There are three common types of mattresses: innerspring, foam, and adjustable. There’s no one “right” material to choose, but foam materials have shot up in popularity, especially with online retailers. Beyond the types of mattresses, you’ll need to think about a few other factors. From sleep style to negotiating with a bedfellow, here’s what to look for based on your needs:
If you like a bed with bounce
Innerspring mattresses have that familiar bouncy feel. Interconnected coils are extra-durable, but individual “pocketed” coils, each covered with fabric, reduce the ripple effect that happens when someone on one side of the bed moves.
If you prefer a firmer base
Memory foam mattresses have much less spring. To determine quality, look at the density and thickness of the foam, which will determine how deep you’ll sink. The newer, online mattresses generally use several different layers of foam, with heavier ones on the bottom for support and lighter, cooler kinds on the top for comfort.
If you want a plush top
Innerspring mattresses typically have either a fiberfill or foam outer layer, covered in quilted ticking. But even if you want an uber-plush feel, don’t be swayed by a thick-looking pillowtop as it can compress over time. It’s often best to choose a firmer, well-quilted mattress, and then cover it with a replaceable mattress topper.
If you sleep on your side
You’ll want a surface that will support your body weight, and conform to your shape. Innersprings may have more pressure relief than some foam or latex mattresses, but a soft foam mattress or one with built-in pressure relief points around the shoulders and hips can work for side sleepers, too
If you sleep on your stomach
The last thing a stomach-sleeper probably wants is an enveloping memory foam — it would feel smothering! Instead, a firmer bed will provide the best support. Consider a firm foam, dense innerspring.
If you sleep on your back
You’ll want something in the middle — a surface that supports, but has some give so your spine is kept in a healthy alignment. You’ll find happiness with any of the mattress types, but you should do your best princess-and-the-pea impression to see what feels best to you.
If your partner tosses and turns all night
Consider an innerspring mattress with pocketed coils, or memory foam, latex, or a dual-chamber air-filled mattress. Medium-firm picks will all have good “motion isolation.” But remember, these models could actually be less comfortable on the body of a restless sleeper, as there’s little forgiveness against one’s movements.
If you have allergies
Foam and latex are both inherently antimicrobial and resistant to dust mites and mold. If you opt for innerspring or air topped with fiberfill, be sure to encase it in an allergen-resistant cover to keep irritants at bay.
If you have back pain
Memory foam and/or latex is best for those with back pain since it molds to your body for support.
If you’re concerned about chemicals
Look for foams certified by CertiPUR-US as well as certifications for other materials like GOLS for latex or Oeko-Tex for other fabrics to feel more confident about your purchase.
If you can’t decide what matters most
Some savvy manufacturers make a hybrid-style mattress that combines the buoyancy of an innerspring core with the motion isolation of memory foam. It’s a best-of-both-worlds option that can satisfy many partner disputes and sleeping styles.