How to Choose the Right Mattress – Virtuous Buyers Guide

Experts agree that sleep is essential for health. We spend around one-third of our lives sleeping, and our mattress plays a crucial role in sleep quality.

The right mattress supports your body and keeps you comfortable, helping you fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer.

A new mattress can transform your sleep, but they are expensive investments with many things to consider. This article will explain how to choose the right mattress with no fluff so you can make an informed purchase.

Mattress types 

There are five main types of mattress technology used today:

Memory foam

Giltedge Beds Solo Memory Plus 3FT Single Mattress.
Pictured: Giltedge Beds Solo Memory Plus 3FT Single Mattress – Was £249 Save £62.00 Now £249

Layers of multi-density memory foam that compress evenly and retain body shape. Less breathable and bouncy than other types of mattress, but highly comfortable. Please read our article on memory foam advantages and disadvantages.

Memory gel

Sleepeezee Hybrid 2000 Mattress.
Pictured: Sleepeezee Hybrid 2000 Mattress – £399 (Save Extra £50 at Checkout Use Code sleep50)

Multi-density foams infused with liquid gel beads dissipate heat, providing a cooling effect. Moulds to the shape of your body while keeping you cool. Our memory gel guide reveals everything if you’re interested in this technology.

Pocket spring

Pictured: Giltedge Beds Backcare Supreme 2000 – Was £436 Save £87.00 Now £349

Individual pocket springs operate independently below low-density padding and foam layers, providing excellent support and comfort. Our ultimate guide to pocket springs lifts the lid on what to expect with pocket springs.

Hybrid 

Sleepeezee Hybrid 2000 Zip & Link 6FT Superking Mattress
Pictured: Sleepeezee Hybrid 2000 Zip and Link 6ft Superking Mattress – £1199 (Save Extra £50 at Checkout Use Code sleep50)

Combines pocket springs with a top layer of memory foam, providing more outstanding breathability than standard memory foam and more bounce. Read our article “is a hybrid mattress better than memory foam?” for a direct comparison.

Open coil 

Interlinked coil springs provide less support than pocket springs at a cheap price (best reserved for spare bedrooms).

Sleeping position + body weight = ideal firmness 

How do you sleep most of the time, and what is your body weight?

Different sleeping positions and bodyweights call for different mattress firmness. Here’s a rundown of what you need to know:

  • Extra soft and soft: Side sleepers under 130lbs
  • Medium soft: Side sleepers under 130lbs
  • Medium: Back and side sleepers between 130lbs and 230lbs
  • Medium-firm: Back sleepers between 130 and 230lbs, side sleepers over 230lbs
  • Firm: Side sleepers over 230lbs and back and stomach sleepers over 130lbs
  • Extra-firm: Back and stomach sleepers over 230lbs

The heavier you are, the firmer the mattress should be so you don’t sink into the bed. Back and front sleepers should also choose a firmer mattress to align their spine. Most people should shoot straight down the middle and use a medium mattress.

Mattress thickness

You can often tell the quality of a mattress by its thickness. Thicker mattresses use more material, so they are more likely to deliver more support, significantly for lower back pain.

Woman with back pain on mattress.
Pictured: Woman experiencing back pain, choosing the correct mattress is essential.

As a general rule, your spring or hybrid mattress should be at least 10” thick (give or take 0.5”) and most luxurious memory foam and hybrid mattresses are over 20” thick.

The Pros and Cons of a two Sided Mattress

There was a time when all mattresses were two-sided, and it would be considered the norm for us to flip our mattresses regularly. However, these days there are many more one-sided mattresses on the market which can only be rotated, not turned over.

So, what is a two-sided mattress?

It is a flippable mattress that can be used either way up, and some are even available with different levels of firmness on each side.

What are the benefits of choosing a two-sided mattress?

Durability: Generally, the two-sided mattress will last longer if you look after it and flip it over regularly. This theory comes down to basic logic. If you are swapping the side you sleep on, it will spread the load evenly as you are not sleeping on the same side all the time.

Good value for money: Two-sided mattresses tend to be a similar price to one-sided ones.

This type of mattress will generally last longer if well maintained, making them better value for money in the long run.

Dual comfort options: Some double-sided mattresses are manufactured with two different firmness options on each side, so when it is flipped, it may be firm on one side and medium on the other, for example.

This works well for trying out which level of firmness best suits you. It also lets your guests feel extra special by giving them options to choose from to suit their personal preferences.

So, what are the negatives of a two-sided mattress?

Maintenance: One-sided mattresses require regular flipping to keep them in the best condition. They can be heavy, and not everybody will find it easy to do independently.

Limited Choice: With ever-increasing technology, manufacturers have various options for one-sided mattresses.

This can only be applied as one-sided so that you may miss out on some of the more innovative and creative designs coming to the market.

Mattress sizes – don’t get your UK and EU sizes mixed up!

A confused woman about mattress and bed sizes.
Pictured: A confused woman about mattress and bed sizes.

While all Bedstar beds and mattresses are UK sizes, many other places online sell beds and mattresses in EU sizes. Unfortunately, comparable EU mattresses are slightly longer than UK mattresses, so you need to make sure your bed and mattress match up.

Here are the standard sizes:

UK mattress sizes:

  • UK Single – 90cm x 190cm (3′ x 6’3″)
  • UK Small double – 120cm x 190cm (4′ x 6’3)
  • UK Double – 135cm x 190cm (4’6″ x 6’3″)
  • UK King – 150cm x 200cm (5′ x 6’6″)
  • UK Super king – 180cm x 200cm (6′ x 6’6″)

EU mattress sizes:

  • EU Single – 90cm x 200cm (3′ x 6’6″)
  • EU Small Double – 120cm x 200cm

What type of mattress will last the longest?

When buying a mattress, we want to know how long it will last. With every different mattress type, the expected longevity can vary.

The general average across a whole host of companies and different types is that the average lifetime is 7-8 years. Some fall below this, while others go way beyond this average. Several variables can influence this.

The build quality of the mattress, the materials used, and even the weight and positions of those using the mattress can all affect its longevity.

We have a look at the different styles and how long they last.

Open Coil: These tend to last the least time due to the construction. Open coil mattresses use a bed of interlocked springs.

This means that when one spring fails, it can impact the integrity of the bed, which can lead to sagging. They tend to last between 5-8 years, depending on how much they are used.

Pocket Spring: These have individual pocket springs sewn into pockets. This means it does not affect the rest of the mattress when one spring fails. They also tend to be more expensive than an open coil, often using better, longer-lasting materials. They tend to last between 8-10 years.

Memory Foam: These consist of millions of tiny holes that release air when pressure is applied, which means that the thicker and denser the mattress, the longer it will last. These tend to last between 8-12 years, with the top end being the more expensive, dense options.

Latex: These use a high-density foam that springs back into shape. High-density foam lasts longer than low density. Typically, Latex mattresses last the longest, which can be reflected in the higher prices. You might expect to get 10-12 years out of these.

Hybrid: This depends on the combination of the springs and materials used. Various pocket spring systems with latex would last longer than a mattress combining open coil springs and memory foam. A high-quality hybrid mattress may last up to 10 years.

Five tips for buying a sustainable mattress

As well as considering comfort, it would help if you also thought about your mattress’s health benefits and sustainability. Eco-friendly mattresses are made from natural materials that don’t harm the environment or your health. They are usually made from raw materials, including latex and wool, and should have certification of their organic status.

Natural materials: The first step is to check the mattress’s materials. Some common eco-friendly choices are latex, wool, and cotton. In contrast, most synthetic materials, including memory foam, are unsuitable for the environment.

Sustainable materials and production: A eco-friendly mattress is not only made from natural materials. It is also made sustainably and will have a low carbon footprint. For example, latex foam is harvested from the sap of rubber trees. This is a natural and sustainable resource, as farmers can harvest the latex from a single tree for nearly 30 years.

Organic content: If you are buying green out of concern for the environment rather than health benefits, organic content is essential. A mattress with organic content shows that eco-friendly methods are used in production without pesticides.

Certifications: Proper certifications let you be sure that a product is and contains what it claims. There is a very stringent process to be able to gain certification.

Comfort: Do make sure that the mattress you get is comfortable. There are several eco-friendly mattresses out there, so there is no need to choose a sustainable mattress to the detriment of the comfort level. Surely getting a comfy mattress and a good night’s sleep is the primary reason for buying a mattress. Many people find latex the best choice for a combination of comfort and sustainability.

Should I buy a mattress online or in-store?

The success of “mattress-in-a-box” mattresses means people are more likely to buy a mattress online without visiting a shop.

The fact is that buying a mattress in-store is inconvenient and doesn’t give you much benefit since you only get to lay on the mattress for around 60 seconds – which isn’t enough time to judge whether a mattress is perfect!

You may as well buy a mattress online after reading reviews to gauge satisfaction. Most mattresses also come with a sleep trial period lasting 30-90 days, so do your research and ensure the company you buy from is reputable.

Happy sleeping!

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