How to choose a mattress

Follow our top tips to ensure you pick the best mattress for your personal needs.

Woman choosing a mattress

by Emily Gilbert |

Replacing your mattress can feel like a mammoth task, from navigating showrooms, researching the latest mattress technology to understanding what type of support you need for your sleep position – it can leave you feeling all the more tired.

We spoke to sleep expert, Alison Jones, from leading mattress brand Sealy UK who understands that there is no one size fits all approach to mattress shopping and has shared her top tips for what to look for, so you can reap the benefits of good quality, deep sleep and wake up feeling refreshed.

Understand your sleep concerns

If you sleep on the wrong type of mattress for you, you’ll more than likely end up with more than just a rough night’s slumber. Ahead of your hunt for a new mattress, consider how your current mattress affects your sleep.

If you are prone to overheating throughout the night, opt for a mattress with cooling technology to regulate your core temperature during sleep. Not all cooling materials are made the same, with memory foam working to retain heat. Instead, look for mattresses with Geltex, a unique cooling material, that allows air to move throughout the body of the mattress and avoids overheating during the night.

If back pain and joint soreness has become a regular nuisance when trying to sleep, or worse, in the mornings when you are waking up – Alison stresses the importance of orthopedically-approved mattresses.

Certain sleep positions can place unnecessary pressure on the neck, spine and hips, whilst a poor quality or unsupportive mattress can cause the spine to become misaligned as well as exacerbate pre-existing joint, spine and ligament issues.

couple mattress shopping

Get the right support

Mattresses can typically be defined as plush, medium, or firm, and how you sleep can typically define your support necessities in order to provide the correct support as you sleep.

Research suggests the majority of the population sleeps on their side, most commonly in the fetal position, which involves curling up on your side with your knees bent towards the chest. The key with this sleep position is to look for a mattress that will offer adequate cushioning to vulnerable pressure points such as your neck, shoulders, and hips. So you should look for a soft mattress with a plush comfort layer and pocket spring system that will react to your body's shape to create a personalised feel.

Falling asleep on your back is considered one of the best ways to support your spine throughout the night, as it is deemed to be the most natural spinal position. When sleeping on your back, the aim is to keep the head, neck, shoulders, and spine level, therefore a medium to firm, orthopaedic mattress will be right up your street.

By contrast, sleeping on your stomach puts the most amount of pressure on your spine and adds stress to your neck. It is key when sleeping in this position to avoid a mattress that is too soft, as your torso will begin to relax and sink into the mattress throughout the night, potentially putting you at risk of aches and pains in the long run. A medium to firm mattress with pocket springs would be ideal, to respond to your body's positioning, providing ultimate support.

Alison recommends that if you sleep in a combination of these positions a medium firmness will be the most supportive as you move throughout the night.

Related: How to dispose of a mattress

Make an investment

According to the UK Sleep Council, the average person spends more than 2,300 hours a year sleeping. With that much time in bed, it’s important to invest in a quality mattress that will last. Although the outlay may seem steep at first, the benefits of years of comfortable sleep more than make up for the initial cost.

Look out for hypoallergenic materials

Research indicates that 24 per cent of the population has a dust allergy so it’s important to keep yourself healthy by choosing a hypoallergenic mattress to reduce your sneezing time and increase your snoozing time.

Look for mattresses that contain ProShield technology, such as Sealy's Posturepedic range, which is endorsed by the Allergy Foundation, to not only alleviate those evening sneezes but also significantly extend the lifespan of the mattress.

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