We see it every day. Sleep-deprived shoppers trying to make sense of the jargon and buzz words they've heard on the radio and on TV. While trying to reconcile those ideas with the advice of friends and loved ones. Grandma says, "Get a Firm one!" Your neighbor bought a memory foam bed, and "those are the best." The television says to get a pillow top, but are those firm enough?
You want to sleep comfortably, but you don't want to spend more than you have to. The first thing you HAVE to do, is realize that the one that was perfect for the neighbor, or grandma, may NOT be the perfect one for you. Once you focus on what your body needs, finding the best mattress for you is actually really simple.
Most mattress types available today are a combination of comfort layers on top of a support system. These are the two main tasks of any sleep system, the support holds your body in a natural and ergonomic position, and comfort layers to absorb pressure, and create a comfortable sleep surface. The support is what everyone needs, and there are many different styles of supportive sleep systems. As a general rule, you can NEVER have too much support, although, you may find a balance of comfort and support that works for you at any price or quality level. The comfort layers offer even more choices, and come in varying durabilities, with certain types being more well suited for side sleepers than back sleepers.
As a side sleeper, generally a thicker or more "plush" comfort layer is able to relieve the tension on our joints that are in immediate contact wth the sleep surface. Your hips, shoulders, and knees will thank you if you get enough pressure relief to let your body rest in a natural alignment. Back sleepers, are often able to get comfortable on any type of comfort layers, provided they are well supported. When lying on your back, the concavity of the small of your back is fairly shallow, and even a small amount of pressure relief could be enough to achieve an ergonomic sleeping postion, although you can never have too much high quality pressure relief, there is most likely a point where you are no longer benefiting from adding more comfort layers.
The often overlooked pillow, is also extremely important to finding the proper sleep system. A thick stuffed pillow can push a back or stomach sleepers neck and head away from the mattress, forcing your entire body out of alignment. A thinner pillow, that might help a stomach sleeper, is probably too low profile for a broader shoulder side sleeper. As a general rule, find a pillow that holds your neck and head in a nice square algnment to your shoulders. Your entire spine will follow your head and neck so make sure to find a pillow that suits your sleeping position before testing any new sleep system. Once you have a properly fitted pillow, spend a minimum of 5 minutes in the position you usually fall asleep in, on any sleep surface. Remember, if a mattress has a proper balance of comfort and support for your body type and sleeping style, it will get more comfortable, the longer you rest on it.