Looking for a New Mattress?

This handy guide walks you through the new mattress buying process so you can find the perfect fit.

  • Twin: A Twin size mattress is designed with one person in mind, and is built to fit into small spaces. The Twin is ideal for a child's bedroom or a smaller apartment.
  • Twin XL: The same width as a standard Twin, a Twin XL mattress has an additional 5" of length—perfect for taller sleepers.
  • Full: A Full size mattress is the smallest option for fitting two adults comfortably in the same bed. It provides a compromise between the comfort of a Queen or King and the compactness of a Twin.
  • Queen: Considered the most popular option for master suites and bedrooms, a Queen size mattress is the standard for two people sleeping side by side.
  • King: At a full 16" wider than a Queen bed, a King size mattress is designed for those who want more comfort and luxury in their sleeping arrangement.
  • Split King: A Split King mattress is the same size as a King, only split into two sections to reduce motion transfer--meaning less disruption between sleepers--and allowing for more adjustability with air chamber mattresses.
  • California King: Similar to a Twin XL, a California King size mattress offers a little extra length for taller sleepers. However, a California King is slightly thinner than a standard King bed.

 

Note: Mattresses can be very tall—sometimes over 16" high—due to the many layers involved in construction. Be sure to measure the height of your new mattress, to make sure your fitted sheet's pocket is large enough.

Types of Mattresses

Different materials make for different types of mattresses. Whether you want a softer or firmer mattress will impact the type of mattress you're looking for.

 

  • Innerspring: The most common variety available, innerspring mattresses are filled with coils, or springs, sandwiched between layers of padding. Some innerspring mattresses can be made with individually wrapped coils for a more custom fit—and less movement if you're sharing a bed with someone who tosses and turns.
  • Memory Foam: Made of high-density polyurethane specifically designed to respond to your weight and body heat, memory foam contours around you from the moment you lie down. Memory foam mattresses are available in every size and height—you can even buy a memory foam topper for your existing mattress.
  • Air Chamber: An air chamber is a tightly packed pocket of air that can be inflated or deflated to provide the exact level of firmness or softness you want. These adjustable mattresses can be built with one air chamber or two. The latter allows two people to enjoy different sleep settings in the same bed.
  • Inflatable: Also called air beds, inflatable mattresses are usually a single air chamber that is manually inflated before use. Their compact size makes them an easy solution for overnight guests or travel arrangements.  

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Mattress Construction

There are a number of different parts that go into constructing a mattress. Understanding the components may make the buying process less confusing.

 

  • Coil Count: Coil count is the number of springs in an innerspring mattress. The more coils, the more absorption and support a mattress provides.
  • Upholstery: Upholstery is a catchall term for the soft layers of an innerspring mattress, including the ticking, quilting, cushioning, and insulation.
  • Ticking: Ticking is the protective outer cover of a mattress; usually cotton or a polyester-cotton blend. Pay special attention to the stitching pattern on the ticking fabric—a large stitching pattern usually indicates a softer mattress, while a tighter pattern corresponds with a firmer surface.
  • Quilting: The top layer of padding in a mattress, quilting gives the bed its texture and breathability. In addition to quilting, some mattresses are made with polyester batting for a softer overall feel.
  • Insulation: Insulation is the fiber or mesh that lies on top of the mattress's coils to prevent the padding from interfering with them.
  • Cushioning: Cushioning, or the middle layer of padding in the mattress, largely determines its durability, comfort, and cost. How the cushioning was tufted, or stitched into the mattress itself, also determines these qualities.
  • Box Spring: A box spring is the foundation placed underneath the mattress to ensure the longest possible lifespan, support, and comfort.

Mattress Firmness

The level of firmness in your mattress can determine your level of comfort. So, it's important to find the right fit for you.

 

  • Firm: Firm mattresses tend to provide the most support, and have a harder feel.
  • Cushion Firm: For those who want the support of a firm mattress, but like a little softness, a cushion firm mattress—which features extra cushioning on the sleeping surface—is the right choice.
  • Extra Firm: If a standard firm mattress just isn't supportive enough, you may want to consider an extra firm mattress, which offers very little to no give and has an extra-hard feel.
  • Plush: Built with enhanced cushioning, a plush mattress has a soft, airy feel that envelops the body.
  • Ultra Plush: With additional padding on top—and an even softer feel than a standard plush mattress—an ultra plush mattress is the go-to choice for a soft, airy night's sleep.

Sleep Styles

Wondering about what firmness level suits you? The answer may be found in how you sleep! Different body positions lend themselves to different levels of support or comfort, and may impact which mattress feels right for you.

 

  • Back Sleepers: The best mattress for back sleepers is one with thick cushioning that molds to the spine and provides additional support to the back.
  • Side Sleepers: A plush mattress, which helps to minimize pressure points and distribute body weight, is the best mattress for side sleepers.
  • Stomach Sleepers: A firm or extra firm mattress is the best mattress for stomach sleepers because it helps keep the spine properly aligned while you sleep.

Mattress Features

For a truly personalized sleep experience, there are a number of additional features you can look for in your mattress.

 

  • Adjustable Base: If you prefer sleeping or sitting in a specific position—or receiving support for a particular area of the body—an adjustable mattress is for you. They can bend, elevate, or reposition the head and foot of the mattress to provide custom comfort and support.
  • Pillow Top: A pillow top layer, usually sewn on top of the mattress with a slight gap in the middle, adds extra cushioning and padding to your mattress.
  • Euro Top: Similar to a pillow top, but constructed in a different manner, a Euro Top layer is made up of additional padding put directly on top of the mattress for a plush feel, stronger edge support, and less slipping or movement.
  • Tight Top: A Tight Top mattress is a standard mattress frame with all the layers interconnected into a single design.
  • Gel: Gel mattress toppers provide an additional layer of comfort and support.
  • Mattress Bundle: Oftentimes you can find bundled deals including a mattress and bed frame in one convenient package. 

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Frames & Foundations

As you're considering a mattress, you may also want to consider how your choice of frame and foundation will impact its place in the home, your daily routine, and so on.

 

  • Standard Profile Foundation: Measuring in at approximately 9"H, standard profile box springs are the most common option available on the market.
  • Low Profile Foundation: Approximately 6"H, a low profile box spring makes getting in and out of bed feel a little easier and more natural.
  • Split Box Spring: Made up of two individual box springs combined into one frame, a split box spring is an ideal choice for moving into and maneuvering around narrow spaces in the home.
  • Bed Frame: A bed frame supports the box spring and mattress, providing additional elevation and stability.
  • Metal Bed: A metal bed is a standard bed frame that includes additional pieces, such as a headboard or footboard.
  • Day Bed: Built for nighttime sleeping and daytime sitting, a day bed is a cross between a couch and a Twin size bed that can be placed just about anywhere in the home.

Mattress Care

So you've purchased your mattress—and now you want to ensure it stays in good condition for as long as possible. The following tips will help you do just that, so you can sleep comfortably for many nights to come.

 

  • Rotating your mattress from end to end—provided that's what the instructions indicate—can help your mattress wear evenly and last longer. Flipping your mattress over periodically will help achieve the same effect. However, certain mattresses, such as pillow top mattresses, don't have the same material on both sides and should not be flipped.
  • A machine-washable mattress pad can help keep your mattress clean and fresh for much longer.
  • Make sure your bed frame can securely support both your mattress and box spring.
  • Follow any and all instructions on the mattress—failure to do so can damage the mattress and shorten its lifespan considerably.