Mattress Buying Guide

Types of mattress

Open spring mattress: Also known as open coil or continuous coil mattresses. These contain one long piece of metal wire coiled into numerous springs. There’s also an additional border rod or wire to maintain shape and provide structure. It’s a great value for money option, although sides are machine-stitched rather than hand-stitched, but they are lighter than other models, making them easy to turn. They tend to be less supportive than other mattresses too, so are most suited to guest bedrooms or as children’s beds, where they are used occasionally or will need to be replaced regularly anyway.

Pocket spring mattress: This type of mattress is more luxurious, as it’s made from individual, small springs housed in their own pocket of fabric. This means each spring moves independently, providing more support than open spring mattresses. You can buy soft, medium or firm versions, depending on your preference, and they are more breathable than memory foam or latex mattresses (so ideal if you’re always getting too hot during the night). These are heavy to turn though, and can be filled with natural materials such as lambswool which may agitate allergies. This is a good option if you’re looking for a bed for two people, as the separate springs will cater for your different needs and weights, while they will also minimise the risk of you rolling towards your partner in the middle of the night.

Memory foam mattress: These more modern mattresses are made from memory foam, which is a mouldable material that also responds to temperature and weight, and has hypo-allergenic properties. This means it will mould to the shape of your body, absorb your weight and relieve pressure on your joints. Not everyone likes the sinking motion of this type of mattress, and it can get rather warm, but it’s ideal for those who need support or suffer from a bad back, as it will maintain posture and align your spine horizontally when sleeping on your side.

Hybrid: Drawing from a combination of materials that usually include memory foam, latex and pocket springs, hybrid mattresses are designed to give a more balanced sleeping experience. They often come with a pocket-sprung base and a memory foam top layer, providing both comfort and support – alleviating aches and pains by responding to your body’s shape.

Continuous and coil: A popular budget option, a continuous coil mattress is made from a single looped wire, while an open coil mattress is made from single springs fixed together with one wire. These are significantly cheaper than other mattress types, but be warned that with the attractive price tag comes the likelihood of these mattresses wearing out and sagging quickly. These mattresses also move around a lot with you as you sleep – as they are designed as one unit – so if you or your partner tosses and turns in the night, we’d suggest you consider other options.

Mattress firmness

How firm your mattress is will affect how well you sleep. The type of firmness you need will depend on your sleeping position, height and weight. Here we explain what level of firmness is best for what type of sleeper.

Soft: Side sleepers or those who change positions during the night are best suited to soft mattresses. This is because the way you sleep already relieves pressure from your spine so you want your mattress to mould to your body’s natural position.

Medium soft: This is ideal for those who change their sleeping position during the night, as it will still mould to your body position but provide a little more support.

Medium firm: This is best for people who sleep on their back as you require extra lower-back support, which this type of firmness offers.

Firm: This type of mattress is ideal for those who sleep on their front, are over 15 stone or suffer from back pain. This is because it will keep your back in a relatively comfortable and stable position without allowing you to sink into it as you sleep, which can cause lower-back pain.