Congratulations, newlyweds! Like choosing your home, selecting a bed should be a joint decision. A mattress, in particular, highly affects sleep quality for both partners. Here’s a how-to guide for buying a comfortable, well-made bed, suiting each of you.
Decide on Mattress Size
As a couple, you have three size options—king, California king, and queen.
- King. With this size, measuring 76 inches wide by 80 inches long, you each have 38 inches of horizontal sleeping space.
- California King. Accommodating taller-than-average people, this size is 72 by 84 inches. Just like the golden state, this bed is long, 4 inches more than a regular king. It’s also 4 inches narrower.
- Queen. Her majesty is the same length as the king but 16 inches slimmer. This size is best for sleeping close together, with 30 inches of horizontal space each.
Understand Mattress Types
You have several mattress designs from which to choose—innerspring, memory foam, latex, airbed, waterbed, adjustable, and pillow top.
This mattress is supported by springs, either as single or wrapped units. The coil section is covered with padding or upholstery, such as foam, fiber, latex, or layers of smaller coils. Also variable by manufacturer are coil shape, gauge, and count.
The term “gauge” refers to spring thickness, usually between 12 and 15 gauge. The lower the number, the firmer the coil. Also, the more springs a mattress has, the better its support. However, you don’t need a coil count over 390. Above this number, the difference in support is so minor, it’s not detectable. On average, innerspring mattresses last for five to 10 years and tend to be less expensive than other types.
One drawback to a coil system is not buffering body movement. If you’re light sleepers, motion can disrupt slumber. However, motion is less obvious with thick foam layers and pocket coils. Another downside is that springs resist rather than ease “pressure points,” sensitive body areas.
This textile was first developed by NASA for airplane seats, to protect astronauts from pressure exerted by gravity. Memory foam consists of polyurethane with unique properties. Responding to your body heat and pressure, the foam softens and molds to your contours, evenly distributing your weight. When pressure releases, the material returns to its original shape, as though remembering it!
Memory foam isolates and absorbs motion, advantageous for bed-sharing. Some manufacturers let you customize firmness for each partner. The material excels at protecting pressure points and promoting circulation. However, it also retains body heat. Investing in a cooling pillow can help moderate this effect. Alternatively, look for a manufacturer who infuses the material with gel.
The other concern with memory foam is the chemical smell it first exudes. To avoid this property, called “off-gassing,” let the mattress air out for 24 hours before applying sheets.
To strengthen polyurethane, most manufacturers add petroleum-based chemicals. However, a minority of producers are eco-friendly, using plant materials such as bamboo.
You can also minimize additive exposure with a CertiPUR-US mattress. A non-profit organization tests the foam, verifying that it’s made without formaldehyde, flame retardants, ozone depleting substances, heavy metals, and certain phthalates under the radar of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Such foam must also be low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), pollutants that compromise indoor air quality.
Over time, memory foam may develop permanent impressions. This bed design has a lifespan averaging eight to 10 years.
A latex mattress gives bouncy, firm support throughout the bed. If you’ve owned a latex pillow, you’ve experienced its resilience. This material does well with pressure point prevention. It also allows free movement, unlike the sinking quality of memory foam. The ability of latex to isolate motion is slightly less than polyurethane.
Latex can be synthetic, sourced from plants, or processed with petroleum. Some manufacturers use organically grown rubber trees, harvesting the sap sustainably. A latex mattress can have several layers. Some producers let you arrange layers and customize firmness for each bed partner. Natural latex resists mold, mildew, and dust mites. It’s also very durable, lasting 20 to 30 years.
This bed suits partners with different support needs. Each side of the bed has separate air chambers, inflated by electric pumps. You customize firmness with a handheld device that activates the pumps. The chambers are encased by a mattress cover, crowned by a topper of memory foam, latex, or fiber.
Airbeds can have between two and six chambers, with separate controls for the shoulder, leg, and back regions. The mattress conforms to body contour and distributes weight, though less precisely than memory foam. Since support is adjustable, you can actively avoid pressure points. The chambers also have good motion isolation.
One downside to this design is pump noise during inflation. Some models automatically adjust air pressure through the night, disturbing light sleepers. The average lifespan of an airbed is eight years. Price varies according to the number of air chambers, topper thickness, technology complexity, and brand name.
With dual reservoirs, a waterbed is adjustable by both partners. You can also customize firmness with specific amounts of water. As a mattress filler, water has several advantages. It distributes your weight, softly molds to your contours, aligns your spine, and gently supports your joints. Water also yields the weightless sensation of floating.
Most waterbeds provide regulated heating, a relaxing treat for muscles. The liners are hypoallergenic, repelling mites and pet dander. Pregnant women favor waterbeds since they relieve uterine pressure. Two bed types are available, hard-sided and soft-sided.
The hard version is a water-filled vinyl casing. Lacking a border, it’s challenging getting into and leaving this bed. Without motion stability technology, you feel the water gently shifting with every move.
Hard-sided waterbeds don’t regulate temperature since they’re thinly upholstered and can’t be attached to heaters. Without this feature, waterbeds tend to be cold. This design is also prone to puncture, tears, and friction wear.
The soft model is a water chamber encased by foam and upholstery, offering more structural integrity than the hard counterpart. For this reason, you don’t feel water shifting in a soft-sided bed. Having good motion isolation, you won’t feel your partner moving either.
With good edge support, this type of bed is easy to enter and exit. A well-constructed, soft-sided waterbed should last from 10 to 15 years.
The frame of this bed has multiple hinges, so you can both sleep in various positions and angles. For example, you can raise your upper body, elevate your legs, and increase lumbar support. Some models adjust bed height, supply heat, and give massages! Each feature functions independently, operated by an electric controller. High-tech styles have preset positions and app control by smartphone.
An adjustable frame needs a flexible mattress, specifically memory foam or latex. A California king size is preferable, compensating for space lost when raising the head and foot of the bed. Mattress depth must be less than 12 inches. Since most adjustable bases aren’t returnable, you must be certain of your choice. With yearly mattress flipping, an adjustable bed has an average lifespan of 10 years.
This type of mattress has extra padding on the surface, as a separate non-removable piece, adding softness. While pillow tops vary by density, they’re not considered firm. Typically, a memory foam or latex topper overlays a coil system. Since pillow tops are made to be soft, they compress over time. In fact, an underlying mattress will likely last longer than its topper. A thick, soft topper has drawbacks. A lightweight person may not feel the support of the lower mattress. A heavy individual will quickly flatten the material.
Go Bed Shopping
Before shopping at a store or site like Grand Furniture, write down your must-have bed features. Wear comfy clothing and shoes you can easily remove. Also helpful is bringing favorite pillows.
Both of you should spend at least 10 minutes testing each mattress you’re considering. Simultaneously, sit on a mattress edge, and assess its firmness. Lean against the bed frame, as though reading or watching TV. Then, take your customary sleeping positions, roll side-to-side, and stretch. Can you feel your partner’s movement?
Once you’ve put a bed through its paces, discuss your impressions. Additionally, for each mattress, ask the salesperson for pros and cons.
Note that the mattress industry has no standardized measure of firmness, so ratings are subjective, varying by manufacturer. This is another reason why testing beds is so important.
Unless you plan on buying an airbed, you can probably save money on the box spring. Basically, the foundation is just an upholstered box. Ask the salesperson if a lower-priced substitute is compatible with your chosen mattress.
Trial Period and Returns
Even with in-store testing, sleeping is the true gauge of an ideal fit. For this reason, trustworthy retailers give customers a trial period, typically 30 days. During this time frame, you can return a mattress, usually for a restock fee.
If you each prefer different sleep temperatures, use separate comforters and blankets. A soft-sided waterbed equipped with a heater also resolves this problem. During winter, an electric blanket is another option.
If one of you likes a cool bed, buy sheets in a breathable material, such as bamboo or cotton. Or, get moisture-wicking sheets with DermaTherapy technology. Also, select sheets with a thread count below 300. Higher numbers signal greater thread density, packing more fibers into each inch of material and trapping heat.
The right mattress for both of you will promote spinal alignment, muscle relaxation, and sound sleep. By testing beds and buying one with a trial period, your choice will be well-informed. A bed is a major investment that will affect your health and closeness as a couple.
When it comes to choosing a bed, don’t rush your decision. Think of the years of sleep and romance ahead!