The Definitive Guide to Buying a Mattress
Shopping for a mattress has never been easier if you’re armed with this info.
Replacing your mattress can be exhausting. Navigating the stores and websites, debating between foam and springs, and determining how much to spend can leave you feeling like you need a good nap.
Instead, skip the stress and follow these tips from Lexie Sachs, Senior Textiles Analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute, that will help you navigate the world of mattresses.
Where to Shop for a Mattress
Laying down in the store isn’t the only way to go anymore. New mattress-in-a-box companies have won over thousands of customers with convenient shipping and free trial periods. Online mattress buying has seen a serious boom, but it’s not right for everyone. Here’s what you need to know.
Shop in the store if.
Go the traditional route ifyouwant a greater variety and to feel them before buying.In a mattress store, you should never pay full price. Always shop the sales, and don’t be afraid to negotiate with the salesperson. Most stores will also offer removal of your existing mattress. The downside is it can feel overwhelming and it’s harder to compare prices to know if you’re getting a good deal. A big mistake is rushing the decision by quickly lying down on many different mattresses to find the one that feels best. If you’re going to invest in a mattress,take the time to recline for a while (at least 10 minutes)and make sure you don’t feel any pressure or pain.
Shop online if.
This newer route offers agreat alternative if you have trouble making decisions, since there are fewer options. Plus, you can shop from home!These mattresses generally arrive in a box at your doorstep within a few days and include free shipping and a money-back guarantee (even if you simply don’t like the mattress!) so there’s minimal risk. Online, the price is usually final, but it doesn’t include markups for being sold at a physical store. The downsides are that you typically have to set it up yourself and deal with getting rid of your old mattress.
Either way, always ask about the return policy.Not happy with your pick? You may get a partial refund if you bought it in a store, but online companies often arrange to pick it up for a local charity and will give back 100% of your money. Make sure you can test out a new mattress for a month risk-free; that way, you can get used to it before making a decision.
The Best Mattresses You Can Buy Online
The name Casper is synonymous with "mattress-in-a-box." Itsfour foam layers range from soft to firmto offer comfort and support, which our testers loved (especially the under-40 crowd). There’s both a less expensive version (with less layers) and a pricier one (with more).
Tuft & Needle was priced lowest among its competitors, but still stands out as atop mattress on Amazon. This simple model has two layers of foam: a firm, support layer on the bottom and a cushy, cooling layer on top. Our panel particularly liked the friendly customer service.
Unsure if you need a soft or firm option? This foam style gives you both: Justflip the mattress to change the support level. It has copper built-in to help keep you cool and avoid the overheating that is typically associated with memory foam.
Fill out a survey about your sleep habits, andHelix builds a "custom" mattress for youwith layers of foam, latex, and microcoils. They can even personalize each side, so you and your sleeping partner don’t have to fight about which mattress to get.
How to Choose Your Perfect Mattress
There are three common types of mattresses:innerspring, foam, and adjustable. There’s no one "right" material to choose, but in general, side sleepers need a softer mattress, stomach sleepers need a firm one, and back sleepers fall somewhere in between. Beyond the types of mattresses and firmness, you’ll need to think about a few other factors. From sleep style to negotiating with a bedfellow, here’s what to look for based on your needs:
If you like a bed with bounce
Traditional innerspring styleshave that familiar bouncy feel and may be firmer. Interconnected coils are extra-durable, but individual "pocketed" coils, each covered with fabric, reduce the ripple effect that happens when someone on one side of the bed moves.
If you prefer a firmer base
Memory foam optionshave less spring and offer more pressure relief. To determine quality, look at the density and thickness of the foam, which will determine how deep you’ll sink. The newer, online mattresses generally use several different layers of foam, with heavier ones on the bottom for support and lighter, cooler kinds on the top for comfort.
If you want a plush top
Innerspring mattressestypically have either a fiberfill or foam outer layer, covered in quilted ticking. But even if you want an uber-plush feel, don’t be swayed by a thick-looking pillowtop as it can compress over time. It’s often best to choose a firmer, well-quilted mattress, and then cover it with a replaceable mattress topper.
If you like to change it up
Consider anair-filled mattress, like Sleep Number, which has a remote that controls how much air is inside. Two side-by-side chambers allow you and your partner to customize the mattress firmness separately. There are also foam mattresses (like the ones from Layla) with soft and firm sides, so you can just flip it over as needed, and modular designs that let you move around the springs on the inside.
If you sleep on your side
You’ll want a surface that will support your body weight, and conform to your shape.Innerspringsmay have more pressure relief than some foam or latex mattresses, but asoft foam mattressor one with built-in pressure relief points around the shoulders and hips can work for side sleepers, too
If you sleep on your stomach
The last thing a stomach-sleeper probably wants is an enveloping memory foam — it would feel smothering! Instead, a firmer bed will provide the best support. Consider afirm foam, dense innerspring, or air-filled mattress.
If you sleep on your back
You’ll wantsomething in the middle— a surface that supports, but has some give so your spine is kept in a healthy alignment. You’ll find happiness with any of the mattress types, but you should do your best princess-and-the-pea impression to see what feels best to you.
If your partner tosses and turns all night
Consider aninnerspring mattress with pocketed coils, or memory foam, latex, or a dual-chamber air-filled mattress. Medium-firm picks will all have good "motion isolation." But remember, these models could actually be less comfortable on the body of a restless sleeper, as there’s little forgiveness against one’s movements.
If you and your partner’s preferences don’t match
Theair-filled mattresses with dual chamberscan help, or check out the online mattress company Helix. Each person can fill out a questionnaire and have a side customized based on the responses.
If you sleep hot
Manufacturers can get carried away with claims about cooling properties, especially when you consider all the layers (protectors, toppers, sheets, and so on) that go on top of the mattress. That said,foam or latexcan hold in body heat, especially if they’re very soft and a lot of your body sinks in. Newer technology helps alleviate this issue and you can always accessorize your bed with toppers and sheets that offer cooling benefits.
If you have allergies
Foam and latexare both inherently antimicrobial and resistant to dust mites and mold. If you opt for innerspring or air topped with fiberfill, be sure to encase it in an allergen-resistant cover to keep irritants at bay.
If you have back pain
Memory foam and/or latexis best for those with back pain since it molds to your body for support.
If you’re concerned about chemicals
Look forfoams certified by CertiPUR-USas well as certifications for other materials like GOLS for latex or Oeko-Tex for other fabrics to feel more confident about your purchase.
If you can’t decide what matters most
Some savvy manufacturers make ahybrid-style mattressthat combines the buoyancy of an innerspring core with the motion isolation of memory foam. It’s a best-of-both-worlds option that can satisfy many partner disputes and sleeping styles.
How to choose a mattress: Tips on how to buy the best mattress for your bed and budget
Take the right steps to buy a better mattress and get yourself a good night’s sleep
Few things come down to personal preference more than choosing a mattress. What can feel like a cloud to one person can be back pain in the making for another. What makes the decision even harder is the sheer range of options, with mattresses available in practically every budget and type you can think of.
From new-age bed-in-a-box mattresses to the more traditional, feels-like-it-weighs-a-tonne pocket-sprung alternatives only found in specialist bed shops, you’ve got a lot of choice. The good news is that certain considerations make the decision-making process easier – read on to find out what they are.
How to choose a mattress
When should I change my mattress?
The National Bed Federation recommends you change your mattress every seven years (although really good ones can last eight to ten years – in some cases even more). They warn that quite often a mattress has worn out before you realise. Indeed, the Sleep Council points out that after seven years, your mattress will have had over 20,000 hours of wear and tear, to go with the half-pint of fluid lost each night and pound of dead skin cells shed each year.
Tell-tale signs that you need a new mattress include finding that you sleep better in other beds, and realising that you don’t sleep as well as you did a year or so ago. If you start to wake up with stiffness or pain it may also be a sign that you need to splash the cash.
A mattress that’s right for you and not worn out will mean you move about less, awaken less and are less disturbed by your partner. You’re also less likely to wake up feeling groggy or with any aches or pains.
How big should my mattress be?
People don’t buy big enough beds, warns the Sleep Council. Many people, for instance, don’t realise that a double bed is only 135cm wide – that’s not even two single beds and nowhere near enough room for two adults to sleep comfortably without disturbing each other. Even moving up one size to a kingsize mattress – at 150cm – can make a big difference.
The bottom line is that if you share your bed, buy as big a bed as you can fit in your bedroom; disturbance from a partner is one of the most common sleeping problems. Also, don’t forget to match the size of your mattress to your bed frame – European mattress sizes, for instance, differ slightly to standard UK sizes.
Should I try before I buy?
Besides being the right size, your mattress should provide the correct support and comfort levels. That’s why it’s important to either try before you buy or get a mattress with a trial period. That means either trying it out in the shop – taking time to lie on it in your natural sleeping position or, if you buy one online, looking for one that comes with a 100-day trial period.
What are the different types of mattresses?
There are five main types:
Pocket sprung– this is the most traditional type of mattress and has a bouncy, springy feel, thanks to the springs which are sewn into individual fabric pockets. These springs – available with different levels of tension – also make the mattress supportive and durable. Pocket-sprung mattresses can be filled with all manner of different materials to suit your needs, including wool for comfort and breathability. Unlike latex and memory foam, they don’t mould to your body or warm you at night.
Our favourite pocket-sprung mattress: Sealy Nostromo
Memory foam– These don’t have much spring, instead moulding to the shape of your body, which means that you’re less likely to disturb your partner when you move at night. They keep their shape well and many of the ‘new generation’ ones arrive ready rolled (easy to fit in your boot) or even vacuum-packed (and delivered to your door). On the downside, they can hold body heat, making you feel hot and clammy – particularly if they are very soft.
Our favourite memory-foam mattress for front sleepers and restless sleepers: Leesa
Price:From £397 (single size) |Buy now from Leesa
Latex– These are similar to memory foam, but with a bit more spring. Natural latex is superior to synthetic latex, and it’s also antimicrobial and resistant against mould and dust mites. There are two types of latex – the heavier, denser Dunlop latex, and Talalay latex, which is lighter and softer. These are also available in the "new generation" style, with the downside that they’re similarly prone to holding body heat. Some latex mattresses claim to last more than 20 years.
Our favourite latex mattress: Dunlopillo Royal Sovereign
Hybrids– these combos are mix-and-match versions of the mattress types. For example, pocket-sprung core (so you get the buoyancy) with a foam top layer (so you get the moulding effect).
Our favourite hybrid mattress: Otty Hybrid
Price:From £350 (single) |Buy now from Otty
Continuous coil or open coil– the first is made from a single looped wire, while the latter is made from single springs fixed together with one wire. While these are the most wallet-friendly of all mattresses, they can be uncomfortable (in the worst cases you actually feel the coils) and the whole thing moves if you move, meaning you are very likely to disturb your partner. Coil mattresses also wear out the quickest, and you might well find you and your partner meet in the middle when the sagging makes you roll inwards.
Should my natural sleeping position influence which mattress I buy?
Yes. Different sleeping positions require different types and amounts of support, so it makes sense to pick your mattress accordingly.
Side sleepers– here you need a mattress with a lot of pressure relief, especially at the points in which your body pushes down the most (you can work these out by imagining yourself lying on a floor). Pocket sprung with a soft top is best, although some memory foam or latex mattresses can also work well. Avoid very firm mattresses, which may cause pain at the key pressure points.
Front sleepers– again a pocket sprung mattress can work well for supporting you in all the right places, whereas with memory foam you might feel restrained. Latex can also work well as there’s more bounce-back.
Back sleepers– any mattress type can work for back sleepers but look for one with good support and some give so your spine stays well aligned while you sleep.
Should I buy a soft, medium or firm mattress?
As a general rule, heavier people tend to prefer firm support, while lighter people find medium or soft mattresses more comfortable. However, you need to consider your sleeping position and personal preference too. In fact, personal preference counts for more than you probably think.
Don’t assume firm mattresses are automatically better for bad backs and older people – that’s a myth (see the link below). And remember that if you and your partner have different preferences, you can get mattresses where each half has a different tension (with or without a zip).
Do some mattresses require a certain type of bed base?
Your bed base can affect both the feel and the performance of your mattress, so always check which type of base the mattress manufacturer recommends you use. Many suggest a base with sprung slats, which provides good support and absorbs movement as you move about in your sleep. A platform base can also support any mattress, providing a firmer foundation. It’s worth noting that a slatted base can cause a mattress to bulge over the years, so you should make sure the slats are no more than 70mm apart to ensure its full longevity.
Do all mattresses need turning?
Most mattresses need to be turned regularly to ensure even wear and tear. Consider this when buying one, particularly as many mattresses are extremely heavy. Some mattresses only need rotating rather than turning, although even that can be a tricky job when it weighs a tonne. You can, however, buy mattresses that don’t need turning or rotating.
How important is the warranty?
Check the warranty, not only for the number of years it lasts, but also for the fine print. Most warranties cover manufacturing defects, which will probably happen quite quickly – for example, a popped spring, or foam not bouncing back. But if something happens and you haven’t used the recommended bed base or have failed to use a mattress protector when they insist you need one, the warranty could be invalid.
How much do I need to spend?
It used to be the case that a cheap mattress was a false economy, but we found that there are exceptions, such as the Ikea Morgedal, which costs just £125 for a single. That’s not to say that mattresses costing thousands of pounds aren’t worth it, though – just make sure to do your research first.
How To Choose a Mattress in 5 Easy Steps – The Definitive Guide
I think you will agree with me when I say that choosing the right mattress is no easy task?
First, you have to dispose of your old one and then go through a tedious process of selecting a new bed that will serve you well for years to come.
And having couple dozen options, manufacturers and handful types and materials doesn’t help, does it?
Luckily for you, you canfind out exactly how to pick a new mattressand most important thing to consider.
Table of contents (use it to jump to a certain section)
If you are in a hurry jump to our conclusion and summary.
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Step 1: Do You Really Need A New Mattress?
Many people change their beds after just a few years, and that’s perfectly fine if you can afford it. The fact is, it’s not a small investment, so take a moment to determine do you really need a new.
Generally, after seven or eight years you will most likely need a new mattress. Of course, it depends on the quality and material (we will cover the types and materials later in this article). And if you feel back or neck pain it might, your bedding is a good place to start.
Here is the average mattress lifespan in years based on material and type:
Step 2: Determine your Budget
A bit of personal backstory here…
Several years back I went to a store and purchased amattress priced at $2500which was not even the most expensive one there. During the first year or so it was perfect, and I felt rejuvenated, and I slept like a baby during that time.
But, something happened.
My new and awesome mattress started sagging and losing support and needless to say my back and neck suffered.
Another two years had passed until I decided to buy a new oneonline at $850and this is the same one I’m using today after three years. Back to reality.
Not anyone will have the budget to walk into a store and buy something for several thousand dollars. Luckily, these days there are manyonline optionsyou can choose from rangingfrom $500 to $1200. There are also Black Friday bed deals (and Cyber Monday) that can result in additional savings as well.
Don’t get confused here. More money does not mean better quality. If you think that some of these online options are somehow worse than in-store ones, you are badly mistaken.Stores tend to inflate the prices as much as 1000%.
Here are some guidelines for you:
- Don’t always go with the cheapest option you find– This is a rule of thumb for most products you buy online. Spending less than $500 for a queen mattress simply because it means lower durability, more toxins and lower sleep quality in general.
- Higher Price does not mean Higher Quality– I bet you know this one, but it’s worth mentioning.
- Go with $1000 range for Queen size– This is usually where you will find the best bang for your buck.
- King / Cal King will cost slightly more– I would increase the budget for King and California King to $1400-1500 as you will have many more choices in that range.
- Now that you have your new budget set, I’m guessing you are asking yourself“what type of mattress is best for me?”Let’s dig in.
Step 3: Choose Your Ideal Type and Material
Ok, so this is where most people will go with their personal preference rather than anything else. If someone says “latex is the best,” I would not take this as final until I read other opinions and test it myself. Here are the most common options you will find these days.
This is the most traditional form of the mattress, and as of late, it’s received a bad rap. However, it is important to understand the potential benefits you could receive from going the traditional route, as well as the reasons why this option has lost its luster.
An obvious pro to purchasing a bed with springs is that it is one of themost affordable optionson the market, due in part to a decrease in demand and also in part to so many other options that have the potential to be more comfortable andbetter for overall health.
Another consideration is that these mattresses are known to last for decades. Spring beds are exceedingly durable. Being that the springs are typically made from different types of metals, they tend to keep their shape for many years.
Additionally, being that they are the most traditional style, they are also the most familiar. People recognize and understand what they are getting when they purchase a bed with springs. There is no guess work with this option like there may be with memory foam or other newer options.
The last notable advantage to this style of bed is that, because of the amount of space located between the springs, this option allows for the most circulation of air. This flow helps to keep the temperature down, allowing for acooler night’s sleep.
Example of the coil mattresses structure
Ideal for: People who want strong support, durability, cooling and great bounce. It also has an excellent edge support.
These mattresses are known for their fantastic cooling and comfort. Latex has a good bounce, responsiveness too.
Authentic latex foam is made from a tree called Hevea-Brasilenis tree, specifically from the white liquid extracted from it. Latex is harvested, and when the excess water is removed, you end up with raw material fantastic for various products, bedding systems being one of them.
It’s also great because you don’t get off-gassing and odors like with memory foam products.
Example of the latex bed structure
There are two types to choose from:
- Natural – More healthy option and environment-friendly. But it’s also more expensive so expect to pay around $2000 for a good natural latex mattress
- Synthetic – Made by mixing synthetic polymers with natural tree sap. Less expensive of course but less healthy in turn.
Latex is best forpeople who want good cooling, responsiveness, and bounce.
Memory foam was first developed in the 1970’s by NASA as a safety material for seat cushions to protect pilots and passengers during plane crashes. Since then, the material has blossomed into the burgeoning product employed by virtually every mattress maker.
Example of the memory foam bed structure
Why has it become so popular? The answer is that it is said to provide superior comfort and support for the entire body. Anyone who’s pressed their hand into this material immediately understands its appeal.
Memory foam uniquelyconforms to every inch of the bodythat is pressed into it. When you lift your body from the material, it slowly regains its original form, essentially making it perfect for every body type and every sleeper.
Another unique property of memory foam is itsmotion isolationcapabilities. You may have seen those commercials with a lady jumping on a mattress with a glass of wine at the other end. Miraculously, the wine doesn’t spill.
The wine doesn’t spill because the energy from jumping is not transferred to other parts of the mattress. This translates to better sleeping for partners, because the tossing and turning of one does not affect the other, a feature that is not found among any of the other options on the market.
One of the most common issues that people experience is that thematerial retains heat. If you are someone who requires a cool night sleep, the memory foam option may not be the best choice for you. While the manufacturers are coming up with new and better ways to keep the heat down, the jury is still out as to whether or not they’ve succeeded.
Ideal For: People who want body shaping, contour, pressure relief and good support.
The hybrid mattress is an unusual combination of both traditional spring and memory foam. Providing the best of both worlds, this option offers the contouring and lack of motion transfer of foam coupled with the support of springs.
Structure of the hybrid bed- example
The term “hybrid” is very loosely used to describe the combination we just mentioned. However, the amount of foam for these beds varies widely depending on the level of firmness desired. Some options employ less than 1.5 inches of foam, lending to the fact that they more closely resemble that of a traditional spring bed rather than the more modern memory foam option.
To find the most optimal version of a hybrid, it’s best to choose the one that hasclose to 3 inches of foam. Anything above that, and you might as well forego the springs all together.
One negative aspect of these beds is the fact that they are one of the more expensive offerings you’ll find. Purchasing one of these could put you in the multiples of thousands of dollars, a significant investment, but a worthy one if you plan to enjoy it long term.
Good For: People who want best all around product with good support, bounce, cooling and pressure relief.
And now the three less common but still important types:
These beds offer a unique ability tochange the sleeping positionbased on your preference. You can elevate the head or feet giving you more options than traditional products. These beds provide extra comfort for people suffering from chronic lumbar pain or just want to be slightly elevated to prevent snoring. They do look ugly though most of the time.
Perfect for: People with certain medical conditions like snoring, older sleepers and people with lower back pain.
These are usually coil, latex or memory foam beds buthave a layer of soft material sewn into the cover to make it more comfortable. These are also considered more luxurious and usually cost a bit more than standard options.
Good for: People who prefer more padding and softer feel.
A rather weird option, but sometimes very fun especially if you love waterbed sex. Some of the most common reasons for opting in for this type is a backache and arthritis relief. These beds are also great for people with allergies.
Good for: People with back pain, arthritis and allergies and anyone looking for something less conventional.
Step 4. Determine your Ideal Sleeping Position and Firmness
Most of us have a unique way of sleeping every night. No matter if you sleep on your side, stomach or back, or even if you switch throughout the night you will have to consider and choose the ideal type of bed based on your preference. So, take a moment and think, what’s your favorite sleeping position because that determines theideal firmness of your new bed.
The most important factor for back sleepers is firmness and support. If your mattress is too soft, your body will sink and cause back pain. You will need one that’s soft enough to provide pressure relief but still provides enough support. On a scale of 1-10, the perfect range would be 5-7.
According to The Better Sleep Council, only roughly 15% of people are back sleepers. Being that you are unique, it’ll take a special mattress to offer you the night’s rest you are seeking.
It’s the consensus that memory foam mattresses provide the highest level of comfort for people who sleep on their backs. This is because it provides adequate contouring to the spine while maintaining a longevity of proper support and structure.
Many people who often sleep on their sides, endure discomfort and pain in their hip joints and shoulders.It’s usually due to unsuitable bedding.
It’s advised that you go with a bit softer option than for a back sleeper as these they provide for an equal distribution of pressure while you’re sleeping on your side.
Ideally, you want to choose a mattress with firmness level of 3-6 (out of 10) which falls undermedium soft.
This is considered the worst sleeping position. The most important thing for stomach sleepers is to provide equal distribution of weight across your entire body as your torso will apply most pressure. If the mattress is too soft (not enough support) your spine will curve causing back pain.
You will want to look for something in 5-7 range, which falls undermedium to medium-firm. The good thing is that most options are in this range.
Step 5. Consider your Weight as a Factor
On first glance, you might be asking yourself,what does weight have to do with choosing a mattress?
The truth is, support, hug, feel, sinkage and even cooling will depend on your body type and weight. Another harsh truth is that there is no “best” mattress for every one of us.
Let’s take a look at the following guidelines how to choose an ideal firmness level based on your weight:
- Light (Less than 150 pounds)– You will want a medium firm bed around5-6 firmnessthat doesn’t sink too much. If you are lighter than 150 lbs, you can even go with four since most beds are rated for average sleeper of 180lbs.
If you want a softer feel or if you are a side sleeper you can opt for 3-4 firmness range. These are soft orplush options.
- Average (150-200 pounds)– Like with the previous category you can choose industrystandard of 5-7, providing perfect support and comfort.
Some sleepers will want to opt for more softer beds, and that’s perfectly fine, just go with 3-5 range if you sleep on your side and you are all set.
- Heavier Person (200+ pounds)– Heavier people can cause more pressure points on their back, and ideally you want to choose a firmer option to adjust for sinkage. If you are having problems with cooling, you ought to consider coil mattresses.
Ideally, choose a thick (12”) or thicker bed. This will provide good support and soft feel.
How to Select the Right Mattress for You – Summary
Hopefully, you have finished reading the above but even if you haven’t these five steps will ease your task of choosing a mattress for you or your family.
- Do you need a new mattress?– If your current bed is over eight years old, I’d consider replacing it no matter what. If you are having trouble sleeping or experiencing back or neck pain I would start searching.
- What is your current budget?– Don’t go with the cheapest option you find. Aim for $700-1200 range for a standard queen size bed (see top options). Of course, if you are buying smaller ones for your kid or teenager, the price will be considerably lower. Don’t spend less than $400 though. The quality drop-off is huge.
- What are your ideal type and material?– This is hands down the biggest challenge. Memory foam offers good contour and hug but sleeps hot. Traditional coil ones provide good bounce and cooling and are generally more durable. I recommend foam or hybrid to most people except for heavier sleepers who should opt for innerspring.
- What’s your preferred sleeping position?– This determines your ideal firmness level. On a scale of 1-10 (one being soft and ten being very firm), back sleepers will want to opt for a medium firm (4-7), side sleepers for more softer option (3-5) and stomach sleepers will need more support to avoid sinking (6-7 range).
- What’s your body type and weight?– Lighter sleepers (150lbs or less) will want a 1-2 points softer mattress to get the same feel like an average (180lbs) person. On the other hand, if you are a heavier person you will need more support and thicker mattress to support the weight.
Author: Sleep Advisor
Our team covers as many areas of expertise as we do time zones, but none of us started here as a so-called expert on sleep. What we do share is a willingness to ask questions (lots of them), seek experts, and dig deep into conventional wisdom to see if maybe there might be a better path towards healthy living. We apply what we learn not only to our company culture, but also how we deliver information to our over 12.7M readers.
Sleep research is changing all the time, and we are 100% dedicated to keeping up with breakthroughs and innovations. You live better if you sleep better. Whatever has brought you here, we wish you luck on your journey towards better rest.
How to Pick Your Perfect Mattress
Ready for a new mattress? Here’s how to find the one that suits you best.
Getting a good night’s sleep depends on a lot of different factors — comfort, stress level, room temperature вЂ“ but to get it right, you’ve got to start with the basics and your mattress is the first building block to a restful slumber.
If you’re in the market for a new mattress and have recently taken a stroll down the aisle of a bedding store, you know that there is a dizzying array from which to choose. How do you know which mattress is best for you?
To start, says Arya Nick Shamie, MD, associate professor of orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center, the mattress needs to support your body in a neutral position, one in which your spine has a nice curvature and your buttocks, heels, shoulders, and head are supported in proper alignment
"If the mattress is too firm, it will push on those main pressure points and take you out of alignment," Shamie tells WebMD. "If it’s too soft, those pressure points won’t be properly supported, so your whole body flops back." Both of these scenarios can lead to an achy morning.
Generally speaking, one type or brand of bed isn’t better than another, says Michael Breus, PhD, a WebMD sleep expert and author ofBeauty Sleep: Look Younger, Lose Weight, and Feel Great Through Better Sleep.But he does find that a firmer bed seems to be better for people with lower back pain.
In fact, researchers in Spain studied people with long-term back pain and found that on a 10-point hard-to-soft scale people who slept on a medium-to-firm mattress (5.6 on the scale) had less back pain than those who slept on a softer mattress.
Is It Time for a New Mattress?
How do you know if the bed you’re sleeping on is the right one?
"If you wake up in the morning and have some low back pain and can stretch and get rid of it in 15 or 30 minutes, that means you’re on an inappropriate mattress for you," Breus says.
The right mattress, on the other hand, is one on which you feel no pressure, almost like you’re floating in air, Breus says.
If you’re looking for a new mattress, experts suggest testing it in the store and laying down on each mattress in the position in which you normally sleep. Breus suggests spending at least 10 to 15 minutes on the bed. And, bring your own pillow! The more you can replicate the way you’ll be sleeping on the mattress once you get it home, the better your chances of picking the right one.
Innerspring mattresses are still by far the most widely used. They support you with coil springs, and in most built today, each coil is individually enclosed. This helps the bed weather years of use and prevents the coils from popping out of the mattress. On top of the coils are a wide variety of materials added for comfort, from pillow to latex to memory foam. It’s all a matter of preference.
Salespeople may try to sell you on the idea that more coils mean more comfort, but that’s not necessarily true, Breus and Shamie say.
"You don’t really need a coil count above 390," Breus says. Beyond that, the difference in feel is so small it would be difficult to notice.
Pros:There are plenty of innerspring mattresses on the market from which to choose. They range in firmness, the fluffiness of the pillow top, and in price to fit nearly every preference and pocket book.
Cons:There’s no direct relationship in most cases between price and comfort, but Shamie suggests steering clear of the cheapest innerspring mattress. If there aren’t enough springs and cushion to offer you proper support, he says, you’ll likely wake up with an aching back.
Conditions:For someone who is very overweight, spring mattresses may offer a firmer support, making them easier to get in and out of, Breus says. Firmer versions are good for people with back pain. But spring-based mattresses can be comfortable for almost anyone.
Memory Foam Mattresses
Memory foam mattresses are growing in popularity. They are made of layers of different densities of foam that respond to weight and temperature, and are known for comfort because they contour to the specific shape of your body. Memory foam toppers are also available.
Pros:By molding to the shape of your body as your weight shifts through the night, memory foam reduces pressure points, and relieves pain. Memory foam also absorbs movement, so if you sleep with a partner, you’re not likely to be disturbed by his tossing and turning.
Cons:One of the biggest complaints with memory foam mattresses is that because these mattresses are temperature sensitive, softening and molding with your body heat, they can make you feel extremely hot during the night. Breus also says memory foam mattresses have been known to emit an unpleasant chemical smell.
Conditions:"If you have a hard time getting comfortable, if you have chronic fatigue, or some type of muscle pain, then a memory foam mattress would work well for you, assuming you don’t have temperature issues," Breus says.
Latex mattresses are made from either natural or synthetic rubber, and are known for providing a very firm, bouncy support that is uniform throughout the bed.
Pros:"Quite frankly, I think one of the best materials is latex," Breus says. He likes it for being very firm and supportive, but also for providing comfort similar to memory foam. Unlike the memory foam mattresses, however, Breus says latex pushes back, ultimately providing more support.
Cons:If you don’t like the feel of a firm mattress, latex is probably not the right choice for you.
Conditions: Either a latex mattress or latex mattress topper is great for relieving back pain because they offer the best combination of comfort and support, Breus says.
We’re not talking about the blow-up mattresses you put your holiday guests on for a few days. Higher-end air beds look like a standard innerspring mattress, but use air-filled chambers instead of coils, and are covered by a foam layer on top.
Shamie notes that air beds have long been used for patients with spinal cord injuries who are lying in bed for a long time. They can be adjusted so they don’t continue to press on the same areas of the body, which helps to avoid skin breakdown in patients who can’t move.
Pros:"Couples who have dramatic differences in their individual preference for comfort and firmness levels might do very well with an air mattress," Breus says. The reason is that the firmness of each side of the bed can be altered. If you like it firmer than your partner, these beds can be adjusted for that.
Like latex and memory foam, you can also find air toppers for your mattress.
Cons:Shamie says people sometimes fail to make their air bed firm enough and wake up with back aches. Less sophisticated air mattresses also pop up on one side when you sit on the opposite end. For that reason Breus says, you want multiple chambers so that doesn’t occur.
Conditions:These beds are particularly useful when sleeping partners have different needs. If one of you has a bad back, one side can be made firmer than the other to provide greater support.
These beds are able to bend and elevate at varying angles. As a result, the mattress has to be flexible. Different types of mattresses can be used on an adjustable bed вЂ“ memory foam, latex, or air, for example. Spring mattresses are more difficult to use, however, because the springs don’t handle the bending well.
Pros:For people who have difficulty getting in and out of bed or who like to watch television in bed, Shamie says, adjustables can make life easier by moving you closer to where you need to be.
Conditions:If you suffer from sleep apnea, sleeping flat can make the condition worse by cutting off airways and causing the tongue to fall into the back of the throat, Shamie says. People who experience acid reflux can also benefit by sleeping in a bed that elevates their upper body.
Shamie also suggests adjustable beds for people with hip or back pain who have a hard time moving from a lying position to sitting up or standing.
When you have guests staying for a night or two, sofa beds come in handy. The mattresses in these beds tend to be very thin so they are flexible enough to fold and collapse into the couch. It’s a great convenience to have a sofa bed, but you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who raves about their comfort.
Pros:Sofa beds are convenient, especially if you have limited space. But from a health perspective, Shamie and Breus don’t see any advantages.
Cons:A night or two on a sofa bed is OK. But "this is probably the worst kind of bed you can sleep on long-term," Shamie says. The mattresses used in most sofa beds are very thin and the springs quite weak. "It really leads to an uncomfortable situation," Shamie says.
If you’re really tight for space and need a bed that folds up, Shamie says that futons, while not the most supportive, are better for your back than the typical sofa bed.
Conditions:There are no conditions for which a sofa bed will be helpful, according to the experts. But if you have a bad back or hips, these beds will be especially uncomfortable.
When to Part With Your Old Mattress
Today’s mattresses are made to last a lifetime. But you probably shouldn’t plan on keeping yours for that long. Our bodies change over time, Breus says, so the mattress that was once a joy to sleep on may no longer feel comfortable a few years down the road.
In addition, mattresses collect dust mites, fungus, and other germs that can exacerbate allergies and impact your sleep patterns. After 10 to 15 years, it’s time to think about buying a new bed.
Ultimately, the experts say that the best bed for you is the one that feels most comfortable. And remember, Shamie says, "There’s no mattress that’s going to save your body when you get only five hours of sleep." In order to feel your best, you need to get enough restвЂ¦ no matter what type of mattress you’re sleeping on.
Arya Nick Shamie, MD, associate professor of orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery, Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center.
Breus, Michael, PhD, WebMD sleep expert and author ofBeauty Sleep: Look Younger, Lose Weight, and Feel Great Through Better Sleep
Kovacs, FM.The Lancet, November 2003; vol 362: pp 1599-1604.
Mattress Buying Guide: How to Choose the Right Bed
Finding a new mattress can be a confusing, frustrating process. Choosing a mattress based on material composition, price, and other factors requires extensive product research — no easy task, considering hundreds of brands and retailers offer new mattresses online and in brick-and-mortar stores.
This guide will explore the following:
- Signs it may be time to replace your mattress
- Similarities and differences between memory foam, latex, innerspring, hybrid, and airbed mattresses
- Key performance and purchasing factors to consider
- Potential places to find a new, high-quality mattress
- Common myths about mattress buying and performance
- A final checklist for mattress shoppers
When Should You Replace Your Mattress?
You should consider buying a new mattress if:
- The mattress is older than seven years
- You toss and turn or wake up with aches and pains
- The mattress has significant sagging or deep indentations
- Your body has changed since you bought the mattress
- You want an upgrade
A lot of factors affect the lifespan of a mattress. Some mattress types, such as latex and airbed mattresses, are more durable than others and less susceptible to wear and tear. Sleep habits are another consideration, as a mattress that is used night after night will deteriorate quicker than one that is used less frequently. However, the general rule of thumb is that you should replace your mattress every seven years — regardless of how long the bed is covered under warranty.
Some mattresses provide better overall support than others, regardless of their age. If you wake up in pain or begin to develop pressure points that didn’t previously bother you, then you should consider replacing your current mattress — even if it is fairly new.
All mattresses are prone to sagging in the sleep surface after enough use. Indentations may also develop in places where sleepers have higher concentrations of weight. Excessive sagging and deep indentations both undermine mattress support, and can cause discomfort for sleepers.
Excessive weight gain or loss can change how your mattress feels, since factors like preferred firmness and support often depend on body weight. Medical diagnoses are another point to consider, especially for sleep disorders that affect certain individuals more disproportionately. For example, sleep apnea primarily affects back sleepers (since they are more prone to snoring); a mattress designed for back sleepers may no longer be suitable if the owner has been diagnosed with sleep apnea.
Whether you want to replace the mattress you’ve used since college or a more expensive bed seems more suitable than your current model — sometimes it’s good to upgrade your mattress even if it’s not needed. Not surprisingly, roughly two-thirds of mattress owners report higher satisfaction rates after replacing their old mattress with a more expensive model.
How to Choose a New Mattress
When it comes to choosing a new mattress, there are two types of things you must consider: (1) what type of sleeper you are, and (2) the basic qualities of mattresses available on the market. By considering your unique sleeping qualities within the context of what types mattresses are available, you’ll be able to narrow your options significantly.
Please note that although we’ve found that certain mattress types tend work better with certain types of sleepers, mattress preference is ultimately subjective. Consequently, we recommend going to a local store and trying different mattress types before purchasing online.
What type of sleeper are you?
Everyone has their favorite position to sleep in. Different positions have different support requirements, so your ideal mattress will depend on whether you are a side, back, stomach, or combination sleeper.
In general, stomach and back sleepers prefer firmer, less conforming mattresses while softer or conforming mattresses are perfect for supporting side sleepers.
Heavier sleepers tend to sleep hotter (see below) and experience more sinkage on soft mattresses than their lighter peers. Most lighter sleepers tend to choose softer mattresses while heavier sleepers prefer firmer options. Supportive, less-conforming mattresses like innerspring and hybrid choices are also popular among heavy sleepers.
If you have a different preference than what is suggested for your weight group, make sure your mattress provides adequate support. For example, a heavier side-sleeper might choose a latex or foam mattress to avoid problems with pressure points. This is perfectly fine so long as it provides support and is not too difficult to move on.
Do you sleep cool or hot?
Some mattresses sleep warmer than others. For example, soft, conforming mattresses allow less airflow around your body and trap more heat than firmer options. Mattress material can also retain heat, like foam mattresses with solid support cores.
If temperature regulation is an important factor for you, consider choosing a hybrid or innerspring mattress style. These allow for more air circulation and sleep considerably cooler.
Mattress Qualities to Consider
Five material types make up the bulk of mattresses on the market. These include:
|Innerspring||Steel coils support a comfort layer of polyfoam|
|Foam||Either pure polyfoam or a combination of supportive polyfoam and memory foam|
|Latex||Latex or high-density polyfoam support core with a natural or synthetic latex comfort layer|
|Hybrid||2+ inches of memory foam or latex for comfort and pocketed coils for support|
|Airbed||Air chambers are inflated or deflated to reach the desired firmness|
To learn more about these materials, see the What Types of Mattresses Are Available? section below.
Most mattresses are available in six standard sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full/Double, Queen, King, and California King. Some models come in additional sizes (such as Full XL or Short Queen). They may also be available in ‘split’ Queen, King, or California sizes, which include two separate mattresses that can be pushed together or separated.
|Mattress Size||Dimensions||Comfortably Fits|
|Twin||38” x 75”||1 person|
|Twin XL||38” x 80”||1 person|
|Full/Double||54” x 75”||1 person with a pet, 2 adults, no pets|
|Queen||60” x 80”||1 person with a pet, 2 adults, no pets|
|King||76” x 80”||1 adult with pet(s) or child(ren), 2 adults with a large pet or child|
|California King||72” x 84”||1 adult with multiple pets or children, 2 adults with multiple pets or children|
Mattress firmness preferences are often tied to two factors: sleep position and sleeper weight. Those who sleep on their side typically prefer softer mattresses, while back and stomach sleepers tend to feel most comfortable on ‘medium firm’ or firmer mattresses. In terms of weight, lighter individuals (less than 130 pounds) may require softer mattresses in order to experience more conforming and pressure relief; heavier individuals (more than 230 pounds), on the other hand, often need firmer mattresses to prevent excessive sinkage. For couples with contrasting firmness preferences, a dual-firmness mattress with different firmness settings on each side may be the most suitable option.
|SCALE RATING||FIRMNESS LEVEL||CHARACTERISTICS|
|1||Extra Soft||The sleep surface will sink very deeply and conform closely|
|2-3||Soft||The sleep surface sinks and conforms to a significant extent|
|4||Medium Soft||The surface sinks somewhat and conforms fairly closely|
|5||Medium||The surface does not sink much and will conform to a noticeable extent|
|6||Medium Firm||The surface sinks very little and conforms to a moderate extent|
|7-8||Firm||The surface remains even with little to no sinking; conforming is minimal|
|9-10||Extra Firm||No sinkage and little to no conforming|
|WEIGHT GROUP||WEIGHT RANGE||TYPICAL NEEDS AND PREFERENCES||IDEAL FIRMNESS SETTINGS FOR MOST|
|Light||Less than 130 lbs.||This weight group tends to prefer softer mattresses that conform very closely||‘Soft’ (2-3)|
‘Medium Soft (4)
|Average||130 to 230 lbs.||This weight group often prefers beds that offer a balance of soft padding and firm support||‘Medium Soft’ (4)|
‘Medium Firm’ (6)
|Heavy||More than 230 lbs.||This weight group usually prefers firmer beds with strong support and minimal conforming||‘Medium Firm’ (6)|
‘Extra Firm’ (9)
Most mattresses measure at least 10 inches (10″) in height, though mattress thickness varies from less than five inches (5″) to more than 15 inches (15″). Your body weight may affect your preferred thickness. Lighter individuals may prefer shorter beds, whereas heavier people tend to feel more comfortable on thicker beds.
How Much Should You Spend on a New Mattress?
Mattress types vary significantly in terms of price-point. Generally speaking, foam and innerspring models have lower prices than latex, hybrid, and airbed models. However, this varies significantly by brand and model. The graph below lists the average price for different types of Queen-size mattresses.
Mattress Performance Factors
When our research team reviews a mattress, we focus on nine performance factors. By using these to judge mattress quality, we are able to gain a well-rounded perspective on each mattress’s benefits and drawbacks.
What Types of Mattresses Are Available?
Next, let’s look at the most common mattress types. Every mattress on the market is unique, but the vast majority of models fall into one of the following five categories.
Construction:These are all-foam mattresses. The comfort system features at least one layer of polyfoam and/or memory foam, while the support core is almost always made from high-density polyfoam.
Factors to consider:Use the following factors to determine which foam mattress is most suitable for you.
- Type of foam.Memory foam conforms closer than polyfoam to help align the sleeper’s spine and alleviate pressure points.
- Foam density.This refers to how well the mattress will support your body weight, and is measured in pounds per cubic foot (PCF). Low-density foam tends to degrade quickly, but medium- and high-density foams have a reasonable lifespan.
- Indentation load deflection (ILD).ILD specifically refers to how much weight is needed to compress the sleep surface by four inches (4″). The higher the ILD, the firmer the mattress; most foams range in ILD from 8 to 21.
Average Lifespan:7 years
Average Price (Queen):$1,044.16
- Low average price-point and wide availability
- Close conforming and above-average pain and pressure relief
- Good motion isolation
- No noise
- High off-gassing (odor) potential
- Sleeps hot for some
- Susceptible to early sagging and indentations
- Weak edge support
Construction:The comfort layer features at least one layer of latex, a substance extracted from the sap of rubber trees; the latex may be mostly natural or synthetic. The support core may also be made from latex or, alternatively, high-density polyfoam (similar to foam/memory foam mattresses).
Factors to Consider:Use the following factors to determine which latex mattress is most suitable for you.
- Latex processing method.Two processes are used to produce latex used in mattresses. The Dunlop process results in more sediment on the bottom and fluffier foam on top; Dunlop latex is more bottom-heavy as a result, and often used in support cores. The Talalay process results in a more homogenous mixture of light, frothy foam; Talalay latex is often used in comfort layers. However, either latex process may be used for any given layer of the mattress — and this may affect how it feels.
- Indentation load deflection (ILD).Like foam mattresses, latex mattresses are often assigned ILD scores. The scale is slightly different for latex; an ILD rating of 16 or below is considered the softest, while a rating of 39 or higher is considered the firmest.
Average Lifespan:8.5 years
Average Price (Queen):$1,970.51
- Longer-than-average lifespan
- Notable conforming with some pain and pressure relief
- Good motion isolation and no noise
- Sleeps cooler than foam
- High average price-point
- Off-gassing (odor) potential
- Weak edge support
- Quite heavy and difficult to move
Construction:Most innerspring mattresses have one or two layers of polyfoam in the comfort system. The support core features evenly spaced steel coils, as well as a base polyfoam layer in most cases.
Factors to Consider:Use the following factors to determine which innerspring mattress is most suitable for you.
- Coil type.There are four coil types commonly used in innerspring mattresses.
Coil Type Description Bonnell coils Hourglass-shaped and normally found in cheaper innersprings. Offset coils Hourglass-shaped (like bonnell coils), but their bottom is straightened to create a hinging effect for more even support. They are more durable than other mattress coils, and usually found in more expensive models. Continuous wire coils These coils form rows of single steel wires that are joined at the sides to create a hinging motion (similar to offset coils). These coils are durable, but the mattresses do not conform as closely as other innersprings. Pocketed coils Usually found in hybrids, but some innersprings feature them as well. Each coil is wrapped in fabric or cloth. This minimizes noise and reduces more motion transfer than other innerspring coils.
- Coil gauge.The gauge, or thickness, of innerspring coils can be used to determine how durable the mattress is. Gauge is measured on a scale of 12 (thickest) to 18 (thinnest). Pocketed coils are usually the highest-gauge and offset coils are the lowest; bonnell and continuous wire coils tend to vary in terms of gauge.
- Pitch.This refers to the angle of the coils in relation to the sleep surface, and can be used to determine how firm the mattress feels.
- Coil count.Coil count is tricky because it may not necessarily affect mattress comfort or longevity. The innersprings with coil counts ranging from 600 to 1,000 have the highest satisfaction ratings, but models with more than 1,000 coils are not linked to increased levels of comfort, support, or performance.
Average Lifespan:5.5 years
Average Price (Queen):$1,037.97
- Low average price-point and wide availability
- More responsive and better for sex
- Sleeps cooler due to better airflow in support core
- Strong edge support
- Below-average lifespan
- Minimal conforming and pressure relief
- High noise potential
- Little to no motion isolation
Construction:By definition, a true hybrid is constructed with at least two inches (2″) of memory foam and/or latex in the comfort system and a pocketed coil support core. Other models may be listed as hybrids, but this label is technically inaccurate.
Factors to Consider:Use the following factors to determine which hybrid mattress is most suitable for you.
- Density.This is an important consideration for mattresses with polyfoam or memory foam layers.
- Indentation load deflection (ILD).This is an important consideration for all hybrids, but keep in mind that ILD scales for foam and latex are different.
- Gauge.Most pocketed coils are high-gauge (thin), but specifications and longevity expectations vary by model.
- Coil count.As with innersprings, coil count is good to note but may not play a significant role in mattress comfort, support, or performance.
Average Lifespan:6 years
Average Price (Queen):$2,076.70
- Closer conforming and more pain/pressure relief than innersprings
- Better-than-average motion isolation
- Good responsiveness for sex
- Strong edge support
- High average price-point
- Shorter-than-average lifespan
- Odor and heat retention issues in memory foam models
- Noise potential
Construction:Most airbeds either have thin foam comfort layers or no comfort layer at all. The support core features at least two individual air chambers that can be inflated or deflated to adjust mattress firmness and support.
Factors to Consider:Use the following factors to determine which airbed mattress is most suitable for you.
- Customization range.All airbeds offer adjustable firmness and support to some degree, but certain models offer a wider range of options than others. The number of air chambers can affect customization level; most airbeds have two to four chambers, but have more.
- Controls.Most airbeds made today are designed for remote controls, but some models may need to be manually adjusted.
- Trench.Many airbed owners report a noticeable trench bisecting the center of the bed, which can compromise support and cause discomfort; some models have wider/deeper trenches compared to others.
Average Lifespan:8 years
Average Price (Queen):$2,282.75
- Long lifespan when maintained
- Customizable firmness and support
- Close conforming and above-average pain and pressure relief
- Suitable for all sleep positions and sleeper body types
- High average price-point and low availability
- Susceptible to breakdowns and malfunctions with costly repairs
- Sleeps too hot or too cool for some
- High noise potential
Mattress Type Comparison
The table below summarizes the key differences and similarities between the five mattress types described above.
|Foam||HD polyfoam support core with a memory foam comfort layer||– Affordable|
– Motion isolation
– Conforms closely
|– More likely to have off-gassing/odor issues|
– Can be difficult to move on
|Latex||HD polyfoam, latex, or coil support for a latex comfort layer||– Durable|
– Natural latex is available
– Conforms to the body
|– More expensive, less available|
– Can have an odor
– Poor support at the edges
|Innerspring||A coil support core (offset, pocketed, continuous or bonnel) with a memory foam or polyfoam comfort layer||– Popular and widely available|
– Wide range of firmness options
|– Shorter lifespan|
– Poor motion isolation
– Springs can become noisy over time
|Hybrid||A pocketed coil support core and thick comfort layer of memory foam, polyfoam, or unique materials||– Conforms and supports well|
– Wide range of firmness options
– Good temperature regulation
|– More expensive than almost all other options|
– Off-gassing can be an issue
|Airbed||Adjustable air chambers; any comfort layer is usually polyfoam or memory foam||– Easy to adjust to your needs|
– Can relieve muscle pain
– Split-bed options available
|– The most expensive mattress type|
– Costly to repair
– Noisier than other mattresses
Important Buying Considerations for Mattress Shoppers
Once you’ve settled on a mattress type, the next steps are purchasing and ordering your new bed. All mattress brands and retailers have different policies, so it’s important to inquire about the following points prior to placing your order:
Shipping and Delivery
- Where can mattresses be shipped?Many mattress brands offer free shipping in the contiguous U.S., but customers in Alaska, Hawaii, and overseas U.S. territories must pay extra shipping charges. A small number of mattress companies offer free shipping anywhere in the U.S. In some cases, all customers in the U.S. must pay a delivery fee.
- What is the wait time for a mattress delivery?Brands that offer free delivery typically ship mattresses through third-party courier services like UPS or FedEx; the expected wait time is three to seven business days in most cases, but will be longer for remote locations or addresses outside the contiguous U.S. Expedited delivery may be available for an extra charge as well.
- Do mattress brands offer in-home assembly?Some brands offer a service known as ‘White Glove delivery,’ which includes in-home mattress assembly and packaging waste disposal. This service may be offered for free, but in most cases it costs at least $100 on top of the purchase price.
- Can you get your old mattress removed?Old mattress removal may be available from mattress companies that deliver with their own couriers, but brands that use UPS or FedEx rarely offer this option.
Sleep Trial and Returns
- What is a sleep trial?The vast majority of mattress brands and retailers offer ‘sleep trials,’ which allow customers to test out the mattress for a certain length of time and return the bed for a refund if they are dissatisfied.
- How long do sleep trials last?The average sleep trial spans 90 nights in length, but this varies from brand to brand and trials may range from 30 to 365 nights. A small number of mattress sellers offer lifetime returns, which invalidates the need for a dedicated sleep trial
- Can you return the mattress at any point during the sleep trial?Mattress owners typically need at least 30 nights before the bed adjusts to their bodies. For this reason, many sleep trials include a mandatory break-in period of 30 nights or longer; customers will not be able to return the mattress for a refund until this period elapses.
- Are exchanges available with sleep trials?In addition to returns, some sleep trials offer exchanges. Customers may exchange their mattress for a model of a different construction, size, firmness, or a combination of the three.
- Is returning a mattress free?Returns may be completely free, but in some cases purchasers need to pay a return fee and/or cover the shipping and handling costs of the return.
- What happens to returned mattresses?Returned mattresses are rarely resold or reused. Most brands will either recycle used mattresses or donate them to charity.
- How long do mattress warranties last?With few exceptions, mattresses sold today come with some sort of product warranty. Most mattress warranties span at least 10 years in length. However, this may range from one or two years to lifetime coverage.
- What is covered under a mattress warranty?Mattress warranties protect against certain defects, such as excessive sagging/indentations or manufacturing flaws in the mattress layers or cover. Warranties never cover normal wear and tear, physical damage, or changes in the owner’s mattress preferences.
- Can the mattress warranty be voided?Most warranties stipulate that coverage will be voided if the mattress is not used with a proper support system. The exact specifications will be listed to ensure owners know how to support their mattress.
- How much do defective mattress repairs and replacements cost?A key provision of mattress warranties is nonprorated vs. prorated coverage. During the nonprorated period, owners may repair or replace a defective mattress at little to no charge. During the prorated period, owners must pay a percentage of the original mattress price in order to repair or replace a defective model. Prorated charges typically increase with each successive year. Most 10-year warranties are entirely nonprorated; longer warranties tend to include nonprorated and prorated coverage.
- What does ‘limited warranty’ mean?Most mattress warranties are limited, meaning the coverage exclusively extends to the original owner provided they bought the mattress from the manufacturer or an authorized brand retailer. Anyone who buys or acquires the mattress from the original owner or a non-authorized retailer will not qualify for warranty coverage.
Where Can You Buy a New Mattress?
In today’s marketplace, mattress shoppers can choose from a wide range of buying venues. Those who wish to purchase a mattress online can choose from the following two options:
- The mattress manufacturer’s website
- Online retailers
Buying a mattress directly from the source often results in the most savings, and many mattress brand websites feature live chat tools that allow shoppers to communicate directly with customer service personnel. Buying a mattress from the brand also ensures a full sleep trial and warranty coverage.
Retail sites like Amazon.com carry a wide selection of mattresses, including mattresses from other brands and models that are exclusive to the site. Mattress prices may be lower, or at least on par with the brand’s listed price-point. However, customers may not qualify for the brand’s full sleep trial if they order through these sites; Amazon.com, for instance, offers a standard 30-night sleep trial in these instances. Ordering through these sites usually does not affect warranty coverage as long as the site is an authorized retailer, but shoppers should still inquire to ensure they receive coverage.
Pros/Cons of Buying a Mattress Online
- Lower prices
- Convenient ordering/no pick-up required
- Full sleep trial and warranty coverage
- Access to detailed product specs and customer service personnel
- No testing mattress before buying
- Shipping fees for some
- Limited delivery outside contiguous U.S.
- Potentially long wait times
Additionally, mattress shoppers may find a bed at the following brick-and-mortar locations:
- Mattress specialty stores
- Big box retailers
- Furniture and department stores
These large brick-and-mortar establishments typically carry the widest selection of mattress models and bedding materials. They may be privately owned stores or part of larger chains. If you visit a chain-based specialty store, you may be able to negotiate the price of a new mattress to some extent. Mattress specialty stores often offer delivery and in-home assembly services.
Retail chains like Costco, Walmart, and Target often carry a limited supply of mattresses on hand. Some allow shoppers to purchase a mattress on the company’s website and then pick it up at the nearest store location. Others offer mattress delivery services. Big box retailers are unlikely to provide dedicated sales staff that specialize in mattresses.
Like big box retailers, larger furniture and department store chains may carry a small selection of mattresses in brick-and-mortar locations. They may or may not have dedicated sales staff that specialize in mattress sales, depending on the chain.
Pros/Cons of Buying a Mattress in a Store
- Testing mattress before buying
- Knowledgeable sales staff
- Potential price negotiation
- No shipping fees
- Higher prices
- Less convenient
- Difficult returns
- Less transparent regarding mattress specs
Common Mattress Myths
Now let’s dispel some widespread myths about mattress performance and purchasing.
- The best mattresses accommodate everyone.No mattress will be suitable for every sleeper. Factors like firmness preference, sleep position, and sleeper weight ensure that everyone experiences mattresses differently. Rather than searching for a ‘universal’ mattress, focus your search on a bed that meets your individual needs and preferences.
- Lying on a mattress in a store is the best way to choose.You’ll need at least 30 consecutive nights to break in most mattresses. The way a model feels in a store may be much different than the way it feels one month after purchasing.
- Coil count is important.While coil counts of 600 to 1,000 are linked to the highest levels of customer satisfaction, there are more effective ways to evaluate innersprings and hybrids — namely the comfort layer materials and thickness, coil type, and coil gauge.
- Gel foams sleep cooler than standard foams.Gel-infused polyfoam and memory foam layers may sleep somewhat cooler, but overall gel beads and swirls have a minimal effect on the temperature neutrality of a mattress.
- People with back pain need mattresses with lumbar support.Like coil count and gel foam, ‘lumbar support’ is a common marketing ploy in mattress sales. Beds may be advertised with lumbar support, but these models do not have higher satisfaction ratings among sleepers with back pain; in some cases, the ratings are worse than those for beds without lumbar support.
- The label says ‘hybrid,’ so it must be a hybrid.As we’ve established, a true hybrid features at least two inches (2″) of memory foam/latex in the comfort layer and a pocketed coil support core. Many mattresses are labeled as hybrids even though they don’t meet this criteria. Examples include ‘springless hybrids,’ which feature a mix of foam and latex, and innersprings with memory foam comfort layers and non-pocketed coils. Experimental mattress designs are often dubbed hybrids, as well.
- A mattress with a longer warranty must have a longer lifespan.While a mattress warranty may extend 20 years or longer, don’t be fooled into thinking a lengthier warranty equates to better durability. The average mattress needs to be replaced every seven years, regardless of its warranty.
- You need a new box spring.Many mattress sellers offer box spring bundles, which allow customers to purchase both items at a discounted rate, and some will imply that only their box spring is suitable for the mattress. However, any box spring in good shape or better will suffice — unless you are switching to a different mattress type; for example, an airbed requires a different foundation than an innerspring.
- Mattresses made of latex last forever.Latex mattresses have an average lifespan of eight and a half years, the longest among all mattress types. However, they are still susceptible to the same wear and tear as other mattresses and will eventually deteriorate.
- More expensive mattresses are better.Never assume a mattress that costs thousands of dollars is of higher quality than one that costs a few hundred. Keep an eye on price-point averages for different mattress types and make a purchasing decision based on your individual budget.
Final Shopping Checklist
Lastly, let’s recap all of the important considerations we’ve covered in this guide. When choosing a new mattress, be sure to take the following questions into account:
- Is your mattress more than seven years old?If so, it may be due for a replacement.
- Do you toss and turn due to discomfort or wake up with aches and pains?This may be due to an older, sagging mattress.
- Does your mattress have deep sagging or indentations in its sleep surface?Sagging and indentations deeper than one inch (1″) tend to compromise support and cause discomfort to the greatest extent.
- Have you gained or lost a significant amount of weight since buying your last mattress?Your current weight may cause the mattress to feel differently.
- What type of mattress do you want to buy?The five most common mattress types are foam, latex, innerspring, hybrid, and airbed models.
- What is the average lifespan of the mattress type(s) you prefer?Average lifespan ranges from five and a half years (innerspring) to eight and a half years (latex), but the average mattress needs to be replaced every seven years.
- What is the average price-point of the mattress type(s) you prefer?Foam and innerspring mattresses are much more affordable on average than latex, hybrid, or airbed models.
- How much do you (and your partner) weigh?Your weight may play a role in firmness and thickness preferences.
- What is your preferred sleep position?Your ideal mattress material, firmness, and thickness settings may depend on whether you are a side , back , stomach , or combination sleeper.
- What is your ideal firmness setting, and does it differ from your partner’s?Most people prefer ‘medium’ or ‘medium firm,’ but be sure to take your weight into account. If you and your partner have different preferences, then a ‘dual-firmness’ bed might be the best option.
- What mattress size and thickness do you need?A Twin, Twin XL, or Full/Double is suitable for single sleepers, while Queen, King, and California sizes are better for couples. In terms of height, lighter people may feel more comfortable on a thinner bed and heavier people may prefer a thicker bed; mattresses measuring nine to 12 inches (9-12″) have the highest customer satisfaction ratings.
- Do you sleep hot?If you tend to get too warm during the night, then a foam, latex, or airbed mattress may be uncomfortably hot. Airbeds also sleep too cool for some. Innersprings and hybrids offer the best temperature neutrality.
- Do you share a bed with someone?If so, then a mattress that produces little noise and isolates motion transfer (such as a foam or latex model) will be more suitable than louder beds that don’t absorb transfer (such as hybrids or innersprings).
- Are you sensitive to smell?Most mattresses produce some off-gassing, but models with foam layers are linked to the strongest and most persistent odors.
- Will you need to move the mattress on your own?All mattresses are relatively heavy and should be rotated once or twice per year in order to preserve the sleep surface. Foam, innerspring, and airbeds all average roughly 80 pounds or less in a Queen size, while latex and hybrid models average more than 100 pounds. Keep these weights in mind if you’ll be rotating the bed on your own.
- Is trying out the mattress important to you?Lying on a mattress in a store for a few minutes will not be very helpful, but this is important to some shoppers — and it is virtually impossible when buying from online-only brands.
- Is the mattress you want available through online retailers?If yes, then compare prices to get the best deal — but beware that you may not qualify for the brand’s full sleep trial.
- Do you live outside the contiguous U.S.?Shoppers in Alaska, Hawaii, and overseas U.S. territories must often may extra shipping charges, and some mattress brands won’t deliver to these locations. A brick-and-mortar mattress purchase may be the only option for some people outside the lower 48 states.
- Does the mattress brand/retailer offer a sleep trial?Most sleep trials are at least 90 nights in length, but be sure to read the fine print — some last as little as two to three weeks.
- Does the sleep trial include a mandatory break-in period?Some trials require purchasers to test out the bed for at least 30 nights before they qualify for a refund, while others allow returns at any time.
- Is a full refund issued for returns?In some cases, the customer will incur a return charge and/or be required to cover shipping and handling costs of mailing the mattress.
- Are mattress exchanges allowed?Some brands allow customers to exchange their mattress for another model, size, or firmness setting. However, the replacement mattress may not be subject to the same trial and return policy as the original.
- How long does the warranty coverage last?Most mattress warranties extend at least 10 years in length.
- Is the warranty entirely nonprorated?A 10-year nonprorated warranty is considered the best option for mattress buyers because it will cover the product for its entire lifespan without the owner paying prorated charges for repairs or replacements.
There are two major categories of specialty mattresses: those made of unique materials, and those meant for unique purposes. While some specialty mattresses have similar purchase criteria to conventional mattresses, some require further research. Follow the links to read our buyer’s guides for each category.
If buying natural products is important to you, consider choosing an organic mattress. While no mattress is 100% organic, green options ranging from 60-90% natural/organic are available. However, they tend to be more expensive and have a smaller selection of options. For extra peace of mind, choose a mattress with green certifications.
App-based controls and sleep tracking technology make smart mattresses a cutting-edge ally in the search for healthy sleep. While expensive, these advanced mattresses can monitor and score your sleep health, then adjust to offer comfort and support. If these features appeal to you, most smart mattress manufacturers offer 90 or 100-night trials.
While they sound similar, air mattresses are very different than airbeds. Air mattresses are meant to be temporary solutions rather than full-time beds like airbeds. However, they make an excellent choice for guests, camping, and other situations. Choosing the right air mattress is important, with a range of models and many factors to consider.
Babies and young toddlers have unique sleep needs, making crib mattresses an essential yet potentially confusing purchase. Follow our crib mattress buying guide to learn more about what to consider when making your choice, then read our reviews to learn which crib mattresses we recommend.
Most mattresses are now one-sided, with a comfort layer that is meant to always stay on top. However, if two-sided mattresses appeal you, there are high-quality flippable options available. These are rarely more expensive than one-sided versions while offering versatility and an improved lifespan. They also make a good choice for sleepers with varying firmness needs, as each side generally has a different firmness level.
Choosing the right mattress for your RV’s sleep space can be headache-inducing. While almost all mattress types can be used, the best RV mattresses we’ve found are memory foam or innerspring. Both specialized RV mattresses and ordinary mattresses with a low profile can be a good fit.
Pets deserve a good night’s rest just like everyone else. Choose the right dog bed by focusing on both your dog’s needs (support for physical problems, size, softness, warmth) and your desires (anti-odor capabilities, aesthetics, waterproofing). Some options can be expensive, but budget-minded dog guardians can find excellent choices under $100.
We understand that shopping for a new mattress can be confusing and frustrating at times. If you have any questions about mattress buying, please shoot us an email and we’ll get back to you shortly.