Which mattress should I buy?

Libby O'Sullivan

This is one of those questions I am asked a lot! You might remember I gave my top tips for choosing the right pillow here, but picking the right mattress can seem even more daunting. This is because they are more expensive, and they are usually replaced much less often (which means a lot may have changed since the last time you bought one!)

One of the most important things to remember is that there is not one perfect mattress. Personal preference does play a role, but there are probably a number of mattresses that will suit you and support you well. Here are a few tips that might help you on your next mattress-shopping expedition.

Decide if you need a new mattress in the first place

Generally if you are thinking about a new mattress, you probably need one. Like pillows (and running shoes!) mattresses are usually replaced less often than they should be. Mattresses have a lifespan of about 10 years; less if they are damaged. Some of the most common reasons people consider looking for a new mattress are:

  • they start waking up stiff/sore
  • they are tossing and turning at night, struggling to find a comfortable position
  • the mattress is starting to look a bit worse for wear
  • they’re moving house and want a fresh start

Usually it’s a combination of these factors and all are perfectly valid reasons.

Consider the different types of mattresses

Inner Spring Mattress

This type of mattress is probably the most common and is made of an internal system of springs surrounded by padding. Sometimes the springs are in pockets so they can move independently of each other, and other times the springs are interlinked or ‘continuous’. Price is normally influenced by the quality of the springs themselves as well as the type of padding material used (eg. goose down vs low-cost foam).

Memory foam

Similar to memory foam pillows, these mattresses mould to the contours of your body to support your sleeping posture. They do a great job of supporting you but can be hard to move on after being in one position for a long time.

Latex mattress

These are considered the ‘healthiest’ mattress choice; they are generally eco-friendly hypoallergenic, dust mite resistant, antibacterial and anti fungal if they are made of mostly natural latex. The best quality natural latex mattresses can be very expensive, so make sure you check whether the latex is natural or synthetic (or a combination) when you are shopping around.

Waterbeds

I almost didn’t put this one in, because it’s been so long since I’ve seen one! Waterbeds don’t necessarily do a bad job of supporting your spine and the heat can be therapeutic for some people’s pain, however they are not always easy to change position and this is an important part of getting a good night’s sleep.

Go out and buy one

Ok, I know it’s not quite that simple…  Here are my top tips for shopping day:

1. Go in educated

Reading this post is a good start! If you’re leaning towards a specific type of mattress, read up a bit more on it so you know which questions to ask the salesperson.

2. Test them out

If you share your bed with someone else, go in together. It will be no good if one of you love the mattress and the other hates it.

When I say test it out, I mean for at least 10-20mins. Get someone to look at your spine to ensure it’s straight (i.e supported) and that after lying still for 10mins or so, you can roll over easily.

3. Consider the quality of the materials used

Basically buy the best you can afford. By all means, shop around for the best price, but make sure you’re comparing apples with apples.

4. Don’t forget about the base

If your bed base is looking a bit worse for wear (i.e damaged, worn or sagging in the middle) consider replacing this as well. Flexible slats are often better for memory foam / latex mattress, fixed slats are better for inner spring and ensemble bases are good for both.

5. Don’t neglect your pillow

Read up on GLOW’s top tips for buying a pillow here – they are a much smaller financial investment than the mattress but can cause all sorts of problems if you’re on the wrong one.

After you’ve bought a mattress, make sure you look after it! To get the most out of it, make sure you protect it properly but also remember to flip the mattress one month and rotate it the next. This means it will wear much more evenly.

Remember, if you are waking up stiff and sore in the mornings and you’ve ruled out the mattress/pillow as a cause, book an appointment with GLOW Physio. We can help to identify any possible daytime postural or activity related factors that might be contributing and have you feeling better in no time!