Searching for a new foam mattress can be a confusing and challenging process. Weeding through the endless options online is like a nightmare these days. There is no single brand or type of mattress that works for everyone. But one would be forgiven for thinking otherwise. The truth is, the most comfortable mattress for you could be the worst mattress for another person.
We made this guide to make your shopping experience less complicated–so you can have that good night’s sleep in no time. You’ll learn about the importance of the right mattress on sleep quality, the different types of foam mattresses, and the factors that should influence your decision. We’ll also answer some of your questions in choosing the best foam mattress for your needs.
You spend about one-third of your life in bed. Your body is lying and relying on a sleeping system (mattress, bed, pillows, etc.) to get a good night’s sleep. The quality of body support that you are getting in a bed rest has a major influence on the physical and mental aspects of sleep. That’s why it’s important to check if your current mattress is still getting the job done.
Most authors would recommend changing your mattress every 10 years. But the National Sleep Foundation recommends buying a new mattress every 7 years. So if your mattress has served you for over 8 years, you really should get that mattress replaced.
It’s time to look for a new mattress if your current mattress is showing deep indentations and significant sagging. A sagging mattress may not be able to provide proper body support and can lead to discomfort and body pains.
If you constantly wake up with lower back pain or often find yourself tossing and turning and failing to sleep at night, you might need a new mattress.
A sub-optimal sleeping environment can lead to health problems such as back pain and sleep disorders. Furthermore, a sleep-deprived person can wake up feeling lethargic or erratic. Over 40% of the adult population in the United States suffer from some form of sleep disorder, which are linked to morbidity and mortality.
The body’s cognitive processes, repair, and regeneration happen during sleep and are all essential for the maintenance of health. The right mattress can completely change your sleeping experience. But the impact of a mattress on sleep quality is often ignored.
In a normal healthy individual, the back support system of a mattress is of primary importance. Other relevant properties to consider are mattress resilience, hysteresis, and density.
Resilience – indicates the “springiness” or elasticity of a mattress–how quickly it springs back into its original shape after being compressed. It is often gauged by dropping a steel ball onto the foam from a certain height and measuring the height of the ball’s rebound.
Hysteresis – is the opposite of resilience. A foam with higher resilience has low hysteresis. This indicates how well the mattress absorbs energy by measuring its ability to compress and decompress. A memory foam mattress has a high hysteresis; it absorbs so much energy but it makes it difficult for a person to roll over.
Density – foams with higher density have more foam per cubic foot. They are comfortable, provide better support and superior resistance to loss of firmness.
At first glance, the material composition of a mattress seems to be a matter of personal preference. You test a product and choose the one that “felt” good. In reality, their ergonomic features should be your first priority and material properties should be adjusted to personal needs objectively. For example, heavier users require a firmer mattress to prevent the pelvic girdle from sinking too deep into the foam.
This type of foam mattress is made of a synthetic polyurethane (PU) core that has a specific density, elasticity, and permeability due to its cellular network. PU is the most common type of foam in different mattress layers, particularly the comfort layer. It can be made very soft and elastic but are prone to body impressions when it wears out.
Polyurethane or polyfoam is the least expensive foam mattress. They are light and easy to manipulate. Memory foam and polyfoam are chemically related because they both contain polyurethane but poly is bouncier than memory foam. There are three grades of PU foam:
High-Resiliency (HR) – can be expensive but has the highest support factor. It features densities between 1.8 and 2.5 lbs per cubic foot.
Memory foam is an ideal mattress for side sleepers and people with back pain, as well as those who prefer a firmer base. To determine quality, check for the thickness and density of the foam, as these can dictate durability and how deep you will sink into the mattress.
This mattress is made of a polyurethane-based material plus additional compounds that give it a deeper and more noticeable body hug without sinking too much
A memory foam mattress can last between 8 to 12 years if you rotate it. If you are a bit on the heavy side, choose a product with higher foam densities.
Latex mattresses, also known as rubber foam mattresses, are made of foamed rubber particles of synthetic or natural origin or a combination of both. A typical natural latex mattress contains 80% natural latex harvested from rubber trees and can be made soft or firm.
While a polyurethane mattress is very elastic, latex is dimensionally stable with a rather strict correlation between firmness and density. It has a high spring-back characteristic than poly, which means it can retain its original shape longer. Latex foam is very durable and has a lifespan of up to 15 years or more.
Several studies have attributed sleep problems to an uncomfortable mattress. A well-qualified mattress has to fulfill different needs depending on personal requirements and should be supportive of different sleeping postures.
The experts believe that a resting place can only be considered ergonomic if the entire musculoskeletal system can recover well: the muscles are relaxed and the intervertebral disks are properly rehydrating.
Mid-price mattresses start at $600. Luxury brands can cost up to $1500 or more, but you can easily find the mattress you need for under $1000. The cost of a foam mattress depends on the foam density and type of foam used. Soft, low-density foams tend to deteriorate quickly. Many buyers prefer the comfort of memory foam than polyfoam. The average price of memory foam is $900 for a queen.
Firmness and comfort are subjective because it depends on the person’s weight, body type, and material preference. Some mattresses are marketed as having a uniform firmness level but with several different layers to accommodate all sorts of sleepers.
An individual foam is given an ILD (indentation load deflection) rating to describe its firmness. Mattresses with lower ILD are in the “plush” category, while those in the higher spectrum can be firm or extra firm. Medium firmness has a range of 26.5 to 30.5 ILD.
What type of sleeper are you? Each sleeping style has its own set of needs and firmness requirements. While medium-firm mattresses are advertised as comfortable for different sleep positions, it may or may not work for you. Likewise, you may prefer something different than what your sleep position naturally suggests.
Q: Is financing a foam mattress worth it?
A: Some manufacturers provide financing options to entice customers who badly need a comfortable mattress. If you prefer to avail of those financing options, consider the fees and interest you are going to pay. You will most likely end up paying more than when purchasing the product in cash or via credit card. Be very careful about companies that charge deferred interest because you can end up with higher interest payments than you were expecting.
Q: Is hybrid better than foam mattress?
A: Hybrid mattresses can vary widely. Compared with memory foam mattresses, they don’t trap as much heat. While they can provide better comfort and support (with added coils) than foam mattresses, they can be very expensive.
Q: What is the best type of mattress for a combination sleeper?
A: The majority of people have alternating sleep positions at night. A medium-firm mattress is ideal for these people because it provides equal distribution of weight.
Q: Are latex mattresses safe?
A: 100% natural latex mattresses are non-toxic and safe. They are made by harvesting sap from rubber trees. Since they are of natural materials, they don’t release (off-gas) volatile compounds or airborne chemicals.
Q: What’s the best mattress for couples with different sleeping preferences?
A: While it’s tricky to find a mattress that can satisfy different needs, your best bet is to choose a mattress in the medium-firm category. Something that offers enough pressure for side sleepers and firm enough for stomach and back sleepers.