Which mattress should I buy? Everything you need to know about finding the ideal mattress

However you sleep and whatever your budget, I've found the ideal mattress for you

Birch Luxe Mattress on a bed with a pillow and comforter on top.
(Image credit: Birch Living)

A simple Google search asking 'which mattress should I buy?' yields more than 83 million results in less than half a second. Many of the top results are sponsored posts, with big-name brands vying for your attention, urging you to buy their mattress without knowing anything about you, your budget, or your sleep needs. 

With so much on the market, it's easy to feel spoiled for choice. That's where I come in. As H&G's resident sleep writer, I've sampled some of the world's best mattresses from all the specialist sleep stores, including Saatva, Tempur, and Nectar. I've learned that there's no such thing as one mattress to suit every sleeper: which mattress is best varies from person to person. 

There are lots of different ways to buy a mattress. You could shop based on sleep position to find the best mattress for front, back, or side sleepers. If you're a hot sleeper, or you live in a warm climate, you could shop for a cooling mattress. Eco-conscious shoppers will want to shop sustainably, while buyers on a budget might be more concerned by the price tag. 

Which mattress should I buy?

However you want to shop for a mattress, I've got you covered. I've explained why particular mattress types might work for certain sleepers and rounded up a few of my favorite models to help you make an informed decision. Each of these mattresses is tried, tested, and highly recommended by an H&G sleep expert. For the sake of a fair fight, we assess each mattress against the same criteria: comfort; thermoregulation; weight bearing; motion isolation; and edge support. We also consider the cost to show you how to choose a mattress you can actually afford.

Buy a mattress based on sleep position

Side view of the Naturepedic Chorus Mattress.

(Image credit: Naturepedic)

Everyone you know is either a front sleeper, a back sleeper, a side sleeper, or a combination of the three. How you lie on the bed says something about you: it indicates where you feel aches and pains and dictates where you put pressure on your body. It follows that different sorts of sleepers need different styles of mattress to sleep comfortably. 

If you sleep on your stomach, you should look for a firm mattress: I recommend a hybrid model with reinforced steel springs, or else a natural latex mattress. You need a firm surface that allows your chest to sink a little, while lifting your lumbar region to maintain the natural alignment of your spine. 

If you sleep on your back, you should look for a medium-firm mattress: you could consider a hybrid model, a latex number, or a firmer sort of foam. You need something with a little bit of give to cushion your neck and shoulders, while supporting your spine. You could also do with the best pillow to rest your head.

If you sleep on your side, you could consider a medium-soft mattress: you could consider a memory foam model or a particularly plush hybrid. You need something with plenty of give to take the pressure off your joints. The best mattresses for side sleepers are designed to alleviate pressure and relieve pain.

Buy a mattress based on your temperature

Emma Original Mattress on a bed frame against a cream wall.

(Image credit: Emma)

If you suffer from night sweats or hot flushes, or you simply tend to run a little warm, you might be a hot sleeper. You need one of the best cooling mattresses to dissipate heat and wick moisture so that you can stay cool and comfortable. You could look for a mattress that incorporates cooling technology or keep an eye out for models with cooling covers.

If you live in a cooler climate, or you tend to wake up in a cold sweat, you might be a cold sleeper. Since you need all the heat you can get, you could consider one of the best memory foam mattresses: all that thick foam retains and releases heat to keep you comfortable and cozy. You could top it all off with the best warm comforter.

If you tend to run warm in the winter and cool for the summer, then you're what I like to call a temperate sleeper. Your best bet is a breathable mattress that allows air to flow into and out of the bed, rather than something actively cooling. I recommend a hybrid mattress: all those steel coils compress and depress to boost breathability.

Buy a mattress based on its eco-credentials

Avocado Green Mattress against a white wall.

(Image credit: Avocado)

As an eco-conscious shopper, I've struggled to find a mattress that's made sustainably with organic materials. One of our expert testers prefers to purchase vegan products and she's found it even harder to find a vegan mattress that meets her sleep needs and comes in under budget. 

The best organic mattresses are undeniably expensive, but that's the price you have to pay for ethically made fabric and fill. You should prepare to spend at least $2,000 on an organic mattress, though you might be able to save a few hundred dollars when you shop the sales. 

If you're new to shopping sustainably, here are some buzzwords to look out for. Natural latex is free from petroleum and harvested straight from the rubber tree. Organic materials, such as wool and cashmere, are free from chemicals and toxins, so that you can breathe cleaner, healthier air while you sleep. Vegan mattresses are free from animal products of any kind so that you can sleep easy.

Buy a mattress based on budget

PlushBeds Botanical Bliss Mattress in a bedroom.

(Image credit: PlushBeds)

A lot of the best mattresses are seriously expensive. We're talking thousands of dollars for premium fabric and fill and expert craftsmanship. But I am also of the mindset you shouldn't have to spend a small fortune to get a good night's sleep. 

If you're working with a tight budget, I suggest narrowing your search from the best mattress, bar none, to the best affordable mattress. It's possible to get plush foam, supportive springs, and water-tight warranties for under $1,000: less, when you shop the sales. 

If you've got some cash to spare, and you want to spend it on a brand new bed, you could consider the best luxury mattress. These mattresses might seem expensive, but you should think of them as an investment. You're dropping a few thousand dollars now on a durable mattress to save spending more on multiple, cheaper models over the years.

Which mattress should I buy FAQs

Where can I buy mattresses?

While you could probably pick up a mattress from your local home retailer, I always recommend shopping at a specialist sleep store. That way, you can take advantage of site-specific sales and special offers: plus, you get access to risk-free sleep trials, and you're protected by water-tight warranties. 

Saatva makes the world's best mattress, the Saatva Classic, and a few more of our favorites, including natural latex options to suit sustainable shoppers. Whether you sleep on your front, back, or side, and whatever your sleep needs, Saatva is a good place to start.

Why are mattresses so expensive? 

Short answer: because that's the price you pay for premium materials, cooling technologies, and expert craftsmanship. You should expect to spend at least $500 on a mattress to get something durable and breathable that supports your sleep needs. 

With that said, you could always shop the mattress sales to get a brand new bed for less. Federal holidays tend to bring big mattress discounts, but you could still save hundreds throughout the year with site-specific sales. To save you time and money, I've sorted through the mattress sales and put the best beds at the lowest prices in one place.

Final thoughts

Once you've invested in the mattress that meets your needs, it's important to take good care of it. I recommend picking up one of the best mattress protectors while you're at it. These lightweight layers act as a barrier between your body and your bed, absorbing sweat and preventing spills and stains from reaching your mattress. 

If you don't have the budget for a brand new bed, but you're keen to upgrade your sleep, you could always buy one of the best mattress toppers, instead. There are plush options to soften up an old bed, as well as firmer toppers to keep you from sinking into a soft, sagging mattress: all that for a fraction of the price of a new bed.

Emilia Hitching
eCommerce Editor

Before she joined Homes & Gardens, Emilia studied English at the University of Oxford, where she sharpened her critical writing skills. She also worked on the other side of the aisle writing press releases for regional newspapers and crafting copy for Sky. Emilia combines her business savvy with her creative flair as our eCommerce Editor, connecting you with the products you’ll love. When she’s not in the office, Emilia is happiest when entertaining friends al fresco or out in the country.