6 important steps for choosing a healthy mattress

Buying a healthy mattress can be complicated especially if it’s been a while since the last time you went mattress shopping. To make things easier, we’ve put together this simple guide to set you on the path to sleep enlightenment. Like all journeys, it begins with a single step. Let’s get started.

The right healthy mattress for you is a matter of personal preference. You probably have an idea of how you want your mattress to feel. Do you prefer a firm surface or something with memory foam with a bit more give? Do you like the bounciness of innersprings or the body – hugging embrace of memory foam?

Or perhaps something in between? That said, any healthy mattress type can accommodate a wide range of sleep preferences. And many mattresses these days combine features of more than one type—innersprings with memory foam, for example, are often called “hybrid” mattresses.

Table of Contents


How to know which healthy mattress to buy

How you want your healthy mattress to feel is the main thing, but it’s not the only thing. Depending on the way you sleep, certain healthy mattress types may not be a good fit. For example, do you tend to sleep hot? Do you suffer from back pain? Do you jolt awake every time your partner tosses and turns?
The answers to those questions will point you in the direction of your best healthy mattress match. If sleeping cool is your top priority, then you’ll likely be happiest with innerspring; its open construction allows for more airflow through the mattress than any other type. But if you care most about cutting down on motion transfer, nothing beats memory foam.
And if you want a “greener” option that is all-natural and environmentally sustainable, you’re looking at latex. Understanding healthy mattress materials “When you think about the makeup of a mattress, know that the bottom eight inches will support you, while the top three to four inches are what will determine how cushiony the mattress feels,” says Michael Breus, PhD.
Foam mattresses don’t have that springy feel, which makes sense since they don’t have springs. Firmness is a function of foam density; the more supportive the mattress and the less you’ll sink into the surface. Premium memory foam mattresses contain support layers of high-density foam, typically 4 to 5 pounds per cubic foot.
Somewhere in the middle of innerspring and foam lies latex. A more elastic, “springier” material, latex offers the support of foam but with a buoyant, elevating sensation. As a result, your body will stay lifted up all night long. 

How to know which healthy mattress is best for you

The next big decision is comfort level. Comfort is a fancy way of saying how firm or cushiony a healthy mattress will be. Most mattress types come in a range of comfort levels; the right one for you depends on the way you sleep: on your back, side, stomach, or support of a firmer mattresses, and lighter some combination. Here’s why that matters.

The weight in our bodies is not distributed evenly, so your sleep position will affect the will affect the amount of pressure you’re exerting on the surface underneath you. Sleeping on your side, for example, creates pressure points at your shoulders and hips, since your body weight is concentrated within a smaller surface area. Sleeping on your back, on the other hand, spreads your weight out more evenly across the bed.

Pressure equals force divided by surface area. Who said science was boring? That’s why side sleepers generally prefer softer mattresses, which cushion pressure points, while back sleepers like firmed mattresses that don’t mess with natural spinal alignment. These rules aren’t universal, of course, since some people are more sensitive to pressure than others.

Body type matters here too: heavier people tend to need the support of a firmer mattresses, and lighter people might be more comfortable on a softer surface. If you’re a combination sleeper (i.e., someone who switches between positions), consider a medium firmness level.

That way your healthy mattress will be neither too soft nor too firm for whatever position you take throughout the night. If you’re a stomach sleeper, though, you’ll want a firm mattress to keep your lower back from hurting. (It’s worth noting that this is considered the least healthy sleep style, so try other options if you can, ahem, stomach them.)


Healthy mattress buying guide for back pain

So now you have an idea of the kind of healthy mattress that might suit you. What’s next? Let’s say you’re a 35-year-old woman who sleeps on her side and prefers a bouncy feel. In that case, you’d go for a soft (a.k.a. “plush”) innerspring mattress. Simple, right? Not quite. There are dozens of plush innerspring mattresses on the market. What sets them apart? When comparing mattresses, here are some key questions to ask: 

What’s inside the healthy mattress? Every healthy mattress has multiple components, and you should know what goes into each one. A good mattress company will pro – vide diagrams with detailed descriptions and precise specifications for each layer. For example, a memory foam mattress isn’t made just of memory foam; if it were, it would be too mushy to sleep on. Instead, it’s made of multiple layers of foam of varying densities.

Make sure the company or salesperson can explain each part of the mattress and its function. How does the healthy mattress provide lumbar support? Lumbar support is important for everyone, but especially anyone who is prone to back problems. The human spine has a natural curvature that needs to be main tainted, even when we lie down.

A healthy mattress without adequate support in the lumbar region will cause the hips (where most people’s weight is concentrated) to dip down, pulling the lumbar spine out of alignment. To ensure proper lumbar support, a mattress should have stronger, firmer material in its center third.

Will the healthy mattress keep me cool? All mattresses will absorb body heat throughout the night. The question is whether the mattress is able to disperse that heat efficiently so you stay cool under the covers. Innerspring mattresses are naturally good at this, since springs and coils have lots of space between them where air can flow.

Memory foam, on the other hand, is very dense, so heat gets trapped because air can’t flow through the material. To combat that natural tendency, memory foam mattresses often contain cooling gel layers or other technology that helps transfer heat away from the body. Other foams, like latex, are naturally more porous and so sleep cooler than traditional memory foam (though not as cool as innerspring).

Is the mattress eco-friendly? Consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental and health impacts of the products they wear, eat—and sleep on. If you’re looking for something eco-friendly, ask: Does it use organic components? Are the foams certified to be nontoxic and low-VOC? Does it use a natural flame retardant.

Questions like these will help determine not only whether the mattress is manufactured sustainably, but also whether it’s likely to affect your health (especially if you are sensitive to chemical smells or prone to allergies). Where it’s made matters too: Mattresses made in the UK must meet strict health, safety, and environmental standards. 

How much does the healthy mattress cost? Healthy mattress prices are all over the map, from as little as a few hundred pounds into the tens of thousands. A higher price tag doesn’t necessarily translate to a better night’s sleep. A quality mattress that has the features above and is made with premium materials generally costs in the range of £1000 to £2500.

As a rule, memory foam and innerspring mattresses tend to cost roughly the same amount, while latex carries a higher price tag—a result of the expense of harvesting and processing the natural material, which is derived from the sap of the rubber tree.

What mattress is recommended for back pain

Everyone knows how to “sleep” on an uncomfortable mattress – with awakenings, spinning, getting up. After such a night a person is lethargic, has no energy. If healthy people can withstand this for some time, then the mattress must be comfortable for back pain. Because otherwise the nightmare of pain is added to the lack of sleep. 

By the way, the wrong mattress can not only complicate the condition, but also in itself lead to back and lower back pain in a healthy person. And combined with various other causes, it can cause distortions of the spine and disrupt the functions of the musculoskeletal system and blood circulations In that case – on what mattress to sleep with back pain? Experts most often recommend orthopedic mattresses that are of medium hardness.

They take the contours of the body regardless of its position so as to keep the spine in a natural position and not create tension. What are you talking about? If at night the body takes an unfavorable position, in certain areas there is compression of nerves and blood vessels. This stagnation can intensify the inflammation that has already occurred and even cause it in itself.


The pain intensifies and over time the condition worsens. This can be avoided by buying a suitable orthopedic mattress on which the body can relax completely, without points of tension. Taking with their elasticity the contours of the body in all its curves, these mattresses fix the natural position of the spine and relax it, relieving it of stress.

Properly chosen, the orthopedic mattress relieves or eliminates back pain, improves sleep, increases the tone for the day, mood and performance. It should be noted, however, that when choosing an orthopedic mattress there are some peculiarities. For example, the heavier a person is, the firmer the mattress should be. In addition, hardness depends on the causes of low back pain – some diseases require a softer mattress, others – harder.

And when it comes to hardness, we should also mention the anatomical mattresses – they are softer and their structure minimizes the pressure on the various internal organs, shoulders and neck.


Mattress selection guide

In order to choose the right healthy mattress to sleep on for back pain, it is good to consult with your doctor. But we ourselves must be aware of how and why they are arranged, and what are the useful types of mattresses. Modern mattresses are in line with the 7 body areas.

They can fully take the curve and weight of a certain part of the body or keep it in a corrective position. They can be with free or connected springs, or from elastic fabrics in layers. In general, the head and neck should have a medium hardness – not to sink the head and not to strain the neck muscles.

A soft mattress area is needed for the shoulders to avoid pressure points and to keep the spine straight. The lumbar vertebrae must be firm in order to be in a stable position and to maintain the torso and blood circulation. The pelvis is softer so that there is no pressure on it and the hip joints. The legs also need firmness for a straight and stable position of the thighs.

The calves should be in a soft area to avoid muscle cramps and normal blood circulation. The feet should be on a medium hard area in order to avoid joint torsion, to avoid pressure not only on the joints, but also on the ankles and heels. In general, we can talk about an anatomical and orthopedic mattress.


The anatomical assumes and “adjusts” according to body shapes. Independent springs contract each according to the severity of the specified hour of the body in a supine position and, accordingly, during movements during sleep. In addition to relieving tension in various areas of the body, they are also useful for blood circulation.

The function of the other type of healthy mattresses – orthopedic, is to maintain the correct position of the spine, they are useful in certain spinal diseases or predisposition to distortion. Generally speaking, orthopedic mattresses are firmer than anatomical ones. When looking for a mattress that will relieve our back pain, we must also take into account the position in which we sleep.

Otherwise, we can create discomfort and instead of helping, we can harm ourselves. If we sleep on our backs, firmer mattresses are suitable. In this position, the body is on the mattress with its entire area and its weight should be evenly distributed. In addition, the spine is in direct contact with the mattress, which should give it stable support. With a softer mattress, the body will sag and the spine will not be in a straight line. If the sleeping position is to the side, softer mattresses are suitable.

This position is gentle on the spine, there are several support points, the main one being the shoulder and the weight is not evenly distributed. Softer mattresses take the weight off and the body sinks comfortably. If the sleeping position is on the abdomen, the body is again in a larger contact area. As with the back posture, a firmer healthy mattress is again needed, in which the shoulders and pelvis must have a firm support.

Otherwise, the body will warp and wash during sleep. If we change different positions while sleeping, a medium-firm healthy mattress is most suitable. What if you sleep with a partner who has a different sleeping position than yours? The healthy mattress can have two cores united in a common cover without a gap between the two. Thus, they can have different hardness, different support for both partners – soft for one, hard for the other.

Types of mattresses

This one might seem simple, but even here you have more options than you might realize. Couples who prefer different comfort levels, for example, can have a king size bed with two separate firmness’s by pairing two twin XL mattresses side-by-side. Mattresses come in the following standard sizes:

  • Crib: 22″ x 52″ | 56 x 132cm
    Small Single: 30″ x 74″ | 76 x 188cm
    Twin: 38” x 75” | 96.5 X 190.5cm
    Twin XL: 38” x 80” | 96.5 X 203cm
    Full: 53” x 75” | 134.5 X 190.5cm
    Full XL: 54″ x 80″ | 137 x 203cm
    Queen: 60” x 80” | 152.5 X 203cm
    Olympic Queen: 66″ x 80″ | 168 x 203cm
    King: 76” x 80” | 193 X 203cm
    California King: 72” x 84” | 183 X 213cm

There are four most common types of mattresses, and the choice of which one to buy is mostly personal preference, comfort and budget. However, some types of mattresses are more comfortable for people with a certain physique or even sleeping position. But let’s look at the species one by one. 

SPRING MATTRESSES: Classic or spring mattresses have a core of springs wrapped in a cover of a certain material, most often polyurethane foam or memory foam. Spring mattresses are the most affordable. The springs themselves vary in thickness, and the thinner the spring, the easier it is to fold and relax, and hence the softer the mattress itself. Thicker springs are preferred by larger people because they do not allow the body to “sink”. To limit the displacement of the spring mattress when your partner moves in bed, there is a technology in which the springs are separated from each other in pockets and wrapped in textile or other material. In this way, the movements in one part of the mattress are not transferred to the other part. Designed for: people who prefer a “more bouncy” and affordable mattress. 

FOAM MATTRESSES: Polyurethane mattresses are also quite common and will not affect your savings as much. In terms of content, polyurethane foam is quite close to memory foam, but the feel is quite different, because polyurethane foam does not have the same viscosity and density as memory foam, which makes it more springy.
They may not sound like a technological top, but the truth is that if made correctly, foam mattresses can be of exceptional quality, to such an extent that they can compete with latex mattresses.

Another advantage of foam mattresses is that they are quite light compared to other types – you can lift and turn it quite easily. Designed for: people who are looking for an affordable mattress that is not for long-term use. 

MEMORY MATTRESSES: As mentioned, the composition of the memory lane is very similar to polyurethane, but with a higher density and difference in the feeling itself. Memory mattresses are known to reduce stress on the body during sleep as they take on the shape of the body that rests on them. For this reason, memory mattresses are not as “bouncy” as spring or foam mattresses. Memory mattresses with a higher foam density are the better choice and do not sink into them as much as memory mattresses with a lower memory foam density. Designed for: people who prefer to sleep on one side or those who have pain or discomfort during sleep in the area of the shoulders and thighs, because, as mentioned, memory mattresses reduce tension.

LATEX MATTRESSES: Latex mattresses are made of latex, which is extracted naturally from rubber trees. This, of course, does not mean that all latex mattresses are 100% natural – most types are a combination of natural and synthetic latex, which in no way reduces their quality. The unique thing about latex mattresses is that they feel both soft and bouncy. Latex foaming is done by one of two known methods – Dunlop, which makes the foam thicker and harder, and Talalay, which makes it softer and more bouncy. Sometimes the two methods are combined in one healthy mattress. Of course, since latex is a natural material, the cost of latex mattresses can be relatively higher than other types.  Designed for: people who prefer a mattress made of natural materials, providing strong support for the body.

If you found this article useful, you can find more useful information on our interior design blog.

Photos source by Own pictures and Web

Author Eliza Lazarova

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