Any mattress that helps you sleep comfortably and wake up feeling refreshed, without pain and stiffness, is the best mattress for you. There is no single mattress that works for all people. You should choose the mattress that provides adequate support and meets your standards for comfort and allows you to get a good night's sleep.
That being said, there are a ton of advertising claims being made by mattress companies and it's hard to choose which is right for you. To help you get started, here are some things to keep in mind when buying a new mattress:
- Research online before going shopping. Two helpful resources that provide information (but don't sell mattresses) are the Spine-health.com Sleep Health Center and Better Sleep websites.
- Talk to your doctor. If you have a health condition, talk to your doctor or physical therapist about what he or she recommends. Keep in mind that doctors are not sleep experts, but they know your medical condition and symptoms and will probably have some good advice from that point of view.
- Firm mattresses aren't always better for your back. Think twice before buying a hard or firm mattress. There is a difference between firm support and firm feel. You want firm support with a comfortable feel (comfortable will be defined by your personal preference.) Research has shown that the best mattress for low back pain is a medium firm mattress rather than a firm mattress.
- Pillow tops aren't for everyone. Very light-weight people don't need big thick pillow top mattresses because they don't weigh enough to compress the foam to even touch the underlying coils/support system. On the flip side, larger/heavier people do tend to feel more comfortable with a little extra cushion to help buffer thems from the coils.
- Adjustable beds are a great option, especially if you find you are more comfortable sitting in a recliner than lying down. They allow you to elevate your head and knees slightly to relieve pressure on the lower back. You can also create the same effect using pillows rather than an adjustable bed.
- Ask about money-back guarantees. If you think you'll like a memory foam mattress but aren't quite sure, try the Tempurpedic brand as they typically offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you don't like it within the first 30 days, you're probably not going to change your mind so send it back.
- Ask about "comfort guarantees" BEFORE you buy. Many states still allow retailers to give what's called a comfort guarantee. Ask for it BEFORE you buy, and be sure you understand the details – if you're required to pay shipping, if it includes a money-back guarantee or exchange, time frames, etc.
- Check the warranty. A good mattress will have a minimum of a 10 year FULL replacement or NON prorated warranty.
- Protect your investment. Always get some kind of water proof mattress protector. Stains will void your warranty.
- Take it for a test drive. When shopping for a mattress, try to lie on the mattress for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Don't feel self conscious or let the sales person hurry you along – it's a big purchase, and if you don't try it for at least 10 minutes you're not going to get a real feel for it. That being, said it's at all uncomfortable you can rule that one out pretty much right away.
- Check out all the options and variations. Give yourself a comfort test if the salesperson doesn't offer you one. Ask to try a firm, a plush, and a pillowtop in the same brand quality and price point of each other. Lay on each one for 10-15 minutes. When you find the most comfortable one ask to see more of that kind.
- Shop at a real mattress store, not a furniture store or department store. The salespeople at a mattress store usually have more training on the whole subject of sleep. Try to find a store that carries several major brands, such as Sealy, Serta, Simmons, and Tempurpedic. Remember it's your mattress, your back, and your money, so it's worth the time to research it and get the best that you can. That being said you don't have to spend a fortune either – mattresses are often on sale, and the price, frames and delivery fees are often negotiable.