Say you’re a petite 5 feet tall, and your partner is a robust 6 feet 2 inches. You sleep on your side, and your partner is a back sleeper. Now, thanks to our newly expanded mattress ratings, you can drill down past the overall score and zero in on only those mattresses that suit you both.

The key to comfort in a mattress is support. A mattress for people who sleep on their sides should keep the alignment of the spine fairly parallel to the bed. For back sleepers, we measure how well it maintains the natural curvature of the spine in that position. But, as you may already know from painful years of experience, the same mattress doesn’t necessarily offer the same level of support for people of different statures. So we use test subjects that represent the lower and upper 5 percent of the population by size. Our petite women range from 4 ft 11 1/2" to 5 ft 1 1/2" and 110 to 127.5 pounds, and our large men range from 6 ft 2" to 6 ft 4" and 220 to 242 pounds. For each of them, we measure support while on their sides and on their backs, then average those scores to get the result for a midsized person.

That’s how we came up with six columns for support: petite, medium, and large/tall side sleepers; and petite, medium, and large/tall back sleepers.

The petite side sleeper will find only one mattress that scores excellent for his or her stature, the Sealy Posturepedic Hybrid Trust Cushion, a $1,275 innerspring. For all the other body sizes, it scores very good but not excellent. If you prioritize the large/tall back sleeper’s comfort, the Charles P. Rogers Powercore Estate 5000 has excellent back support and very good side support. It scores one point higher overall and costs $1,500. (Online subscribers can sort the ratings by columns, making this exercise even easier.)

Support isn’t the only factor for couples. A healthy person shifts positions 40 to 60 times per night. Double that for a couple, and that’s a lot of tossing and turning for any mattress to cope with. That’s why we also test for stabilization, which is essentially a gauge of bounciness. It provides a very good indicator of whether your movements will disturb your partner, or vice versa.

Only four of our 74 rated mattresses aced the stabilization test. Of those, the highest-rated overall is the Sleep Number c2, $800, one of two adjustable air mattresses we tested. The other three stability stalwarts are innerspring models, the best of which is the Sealy Posturepedic Hybrid Elite Kelburn, $1,350.

None of the memory foam mattresses earned excellent scores for stabilization, so steer clear of that type if this is a big concern for you and your partner. That said, plenty of foam mattresses have very good stability, so it becomes a matter of priorities.

And while you may have to make a few compromises when shopping for a mattress for you and your partner, we hope our new ratings will bring you that much closer to somnolent bliss.


Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the February 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.