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What to know about mattresses before you buy


A good night’s sleep can have a major impact on your day, and the mattress you sleep on is likely to determine how well-rested you are the next morning.

Additionally, you need to make sure that the mattress you have is the right firmness and material for you, or you could risk causing problems for your joints and back. The problem is that mattresses are usually quite expensive, not to mention inconvenient to transport, and buying the wrong one can be a stressful experience. That’s why it’s important to know the following information so you can buy your new mattress with confidence.

What type of mattress suits you?

There are a lot of kinds of mattresses and, without some idea of what you’re dealing with, it can be confusing to know which will be the best kind for you. Sure, a mattress might feel more comfortable in the store, but is that going to last? What’s the difference between open coil and pocket spring? Are they better than memory foam? Allow us to explain:

  • Open coil mattresses: These are the best value-for-money mattresses, and also the most common thanks to the ease with which they can be mass-produced. They are made with an interconnected spring system and the firmness of the mattress is measured by the thickness of the wire used in the springs; the thicker the spring, the firmer the mattress will be. These mattresses tend to be lighter, so easier to turn, and offer great firmness, but have been known to dip in the centre of the after prolonged use.
  • Pocket spring mattresses: Pocket spring mattresses are also made with springs, but not from one wire, like open coils. Instead, they are made of many individual springs housed in their own little pockets, working independently of each other. The number of springs varies dramatically, but the higher the number of springs the better the support (although the quality of the springs also factors into this). The individual springs offer increased support, so if you are sharing a bed with someone heavier or lighter than you, it will reduce that ‘roll-together’ feeling. They also last several years longer than open coil mattresses but are usually more expensive and heavier.
  • Memory foam mattresses: Memory foam mattresses are topped with a layer of temperature-sensitive viscoelastic material (or ‘memory foam’). They are great for relieving pressure on joints. They feel quite different to lie on compared to spring mattresses, so it’s important to test one before you buy to be sure it’s comfortable for you. If you find them comfortable, they are a great way to get a good night’s sleep with minimal pressure on your body. They also last significantly longer than most spring mattresses. However, they tend to be more expensive, and those with mobility problems could have trouble getting out of bed, as the mattress moulds to your body shape. Memory foam mattresses can have a spring core or a foam one, with foam cores usually being softer.

What firmness do you need?

Different sleeping positions work best with different levels of firmness. Your mattress needs to accommodate how you sleep because if you have the wrong firmness, it could not only affect your sleep but put pressure on your joints, too. If you sleep on your side and tend to move around a lot, then a soft mattress will mould to your body’s natural position; sleeping on your side already relieves most of the pressure on your spine. A medium soft mattress will also mould to your body position – so great for those who change position a lot in their sleep – but also offer a little more support. Medium firm mattresses suit those who sleep on their back thanks to the extra lower-back support, and firm mattresses are ideal for those who sleep on their front, weigh more than 15 stone, or suffer from back pain.

Know your size

Getting the ideal type of mattress with the correct firmness doesn’t mean a thing if the size is wrong. If you haven’t replaced the mattress for your bed before, get some measuring tape and confirm your mattress size. Check a mattress size chart for your dimensions. If your bed is a foldaway wall bed, then you should also check the depth of your mattress to be sure you can still fold up the bed easily with the new one.

Alternatively, you could see the new mattress as an opportunity. Has your living situation changed since last time you bought a bed? Perhaps you had young children who liked to sleep with you, who have since grown up? You could use this as a chance to buy a smaller, cheaper mattress and a smaller bed to go with it.

Maintain your mattress

When your mattress arrives, don’t cover it with sheets immediately, no matter how much you’re looking forward to it. Give it some time to air – at least four hours. It’s likely been in storage for some time and could have accumulated smells from the damp, cold conditions. It’s a good idea to air out your mattress regularly anyway, and flip it often too to reduce the chances of dips forming, causing uneven sleeping. A mattress topper (that goes between the mattress and your sheets) will help maintain your mattress’s hygiene and cleanliness.

Don’t scrimp on the budget

Mattresses come in a variety of price ranges, but going for the cheapest model isn’t necessarily the best option. Firstly, a high-quality mattress can be good for your health, offering you better a night’s sleep, healthier joints, and so more energetic and nimble mornings. Secondly, a low-cost mattress like a cheap open coil won’t last that long – maybe 2-4 years. Even if price is a factor, you should be approaching this as a long-term investment. A more expensive mattress that’s significantly more comfortable could last 7-8 years, making it more convenient and potentially much cheaper in the long run.


Those are our top tips for when you’re shopping for a mattress – we hope they contribute towards a good night’s sleep. Are there any tips we missed? Let us know on our Facebook and Twitter pages, and don’t forget to give us a follow while you’re there!

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Andrew Montlake

Written by Andrew Montlake

Andrew Montlake, better known as Monty, began his journey with an Hons degree in Economics & Politics before starting in the mortgage industry in February 1994. As a main founder of Coreco in 2009, he successfully grew the brand, marketing, and communications, and was made MD in 2019 focussing on the overall vision, strategy, and culture of the company. As Coreco’s media spokesperson, Andrew can often be seen or heard on TV and radio as well as regularly commenting in the national, local, and trade press. He is the author of this acclaimed Mortgage Blog and is well-known for his social media, podcasts, and public speaking. Andrew is now proud to serve as Chairman of the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries, (AMI) as a cheerleader for the Mortgage Industry as a whole and continues to work at the coal face, writing mortgage business and advising clients.

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