How To Buy A Bed Mattress
Lexie Sachs (she/her) is the executive director of the Textiles, Paper and Apparel Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, where she researches, tests and reports on fabric-based products ranging from sheets, mattresses and towels to bras, fitness apparel and other clothing. She also evaluates luggage, rain gear, disposable paper goods and baby products. Lexie has more than 15 years of experience in the textiles industry and a degree in fiber science from Cornell University. Prior to joining GH in 2013, she worked in merchandising and product development in the fashion and home industries.
how to buy a bed mattress
Bai, Dorothy Li et al. Relationship between a pressure redistributing foam mattress and pressure injuries: An observational prospective cohort study. PloS one vol. 15,11 e0241276. 9 Nov. 2020, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0241276
Many people approach mattress shopping in the wrong way, by focusing solely on measures of firmness level or sleep position, considering only the price, or choosing materials and technology touted in an ad. But that approach might land you a not-so-comfy mattress that you could regret buying.
As the name suggests, an innerspring mattress uses a system of connected metal springs, or coils, to support the weight of your body. A top layer of soft, fabric-encased padding (aka the comfort layer) provides cushioning and contouring without the sinking sensation of memory foam. In general, a quality innerspring mattress offers good edge support, is more breathable (and thus cooler) than its all-foam counterparts, and comes in a range of firmness levels to accommodate a variety of preferences.
Most online mattresses come with a free trial period of about 100 days or so, if you buy it directly from the company. You might be required to try a mattress for 30 days before you can initiate a return, though. Third-party retailers, such as Amazon, department stores, and mattress stores, might have their own rules, whether you purchased the mattress online or in a brick-and-mortar store.
In this guide, I will go over the basics of selecting the correct mattress. Elsewhere on the site, I will go into more detail on each of these topics and more, but this will be enough to get you started. If you just want a recommendation, check out some of our top picks below.
The most important factor in finding the correct mattress is proper support. You need the mattress to push up on your body to counteract your body weight. So that means a hard, firm, stone-like mattress, right? Wrong.
Motion & SeparationIf you share your bed, you want to minimize motion transfer. If your partner gets in or out of bed, or changes positions, you run the risk of being woken up if the mattress transfers too much of that motion to your side of the bed. Try the mattress in the store with your partner, and have your partner switch positions while your back is turned to see how much motion you feel.
TemperatureAnother issue some people have is heat retention of the mattress. Most good mattresses these days have features to help mitigate this (advanced foams, phase change materials, ventilation, etc). The biggest risk here is with cheap memory foam mattresses.
$400-600: These range from some of the nicer guest room mattresses to maybe the bare minimum for every night use by an adult. You will either get nicer foams on the top than the cheaper ones, or stronger coils, but not usually both. The ones with a 10 year or more warranty will usually have no pressure-relieving foams up top at all, while the ones that have some nice layers of foam will probably still be using the 420 coil Bonnell unit. These tend to be good for college students on a budget.
$600-1000: These are about the average range for every night use mattresses. These are where a lot of your Sealy Posturepedic and Simmons Beautyrest lives. You will get the better coil systems and advanced foams for coil mattresses. This is also the price range that the lowest priced memory foams start appearing. The direct-to-consumer mattresses I mentioned elsewhere in this article generally fall somewhere around this price range. If you find a memory foam mattress for significantly less than $600, you should be very skeptical.
Another exception: If you try a mattress in person, you can buy the same or similar model online if you can do the comparison shopping. In fact, this is the strategy I recommend in my mattress negotiation guide.
Cons: Like online, you often cannot try all of the mattresses (they might have a couple out on display), and even if you can, you will get no expert help in selecting the right one. They also have a smaller selection. Lastly, you need to be a member at some of them.
The prices of mattresses are negotiable at most retailers and on most brands. In mattress shopping, the general strategy is to play one retailer off of another. Most places have a price guarantee. So if you get a quote from one place, you can take it to a competitor and have them beat the price. Take that price to another competitor and get an even lower price. You can also look up the mattress online (like at US Mattress) and get the retailer to match the online price. This is the easiest, least painful way to negotiate on mattresses.
As we age and enter new stages of life, our sleep, and what we need to get that sleep, changes. Our bodies change, our lifestyle shifts, and ultimately, our needs in a mattress are altered to accommodate those changes. To find the best mattress for your age and lifestyle, see the following guides.
Some sleepers prefer a specific type of mattress based on its overall feel. Whether you like the contour of memory foam or the bounce of springs, there is a mattress out there to meet your comfort preferences.
You may already own a mattress you love. If you are looking for tips to clean your mattress or prolong its lifespan, see our mattress care and maintenance guides. You may also wonder when you should replace your mattress and how to go about disposing of it. You are in the right place. We cover that too.
Selection: When you go to a mattress store in person, your choices are limited to a handful of brands and the number of models that can fit inside the showroom. Shopping online allows you to browse every mattress brand with an online store and consider all of their mattress models.
Returns: Most online mattress brands offer free returns during the sleep trial. Many make returns easy by helping customers coordinate the pickup of the unwanted mattress. Return policies can vary substantially between brands and some charge return shipping, so do your research before you buy.
More Research Required: When shopping for a mattress in person, you have a sales representative to guide you through the relatively small selection. In contrast, shopping for a mattress online involves a much greater amount of independent research. While this allows you to search through a wider selection of models to find a mattress tailored to your needs, it can also be time-consuming.
A new mattress is a major investment in your future sleep quality, but it also represents a significant financial expenditure. For this reason, the best place to start when buying a mattress online is considering your budget.
Memory Foam Memory foam mattresses are all-foam models with memory foam in their comfort and/or transition layers. This material was originally developed by NASA and popularized for use in mattresses by Tempur-Pedic.
Foam All-foam mattresses usually contain several types of polyfoam layered on top of one another. High-density polyfoam creates a durable support core, while lower-density, more contouring formulations make up transitional and comfort layers.
Foam mattresses can vary widely in quality, price, and performance depending on the type of foam and construction. Some common traits across all-foam models include good contouring, pressure relief, and motion isolation.
Hybrid Hybrid mattresses typically feature a support core made with metal coils and a comfort system made from memory foam, polyfoam, latex, microcoils, or a combination of materials. Hybrids are intended to combine the best features of innerspring and foam and/or latex models while minimizing their potential drawbacks. This often leads to a balance of bounce, cradling, durability, edge support, and temperature regulation.
Innerspring An innerspring mattress contains metal coils wrapped in a fabric cover. Although once the most common type of mattress, the traditional innerspring is increasingly rare but has retained loyal fans.
Other Aside from the most popular mattress types listed above, you may also come across other categories, such as airbeds, waterbeds, or Japanese futons. Although not as common as foam-, latex-, and coil-based beds, these types of mattresses are worth considering for their unique attributes.
Comfort is a subjective measure that depends largely on individual preferences as well as your body weight and sleep position. However, to give you a more accurate picture of what you can expect from different mattress models, we use a firmness scale of 1 through 10, and many manufacturers use similar ratings. While these recommendations are usually accurate for most sleepers, there is some variability due to differences in personal preferences.
Sleeping Position: Your preferred sleep position can help you determine an appropriate firmness level. Side sleepers concentrate their weight onto one side of the body, creating significant pressure points at the hips and shoulders. For this reason, they tend to prefer slightly softer, more contouring mattresses to redistribute their weight. Back sleepers usually favor medium to medium firm models with moderate contouring, while stomach sleepers often prefer a firmer mattress to support their alignment.
Body Weight: Body weight determines how much pressure you place on your mattress. Sleepers who weigh less than 130 pounds often prefer a softer mattress for greater cradling. Those who weigh over 230 pounds typically require a firmer sleep surface to prevent them from sinking too deeply into the bed. 041b061a72