a mattress cooling technology.
Price plays an important role when choosing the best mattress type for me. And, whether you’re working on a budget or are intent on splashing the cash there’s a mattress out there that will meet your needs. The most expensive mattresses are hybrid and latex. And, although these mattresses come with the most eye-watering price tags they often last the longest.
If you want to make a long-term investment in your sleeping comfort – a high-quality hybrid or latex mattress is an excellent choice. And, if you’re operating on a budget you should aim for a memory foam or traditional innerspring mattress. Although these mattresses are much more affordable there are still plenty of well-designed and well-built models out there.
Regardless of your budget, you should do some homework and choose a mattress that gives the best bang for your buck. Investing in a new mattress is one of the most important purchases you will make. For some help, check out our Top 10 Most Comfortable Mattress review to get started.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JESSICA GABEL – MCG Contributor
Jessica joined the MCG team in 2021 and is our in-house sleep expert. She is a fountain of knowledge on sleep cycles, sleep hygiene, and sleep-related disorders. Jessica is a graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of New Mexico and holds a B.S in Sociology.
When she’s not educating us on sleep-related matters she is continuing her studies at the University of Arizona. Outside of work and study, Jessica likes to explore the great outdoors. Her favorite places to visit include the White Sands National Park, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, and the Carlsbad Caverns National Park.