Buying a mattress Is an unnecessarily complicated business, whether you buy online or in a store.
In a showroom you are faced with a sales assistant who is keen to show you diagrams of springs and pictures of people lying on their sides. You feel a bit silly as you lie on a couple of beds and conclude that most of them feel pretty comfy compared to your thread bare mattress at home.
Online you have the challenge of literally thousands of white rectangles to choose from. You’ve heard of some of the brands, but are they any good or are they a different company from the last time you bought a mattress 20 years ago?
There are a few basics which are worth getting your head around before you buy a mattress.
Firstly, you need to choose whether you want a pocket sprung or memory foam mattress. There are other options, such as open-coil (very cheap) and latex (generally very expensive) but most people go for pocket springs or memory foam.
Pocket springs feel familiar and are the biggest sellers. Memory foam is popular as it offers consistent support and is good for people with allergies, but many people don’t like the sinking sensation.
If you go down the pocket springs route then you’ll need to decide how many springs you want. The norm is 1000 – 2000. Heavier people benefit from more springs, lighter people can make do with a lower number in that range.
If you prefer memory foam, take a look at how thick the top layer of memory foam is. Most memory foam mattresses will have a few centimetres of the more expensive foam on top and then cheaper foam underneath.
Next, you need to decide how firm a mattress you want. As a general rule, heavier people need a firm mattress whilst lighter people need a softer mattress to ensure they get good support all over. There’s an old myth that people with bad backs need a firm mattress, but the advice from most experts is that you need a ‘supportive’ mattress.
Unfortunately, there’s no industry standard for firmness, so one company’s medium firmness could be the same as another company’s soft mattress. However, some retailers offer a free trial which is useful if you are buying online.
Finally, decide between a divan and a bedstead. Divans are often cheaper (unless you buy a posh one with its own springs) and they offer good consistent support for your mattress. However, many people prefer the look of bedsteads (or bedframes).
For more advice, visit the Best Mattresses Guide.