Before Buying a Mattress: Mattresses are an essential part of life, but not one you consciously think about too often. Most people just tumble into bed, sleep for a few hours, and tumble back out again.
Odds are, you haven’t bought a new mattress in a while. Most mattresses are built to last a long time, so it’s easy to forget what kind of mattress you have or what type you want. If you’re looking to upgrade, be sure to ask yourself a few questions before purchasing.
Do I want a spring or a memory foam mattress?
The first big decision is the difference between spring and memory foam mattresses. Most mattresses come in two main types, and it’s vital to know which one you want before you start shopping. Which type you choose depends on your physical needs.
Spring mattresses consist of a layer of metal coils, foam, padding, and upholstery. The coils (or springs) add support and consistency throughout the bed without being too firm. Spring mattresses were invented long before memory foam as an alternative to pillow mattresses (which provide little or no support).
On the other hand, memory foam is made of synthetic foam that can vary in firmness. Many memory foam beds have a layer of gel, rigid foam, and soft foam to provide support and comfort. Memory foam mattresses are often more expensive but form to your body as you sleep.
If you’re still unsure which mattress type is right for you, informational resources like these can help you better understand the difference between spring and memory foam mattresses.
What size mattress do I need?
Of course, the size of your mattress does matter. If you already have a box spring or bed frame, you’ll want to match the mattress to that size. However, a new house might require a new mattress. In that case, you can pick your size, ranging from single to California King.
Whichever size you choose, make sure that it works well within your bedroom and doesn’t take up the entire space. If you’re sharing a bed, there should be enough room for both of you (especially if one of you is a sprawler). For a kid, a twin or double should be perfect.
Who is the mattress for?
Knowing who will be using the mattress is essential for mattress shopping. If it’s for you and your partner (or just you), you’ll be able to try mattresses and use your own opinion. However, buying mattresses for another person can be tricky.
When buying a mattress for a guest bedroom, you might want to spend less money since it won’t be used nightly. Children grow out of mattresses quickly, and it’s essential to buy beds that you can clean easily. Ask yourself how long the mattress will be used and who will use it before handing over the cash.
Will the mattress be shared with a partner?
If you’re sleeping alone, ignore this question. Buy the mattress you want, and don’t worry about anyone else’s opinion. However, if you share your bed with a partner, consult their preferences before purchasing.
Some brands offer two different sides to one mattress, so you and your partner can choose how firm or soft your side of the bed is. Make sure to look at motion isolating mattresses as well.
How firm or soft should this mattress be?
Firmness or softness in a mattress is a matter of personal preference. There are no specific benefits to a firm mattress, except maybe a little more spinal support. It’s up to the sleeper whether they want their bed to feel like Papa Bear’s, Mama Bear’s, or Baby Bear’s (just right).
Go to a mattress store and try out various firmnesses. Keep an eye on the firmness level as you lay down, and you’ll come away with an idea of what you like. Note: you can’t always trust the labels on different brands. You might enjoy an “extremely firm” mattress in one brand, only to find a “soft” mattress in another.
What is my budget?
One of the most critical questions when mattress shopping is the price. Mattresses are expensive because they are technically specialty items. Know your budget and the average mattress price for the size to avoid overspending.
Unfortunately, if you have health problems or need a specific kind of mattress, you might be spending more on those necessities. Otherwise, the smaller the bed is, the cheaper it will be. Spring mattresses are usually less expensive than memory foam mattresses.
Do I need extra spine support?
Sleeping is when our body resets itself. For some of us, that means that our spine realigns from the stress and pressure of the day. Depending on your sleep patterns, medical conditions, and age and weight, you might need extra spinal support in your mattress.
Side sleepers tend to need more spine support than stomach or back sleepers because their spine doesn’t get as much of a chance to reset. If you are a side sleeper or suffer from chronic back pain, you might want to consider buying a mattress that caters to your health needs.
What do the reviews say?
If you’ve decided on a specific type of mattress (for example, a completely organic mattress or one specific to your sleeping needs), you must look at the reviews for it. The brand’s website will offer excellent reviews. Make sure that you’re looking at other places as well, where purchasers might not have an incentive to post positively about the mattress.
If the critic and customer reviews are mostly positive, that’s great. However, look for reviews that answer your specific questions. Is the mattress comfortable when sleeping with a partner? Is it easy to clean? Use the reviews as a crowdsource for answers.
What’s the best way to get the mattress?
You have options when it comes time to buy the mattress itself. Nowadays, you don’t necessarily have to borrow a friend’s pickup truck, go to a mattress store, and pick out a bed in person. If you don’t have a way of getting the mattress home or you live in a tiny apartment, the traditional way of buying mattresses might not be feasible for you.
Some mattresses ship to you. These compress into tiny boxes that expand when you open them. This way, you won’t have to worry about carrying a full-size mattress up several flights of stairs and fitting in through doors. These mattresses are usually memory foam–make sure to check the reviews and warranties.
What is the return policy on the mattress?
Last but not least, make sure that the mattress you’re considering has a decent return policy or trial period. A mattress is a pretty significant investment. If you’re not happy with it, you should be able to return it.
Some mattresses don’t have a return policy but have a trial period instead. This trial can be helpful if the company is online and you can’t try out the mattress in person. Sleeping on a new bed for a few days will tell you what you need to know about how well it will work for your sleeping habits and body.
With these questions in mind, you should be able to find the perfect new mattress for you and your family. There are thousands of mattresses to choose from, but once you know what you want, you’ll be able to pick out a new mattress and sleep soundly.