How to choose a mattress

Follow our comprehensive guide to choosing the right mattress for you – and your bed

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With many of us living hectic lives, those 40 winks each night are becoming ever more important, and according to the National Sleep Foundation adults aged 26-64 need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. But are you getting yours in the bedroom? And if not, is it down to the poor quality of your mattress? Follow our guide to choosing the best mattress for you – and check out our mattress reviews, too.

How often should you replace your mattress?

It’s recommended that we update our mattresses every seven years or so and if you’re at the point where you are waking up in the morning feeling a bit achey or uncomfortable, then it’s definitely time to start thinking about a change. 

In terms of what you should spend, it really depends on your individual budget, but this is not something that should be scrimped on. We spend so much time in our beds, from sleeping to watching TV, that it is worth investing in a quality mattress that will last for years to come.

Herdy Sleep mattress on a bed

Herdy Sleep mattresses start from £649

(Image: © Herdy Sleep)

Choosing the right mattress size

When it comes to deciding what size of mattress to purchase, this will often be determined by the bed that you already have. However, if you are starting from scratch and looking to get a new bed and mattress then a good place to start is with the right size. If you are sharing a bed with a partner, then a double is usually sufficient but if you are someone who requires more space or is often disturbed in the night, then it may be wise to go up a size. Below are the most common UK standard mattress dimensions:

  • Single: 90x190cm
  • Small double (often called a queen): 120x190cm
  • Double: 135x190cm
  • King: 150x200cm
  • Super king: 180x200cm

It’s also worth keeping in mind that your mattress needs to fit your bed frame, so do take care to check the mattress widths and lengths with your bed measurements. For example, Ikea has European and UK standard sizes of beds from single to kingsize, with the standard UK sized frames differing dependant on design, so to be sure you may want to head over to their online guide.

Simba mattress on a modern four poster bed

The Simba Luxe mattress starts at £1,299 for a single 

(Image: © Simba)

Picking the right material for your mattress

There are a few different types of materials used, as well as hybrid options that include latex or gel, but the two most common types are:

Memory foam

The benefit of these types of mattresses is that the material is able to mould to the shape of the body, offering plenty of support. The memory foam can make you feel on the warm side, but Kuba Wieczorek at eve Sleep, explains; ‘Breathability is also important. In the study we recently commissioned, it was revealed 50 per cent of Brits don’t sleep well because they are too hot, so a breathable mattress can be an easy fix. The eve mattress has a unique layering system, which includes the use of breathable open-cell foams. The middle layer is proven to wick moisture and dissipate heat from the body, and is 30 times more breathable than conventional memory foam.’

Pocket sprung

Made from individual springs in pockets of fabric, which provide lots of support as your body weight is distributed evenly. These mattresses can also use natural materials in the filling, and you can choose between a variety of soft to firm options.

Mattress toppers are also another option to consider to complement your mattress and ensure a comfy night’s sleep. These come in a whole host of materials including memory foam, goose down and latex.

Mattress on a bed with a dog on from eve Sleep

Mattresses from eve Sleep start at £349 for a UK single to £699 for a UK king

(Image: © eve Sleep)

Opting for a soft or firm mattress?

One of the most important things to think about when purchasing a new mattress is getting the right firmness for you. Often it is down to personal preference and whether you prefer a soft or firm feel; you just need to be confident that you have the correct support for the way that you like to sleep. Bensons for Beds offers a handy guide for choosing the right level of firmness:

  • Soft medium: Ideal mattresses for side sleepers, as they let your shoulders and hips sink into the mattress while supporting the rest of your body;
  • Medium: If you sleep on your side but prefer the feel of a firmer mattress, choose medium support;
  • Medium firm: If you change position from your side to your back this is the best option;
  • Firm: If you prefer to sleep on your back or sleep on your stomach, choose a firm mattress, which will give you just the right amount of support;
  • Extra firm: Sometimes called an orthopaedic mattress, extra firm mattresses that beat back pain offer a very firm level of support.

Herdy sleep mattress on a grey bed in a bedroom

Herdy Sleep use natural materials and offer free mattress removal

(Image: © Herdy Sleep)

How to choose a natural mattress

If minimising your impact on the environment is a priority, go for a natural mattress. The main thing to bear in mind is that a natural mattress should not include foam,  only natural filling such as cotton, hemp, and flax, and it should provide an alternative to the chemical fire retardants that are used in other mattresses. A mattress that calls itself natural needn't be low-tech: advances in pocket spring technology mean that the days of squeaky, massive springs are over; new models use thousands of micro-springs that rotate as your body moves, so you should, at least in theory, be as comfortable sleeping on your natural mattress as on a foam or hybrid mattress.  Generally, a mattress manufacturer that claims to make 'natural' mattresses should be completely transparent about the origin of all of their materials and their manufacturing processes. For an example for an all-natural, locally made mattress, check out Button & Sprung.         

Button & Sprung Dahlia King size Bed frame in Navy, £795, Plain top blanket box in Forest, £425

(Image: © Button & Sprung)

More mattress types that might suit you

Whether you're shopping for an allergy sufferer or a child, looking for a budget buy or just need a topper, here are a few more mattress categories to investigate:

Where to buy a mattress

The mattress market has changed in recent times and you are not restricted to going to a bed shop to try and buy your mattress. Online companies now make it easy to buy – then try – a mattress that is right for you.

Richard Tucker, Managing Director UK, Europe at Leesa says; ‘It’s important to consider not just traditional mattress buying options, but companies that allow you to shop online, get it delivered straight to your door and let you trial for free in your own home until you know it’s the right fit.’ 

If you are interested in a foam mattress, there are plenty of online companies that package it compactly into a box and send directly to you, with the added benefit of allowing you to trial it for up to 100 nights and guaranteeing a refund if you are not happy with it.

Online mattress companies to consider

Best cheap mattress deals

Shop around for a deal that suits you. You might want to consider other options such as delivery cost and whether the company offers free mattress collection too as part of the package. You can see deals for mattresses of all sizes in our best cheap mattress deals of the day.

However, here is a round up of the best full size/double mattress deals today:

Top: Leesa’s UK double mattress (top), is designed and engineered with three premium foams for cooling, body contouring and pressure relieving core support