Mattresses - The Goldilocks Principle

January 5, 2016

Picking a new mattress. Where to start?

First of all, if you are only getting 4-5 hours (or less) of sleep per night, there is no mattress that 

is going to compensate for this. No matter what you’re sleeping on, you need to sleep enough 

hours per night. “In order to feel your best, you need enough rest.” 

 

Choosing a new mattress can be stressful! It’s usually quite an investment and in the next few 

years you will be spending quite a few hours on it. Think about it, if you’re sleeping 6-8 hours 

each night (you should be) this is 1/4-1/3 of your day! 

 

When do you need a new mattress?

Your body changes over time, because of this, the mattress that you were getting great sleeps 

on 5 years ago may not be appropriate for your body anymore. If you wake up in the morning 

feeling stiff and achy, and this goes away within a few minutes, it is likely that you are sleeping 

on an inappropriate mattress. Dust mites, fungus, and other allergens also accumulate over 

time in your mattress and can adversely affect your sleep. If your mattress is 10-15 years old, it 

is time to consider buying a new mattress.

 

What to look for in a mattress?

Choosing a mattress depends greatly on individual preference but any good mattress will 

support your body in a neutral position. Your spine should maintain its normal curvature and 

your head, shoulders, buttocks, knees, and feet should be adequately supported and in proper 

alignment. If a mattress is too firm for you, it will put pressure on these points and will place you 

out of proper alignment. On the other hand, if the mattress is too soft for you, these areas will 

not be appropriately supported and your body will be put in a slumped position all night. When 

you lay on a suitable mattress you should feel no pressure points; it should feel like you are 

almost floating. Just like Goldilocks, you need to find a mattress that is just right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are a few different types of mattresses that you will need to be aware of before you go 

shopping. In general, mattresses fall into the following categories: 

- Spring Mattresses

- Rubber/Latex Mattresses

- Memory Foam Mattresses

- Air Mattresses

 

Spring Mattresses

These mattresses are made from many coiled springs and are often combined with a variety of 

top materials such as pillow, memory foam, or rubber/latex. There is a large variety of spring 

mattresses to choose from, ranging in firmness, spring count, and material used for the top. 

Because of this wide selection, an appropriate spring mattress can be found to fit most bodies 

as well as budgets. 

 

Memory Foam Mattresses

These mattresses are made of foam that responds to your weight and temperature, contouring 

to your body as you lay down or shift your position. This will reduce any pressure points as your 

weight shifts during the night. There are a couple problems with this type of mattress however. 

Because the material gives way under the pressure of your body, any areas that need support 

may not receive enough which can put your body out of alignment, even though the pressure 

points have been reduced. Another common complaint with memory foam mattresses is that, 

because they respond to your body’s temperature, they can cause you to feel too hot during the 

night. These mattresses are also known for releasing an unpleasant smell for a period of time 

after purchase. Although we generally will recommend rubber/latex over memory foam, when 

used as a mattress topper, this material can help decrease pressure points and can be helpful if 

you have chronic muscle pain. 

 

Rubber/Latex Mattresses

Made from either natural or synthetic rubber, these mattresses offer firm, uniform support. 

Unlike memory foam, these mattresses push back up on your body, providing superior support. 

When used as a mattress topper over a spring mattress, this material allows for a very wide 

range of firmness while maintaining comfort and is generally our top recommendation. 

 

Air Mattresses

Before you get a picture of a blow-up mattress in your head, this is not what we are talking 

about. These mattresses actually look and behave like a spring mattress but use air filled 

chambers rather than springs. The air chambers can be inflated and deflated to allow for 

individualized firmness and can even be separated in the middle to provide one side of the bed 

with a different firmness than the other. This can be particularly beneficial for partners with 

substantially different firmness requirements. Air mattresses can also be selected with topping 

materials such as foam or pillow. Because of the higher amount of individualization and control, 

problems can occur if people do not make their air mattress firm enough. Lower end air 

mattresses without enough chambers can also pop out on one side when pressure is put on the 

opposite end. Properly made air mattresses will usually come with a substantial price tag. 

 

Picking your new mattress

 

Now that you’ve done your research, and know what questions to ask the salesperson, go to a 

showroom where you are able to lay down on each mattress to test them out. Bring your 

pillow and try to replicate the way you sleep every night. Take up to 10-15 minutes to lay on each mattress. This may seem like a long time but the closer you get to replicating how you will be 

using the mattress, the better your chances are of picking a one that is appropriate for your 

body.

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