Mattress: Ultimate South African Guide

Choosing the right mattress sizes

The South African Society of Sleep Medicine reports that between 30 – 40% of adults experience insomnia every year, so choosing the right mattress for your bed is a pretty big deal.

Two out of the six types of insomnia can be directly attributed to the kind of mattress you’re sleeping on, and considering that you spend a quarter of your life on your bed, choosing the right mattress is vital to your sense of overall well-being.

Be aware that if you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll:

  • Get sick
  • Increase your risk of cancer
  • Make your brain fuzzy
  • Lose your libido
  • Put on weight
  • Stand in line for Diabetes and
  • Lose your lovely looks.

To say the least.

Now granted, your mattress is not the only thing that’ll keep you up but it is a biggie.

But buying a new mattress can be nerve-wracking with so many types to choose from – how do you know which one’s going to be best for your needs?

We’re about to simplify your life: check out when it’s time to replace your mattress, caring for your mattress, base advice, myths, and get five solid pointers to choosing a mattress that rocks [you to sleep], plus find out the different types of mattresses to choose form, and other tips about all things mattresses.

When to replace a mattress

Firstly, before you lug your new bed home, always check the return policy, just in case something goes wrong. And do note that a longer warranty may not always mean a longer lifespan.

As a general rule, they last between 5 – 10 years, depending on its type, it’s quality and how well it’s been cared for.

Sometimes though, you may need to replace it if you find yourself suffering from ailments that your doctor doesn’t understand the cause of (not always the case, but sometimes your bed can be the cause of an ongoing health issue). Backache is a key example and may be an indication that it’s time for either a new base, new mattress, or both.

What other indications should you keep your eye on, to tell you that it’s time to replace your mattress?

  • You are not sleeping comfortably.
  • You have developed allergies, or your allergies have worsened.
  • Lumps, sagging, tears in the mattress all indicate age.
  • Squeaking springs mean the coils are worn and therefore no longer effectively supporting your body.
  • You feel stiff when you wake up.

Tips for mattress care

You can extend the life of your mattress significantly if you follow the manufacturer’s instructions, as well as these:

  • Use a mattress protector to protect the mattress from any staining and dust.
  • Match the base to the mattress carefully. In fact, it’s best to buy the mattress and base together because they’ve been made to work together.
  • Although many mattresses no longer require flipping, rotate the mattress every 3 – 4 months.
  • Regularly open windows in the room for ventilation.
  • When moving the mattress, keep it upright for protection.
  • Don’t allow pets on the bed.
  • Air out your mattress every now and again by removing all bedding and open a window.
  • Avoid sitting on the same spot to perform certain chores, as this will wear out that particular spot.
  • No matter the bed, it’s never a good idea to jump on it.
  • Change bedding often.

All about the base

Genie Base with box

Not many people know this, but the base serves a bigger purpose than just lifting the mattress higher…

The base forms part of the whole sleep system, which is called your bed.

If we’re discussing mattresses, we also have to talk base.

The base should ideally be replaced at the same time as the mattress because the lifespan of the mattress depends on the support of the base.

That’s because the base acts as the foundation of the whole bed and the mattress needs it to provide the ultimate body support.

Also, certain bed base types work better with certain bed types, so it’s always advisable to buy the bed set together as the manufacturer has made them work in unity.

There are three most common types of bases:

  1. The platform works well with innerspring, memory foam and latex.
  2. Box-spring is best with an innerspring mattress.
  3. Slatted is usually a less expensive option but not ideal. Memory foam is the best mattress type for it.

Discover more about the crucial points to choosing the right bed base and mattress combo.

Mattress myths

There are some things you should know upfront before you decide on bedding up with a mattress:

  • Orthopedic simply means the mattress is hard. Not many people need a hard mattress, except those with a crushed disc. Thin people will struggle to sleep on this type of bed which is best for heavy people as their bodies need more support.
  • People often don’t consider that their backache, fatigue and restless nights are attributed to their mattress.
  • Quilted mattresses tend to be of lower quality.
  • If a mattress manufacturer says it’s made with an expensive material but the actual price of the mattress is much lower than the price of others that are similar to it, check that the material is not only a certain percentage of the bed and marketed slyly.
  • Good stitching around the mattress is an indication that the mattress contains individually pocketed springs, and of high quality.

You can see here the stitching around the Genie bed is exceptional.

  • How do you know which firmness you need? Lie on the mattress in the store, and push your hand under the small of your back. Large gap = too soft. No gap = too firm. Being able to pass your hand through will show that that is the right bed for you as far as firmness goes. Get more tips about choosing the right bed firmness.
  • If the mattress is too hard, you will more than likely toss and turn; it’s your body’s way of compensating.
  • If the mattress is too hard, your body will do all the work. If it’s too soft, your body will sink in. Either way, you will experience pain or discomfort.
  • The mattress must support your back, head, shoulders, hips and feet.
  • You won’t know if a mattress is a good fit for you just by laying on it for 5 minutes. It can take days, or even a few weeks, to make your body play up. This is why Genie offers a 100 day trial period so you can test out the bed and send it back if it’s not suitable.
  • The structural integrity of the mattress is more important than how a mattress actually looks. For example, people may think that a pillow top looks divine, but it honestly does not mean the bed is better. Structure, more than anything, is the vital thing.
  • Be careful who you take advice from. If someone stands to benefit (ie., they’re earning commission), be wary. However, these bed stockists are recommended.
  • Most people take about a month before their bodies adjust to a new mattress.
  • Warranties only cover workmanship and materials.

Things to consider before buying a mattress

#1: Sleeping position

Side sleeping


Side sleeping is one of the most common sleeping positions, but because it is a lot more “curved” than other positions, pressure relief becomes essential.

It is not advisable for your shoulders and hips to take the strain every day because of the way you sleep!

When you side-sleep, indented areas between your body and the mattress are formed.

These indented spaces need support that a combination of individual pocket springs and natural latex provide so that the weight is spread more evenly to avoid pain from pressure from sleeping on your side every night.

On your back

Although this is the recommended sleeping position (but it is known to increase snoring and sleep apnea), most people don’t find it comfortable, but that could also be because of the wrong choice of mattress.

As with side sleepers, those who sleep on their backs will need support from individually pocketed springs and natural latex in order to prevent back pain.

Face down

Many people who sleep on their tummies do so to avoid back pain, but it’s the least recommended position because it places tension on the neck from sleeping with your head turned to the side.

If this is you, choose a mattress that is either medium-firm or medium-soft; it has to be firm enough for support, but not so firm that it’s uncomfortable or so soft that you sink in.

Genie Mattresses Cutaway

The Genie mattress core is ideal for all types of sleeping positions because it supports all the different areas of your body and is soft enough for contouring.

#2: Body temperature

Getting hot in the sack is best left for you-know-what, but getting hot while you sleep is going to create restlessness.

What the mattress is made of will either keep you comfortable or increase body temperature.

Now, if you’re the type of person that is always cold, you won’t need to worry about this, but if you’re a hottie and often wake up uncomfortably warm, you’ll need breathability; a mattress that allows for circulation unlike the old spring mattresses which don’t (although a combination of pocketed springs and natural latex does).

Look for breathable foam or natural latex, pinholes or breathable covers made from polyester cotton.


#3: Comfort

It can be tricky to choose the right mattress, especially if your partner has different needs to yours, but the most comfortable mattress is the one that’s going to address the needs of both of you.

Different types of mattresses

There are so many different types available, but we’ll take a look at the most popular types. Just be aware that there are a lot more to choose from should these not for some or other reason, be suitable.


Innerspring mattresses offer good spinal support, so long as the type of coil used is good (there are four different types; best to avoid the outdated Bonnel coil innerspring which is used in cheaper mattresses). Innerspring mattress prices vary greatly; the Bonnel coil is cheaper to make, so is used in lower quality mattresses. Otherwise, the other coil innerspring tend to be used in pricier beds.

Prices range from R3500 – R10 000 for a double bed.


Hybrid mattresses, like the Genie mattress, combine two or more support systems, like individual pocketed springs, natural latex or high-density memory foam. Hybrids offer the best of both worlds: sturdy support as well as comfort, and usually suit all types of people and sleeping positions.

Inside the Genie Bed mattress

Hybrids offer pain relief from arthritis and chronic back pain and in the case of the Genie mattress, a combo of natural latex and zoned springs are good for non-transfer of movement, so if you have a squiggly partner, look out for this type of mattress.

Hybrids are usually pricier, depending on the supporting technology used and other materials.

You’ll pay about R4500 – R25 000 for a double mattress. Get in-depth information about the Genie hybrid mattress.

Memory foam

Memory foam is either a brilliant choice or a bad one, depending on specific things. For example, it isn’t the best choice for hot-temperature people, as you sink into this type of mattress, creating a “memory well” of your body shape which makes you hot and is uncomfortable when you move. Getting hot and sweaty in the sack is best left for you-know-what, but getting hot while you sleep is going to create restlessness. However, add gel to the mix and it changes everything, but also adds on to the price.

The higher the density, the better the quality and the higher the price. You’re looking to pay about R4500 – R10 000 for memory foam, depending on density and how much of the mattress is made from memory foam. When the gel is added, the price increases to about R6500 – R15 000 for a double bed.


Latex mattresses are similar to memory foam, but with big differences. Most memory foam mattresses use synthetic materials, but natural latex is natural and offers different levels of firmness and comfort for side, back, or tummy sleepers. It’s also less heating than memory foam.

Latex mattresses usually last a lot longer than any other type of mattress.

It costs around R4500 – R15 000 for a double bed.

#4: Weight and shape

If you are heavier than the average person, you need to take into account that you may need a firmer mattress, especially if you sleep on your side.

If you’re considered obese, it’s probably wise to invest in a bed that is specially designed for your weight.

The shape of your body is also an important consideration because some people need more “filling in” than others. While a lighter, flatter body needs a thin and firm layer, a curvier person needs a more plush covering.

Memory foam mattresses are a good option for very thin people, or those with backache, or the aged.

Those who get hot should avoid memory foam, but consider memory foam with gel, or instead, get a latex mattress.

Hybrids are excellent for most people, but especially for those who are overweight, have backache, and people sharing, because of the zero motion transfer.

#5: Sleepless in Seattle?


Two-mattress systems are ideal if you’re sleeping with the enemy, aka, a partner who does not share your traits because although it’s still classified as one bed, each side is controlled by the other person.

So if you share a bed with someone who gets hot but you get cold, or when they move around a lot but you stay in one position the entire night, it can create disturbances that make for a poor night.

Two-mattress beds eliminate disturbances because each body controls their own side, but the bad news is that you’re going to pay through your nose for it.

Before nodding off…

So in summary, these are the pointers to remember when shopping for a new bed:

  1. Whether to replace the base at the same time
  2. Forget mattress myths
  3. Different types of mattresses work for different types of bodies
  4. Your sleeping positions
  5. Your body temperature
  6. Comfort level of mattress options
  7. Your weight and shape
  8. The behaviour of the person sleeping next to you

Buying a bed is one of the most important things you’ll ever do.

Do it right.

Download our free bed guide and save yourself the frustration.

Download our free guide to purchasing the better bed