How to Choose the Best Innerspring Mattress for Your Sleep Position
There are plenty of reasons why people love sleeping on innerspring mattresses: They have that classic "springy" feel you're used to, they're more responsive than foam, and they naturally sleep cooler than other types of mattresses. (They also tend to be the most affordable mattress option.)
Being the most popular category of mattress on the market also means you have an almost dizzying array of options to choose from. So how do you know which innerspring mattress is right for you? The first step to finding the right innerspring is to consider the way you sleep.
If you're a side sleeper
Most people—70%, according to the National Sleep Foundation—sleep on their side. Side sleeping puts pressure on your hips, shoulders, and neck. You want a bit of give in your sleep surface if you sleep on your side. An overly firm mattress can cut off circulation and lead to numbness or tingling and a restless night of trying to find a more comfortable position.
“A good mattress for side sleeping should conform to your body, taking the pressure off your hips and shoulders and aligning your spine so that your muscles can relax," says Joe Auer, editor of the mattress review site Mattress Clarity.
The right innerspring mattress for a side sleeper: A innerspring mattress with individually pocketed coils can provide the right kind of contouring support for a side sleeper. A slightly softer comfort level is also a good idea, as it will help cushion shoulders and hips and relieve pressure. The ideal innerspring mattress for a side sleeper is one that lets you sink in a bit but also supports the spine in natural alignment. (Learn more about the best mattresses options for side sleepers.)
Learn More About Saatva's Innerspring Mattress
If you're a back sleeper
It's estimated that 10% to 20% of people prefer to sleep on their back. Back sleeping is considered the healthiest sleep style because the body tends to remain in a natural, extended position. That means less contorting of arms, legs, and spine. Also, by slightly elevating the esophagus relative to the stomach, back sleeping can reduce acid reflux. (On the downside, back sleeping can increase snoring and the risk for obstructive sleep apnea.)
The right innerspring mattress for a back sleeper: For back sleepers, mattress firmness and contouring ability are the keys to comfort. Back sleepers can adapt to a wide range of firmnesses, but something in the middle of the comfort scale is the best option. (Learn more about plush vs. firm mattresses.)
“When a mattress is too soft, it doesn't provide enough support, which causes you to sink into the bed," says Michael Breus, PhD, a Los Angeles sleep disorder specialist and author of Good Night: The Sleep Doctor's 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health. But, he cautions, an overly firm mattress can be just as bad, particularly for women. “Most of us carry our weight through our pelvis, which in women can be tilted due to childbirth." That means a mattress with a bit of give will likely be most comfortable for your lower half.
For all back sleepers, body weight is another factor to consider. Lighter weight sleepers (below 130 pounds) will want something softer. If you're of average weight, a medium firm mattress should suit you. And if you're heavier, go with a slightly firmer innerspring mattress.
If you're a stomach sleeper
The least common sleep style—only 7% of Americans sleep this way—stomach sleeping presents the biggest challenges for spinal health. Because most of us carry our weight across the hips and belly, sleeping on one's stomach is a recipe for back pain, as all that weight “affects the curvature of the spine and makes it hard for it to stay in a neutral position," Breus explains. The result of that misalignment can be chronic back and neck pain, especially from turning your head completely to one side.
The right innerspring mattress for a stomach sleeper: Support is the leading concern for stomach sleepers. A medium to slightly firmer innerspring mattress (around a 6-8 on the firmness scale) will support your stomach-sleeping body and let you wake up feeling pain-free and refreshed.
If you share a bed
Sleeping with a partner adds another layer of mattress considerations. Instead of just having to think about your own sleep style and preferences, now you have to take your partner's habits into account. As with all things in a healthy relationship, compromise is key. That's why a medium-firm mattress is often a good choice for couples with different sleep styles.
Another consideration is motion transfer—getting jostled around and having your sleep disturbed when your partner moves or gets up during the night. Older innerspring mattresses performed poorly on this measure, but newer designs incorporate foam and other cushioning materials to better isolate motion.
The right innerspring mattress for a couple: An innerspring mattress with pocketed coils, which are able to move independently, does a good job of isolating motion. Innerspring models that incorporate foam layers (often called hybrid mattresses) and those with pillow tops offer the best of both worlds: innerspring's responsiveness with foam's cushioning and motion-damping qualities. (An added bonus for couples: innerspring mattresses are generally considered the best mattress for sex.)
Another option for couples with different comfort preferences—and a bedroom big enough to accommodate a king-size bed—is a bed with separate sleep surfaces. By putting two twin XL mattresses side by side, one partner can have a firm sleep surface and the other a plush, so each can enjoy a comfortable sleep.
Learn more about innerspring mattresses: