While today we think of the word “best” as meaning “the highest quality,” the origins of the word point to a slightly different meaning— remedy. We all want to sleep well, but so many of us aren’t getting the sleep we need. Your mattress should be a remedy, not a barrier to that sleep.
When you’re looking for the best mattress, the ideal bed for you may not be a good fit for someone else and vice versa. This becomes even trickier when that other person is sharing your bed!
Above all, your ideal mattress should ease pain, not cause it, support your posture, not misalign it, and let you sleep deeply, not toss and turn all night. Other factors to consider are budget, best mattress type (yes, there’s more than just innerspring beds out there now!), mattress firmness and more.
In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know before you buy a new mattress, what you can expect from the mattresses on the market today, and how to choose one based on a wide variety of circumstances and preferences.
When Should You Buy A New Mattress?
Most mattresses begin to lose their luster after a few years— sadly, they don’t last forever. But you can still get your hands on a good-quality mattress that holds out for at least 6-7 years. Most experts recommend replacing your mattress when you start waking up with pain or discomfort or you think your mattress could be the cause of all your tossing and turning.
Other signs you may need to replace your old mattress include cosmetic defects, such as seams ripping, sagging or bunching, burst coils, or divets and indents causing you to feel stuck on the bed. Bottom line— if you’re uncomfortable on your mattress, it’s time to replace it!
Gone are the days when the only mattress you could buy was an innerspring coil. While that mattress type is still quite popular, other materials have since broken into the market to address consumer’s most pressing sleep concerns.
The ubiquitous foam you’ll find in hundreds of beds now wasn’t always so well-known. In fact, the first foam mattress was manufactured in the early 90s, but with the bed-in-a-box revolution, their popularity has skyrocketed.
Unlike other mattress types, foam is easy to compress and roll, making it ideal for shipping directly to customers in a compact, easy-to-move box.
Not all foam mattresses are created equally— there are a few options to choose from and they all work differently, so keep your needs in mind if you’re leaning towards a foam bed.
Also known as polyfoam, this material is similar to memory foam but a bit cheaper to produce. You’ve probably used it before without realizing it— it’s often found in couches, car seats, and mattress toppers. Some innerspring mattresses use polyfoam in their top comfort layer (the “pillow top”).
While polyfoam is affordable, it’s not always high-quality, so we recommend doing a lot of research if you plan on purchasing a polyfoam bed. Polyfoam is low-density, so it’s more prone to deteriorate faster over time.
Memory Foam (Viscoelastic Foam)
Memory foam is by far the most popular foam option these days. That’s because it’s soft and contouring, leading to pressure-relief.
Memory foam, like polyurethane foam, is usually used in the top comfort layers of a mattress to provide the user with all its pain-relieving benefits. Most memory foam mattresses employ a higher-density foam in the base for extra support since memory foam is low-density and easily compressible.
The responsiveness of memory foam keeps pressure from building up at your most sensitive areas, like the joints, back, spine, or hips. Those seeking pain relief often choose memory foam for this very reason.
A common complaint associated with memory foam is its unfortunate ability to trap heat. However, most memory foam manufacturers have begun to infuse their foams with gel, charcoal, copper, and other cooling materials to avoid heat build-up. Most memory foam uses open-cell technology as well, which allows for better airflow than typical closed-cell foam. Check out our memory foam guide to learn the importance of measurements, such as density and ILD.
Convoluted foam, also known as “egg-crate foam,” is not often found in the top layers of higher-quality mattresses since it’s quite stiff. However, it works well as a stabilizing layer to provide extra support and deter sag.
Latex foam is slowly gaining on memory foam as another soft, comfortable option for pain-sufferers seeking better sleep. Unlike memory foam, which is made using petroleum, natural latex is harvested from the sap of a rubber tree. This process requires little environmental impact, so latex is a good option for anyone seeking an eco-friendly mattress.
Latex, while similar in feel to memory foam, is a bit bouncier, so it appeals to anyone used to innerspring beds. Because of the way it’s made, latex is also more expensive and durable than memory foam. Many consider the extra cost to be a worthy investment since latex foam typically lasts longer.
Innerspring mattresses have been around the longest— since the 1800s, to be precise! While they’ve come a long way since then, most still use steel or Bonnell coils in their base to give the user a nice, responsive surface.
Because the inner layers of an innerspring mainly consist of coils, with foam or down being used only in the top comfort layers, innersprings are quite cool. That makes them ideal for hot sleepers.
Innerspring mattresses make up ⅓ of all mattress sales, but they are still consistently the lowest-rated as far as customer satisfaction. Innerspring beds start to sag after only 5 years, and if the comfort layer isn’t well-constructed, users may begin to feel the coils digging into their backs or sides.
If you want the bounce of an innerspring and the comfort of foam, opt for a hybrid— it’s a perfect mix of the two (literally 50% foam, 50% coils).
By definition, a hybrid must have at least 3 inches of memory or latex foam in the mattress as well as coils, almost always in the base. Hybrids present the customer with all the benefits of foam and innerspring without their associated downsides.
The coils in hybrid mattresses are usually individually wrapped in fabric to reduce any motion transfer. Because of these coils, hybrids are still very bouncy, unlike memory foam. They also do not offer quite as much pressure relief as all-foam beds do, but because of the foam in the top layers, they still give a nice, balanced feel.
Airbeds, or air mattresses as they are more commonly known, are mainly popular due to convenience, not comfort. They make great beds for camping or travel because they decompress and fold easily. Most of them can be easily set up if they include a pump.
We don’t recommend using an airbed on a typical bed frame or foundation since they are prone to popping or easily developing holes. These bed types work best on a flat surface, like the ground.
Waterbeds were a novelty in the 80s and 90s, but now, most people are looking for function and comfort over novelty. Regardless, waterbeds are still around and some customers prefer them because of their unique characteristics.
Because waterbeds are filled with water, they can be quite comfortable and conforming. They also offer little to no resistance, so they are soft, but not supportive.
Some like the feel of waterbeds because the gentle waves that develop as you lay on them can lull you off to dreamland. Waterbeds are also hypoallergenic, so there’s no worry about dust mites, allergens, or bed bugs infiltrating your bed.
However, waterbeds, like airbeds, are prone to puncturing and holes, causing leaks. They can also develop strange odors over time because moisture can lead to bacteria build-up.
Futons are the hallmark of all college dorms, but are they really that great? Well, no. They are cheap, convenient, and easy to set up, but they offer little in the way of comfort or support.
However, if you are in college and still have a rather spry back, you might be really comfortable on a futon. Those with chronic pain issues or poor posture should look elsewhere for a more supportive, softer bed.
Couch beds or rollaway beds are often found in hotel rooms or small apartments. They’re a convenient way to save space since you can easily put the bed away when you’re not using it.
Despite their convenience, couch beds are not usually known for their comfort. They are usually made using innerspring mattresses that easily fold up, and in order to do that, the mattress must be a little thin. Thin mattresses don’t offer much in the way of support, so if a regular innerspring mattress fits into your lifestyle and budget, go for that instead.
Things to Consider Before Buying
Now that you know all the different mattress types, you’re ready to buy, right? Well, not quite. Think of mattress shopping as a kind of self-awareness exercise— you have to know yourself in order to find the right bed.
Mattress shopping would be easier if we had no health concerns, always slept alone, and money wasn’t an object. But the truth is, at least one of those things affects all of us at some point, and so you’ll need to consider a few things before you buy a bed.
Do you live an active lifestyle?
If you’re an athlete or you just exercise a lot, your mattress can make or break your recovery. You’ll want a mattress that releases tension at your pressure points instead of making it build up. That means a mattress with a supportive core is crucial.
Memory foam beds are a good choice for athletes because they cradle pressure points nicely and a lot of them are infused with gel or graphite— sleeping hot is the last thing you’ll want when your muscles are trying to recover. Athletes may also find relief on a hybrid, since these offer lots of support, cushioning, and airflow.
Is the mattress going to be shared?
Sharing a bed with someone can be difficult, especially when you each have different sleep styles and preferences. Some companies have tried to address this by creating dual-sided mattresses with one firm side and one soft side. However, you can only sleep on one side of a mattress at a time, so if one of you likes it firm and the other soft, what are you supposed to do?
All good relationships involve compromise, and choosing a mattress to share is no exception. The best “middle ground” mattress is one with medium softness. To quantify this, you can think of firmness on a scale from 1-10, with one being extremely soft and 10 being super hard. A medium mattress usually falls between 6-7.
Most online mattress companies have at least one mattress marketed as “universally comfortable for all sleep styles.” These beds are usually a medium in firmness, but the feel can vary across mattress brands. Furthermore, a medium all-foam bed and a medium hybrid bed won’t feel exactly the same. Read customer reviews, especially those of people who sleep with a partner, so get an idea of how “universally comfortable” the bed really is.
How much weight does the mattress need to support?
In the context of mattress shopping, an overweight person is usually classified as more than 230 lbs. If you fall into this category, you will need a thick mattress (at least 10”) and one with an impressive support core.
On top of that, heavier sleepers may need a mattress that falls more on the “firm” side of the firmness scale since the mattress needs to support more weight. Choosing a mattress that’s too soft or thin could mean faster deterioration, and nobody wants that.
Hybrids and innersprings are popular among heavier sleepers because they are responsive, supportive, and less prone to sinking like memory foam. However, if you prefer the feel of memory foam over the other types, just make sure to choose one that’s a least 12” thick and uses high-density foam in the base.
Are you experiencing any health problems?
Our health is the fuel that keeps our lives going— when it’s drained, everything else suffers. So many of us have conditions that disrupt our sleep. Sometimes your mattress can be the missing piece to get you the rest you need.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, about 80% of adults experience back pain at some point in their lives. Many of those cases also report their back pain affects their sleep quality. Like we stated at the very beginning of this article, if your mattress is causing you significant pain, it’s time to replace it.
Back pain sufferers need a mattress that keeps their spine in neutral alignment– that means it shouldn’t be sinking down too far or arching upwards. Your sleeping position will affect your posture as well, and we’ll get to that later. For now, remember that no matter your sleep position, your mattress needs to support your back and cushion your pressure points.
If you suffer from back pain or any other chronic pain, a foam or hybrid mattress is probably your best bet since they offer a perfect blend of softness and support. The best firmness for you will depend on your sleeping position. If back pain is becoming a significant problem for you, make sure to see a healthcare professional.
You can also look into adjustable bed frames, since these allow you to really customize your sleeping position, among other things.
Are you trying to correct bad posture?
Most of us have probably heard our moms say “Sit up straight!” at least once in our lives. With so many of us in school or working at desk jobs, it’s easy to get into a bad habit of poor posture. While this can be easily corrected with practice, ignoring it can lead to larger health issues down the road.
Additionally, if your mattress is exacerbating your poor posture, you’re at an increased risk for back pain. Choose a mattress with sustained support in the core, like hybrids with their pocketed coils, or foam mattresses.
Does your current mattress make your allergies worse?
Allergies, whether seasonal or chronic, can make sleeping miserable. Thankfully, a lot of mattresses today are naturally hypoallergenic. If you want to take it a step further, look for mattresses with CertiPUR-US® or Greenguard Gold Certifications. These labels mean the mattress was manufactured without harmful chemicals, so you can sleep knowing your mattress is free from potential irritants.
Memory foam and latex foam are excellent hypoallergenic choices for anyone dealing with allergies. Additionally, using a good mattress protector or encasement will further protect your mattress from allergens, dust mites, and bed bugs.
Do you currently sleep hot?
Most of us conjure up cozy images of snuggling up in our warm beds when we picture going to sleep, but in reality, the best temperature for restful REM is actually between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit.
Your mattress can help or hurt you in this regard. Foam mattresses get a lot of flack for trapping heat, but as long as you choose one with open-cell technology and/or cooling materials infused into the foam, you shouldn’t have this issue. Hybrids and innersprings are other good options for hot sleepers since the coils in the core allow for natural airflow.
Look for descriptive words like “breathability,” “cooling,” and “open-cell.”
Best Mattress for Sleep Disorders
A Gallup poll done in 2013 found that the average American was only sleeping 6.8 hours a night, and 40% were getting even less than that. About 100 years ago, most people got an average of 9 hours every night. We could point the finger at the Internet, our jobs, even electricity for this rapid decrease in sleep, but that won’t solve the problem.
Taking a good hard look at your sleeping arrangements is a good place to start.
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder. It can be chronic and affect patients over their entire lives, or it can be instigated by a recent trauma, job loss, anxiety, and more. No matter the type, insomnia obviously affects sleep for the worse, and a good mattress can help.
Look for a bed that offers consistent, even support so you won’t find yourself rolling around on the bed all night. You’ll also want one that isn’t noisy, conforms closely to your body, and offers soft cushioning so you don’t wake up in pain (which can increase your anxiety and insomnia).
A latex or memory foam mattress is one of the best options for the sleep-deprived. It will cradle you gently to sleep and ensure you wake up pain-free.
Sleep Apnea and Snoring
Sleep apnea and snoring are closely related— both of them cause breathing issues while sleeping. Sleep apnea is a bit more serious as it can cause the patient to completely stop breathing while they sleep. Snoring is mostly harmless, but it can become a serious issue when it starts disrupting your sleep or your partner’s. It can also eventually lead to sleep apnea.
If you deal with breathing issues like snoring and sleep apnea, your mattress needs to keep your posture aligned— especially your neck, as insufficient support in this area can cause breathing problems. Your pillow will have a big impact on this as well, so choose one with plenty of support.
An adjustable bed is another good option for anyone dealing with these conditions. An inclined bed surface will keep your neck and head in a position that deters snoring.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless Leg Syndrome is exactly what it sounds like, and it affects 10% of American adults. If you’re dealing with this condition, you know how difficult it can be to fall asleep when you’re constantly fighting the urge to move your legs.
While a mattress certainly won’t cure your RLS, a good-quality one can help alleviate the symptoms and allow you to sleep more soundly. Look for a mattress that allows you to change positions easily without feeling stuck– this means a mattress with little to no motion transfer is best. Hybrids, memory foam, and latex foam mattresses are all great options.
You might also consider an adjustable base to help ease the pain and discomfort in your legs.
Consider your Sleeping Position
Yes, how you sleep has a tremendous influence on how well you sleep. Maybe you don’t think about it much, but the position you’re in for most of the night needs to be compatible with your mattress.
For example, stomach sleepers will probably be wildly uncomfortable on a super-plush mattress because they will constantly need to readjust so they don’t sink down. Their spines and backs will be all out of whack, causing pain. Let’s go over the best mattresses for the four most common sleeping positions.
Side sleeping is the most popular choice for most of us, and it’s also the healthiest! Side sleeping keeps the posture neutral, decreases the risk of snoring, and improves circulation. It’s also the healthiest position for pregnant women.
Side sleepers should choose a mattress that cushions their shoulders, hips, and other pressure points, while also keeping their spine straight. A medium or medium-firm mattress should do the trick.
As for mattress type, side sleepers can find comfort on memory foam, latex foam, or hybrid mattresses, as these all offer generous support and softness. An innerspring may not be soft or supportive enough for side-sleepers, so if you’re looking for bounce, opt for a hybrid or latex.
Back sleepers have one advantage over side-sleepers— they are probably in the best position for good posture. It’s also the position in which you’re less likely to develop wrinkles since your face isn’t pressed up against the pillow all night.
Back sleepers are more prone to snoring than others, so choosing a mattress with an even surface and hefty support is key. A medium or medium-firm mattress should feel comfortable to most back-sleepers. Hybrids, foam, and latex foam are all excellent choices for back sleepers.
Stomach sleeping is not recommended because of the strain it puts on your back and neck. However, if you are finding this habit hard to break, choose a mattress that’s responsive enough to keep the spine aligned. It should also be medium-firm to firm. Stomach sleepers may be comfortable on innersprings or hybrids since these offer more even support and less sink than latex or foam. However, they could also choose medium-firm or firm latex or foam mattresses.
Combo sleepers choose lots of different sleep positions all night, so it can be hard to determine which is the “dominant one.” If you sleep this way and don’t know which mattress to buy, you can either go for a medium-firm model, which suits most sleeping positions, or you can note the position you’re in when you wake up and claim that as your official sleeping position.
Budget and Pricing
The best mattresses aren’t free, no matter how tempting that neighborhood yard sale might be. Mattresses that cost $300 or less will probably break down not too long after you buy them. Additionally, overpriced mattresses with all the bells and whistles might be overcompensating for the fact that they aren’t all that comfortable.
Before you spend money on a mattress, consider how much you’re willing to maintain it, how you plan on using it (for example, in your bedroom vs. the guest bedroom), and what you expect it to do for you. If you just need a simple cushion to sleep on every night, finding a mattress within your desired price range probably won’t be hard.
On the other hand, if you share your bed with someone who has opposing sleep preferences, or if you deal with sleep disorders or health conditions, it might take a little more work and money to get the right mattress.
The following is a breakdown of the average cost for the most common mattress types (all prices are for queen-size mattresses):
|Mattress Type||Average Price|
Things that affect mattress prices can vary, but usually, the following factors should alert you to how spendy (or cheap) the bed will be: mattress materials, the company’s return policy and warranty, brand longevity and reputation, and of course, the mattress lifespan.
- Specialty foams, like gel memory foam or copper-infused foam, will sometimes make the bed pricier.
- Latex foam is usually more expensive by virtue of the fact that it’s more durable than other types.
- Pillow tops, found on innerspring or hybrid mattresses, can increase the value of a mattress, especially if they use proprietary foams.
- Beds addressing specific concerns, like mattresses for back pain. Sometimes these mattresses come with extra supports built into the mattress. More materials usually increase the cost.
- Beds with a generous warranty or free white glove delivery. The standard warranty length in the mattress industry is 10 years. If they offer more than 10 years, that can boost the price. Additionally, companies may offer white glove delivery, meaning someone will deliver, unpack, and set up your mattress and remove your old one. Even if the white glove delivery is “included” with your mattress purchase, it is also factored into the mattress cost.
- Thin mattresses (less than 10” thick) not only require much less material to make, but they are also much less comfortable. They will also break down quickly, so you get what you pay for.
- Mattresses with no warranty or return policy. Beware: if a mattress doesn’t have a warranty, that essentially means the company is unwilling to back their own product. Doesn’t instill much confidence, does it? Obviously, a mattress with no warranty or return policy will be cheaper, but it could cost you a lot more if you decide you don’t want it anymore and can’t get your money back for it. Then you’ll be stuck with no mattress, and you’ll be out the money you paid for it.
How much you are willing to spend depends entirely on your sleep needs and preferences. If you don’t need cooling gel foam or lumbar supports built into your mattress, feel free to pass on those mattresses and go for a more basic model.
Remember: basic doesn’t necessarily mean “ uncomfortable.” You can still find good quality beds for around $500. Just make sure to always read customer reviews!
When you’ve found the right bed for you, you can now focus on getting the best deal. Most established companies offer transparent and fair pricing, but sales weekends, such as the annual Labor Day Mattress sale held in-store and online.
Sleep Trials, Return Policies and Warranties
Customers have come to expect warranties with most of the things they buy. Warranties give us peace of mind when we’re dropping a large amount of money on something, and a mattress warranty is no different. Warranties vary depending on the company, but most cover the same few things:
- Sagging below a certain point (usually at least 1”)
- Bunching or rips beyond normal use
- Defects in the cover zipper or mattress material
- Burst or sagging coils
The mattress industry’s standard warranty length is 10 years. If a company offers more years than that, they will usually prorate the warranty, meaning the customer must pay a percentage of the mattress cost to get it repaired after the first 10 years.
Sleep trials were born out of necessity from the bed-in-a-box revolution. Since customers were no longer trying out a mattress in a showroom but instead using it in their own homes, companies needed to provide some way for customers to return the bed if they found it incompatible during that sleep trial.
The average sleep trial length for most online mattress companies is 90 days. Some even offer up to a year! It takes about 21-30 days to adjust to a new bed, so if a company’s sleep trial is less than that, move on to something else.
Return policies for online companies usually coincide with their sleep trial. If you’re not satisfied with your mattress within the sleep trial period, the company will arrange for someone to pick it up to be donated. Sometimes they require you to retain a donation receipt in order to get your refund. Your best bet is to keep a record of all communication to take full advantage of the return policy.
Consider your age
Age is just a number, but that number can affect the type of mattress you buy. Obviously, beds for babies will be completely useless for adults. Let’s go over the best mattress types for different age ranges.
Infants need to sleep on small, even surfaces with very little sinkage. A mattress with too much plush can put the baby at a higher risk for SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Currently, baby loungers are trendy because they allow the baby to sleep almost anywhere. They’re portable and don’t allow for the baby to roll around very much while they’re using it. However, it is not recommended that babies regularly sleep in loungers or use them as a normal bed. There is still a risk that the baby can turn over in a lounger and suffocate.
If your baby is sleeping in a cot or crib, choose a mattress that fits exactly. The standard crib-size mattress is 28” wide and 52” long. The mattress should be firm, and most are made with foam or coils. You can also choose from mattresses made with organic materials if that’s a concern for you.
Toddlers and Kids
Once your baby is older and ready to graduate to a bigger bed, you can choose from twin size, twin XL, or a full bed, which allows for lots of growth as they get older. Kids are pretty resilient, so they can usually be comfortable on foam, innerspring, hybrid, or latex beds.
Teenagers experience growth spurts, so some parents like to invest in a bigger bed to start with just to prepare for the extra room their kids might need. For teenagers, a twin, twin XL, full, or even a queen-size bed can work. If your teenager is quite active, a foam, hybrid, or latex mattress would probably be the most comfortable option.
Seniors don’t need to worry too much about the size of their mattress, as they probably know their preferences in that regard. If, however, you’re getting on the older side and find you need more support and comfort, memory foam or hybrid might be a good fit. Seniors may also find an adjustable bed is a great way to customize comfort and let them sleep more soundly.
What Size of Mattress is Right for You?
What if you live in a tiny apartment? What if you like to move around a lot while you sleep, and don’t want to worry about falling off the bed? What if you sleep with a partner and need lots of extra sleeping space? The answer to these questions is the same: choose the right size bed!
|Size||Dimensions (in inches)|
|Crib||28 x 52|
|Twin||38 x 75|
|Twin XL||38 x 80|
|Full (a.k.a a “double bed”)||54 x 75|
|Queen||60 x 80|
|King||76 x 80|
|California King||72 x 84|
A note about California Kings: often these size mattresses are used for adjustable beds or split beds. They are not as wide as king-sized beds, but they are four inches longer.
Look into the Composition of the Mattress
The most important parts of your mattress are invisible to you, but you shouldn’t disregard them. All the layers of your mattress may seem simple on their own, but when they come together, they either give you the best sleep of your life or no sleep at all!
The layers will be different depending on the mattress type you choose and the brand that makes it, and most companies will break down each layer on their website using an infographic. If you can’t readily find out what makes up all the layers of a mattress you’re considering, look elsewhere.
While recognizing that mattress composition varies across brands, we’ll go over the basic layers of each type.
Foundation: This layer sustains the coil support layer and is often made of wool.
Support core: This is where the coils and springs are! Coil type and number varies depending on the mattress and brand, but a supportive innerspring should at least use steel coils in their base.
Comfort layer: This is the pillow top, usually made using memory foam, polyfoam, plush cotton, or other soft fibers.
This mattress type has the most variation, with every brand claiming to do something different with their manufacturing processes, layer thickness, and so on.
The most basic foam mattress will only have two layers— a high-density foam as the support core and a softer support foam as the comfort layer. Of course, many brands have added more layers to address specific concerns, such as a cooling gel-foam layer, a transition foam layer (typically for more pressure-point relief and support), or convoluted foam for added contouring.
Support core: Usually made using high-density polyfoam.
Additional layers* (thickness, material type, and order vary): gel foam, transition foam, latex foam, and so on.
Comfort layer: Made using memory foam, gel-infused foam, or any soft, responsive foam.
*these layers are not always present
A hybrid must have at least three inches of foam along with a coil support core to qualify as a “hybrid.” Most hybrids use at least 1.5” of foam in the top layer and then more layers of foam throughout. Like memory foam, the construction of this mattress type varies, but they all usually have a few things in common.
Hybrids use pocketed coils, also known as Marshall coils, in their base. These are more supportive than traditional coils and give hybrids their bouncy feel without causing motion transfer.
Foundation: Usually made with thick, durable coils like Bonnell coils.
Support core: This layer acts as a buffer between the foundation and additional layers. It usually consists of pocketed, or wrapped coils for better motion isolation.
Additional layers (thickness, material type, and order vary): latex foam, gel foam, transition foam, memory foam, or microcoils.
Comfort layer: Often made using memory foam, more microcoils, polyfoam, or cotton fill.
Lest you think you know everything there is to know about mattresses now, think again! There are still a few other things to consider before you make your purchase. After all, this is a pretty big investment— not just of money, but of time and energy. The mattress you choose can influence your health for better or worse, so the extra time you put into research makes all the difference.
Ratings and Reviews
How can you trust all the mattress reviews out there? In the age of online mattresses, companies have begun to dispatch certain practices to make their mattresses appear in your search much easier. While this makes shopping more convenient and fast, it can also make it harder to distinguish bias.
Thoroughly read as many customer reviews as you can– furthermore, if a brand sells in other places beyond their website, such as Amazon, read reviews there. Make sure to read lower-star reviews too so you can gauge the most common complaints. Sometimes customers leave lower ratings because of customer service, shipping, or things unrelated to the mattress. Knowing your priorities before you shop can help you avoid any issues you might run into when you buy.
Some companies allow you to filter reviews by “type,” meaning if a customer mentions back pain, sleeping hot, or sleeping with a partner, you can read about their specific experiences and how they relate to yours.
If you cannot easily find lower customer ratings on a company’s website, that’s cause for concern. Companies should welcome customer feedback in order to improve their product, and if you notice a complete lack of criticism, that can be a red flag.
Value is not the same thing as price. It has more to do with brand reputation, mattress durability, and customer reviews. Overall, a mattress’ value will depend on you and your specific needs.
Generally, a bed with the best value will come with a generous warranty (at least 10 years, since that’s the industry standard), return policy, and even a sleep trial. If the bed is on the expensive side, read up on all the materials used to make it.
Remember, hybrid and latex beds tend to run on the spendier side, and models with special features such as additional back support cores, breathable foams, or wrapped coils can cost more, too.
How can you tell if your mattress is really “high quality”? Reading reviews from customers who bought their mattress at least three months ago will give you a better idea of how long the mattress holds up.
Perhaps you want a mattress made using green materials such as organic cotton, wool, or plant-based foams. Just because a material is organic doesn’t mean it will hold up longer— typically people choose “green” mattresses for other reasons.
Company Reputation and Transparency
In general, companies should disclose where their mattresses are made, how they manufacture the materials, and any other pertinent information the customer needs to know, like warranty, return policy, and sleep trial policies.
If a company claims to make their mattresses in the USA, make sure this is actually the case by doing some digging. Additionally, if they claim to have certifications, like CertiPUR-US®, the certification should be accompanied by the registered trademark symbol (®).
You can look at the company’s profile on the Better Business Bureau for more info about their company practices, but this is not always the most reliable or updated place to get information. Read the company’s “about” page on their website or their FAQs. If reading through those doesn’t answer all your questions, engage a customer service representative via chat or e-mail.
Firmness and ILD Ratings
We’ve talked a little bit about mattress firmness so far, and it’s a key part of the mattress comfort level. Your sleeping position will greatly influence which firmness you prefer, but it also helps to understand the most common firmness levels in mattresses and what they can mean for overall support.
Companies measure the firmness of latex and memory foam by testing the ILD, or Indentation Load Deflection. This measurement tells them how much weight the mattress can take on before it is indented to 25% of its thickness. Therefore, the higher the ILD, the firmer the mattress.
A customer service rep may be able to answer your questions about the ILD rating of a mattress, but most brands will simplify this by using a “firmness scale” from 1-10, with 1 being incredibly soft and 10 being very firm. The ILD rating is not often advertised on the website simply because the firmness scale is easier to understand.
Firmness Scale Rating:
1: Very soft or plush, sinks deeply and easily.
2-3: Soft, surface sinks and conforms significantly.
4: Medium soft, surface sinks somewhat and conforms closely.
5: Medium, the surface doesn’t sink too much but still conforms.
6: Medium-firm, surface doesn’t sink too much but conforms a little.
7-8: Firm: Surface does not sink hardly at all, minimal conforming.
9-10: Extra firm: No sinking or conforming.
What About Mattress Foundations?
Now that you’ve done all the research on the mattress, you’ll need a solid place to put it. Most companies should and do specify the best type of foundation to use their mattresses on. They do this because using your mattress on an incompatible base can void your warranty.
The best type of foundation will depend on the mattress type. Typically, innerspring mattresses need a box spring in addition to the actual bed foundation. Foam, latex, and some hybrids don’t need box springs, but they need supportive bases without lots of gaps, which can cause sinking or damage to the mattress.
If you’re looking for further customization, check out an adjustable bed frame. These allow you to lift your feet or head to a healthy posture, and some adjustable frames come with nightlights, USB ports, or snore buttons. Adjustable beds work best with foam or latex mattresses since these are more pliable. The firmer the mattress, the thinner it should be in order to work with an adjustable bed.
Worst Mattress Types
Just like the word “best” is subjective, the “worst” bed is not easily defined. What works wonderfully for one person might be terrible for the next. With that said, there are some bed types that may not work for anyone due to their construction and other features (or lack thereof).
|Promo beds||Promo beds are usually offered as part of a sale, like “buy one mattress get one free.” While these seem like a great deal at the time, the promo bed is often not good quality and will deteriorate quickly.|
|Thin mattresses||A good mattress should be at least 10” tall to give the user adequate support and durability. If you are heavier-set, you will need a mattress that is at least 12” or taller.|
|Beds with no warranty, return policy or sleep trial||Obviously, you need a safety net in case your mattress doesn’t end up working for you. If the company doesn’t offer any sort of return policy, warranty, or sleep trial, it might be time to look elsewhere. Ideally, if you bought the bed online, it should come with a sleep trial.|
|Overpriced beds||Most good quality mattresses cost $1000-$1500 on average (for a queen-size). If you are paying more than that and the bed isn’t a hybrid or doesn’t come with special features, it’s probably not worth the extra cost. Beware of “luxury mattresses” that seem to have all the bells and whistles but the reviews speak otherwise.|
Take the Pain Out of Mattress Shopping
We all need a supportive place to sleep at the end of the day. While mattress-shopping can seem like a headache, we hope after reading this guide you feel more confident about the process and ready to find the perfect bed for all your needs. The most comfortable mattresses will conform comfortably to your sleeping position and offer ample posture support, giving you a good night’s sleep.