A Guide To Buying Your First Real Mattress

Your mattress is possibly the most important investment in your bedroom: On average, a third of your life is spent sleeping on one. Sadly, these fabric cases of springy material don't come cheap: Even the most basic mattress will set you back at least a couple Benjamins.

At a certain point, you'll decide that it's time to move on from the cheapest option you can pick up and properly invest in a mattress. The material of a mattress plays an important role in deciding the quality of your sleep, a choice that shouldn't be made lightly. To help you make that decision, we've compiled an explainer of the most common types of mattresses, along with their pros and cons. Thank us later for a peaceful slumber.

Memory Foam

The invention of memory foam mattresses was actually a happy accident: The material was originally conceived by NASA back in 1966 as protective cushioning for pilots and passengers on flights. It was then widely adapted in hospitals, and eventually made it into the hands of the general public.

A "visco elastic foam" acts as the top layer of the bed and conforms to the shape of your body, while distributing your entire body weight evenly. They are typically pricier than spring mattress — with Tempur-Pedic being the most well-known brand— but are great for people suffering from joint pain or muscle ache. One caveat: The material has lower air circulation and captures more warmth than your average mattress, so it might not be ideal if you tend to get hot in your sleep.

Zinus Sleep Master Memory Foam Mattress, $97, available at Amazon
— PAID —


If you're looking for a sustainable option, consider a “green” mattress made with organic materials.

This one in particular is handmade in Los Angeles with 100% natural latex, New Zealand wool, and certified organic cotton (all of which are biodegradable). It's free from polyurethane foams and toxic flame retardants, and its natural materials don’t trap in heat and moisture. That means you can actually cool down while you sleep, without having to rely on flipping your pillow over to the “cool side" — and you'll be helping the planet while you do it.

Avocado Green Mattress, varied sizes, starting at $959.00, available at Avocado Green Mattress.

Latex mattresses are noted for their durability and friendliness to the environment. Since the synthetic material is naturally resistant to flames, it requires far less chemical processing in its manufacturing.

This type of mattress will safeguard you from dust mites bed bugs, and mold. They are also renowned for its high responsiveness — the ability to quickly return to its original shape after being pressed. As such, this material is a go-to for sleepers suffering from joint and hip pain. The only thing working against this type of mattress? They can be incredibly bulky.

NuForm Allure Talalay Latex Soft, $659.99, available at Overstock.com

This is the oldest type of mattress on the market, and it's a great option if you're on a budget. There are typically two types of spring mattresses: Bonnell innersprings, a classic option with interconnected metal coils, and pocketed springs, where the coils are individually wrapped in fabric. While the bonnell spring mattress is a more affordable option, it's also more prone to "motion transfer" — any movement on one side of the bed will affect the other side. On the other hand, a pocketed spring mattress won't have this problem and are generally more lightweight.

Alwyn Home Plush Innerspring Mattress, $111.99, available at Wayfair
Poly Foam

If you want a type of mattress that won't break the bank, a polyurethane foam mattress is the way to go. The inexpensive material provides softness and support all at the same time, and can be easily compressed. All those mattress-in-a-box startups you've been seeing everywhere? They mostly come in polyfoam. Opt for a higher density foam if you want it to last for years.

Ikea MORGEDAL Foam Mattress, $299, available at Ikea

A hybrid mattress combines the best of both worlds: A pocketed foil foundation is topped with layers of memory foam for extra comfort. Due to the different layers, it's easier to find a combination that conforms to your specific needs. Many hybrid mattresses come with a thin gel foam layer, which helps cool down your body temperature.

Olee Sleep Gel-Infused Memory Foam Innerspring Mattress, $259, available at Amazon
Load more...