For the average mattress shopper, hearing words like responsiveness, edge support, and alignment may as well be gibberish. Yet if you are going to get the most out of your mattress, you need to understand the important features that go into any given mattress.
Understanding the most important mattress features can help you know what to look out for when it is time to change your mattress, and can ensure you get the most restful sleep possible for as long as possible on your new mattress. Let’s explore these concepts.
Starting with the most simple feature of a mattress, size is something everyone can understand.
Whether you are a single sleeper on a twin size mattress or a luxurious sleeper on a California King,
size simply refers to how big a mattress is.
Here is a helpful mattress size chart:
Mattress size Measurement (inches)
|Mattress size||Measurement (inches)|
|Twin||38 x 74|
|Twin XL||38 x 80|
|Full||54 x 74|
|Queen||60 x 80|
|King||76 x 80|
|California King||72 x 84|
As you can probably guess, a twin size mattress is generally too small for couples. On the other hand,
someone sleeping alone is likely not going to need a king size mattress, unless they want to feel extra
Firmness is another relatively straightforward term. It refers to how firm a mattress feels, and is
measured on a scale of 1 to 10. Most people land somewhere in the middle, as the ends of the
spectrum are both pretty extreme.
For most people, a 1 would feel like sleeping on cotton candy, where a 10 would feel like sleeping on
A person’s firmness level will vary based on personal preference. In general, the way you sleep will
also determine the level of firmness you enjoy.
Side sleepers – 2-5. They need softer support to prevent pressure points.
Back sleeper – 6-10. They need stronger support to prevent back pain
Stomach sleeper – 7-9. They need rigid support to prevent damage to the spine
Don’t confuse firmness with support! Though they are related, firmness refers to how dense a mattress feels when you put weight on it. Support is how much weight the mattress can hold and still keep its shape. Couples and overweight people will need higher support mattresses commonly
associated with tri-zoned center support and higher coil counts.
Durability refers to how strong the mattress materials are, which gives you an indication of how long it may last. More durable materials will last longer and hold their shape, preventing the sagging mattress look.
Responsiveness simply means how well a given mattress will react to your body as you sleep. Everyone moves as they sleep, some more than others. A responsive mattress will adjust to these motions easier, which means less movement in the mattress itself. This may be especially important for light sleepers and couples. Higher coil count mattresses that are softer tend to offer more partner to partner motion transfer resistance.
Edge support is relatively straightforward, and refers to how strong the mattress is at its edges. This is important to help keep the weight centered on the mattress and keep a person from falling off as they sleep.
People who move a lot during the night should look for higher edge support.
A mattress with good spine alignment allows the spine to rest in the most natural position possible. Some mattresses may help specific sleepers keep their spine aligned, and will cater their design to this
For instance, a mattress made for back sleepers may provide support under the knees to keep the spine aligned as they sleep.
Pressure relief plays into how comfortable a mattress will be. It refers to a mattress’ ability to respond
to the body without creating pressure points. A mattress with good pressure relief will help a person
distribute their weight evenly and avoid areas of too much tension.
Heat transfer refers to how well the bed pulls heat away from the body. Some also call it temperature
Heat transfer is important for people who tend to get hot as they sleep. A mattress with good heat transfer will help pull heat away from the body and into the bed to cool off.
These are some of the most important mattress terms to get familiar with when looking for your next mattress. Identifying your personal needs and understanding the term you need to effectively communicate with the seller can make buying a mattress that much easier.