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How to choose the right mattress: 5 expert tips

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We asked Emma's resident sleep expert to share her top 5 tips for buying a mattress in Australia - here's what you need to consider.

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The value of high-quality sleep cannot be overestimated. It can affect everything from your mental health to weight management.

According to renowned medical centre the Mayo Clinic, a comfortable mattress can significantly improve the quality of your sleep.

A better mattress can be a transformative experience, leading to more restful nights, improved health and enhanced well-being.

But how do you find a mattress that's best for you?

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We asked Emma Merrit, sleep science manager at Emma Sleep, to share her best tips for new mattress shoppers.

"Mattresses are not one-size-fits all," Merrit explained. "Your individual characteristics and preferences play an important role in determining what type of mattress is appropriate for you."

Whether you're tossing and turning on an old, worn-out mattress or simply seeking to upgrade your sleep experience, be sure to consider the following before purchasing your new mattress.

Temperature regulation

If you are prone to night sweats, then you should consider a mattress that is known for its thermoregulatory properties. Both the construction and materials in the mattress contribute to its ability to disperse or retain heat.

Memory foam tends to trap more heat as the user sinks more deeply into the mattress. A gel layer such as the Airgocell foam found in Emma Sleep mattresses can mitigate this by helping air flow freely through the mattress, thus keeping body temperature regulated thanks to the open-pored structure of the foam.

Alternatively, choosing a spring or a hybrid mattress allows the individual to stay on top of the mattress and absorb less heat.

Type of bed

Some mattresses require a specific type of bed or foundation to provide sufficient support. If you have a box spring bed, a hybrid or spring mattress will be more suitable than a memory foam mattress.

When comparing mattress options, check whether any of your candidates indicate that they are most suitable for a certain type of bed – not adhering to the manufacturer’s recommendations can reduce your mattress’s ability to support your spine."

Sleeping position

Mattress firmness depends on your body type, sleeping position, and personal preference. Here are the recommendations for each type of sleeper.

Side Sleepers: Snoozing on your side makes you want a soft yet supportive foundation. We suggest a soft memory foam mattress or a soft hybrid of memory foam and pocket springs that will give you support while also contouring to your figure.

Stomach Sleepers: Being face down the majority of the night will be a lot more relaxing with a firm mattress. That way your face does not sink far down into the foam and also keeps your back and neck in alignment.

Back Sleepers: Normally back sleepers are not quite as picky as the other two. You will want to find a happy medium between firm and soft ideally. Select a mattress that gives you some support while at the same time has enough springiness for your spine to stay in the correct alignment.

Motion isolation

If you share a bed, then you want a mattress with motion isolation technology.

There are two types of spring mattresses to be wary of: continuous coil mattresses have springs made from a single wound wire, and open coil mattresses have single springs arranged by one wire.

In both cases, the coils are fixed together, which will prompt the whole mattress to move when you or your partner move during the night. Memory foam, hybrid and pocket spring mattresses are much better options to reduce the amount of disturbance from you or your partner moving during the night.


There is a large portion of the population that is highly suspectable to dust mites and other allergens that can be housed in mattresses. Besides investing in a quality mattress protector, it is important to remain conscious about which materials are more effective at eliminating these annoyances.

Gel memory foam is great at combating dust mites and high-density polyurethane foam usually prevents sneezing. A combination of both can be a great help when purchasing a memory foam mattress.

Latex mattresses are another type of foam mattress that is especially breathable and of high quality. Many with allergens or asthma choose this type of mattress since latex is a natural material that helps keep sensitive sleepers from experiencing discomfort.

Latex mattresses usually are very firm so we would recommend this type of mattress to those that like harder mattresses. Be aware that these types of mattresses are also much heavier than other foam types. Latex mattresses are usually quite expensive since low quality versions are susceptible to lumps and dents through the years.

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Emma Merrit is Emma Sleep's sleep science manager. She spends her days combing through data, writing articles, and designing workshops to help our customers understand the science behind a good night's sleep. She began her scientific career in 2017 and spent 5 years in academic research, where she conducted psycholinguistics experiments with adults and children.

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