Mattress Guide: Mattress Resource Centre

Updated On

Written by:

Max Stevens
Mattress Resource Center

Mattress Guide: Mattress Resource Centre

So you’re thinking of buying a new mattress, but you’re not sure where to start. It can be overwhelming to dig through one mattress recommendation after another! But it doesn’t have to feel overwhelming at all. 

If you want to jump to a specific mini-guide, then please click any of the below options:

Your mattress is a very intimate part of your home, after all, it does carry you through of your life!

This guide will help you enjoy the process of choosing your perfect mattress.

And that is what we’re here for: to take off the anxiety in having to choose from so many options with a simple interactive guide. Simply click on any of the below options and it’ll take you right to that section:

FirmnessLearn what firmness is and how it influences your mattress purchase.
Sleeping PositionFigure out your sleeping position so you know what firmness to aim for
Your WeightUnderstand how a person’s weight interacts with mattresses differently.
Hot SleeperLearn what mattress properties help you sleep cooler 
In A Relationship?Do you have two people sleeping on your mattress? Essential tips to avoid purchasing pitfalls
Mattress TypesLearn about all the mattress types along with mattress surfaces 
Mattress SizeLearn about all the mattress sizes and how they influence your purchase
Buying a Mattress Where to buy, how much to spend, the last pieces of the mattress buying puzzle is here. 

Explaining Mattress Firmness

Firmness is a subjective measurement that primarily depends on your sleeping position and you weight.

What you need to know about firmness is that it can affect how you sleep and feel when you wake up. So, what exact firmness is best for each type of sleeper? 

Mattress FirmnessFirmness ScaleBest for: Sleeping Position 
Soft3-4Side Sleepers, Combo Sleepers
Medium-Soft5-6Combo Sleepers
Medium-Firm6-7Back Sleepers
Firm7-8Back Sleepers, Stomach Sleepers
Extra Firm8-10Back Sleepers, Stomach Sleepers
Mattress Firmness Chart

Firmness can be described as the first feeling you have when lying on your mattress.

  • Do you sink into the mattress, or do you stay on top of the mattress surface?
  • Does the material slowly mould around the curves of your body, or do you feel it pushing back?

Ask yourself these questions before getting started to determine what you prefer. 

The reason for placing firmness at the start of this guide is that the upcoming points will change their firmness feeling.

Everyone experiences mattress firmness differently as they have different sleeper characteristics such as sleeper position, shape and body weight. 

Luckily, the mattress industry has come up with a ‘standard’ and whilst they judge their firmness based on an average-weight human, it’s a valuable benchmark to help you understand what the right mattress firmness is for you. 

Figure out your Sleeping Position

Your sleeping position is one of the most critical considerations in choosing the right mattress. There are four sleeping positions: 

  • Side sleeper
  • Back sleeper
  • Front sleeper (or stomach sleeper)
  • Combo sleeper. 

So, how do you know which sleeping position you fall into? It’s all about the position you assume when try to fall asleep and wake up to.

When you sleep, do you lay on your side and find yourself in a similar position when you wake up? Then, you’re a side sleeper. 

But if you fall asleep laying on your back and then wake up nose deep drooling over your pillow? Then you are a combo sleeper.

One of the most important factors to understand when thinking about your sleeping position is the contact pressure points it influences. These pressure points tend to be the points on your body that touch the mattress and have the most force exerted through it, causing more aches and pains in those regions. 

Side SleepersBack Sleepers Front Sleepers Combo Sleepers
What Firmness They Need? Soft to MediumMedium – Medium FirmFirm – Extra FirmMedium Soft
Pressure Points

What Weight Are You?

Your bodyweight is another crucial consideration when choosing the right mattress firmness for your bed.

Why? Because the amount of pressure you put on your mattress affects how firm you perceive your mattress to be. 

So let’s go through each of the body weights in more detail, from how it affects how firm you feel your next mattress be to all the other factors it influences. Just a quick note on the different weights and their imperial and metric measurements.

Weight of Sleeper
LightweightAverage weight Heavyweight
KiloLess than 59kg59kg to 104kgMore  than 104kg
StoneLess than 9.3st9.3st to 16.4stMore than 16.4st
PoundsLess  than 130lbs130lbs to 230lbsMore than 230lbs

Lightweight Sleepers

As a lightweight sleeper (less than 59kg/130lbs), your body won’t apply as much pressure on the mattress as perhaps advertised.  A normally firm mattress may feel extra firm to you, which may not contour to your body and give you the support you need. 

On the contrary, if you’re a heavyweight sleeper (over 105kg/230lbs) you’ll feel a firm mattress to be softer than advertised.  

How it feels as a:Side sleeperBack sleeperCombo sleeperFront sleeper
Light weight SleeperSide sleepers need soft to medium soft mattresses as an average weight individual. As a side sleeper you should be looking for extra soft mattresses. Back sleepers need medium to firm mattresses as an average weight sleeper. As a lightweight back sleeper you should be looking for medium soft firmness. Combo sleepers need medium to soft mattresses as an average weight. Lightweight combo sleepers should be looking within the same range. Average weight front sleepers need firm mattresses. Lightweight front sleepers sleepers should look for extra firm mattresses. 

Average weight Sleepers

Are you an average-weight sleeper (130-230lbs/59kg-104kg)? Then, “medium firm” is probably the most appropriate for you. Actually, according to a study medium-firmness was the best choice for most sleepers.

Generally, the firmness advertised by mattress brands and reviewers is aimed at average weight sleepers. However, if you do fit in this category you’ll want to make sure you don’t go too soft as you’ll sink too far into the mattress hampering your spine’s alignment. 

How it feels as a:Side sleeperBack sleeperCombo sleeperFront sleeper
Average weightSame as advertised and reviewed

Heavyweight Sleepers

What about heavyweight sleepers (more than 230lbs/104kg)? You may have guessed it by now, a firm or firmer mattress is what you need! 

The reason for this is that your body weight will cause the mattress to soften as more pressure is exerted due to your weight. 

How it feels as a:Side sleeperBack sleeperCombo sleeperFront sleeper
HeavyweightAverage-weight side sleepers need soft to medium-soft mattresses. As a heavyweight side sleeper, you should be looking for a medium-firm mattress. Average-weight back sleepers need a medium to firm mattresses. As a heavyweight back sleeper, you should be looking for firm firmness. Average-weight combo sleepers need a medium to soft mattresses. Heavy weight combo sleepers should be looking within the same range. Average-weight front sleepers need firm mattresses. Heavy weight front sleepers should look for extra firm or orthopaedic mattresses. 

As a hot sleeper, what mattress is good for me?

Do you wake up drenched in sweat? As a hot sleeper, chances are your sleep quality isn’t the best.

There is good news for you as this guide will go through the main techniques to check for the mattress’s cooling properties.

Cooling mattresses can help make you feel more comfortable at night by regulating the temperature, but they’re not miracle workers.

Health conditions such as night sweats won’t disappear due to cooling mattresses, but it’ll bring you some relief to help you catch better zzzs. 

Cooling mattress properties to look out for:

Tip 1: Materials that are cool-to-the-touch.

These mattress materials help to draw heat away from your skin quickly. However, it’s important to ensure the materials underneath are good at dissipating the heat away to keep it cool all night long. 

Tip 2: Modern built-in features to cool your mattress.

From graphite and carbon to cooling gel, these newer technologies are embedded in the mattresses’ material and help dissipate heat away. 

Tip 3: A breathable mattress construction.

Mattresses can still be breathable just by their construction. A more breathable mattress will have air chambers, or the springs will allow the heat to dissipate and cool from under your body. 

Tip 4: Electric cooling capabilities.

You can now get some mattresses that have an additional layer that allows for them to be plugged in. These options allow for cool water or air to consistently flow in and out of the mattress for more continuous cooling. They come with added electricity expenses and are less eco-friendly. 

If you’re a particularly hot sleeper or have a medical condition such as night sweats, then you’re better off going with a mattress brand that has around 100 nights free trial to try at home. This gives you the opportunity to return it if you’d like.

What mattress is best for those with a sleeping partner?

There are two factors to consider when you have a sleeping partner: 

1. Motion Isolation

Motion isolation refers to how well a mattress can absorb a person’s movement. This feature allows you to change positions without waking your partner.

It also lets you sleep through early mornings when your partner gets up earlier than you do. So for distraction-free sleep, you have to get a mattress with efficient motion isolation!

Memory foam and latex mattresses are both champions of motion isolation. Between the two, memory foam is a bit more efficient since it responds slower to your movements compared to resilient latex. 

2. Zip and Lock Mattress

What if you’re more of a lightweight sleeper and you like a soft mattress, but your partner likes medium-firm?

Then perhaps you’d want to get a zip-and-lock mattress. It’s usually a King-sized bed with two different mattress configurations on each side, one for you and one for your sleeping partner.

You can zip and lock these two mattresses together to make one bed. 

What’s more, zip and lock beds are also useful for guest rooms as they can function either as two separate beds or as one large bed.

Understanding Every Mattress Type

A couple of times in this mattress guide we’ve mentioned mattress types and how they can influence factors of your purchasing decision.

There are 7 main ‘types of mattresses’ that you’ll want to keep an eye out for. 

We’ll go through each of their main properties, and let you know what the average firmness is, which sleeping positions they’re best for, if they’re suitable for hot sleepers and if they’re suitable for couples.   

Memory Foam Mattress

Did you know that memory foam was actually first developed by NASA engineers? Its more scientific name is viscoelastic polyurethane foam but what else defines memory foam? 

Well, it’s the fact that it becomes more adaptive as it’s exposed to your body heat. This adaptiveness results in the mattress contouring to your body which helps with even weight distribution, pressure relief and superior motion isolation. 

Average FirmnessBest for Good for Hot Sleepers? Good for Couples? 

Traditional Spring Mattresses

Innersprings in the past have been made with very limited or no extra layers placed above the springs, making the compression of the coins the only thing supporting your body. Luckily, it’s evolved massively since then and the traditional innerspring cores have multiple layers placed above them for extra comfort. 

They offer more bounce which makes it easier to adjust to each sleep position, and they normally have a great edge support system due to the supporting springs. Due to their history, their mass production, and their popularity their price points are more affordable than other mattress types mentioned.

Average FirmnessBest for Good for Hot Sleepers? Good for Couples? 

Latex Mattress

Latex actually comes from the sappy extract of rubber trees, it then goes through a process to turn it into foam for mattress layers. 

Its benefits include contouring gently to your body, as well as feeling naturally springy (after all it is rubber!). If you’re not a fan of the close body-hug experienced on memory foam mattresses then latex could be better suited for you. 

Average FirmnessBest for Good for Hot Sleepers? Good for Couples? 

Hybrid Mattress

Hybrid mattresses are a match made in heaven for many sleepers as they’re the best of both worlds. Hybrids are usually made with traditional innerspring systems as the support layer, and upgraded comfort layers such as all-foam or all latex mattresses. 

This helps to reduce pressure on your main pressure points, increase responsiveness, better edge support and increase temperature regulation that single-type mattresses may struggle to match. 

They come in many different variations, memory foam comfort layers tend to be better at motion isolation and pain alleviation. Latex hybrid mattresses may feel bouncier and more stable than traditional all-latex mattresses. 

Average FirmnessBest for Good for Hot Sleepers? Good for Couples? 

Pocket Sprung Mattress

Pocket spring mattresses have each coil wrapped in an individual pocket of fabric. This means each spring moves independently of one another, helping to be more responsive to your body’s curves and movements. 

Not only will you feel less pressure point pain, but you’ll feel your spine is more neutrally aligned. They often come in a variety of types including memory foam, natural fibres and latex. The most popular being the memory foam pocket springs as they help to alleviate the trapped heat, a common issue with memory foam mattresses. 

Average FirmnessBest for Good for Hot Sleepers? Good for Couples? 

Gel Mattress

Gel mattresses are made out of a special kind of gel-infused memory foam. They come in hybrid models or all-foam models (entirely gel foam). 

They are traditionally very similar to memory foam and provide the same contouring and pressure point relieving support. However, the addition of gel helps to add more spring compared to memory foam mattresses. 

The whole reason for gel mattresses is to improve on the traditional memory foam heat retention issues. They are said to add breathability and airflow to a memory foam mattress creating a cooler sleeping environment. 

Average FirmnessBest for Good for Hot Sleepers? Good for Couples? 

Bed in a Box Mattress

Bed in a box is a relatively new phenomenon, and it’s used to describe a mattress that is rapidly shipped by ground and rolled up in a box. Due to the recent surge in the e-commerce industry, many new direct-to-consumer mattress companies have formed, making mattresses cheaper and more accessible. 

They are packed via a method called “roll-packing”, which means the mattress is compressed and rolled in a plastic vacuum-sealed bag.  

Average FirmnessBest for Good for Hot Sleepers? Good for Couples? 

Mattress Surfaces

Mattress surfaces are different to mattress types as they are used to describe how the mattress surface is finished. There are 4 different types of surfaces: 

  1. Boxtop
  2. Pillow top 
  3. Quilted 
  4. Tufted 

Boxtop Mattress Surfaces 

These are the most luxury version of mattress surfaces that you can find on the market. They have a very thick 2-6in cushioning. 

They are similar to pillow tops, but they tend to be thicker and also have squared-off corners to increase the mattress surface area even more. 

The cushioning itself can include memory or latex foam, goose down, or traditional wool. 

Pillow Top Mattress Surfaces 

Pillow top surfaces are one of the more premium mattress surfaces and involve an additional surface layer of soft material stitched to the surface of your mattress. 

This helps to improve the comfortability of the mattress as it gives it a cloud-like feel. Not only do they increase comfort, but they also increase the surface area of a mattress. 

Pillow top mattresses generally have spring support systems in the middle of the mattress, though there could be a pillow top on a memory foam mattress as well (it is just not very common).

Quilted Mattress Surfaces 

Quilted mattress surfaces provide a smoother sleeping surface than their popular counterpart – the tufted mattress surface. This is because either the mattress does not require a tufted surface or it allows the tufts to be hidden underneath the smooth surface. 

So why would you choose a quilted mattress surface? Some people have had bad experiences on tufted mattress surfaces and prefer a flat sleeping surface with no ridging. 

If a pocket spring mattress has latex or memory foam filling then this construction allows for a quilted mattress surface. 

Tufted Mattress Surfaces 

Tufts are really important in mattresses as they hold everything together, and without the tufts, there would be problems with mattress collapse due to the springs and fillings bunching up. 

The reason some people have had bad experiences with tufted mattress surfaces is that poor quality tufts have plastic ends causing annoyance. More premium quality tufts have their hard plastic ends very well protected by an additional layer of felt or wool pompoms to reduce or eliminate sleeper annoyance. 

Pocket sprung mattresses often need a tufted mattress surface to prevent the mattress from losing shape and collapsing. 

Mattress Sizes and Dimensions

At this point, you should have an idea of the mattress type and firmness to start your mattress buying journey.  Next question is, how large do you want your mattress?

MattressSuper KingKingDoubleSmall DoubleSingleSmall SingleToddlerCot
Dimensions W x L (cm)180 x 200150 x 200135 x 190120 x 19090 x 19075 x 19070 x 14060 x 120
Dimensions W x L (feet)6’0″ x 6’6″5’0″ x 6’6″4’6″ x 6’3″4’0″ x 6’3″3’0″ x 6’3″2’6″ x 6’3″2’3″ x 4’7″24″ x 4’
Dimensions W x L (inches)72” x 78”60” x 78”55.2” x 75.6” 49.2” x 75.6”36” x 75.6” 30” x 75.6” 27” x 51” 27” x 

The key to choosing a mattress is to make sure that it’s at least 10cm longer than your body, or in the case of couples, that of the tallest sleeper. 

You also need to consider the size of your bedroom. For a comfortable setup, when you position your mattress in your bedroom it has to have at least a ruler-length (30cm or 1ft) space on all sides.

I prefer a King-sized mattress in my own 700 sq ft bedroom in London. But when I’m with my girlfriend in Thailand, we both sleep on a comfortable super-king size mattress. Though I may as well have bought a double size instead due to excessive cuddling!

If you want to know more about mattress sizes (the UK and European sizes) click here: (Mattress Sizes)

Buying A Mattress

Where to Buy a Mattress? 

There are benefits to both buying your next mattress online, as well as buying one in-store. Here’s where I step in and answer your question: “Where should I purchase my mattress?” 

Retail BenefitsOnline Benefits
You want to see, feel, and lay on several mattresses before buying. There’s urgency involved and you want the mattress now. You feel uncomfortable making a huge purchase online.You want to shop at the convenience of your home. There are no stores nearby that sell the mattress you want. It’s Direct-to-Consumer so you get savings of 10-15% compared to high street stores. You’d prefer a 90-night free trial to really test the mattress (trial periods vary per brand).

How Much Should You Spend on a Mattress? 

Since your mattress is a long-term investment, proper support and comfort should be the priority rather than cutting corners. But you don’t have to overspend to get a good quality mattress. There is a price limit wherein if you go past it, the quality begins to taper off.

  • £150-£300: You can find many affordable coil and memory foam mattresses within this range ideal for guest rooms. But you may want to move to the next option if you’re looking for durability, as these will only last you a few years with daily use. I urge you to avoid large bed sizes (e.g. King-size) which will most likely be low-quality at this price.
  • £300-£450: Innerspring mattresses have more coils and memory foam beds have thicker densities within this range. These often last for an average of 5 years. But if you want latex or hybrid types, they are available at higher prices. 
  • £450-£750: This is the average price range for mattresses with at least 10-year warranties. Here you’ll find a twin-sized to queen-sized Smart Comfort GridPurple mattress. 
  • £750-£1450: Latex and hybrid mattresses are found within this price range. The average price for their Queen sizes can amount to $2,500. Many of these come with 10+ years, and even lifetime, warranties. You won’t generally need to pay for a mattress higher than this price point, as you’ll find supreme quality beds within this range. 

Are you stuck between mattresses and wondering which one lasts the longest? Check out our how long does a mattress last guide to help you decipher which type lasts the longest.

Getting started with your mattress? 

  1. Your mattress may have compressed slightly during transportation, this is perfectly normal, and it will soon resume its natural shape and size 
  2. If you have purchased a roll-up mattress, please ensure that it is unrolled and placed within its cover on a bed in a warm room for 24 hours before use, to allow it to regain its normal shape
  3. Ensure the room is well-ventilated and leave the covers on the bed pulled back during the day for the first few weeks – that way the naturally occurring smell from natural fillings will dissipate
  4. Choose free delivery within a few days or opt for mattress next-day delivery from £19.95
  5. Once unwrapped, leave the mattress uncovered for a few hours to let it breathe
  6. You may notice a slight odour after the mattress has been taken out of its packaging – the fillings will occasionally release a smell but it is no cause for concern and will dissipate once the mattress has been well aired
  7. Your new mattress may feel slightly different and strange at first, so please allow time for your body to adjust and for the fillings to settle
  8. Air your mattress for 4 hours after delivery to freshen and remove any odour from the storage

1 Sources

  1. Caggiari, G., Talesa, G. R., Toro, G., Jannelli, E., Monteleone, G., & Puddu, L. (2021). What type of mattress should be chosen to avoid back pain and improve sleep quality? Review of the literature. Journal of orthopaedics and traumatology : official journal of the Italian Society of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, 22(1), 51.

Written by:

Max Stevens