How To Choose A Mattress

Comfort Level

Each manufacturer may have different names, so choose by your comfort preference. Remember: Comfort is different for everyone. So try several different comforts when you’re in the store. A good mattress should provide you with the right support at every comfort level.

Ultra Plush–a very soft-feeling surface.
Plush–firmer than the ultra plush, but less firm than cushion firm.
Cushion Firm–firmer than an ultra plush, but softer than firm.
Firm–the hardest of the comfort levels.


Types of Mattresses


Innerspring Mattress is a mattress with metal coils as its support system.

Memory foam is synonymous with visco-elastic foam. Tempur-Pedic™ was the first company to use memory foam in mattresses. Many companies have begun copying the material and using its generic name. This is an open-celled foam that responds to the weight and heat of your body and relieves pressure. It comes in many thicknesses, densities, and different levels of softness and firmness (see ILD).

Hybrid mattress is a type of mattress that uses varying materials. The aim of most hybrid mattresses is to maximize certain positive attributes of the materials, while minimizing other negative attributes. These mattresses can be constructed of a wide variety of materials. Most commonly they are built from a combination of latex foam, memory foam, polyfoam, support foam, other patented foam, pocketed coils, traditional springs, or pillow tops.

Pillow Top is the type of design in which an extra layer of comfort padding is added to the surface of a mattress. This is generally designed to provide a softer feel without diminishing the support. These mattresses are usually thicker than the average so they might need deeper pocket sheets.


Mattress Feel - What is important to you in terms of:

Support – a subjective measure how the mattress keeps your spine in alignment. A mattress with good support will keep your spinal structure in perfect alignment. Support is not the same as firmness. A firm mattress does not indicate that it has good support any more than a soft mattress indicates that a mattress does not offer good support. Ideal support will provide this spinal alignment without creating undo pressure points on the sleeper.

Hug / Sinkage – how the mattress wraps and contours to your body. A mattress with a high degree of hug will allow the sleeper to sink into the mattress, contouring to the unique shape of the sleeper. A mattress with very little hug / sinkage will keep the sleeper floating more on top of the surface layer.

Responsiveness – how quickly the mattress adjusts to changes in pressure. This is most relevant for foam mattresses, which allow the sleeper to sink into the mattress. A mattress with a quick response time will rapidly change to adjustments in pressure and sleeping positions. A mattress with a slow response time will stay indented longer and more slowly change its shape. Slower response times were a major problem with earlier generations of memory foam. Most newer foams have better response time.

Bounce – the degree to which the mattress responds to pressure and transfers energy back in the direction that pressure was applied. Responsiveness and bounce are closely related. Generally a mattress with high response will also have a higher degree of bounce. Traditional coil mattresses have a high degree of bounce because they transfer energy back through a strong an immediate recoil effect that builds up through pressure. Memory foam mattresses usually have a lower degree of bounce because they absorb energy instead of returning it.

Motion transfer – how much energy is transferred from one portion of the mattress to another. Particularly important for couples who share a bed. A mattress with low motion transfer will minimize the movements of one sleeper’s movements or change in position, preventing a disturbance of the other sleeper.

Deep Compression Support – a subjective measure of how the mattress performs when under heavier pressures. Mattresses with better deep compression support generally are thicker and have better / more transitional layers (either coils, foam, or other materials). Deep compression support is particularly important for larger sleepers.