Expert tips for buying a new mattress

person covering her head with her arms laying down on a white mattress

Sarah Marinos

Posted October 06, 2020

Everything you need to know to buy a mattress that will give you the best night’s sleep.

You spend around eight hours a night on your mattress – that’s nearly 3000 hours a year. And if your mattress isn’t offering the right level of support and comfort that can mean many uncomfortable nights. 

Around 40 per cent of Australians don’t get enough quality sleep, according to the Sleep Health Foundation. And if you’re one of those people counting sheep every night – especially during this COVID-19 pandemic – improving the quality of your mattress may help.

But choosing the right mattress from hundreds of samples isn’t easy. Do you go firm or soft? Is memory foam better than traditional spring or pocket spring? And how do you take care of a mattress once you bring it home?

On average, people invest in a new mattress every 10 years and you get what you pay for. So, what are the points to remember when making a decision?

white doona and pillow on bed

We spend a lot of time sleeping, so your mattress can be an important long-term choice.

Everything you need to know about buying a new mattress

Firm or medium

“People think the firmer a mattress is, the better it is for your back. That’s correct when it comes to supporting the back, but a firm mattress won’t necessarily be comfortable and give you a good night’s sleep if it doesn’t have comfort layers or a pillowtop, too,” says Troy Grzeschka, senior mattress category manager at Snooze.

A firm mattress is a good choice for people who sleep on their tummy as it helps keep the spine aligned. A medium mattress may be a better support option if you sleep on your back and a soft mattress is good for side sleepers as it supports the body’s contours.

What about a pillow top?

If a mattress looks flat, it is lacking a pillowtop or cushioning layers. These relieve pressure on the body as we sleep and the thicker the pillow top, the more comfort and pressure relief you enjoy.

“You can still have a firm mattress with the support underneath for your back, but the comfort layers on top of the springs will help you have a better night’s sleep,” Grzeschka says.

Do I need edge support?

There's nothing worse than sitting on the edge of your bed to tie your shoelaces and the mattress crumbling under you. As well as making it easier to get dressed, edge support can also help you get a better night's sleep by helping to stop you from falling off the edge when your partner rolls too far over onto your side.

Edge support can refer to either the rigid encasement around the mattress frame that keeps everything in place (this is often seen with sprung mattresses that might need a little extra help around the edges), or the particular material used (some foam mattresses use a denser foam around the edges to ensure the mattress remains firm and keeps its shape). If you've got mobility issues, mattresses with edge support can also be easier to get in and out of. 

How to make your mattress more allergy-friendly

The National Asthma Council Australia says that the greatest exposure to house dust mites comes from bedding. If you do have allergies, look for a mattress manufactured with anti-microbial treatments that help limit dust mites. A mattress protector will also reduce the build-up of dust mites.

Mattress maintenance

If you spend a few thousand dollars on a mattress, you want to get the most from your investment.

“Most mattresses are single-sided now so don’t need to be flipped over, but you need to rotate,” says Grzeschka. The first three months are the key wearing-in period, so mattresses need to be rotated every two weeks for the first three months. After that, rotate your mattress every season.

Signs it’s time for a new mattress

When it comes to mattresses, age isn't just a number so, if you've had yours for more than a decade, it's probably time to consider a younger model. Other signs you might need a new mattress include waking up with aches and pains, squeaky springs or sagging in the middle. If it's starting to feel like you're sleeping in a hammock rather than a bed, that's probably a good sign your mattress needs replacing. 


bed on wicker mat next to windows and curtains

Memory foam, latex, pocket spring or traditional spring - the choice is yours.

Most popular types of mattresses

Memory foam

Good quality memory foam mattresses need to be made of high-density foam. The higher the density the more comfortable the mattress and the longer it will last. They mold to the shape of your body and are good for relieving pressure, but they can be heavy and feel too dense if you prefer a springy mattress.


These mattresses are some of the most eco-friendly on the market. They are made using sap from the Rubber Tree and can last for up to 15 years. It’s important to note that not all ‘natural’ latex mattresses are made using natural latex, some are made using a blend of natural and synthetic latex. Most manufacturers will state the percentage of natural latex used in the mattress but, as a general rule, the more expensive the mattress, the higher the percentage of natural latex.

Pocket spring

These mattresses are a favourite with most Australians and they are ideal if you are sharing a bed as they absorb movement. “If the person next to you moves around, you won’t feel it,” says Grzeschka. They support your body weight evenly and allow air to circulate through the mattress. The latest mattress technology uses German-made and engineered pocket spring.

Traditional spring

Similar to the pocket spring, but this mattress has a firmer coil and wires that link the coils together. So you’ll feel movement when anyone else in the bed rolls over.