How to Choose a Mattress – The Ultimate Buying Guide [2023]

We know how tough it gets when you set out to find a mattress. You’re surfing through countless online stores. You’re confused on whether to go with foam or springs and indecisive about whether a queen size would be better or king size. But worst of all, you don’t know how much you need to spend on a mattress so that not only do you get the best deal but that too without breaking the bank.

Choosing a mattress can be a testy task for anyone. You have to steer through a sea of options, weigh all upsides and downsides, balance desires with your budget, and, above all, get out of your comfort zone.

Wouldn’t it be great if someone could help you along the way and give you some solid advice that could save both your time and bucks (some of it, at least)? If that’s the case, you’ve come to the right place. Just sit back and relax, we’ll tell you everything you need to know.

Criteria for Selection

Being your trusty friend and guide for all things mattress, we feel that choosing the ultimate mattress ultimately depends on devising set criteria for selection. 

Once you’ve gone through this section, you will definitely know what you are looking for.


The first thing to consider when you have decided to buy a mattress is to know where you intend to get it.

While brick-and-mortar stores are still alive and kicking, online mattress shopping (like all other products) is the rage nowadays.

And if you’re confused, that’ll help you in deciding which one is better suited to you.

Store Shopping

You should opt for the physical stores if you are one of those people who want to try out products before handing over the cash. After all, even though online mattresses offer return policies, it can turn out to be quite a hassle. You’d save yourself all that trouble by lying on the mattress for 10 minutes in the retail store.

Adding to that, retail stores often house a greater variety of brands and mattresses to choose from. If you are a picky chooser, you’ll love all the options you’ll have.

At such stores, you also have the chance to negotiate the price (something you can’t do online) and reach an agreement that is great both for your wallet and your sleep.

Friendly Advice: Never be afraid of a pushy salesman or be rushed to select a mattress.

Buying a mattress is a long-term investment and you should take your time with it. 

As an additional plus, many stores offer to remove your old mattress so that you don’t have to deal with its disposal. After all, it isn’t old tissue paper or a candy wrapper that you can sweep under the carpet.

This method also has its downsides, though. You have to go to the store and use up quite a bit of your time. That can be exhausting.

Even the most astute buyer can have trouble navigating the details of the deals and prices being offered and can make a misinformed decision. 

Lying down on many mattresses in a short period of time can leave you even more confused. That can be overwhelming for most of us. 

Online Shopping

Thanks to modern technology, we can order the best mattresses that the industry has to offer without having to move a muscle (apart from a few clicks).

You’ll love this method if you want to avoid multiple confusing options, fussy negotiations (these mattresses are cheaper anyway), and exhausting visits to stores both near and far.

These mattresses are known as “bed-in-a-box” and arrive compressed in a box that is easy to handle. All you have to do is to put the mattress on the bed foundation and it inflates within minutes.

Moreover, online mattress brands often offer free shipping, generous free trials, and a free return policy. They are delivered to your doorstep usually within a week. You are to test it by sleeping on it during the trial period (usually around 100 days). After that, if it still doesn’t work for you, the company picks it up and gives back all of your money.

On the downside, you usually have to set up bed-in-a-box mattresses yourself along with having to dispose of the old mattress. Returning the mattresses can also be a messy affair if the company has poor customer service.

Choosing a Mattress Based on the Type of Sleeper

Your sleeping position greatly impacts your suitability for a type of mattress. Let’s find out which one is perfect for you by first considering the sleeping positions.

Side Sleepers

Side sleepers need a softer and more responsive surface. That is because the bulk of the weight is shoulders and hips which are also pressure points of the body. A mattress that provides pressure relief, such as memory foam or a softer hybrid, works wonders for such people.

Stomach Sleepers

As opposed to side sleepers, stomach sleepers like nothing better than a firm mattress that does not sag. This is because any sinking will put the spine out of alignment and will result in discomfort.

Dense foam and firm innerspring mattresses are preferred by these people.

Back Sleepers

Back sleepers prefer the middle road. They want a medium-firm mattress that is comfortable but still supportive. 

Most mattress types work well for them as long as they are not too firm or too soft. Just give them spinal alignment with a bit of pressure relief and they’ll be happy for the rest of their lives. Sounds saintly, doesn’t it?

Note: Based on the weight of the sleeper, heavier individuals prefer firmer mattresses and lighter individuals like softer surfaces.

Choosing a Mattress Based on the Type of Mattress

There are many kinds of mattresses available for you to choose from. The commonest ones include memory foam, innerspring, polyfoam, and hybrids.

All of them have dedicated fan bases and choosing the one perfect for you depends on multiple “feel” factors. We’ve discussed them in the following section.

Let’s jump right in.

Feel Factors

The following “feel” factors decide the quality of your sleep and the overall comfort that you get. They vary from person to person.


If you like a mattress that feels alive and gives something back, you are looking for some bounce. The traditional innerspring mattresses are the best at giving that familiar springy bounce.

However, the old-fashioned interconnected coils transferred too much motion and you felt more like sleeping on a trampoline than on a bed. Modern individually pocketed coils break the chain of motion transfer and limit the ‘rippling’ of movement when someone moves.

Temperature Regulation

People living in tropical or humid climates often look for relief from the stifling heat. The last thing they want is to wake up drenched in sweat, in the middle of the night. Some people also tend to sleep hot and need extra heat relief as compared to others.

As a rule of thumb, foam mattresses (especially memory foams) accumulate more heat followed by latex and hybrid mattresses that are a little better at that. The best one in that department is the innerspring mattresses.

It bears mentioning that mattress foam technology has come a long way from those old, sweaty days of yore. Innovative foam designs such as the open cell structure allow for greater breathability and improved temperature neutrality. Some brands have even developed their proprietary foams to tackle this problem. Koala’s Kloudcell foam is a good example.

It is always a smart move to look for such cooling technologies when choosing a mattress.


This is, by far, the most important “feel factor”. It is usually scaled from 1 to 10 with 4-5 being soft, 5-6 being medium and 7 or above being firm. 

Based upon your sleeping position, it plays a central role in deciding the mattress perfect for you. We’ve discussed that above.

You should know that memory foam mattresses are often softer, plusher, and sink in. They hug the curves and cradle the pressure points of your body. 

Latex mattresses also come with similar contouring and cushioning without sinking in.

Innerspring mattresses give more support and hold your body up rather than letting it sink in.

Many online retailers offer hybrid mattresses that give you a combination of the best factors of different mattress materials. Some like the Sleeping Duck mattress also offer customizable firmness.

Note: The firmness of foam is determined by its density. The denser the foam, the firmer it is.

Contouring / Pressure Relief

Imagine a princess’s mattress, you’re, most probably, thinking of a soft surface that gives you an accommodative comfort. You imagine a mattress that conforms to your body rather than your body having to adjust to the mattress. That, dear dreamers, is memory foam.

Soft, plush, and, above all, charmingly comfortable, memory foam mattress often comes out on top in popularity polls.

Other, rather bouncier, surfaces that don’t give many ways or don’t sink too much can seem uncomfortable. Similarly, dense and thick foams can be too firm for many people.

Some find it better to take the middle road; a firmer mattress with soft covers, quilts, and pillow tops.


Some people just don’t like the idea of boring consistency. People usually crave another c-word — customization.

Many mattresses offer you multiple firmness levels and, as a result, different feels. You can sleep on a firm surface one day and doze on a cushy and cozy the other. 

Air mattresses are a good option in this regard with remote-controlled air quantity. Some even offer separate air chambers for partners who want different firmness and feel  — all hail technology.

A few foam and hybrid mattresses are flippable with the two sides having different layer arrangements and different comfort levels. 

Feel Factors for Couples

Some “feel” factors are particular to couples because they share the mattress. Here are these “feel” factors:

Motion Isolation

We’ve considered this feel factor under this particular section because it is most relevant for couples. 

Nobody likes a mattress that throws you out of the bed just because someone on the other end moved a toenail. 

As a general rule, foam mattresses are much better at absorbing motion than spring mattresses. However, pocketed spring coils have reduced this problem to a significant degree.

Buying a medium-firm hybrid mattress with good motion isolation is often a good idea

Differing Preferences

Customized feel (based on firmness) is offered by many air and hybrid mattresses for people who can compromise on everything but their sleeping surface.

Based on Medical Conditions

Many of us face medical issues that factor into our decision while choosing a mattress.

For Allergy Issues

Some people are hypersensitive to allergens and exposure to such chemicals can cause anything from discomfort such as a rash to a medical emergency known as an anaphylactic shock.

Latex, especially natural latex, is the best option for these people. It is naturally hypoallergenic and anti-microbial and protects you from exposure to those harmful chemical agents.

Or you could also go with certified foams.

If you really want to sleep on an innerspring mattress, make sure to use an antimicrobial cover. It can help a lot with allergy issues.

For Back Pain

Back pain is among the biggest reasons for people changing their mattresses. While many are due to nagging medical issues, some are caused by a mattress unsuited to your requirements.

Contrary to popular belief, firm mattresses aren’t always the answer to such back pain issues. Actually, a medium-firm mattress that combines comfort with support often works much better and many people report drastic improvements.


If you love the planet just as much as you love your sleep (difficult to choose one over the other), you are probably looking for an eco-friendly product that lets the planet live in peace. 

Some credible certifications to look for include CertiPUR-US, OEKO-Tex, and GOLS.

The best mattress material from this standpoint is natural latex. Many foam mattresses also hold certifications and are safe for the environment.

For the Indecisive Lot

Some of you out there have a hard time choosing between the soft comfort of memory foam and the cool bounciness of a spring mattress. You just can’t let go of either one. 

What if you didn’t have to? You’d probably say that it sounds too good to be true. Let us break it to you that dreams don’t only come true in the Disney films from our childhoods.

Many companies, now, offer hybrid mattresses that combine 2 or more mattress materials to create a unique feel. You can get the buoyant springs and still have the comfort and motion isolation of memory foam.

Such designs are able to cater to different preferences and requirements.


Most people are in for the long haul when they buy a mattress. They don’t want to go through this exercise every few years. Hence, their requirement is a durable product that provides consistent performance over a long period of time.

For such people, latex mattresses are the best option. Top-quality latex mattresses can last a fantastic 15-25. They are followed by memory foam and, finally, the innerspring mattresses have the least durability of the lot.


Price is also among the most important considerations when it comes to choosing a mattress. You don’t necessarily need to break the bank to get a good mattress. As a matter of a fact, a comfortable and durable mattress can be bought at under $1000.

Latex and memory foam mattresses are quite expensive, though. And the traditional innerspring mattresses are the cheapest ones on offer.

Mattress Replacement

The final section of today’s tirade is on mattress replacement. After all, before you get to buy a new one, you’ve got to know that you need one. Don’t worry, you don’t have to send samples to a Swiss laboratory for that.

All you need is to look out for these few signs:

  • Your mattress is 7-10 years old.
  • Waking up feeling stiff and sore.
  • The mattress has lost its consistent feel.
  • The mattress has clear mechanical damage.
  • You wake with a rash or are having persistent allergies that go away when you sleep on a different mattress.
  • You slept better at a sleepover or a hotel.


In today’s world, mattresses of all kinds, shapes, and sizes are available. You have a wider variety to choose from than ever before. There is your dream mattress out there waiting for you to pick it up, all you have to do is to look in the right places. We hope that this article has helped you with that.

And as always, sleep tight!

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