Sleep is a fact of life, and when you’re looking to improve your sleep, a good mattress should be at the top of the to do list. It’s true that there are tons of mattresses to choose from. But there are some simple steps that you can take to help your way through all of the endless choices. Here’s how you can narrow down your choices and not become overwhelmed with choosing the perfect mattress.

1. Choose a Type

A sleep quiz is a great idea for choosing what type of mattress would best suit your needs. Innerspring mattresses are the most well known, with their coil support. They’re durable and allow for air circulation, but they’re not very supportive of pressure points. Latex options are cooling, comfortable and responsive. Memory foam conforms to the unique contours of the body and offers greater motion isolation. However, it does retain more heat than other options. Hybrid options combine foam and innerspring to give you the best of both worlds.

2. Determine a Firmness

Just as Goldilocks found Mama and Papa Bear’s beds uncomfortable, you too will find some firmness levels to be uncomfortable. Firm beds are great for children and youth because they provide a lot of support for a growing body. But extra plush is a dream for a lightweight individual who sleeps on their side. It’s important to know that firmness and support are two different things. Support refers to spinal alignment, while firmness is what you feel when you lay down. You may have to lie in a few beds before you figure out what feels best to you.

3. Know Your Sleeping Position

How you sleep is important in making this decision. The needs of a stomach sleeper are not the same as those of a side sleeper. The pressure points are different and need different support. Back sleepers typically need a medium to firm mattress to allow enough softness for comfort but enough structure to support pressure points. Stomach sleepers definitely benefit from a firm mattress to prevent the torso from sinking too far and causing back pain and improper spinal alignment. And side sleepers need softer mattresses to relieve the pressure points that are concentrated in a small surface area.

4. Consider Your Weight

Your weight will also help to guide your mattress decision. Body weight and sleeping position are two sides of the same coin. Heavier individuals need more support from their mattress to maintain proper spinal alignment and maximum comfort. Your weight can even have an impact on your temperature as you sleep. Those under 130 pounds do well with soft to medium mattresses, while those over 200 pounds need a firm mattress to compensate for sinkage.

5. Test It Out

Whether you’re testing a mattress in-store or in your home, pay attention to what you’re feeling. Is it hugging you or giving you a soft cradle? Notice how it feels on your pressure points. Pay attention to the alignment of your spine and any discomfort you may be experiencing.

With this short checklist it should be a lot easier to tackle choosing the perfect mattress. Once you have your budget and are clear on which mattress type you’re interested in, the rest will be smooth sailing.

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