Mattress Buying Guide for Different Sleeping Positions


A good night’s sleep is essential for maintaining overall health and well-being. One key factor in achieving this is choosing the right mattress for your unique sleeping position. With a wide range of mattress types, materials, and firmness levels available in the market, selecting the perfect mattress can be a daunting task. This comprehensive guide will help you navigate the mattress buying process, taking into consideration your sleeping position, body type, and personal preferences.

Understanding Sleeping Positions

There are three primary sleeping positions: side, back, and stomach. Each position has its own set of pressure points and spinal alignment requirements, which must be taken into account when choosing a mattress. Combination sleepers switch between positions during the night and may require a more versatile mattress.

Side Sleepers

Side sleepers make up the majority of the population, with nearly 75% of people sleeping in this position. Side sleeping can be beneficial for pregnant women and those with digestive issues or heartburn. However, it can also result in pressure point pain in the hips and shoulders, leading to muscle soreness and impaired circulation.

Back Sleepers

Back sleeping is considered the healthiest and most ideal sleep position, as it promotes natural spinal alignment and reduces the risk of developing aches and pains. However, only a small percentage of people sleep in this position.

Stomach Sleepers

Stomach sleeping is the least common and least recommended sleep position, as it can lead to spinal misalignment and exacerbate existing back issues. Nevertheless, many people find this position comfortable and may need a specific mattress type to support their sleeping habits.

Choosing the Right Mattress Type

There are several mattress types available, each offering different levels of support, comfort, and pressure relief. Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each type will help you make an informed decision based on your sleeping position and personal preferences.

Innerspring Mattresses

Innerspring mattresses are a traditional and affordable option, featuring steel coil systems that provide support and bounce. They are available in continuous coil or individually wrapped (pocketed) coil configurations. Continuous coil systems may not isolate motion as effectively as pocketed coils, making them less suitable for couples. Innerspring mattresses can be firmer than other types, making them a suitable choice for back and stomach sleepers.

Foam Mattresses

Foam mattresses are known for their contouring abilities, providing pressure relief and body-hugging support. They are available in various foam types, including memory foam, polyurethane foam, open-cell foam, and foam blends. Memory foam is particularly popular for its ability to cushion and contour the body, relieving pain and pressure. Foam mattresses are excellent for motion isolation, making them a good choice for couples. They are generally suitable for side sleepers, offering soft to medium firmness levels.

Latex Mattresses

Latex mattresses offer a cooler and more responsive sleep experience compared to memory foam. They can be made from natural or synthetic latex, with natural latex derived from rubber tree sap. Latex mattresses provide a combination of support and pressure relief, making them suitable for a range of sleepers. They are particularly popular among eco-conscious consumers, as natural latex is a renewable and biodegradable material.

Hybrid Mattresses

Hybrid mattresses combine the benefits of innerspring and foam or latex mattresses, offering a balance of support, comfort, and pressure relief. They typically feature a coil spring base and layers of foam or latex for added comfort. Hybrid mattresses are often recommended for combination sleepers and couples, as they cater to various sleep positions and preferences.

Airbeds and Waterbeds

Airbeds and waterbeds offer customizable firmness and support through adjustable air chambers or water-filled bladders. While not suitable for everyone, they can be a good option for those with changing support needs or seeking a temporary mattress solution. Waterbeds, in particular, can provide a unique, soft, and bouncy sleep experience but may lack the support and pressure relief of other mattress types.

Selecting the Ideal Firmness Level

Mattress firmness is a crucial factor to consider when choosing a mattress, as it directly impacts your sleep comfort and spinal alignment. Firmness levels typically range from 1 to 10, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest. Medium-firm mattresses (usually between 5 and 7 on the firmness scale) are often recommended for most sleepers, as they provide a good balance of support and comfort.

Keep in mind that firmness is a subjective measurement, and what feels firm to one person may feel soft to another. Additionally, firmness can vary between mattress types and brands. It is essential to try out a mattress before committing to ensure it provides the right support and comfort for your needs.


Assessing Support and Pressure Relief

Support and pressure relief are key factors in choosing a mattress that caters to your sleeping position and body type. Lighter individuals may find adequate support from a foam mattress, while heavier individuals may prefer the sturdiness of coils beneath foam layers. Mattresses with coil systems generally provide firmer support, preventing excessive sinking and maintaining proper spinal alignment.

Edge support is another aspect to consider, particularly for couples sharing a bed or those who frequently sit on the edge of their mattress. Reinforced edges can prevent sagging and provide a stable sleeping surface, reducing the risk of rolling off the bed during the night.

Foam mattresses are known for providing the best pressure relief and body contouring, which can be particularly beneficial for side sleepers. Memory foam and hybrid mattresses with foam layers can offer excellent pressure relief at key points such as the hips and shoulders.

Evaluating Mattress Height and Motion Isolation

Mattress height can impact support, durability, and ease of getting in and out of bed. Standard mattress heights range from 9 to 14 inches, with some budget options being 9 inches or less. Taller mattresses may offer greater support and durability but can be challenging for those with limited mobility or tall bed frames. Additionally, taller mattresses may require specialty sheets to fit properly.

Motion isolation is an essential feature for couples sharing a bed, as it minimizes the transfer of movement between sleepers. Foam mattresses typically provide the best motion isolation, while innerspring mattresses may transfer more motion. Hybrid mattresses with individually wrapped coils can offer a balance between motion isolation and support.

Considering Temperature Regulation and Cooling Features

Sleep temperature can significantly impact the quality of your sleep. If you tend to sleep hot, it is vital to choose a mattress with cooling features and temperature regulation properties. Cooling mattresses may include:

  • Air cell or open-cell foam layers
  • Gel-infused foams
  • Mattress covers made from phase-changing, moisture-wicking, or stay-cool fabrics

Reading customer reviews can help gauge the effectiveness of cooling features and whether they deliver on their promises.

Addressing Off-Gassing and Organic Materials

Off-gassing is a common concern with mattresses, particularly those compressed and shipped in a box. The odor emitted from new mattresses is typically due to chemicals used in the manufacturing process and can dissipate within a few days, especially if aired out near an open window.

Choosing a mattress with certifications such as CertiPUR-US or Global Organic Latex Standard can help ensure that it is made without harmful chemicals or heavy metals. Eco-friendly and organic mattresses are also available for those seeking sustainable and natural options.

Navigating Company Policies and Reputation

When purchasing a mattress, it is essential to consider company policies and reputation. Look for companies that offer:

  • A trial period of at least 100 nights
  • Free shipping and returns
  • A comprehensive warranty covering defects and sagging

Additionally, research the company’s business reputation, legal history, and product recall information to ensure they are reliable and trustworthy.

Exploring In-Store and Online Shopping Options

Purchasing a mattress can be done in-store or online, with each option offering its own advantages and challenges. In-store shopping allows you to try out mattresses in person and ask sales associates questions, while online shopping offers convenience and a broader range of options.

Regardless of the shopping method, it is crucial to read customer reviews, research company policies, and consider personal preferences before making a decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the qualities of a good mattress overall?

A good mattress should provide adequate support, comfort, pressure relief, and durability. It should also cater to your unique sleeping position, body type, and personal preferences.

What questions should you ask when purchasing a mattress?

Inquire about the materials used, firmness level, temperature regulation, warranty, and return policy when purchasing a mattress. Additionally, ask for customer testimonials and reviews to gain insight into real-world experiences with the product.

What brands offer the best mattresses?

Some popular mattress brands include Casper, Tuft & Needle, Saatva, and Layla. Researching and comparing different brands and models can help you find the best mattress for your needs.


Choosing the perfect mattress for your sleeping position and personal preferences is essential for a good night’s sleep. By considering factors such as mattress type, firmness level, support, pressure relief, and cooling features, you can find the ideal mattress to suit your needs. Remember to research company policies and reputation, read customer reviews, and test mattresses in person when possible to ensure a comfortable and restful sleep experience.