This simple guide will introduce you to the basics of buying a mattress and the beginnings of more meaningful sleep.

mattress cross section

Mattress Buying Introduction (The Basics) —

1. Feel

Everyone has their own opinion about what makes a bed comfortable. Feel is the combination of comfort and support that feels right—to you. Only you know about the way you sleep and what you imagine when you think of the perfect bed.

2. Price

Buying a mattress is an investment in your well being, but everyone has a budget. Know how much you can spend so that you can find a mattress that feels good, provides adequate support, is made with quality materials, and is within your budget.

3. Durability

Making an investment in quality materials and good construction is the best way to ensure that your mattress has a long, healthy life. A good mattress will provide restful sleep for 10 years or more.

A mattress should do 4 things, really well—

Provide Support

The perfect mattress should conform to the unique and specific shape of your body, allowing the contours of your body to comfortably settle into the softer materials, but keeping your spine in a straight line while you sleep.

mattress support

Relieve Pressure

Your mattress should provide pressure relief in areas of your body that can ache or be sore at the end of the day—specifically your hips and shoulders. A good mattress does this by distributing your body weight evenly.

mattress pressure

Control Temperature

Your mattress should allow you to maintain a neutral temperature as you sleep. Special materials in the top and outer layers of the mattress help regulate airflow and wick moisture to keep your body temperature constant.

mattress temperature

Respond to Motion

You change positions dozens of times during the night and your mattress should allow you to move around without being impeded by the mattress and with minimal effort. If you sleep with a partner, you should be able to move freely without disturbing them.

mattress motion

The anatomy of a mattress—

Lots of places use a bunch of fancy words and acronyms to describe the materials mattresses are made out of, but really, buying a mattress is not that complicated.

mattress detail

A. Outer Layer

Materials on the outside of the mattress are the finishing touch. They protect the inner materials, help regulate temperature, and wick moisture away from the mattress.

B. Comfort Layer

Surrounding and directly above the support layer, the comfort layer provides pressure relief and comfort via materials like additional memory or latex foam, or soft materials like cotton and wool.

C. Support Layer

The core of the mattress exists in the support layer. Innersprings and different foams—or some combination of both— establish the baseline for how well the mattress will support your spine.

Springs vs. Foam—

The base of the support layer (or core) of a mattress typically falls into one of two categories—innerspring, foam or a combination of both. All three approaches can vary greatly in performance, but when made with quality materials and intelligent design, each has its benefits.

mattress springs

Innerspring mattresses use steel coils to provide support. Higher quality coil-based beds usually have a higher coil count and are built from individually wrapped coils, providing better support and weight distribution.

mattress foam

Foam mattresses use one or more types of foam to provide support. The most common foams are polyurethane foam and natural latex foam, which is typically found in higher-end products. These foams can be configured in a variety of ways to create different combinations of support and comfort.

The right firmness… for you—

The support layer and the comfort layer work together to conform to your body’s specific shape, weight, and size. The mattress that is right for you will conform to your body in a way that allows your spine to remain straight without putting pressure on your shoulders and hips. Everyone is different, so you’ll have to decide if a soft, medium, or firm mattress gives you the best combination of support and comfort.

mattress firmness
too soft

Your body sinks too far into the mattress, causing your spine to bow downwards and pressure to be applied on your hips.

just right

Your weight is evenly distributed, allowing your spine to be aligned, and contouring to relieve pressure on your hips, knees, and shoulders.

too firm

The mattress doesn’t conform to the contour of your body, causing your spine to bow upwards and pressure to be applied on your shoulders and knees.

Natural and Sustainable?

Many of the materials used to make mattresses are natural by definition. Latex foam is made from the sap of a tree, and things like cotton, wool, and bamboo are used as additional and outer materials. There is no established standard regulating and certifying natural in the mattress industry, which has led to some understandable confusion among consumers.

When it comes to harmful chemicals, two of the biggest offenders are adhesives used to hold the mattress together and the fire retardants used to pass government-mandated fireproofing requirements.


Some of the adhesives used to hold mattresses together contain chemicals like formaldehyde. Glues made from latex and other natural materials are readily available and commonly used in higher quality mattresses. All of our mattresses use non-chemical adhesives.

mattress adhesives

Fire Barriers

Government regulations require that mattresses pass a test to ensure they are fireproof. Traditionally, a host of nasty chemicals have been used for fireproofing, and many mattresses still contain these chemicals. We only sell products that use natural fire barriers like wool and rubber.

mattress fire barriers

Time to accessorize —

By the time you’ve decided which mattress you want to buy, chances are you’ll be so exhausted (and excited) by your new purchase that all you can think about is that first night of amazing sleep you’re about to get. But don’t forget to consider a couple of additional items that can help complete your sleep system and extend the life of your new mattress.


New pillows are a much less significant investment than a new mattress, but they can have almost as much impact on the quality of your sleep. Combined with the feel of the mattress you choose, the pillow that’s right for you gives you the right neck support to ensure proper spinal alignment.


The easiest way to void your mattress’ warranty is to stain, scuff, or otherwise blemish the outer layer of the mattress. A mattress protector is a low cost way to ensure that when accidents happen, it’s the easily replaced cover—not the mattress itself—that takes one for the team.


Even though some mattress are covered with supple, high thread count materials, it’s your sheets that come in direct contact with your body, providing the most immediate layer of comfort (or discomfort). Take the opportunity to treat yourself to new bedding when you buy a new mattress. You’ll be glad you did.


Congratulations on completing Mattress 101!
Let our expert staff help you turn everything you’ve learned into a well educated decision about the bed
you’ll sleep on for the next 10 years or more.