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How to choose the perfect mattress for you

Posted: 30 July 2020 12:07 pm

We'll walk you through the steps to find the best mattress option for your body and budget.

Mattresses aren't one size fits all. The right mattress for you depends on your body type, sleeping position and personal preferences.

If you're not sure how to get started, we've created a handy checklist of 10 questions to ask yourself to help you narrow down your options and find your perfect fit.

What type of mattress do you prefer?

It may seem like there is an overwhelming number of mattress types to choose from, but most mattresses fall into one of three categories: spring, foam or a hybrid of spring and foam.

We spoke to Peter Buys, the head of products and training at Original Mattress Factory (OMF), the Finder Retail Award winning mattress brand. According to Buys, you need to consider how supportive a mattress is, not just how comfortable it feels when you buy it.

A mattress that supports your body frame while giving you good spinal alignment along with pressure point relief is paramount.”

Peter Buys, OMF

Spring mattresses

Spring mattresses are the most commonly available type of mattress and there are two main types of spring mattresses: innerspring and pocket spring.

Spring or coil mattresses have coiled metal springs that feel supportive, yet bouncy when you lie down on them. They're often cheaper than other mattress types, but they also have a shorter lifespan.

Pocket spring mattresses also feature springs, but they're enclosed in separate fabric pockets. This reduces some of the bouncing motion of traditional spring mattresses. However, they also cost more.

Foam mattresses

Foam mattresses are on the firm end of the mattress spectrum and while they often cost more upfront, they have a longer lifespan than spring mattresses. There are two main types of foam mattresses: memory foam and latex foam.

Memory foam softens when you lie down on it and forms around your body. This design limits movement and can help you get more rest if you sleep with a partner who moves around a lot.

Latex mattresses also conform to your body, but not as much as memory foam options.

Hybrid mattresses

Hybrid mattresses are a combination of spring and foam mattresses. They typically have interior springs, covered in a top layer of foam for extra support. They're often the most expensive type of mattress.

For more information about the different types of mattresses, check out our full mattress comparison guide.

What is your budget?

It's generally a good idea to have a budget in mind before you start mattress shopping. The price of a mattress can range greatly from $200 for the most basic, budget options up to $10,000 or more for a mattress with all the bells and whistles. Most people's budget will fall somewhere between the two.

The price of your mattress will depend on the size, materials used, brand and store. Latex and foam options often cost more than innerspring mattresses. The largest mattress sizes will cost the most.

A more expensive option won't necessarily be better. However, most people spend approximately a third of their lives in bed, so it's worth paying for something that offers the comfort and support you need.

A mattress worth $2,000 over a 10-year span will cost approximately $4 a week. Is $4 a week worth it so that you could get the right mattress for peace of mind?”

Peter Buys, OMF

Mattress retailers regularly offer sales and deals so if you can't find anything in your price range, consider waiting for a cheaper deal or a big sales event such as Black Friday or Boxing Day.

What position do you sleep in?

Mattresses range in firmness from soft to firm. Some retailers use a 10-point scale to measure firmness with level 1 indicating an extra soft mattress and level 10 indicating an extra firm mattress.

Buys says you need to think about the whole life of the mattress, not just how it feels when you buy it.

Most people forget to consider when buying a mattress that a soft or plush mattress today gets softer in five to seven years.”

Peter Buys, OMF

To find the right level of firmness, think about what position you typically fall asleep in.

If you sleep on your side, a softer to medium firmness mattress can help ease pressure around your hips and shoulders.

If you sleep on your back, a mattress with a medium firmness will support your spine while giving you enough cushion to stay comfortable.

If you sleep on your stomach, consider a mattress with a higher level of firmness. A softer mattress may cause you to sink into the bed, making your spine curve uncomfortably.

Keep in mind, your weight can also affect how firm and supportive a mattress feels. If you find your current mattress sinks into the middle where you sleep, consider choosing a firm mattress that will hold its shape for longer.

Do you sleep alone or with a partner?

If you sleep alone, the good news is that you can choose whatever mattress feels more comfortable to you. However, people who share a bed often find they have different preferences when it comes to sleeping positions and firmness.

The best solution here is generally a compromise. Medium feel mattresses in most ranges become the most popular generally due to this situation. The best of both worlds will be a mattress with some softness mixed with firmer support.”

Peter Buys, OMF

Some manufactures make adjustable beds specifically designed for couples, but they're more expensive than standard options.

You can also consider getting a mattress topper for one side of the bed if one of you prefers softer cushioning.

Do you have back pain?

Some studies recommend firmer mattresses for back pain, while others indicate mattresses with soft to medium firmness are better. Ultimately, there isn't extensive evidence to indicate that one specific type of mattress is best for back pain.

According to a study in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, mattresses that are more than five years old are more likely to contribute to back pain than newer mattresses. Upgrading your mattress could help alleviate general aches and pains, but if you have any specific injuries, it's always best to consult your doctor or chiropractor.

A challenge many people have with choosing a comfortable mattress, according to Harvard Medical School, is that a mattress that feels comfortable for a few minutes or hours in a store, might not be the best option in the long term. One solution is to order a mattress that offers a trial period of at least 30 days to give your body time to adjust the mattress. If your pain worsens during the trial, consider sending it back for another option.

How big is your room?

If you don't already have a mattress size in mind, retailers generally recommend buying the largest mattress that can fit in your room.

Australian mattresses generally come in the following sizes:

Mattress sizeTypical dimensions (width x length)
Single92cm x 187cm
Single extra long92cm x 203cm
King single106cm x 203cm
Double137cm x 187cm
Queen153cm x 203cm
King183cm x 203cm
Super king203cm x 203cm

If possible, look for a bed that's at least 10cm longer than you and your partner.

When you're measuring a room for a new mattress, make sure to factor doorways and corridors. Also, if you have to carry the mattress upstairs to the bedroom, make sure there's enough room in the stairwell for the mattress size you want.

If you have to navigate particularly small areas, consider a bed-in-a-box-mattress. These mattresses are typically vacuum-sealed and stored in boxes with smaller measurements than the actual mattress. Once you get the mattress into your desired location, you can open the box and watch the mattress expand. Just make sure you have an exit strategy in case you decide to move during the life of the mattress.

Do you have allergies?

If you have allergies, you might want to consider a foam or latex mattress. Foam and latex are antimicrobial and more resistant to mould.

If you already have a spring mattress or prefer the feel of a spring mattress, you can purchase an enclosed mattress cover to help keep dust and moisture out.

Do you tend to get hot when you sleep?

Some mattresses are marketed towards hot sleepers, claiming to have cooling properties built into the mattress. However, there isn't any particular mattress guaranteed to help you feel cool on 40-degree summer nights.

If you sleep hot, consider buying mattress toppers, covers and bedding made out of natural, breathable materials. Also, if you share your bed with a partner, upgrading to a bigger bed will give you more space while you sleep and potentially help you cool down.

Is the bed for a child?

When choosing a mattress for your kid there are a few extra considerations to take into account, especially when it comes to safety. If you're looking for a cot mattress or child-sized bed, make sure it complies with the Australian and New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 2172:2003.

If you're buying a mattress for an older child and you're not sure which size to choose, consider how quickly they might outgrow a child-sized mattress. Single and king single mattresses can suit a wider range of ages, from older children to adults. Also, while kids mattresses are often cheaper than adult mattresses, they're usually thinner and less supportive.

Is the bed for a guest room?

Mattresses for spare rooms need to suit a wide range of sleeping types and preferences. In this case, Buys recommends a mattress with a medium level of firmness.

The best mattress for a guest room is one you would sleep on. If family or friends are staying over, you want them to sleep well. Something with a good supportive spring generally with medium or medium to firm feel is the best option.”

Peter Buys, OMF

If you're ready to start shopping, check out our guide to the best mattresses available in Australia.

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