Figuring out how to choose a mattress can be difficult. The final selection depends on your body, your sleeping habits, and other personal factors.
The quality and amount of sleep you get on a nightly basis affects all aspects of your health. From weakening your immune system to increasing your risk of cancer and other diseases to damaging your mental health, poor sleep is dangerous.
And believe it or not, the mattress you use makes a huge difference in your quality of sleep, which is why knowing how to choose a mattress is so important. But once you start shopping, you realize that there are many more factors than you might have realized.
To help you find the perfect option for you, we’ve compiled this mattress buying guide!
Outlined below is everything you need to know about choosing a mattress, including the best types for various sleeping positions and price points.
Read on to learn more!
When to Replace Your Mattress
Most mattresses will last around eight years before they begin to deteriorate. Now, this doesn’t hold true for all mattresses. Depending on the type of mattress you have, you may find that it lasts well beyond a decade.
For example, memory foam and hybrid mattresses typically last around 10 years, while latex mattresses can hold their shape up to 12 years.
Sometimes there will be obvious signs your mattress needs to be replaced, such as a dip in the foam or fabric where you lay at night. But most of the time, unless you’ve held onto your mattress way past the expiration date, you won’t be able to look at it and tell for sure.
The best way to decide whether or not you need a new mattress is to take inventory of your quality and amount of sleep.
Do you wake up often throughout the night? Are you in pain when you wake up? Does it feel like you really haven’t slept at all when you get up in the morning?
If you notice that you’re beginning to not feel your best when you wake up, it might be time to start looking into replacing your mattress.
Your Shopping Options
When you’re in search of a new mattress, you have two options: look online, or visit physical mattress stores. If you can, take your time and shop around at several different locations. Finding the right mattress is important, don’t rush it!
Thanks to the internet, you can purchase just about anything at the click of a button and it will arrive at your house within the next few days. There are virtually endless amounts of online mattress stores, all of which you can shop without getting out of your pajamas.
Many of the mattress ads you see now are for direct-to-consumer suppliers such as Leesa and Purple Mattresses. These are often high-quality options, however, you won’t be able to try them out before your purchase.
Thankfully, many of these retailers have taken this into account, offering a trial period for their product. This means you can try your new mattress for a certain number of days or weeks and return it if you find that it isn’t the one for you.
Also, keep in mind that even if you decide to shop in-store, you should always do a quick internet search to see if you can find the one you’ve chosen at a lower price online. If not, it will still be there when you’re done!
The main benefit of shopping in a physical store is that you can try any mattress you like. But the type of store in which you shop matters. For example, big-box stores such as Sams Club and Walmart sell mattresses at low prices, but they don’t have much of a selection and you won’t be able to try them.
For the best results, it’s a good idea to shop at mattress specialty stores. Because even department stores, which will likely have a better selection than their big-box alternatives, won’t have trained salespeople who can help you find the right option for you.
There’s a wide variety of mattress specialty stores, from large retailers such as Mattress Firm to high-end boutiques to local retailers. When shopping, ask your salesperson if they offer price matching. Many of the larger chains will, which will negate the higher price tags you usually find in specialty stores.
You should also be prepared to negotiate to get the best price possible. Smaller shops like boutiques might not budge on their prices, but they tend to offer mattresses at lower prices than the large chains anyway.
Avoid Secondhand Stores
If at all possible, do not buy your mattress from a thrift shop or Craigslist. While these places are great for finding deals on all sorts of household and clothing items, you want to know exactly where your mattress has been and how old it is.
First of all, you don’t want to spend money on a mattress only to find that it’s just as bad if not worse than the one you’re replacing. Second, you never know what kind of environment a thrift store mattress came from.
Yes, they’re wrapped in plastic in the store, but that doesn’t mean that the previous owner didn’t have a serious issue like bed bugs. And once you have bed bugs, getting rid of them is a major headache. It’s best to avoid them in the first place.
How to Choose a Mattress: Factors to Evaluate
When shopping for a mattress, there are a couple of major factors to look for first, then a few minor ones to take into account once you’ve found one that checks the first two boxes.
The two major factors are support and comfort. Your mattress should obviously be comfortable, so you sleep soundly throughout the night. But the most important of the two is support. This is because an unsupportive mattress can open the door for chronic pain and spinal misalignment, as well as a myriad of other issues.
Think about the shape of your body. Regardless of the position you sleep in, your body isn’t a straight line. It has curves and arches that need to be supported, but not forced flat by a mattress that might as well be made of stone.
The key is to find a mattress that allows your shoulders and hips to dip down into it just enough to keep your spine in alignment. Your mattress should contour to your body without allowing you to sink so deep that you’re not supported.
If your mattress is uncomfortable, you will toss and turn throughout the night, instinctively trying to find a position that keeps your spine straight. This will prevent you from attaining the deeper levels of sleep, which are crucial for the restoration of your body and mind.
A mattress that is too firm or too soft can also cause pressure, cutting off your circulation and forcing you to change positions. When choosing a mattress, be sure that you’re able to lie on it in one position for several minutes and remain comfortable.
Minor Factors to Consider
As mentioned above, there are a few minor factors to consider once you’ve found a supportive, comfortable option. These are motion and separation, temperature, and edge support.
Motion and separation is a non-issue if you sleep alone, but if you share your bed with your partner, it’s crucial. Essentially, you want your partner to be able to change positions or get up to use the bathroom without the motion being transferred to your side of the bed.
If possible, do your mattress shopping with your partner or a friend to test them for motion transfer.
The next factor is temperature. A mattress that retains too much heat can cause discomfort in the night, as the optimal sleeping temperature is way down at 65 degrees, according to the Sleep Foundation.
This problem is most common with cheap memory foam mattresses. Most quality mattresses have features that help to minimize this issue, such as ventilation and advanced materials.
Last is edge support. This is especially important if you sit or sleep on the edge of your bed often. Look for a mattress that has a foam encasement around the edge, which will prevent sagging.
Types of Mattresses
There are several different types of mattresses on the market, each with their own pros and cons. This is the toughest part of the process when mattress shopping, as there are so many choices. The main types are memory foam, latex, coil mattresses, and pillow-top.
Memory Foam Mattresses
Memory foam mattresses have no coils, they’re made up of 100% foam. And while cheap memory foam can cause overheating, quality memory foam mattresses are designed with cooling properties built-in.
This type of mattress is best for those who want pressure relief and support. A soft foam mattress is the best mattress for side sleepers.
Latex mattresses are great for those who run hot in their sleep, as they have superior cooling properties. These mattresses are also made of foam but use latex rather than memory foam.
If you find that memory foam mattresses hug your body a little too much, latex foam could be for you. Those who sleep on their back might find the comfort and support latex mattresses offer beneficial.
Coil, or innerspring, mattresses contain layers of steel spring coils that provide support. In general, the more coils a mattress contains, the more comfortable it will be.
Innerspring mattresses offer the best edge support, don’t retain heat, and can be the perfect choice for those who sleep on their stomach, as they’re typically a bit firmer than foam.
Last but not least is pillow-top mattresses. The pillow-top is designed to give additional comfort and softness.
These come in several variations because the “pillow-top” refers to the layer of material sewn into the cover, not the mattress itself. You can find coil, memory foam, and latex pillow-top mattresses. Because of this, these mattresses can be a good fit for many different sleeping positions.
How Much to Spend on Your Mattress
As with anything, you can find mattresses at a variety of price points. At the bare minimum, you’ll need to spend about $500 to avoid purchasing a mattress that simply won’t hold up. Anything less than that and you run the risk of sacrificing comfort and support, which, as we stated earlier, are of the utmost importance.
The sweet spot is typically somewhere between $600 and $1,000. In this price range, you’ll find quality mattresses without completely breaking the bank.
Most options above $1,000 are considered luxury mattresses. If you can fit it into your budget, purchasing a luxury mattress isn’t a bad thing. These mattresses usually offer the best warranties, strong coil systems, and optimal mattress thickness with quality foam.
While you can find mattresses at astronomical prices such as $5,000 and above, remember that expensive doesn’t always mean good. If you fall in love with a mattress at this price point and can afford it, go for it! However, you can likely find something more comfortable at a fraction of the cost.
Change Your Mattress to Improve Your Sleep and Quality of Life
Getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep on a consistent basis can change your life for the better. It may sound extreme, but sleep truly is that important.
By knowing how to choose a mattress and therefore choosing the correct one for you, you’re more likely to sleep longer and better. In doing so, you’ll feel more energized, happier, and healthier! And using this guide to find the perfect mattress can help you get there.
For more advice on small changes, you can make to improve your life, be sure to take a look at our blog!