These days, there are a wide variety of mattress options to choose from. In addition to the familiar innerspring mattresses, you now can opt for memory foam, latex foam, air, futons and waterbeds. One type of mattress is not inherently better than any other, and all can provide the proper support your body needs. The key is in carefully reviewing the available options, testing each kind out, and determining the right mattress type and style for your preferences and your body.
If you have a specific health problem, particularly a problem with your back or spine, you should check with your physician or health care provider about the kind of mattress that might be best for you. That will help narrow your choices.
Many people assume waterbeds are better than other kinds of mattresses because of the lack of pressure points and the fact that a waterbed conforms to the shape of your body. It is also nice to be able to adjust the temperature of the bed based on the season. However, waterbeds are expensive, require heaters, they may leak, and they are not good at isolating movement. If you are sensitive to motion in bed, a waterbed is probably not the right choice for you. Some rented homes and apartments place restrictions on the use of waterbeds as well.
In terms of typical mattresses, the most important thing to consider is proper sleeping posture. When you are lying on your side, your waist should be supported by the mattress and your shoulders and hips should sink in. That way your spine is in the same position while lying down as it is when standing up. No matter what the mattress is made of, if it is too firm or too soft you may not achieve proper spinal alignment. One special note for heavier people is that a firmer mattress often provides better support. Another consideration is movement isolation. If you sleep with a partner, go with him or her to the mattress store to test out how much the mattress transfers movement across the bed.
In fact, testing a variety of mattresses is critical. Some experts suggest you need to test out 30 mattresses to get a proper idea of your needs! One good way to get exposure to lots of mattress types is to ask friends and family if they are happy with their bed. If so, test it out yourself in their home. That way you don't have to go to 30 stores to try out all the available mattresses. Stay on the mattress for at least 15 minutes, 5 minutes on each side of your body.
As you are exploring your options, remember that mattresses are often significantly marked up and then discounted during sales. Ask the salesperson about a comfort guarantee, and get the details in writing. That way if you end up unhappy with the mattress, you can return it or exchange it for a better one.