Sleeping on a bad mattress is, well, exhausting. If you’re constantly waking up feeling sore, tossing and turning throughout the night, and feeling tired during the day, it may be time to start shopping for a new bed.
Luckily, you have more options than ever – which can be a blessing and a curse. Shopping for a new mattress can feel overwhelming when you have so many choices to make: soft or firm? Online or in-store? Memory foam, innerspring or something else entirely? It can be hard to make sense of it all.
How Do You Sleep?
Before you start testing out mattresses or checking out online retailers, you need to think about what you’re looking for.
This is especially important if you plan on purchasing a mattress online. You want to know what kind of sleeper you are and what types of bed features feel most comfortable to you.
What is your regular sleeping position? Side sleepers will likely want something that’s fairly soft, to provide good pressure relief around their shoulders and hips. Back sleepers or combination sleepers (those who change positions throughout the night) may want a medium firm mattress that provides both support and pressure relief. Stomach sleepers should look for mattresses on the firmer side, as they want something that’s going to provide adequate support for that position.
What Suits Your Body?
You’ll also want to consider your body weight, age and other physical conditions. Middle age or older sleepers may want something more supportive and conforming since our joints tend to become more sensitive as we age. Those with chronic pain or arthritis will also likely benefit from this type of mattress.
Heavier sleepers might need a firm and thick mattress that provides good support so they don’t experience excessive sinking or sagging, while lighter sleepers might find a firmer mattress too hard, as they might not be heavy enough to sink in and get the mattress to conform to their bodies.
Additionally, if you tend to get hot at night, you’ll want something that’s breathable and stays cool. Avoid memory foam and search for mattresses that boast temperature-neutral features.
Consider Your Partner
If you’re buying a mattress that’s going to be shared by you and a partner, you also have to consider what will work for them.
When mattress shopping, consider a prospective mattress’s amount of motion transfer. Many mattresses on the market offer really great motion transfer isolation, meaning you won’t be jostled around and woken up when your partner moves around in bed. You may want to avoid innerspring mattresses, which can loudly squeak and creak with movement.
If you have completely different sleeping preferences and can’t come to a compromise, consider getting something personalized or adjustable. A few brands offer the ability to choose different firmness levels for each side of the bed, so you both can get what you want. Or consider buying a split mattress, which will allow you to have two separate mattresses, each with your respective comfort preferences, side by side.
An adjustable air mattress may also suit your situation. Although these tend to be more expensive than other mattress types, they allow you and your partner complete firmness customization.
Now that we’ve gone over what personal needs you should consider when buying a mattress, let’s take a look at some of the choices you’ll have to make during the mattress-buying process.
There are a few different types of mattresses, the main ones including innerspring, memory foam, latex and adjustable air. There’s a lot of variety among these types, and you can find something for every type of sleeper among each category, so don’t feel like this decision is the be-all and end-all of your future comfort.
Innersprings are the most traditional type of mattress. They generally provide a good amount of support and are easy to move around in. They have more bounce than foam mattresses, but are also much noisier.
Memory foam and latex are soft, conforming mattresses. They offer good pressure relief and motion isolation. They can also be more affordable than other mattress types. However, they may not be quite as durable as other types and may start to sag or develop indentations as time goes on.
Adjustable air mattresses are great for those who want to be able to customize their mattress’s firmness from night to night. They provide good pain and pressure relief. However, they are fairly expensive and can be noisy.
There are also many hybrid mattresses available that can give you the best of multiple worlds. They use some combination of memory foam, latex and coils to maximize the benefits of each component while minimizing their individual downsides. If you like the support that comes with an innerspring (coil) mattress and the cushion-like feeling of sleeping on a foam mattress, a hybrid might be a great choice for you.
When you’re searching for a mattress, you’ll likely hear a lot about firmness. Mattress firmness is usually measured on a scale of 1 – 10 and tells you how soft or firm the mattress will feel. However, mattress firmness is highly objective. A heavier individual will likely experience a mattress differently than a very petite person will. That’s why it’s so important to test out mattresses of various firmness levels to get an idea of what you like.
If you’re doing your shopping online, it may still be helpful to go to a mattress store and test out a few mattresses so you know what an online retailer means when they say things like “medium firm” or “plush.”
Some other things you’ll want to consider are support and how the mattress feels when you lie in it.
Support refers to the mattress’s ability to promote a healthy sleeping posture. A mattress doesn’t have to be firm to provide good support. Some mattress materials, such as memory foam, may decrease in the amount of support they provide over time. If you’re concerned about always having adequate support, go with something sturdier and more durable, such as an innerspring or hybrid mattress.
Some people like a mattress that they sink into, while others don’t like the feeling of being “stuck” in their beds. It’s a matter of preference – whether you like to sleep “in” or “on” your bed. If you need a bed that’s easy to get in and out of, make sure you consider that when testing out potential mattresses.
If you’re willing and have lots of money to spend, it’s easy to drop several thousand dollars on a new mattress. Fortunately, for those of us who are working on more limited budgets, you can get a quality mattress for around $1,000.
Of course, $1,000 is no small amount. If you’re hesitant about spending a big chunk of money on a mattress when you’ve been able to find much cheaper options, keep in mind that the average lifespan of a mattress is between 7 – 10 years, and you’ll spend around a third of that time on that mattress. A cheaply made and uncomfortable mattress can seriously affect your quality of life.
If you’ve found your perfect mattress but it’s way out of your price range, don’t be afraid to haggle. According to Consumer Reports, mattress prices are significantly marked up, so there’s room for negotiation. If you can’t get them to budge on the price, ask them to include something for free, such as delivery or a bed frame.
Online vs. In-Store
Online mattress shopping has really blown up in recent years, making shopping for mattresses easier than ever – no more having to physically travel from store to store listening to the spiels of pushy salespeople.
While the idea of buying a mattress without being able to feel it first might seem like a bad idea, reputable online sellers will offer a trial period where you’ll be able to return the mattress if it doesn’t work for you. Companies usually offer at least a 100-day trial period, so you’ll have plenty of time to see if it’s a good fit.
Online mattress retailers have risen to the challenge of being worthy competitors to brick-and-mortar stores, and you don’t have to worry about receiving a quality product – provided you purchase from a reputable brand. Many mattresses from online retailers perform just as well as their in-store counterparts.
Testing It Out
You should try to lie on the mattress you’re considering for at least 15 minutes while testing in-store. That may seem like a long time (and slightly awkward), but you need to give your body time to sink into the mattress and feel how it conforms to you.
Test out multiple positions, gauging how easy or difficult it is to move around in the bed. Lie down in the position you most often sleep in. Sit on the edge to test the bed’s edge support.
If you’re purchasing online, the trial period will let you do some more comprehensive testing, like sleeping on the mattress night after night. This will allow your body to completely adjust to the bed, so you’ll know for sure whether the mattress is a good fit for you.
If you order a mattress and decide you don’t like it after a few nights, give it a little more time. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months for your body to fully adjust to a new mattress. Often, retailers won’t let you return a mattress until you’ve had it for a certain amount of time.
Read the Return Policy
Before you buy, you need to know what you’re getting yourself into – and if you’ll be able to get yourself out if you’re unhappy with your purchase.
Online mattress sellers will have robust trial periods and return policies, as that’s pretty much the only way to convince buyers to purchase a mattress they’ve never lain on. Figure out exactly what that return policy says and see just how easy it is to get your money back if you’re unsatisfied.
Many brick-and-mortar retailers will also have a period during which you can return the mattress if it doesn’t work for you. However, sometimes their trial periods will come with a pickup and restocking fee if you decide to return. Make sure you’re aware of these fees ahead of time.
It can be a somewhat confusing process, but taking the time to find a mattress that suits your needs will be worth it when you’re finally getting the good night’s sleep you deserve. Good luck and sweet dreams.
Do you have any mattress-buying tips to share? Let us know in the comments!
If so, subscribe now for tips on home, money, and life delivered straight to your inbox.