When shopping for a larger investment like a new mattress, it's important to educate yourself to know all the variables at play so you can make a wise, informed decision.
That's why we spoke with two experts in the sleep field who have valuable insight into choosing the right mattress for you.
First up, we spoke to orthopedic surgeon and Spine Division Chair of The Mayo Clinic, Dr. Brett Freedman. Freedman spoke at length on the interconnected relationship between back health and sleep hygiene, calling the two "almost a bad marriage or co-dependence: When one's bad, the other is bad."
"At any point in time, 15% to 30% of people have sleep disorders and/or back pain, so it's very common for these things to happen in the same people," Freedman continued, cautioning, "The causality is the challenge. Both of these things are multifactorial. When you look at studies trying to reduce how we understand back pain or sleep disorder to one factor such as mattress type, you'll find variable outcomes."
Overall, Freedman said he believes in "a Goldilocks effect" in terms of mattress type, or one that's not too firm and not too soft.
"The adage is that firmer is better," he explained. "The other adage is that too much of a good thing is bad. When you put them together, medium-firm seems to be the one that comes out on top for static mattresses."
The Goldilocks effect is also at play with the mattress type Freedman approves of for what he feels is the most broadly helpful type of mattress, which is something customizable that he says will allow you to "dial in a level of firmness you feel is most appropriate, maybe even regional where it's a different firmness at your shoulder level than it might be in your lumbar or leg level."
We took this and his other suggestions into account when looking for trustworthy options to recommend below.
Another expert we consulted was Christina Heiser, content director at Saatva, aka "the smarter luxury sleep company." Though clearly loyal to Saatva, and forthcoming with her personal recommendations from the company, Heiser had plenty of universal advice for shoppers in the research and browsing stages.
Her recommended first steps include considering your preferred sleep position, researching mattress materials and choosing the best size bed for not only your room, but also the number of sleepers the mattress will have.
Back sleepers, for examples, should choose a mattress of medium firmness, as it provides "the optimal balance of support and comfort for the spine," she explained, whereas side sleepers may require a softer mattress for proper weight distribution. Stomach sleepers should choose the firmest mattresses, she said, since they offer the right support for spinal alignment.
"Determine which mattresses and brands align with your sleep style and preferences and come with the services you need," Heiser said. "Choose a mattress with a generous home trial so you can be sure it's the right one for you. And once you've made your choice, allow time for your body to adjust to your new mattress, especially if you're changing mattress types or upgrading from an old, worn-out mattress."
Continue reading to find out which mattresses we selected for you using our experts' input and customer reviews!
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For an adjustable mattress
For the type of customization Freedman mentioned above, we love the Saatva Adjustable Firmness mattress, which allows you to choose between 50 precise firmness options. It's breathable and cooling, has virtually no motion transfer and is treated with Guardin to prevent mold and mildew.
Most versatile mattresses
"For normal aches and pains, we recommend our bestselling Saatva Classic, a hybrid innerspring mattress," Heiser explained of the near-universally loved model. "The Saatva Classic provides optimal spine support and alignment through patented Lumbar Zone Technology and CertiPUR US-certified nontoxic memory foam to reduce lower back pressure."
For eco-conscious buyers who want a mattress with a not-too-soft, not-too-firm feel, Birch Living offers the Luxe Natural mattress featuring responsibly sourced materials, in-home setup and removal, and construction meant to support all sleeping positions -- great for someone who switches up their nightly routine.
Best mattresses for pain relief
Heiser's next recommendation addresses those who suffer more serious conditions and need extra support while sleeping.
"For those with severe and chronic back and joint conditions (such as sciatica, arthritis, herniated discs and scoliosis), we recommend our Saatva Rx," she told "GMA." "Its unique Therapeutic Support Core automatically adjusts to your body's curves and movements, virtually eliminating pressure points for better circulation and more restorative sleep."
"I think they act as a composite," Freedman told "GMA," when asked about the effectiveness of mattress toppers. He said they act in congruence with the firmness of your mattress to create a different sleeping environment -- something that can work out well for those who can't quite afford a whole new mattress right now.
Below, we've chosen several bestsellers from brands we trust (and reviewers love!) that offer a variety of uses for folks who need a mattress boost without a whole new setup.
Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Adapt + Cooling 3-Inch Queen Mattress Topper
More than a thousand customers have purchased this topper in the past month alone, making it a top choice on Amazon for creating a cozier bed. Gel memory foam makes it great for all types of sleepers by relieving pressure and encouraging deeper sleep throughout the night.
Organic Quilted Mattress Topper
Whether breaking in a new mattress or trying to manage your sleep on an older one that's still too firm, this topper is great for adding cushioning and pressure relief to your nightly slumber.
Linenspa 3 Inch Memory Foam Mattress Topper, Gel Infused Queen Mattress Topper, CertiPUR-US Certified
With more than 114,000 units sold and an average 4.5-star rating, this cooling topper is a top pick on Amazon for helping you maintain a better temperature during sleep. Gel-infused memory foam lets you sink down in for the night, which can extend the life of a mattress that's lost its spring, and it arrives compressed for easy transport and setup.
Sleepmax Extra Firm Mattress Topper Twin Size 4 Inch - Memory Foam Mattress Topper - Bamboo Charcoal Infusion - Ventilated - High Density Foam Bed Topper
This popular memory foam topper is infused with bamboo charcoal to prevent overheating and pesky odors, which is a bonus to its true purpose: To firm up any mattress! Ventilated holes allow for better air circulation as well, and the price point is great for limited budgets.