How to Choose a Mattress: 7 Factors You Should Consider

Choosing a new mattress is easier than it used to be. With tons of mattress information available on the internet, you can make an informed purchase even without trying out mattresses at a store.

To select the right mattress, you need to keep the right factors in mind. Let’s explore the seven most important variables you should consider as you choose a new place to lay your head at night.

1. Innerspring vs. memory foam

As recently as a decade ago, innerspring mattresses were still the most popular. Things have changed, however, as memory foam technology has improved and memory foam mattresses have decreased in price.

Even if the majority of mattresses deployed in homes remain innerspring, that will all change as old mattresses reach their expiration dates and consumers start looking for new options. Memory foam mattresses are simply too easy to buy online, and they’re remarkably inexpensive as well.

Which is better?

Some of us will never forget the fun of jumping on an innerspring mattress. Aside from serving as indoor trampolines, however, innerspring mattresses don’t have any advantages over memory foam competitors.

Memory foam mattresses last longer than innerspring mattresses. They also sag less, and modern memory foam mattresses are much less likely to develop body impressions than the nondescript foam chunks of yesteryear.

Innerspring mattresses are too firm, which can make back pain worse. People who sleep on firm mattresses suffer from the worst sleep quality, which makes aches, pain, and stress worse.

Lastly, innerspring mattresses are hard to order in the mail. Memory foam mattresses, on the other hand, come compressed in manageably sized boxes that are easy to unpack in your bedroom.

2. Memory foam vs. latex

Latex is often presented as a superior alternative to memory foam. Upon close examination, however, it’s unclear how memory foam is in any way inferior to latex.


Both types of mattresses last around the same amount of time. They’re also usually both made with synthetic materials.

Body conformity

Latex mattresses don’t conform to your body. Instead, they spring back up in a way that makes them similar to innerspring mattresses.

Firmness and motion isolation

While memory foam mattresses are soft and comfortable, latex mattresses are firm. They also don’t isolate motion or relieve pressure, which makes them inferior for people with back pain or arthritis.

Sleeping position

Latex mattresses might be more comfortable for stomach sleepers. Authorities like Sleep Advisor, however, strongly discourage sleeping on your stomach. Sleeping in this position can cause health issues.


Both latex and memory foam mattresses have a tendency to offgas right after they’re removed from their packaging. Reviewers note, however, that the smell emitted by latex mattresses is almost unbearable while memory foam off-gassing is usually mild.


Latex allergies are relatively common. Allergies to polyurethane, the primary component in memory foam, are much rarer.

Heat retention

In the past, memory foam mattresses had a tendency to retain heat. In recent years, however, mattress manufacturers have developed technologies that essentially eliminate this once-notable difference between latex and memory foam mattresses.

3. Soft vs. firm

The first time you lay down on a memory foam mattress, you might feel like it’s entirely too soft. You’ll get concerned about the curvature of your spine, and you’ll wonder if a latex alternative might be better.

Recent research, however, indicates that if your mattress is too firm, you’ll have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Soft or medium-firm mattresses made with polyurethane memory foam, however, reduce pain in the elderly and lead to better sleep quality.

An innerspring mattress labeled as “soft” might provide the same low sleep quality as a firm mattress. It’s the unique properties of memory foam that make the softness of this mattress material desirable.

For instance, memory foam keeps you still while you sleep, promoting optimal recovery. Memory foam also relieves pressure on your joints.

Firm mattresses, on the other hand, do nothing to keep you still while sleeping. If your mattress is too firm, you might wake up to worse pain than you felt before going to sleep.

4. Preferred sleeping position

Softer mattresses are better if you sleep on your back or your side. Firm mattresses are recommended for people who sleep on their stomachs.

Experts agree, however, that sleeping on your stomach is bad for you. Regardless of whether it’s true that stomach sleeping indicates that you’re insecure and anxious, sleeping on your stomach can make back and neck pain worse.

Stomach sleepers

Memory foam mattresses have a tendency to gently coach you to sleep on your back or side. Since sleeping on your stomach on a memory foam mattress is uncomfortable, you’ll naturally switch to a different position.

Side sleepers

If you’re a side sleeper by nature, memory foam offers the greatest comfort. You’ll love the feeling of sinking into your body-conforming mattress.

Back sleepers

Sleeping on your back is also comfortable with a memory foam mattress. Back sleepers who switch to memory foam might want to use thin pillows or ditch the pillow altogether.

5. Body type

Depending on your body type, certain mattress types might be more comfortable than others. To find the ideal mattress, take your weight, width, and height into account.


People who weigh between 130 and 230 pounds can sleep on any type of memory foam mattress. They’ll appreciate the comfortable, body-conforming properties of memory foam.

If you weigh over 230 pounds, however, you’ll need to select a new mattress carefully. Memory foam mattresses without firm, supportive polyurethane bases might be too soft.


People with slim hips and shoulders can sleep comfortably on practically any mattress. If your shoulders are wide, however, you’ll be much more comfortable on a soft, body-conforming memory foam mattress.

Sleeping on your side, your wide shoulders will sink into the memory foam. Motion will be isolated, and you’ll sleep contentedly through the night.


While not quite as wide, California king mattresses are four inches longer than conventional king mattresses, which might be too short for tall people. With memory foam, however, the length of your mattress might not matter as much.

Memory foam mattresses encourage you to sleep on your side. In this sleeping position, your legs are usually slightly bent.

When you sleep on your stomach, you tend to splay out and require more room to wiggle your toes. By discouraging stomach sleeping, memory foam mattresses keep you comfortable regardless of your height.

6. Pricing

It’s become a lot cheaper to produce high-quality memory foam. Latex, however, is still just as expensive to produce as it was a decade ago.

Innerspring mattresses are often surprisingly expensive despite incorporating inferior, outdated technologies. Memory foam mattresses offer the best innovation and quality for the lowest prices.

Memory foam mattress pricing varies widely. Carefully compare and contrast the benefits high-priced and low-priced memory foam mattresses offer to ensure that the price tags attached to expensive memory foam are representative of genuine value.

7. Safety of materials

Memory foam mattresses have come a long way in terms of material quality. Some memory foam mattresses now feature certifications from CertiPUR-US or OEKO-TEX. Certain mattresses have received certifications from both organizations.

BONUS FACTOR: Purchase terms

Take a close look at the guarantees that mattress brands provide. If your return window is only 30 days or you can only return unopened mattresses, move on.

Some mattress companies offer payment plans, which provide flexibility with your purchase. Check for any freebies or discounts that might be offered with your mattress.