Choosing the best mattress type for your personal sleep style can be difficult without somewhere to start. Many of you likely have heard the recommendations that firm is best, but in reality each sleeping position requires different support for optimal comfort. Additionally, with couples, each partner may have a different preferences creating a whole new dilemma. In this report, we will consider the most common mattress types and then look at which are the best mattress types for each sleep position.
About Mattress Types
Knowing the differences between different types of beds can be useful when determining the best mattress. Here is an overview of how each bed is made, how consumers rate the type, what they like and dislike, and some popular brands of each category.
- This type of bed utilizes a system of connected or independent metal coils for support, topped with layers of foam and/or fiber padding.
- Innerspring mattresses remain the most popular in terms of sales, so it may surprise you to know that overall this is the worst-rated mattress type. In large scale consumer surveys, innerspring beds receive average consumer ratings between 62-65%.
- What people like: Price, Availability, Familiarity
- What people dislike: Comfort, Durability, Motion & Noise Disturbances
- Popular brands include Sealy, Simmons, and Serta, which each manufacture several lines
Memory Foam Mattresses
- Memory foam is a specialized type of foam that contours to one’s body shape and evenly distributes body weight to prevent pressure points. These type of beds typically feature 2-6 inches of memory foam over a poly foam support base.
- There are several types of memory foam including the classic visco elastic type, gel-infused, and plant-based.
- Memory foam proves on the of the best mattress types in terms of ratings, with average satisfaction hovering around 80-82%.
- What people like: Pain Relief, Comfort, Durability, Motion Isolation
- What people dislike: Heat, Odor, Mattress Weight
- Tempurpedic is the most popular traditional memory foam brand, while Serta iComfort reigns in gel memory foam and Amerisleep is making a name in plant-based memory foam.
- These beds utilize liquid latex (natural or synthetic) to create a foam-like material. A true latex mattress will be composed of only latex, without springs or other types of foam. Latex mattresses prove highly customizable in terms of firmness and layer configuration.
- Latex mattresses rate well with consumers, averaging between 78-85% (with all-latex beds scoring on the higher end).
- What people like: Pain Relief, Durability, Eco-Friendliness, Motion Isolation
- What people dislike: Cost, Mattress Weight, Availability, Heat/Odor with Synthetics
- The big name mattress companies and retailers like Ikea offer a couple of latex mattresses, though these are typically hybrid or synthetics. Popular brands online for all-latex beds include Astrabeds, Essentia, and Habitat Furnishings.
The Best Mattress Based on Sleep Position
Now that you know how types of mattresses compare, determining the best mattress type for sleep positions becomes a little easier. To develop our recommendations, we looked at the level of support each position requires and then matched it to the best-suited mattress type. Our picks for best mattress are based on our research on brands, overall product value and consumer ratings.
Side Sleepers – Plush
Side sleepers are the most common group; however this position increases the weight on pressure points such as hips and shoulders by up to 7 times. Thus for side sleepers, it is imperative to choose a mattress that can provide support and pressure point relief. The best mattress for this position is one that is softer, allowing the bed to contour and cushion pressure points while supporting the remainder of the body. Essentially, if the bed is too firm, your hips and shoulders will experience excess pressure and your spinal alignment may not be straight. Likewise, if the bed is too soft or supportive, sleepers could experience a hammocking effect. Given the need for plusher, contouring support, we recommend memory foam for side sleepers.
Our Pick: The Amerisleep Liberty Bed is a plush memory foam mattress, with a profile thick enough to provide good contouring for most side sleepers. This mattress earns a 4.6 out of 5 in over 100 reviews, and retails for $1199 in queen size.
Back Sleepers – Medium-Firm
Back sleepers require good support, particularly for their lower spine. If you consider the natural shape of your back, you will notice that your lower back curves in. The best mattress for back sleepers supports the lower back (allowing muscles to relax), and keeps the natural curve of your spine. An overly soft bed may cause the lower back to bow down, but a too firm bed will cause tension in lower back muscles since the lumbar area will lack support. Thus, a bed with medium-firm support would prove optimal for back sleepers. Based on these needs, back sleepers should find comfort with medium-firm memory foam or latex mattresses, which would allow just enough contouring to support the lumbar region and spine.
Our Pick: The Amerisleep Revere Bed offers medium-firm support, a 4.6/5 in 90+ reviews, and the queen size retails at $1299. For those who prefer latex, we recommend the Serenity Bed from Astrabeds, an organic, 100% natural latex mattress with a 4.6/5 in 70+ reviews and queen price of $1999.
Stomach Sleepers – Firm
Stomach sleepers are least common, and have different concerns than back and side sleepers when it comes to support. They require a firm surface that will not allow their hips or chest to sink further than the rest of their body so as to prevent back pain. Given their needs of firm support with minimal contouring, we recommend a firm latex or innerspring mattress for stomach sleepers.
Our Pick: For latex, we recommend the firm Sonoma Bed from Astrabeds, which has a 4.5 in 10+ reviews and costs $1799 for a queen. The Simmons TruEnergy Extra Firm collection (names vary by retailer) would be a good innerspring option, which tends to average around 3.9-4.0 in reviews and costs $1199-2999 for a queen depending on options.
Combination Sleepers – Medium-Firm
A small number of people may sleep in numerous positions during the night, alternating between variations of all three types. Given the need to adapt to a variety of positions, a medium-firm memory foam bed might be the best mattress for balancing support and pressure relief. Memory foam would also be ideal if you move about frequently at night, as the material prevents the transfer of motion from one side of the bed to the other.
Our Pick: (see back sleeper recommendations)
Best Mattress for Couples – Varies
Many couples find that their taste in mattresses differ, which often results in one person having to compromise or even sleeping apart. Because two people can differ dramatically in weight, body shape, and sleep positions, it can be impossible to find one single best mattress. However, many manufacturers are now offering split mattresses which can be customized for firmness on each side. These types of mattresses can be found in a variety of materials, though customizable latex mattresses are probably one of the most common. For couples that have different needs, we recommend a split-side latex mattress or customizable foam/spring bed.
Our Pick: Astrabeds allows customers to customize the layers and individual sides on their latex mattresses, meaning one side can be plush and the other firm. Prices vary depending on the model and options selected.
Choosing the best mattress based on your preferred sleeping position provides your body with the support it requires to eliminate aches and pains caused by pressure points and too little support. If you have always stuck with spring mattresses because you are most familiar with them, our research and customer satisfaction ratings suggest it may be time to consider alternatives especially if you are experiencing discomfort. Understanding what your body requires while sleeping and what each mattress type offers is an important step in selecting the best mattress, and we hope this guide helped your search!