Let’s face it. We use a bed for two major purposes: sleeping and sex. We spend a third of our lives in bed, pursuing one activity or the other. So it’s important, for couples especially, to find a mattress that is conducive to both activities.
SWEET DREAMS FOR TWO
We’ll start with finding a bed for a good night’s sleep because, realistically, you do more sleeping in bed than you do sexing. (At least, that’s true for most people!) So, make comfort a priority for the both of you.
Size Matters • Get a bed that’s big enough. It might have been romantic to spoon in your boyfriend’s twin bed when the two of you were still dating, but back then, were you really concerned about sleep? Now that you’re married to the guy or living with him, you both need a little space to get a good night’s sleep. So when in doubt, go for a larger size mattress. A queen mattress is only 6 inches wider and 5 inches longer than a full-size, but you’d be surprised at how much more space the two of you will have. If your bedroom and budget allow for a king-size, go for it, but beware: at 76 inches wide—a whopping 16 inches wider than a queen—you might just lose each other in the bed!
Softness or Firmness • The firmness or softness of your mattress is a matter of individual taste, which is why it’s often difficult for couples to agree on a mattress. Many consider an ultra-firm mattress as the solution to their lower back pain. But a too-firm mattress won’t conform enough to your body’s contours, and may even leave your lower back unsupported, while pressure points such as hips and shoulders start to hurt.
A too-soft mattress may leave you feeling like you’re sinking in quicksand, and make it difficult to turn and roll over. Because a soft mattress touches your entire front, back or side, some people complain that they’re too hot, especially in the summer months.
When testing out a mattress, lay flat on your back. If you can slip your hand under your lower back, the mattress is too firm. If you feel your lower back curving downward and sinking into the mattress, then the mattress is too soft.
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Twists & Turns • If you and your partner are both relatively quiet sleepers—meaning you don’t do a lot of moving around in your sleep—then a traditional coil or innerspring mattress is probably a good choice. Coil mattresses are typically less expensive than the newer memory foam and latex foam models and can offer similar comfort and durability. Coil mattresses are typically cooler on the skin too. The downside is that they can wear unevenly, and are prone to sagging.
If one or both of you tosses and turns in your sleep, you should probably opt for a memory foam or latex foam mattress. These models transfer less movement from one partner to the other, but they are also more expensive than traditional coil models. While memory foam is the better-known variety, latex foam is the new “up and comer” in the mattress market. It is made of renewable, biodegradable materials, and some users report that it retains less body heat than memory foam models.
For couples that just can’t agree on mattress firmness or material, consider an air mattress. Not one of those slip-sliding portable models you pull out of the closet and pump up when company comes, but a structured mattress with adjustable air compartments. The best known of these is the ultra-pricey Sleep Number Bed, which allows each sleeper to adjust the firmness on his or her side of the bed. The smaller the air chambers, the more precise you can adjust the bed (and the more you’ll pay).
SURE, BUT HOW WAS THE SEX?
A mattress that ensures a good night’s sleep may not guarantee the best naked romp. An extra-firm mattress may offer plenty of bounce (fun!) but no traction (not fun). Some memory foam users complain that during sex, the partner on the bottom sinks into the mattress, unable to move. And, because memory and latex foam mattresses are designed not to bounce or move, they make it hard to rock the boat, even when you want to.
You can’t test-drive a mattress for its sexual compatibility, but there’s nothing to stop you from lying down on a few mattresses before you buy. In fact, mattress-buying guides suggest you do just that. Go mattress shopping with your partner and plan to spend 15 minutes or so trying out each mattress you’re considering. Lie down on your back, face down and on both sides. Turn several times, and see how much bounce you and your other half feel. A serious, professional mattress salesperson won’t mind you trying before buying.
Good quality mattresses are expensive, so do look for sales. High-quality mattresses often go on sale for as much as 50% off. And if you’re paying $1000 and up for a mattress, that’s a hefty discount.
Ultimately, the only way to find the right mattress for the two of you is to try out several. If you’re changing beds because one or both of you is sleeping uncomfortably, then you may at least have a sense of what you don’t want in a mattress. So go to a mattress store with a good selection and name brands, and plan to do a little bed-hopping. Just keep your clothes on, please!