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Buying a New Mattress Guide

Just like beds, mattresses are available in a wide range of styles, sizes and methods of construction. Different types of mattress will offer a different level of comfort and support. To ensure the best possible night's sleep it's important to find the mattress that's best suited to your individual needs and sleeping style.

Sleep Right Beds' 'Buying a New Mattress Guide' gives you the information you need to make an informed comparison and choice from the vast range of mattresses available.

Step 1   Is a 'sprung' or a 'non-sprung' mattress right for you?

Mattress construction varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but falls into two main categories: sprung mattresses and non-sprung mattresses.

Sprung mattresses

Sprung mattresses are constructed from a wire frame which contains rows of coiled springs. This frame is stuffed with a filler such as wool, foam or cotton and is enclosed in a durable and tear-resistant fabric outer (known as 'ticking').

The commonest form of sprung mattress is the 'open coil'. Open coil mattresses tend to be in the budget to medium range cost bracket.

A 'continuous spring' mattress contains a higher number of coils of a smaller gauge wire, resulting in a mattress that is more responsive to weight and movement.  Continuous spring mattresses occupy the mid-price range.

Each of the coils in a 'pocket sprung' mattress is sheathed in an individual fabric pocket, allowing each spring to act totally independently of the others, allowing the body to shape itself to the body's contours relieving pressure points and minimising movement which might disturb your sleeping partner. Pocket sprung mattresses are usually found in the mid to high price range.

Non-sprung mattresses

Leaving aside the less common water-filled mattresses and the air-filled mattresses normally associated with camping, non-sprung mattresses found in the home are normally constructed from one of three different types of foam:

Synthetic polyurethane foam is widely used in the manufacture of mattresses owing to its versatility. The quality, density and durability of polyureyhane foam used will dictate a mattress' price.

Latex foam is a high quality product derived from the natural sap of the rubber tree. It is highly elastic and durable, and provides an even distribution of bodyweight. Latex foam has natural anti-microbial properties, making it a good choice of mattress for allergy sufferers.

Memory foam is a modified version of polyurethane foam which reacts to body heat and weight, gradually moulding itself to the contours of the sleeper's body. This 'moulding' property ensures the absence of pressure points in the mattress and is therefore suitable for people with chronic joint, back or neck pain. Memory foam reverts to its normal shape once heat and weight have been removed.

Step 2   Choosing a mattress with the right level of comfort and support

It's a popular belief that bad back sufferers will automatically benefit from sleeping on a firm mattress, but recent medical research suggests that this is not the case, and that a harder mattress may do more harm than good in the case of back pain.

Whether you choose a soft, medium or firm mattress is purely a matter of personal preference. Some people enjoy the sinking sensation produced by a softer mattress, whilst others will prefer the ungiving nature of a firmer mattress.

Whichever you choose, the most important factor when buying a mattress is that it gives you the correct level of support to maintain a healthy posture during sleep. If the mattress is too soft, a slouched posture with excess curvature of the spine may result, leading to back ache. If too firm, the mattress may aggravate pressure points at the shoulders and hips.

Step 3   Get the mattress size right

Mattresses come in all shapes and sizes, and it's worth remembering that a general description such as 'King Size' may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

If your bed already has a base, and you are looking only at buying a new mattress, it is important to buy a mattress that exactly fits the size of your base in order to gain the maximum benefit and lifespan from your new mattress.

As a rule of thumb, UK mattress sizes are approximately as follows:

  • Small Single         =  75cm x 190xm
  • Standard single   =  90cm x 190cm
  • Small Double       =  120cm x 190cm
  • Standard double  =  135cm x 190cm
  • King size                =  150cm x 200cm
  • Super king size     =  180cm x 200cm


Alternatively you may find that placing two single mattresses with differing degrees of support side by side is a better solution than one mattress if you have different mattress preferences from your partner.

Now that you have a good idea of the type of new mattress you'd like, use Sleep Right Beds' clever search-and-filter facility to find and compare thousands of mattresses from leading suppliers. The product information on Sleep Right Beds is constantly updated, so you can always be sure of finding the mattress you want at the best possible price.