Picking out your perfect mattress is one of the most important decisions you can make for your home — after all, it's the key to a good night's sleep — but the amount of options when you shop can make it seem like an impossible task. Between navigating the wide range of materials and marketing lingo, sorting through all of the sizes and specs and figuring out how much you should spend, it can be downright exhausting.

Fortunately, the bedding pros in the Good Housekeeping Institute's Textiles Lab extensively test to find the best mattress for every type of sleeper. We research the brands and features, have both analysts and consumer testers review the mattresses firsthand and run proprietary surveys with our tester panel to get long-term feedback on the models they already own. After evaluating hundreds of models over the years, we've learned a thing or two about how to shop for your ideal mattress. Before you dive in, keep in mind: There isn't one best mattress that'll work for everyone. It's important to consider your personal needs when you shop.

This content is imported from poll. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

What to consider when choosing a mattress

First and foremost, your spine stays aligned when you lie down. Your sleep position, body type and personal preferences for the feel and materials will all play a role in determining which mattress is best suited for your needs. You also want to consider cost, convenience, durability and any sleep issues — i.e., whether you're a hot sleeper, have back pain or get woken up by your sleeping partner. We'll break down these topics (and more!) to help you decide.

preview for How to Choose a Mattress

Types of Mattresses

Memory foam and innerspring beds are the most popular types, but additional constructions are becoming more common to give shoppers a variety. Within each mattress type, you can still find a wide range of firmness levels and price points. Here's how to select your mattress type:

Memory foam

Memory foam mattresses offer the best pressure relief because they conform to your body and take weight off pressure points. Users describe lying on foam beds as feeling like they're being cradled. These mattresses are especially ideal for side sleepers or anyone with back pain because they help promote proper spine alignment by putting less stress on your shoulders and hips. They also help with motion isolation, so you're less likely to feel your sleeping partner move.

There are often multiple layers with firmer foam on the bottom for durability and support and softer foam on top for comfort. A downside to memory foam is that it can trap in heat more easily, though many brands now offer built-in cooling features to prevent overheating.

Latex

Latex mattresses feel somewhat similar to memory foam, but it's more resilient (i.e. bouncy) and feels firmer with less sinking in. Natural latex is made from rubber trees and may be used in organic mattresses, making it an ideal choice for eco-conscious shoppers. It tends to be more expensive than memory foam.

There are two prominent types of latex you'll notice as you shop: Dunlop, which is often denser, and Talalay, which may feel softer. Though in reality, you may not even be able to feel the difference between these two.

Innerspring

These beds are made of steel coils, making them firmer and providing more bounce. Innerspring mattresses feel familiar to many shoppers, especially compared to the boxed mattresses that have become popular in recent years. They're more suitable for back and stomach sleepers, who benefit from a firmer surface to keep the spine aligned.

Consider both coil gauge and coil count when you shop. Coil gauge tells you how thick the steel is; it typically ranges from 12-15 and a lower number means it's firmer and more durable. Coil count tells you the number of coils in the mattress; a quality model will have at least 400 coils in a Queen size. You can also consider pocketed coils, which means each spring is individually wrapped (instead of webbed together) for targeted support.

Hybrid

Hybrid mattresses use a combination of memory foam or latex and coils so you don't have to pick just one. These have become more popular in recent years, especially for online mattress brands. Typically, coils sit on the bottom for support, while foam sits on top for pressure relief. Many hybrids on the market — especially from bed-in-a-box brands — feel very similar to foam beds when you lie down. Just note that they're going to be more expensive and heavier to set up than their all-foam alternatives.

Adjustable

While these are less common, adjustable mattresses have air chambers that allow you to control the mattresses firmness level. They're especially useful for couples that have different preferences. They're expensive, though users consistently tell us their purchase was well worth the splurge thanks to the quality sleep they achieve.

The Best Mattresses for Every Material Preference
Best Memory Foam Mattress
Original Foam Mattress
Casper Original Foam Mattress
Now 25% Off
$971 at Amazon
Best Latex Mattress
Green Mattress
Avocado Green Mattress
Best Innerspring Mattress
Classic Mattress
Saatva Classic Mattress
Now 36% Off
Credit: Saatva
Best Hybrid Mattress
Elite Hybrid
Bear Elite Hybrid
Now 30% Off
Best Adjustable Mattress
p6 Mattress
Sleep Number p6 Mattress
Now 36% Off
Best Value Mattress
Luxe Hybrid Mattress
Allswell Luxe Hybrid Mattress

    Mattress Firmness Levels

    Mattresses are most commonly described as soft, medium, medium-firm or firm. Medium to medium-firm beds are the most popular because they suit a wide range of needs. When picking out your firmness level, it's important to take into account both your sleep position and body type:

    Sleep Position

    • Side sleepers: This is the most commonly preferred position and the one that doctors typically recommend to avoid back pain. The best mattresses for side sleepers have soft to medium firmness levels because they help keep your spine aligned. If it's too firm, you may end up putting too much pressure on your hips and shoulders.
    • Stomach sleepers: A firmer mattress is more suitable for anyone who likes to sleep on their stomach: You don't want your pressure points to sink in too far in this position.
    • Back sleepers: Medium firmness is ideal in this case. If your mattress is too soft or too firm in this position, you risk not having proper alignment.
    • Combination sleepers: Also opt for medium firmness to best support your various positions if you move around at night.

    Body Type

    • Heavier body weights: A firmer mattress is best for heavier bodies because more weight means more pressure on the bed. Too much pressure can cause the bed to sink in and jeopardize spine alignment, leading to back pain. Some top-performing mattress brands also make models designed specifically for people over 250 pounds.
    • Lightweight sleepers: Smaller frames are better suited with a softer mattress because they aren't putting as much pressure on the bed. If the bed is too firm, it won't sink in enough to relieve pressure on the joints.

    Factor in both your sleep position and weight when deciding on your best firmness level. For instance, if you're a lightweight stomach sleeper, you can choose a medium firmness to compromise between soft and firm.

    illustrated sleeping positions for proper spine alignment
    Getty Images/elenabs

    One more thing regarding firmness: Brands sometimes describe their mattresses on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest. These ratings can help you compare firmness levels when you shop, but don't get too hung up on the specific number. We often ask our mattress testers to rate firmness on a 1-10 scale, and their responses typically don't match what the brand specifies.

    The Best Mattresses for Firmness Level Preferences
    Best Soft Mattress
    Lux Mattress
    Puffy Lux Mattress
    Now 14% Off
    Best Medium Mattress
    Dusk Luxe
    Helix Dusk Luxe
    Best Firm Mattress
    Lux Estate
    Stearns & Foster Lux Estate

    Sleep Concerns

    Besides picking out the right mattress type and firmness level, you should also take into account any specific needs you may have while you shop. Here are some common issues and what to look for with each:

    Hot Sleepers

    A cooling mattress can help you stay at a comfortable temperature throughout the night, especially if you overheat as you sleep. While many factors — like physical conditions and summer heat — can contribute to night sweats and a mattress won't make them magically disappear, the right bed can certainly help alleviate hot sleeping.

    Just note that not all cooling materials are the same and memory foam tends to be the worst offender for trapping in heat. Here are common types of cooling features that you'll see when you shop:

    • Built-in cooling technology: Embedded metal particles (like copper), gel and phase-change technology are often used in foam beds to draw heat away from the body. Metal and gel can help prevent overheating, but their cooling effects tend to be less noticeable in real use. Phase-change technology has the ability to store and release heat so it's your best for all-night temperature regulation.
    • Cool-to-the-touch materials: Sometimes you'll notice cooling covers that have an instant chilling effect. These draw in heat immediately, but won't stay cool overnight.
    • Breathable construction: Innersprings and some hybrids (with more coils than foam) will allow for more airflow than all-foam mattresses.
    • Electric cooling: There are plug-in options that use water or air to cool the bed. These are ideal to keep your mattress continuously cool, though they're more high maintenance and have added components to incorporate, like a cooling unit next to your bed.

    Back Pain

    The best mattress for someone with back pain will have at least some foam for pressure relief and a medium firmness level for support and spine alignment. We've consulted doctors that specialize in back pain, who say that an underlying issue is likely causing the back pain, but the right mattress can be one step in alleviating discomfort. In fact, studies have shown that the right mattress can improve pain, stiffness and sleep quality up to 50-60%.

    Organic Materials

    For anyone that prefers an organic mattress made of natural materials, it's important to make sure the entire mattress follows strict organic standards and not just one component. Sometimes brands use an organic cover and call it an organic mattress, which can lead to greenwashing by making it seem more eco-friendly than it actually is. Memory foam can never be organic; instead look for latex or innerspring mattresses. Check to make sure the bed is certified organic by a trusted organization, including:

    • Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): This provides a standard for fabrics (like cotton and wool) and ensure the entire manufacturing process follows strict requirements, as opposed to just the growing of the fiber. We often see the GOTS certification misused in bedding, but you can verify a specific brand in its public database.
    • Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS): It's similar to GOTS because it sets standards for the entire production process, but it's for the latex component.

    Note that other certifications may be used for beds with green claims, like OEKO-TEX, GREENGUARD and CertiPUR-US. These let you know that the mattresses have been tested to ensure there are no unsafe levels of harmful chemicals, but they do not validate any organic or natural claims on their own.

    Construction Features

    Certain specifications about how the bed is made may not be top of mind when you shop, but factoring in these features can play a big role in how satisfied you are with your bed. Here's what to look for if any of these issues are important to you:

    • Motion isolation: If you or your sleeping partner moves around overnight, a mattress that doesn't let you feel the movement is ideal to keep you both sleeping soundly. Foam beds cancel motion better than innersprings, and we've found that luxury foam beds in particular do the best job.
    • Modular firmness: For sleeping partners with different preferences, a split bed with interchangeable firmness levels is a great option, especially if you prefer a traditional mattress over one that's adjustable. Plus, these beds are easy to take apart for moving and to replace your firmness level over time. Naturepedic and Bedgear both offer modular mattresses with great reviews in our tests.
    • Edge support: A common complaint we hear from mattress owners is that their beds sink in at the sides. This can be uncomfortable if you sleep near the edge, but it's mostly an issue of making it difficult to sit on the side of your bed. Low-cost beds and all-foam mattresses that ship in a box typically have less edge support.
    • Mattress height: A taller mattress that's 14 inches or higher often has more layers feels more luxurious to lie on. That being said, a shorter mattress (around 10 inches) may cost less and be easier to set up. A lower mattress also allows for less struggling to put on your fitted sheet.
    Mattresses to Help With Common Sleep Issues
    Best Cooling Mattress
    TEMPUR-Lux Breeze
    Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Lux Breeze
    Now 15% Off
    Credit: Tempur-Pedic
    Best Mattress for Back Pain
    Evolution 15
    Nolah Evolution 15
    Credit: Nolah
    Best Mattress for Motion Isolation
    Mattress
    Purple Mattress
    Now 11% Off
    Credit: Purple

    Mattress Sizes

    Check the mattress dimensions before you buy to ensure it'll properly fit into your room. Queen is the most popular mattress size, but King (which is equivalent to two Twins) is ideal for two sleepers if you have the space. Here are the typical dimensions for each mattress size:

    how to choose a mattress  twin size bed
    Twin

    38" x 75"

    how to choose a mattress  twin xl size bed
    Twin XL

    38" x 80"

    how to choose a mattress  full size bed
    Full

    54" x 75"

    how to choose a mattress  queen size bed
    Queen

    60" x 80"

    how to choose a bed  king size bed
    King

    76" x 80"

    how to choose a mattress  california king size bed
    California King

    72" x 84"


      Where to Buy a Mattress

      Besides understanding the best mattress for your needs, it's also important to consider convenience. When it comes to actually buying your mattress, there are clear benefits and downsides to both in-store and online shopping.

      Shopping in stores

      The main benefit is that you get to feel the mattress in person. If you're going to invest the money in a new bed, it's certainly worth knowing what it's going to feel like in real life. That being said, in-store mattress shopping can be more time consuming, feel overwhelming and make it harder to compare mattresses. Plus, it's difficult to know how you're going to sleep on a mattress just by lying down on it for a few minutes in a store. Before you shop, it's worth doing some research online to make sure you're not overpaying. Don't be afraid to ask for a price match or discount if you find the mattress listed online for less.

      Shopping online

      This newer route is a great alternative if you have trouble making decisions since online direct-to-consumer brands often streamline their assortment. Not to mention, it's easier to compare models and you get the comfort and convenience of shopping from home! Note that some online brands say they can offer a better price because they don't have the markups of a brick-and-mortar store, though we've found that can be a marketing trick to mislead shoppers.


      Mattress Trial Periods, Return Policies and Warranties

      It's difficult to know whether your mattress is a good fit without actually sleeping on it, and the last thing you want is to be stuck with a new mattress that you don't love. The good news is that most companies offer an any-reason return period for at least 100 nights. Just check whether there are any hidden return fees and how you go about making the return to avoid a headache later on. Many companies will arrange for free pick-up then donate or recycle your mattress, then you'll get a full refund.

      Unlike trial periods and return policies where you can refund for any reason, warranties cover defects from the manufacturer over a longer period. However, it can be difficult to prove that damages like sagging, indents and regular wear and tear are a defect. We recommend focusing on the return policies rather than warranties, as they can often be misleading when you shop.


      Mattress Delivery

      Another aspect to consider is whether the mattress comes with in-home set up or if it's one that gets delivered to your door for you to set up yourself.

      In-home set up

      With certain models, you'll need a delivery service to bring the mattress in to your home and set it up on your bed. Oftentimes it's included in the price of the mattress, but sometimes you can pay a fee to have a team set it up for you. Besides not having to carry and set it up on your own, these services often haul away your old mattress at no extra cost.

      DIY set up

      Foam bed-in-a-box brands typically ship a compressed mattress to your door through a regular delivery service like UPS or FedEx. Our testers often prefer this because it's convenient to set up the bed in their spare time rather than waiting around for a scheduled delivery. Plus, it's contact-free so no one has to enter your home. Just keep in mind: these mattresses can be heavy, so you'll likely need an extra set of hands to help you carry it into your bedroom.


      Mattress Cost

      Our evaluations and feedback from proprietary consumer research show that a good mattress typically costs between $1,000-$2,000 for Queen size. That being said, you can still find a good mattress for under $500 if you're on a budget, and there are plenty of picks over $2,000 that are well worth the splurge.

      Pricing is mostly determined by the materials and layers in a mattress. A two-layer foam mattress is going to cost significantly less than a seven-layer hybrid, and an organic model is going to cost more than one made of polyurethane foam. Still, if you utilize our shopping tips then you can figure out exactly what you need without having to overspend.

      One thing to note: mattress prices have increased significantly in recent years due to industry-wide supply chain issues. We're seeing popular brands regularly increasing their prices, and we anticipate this trend will continue over the course of the next several months. That being said, you can frequently find discounts when you shop — so avoid paying full price.


        The Best Time to Buy a Mattress

        A holiday weekend is when you'll save the most money on your mattress purchase, including:

        Unless your purchase is time sensitive, it's a good idea to wait for a sale to avoid paying full price. Mattress companies offer discounts all year long, but these holiday times are when you'll see the most consistent and competitive offers across various brands.


        When to Replace Your Mattress

        While there's no set expiration date on your bed, you should expect a good mattress to last at least 8-10 years. But instead of following a timeline, focus on warning signs that it's time to replace your mattress — like lumps or indents — and whether your mattress is causing difficulty sleeping or pain upon waking.

        If you need a quick fix or want to upgrade the feel of your bed, a mattress topper is the easiest way to add a layer of comfort and support. It also costs less than buying an entirely new mattress.

        Also keep in mind: The better you take care of your mattress, the longer it'll last. Make sure to use a mattress protector to prevent damage from allergens, dust, spills and wear and tear. And it's a good idea to clean your mattress every few months to keep it fresh.

          This content is imported from poll. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.