Which mattress type is best for you?
Last updated: November 2023
How to choose the right mattress for your sleeping position
There are a number of considerations to look at when choosing a mattress, including mattress size, mattress type and comfort grade. While the size of your mattress depends on the space you have available, mattress type and comfort grade depend on the sleeper.
As a side sleeper, you are amongst the majority of adults in the UK as more than half of British adults sleep this way.
The main consideration for side sleepers is their vulnerable pressure points, which need to be adequately cushioned with an appropriate mattress.
Sleeping on your front is often cautioned, as it can lead to overarching the natural curve of your spine and even straining your neck.
So, it's important to take extra care with your mattress choice if you find you unconsciously adopt this position.
Sleeping on your back is beneficial for your spinal alignment. For this reason, you're afforded more flexibility with your mattress choice but there are still recommended styles.
Most important is making sure your back doesn't curve and your natural alignment is kept intact.
How to choose the right mattress type
Mattress type mainly refers to the fillings the mattress has. Different mattress types offer different benefits, for example cooling properties, pressure relief or hypoallergenic materials. Common mattress types are listed in the table below.
|Mattress type||Features||Good for|
|Traditional spring||Coil springs that move together as one unit||Back sleepers, people on a budget|
|Pocket spring||Individually wrapped coil springs that move independently||Back & front sleepers, couples|
|Memory foam||Body moulding foam that supports spine alignment and relieves pressure||Side, back & front sleepers, people who suffer from back pain|
|Gel||Open-cell structure that helps cushion pressure points and regulate temperature||Side & back sleepers, people who overheat at night|
|Latex||Hypoallergenic properties that also help prevent back pain||Side & back sleepers, people who suffer from allergies|
|Natural||Fillings such as cotton and wool, breathable fabrics with antibacterial properties||Side, back & front sleepers, people who suffer from allergies or overheat at night|
|Combination||Hybris of springs with a layer of memory foam, latex or gel||Side & front sleepers, people with allergies or who overheat at night|
How to choose the right comfort grade
While mattress type refers to filling, comfort grade refers to how firm the mattress is. This usually ranges from soft to very firm. Each type of mattress is usually available in a range of comfort grades to be tailored to your needs. For example, you could opt for memory foam mattress in a soft or a firm comfort grade.
While comfort grades are often based on personal preference, your sleeping position, weight and health conditions may make you more suited to certain comfort grades than others. In this guide we recommend the best mattress type and comfort grade for each of those factors.
|Comfort grade||Sleeping position||Body type|
|Medium||Side, front and back||All body types|
|Firm||Front and back||Average to heavier builds|
|Very firm||Back||Heavier builds|
The best mattresses for people with disabilities
Some disabilities can cause sleep issues. However, the right mattress can really help improve sleep quality. And it isn’t just for those with back problems or painful physical conditions. Blind people suffer from disrupted sleeping patterns, and deafness can also make it hard to sleep due to disorientation, balance issues, and sometimes tinnitus. Even having a learning disability can make getting to sleep harder.
So, when choosing a mattress, it's important to consider how firmness, temperature, and whether you toss and turn at night, can affect your sleep quality. Here, we'll explore these mattress properties in a little more detail:
If a mattress is too hard or too soft, it can disrupt the natural alignment of the spine and can worsen back pain.
For people with scoliosis or similar, pocket sprung mattresses can be beneficial as they distribute weight evenly and support the whole body. Their full body support ensures no gaps are created between your body and the mattress surface. In terms of comfort grade, no studies have been completed solely on scoliosis but back pain is generally best managed with medium-firm mattresses.
On the other hand, for those with conditions involving joint pain or fragile bones, a certain amount of softness is required. In this instance, foam mattresses may be a good option. And for those with muscle spasms or cramps, a springy mattress may disrupt your sleep. In this case, memory foam may be a good idea as it’s designed to help prevent tossing and turning and can keep you in your natural sleep position.
Being too hot can cause sleep disruptions. Unfortunately, being too cold can aggravate pain too, especially in joint pain or arthritis.
A gel mattress helps to conduct heat away from your body, keeping you cooler. Latex mattresses are also a great option as they can be cooler than other mattress types. Additionally, having a mattress topper might help to keep you cool during the night.
If you suffer from any type of pain while you sleep, you may find it’s less impactful when you're warm. If this is the case, then sprung mattresses or memory foam may be better suited towards you as they’re known for retaining heat throughout the night. If warmth is crucial, consider going a step further with a heated topper for your mattress.
Tossing and turning at night
If your condition involves often being restless at night, choosing a mattress that has multiple foam layers is a good idea as they offer less motion transfer. For example, memory foam may be ideal as it responds to your sleeping position and cushions the body, persuading you to stay still while you sleep. Seeking medical advice to better understand your condition and your individual needs is recommended.
When choosing your new mattress, it’s important to consider your own individual needs, especially if you have a disability. What works for one person, may not work for another. So be sure to speak to your doctor and assess your needs before you decide on a new mattress.
Common sleeping problems
As well as your sleeping position, another important consideration when it comes to choosing your mattress is any specific needs or conditions you may have, for example whether you suffer from back pain or if you’re prone to overheating in the night.
What mattresses are best for back pain?
In terms of mattress type, memory foam or orthopaedic mattresses are often recommended for back and neck pain. This is because they are specially designed to provide adequate support to the spine and avoid stiff joints come morning.
In terms of comfort grade, it’s advised to opt for a medium mattress if you suffer from back pain. This is because anything too soft will result in you sinking into the mattress and misaligning the spine. However, anything too firm may lead you to waking up sore. Read more about stopping back pain here.
A medium comfort mattress is ideal for back pain as it provides optimal support for your spine. Anything too soft will result into sinking into the mattress while anything too firm may lead to waking up sore.
Memory foam mattresses
Memory foam is specially designed to provide adequate support to the spine and avoid stiff joints come morning.
What mattresses are best for allergies?
If allergies are your main concern then it’s important to get a mattress type that won’t cause them to flare up. Mattresses made from man-made materials are often recommended as they typically feature hypoallergenic properties that can help ease the symptoms of sensitive skin or respiratory problems such as asthma. It is recommended to avoid mattresses that contain natural fillings such as wool or mohair that may flair up allergies. Take a look at popular hypoallergenic brands below to find the perfect mattress for allergy sufferers.
Our Silentnight mattresses are made with hypoallergenic materials that are less likely to hold allergens and dust mites.
What mattresses are best for overheating?
If you’re prone to a high temperature during the night, your main focus should be which type of mattress you opt for. ActiGel mattresses are recommended for this, as the gel filling is specially designed to help regulate temperature and keep you cool. You could also opt for a naturally filled mattress, which contains breathable layers of natural fillings, such as wool, silk, cotton and mohair.
Gel mattresses contain zoned foam that adapts to your body, absorbing heat when you’re warm and releasing it when you’re cool.
Natural fillings, such as cotton, wool, mohair, bamboo and alpaca have natural cooling properties will keep you cool and moisture-free throughout the night.
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