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How to Choose the Best Mattresses for Yourself and Your Family

The average American spends just shy of seven hours sleeping, which means your mattress can have a significant impact on your life. The right mattress can mean the difference between nights of tossing and turning and a good night's sleep. When shopping for a mattress, there are several things to consider, including size, type, and firmness.

Whats the difference in mattress sizes?

Bed sizes are standardized, so you can easily match a bed frame with a mattress and sheets once you've figured out which one you like. The four most common bed size dimensions are:

  • King mattresses are the largest common size of mattress. The dimensions are 76 inches wide by 80 inches long, so this option offers plenty of space for two sleepers to move around during the night. This is a good option if you share a bed with a partner or spouse and have plenty of room for your bed. It's also ideal if one of you tends to move around a lot in your sleep. California king mattresses are also becoming more popular, as these are slightly longer (72 inches wide by 84 inches long) than standard king mattresses.
  • Queen mattresses measure 60 inches wide by 80 inches long which is still comfortable for two sleepers. This size is easy to integrate into a variety of spaces, leaving you lots of room for other bedroom furniture.
  • A double or full mattress measures 54 inches wide by 75 inches long, which is the perfect size for single adult sleepers. It also makes a good choice for teen rooms, as the smaller dimensions leave space for desks, chairs, and other essentials. Choose a full mattress in guest rooms, especially if that room doubles as a home office. Full XL mattresses are a great option for extra tall sleepers, these mattresses are the width of a full or double mattress but the length of a queen size mattresses (54 inches by 80 inches).
  • Twin mattresses are the smallest of the common standardized sizes. This mattress measures 38 inches by 75 inches, which makes it a great choice for kids of all ages. They work equally well in shared bedrooms and single children's rooms. Twin XL mattresses are longer measuring at 80 inches long, and are the most common mattress size in college dorm rooms.

What are the most common types of mattresses?

Mattresses come in a wide range of materials and deciding which to buy often comes down to your sleeping preferences.

  • Latex mattresses are excellent for allergy sufferers, as latex foam wicks away moisture and dries quickly, which discourages dust mites. In addition, this material stays cool during hot summer nights and is very responsive.
  • Coil spring mattresses are very common becausse they offer both bounce and support. Most modern coil spring mattresses include pocketed coils, so the entire mattress doesn't bounce as one sleeper moves. This type is very durable and allows lots of air flow through the mattress. Coil spring mattresses generally last at least 10 years.
  • Memory foam mattress is growing in popularity thanks to the material's ability to conform to the body. This offers plenty of support and comfort throughout the night, and it keeps the rest of the mattress from moving or shaking if one sleeper tosses and turns at night. Memory foam mattresses are a comfortable option for side sleepers, but keep in mind it may not be ideal for you if you tend to overheat or live in a hot climate, as this material retains warmth.
  • Hybrid mattresses combine one or more of the above materials. For example, they may have spring coils surrounded with latex and topped with memory foam.

What are the levels of firmness for mattresses?

Firmness ranges from one to 10, with one being very soft and 10 being very firm. Contrary to popular belief, firm mattresses aren't always best. The ideal firmness of your mattress depends on your size and sleep style.

  • Firm mattresses suit larger sleepers better, as they don't sink down with more weight; however, lighter sleepers may find softer mattresses more comfortable.
  • Stomach and back sleepers are usually most comfortable on medium to medium firm options, whereas side sleepers often prefer very soft to medium mattresses or a pillow top mattress.

Mattresses come in the above standardized sizes, which makes buying beds, sheets, quilts, and duvets much easier. The right size, type, and firmness depends on how many people share the bed, how big those people are, and the size of the room.

Related: Learn more on how to choose a mattress for each sleeper in your home!

Extra Advice: How to Clean a Mattress