Our Mattress Buying Guide

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - 17:00

Our Mattress Buying Guide

Hard or Soft?

Our clients often ask us if a hard mattress will help relieve their back pain more than a soft mattress. In our experience, a soft, non-supporting mattress will rarely help, so firmer is generally better than softer. However, a study published by the Lancet in 2003 showed that a medium level of firmness was generally more helpful in reducing lower back pain than a high level of firmness:


Practical Tips for testing a mattress:

·         Never buy online, always try before you buy.

·         Don't try mattresses when you are tired, all of them will feel good!

·         Fight off the salesman. Try a number of mattresses in your own time; at first, don't be distracted by offers or price.

·         Take off your outdoor gear and your shoes.

·         Sit on the edge of the bed. It should feel firm, not saggy.

·         Spend 5-10 minutes on each mattress, in your usual sleeping position. Too often people just lie on their backs to test a mattress, when they never sleep in that position.

·         If you will be sharing the mattress with someone, take that person with you. Lie on the bed. Ask your partner to lie down too - a good mattress should support you, so that you don't move too much when the second person gets onto the mattress. Ask your partner to roll over. Do you move? If so, is the mattress supporting you enough? If you both end up together in the middle of a sagging mattress, do not consider buying! 


Which Mattress?

There are three main types of mattress:

1.    Open Sprung Mattresses - common, cheap and not usually recommended, as they provide little uniform support and may not have a long lifespan. 

2.    Pocket Sprung Mattresses- individual springs in individual pockets within the mattress. More expensive than an open sprung mattress, but provides much better support and should last longer.

3.    Memory Foam/ Visco-Elastic Mattresses- a solid foam mattress which indents around your body. These mattresses provide very good levels of support but don’t suit everyone. If you are considering a memory foam mattress, test the mattress by rolling over, is it easy to move through the mattress, or is it a struggle? If the latter, then consider a less dense mattress. In colder weather the foam may be even less flexible. It is also worth bearing mind that, as you will sink into a memory foam mattress, there will be less air circulating around you. This can lead to being too warm in summer.  

Mattress Toppers

Not a substitute for a good mattress, but definitely useful in keeping the mattress clean. If you are considering a memory foam topper for a pocket sprung mattress, a detachable topper is recommended, otherwise you will be limited to using only one side of the mattress. 

Bed frames

Your mattress needs a bed frame, ideally slatted with the slats 4-6cm apart to support and to allow ventilation

If you are buying a bed frame too, make sure you try the mattress on the bed frame you have chosen, not on a different frame.


As much as you can possibly afford. Don't compromise. It is difficult to get a good, long lasting mattress for under £500.  You should budget on a good mattress lasting about 10 years. 

And finally...

If you have back pain when you wake in the morning, this may not necessarily be due to your bed or mattress. Try sleeping in different beds, does the back pain persist? We would recommend that you consult one of our Osteopaths if you have questions or concerns about ongoing back pain.