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How to Select a Mattress Set

by J. Paventi


If you're shopping for a new mattress, then you're about to make an important decision. You spend anywhere from six to nine hours each night in your bed, and your mattress can affect the quality of your sleep and overall well-being. Follow these instructions to pick the right mattress set for a perfect night's sleep.

Mattress Considerations:

  1. Select a size: The size of the mattress set is a combination of necessity and preference. If you are single, you may only need a single or twin bed, but you may prefer something bigger. A couple may only need a double or full-size bed but would prefer a king-size bed. When selecting the size, consider two things:

    Factors That Affect Size:

    • The size of the bedroom: If the bedroom is only 8 feet by 10 feet, the 6-foot by 7-foot California king may not be the right choice. You will need to select a bed size that fits comfortably in your room.

    • The size of the people using the bed: Mattress retailers recommend purchasing a bed that is at least 4 inches longer than the tallest person sleeping in the bed.

  2. Decide between a spring and non-spring mattress: The majority of the mattresses you will find when shopping are innerspring mattresses. Pricing on spring mattresses is usually determined by the number of springs the mattress has. Open-coil mattresses feature the least amount of springs, widely spaced throughout. Continuous spring mattresses have smaller springs that are spaced closer together. Pocket spring mattresses have softer springs that fit into pocketed areas on the bottom of the mattress. Non-spring mattresses include water beds and the increasingly popular viscoelastic memory foam mattresses.

  3. Determine the firmness you want: The density of the mattress does not affect the quality or price. Mattress firmness is a matter of your preference. Mattresses are available on a scale of extra soft, soft, medium, firm, and extra firm. Your desired level of firmness will usually depend on your preferred sleeping position. Back-sleepers tend to prefer firmer mattresses that support the spine. Stomach-sleepers typically prefer a softer mattress. People who sleep on their sides usually like a mattress of medium firmness to avoid pressure points but also keep the spine aligned.

  4. Determine what should be on top: Regular mattresses have flat tops, but as an added option, they can be equipped with special tops for comfort. Pillow-top mattresses feature material to soften the top of the bed. The stuffing ranges from memory foam to down feathers to textile filling. The complexity of the filling increases the price of the mattress.

  5. Box springs can be just as important as the mattress: Replacing a spring mattress without replacing the box springs is a common mistake. Memory foam mattresses do not need box springs. However, spring mattresses require the box springs in order to function properly, just as a car needs tires.

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