Mattresses that Match Your Preferences
Choosing a Mattress that Meets Your Personal Requirements

Last updated on February 8, 2019

There are two things every mattress must deliver: Spinal alignment and pressure relief. But beyond those two must-haves, many mattress characteristics are preference-based based on your personal needs and likes/dislikes.

Mattress preferences are not what's "best," but what you prefer. The first concern on most people's minds when they're thinking of buying a new mattress is comfort — how soft or firm the mattress feels. Beyond that, there are lots of other characteristics that you can choose in your mattress, depending on what is important to you. Determining what your preferences are will help you narrow your search for the right mattress.

Comfort and Feel

"Comfort" is the way the surface of the mattress feels against the surface of your body. It is what makes you feel cozy and relaxed in your bed, and it is probably the first thing you notice when you lie down. We break down comfort and feel into three aspects.

Softness

Mattress companies typically use words like "firm," "plush," and "pillow-top" to describe the comfort attributes of a bed, though what they are really getting at is whether the top layers of the mattress (what you feel when you press the mattress surface with your fingertips) feel "soft" or "hard."

Cushioning Depth

This refers to how deeply you sink into a mattress, and it's different from overall softness or firmness. For example, you could have a firm mattress that has a deeply quilted top that gives you a feeling of being hugged or cradled. At the same time, you could have a softer bed that has a tight top cover with not a lot of that 'sink in' feeling.

Some memory foams in particular are more deeply cushioned that others. If you like feel hugged or cradled by your bed, you'll want to look for a bed that has deeper cushioning.

Responsiveness

When you press your hand on the mattress, then remove it, does it spring back to shape immediately or does your handprint remain for a few seconds before the mattress returns to shape? That's what we call responsiveness. For example, memory foam behaves on a spectrum; some foams come back to shape right away, while others take several seconds to fully return to shape.

When you're laying on a mattress, a "slow responding" bed can make you feel like you're sinking into it slowly as your body warms the mattress. Some people really love a slow-responding bed, but others just don't, comparing it to feel like they're in quicksand.

If you like that slow response feeling, memory foam beds are the way to go, but there's a lot of variance among models regarding how much of that "memory foam feel" they have.

Below: Evaluating cushioning depth: Our standard tests

Evaluating Cushioning Depth

Motion Isolation

Are you easily disturbed by your partner getting in and out of bed, or changing positions? Do you have dogs or kids that constantly hop on and off the bed? Then you might prefer a bed that has good motion isolation, where movements on one side of the bed aren't felt (or aren't felt very much) on the other side of the mattress.

Standard foam, memory foam, and latex mattresses are generally best at this. But innerspring mattresses that employ pocketed coils can also do a very good job of isolating movement.

Temperature

If you tend to "sleep hot" you probably know it -- you kick off the covers at night even when the room temperature is normal; you wake up sweaty and feel suffocated on your bed. Most people do not have an issue with sleeping hot, but it's frustrating for those who do.

Choosing a mattress with good airflow is the first step. Innerspring and hybrid innerspring mattresses are typically a better choice than all-foam beds for those with this tendency.

More and more foam mattresses are including features to help channel heat away from the body. Examples include gel-infused foam, phase-change coatings and materials, and layers of solid gel. Whether these features work or not is open for debate, but in our GoodBed Expert reviews, we examine each mattress's cooling features.

Edge Support

If you tend to sleep right on the edge of your mattress (or often sit on the edge), or you find yourself pushed to the side by kids or pets, edge support might be a priority for you. A mattress with good edge support will let you sleep right on the edge without feeling like you are sliding or slipping off. Innerspring mattresses, in general, have reliable edge support. For foam, memory foam, and latex beds, however, we found a lot of variance in edge stability.

Below: Evaluating edge support

Evaluating Edge Support

Ease of Repositioning

This refers to how easy it is to change sleeping positions and move on a given mattress. For most people, this is not challenging on any bed, but for those with mobility challenges or pain, we rate mattresses on our 1 to 10 scale for ease of movement.

Generally, a firmer mattress with shallower cushioning depth provides the best ease of movement. On the other end of the spectrum, some can find movement on slow-responding memory foam challenging.

Green Features

Consumers increasingly prioritize a company's environmental policies, use of sustainable and/or natural materials, and fair-labor practices. We examine the materials in each mattress, as well as a company's eco-conscious practices to produce our GoodBed rating for how 'green' a mattress is.

More and more mattresses are using renewable materials in beds. See our page on natural and organic mattresses for more.

Adjustable base compatibility

Many mattresses can be used on top of a separately purchased adjustable bed frame. For each of our GoodBed Expert Reviews, we evaluate a given bed on our standard base. We look for whether there's a danger a mattress could be damaged. We check how well the mattress conforms to the base, and whether it does anything weird (any odd bulges or bunching) when on an adjustable base.

Below: Evaluating adjustable base compatibility

Adjustable Base Compatibility

Find the Right Bed

Not sure which type of bed to buy? Answer a few questions to see good matches for you with GoodBed's unbiased, personalized results.

Let's start… Select your preferred sleeping position:
This is awesome. Now I feel equipped to walk in somewhere and say with certainty, "This is exactly what I'm looking for."
— Sara in Phoenix, AZ

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