Most people put little thought into a mattress purchase. They tend to look for something affordable and comfortable, no more. For some people, those who sleep easily and soundly, this strategy works. For the rest of us, the wrong mattress can lead to a lot of problems. A bad mattress can leave you feeling stiff and achy after a poor night's sleep. You may struggle to fall asleep and wake up exhausted with the wrong mattress. If you've never put much thought into your mattress, and you could stand to sleep better, use these tips to make a better purchase. Good Versus Bad Mattresses Another problem with sleeping on the wrong mattress is that you may not realize it's happening. A bad mattress, or an old mattress, can interfere with your sleep and health in ways you may not recognize. You may not immediately connect these problems with your mattress. A good mattress, or the right mattress for you, is comfortable, promotes sleep, and doesn't cause any pain or worsen health conditions. A bad mattress, on the other hand, can cause several problems: An allergic reaction.Tossing and turning throughout the night.It creaks and wakes you up when you moveMorning aches and pains. Start Sleeping Better You may need a new mattress if you have these or other issues with sleep. If you toss and turn a lot, wake up in pain, find that you sleep a lot better in hotels or at a friend's house, or you find that you don't sleep well more often than not, you may need a new mattress. To make a better choice with your next mattress, consider these important factors: 1. Mattress Topper Many mattresses come with a topper, but you can also add one to a mattress you like. You can find toppers in many different materials and firmness levels. They provide extra comfort and softness but also extend the life of a mattress by keeping it clean. A mattress topper made of breathable, wicking material will help you stay cool. If you tend to wake up sweating and uncomfortable throughout the night, a topper may be just what you need. For side sleepers, a topper can reduce pressure points and minimize shoulder or neck pain. 2. Your Mattress Type For better sleep, match your sleeping style to mattress type. For instance, side sleepers benefit from a softer mattress or a soft topper. A firm mattress puts a lot of pressure on the shoulder, arm, and hip and can cause soreness. If you sleep on your back, choose a mattress with medium firmness. A soft mattress creates a gap between the lower back and bed that can trigger pain. Too firm, and you won't get enough support in the lower back. Stomach sleepers need good support. Choose a firm mattress if you sleep on your front. If the mattress is too soft, you'll sink in, curving and straining the spine. You may also feel like you're suffocating. 3. Cooling Temperature is a huge factor in sleep quality. According to researchers, it's one of the most critical determinants for good sleep. If it's too hot, you're less likely to sleep well. A cooler temperature is ideal. Even if you keep your bedroom cool at night, you may still wake up too warm with the wrong mattress. Look for a mattress with cooling technology. The best mattresses for cooling have specific materials that draw heat away from the body or that breathe well. Also, a pressure-relieving mattress can help keep you more relaxed. Too much pressure on certain parts of your body during the night can leave you hot and sweaty. 4. Health Conditions If you have specific health conditions that impact your sleep, talk to your doctor about the best type of mattress. For instance, if you have sleep apnea, avoid a soft mattress that worsens the condition by causing you to sink into it. Lower back pain is a common complaint that the wrong mattress can exacerbate. Look for a mattress with good support that will fit your body's curves in your preferred sleep position. If you have allergies, pay close attention to the materials in the mattress before making a choice. Don't Let the Wrong Mattress Wreck Your Sleep Mattresses are so much more important to sleep than most people realize. You don't need to spend a fortune to get a good one, though. Take time to consider your needs and preferences and then do some comparison shopping. You should be able to find your ideal mattress at the right price.