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If you’re in the market for a new mattress, you might be overwhelmed by how many options are out there. Between the new bed-in-a-box companies, legacy brands, and luxury options, there’s a lot to consider.

These basics can help get you started as you narrow down your options.

Firmness

Mattress firmness is probably the first thing you’ll notice when you lie down on your mattress.

It usually ranges on a scale from 1 to 10, with a 10 being the firmest mattress available. This isn’t always the case, though, and some mattress companies don’t use numbers at all.

Instead, mattress companies might describe their mattresses as one of the following:

  • ultra plush, ultra soft
  • plush, soft
  • medium
  • medium firm, luxury firm
  • firm
  • extra firm, ultra firm

Which mattress firmness you should choose depends on your preferences, sleeping position, and body type.

For example, if you know you sleep comfortably and pain-free on a soft mattress, you should sleep on a soft mattress. But if you’re not sure what firmness you like best, you can use your sleeping position and body type to point you in the right direction.

Sleeping position

Different sleeping positions have different needs for getting comfortable and sleeping soundly.

Back sleepers

When mattress shopping, back sleepers should look for a firmness that helps align their spine. Medium-firm and firm mattresses are usually best for the job.

Check out our picks for the best mattresses for back sleepers here.

Side sleepers

Side sleepers put a lot of pressure on their shoulders and hips while they sleep, so they typically feel most comfortable sleeping on softer mattresses.

Softer mattresses with foam layers can provide more pressure relief than firmer mattresses, so they can help prevent aches and pains in those higher pressure areas.

Check out our picks for the best mattresses for side sleepers here.

Stomach sleepers

Stomach sleeping isn’t necessarily considered the best sleeping position for your body. But if sleeping on your stomach is the only way you can fall asleep, then you’ll want to look for a mattress that properly supports your spine.

Stomach sleepers should look for firmer mattresses that don’t allow for any sinking.

Check out our picks for the best mattresses for stomach sleepers here.

Combination sleepers

If you switch between various sleeping positions through the night, you’ll feel best on a mattress that can comfortably support you in whatever position you end up. In this case, consider a medium or medium-firm mattress.

Check out our picks for the best mattresses for combination sleepers here.

Body type

Body type can also play a factor into what firmness will feel most comfortable to you. A medium mattress will feel firmer to someone with lower body weight than someone with higher body weight, for example.

Your body type can also help determine what type of mattress you should consider.

If you weigh more than 230 pounds, you’ll feel most supported by a hybrid mattress. Hybrid mattresses have a spring coil foundation and layers of foam for comfort. Innerspring mattresses can also work well. They also have a spring coil foundation but fewer layers of foam.

If you weigh less than 230 pounds, you’ll probably feel plenty supported by an all-foam mattress. But you can still choose a hybrid mattress if the bounce, durability, and improved airflow of hybrids appeals to you.

Health considerations

Back pain

If you have back pain, it’s important to find a mattress that properly supports your spine. Without the right support, your mattress can worsen your pain or give you pain you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Research from 2015 suggests that medium-firm mattresses — especially ones that can be self-adjusted — are best for helping reduce back pain and improving sleep quality.

If you have back pain and want to try a medium-firm mattress, make sure you’re taking your body type into consideration. If you have a lower body weight, a medium-firm mattress might feel too firm. If you have a higher body weight, it might not feel firm enough.

Check out our picks for the best mattresses for sleepers with back pain here.

Joint pain

If you regularly deal with joint pain, you’ll likely find the most relief from a mattress designed to provide pressure relief. Mattresses made with foam layers tend to do this best.

While all types of foam are known for providing some amount of pressure relief, a 2017 study found that latex foam reduced pressure best. If you have a latex allergy, though, a memory foam mattress can still be a really good option.

Check out our picks for the best mattresses for pressure relief here.

Night sweats and sleeping hot

Feeling hot and sweating at night interferes with getting good quality sleep, so you might want to consider a mattress with cooling features if you tend to overheat at night.

In general, all-foam mattresses are hotter than hybrid and innerspring mattresses because spring coil foundations allow for better airflow. Memory foam in particular is known for trapping heat, so it’s not a great option if you sleep hot.

But still, a lot of companies use specific cooling fabrics and special foams to help prevent sleepers from overheating.

Look for companies that describe their foam as:

  • open-cell
  • perforated
  • infused with gel

You can also keep an eye out for mattress covers made from phase-changing or moisture-wicking fabrics.

If you want the real story of whether a mattress will help keep you cool, read through customer reviews to see whether the company’s cooling features actually live up to their description.

Check out our picks for the best mattresses for people who run hot here.

Price

Prices for a new mattress can vary a lot depending on the company, mattress type, materials, and any special features of the mattress.

Here are some points to consider:

  • Well-known or luxury companies might charge a lot more than a newer bed-in-a-box brand.
  • Hybrid mattresses tend to be the most expensive option because they contain foam and spring coils. Innerspring mattresses are usually the cheapest, but like we mentioned before, they’re also not a super common option. All-foam mattresses can be really affordable, too.
  • Mattresses made with higher quality materials like high density foam, organic materials, or certified eco-friendly components will likely cost more than mattresses made with lower quality materials.
  • Adjustable mattresses and “smart beds” can get really pricey because they have various moving parts.

Options under $500 exist, but you’ll probably have fewer options. You’ll also need to do a little extra research (always read reviews!) to make sure it’s durable enough to last you more than just a few years.

A good mattress should last at least 10 years, which is the length of most mattress warranties.

Mattresses more than $1,500 (for a queen size) are typically considered luxury mattresses. These mattresses usually come with a few more bells and whistles, like organic or certified materials, adjustability, or cooling features.

It can be an overwhelming process, but finding the right mattress for you can be key to getting pain-free, quality sleep.

Looking for more in-depth shopping tips? Check out our full guide to choosing the right mattress for you.