As the old saying goes: always buy good shoes and a good bed, because if you aren’t in one, you’re in the other!
Experts recommend replacing your mattress every 6 – 8 years on average, so once you’ve bought your mattress, you’re in it for the long haul, this is why researching different types of mattress and identifying the best mattress for you is essential. If you are unsure if you actually need a new mattress, check out our guide Do I need a New Mattress? to learn the tell-tale signs that indicate your mattress is past its best.
When buying a mattress, there’s a lot to take into consideration, from size and mattress type to firmness and specialist mattresses, the range of options available on the market can quickly become overwhelming! It's safe to say that there is no "one size fits all" best mattress, it's a very personal choice so spending some time looking at your options is important.
To make research a little easier, we’ve gathered information and formulated the DFI Mattress Buying Guide, putting all the information in one place so you can explore all your options.
Did you know...
The first modern mattress was invented in Germany in the 1870s by Heinrich Westphal. Using metal coils designed for the seats in carriages he created a completely new form of mattress, the innerspring, one vastly superior to the straw and feather stuffed mattresses of the time.
- Mattress Sizes
- Mattress Types
- Medical Conditions, Aches & Pains
- Preferred Sleeping Position
- New Mattress Tips
- Mattress Recycling
Finding the right mattress size for you and, equally as importantly, for the space available in your bedroom, is essential. Named mattress sizes (e.g. King, Super King etc) and corresponding dimensions tend to differ between countries (in fact some sizes, such as Queen, don't even exist in Ireland) which can make it confusing when researching different bed size options online.
DFI Beds has put together an A-Zzzz (see what I did there?) of bed and mattress sizes in Ireland to make the process easier and ensure you get the right mattress and bed for you. You can check out our mattress size guide here.
There are many (many) different types of mattresses available worldwide, so choosing the best mattress type can be overwhelming! To keep this guide relevant (and actionable) we will look only at the mattress types most commonly found in Ireland.
Coil Sprung (Open Coil) Mattresses
The original modern mattress, the coil sprung mattress (also known as open coil) was invented in 1871 and is probably the most well-known mattress type.
Coil Sprung mattresses are made up of three parts.
- the foundation (the bottom of the mattress, typically made from wool)
- the core (the coil springs)
- the comfort layer (typically foam/fibre)
These mattresses offer a firm, but springy foundation for users and when it comes to costs are generally on the cheaper end of the mattress spectrum. Our guide, What is a Coil Sprung Mattress?, goes into more detail on this classic mattress style.
Pocket Sprung Mattresses
A pocket sprung mattress can be thought of a more advanced version of a coil sprung mattress. This mattress uses a similar core of springs, however, unlike the coil sprung mattress which contains one continuous network of connected springs or coils, the pocket sprung mattress contains hundreds, often thousands of individual springs, each sewn into its own pocket of fabric – hence the name.
The advantage of this is that the springs within a pocket sprung mattress operate independently of one another, respond to your weight, shape, movement and sleeping position. In addition, the ability of the individual springs to distribute weight leads to less dipping of the mattress over time.
Check out our What is a Pocket Sprung Mattress? guide to learn how to pick a pocket sprung mattress that best meets your needs.
Memory Foam Mattresses
Most modern memory foam mattresses consist of a layer of pocket springs with a further layer (or layers) of temperature sensitive viscoelastic (aka memory foam) on top and are sometimes advertised as “hybrid mattresses”. Some, however, consist of multiple layers of memory foam instead of springs.
Memory foam mattresses have a comfortable and supportive sleeping surface and excellent motion isolation, a major plus if sleeping with a partner who may toss and turn in their sleep.
There are 4 main types of memory foam mattress available in Ireland today:
- Open Cell
- Gel Infused
To learn more about the different types of memory foam mattress and the pros and cons of this type of mattress, check out our guide here: What is a Memory Foam Mattress?
A hybrid mattress is a mattress which combines a number of different materials & mattress design elements, a combination of various materials, springs, foams and support systems. Most commonly, a multi-layer hybrid bed combines a spring system with an additional layer of memory foam, gel or latex to offer an amalgamation of the strong support of a spring mattress with the additional pressure relief from a foam or gel layer on top.
There are two main types of hybrid mattress:
- All Foam Hybrid Mattresses: these consist of layers of various types of memory and other foams. Most commonly seen in “bed in a box” mattresses.
- Sprung Hybrid Mattresses: these are made by layering memory, or other types of foam, on a layer of pocket springs.
You can learn more about hybrid mattresses by checking out our What is a Hybrid Mattress? Guide.
Orthopaedic mattresses, as the name suggests, are specifically designed to support the joints, back and overall body. On the firmer side of the scale, these mattresses aim to ease the discomfort experienced by those who suffer from a bad back or aching joints by providing a firm, but comfortable mattress which provides targeted support.
An orthopaedic mattress may be right for you if:
- You suffer from back or joint pain
- You prefer a very firm, supportive sleeping surface
Learn more about the benefits of orthopaedic mattresses by checking out our guide What is an Orthopaedic Mattress?.
What is a pillow top mattress?
A pillow top mattress features an additional layer of padding sewn on top of the mattress, enhancing the beds comfort layer. Pillowtop layers can comprise of a range of materials including cotton, memory foam or fibre fill among others. The pillow top offers additional plushness and a comfort layer for those who require the firmness of a pocket sprung bed but still desire a soft cushioning beneath them.
- Breathable: Coil sprung layer promotes airflow
- Cost: Typically cheaper than alternative mattress types
- Durability: Not as durable as other mattress types
- Motion Transfer: May cause motion transfer leading to disrupted sleep
- One sided: Mattress cannot be turned
- Lifespan: Shorter lifespan than alternatives
Firmness: How firm should my mattress be?
When buying a mattress, finding the right firmness level to meet your needs is arguably the single most important consideration.
The mattress firmness you desire is really down to personal preference, however, it’s important to consider which firmness level is best suited to your sleeping style, as well as which firmness you think you’d prefer. This will help to ensure a good night’s sleep and waking up without aches or pains over time.
Mattress firmness guide
Soft: Soft mattresses are best suited to those who sleep on their side or tend to change position during the night. A soft mattress will mould to the changing position of your body and relieve pressure points.
Medium soft: A medium soft firmness of mattress will provide a good night’s sleep for those who change sleeping positions while sleeping. As with a soft mattress, it will still mould to your changing body positions, while offering some additional support.
Medium firm: People who sleep on their back require additional lower-back support, a medium firm mattress will offer adequate support.
Firm: A firm mattress is ideal for front sleepers, those who weigh more (>15 stone) or anyone that suffers from back pain. A firm mattress doesn’t allow the body to sink into it, this ensures even weight distribution and a stable sleeping position.
Medical Conditions, Aches & Pains
If you suffer from aches and pains, or, you are expecting a baby then it is worth spending some extra time researching to find the mattress that will best alleviate any discomfort associated with your particular condition.
Back Pain: Probably the most common ailment, a bad back can make a good nights sleep almost impossible so choosing the right type of mattress is critical. As it is quite a broad topic we have put together a dedicated guide to help you choose the best mattress for a bad back.
Hip Pain: Another common complaint, hip pain is particularly hard for side sleepers. As with back pain, the right mattress can make a huge difference to your comfort and sleep quality (and quantity!). Check out our guide to choosing the best mattress for hip pain.
Pregnancy: The aches and restlessness that arise during pregnancy may be temporary but come at a time when good sleep is of the utmost importance. The right mattress can make a huge difference in this situation. We have created a guide to choosing the best mattress for pregnancy to help you assess your options.
Shoulder Pain: Many of us suffer from shoulder pain, whether on an occasional or an ongoing basis. Our guide to choosing the best mattress for shoulder pain will help you pick the mattress that will provide the most comfort and support for your condition.
Neck Pain: When you’re suffering from neck pain, trying to get comfortable can be an issue. Our guide to choosing the best mattress for neck pain looks at the best mattress types for those who suffer from this particular condition.
Preferred Sleeping Position
Back, Front or Side? We all have a preferred sleeping position and, believe it or not, this should be factored in when choosing a new mattress!
Side Sleepers: You are not alone! Based on our Big Irish Sleep Survey, over 65% of people in Ireland are side sleepers! So what is the best type of mattress for you and so many others? Check our our Best Mattresses For Side Sleepers guide to find out!
Front Sleepers: The second most common sleeping position in Ireland based on our Sleep Survey, around 15% of respondents prefer to sleep on their stomach. Our guide to the Best Mattress For Front Sleepers will help you discover the perfect mattress for stomach snoozers!
Back Sleepers: Somewhat surprisingly, only a small proportion of the Irish population actually sleep on their backs! In our Big Irish Sleep Survey, only 6.5% of respondents reported sleeping on their backs. If you are one of this elite group of back sleepers check out our Best Mattresses For Back Sleepers guide, you'll discover that the mattress options for back sleepers are many!
Getting The Best From Your New Mattress
It is an exciting time when you take delivery of your new mattress, you are looking forward to a great night’s sleep and can’t wait for it to arrive on your doorstep. Here are a few tips to get the best from your new mattress, and how you should dispose of your old one.
The New Mattress Smell aka Off Gassing
A ‘new mattress smell’ is a very real phenomenon, in the industry this is referred to as ‘off gassing’. Whether it be Memory foam, pocket sprung, or a hybrid mattress they are all made up of a number of chemicals. Similar chemicals are also found in sofas, car seats and other household items. When mattresses have been sealed in their packaging for a period of time, the chemical smell builds up.
What is off gassing?
Off-gassing occurs with pretty much every type of mattress. When a mattress is manufactured and packaged, safe gasses (from the materials used in its construction) build up over time. When the mattress is delivered to a customer and the packaging removed, the off gasses release creating the ‘new mattress smell’.
So, how can you get rid of this new mattress smell? Simply air the mattress! When you take delivery remove all packaging, stand the mattress on its edge and leave it for a minimum of 2-3 hours before placing it on the bed frame/base.
What this means is that the mattress fillings beneath the customer are compressed and body impressions becomes more visible. Learn more about Mattress Settlement here.
That First Nights Sleep
Your new mattress will almost certainly feel completely different to your old one. If you are replacing a mattress it is usually because the old one is past its best, the difference in the level of comfort and support provided by a worn out 5-6 year old mattress and that provided by a new, modern mattress is significant! Allow some time to get used to the new levels of comfort and support offered by your new mattress. To maximise sleep quality (and quantity!) check out the tips in our How to sleep better guide.
Quick Tips: Mattress Care
- Air your mattress a few times a week
- Turn/flip your mattress every few months
- Rotate your mattress top to bottom every few months
Mattress Recycling: What should I do with my old mattress?
Your old mattress should be brought to a civic amenity site or mattress recycling project facility. You can find your nearest facilities using the Irish government site MyWaste.ie, specifically the page https://www.mywaste.ie/waste-service-locator/
Disposing of a mattress can be a cumbersome process for those without access to a trailer or van to bring it to a civic amenity site, fortunately, collection services exist where, for a fee, your mattress will be collected from your house and taken to a recycling facility. A quick internet search will help you discover the options in your area.
Covid-19 has further complicated matters as many retailers will no longer remove your old bed/mattress upon delivery of a new one, check out or detailed guide How To Dispose of Your Old Bed & Mattress