Some mattresses have inner springs while others are made of foam. Ultimately it's a matter of personal preference, but whether it's foam or inner spring, make sure you're comfortable.
An important key is how well the mattress supports you. A Consumer Reports test records the natural curves in the back. And then checks if the mattress adequately supports those curves when you sleep on your back. Another test checks for support when you sleep on your side. Your spine should be in a straight line. Most people sleep either on their side or on their back. You want to make sure that mattress is going to support your body in the position in which you sleep.
Other tests check how firm the mattress is and whether it is overly bouncy.
In the end, Consumer Reports top-rated the foam mattress from Sleep Number. It's the i8 Dual Air in the Innovation Series. But it's expensive at $3,000. The $650 mattress-in-a box from Costco is almost as good. It's the Novaform Serafina Gel Memory Foam.
And if you prefer an inner spring mattress, Consumer Reports top-rated the one in Serta's iSeries sold at Sears. It's the Serta Perfect Day iSeries Applause for $1,000.
Whichever mattress you're considering, it's a good idea to try it out before you buy. It's also important to check the return policy before you buy a mattress. Some retailers give you several weeks to return or exchange a mattress or box spring you don't like. But the rules vary and a return usually costs you something. For example, at Sears you'll have to pay return shipping plus a 15-percent restocking fee.