You might’ve figured it’s time to get a new bed, but you don’t know where to start. Even though it seems simple on the surface, there’s so much more to buying a new mattress than meets the eye.
A new bed is a considerable investment. And not necessarily in a monetary sense. How you sleep can very much dictate your quality of life. You’d want to make sure that in the next decade of your life, your bed will be the sanctuary that will provide you with plenty of rest every night.
Ironically, because of the stakes involved, thinking about how to choose a mattress can cause one to lose sleep. But that won’t happen to you. By following our guide, you can rest assured you’ll make the right choice.
When Should You Change Your Mattress?
As a rule of thumb, if your mattress is over eight years old, it is probably best to get a new one. But, to every rule, there are some exceptions. This rule doesn’t apply to all mattresses, necessarily.
For instance, your average all-natural latex bed can last well over ten years. But, if it’s not providing you quality sleep, why stick to it?
Also, almost all best mattresses are covered by a 10-year warranty. However, the terms of the warranty vary greatly. If you get a cheap mattress with a 10-year warranty, that doesn’t mean it will survive the decade easily.
It’s best to ask yourself a couple of questions. Do I wake up feeling well-rested? Are my nights restless? Do I wake up feeling pain? Where?
Think about your sleeping patterns. If there is room for improvement, you will probably benefit from a new bed.
Try The Mattress Before Purchasing It
Naturally, you’d want to have a chance to try out a model before you buy it. Online, that’s not quite possible. In a brick-and-mortar shop, the awkward three-minute trial with the salesperson hovering over your head doesn’t help much.
Luckily, the people in the industry have thought of a solution that suits both the sleeper and the manufacturer. Many mattress in a box companies offers free trial periods on their products. The trial periods can vary greatly.
There may be no trial period at all, or it can last up to a whole year. However, when buying a mattress on Amazon, regardless of the seller’s free trial policy, all products in this category come with a 30-day return period.
It’s essential to read the fine print. Make sure to check who is paying for shipping, in case of a return. Sometimes, returning a model can prove to be quite a hassle, so make sure to wage the pros and cons before you place an order.
What Size of Mattress do You Need?
It’s important to know how to choose a mattress that will fit your size. That’s even more important when you’re sleeping with a partner. Most models come in six standard sizes. King, California King, Queen, Full/Double, Twin, and Twin XL.
You may also see some less typical sizes, such as Short Queen or Full XL. Twin and Twin XL are each suitable just for one person. Full/Double and Queen can each fit either two adults or one adult and their pets.
When it comes to The King and California King, well, you definitely won’t be worrying about the room. The king size mattress can fit two adults with a child or a large pet, while the California King can fit two adults with multiple children or pets.
It’s important to note that even though Queen-sized models can fit two people, they are not the best option if both of you like to spread out. On the other hand, if you live in a smaller apartment, a King-sized model might not fit in your room.
What Type of Mattress Should You Buy
The most vital considerations when choosing a mattress should be the material. Not that long ago, there was practically just one option – innerspring. Even today, the most common type of bed sold in the US, as well as worldwide, is innerspring.
But, nowadays, there are plenty of other options. Memory foam mattresses are likely the second most common, and the popularity of latex mattresses is exponentially growing. There are also hybrids. A hybrid combines innerspring with latex or memory foam.
Due to the innovations in the science of sleep, many would say that innerspring mattresses have become obsolete. That is not entirely true. With the advent of individually-pocketed coils, spring mattresses have become worthy competitors to foam and latex models.
So, which one suits you? Each structure has its pros and cons. One isn’t necessarily better than the other. It mostly depends on what kind of sleeper you are and on your personal preferences. Let’s see different types of mattresses and what each material brings to the table.
This material was engineered by NASA. It’s safe to say the science behind it has strong credibility. However, these days, there are more types of memory foam. Their core properties are all the same. And those are excellent contouring, pressure relief, and motion isolation.
A typical memory foam mattress model has to have at least one comfort layer made of memory foam or polyfoam. The bottom layer is, in most cases, made of high-density polyfoam. That is the support foam. The average memory foam model is perfect for a side sleeper.
Foam density and thickness of the model can also play a pivotal role. Generally, the denser and thicker the layers, the better. Heavier individuals should always go with thicker and denser models. High-density foams have a longer lifespan.
The average lifespan of an all-foam model is from seven to ten years. Low-quality models are prone to early indentations and sagging. Typical downsides of memory foam models are off-gassing, weak edge support, and bad temperature regulation.
However, since traditional memory foam was introduced, there have been many improvements to the technology. Nowadays, manufacturers have come up with ingenious and innovative enhancements to memory foam that does a great job of tackling its downsides. One thing is for sure; a high-quality memory foam bed is worth every penny.
Coils are the primary source of support in such mattresses. In such models, the comfort system is usually comprised of polyfoam. Traditional innerspring mattresses are mostly a thing of the past. However, manufacturers have made various improvements to the technology, so some models are indeed a worthy option.
Pocketed Coil models feature individually encased coils that are wrapped in cloth or fabric. The coils react to your body weight individually. That allows them to provide better pressure relief than traditional innerspring models. Because the coils operate independently, they provide excellent motion isolation.
Entry-level models typically feature Bonell coils (hourglass-shaped), while higher-end models feature offset coils (hourglass-shaped with a hinging effect). The thickness and gauge of coils typically dictate the durability of a model. Coil count can also affect longevity, but not necessarily. The best performing models usually come with coil counts between 600 and 1000.
Coil count over 1000 usually doesn’t make a difference. However, heavier individuals should always go with a higher coil count. If you want to see whether you’re looking at an extra firm mattress or not, pay extra attention to the coil count and gauge.
For a model to be considered a true hybrid, it must have a pocketed coil support core and a comfort layer comprised of at least two inches of latex, gel, or memory foam. Of course, the support core can include all three materials. As with standard all-foam mattresses, the number of layers usually varies from two to five.
It’s challenging to put all hybrids in one category as, due to their versatile construction, the quality and performance can vary greatly. Judge each model on its own merits.
The best hybrids offer the best of the two worlds. Just like with standard innerspring and all-foam models, pay attention to the density, gauge, and coil count. If you’re looking for an all-foam feel, but want strong edge support, a hybrid would be your safest choice.
Every type of mattress can be adjustable. But, not every model is adjustable. Make sure to check the label.
Some can be used on all adjustable bases, and some can be used only on the adjustable foundations manufactured by the mattress’s manufacturer.
However, there’s another kind of adjustable bed – the airbed. You can’t use it on an adjustable foundation. However, airbeds have some advantages over standard mattresses. The inflatable air chambers allow you to adjust the firmness and support.
Recently, airbeds have become much more than a simple solution for camping trips. A high-end model can easily cost $2000. Such models have actually proven to be a viable long-term solution. The average lifespan of an airbed is eight years.
The major downside – many sleepers report having a “trench” in the center of their airbed. That can cause discomfort and a lack of support. The width and depth of the trench vary from model to model. Higher-end models typically don’t come with such flaws.
Latex is similar to memory foam. However, the latex models are generally considered to perform better than memory foam. They offer the same perks but more enhanced. They are typically more expensive than other all-foam models.
Latex models have great cooling properties. They also last longer than other types of mattresses. Natural models are a great choice for those who want a more environmentally friendly bed. This material delivers excellent contouring and pressure relief.
However, latex allergy is present in a small number of the general population. So, the number one lesson in how to pick a mattress: make sure you are not allergic to it. When it comes to latex mattresses, there are two types of manufacturing processes – Dunlop and Talalay.
Talalay is usually reserved for comfort layers, although it may be used for support layers as well. Dunlop is a fluffier foam that’s used for support. Like all-foam models, this type of mattresses offer great motion isolation but comes with weak edge support.
What Firmness of Mattress Is Best for You?
Firmness is more subjective than objective. However, it is usually tied to two factors: your weight and your preferred sleep position. Side sleepers typically prefer softer models.
Firmer models are better suited for people who prefer to sleep on the stomach or back. Lighter people (under 130lbs) may benefit the most from a softer mattress as it can offer them better pressure relief and contouring.
Heavier individuals (weighing over 230lbs) should consider firmer models in order to avoid excessive sinkage. Medium to medium-firm models usually caters to most types of sleepers equally.
Choose the Mattress for Your Sleep Position
When wondering how to choose the best mattress, it’s best to think in terms of your preferred sleep position. Many factors depend on your sleep style. Your sleep style can even have a significant impact on your quality of life.
Back sleepers must have proper support and firmness. If you have back pain issues, a good bed can significantly ease your pain. On the other hand, an inappropriately selected bed can exacerbate the problem.
Back sleepers need the right amount of pushback. Softer mattress creates pressure points for such sleepers. As a result, spinal alignment suffers, and your back hurts. On our scale from 1 to 10, beds that score anywhere between 5 and 7 are the best solution for back sleepers.
Stomach sleepers also need sufficient support. That translates to a firmer mattress. The major pressure points are in the torso. For that reason, a stomach sleeper requires a bed that offers equal support and weight distribution.
If the center of the bed sinks underweight (usually happens with models that are too soft), it can cause lower back pain and other problems.
A stomach sleeper needs a model that will allow them to sleep flat. That way, the spine stays in neutral alignment. The best option for stomach sleepers is a medium-firm mattress (5 to 7).
The average side sleeper doesn’t always lie on the side. If you’re such a sleeper, chances are you rotate during the night, bend and straighten your legs, or turn to your stomach or back occasionally.
Side sleepers benefit the most from softer models as they address back, neck, and shoulder pressure points quite well. However, if you are a side sleeper that sometimes likes to sleep on the stomach or back, your best bet would be a model of medium firmness.
Determine your Budget
It’s possible to find a high-quality bed without breaking the bank. A decent model can cost as little as $200. That’s more of an exception than a rule. If you find such a deal, chances are it’s on an innerspring or memory foam model. A quality model usually costs anywhere between $500 and $2,000.
Spring, gel, and memory foams are typically more affordable. Quality hybrid and latex models are more expensive. The average latex model costs $2000. The same goes for hybrids. If you’re looking for a long-term airbed solution, you need a budget of about $2,000.
How Important Is the Warranty?
Almost every model comes with a warranty. A 10-year limited warranty is the industry standard. However, the fine print on the warranty is essential.
Make sure to check what’s covered under the warranty. The warranty should protect you from manufacturing flaws and excessive sagging and indentations. Although some sagging is excepted, sagging over 1.5″ of depth should be covered by the warranty.
There’s no replacement for a good night’s sleep. Buying a new bed requires extra caution. There are many factors that can easily slip one’s mind, like mattress lifespan.
Take time to consider your sleeping habits and preferences. If your sleeping with a partner, make sure to talk it through with them. Now that you are equipped with the right knowledge, you can rest assured that you will be sleeping soundly on your new bed.