The Sleep Doctor’s Guide to How to Choose a Mattress

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The mission of Michael Breus, Ph.D, otherwise known as The Sleep Doctor™ is simple, yet incredibly important: help people sleep better. Sleep is one of the most critical components of a happy, healthy, and productive life — but people across the world struggle with sleep every night. That’s why he joined forces with the expert review team at Mattress Advisor. Together, they help people find their best night’s sleep by choosing the right mattress for them.

Where to Start Your Mattress Search

There’s so many important factors that go into choosing a new bed that it can be overwhelming. Below are five easy places to start in your mattress search.

Sleep Position

Depending on the position you like to sleep in, being paired with the right mattress can mean the difference between a restful slumber or an uncomfortable night filled with aches and pains. Many of us are matched up with the wrong mattress, and we don’t even realize it!

Side Sleepers

If you sleep on your side, you probably notice there’s a lot of pressure on your hips and shoulders. The best mattresses for side sleepers incorporate materials like memory foam to help relieve pressure point pain along areas of tension. The Puffy Lux mattress is a great example of this––four thick memory foam layers contour along your sides, delivering expert pressure relief to side sleepers.

Back Sleepers

For back sleepers, it’s important that you rest on a mattress that maintains spine alignment, which is where the mattress keeps your spine in its natural posture. This is to stop it from sinking down into uncomfortable angles, and thus falling out of alignment. Back sleepers would enjoy the Bear Hybrid, which uses sturdy coils to provide lasting support.

Stomach Sleepers

Similarly, the best mattress for stomach sleepers is also one that maintains spine alignment and supports their hips. If stomach sleepers hips sink too deep into the mattress, it can cause spine misalignment and lead to back pain. Stomach sleepers should look for a firmer mattress like the Plank by Brooklyn Bedding that keeps their hips raised, spine in line, and resists sagging.

Combination Sleepers

Combination, or multi-positional, sleepers are ones who change positions frequently at night. These sleepers need a highly responsiveness mattress that adapts to their movements quickly, making it effortless to switch positions and get comfortable. A mattress that incorporates coils into its design, like the Layla Hybrid, helps combination sleepers transition easily because the coils bounce back against your movements.

Mattress Type

Nowadays, a mattress isn’t like the old school spring beds you grew up sleeping on. Mattresses have evolved to accommodate every body type, sleep position, couples, seniors, kids, and more. There’s a plethora of materials and mattress designs to choose from, and many come in under $1,000


By using a base of steel coils, innerspring beds are known for their durability and responsiveness. The best innerspring mattresses provide lasting support, and are typically topped with a thin foam layer.

Memory Foam

We have NASA to thank for the invention of this material, which was manufactured to cushion astronauts during test flights in the 1970s. Today, memory foam is incorporated into mattresses to provide pressure relief while softly contouring to the body. The Casper has that signature huggable feeling that memory foam mattresses are known for––it cradles your pressure points for maximum comfort.


Hybrid mattresses, like the DreamCloud, combine the best materials (typically coils and foam) of multiple types of mattresses to provide sleepers with a balanced feel. This type excels at a variety of factors like pressure relief and spine alignment, so if you’re looking for a little bit of everything, a hybrid mattress may be a great pick. 


Latex mattresses are pressure-relieving like memory foam, but bouncy like an innerspring mattress. This type is hypoallergenic and naturally cooling, so a good pick for both hot sleepers and those with allergies. Latex is also the most durable type, which makes it a smart investment in the long run. The Avocado Green mattress uses natural latex, which gives sleepers phenomenal support and responsiveness.

Pillow Top

Just as the name suggests, a pillow top mattress contains a top layer of padding, designed to softly pillow around the body. A pillow top is sewn into the top of the mattress, and a Euro pillow top is adhered around all edges to improve durability. The Helix Midnight Luxe has a cooling pillow top that not only cushions your joints, but also wicks away heat for a cool night of rest.

Mattress Firmness

The firmness level of your mattress will determine the overall feel and comfortability of your bed. So it’s important to take your own personal preferences and sleep style into account when deciding on the right firmness for you.

Mattress firmness is measured on a scale of 1-10: 1 is the softest, most plush feel, and 10 is the firmest. Below is a description of the different firmness levels to help you determine where your preferences fall on the scale.

  • Plush: Plush mattresses are super soft and usually fall between a 1-3 on the firmness scale.
  • Medium-soft: This firmness level provides more support than plush, but still contours along your curves for great pressure relief. It scores around a 3-4 on the scale.
  • Medium-firm: Most sleepers find a medium-firm level to be well-suited to their tastes, which falls at a 5 or 6 on the firmness scale. This level has a springier feel with more support.
  • Firm: The best firm mattresses offer reinforced support, while still feeling comfortable to rest on. They fall at a 8-10 on the firmness scale.


There is no doubt that mattresses today are more specialized to improve sleep quality, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay a high price tag. Online mattress brands produce very affordable mattresses that are shipped right to your door, lowering the cost and hassle of having to go to a brick and mortar mattress store. In fact many of the mattresses that Mattress Advisor tests ring in at under $500, making it easier than ever to stay within budget. 

The Nectar mattress gives you some serious bang for your buck––at just $799 for a queen-size, the Nectar combines high-quality materials with generous policies like a 1-year sleep trial and lifetime warranty. This is one of the best quality mattresses you can find at this price-point.


Scoring an online mattress deal can happen year-round, especially when it comes to certain holidays. The best time to buy a new mattress falls on Labor Day, Black Friday, and even the Fourth of July. Many companies also throw in extra perks, like free pillows and sheets!

Testing and Reviewing Mattresses

Have you ever wondered how the pros determine how a mattress performs? At Mattress Advisor, they use a 14-point testing methodology, but their process first starts by recognizing every person has their own unique sleep needs — and they need a mattress that’s designed to meet them. The experts at Mattress Advisor have developed a robust mattress testing approach by working with medical professionals to come up with a 14 point test and scoring system for mattress performance. 

All mattresses undergo hours of vigorous testing in our mattress lab, located in Raleigh, North Carolina. In fact, the expert review team has spent more than 1,200+ hours personally evaluating mattresses to recommend only our top choices to readers.

The team then relays the findings from the comprehensive testing in clear, concise content designed to help people sleep better and combine it with Dr. Breus’s expertise. You’ll learn exactly which factors are most important to consider depending on your sleep needs—and get a list of top-reviewed mattresses that excel in those categories.

Meet the Team

There are hundreds of bed-in-a-box mattresses available online today from numerous brands, making the search for a new mattress overwhelming. That’s where Mattress Advisor weighs in—with thousands of hours of testing in their lab in Raleigh, North Carolina, the team uses their expert findings to help consumers cut through the noise. The team is made up of Certified Sleep Science coaches and researchers that test and review mattresses. Based on their findings, the expert team then determines the top-ranking mattresses versus the not-so-great ones.

But it wouldn’t be a team without The Sleep Doctor. Dr. Breus partners with the Mattress Advisor team, providing them with expert input and insight into sleep health. With Mattress Advisor’s expert testing and Dr. Breus’s wealth of knowledge, you’ll learn everything you need to know about mattresses, how a mattress impacts your sleep, and how to find the best mattress for your sleep style.

To learn more about Mattress Advisor’s approach to better sleep, visit