Test mattresses together to find one that meets both of your needs.

How to Choose a Mattress for Couples

by Amanda Bell

If you were an Egyptian back in 3400 B.C., you could simply add more or fewer palm boughs to your side of the bed, making the sleeping area softer or firmer without affecting your partner’s side. Today’s couples may need to compromise a bit more, whether on firmness, cost or size, but you can find a mattress that you both like and that affords everyone a decent night’s sleep.

1. Evaluate Your Current Mattress and Needs

As a couple, discuss your current mattress and decide whether or not it’s working for both of you, or what you would change about it to make it better. For example, if you both love that the current mattress has a pillow top, narrow your search to mattresses with pillow tops, or if one of you has feet that routinely extend out over the end of the bed, look for California king size mattresses. Make a list of what each of you wants in a mattress regarding size, firmness and other features, such as whether or not it’s adjustable, and see how your list compares to your partner's. From this and your discussion regarding your current bed, create a list of qualities that you’re both looking for. This gives you a good basis for narrowing down your shopping trip.

2. Choosing a Size

Most couples opt for queen or king size mattresses, and for good reason. In a full or double bed, couples have less room per person than they would if they were sleeping on twin size mattresses; in fact, two people in a full or double bed is the equivalent of an adult sleeping on a crib mattress with regard to width. For couples that tend to enjoy sleeping closer together, queen size beds are functional. If you prefer more space, a king size mattress provides the same sleeping space as a single person would have in a twin. If you’re looking for a California king, keep in mind that this size bed is a bit less wide than a traditional king, although it is longer.

3. Best Types of Mattresses for Couples

A traditional innerspring mattress with a standard, pillow or memory foam topping works best for couples with the same preferences in firmness. Air mattresses, not of the camping variety, with multiple chambers, are best for both absorbing movement and for couples who have completely opposite ideas on what a bed is supposed to feel like. Aptly described as adjustable mattresses, you can change the firmness of your side of the bed without disturbing the other. If you both like the same “feel” in a mattress, but one of you is easily disturbed by the other’s movement, a full memory foam or latex mattress will absorb most of the movement. Memory foam tends to be softer than latex, although both provide the same customized support based on body weight and shape. Opt for latex, memory foam or air mattresses that can adjust up or down to make reading, watching television or sleeping at different angles possible.

4. Tips for Testing

When you’re buying a new mattress as a couple, always test out the options together. What one person feels is the perfect mattress may be uncomfortable for the other, no matter how much it seems as if your preferences are in line. Remove your shoes and lie in your favored sleeping positions for at least 15 minutes per mattress. Take note of how your neck and back feel, and how noticeable your partner’s movements are on your side of the bed. Test various models and brands, take your time, and if possible, purchase from a retailer that provides a money-back guarantee if you’re unhappy with the mattress. After two weeks of sleeping on it, you’ll know whether or not it just takes some getting used to or really doesn’t work for one or both of you.

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