Are you tossing and turning all night long and waking up a crick in your neck or a stiff back? Do you wish you could at least get one night of deep, restful sleep without feeling like you aged 50 years over night when you wake up the next morning?
Then it may be time to buy a new mattress.
Sleeping on the proper mattress can be the key to getting a restful night of sleep.
Getting a good night sleep is one of the most important things you can do to make sure you are living a healthy life.
A study published in Sleep Medicine Reviews conducted by University of Pennsylvania Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology, Division of Sleep Medicine researcher Michael Gardner clearly spells out the link between quality sleep and healthy longevity. (1)
Since, ⅓ of your life is spent in bed trying to get that good sleep to fuel your life, it’s so important to have the best mattress you can have for you.
But how do you buy a mattress that suits your sleep needs the best? What should you take into consideration when you buy a mattress?
Read on to discover:
8 Signs You Need to Buy a New Mattress
Conventional wisdom and advice suggests replacing your mattress every seven to ten years. Other studies indicate that this may not be the most accurate time frame.
A study conducted at Oklahoma State University suggests that people who switch their mattress every 5 years sleep significantly better and have less back and other body pain.(2)
Whether you choose to go by the 5 or 10 year rule, there are reasons why you would want to replace your mattress sooner for a better night’s sleep, and in some cases, better overall health.
Here are a few additional reasons to replace your mattress sooner than the 5 to 10 year mark:
- It’s Painful Getting Up: If you are not a morning person, getting up in the morning is a fight against the snooze button. But when getting up crosses the line from being tough to being downright painful in your back and body, it might be time to replace that mattress.
- Tossing and Turning All Night: Do you struggle to find a comfortable position at night? If you can never seem to find a good position to fall asleep in, you are probably in need of a good, new mattress.
- More Congestion Than Sleep: Mattresses (and pillows too) hold on to allergy causing microorganisms. Beyond that, they are often breeding grounds to bad smelling bacteria and other unpleasant things like dust mites. If you feel congested at night or in the morning, and it is not due to a cold or other known airborne allergies, it is probably time to replace your mattress.
- One Lump or Two: Can you describe your mattress like you would describe how you take sugar in your tea or coffee? If there are lumps in your mattresses, it is time to start looking for a replacement mattress.
- You Sleep, But Aren’t Refreshed: A mattress and bed should be inviting and relaxing. This helps you drift off to a deep, refreshing sleep. A mattress that does not help you relax fully will result in you not being refreshed in the morning.
- Sleep Better on the Road? People generally sleep much better at home, in their own bed, than they do on the road. So if you find it easier to sleep on your parent’s couch or a hotel bed than your own bed, it is probably time to replace that mattress.
- Creaking and Moaning: Like a house, as it ages, your mattress’ box spring starts to wear out. As this happens, it starts to creak and moan like a loose floor board. If this is happening, it is time to consider a new mattress.
- You’ve Aged: As you age, your body’s needs for support for your back and body changes. Once you are over the age of 40, it is recommended you switch your mattress every 7 - 8 years to support aging joints and muscles.
Whether your mattress has reached its recommended replacement time or you find that one of the above reasons describes your situation, it is time to replace your current mattress.
6 Hard Facts to Consider When Buying a Mattress
There are some issues you absolutely must take into mind when you are in the market for a new mattress. These are the logistic points that you can’t ignore when you choose your mattress.
There are many sizes of bed ranging from a small twin bed to an oversized California king bed. Some light sleepers may be most comfortable in a bigger bed, while other people feel overwhelmed by the vastness of a large bed.
Ultimately the size of the mattress doesn’t matter as much but you should still take into consideration your personal preferences as well as the amount of space in your bedroom.
A giant California king mattress may not be the best choice for a small bedroom.
Who Should Consider Buying
38” wide x 75” long
Families with children transitioning out of toddler beds, shorter singles with limited space
Full Size or Double Beds
54” wide x 75” long
Families with teens, single people that are shorter, couples with limited space
60” wide x 80” long
Couples that don’t have room for a king
76” wide x 80” long
Couples that have big bedrooms. Couples that prefer more sleeping space. Families that co-sleep with their children.
California King Beds
72” wide x 84” long
Tall couples that have large bedrooms.
You may have heard that sleeping on a firm surface really helps with back pain. Some take this so far as to suggest sleeping on the floor is best.
The truth is, what’s best for the back is firm support, not a firm surface. This may seem like a subtle difference. But support in a mattress should focus on pressure points and other areas that need to be supported.
The rest of the mattress should be comfortable to you.
How firm or soft a mattress is is usually measured on a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being the firmest version and 10 being the softest.
Who It’s Best For
Larger people, stomach sleepers
Average sized people, side and back sleepers
Petite people, smaller side and back sleepers
Your Weight and Size
Your own body weight, shape and size are all important considerations when shopping for the right mattress. In general the heavier you are the thicker and firmer a mattress you need.
Larger people generally need a mattress that is at least 10 inches thick with at least a medium firm support. Smaller people don’t require as thick a mattress or as supportive of a sleeping surface.
Proper Frame Support
Though not a part of the mattress itself, the box-spring under the mattress is a large part of the overall quality and feel of the bed.
The larger the mattress, the more support it needs. A king size bed will require two center supports while a queen would require only one. Smaller size mattresses may not require a center support at all.
What kind of warranty your bed offers says a lot about the company you are buying from and the quality of the mattress itself.
If the manufacturer has enough faith in it’s mattress to offer full money back for a long period of time, you are probably getting a better quality mattress.
A good mattress will have a full replacement warranty for defects for up to 10 years. Be sure to read the fine print though before committing as you don’t want to find out the hard way just how difficult it is to cash in on a warranty or find that you are not as covered as you thought.
Though not directly related to purchasing a quality mattress, the ability to get the mattress home is very important.
There are a few delivery factors to consider before purchase: can it fit in your vehicle, how much extra is delivery cost, and can the mattress fit in your bedroom or fit going up to the bedroom.
Other factors include getting rid of your old mattress and bed. Make sure you have a plan for both how to get the mattress home and getting rid of your old bed.
Pro-Tip: Most online stores like Amazon and pretty much all new mattress startups offer free delivery and return if you decide to shop online. Some even offer to dispose of your old mattress for you - making this the most comfortable way to buy a mattress.
Since you can't try the mattress in store, some online shops (but not Amazon) offer an extra long trial period up to 100 days.
7 General Considerations for Buying a New Mattress
Purchasing a mattress is more like buying a car or house than buying bread.
Not every mattress is good for everyone and not everyone shares what you believe is the best option in terms of mattress.
Some reasons come down to preference, such as size, others come down to price, but some of the most important reasons come down to what’s best for your health.
Here are some of the top things to consider when buying a new mattress:
Talk to Your Doctor
If you have a health condition, one of the first things you need to consider is what your doctor or physical therapist has to say.
They may be able to narrow down your choices to a few of the best options that fit your particular health needs.
The best mattress is not likely the first one you look at or the salesperson points to. Depending on your exact needs, it may not even be in the first store you shop at.
Don’t let anyone convince you there are only one or two options available, and if you don’t find one that works for you, ask to see other models or move on to the next store.
Pro-Tip: Make sure to check out online stores like Amazon to hunt for discounts. If you are not in a rush online shopping provides a comfortable way to test multiple mattresses using free delivery and return offers from various online retailers.
Adjustable beds offer the ability to raise your head and legs. The angle that you raise them will help you to alleviate pressure points in your body.
Also, the bed adjusting versus using your pillows creates a more stable lift for your body as you sleep through the night.
Shop At Speciality Stores
A big box store that sells everything from milk to mattresses is not the best place to get a mattress.
You should shop at stores that specialize in mattresses both for better selection and better advice on what types of mattresses will best suit your sleeping needs.
But be wary of stores that only sell one type of mattress. An overly specialized store may try to convince you that their type of mattress is the only one you need.
A good speciality store will sell multiple brands and options.
Pro-Tip: We usually recommend Amazon here since there is such a huge variety of mattresses to choose from. There are various other specialized online stores for you to try though.
Take It For a Test Drive
You should lay on a mattress while in the store. Don’t just lay for a second or two, try actually laying for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Anything less than this does not give you much of a chance to see how the mattress really feels. If you have a partner you regularly share the bed with, you should lie with your partner.
Be aware, a salesperson might try to push you towards making a faster decision, but take the time to lay while in the store or you may be sorely disappointed later.
If you are fortunate enough to buy a mattress from a company with a good return policy, be sure to read all the fine print.
Some companies these days like Casper or Leesa offer very lenient return policies as part of the incentive to shop with them.
Casper or Leesa offer buyers a 100 day trial. During this time, you can sleep on the mattress and return it for a full refund no questions asked.
Keep in mind, like new shoes, it takes a bit of time to properly adjust to a new mattress. (3)
Be A Wary Buyer
Just like car dealers that throw around all kinds of claims and reasons to buy from them, you need to be wary of false claims by mattress sales.
For example, there are no medical organizations that actually certify a mattress as “orthopedic” or “medically approved.”
These mattresses might contain some good elements that are beneficial for orthopedics, they are not actually certified. (4)
Shop For Best Quality and Value
For price conscious shopping, it is often easy to shop at a certain price point and go for cheaper rather than good quality.
The best thing to do is shop for the best quality at the best value. Look for sales and cheaper prices on the same quality mattress, don’t buy cheap, poor quality mattresses.
7 Types of Mattresses on the Market: An Overview
If you haven’t shopped for a mattress in awhile, you might be surprised by all the mattresses on the market today. Gone are the days of just choosing between firm and soft support.
These days, you can find everything from traditional coil spring mattresses to high tech memory foam or adjustable mattresses and everything in between.
Choosing between all the different types of mattresses can be overwhelming and confusing to start. Let’s break down each type of mattress so you can make an informed buying decision.
Innerspring or Coil Mattresses
This traditional type of mattress uses a steel coil pocket support system wrapped in fabric. Manufacturers offer several different types of spring systems.
These systems include units with springs connected into a single unit and individually wrapped pocketed coils.
Aside from supporting spring systems, the spring shapes, coil sizes, and number of coils in a mattress vary.
The mattress’s coils or innersprings make up the core of the mattress and provide it structure and support. Coil count doesn’t always matter, but the basic idea is is the more coils, the more points of support for the sleeper.
Padding and secondary coils may cover this innerspring system. The type and amount of padding can vary. Generally, the more padding a mattress offers, the more luxury it may be.
Pros of Innerspring Mattresses
- Cost effective.
- Most of the mattresses in stores are innerspring mattresses.
- There are many variations in innerspring mattresses that can fit your needs.
Cons of Innerspring Mattresses
- Shorter lifespan than other mattresses.
- The mattresses need to be rotated regularly. If they are not turned and rotated regularly, chances are one area of the mattress will wear out quicker than others, leading to areas that sag and are not as supportive.
- Coils may cause pressure points or aggravate existing aches and pains.
- These mattresses are more of a one size fits all approach to sleep.
Memory Foam Mattresses
Since the mid-1990s, memory foam mattresses have soared in popularity and availability.
The traditional memory foam mattress features memory foam in the comfort layer only, meaning the support layer is either a polyurethane foam or a more traditional innerspring design.
In comparison to other comfort layers, memory foam is very good at relieving pressure points. It’s slow response to your body sinking into it gives the sensation of floating or melting into your bed.
How Does Memory Foam Work?
Memory foam, or as it is officially known polyurethane foam, is made up of billions of little air filled cells.
These cells decompress when pressure and heat are applied to them. When you lie down on a memory foam mattress, the foam cells closest to your body slowly release their air. This creates a melting effect as the mattress slowly starts to conform to the shape of your body.
Similarly, when you get up, the foam cells slowly refill with air. This is where the term ‘memory’ came from as it takes a few minutes for the mattress to return to its normal shape.
Remember not all memory foam works the same. In general, the denser the foam, the longer it lasts and the more expensive it will be.
Memory foam density is measured by the weight of one cubic foot of the material. Most of the time, a memory foam mattress features a softer layer of foam on top and a firmer “core” layer to provide the support.
The thicker the foam layer, the more your body will sink into the mattress.
Sometimes denser memory foam will feel firmer, but this is not always the case. You can find dense memory foam that is soft as well.
Pros of Memory Foam Mattresses
- They relieve pressure points.
- Hypoallergenic for allergy sufferers
- Long lasting and durable. Good quality memory foam can last for 3-7 years longer than a standard mattress.
- Reduces motion transfer from your bedmate.
Cons of Memory Foam Mattresses
- New technology that’s not well tested.
- Does not help sleep apnea or other sleep breathing disorders.
- Memory foam lacks support.
- The foam retains heat and can make it uncomfortably hot for some.
- New mattresses release a smell.
Gel mattresses use foam mattress technology but infuse gel into the foam’s support system or upholstery layers or both. The gel foam gives sleepers a different support, feel and heat dissipation features.
Like other foam mattresses, a gel mattress starts out with a thick layer of supportive polyfoam to build solid base for all of the other comfort layers on top of it.
No matter how the gel is made or added, it is added in a way that ensures it is evenly distributed during the mattress making process.
The gel itself can be made in one of the two following ways:
- Tiny beads. In this method, the gel is made into little beads, which are evenly distributed into the foam during manufacturing.
This creates a cell structure that allows air movement and flow while you sleep, allowing for a cooler sleeping environment.
- Liquid state gel. In this method, the liquid gel is added to the foam during manufacturing.
Most mattress experts agree that this method is the prefered method of adding gel because the gel gets more dispersed in the mattress.
Pros of Gel Mattresses
- Gel mattresses create a cooler sleeping surface than memory foam.
- Good for pressure relief.
- Distributes weight evenly.
Cons of Gel Mattresses
- Other mattresses outperform gel mattresses in cooling.
- Cost. These mattresses tend to be more expensive than traditional innerspring mattresses.
- These mattresses require you to do your homework prior to buying them.
- Unknown lifespan of a gel mattress is or how quickly it needs to be replaced.
Extra Considerations for Gel Mattresses
To make an informed buying decision you should know how the gel is added to the mattress, the thickness of the mattress cover, what density the foam is, and where the foam is poured and manufactured.
These details may not be readily available but can affect the longevity and comfort of the mattress.
Hybrid mattresses get their name because they literally are creating by combining other mattress types to make a hybrid.
Most hybrid mattresses have an innerspring core surrounded by layers of foam or gel foamIn theory, this allows you take advantage of the best of both technologies while minimising the drawbacks.
Pros of Hybrid Mattresses
- Offer the support of a traditional innerspring mattress while giving you the even weight distribution of gel or memory foam mattresses.
- More cost effective and budget friendly than all gel or all memory foam alternatives.
- Better airflow than a memory foam or gel mattress, allowing for a cooler, more comfortable night of sleep.
- Many firmness options are available.
- There is little transfer of motion from one side of the bed to the other
Cons of Hybrid Mattresses
- The durability and lifespan are questionable.
- Cost. These mattresses are more expensive than most innerspring mattresses.
- These mattresses are often very bulky and heavy.
Latex mattresses use latex foam as either the support system or in the upholstered layers. These mattresses are made from either natural or synthetic rubber.
While there are firmness options available, they have a reputation for very firm, uniform support.
Pros of Latex Mattresses
- Organic and green options available for eco conscious buyers.
- Firm and supportive but provide comfort similar to memory foam.
- Latex doesn’t let the sleeper get sucked into the mattress and pushes back.
- They may have some customizable options available.
Cons of Latex Mattresses
- Latex retains heat.
- Has a smell when they are new that many sleepers find to be a turn off.
- May not appeal to those that like a softer sleeping surface.
- Very heavy and bulky.
- More expensive than traditional coil spring mattresses.
Adjustable mattresses allow you to raise and lower your head and/or feet with adjustable controls that are found on both side of a two person bed.
Typically, this type of bed allows the feet and the head to adjust to different levels, which allows for greater comfort during sleep.
For those of you unfamiliar with how this would work, picture a hospital bed with its raising and lowering features.
Adjustable beds offers you a potentially excellent night sleep and unique functionality. But as with other mattresses, adjustable mattresses come with their own set of pros and cons.
Pros of Adjustable Mattresses
- It is easier to get out of bed for those with mobility issues.
- Adjusting the position of your feet and head relieves pressure points.
- Benefits reflux sufferers.
- Eases breathing issues and sleep apnea.
- Adjustable positions allow for multifunctionality of bed.
- Perks like vibration, heat options, and ability to charge electronic devices.
Cons of Adjustable Mattresses
- You must make sure to test an adjustable mattress since they are so varied.
- High cost.
- High maintenance.
- Incredibly heavy.
- Need for specialized sheets.
- Noisy to use the adjustment.
- Adjustments make it hard to change positions in bed.
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Unlike other mattresses, zoned mattresses use different materials and/or levels of firmness in different parts or "zones" of a mattress support layer.
The construction combines the comfort of pressure relief with proper support and spinal alignment.
There are several types of zoned mattresses.
The most common zoned mattress type has a firmer layer of support under the area of the mattress where the hips would be since this area of the body has the most weight.
There are two softer zones above and below this for the shoulders and head area and the legs. The idea with this construction is to offer the most support and push back on the body where the body pushes on the mattress the most.
Pros of Zoned Mattresses
- Many zoned combinations to choose from to give you proper support and comfort.
- May provide pressure relief.
- Can promote neutral spinal alignment.
- May keep you comfortable in multiple sleeping positions.
Cons of Zoned Mattresses
- High cost.
- Hard to find.
- Must try in person before buying.
- Technology may be unnecessary and provide no extra comfort or support.
- Too many zones might be counterproductive to good alignment.
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Best Mattress for Side Sleepers, Back Sleepers and Stomach Sleepers
Your sleeping position directly impacts your mattress choice because different positions require different levels of support or softness.
Sleep Position Preference
Mattresses to Consider
Firm to medium firm
Serta Perfect Sleeper innerspring mattress
Medium firm to medium
Charles P. RogersPowercore Estate 5000 mattress
Medium to Soft
Simmons Beautyrest Classic Pocketed Coil Mattress
Whatever suits your personal preference, potentially a zoned mattress
Cozy Pure Performance 5 Zone Natural Latex
Best Mattress Brands
Just as not all mattress are created the same, not all brands rate the same. Here are some of the best mattress brands available and what makes them stand out among the rest.
Amerisleep offers beds made with more eco-friendly, plant-based memory foam that is derived from soybean oils. Users report minimal issues with excess heat and odor from the mattress. Amerisleep offers a variety of mattresses from economical to luxury.
Tempurpedic offers a wide-range of mid to luxury level memory foam mattresses. In the memory foam market, Tempurpedic tends to be looked at as the standard to meet or exceed for the competition.
In general, the brand is acclaimed for use of good quality materials, conforming ability, pain relief, mattress lifespan, and model variety and availability.
Easy Rest offers a range of therapeutic adjustable beds. Their beds are sold in all sizes. The company guarantees in-home service of the bed by specially trained technicians, in the event the need should arise.
Sealy tends to perform quite well with tests and consumer feedback for their innerspring mattresses.
Most notably, Sealy mattresses tend to have low incidence of heat retention, pocketed coils to isolate motion, are good for both side and back sleepers, and Sealy offers a 10-year warranty.
Saatva specializes in mattress options that cater to those looking for quality and comfort on a budget.
The mattresses are eco-friendly and made in the United States.
Serta features a variety of innerspring mattresses that come in a variety of prices and firmness and comfort levels. Initial comfort and support is often good.
Serta offers a 120-day in-home trial for some of their models.
Serta mattresses are widely available in stores and online, making them accessible to the average consumer.
Casper is a new star on the horizon, leading the "mattress revolution" that has shaken up the usually rather quiet and conservative mattress market.
Their claim: Their product designers have created the perfect mattress for all sleeping types which combines comfort, support and an appealing visual experience in one mattress.
Leesa is another one of the young startups which are on the mission to revolutionise the mattress market. Their offer is similar to Caspers - a hybrid foam mattress which suits stomach, side and back sleepers alike.
Tuft & Needle
Yet another mattress startup - founded in 2012 and located in Phoenix, Arizona, Tuft & Needle offers a single mattress with a trial period of 100 days.
Like most other mattress startups T&N focuses on online retail but also has a brick-and-mortar store in Phoenix.
Purple is yet another mattress startup that started out as a Kickstarter campaign that managed to collect 500% of it's original goal.
Besides their mattress they also offer pillows, cushions, mattress protectors and more.
How to Care for Your Mattress
Caring for your mattress depends on a few factors including quality, type of mattress, and general recommendations from the manufacturer.
Here are a few general tips for caring for your mattress that applies to nearly any mattress:
If you have a good, moisture proof cover on your mattress, you will probably find that cleaning the mattress itself is not necessary more than a few times a year.
You can instead, care for the cover and sheets by running it through the washing machine. If you don’t use a pad, you would probably want to consider surface cleaning it with fabric cleaners about once a month.
You may also want to use baking soda to help remove odors from the mattress. If crumbs or dirt get in your bed, vacuuming is a great method of getting rid of excess particles.
This can mean literally flipping it over or turning the mattress so your head and feet are switched when laying down again.
Flipping it over is more for traditional types of mattresses, and the manufacturer should provide a guide for how often to do so. Turning the mattress around is usually done for pillow top and other speciality mattresses.
Again, check with the manufacturer for how often and which method is best for your mattress. A good rule is flip the mattress once a month.
Replacing Your Mattress
A mattress life can vary from 5 years to well into the teens. The general consensus among researchers seems to be every 5 - 10 years. Each brand and type of mattress will vary some.
The manufacturer will likely provide a guide of how often to replace your particular mattress.
Mattress Extras and Accessories
A salesperson is likely going to offer you several add-on options, from pillows to mattress covers.
Though many of them may be gimmicky or over-priced at the mattress store, some of them can greatly add to the quality of your sleep experience.
A high quality, waterproof mattress cover is a must to avoid unnecessary damage from spills and the growth of bacteria and other germs that seep into your unprotected mattress over time.
Mattress pads come in a variety of styles from extra plush pillowtop pads to memory foam pads. They can help provide an extra layer of comfort but are not necessary with the proper mattress.
Also known as a bed spring or box spring, these frames support the mattress. Choose one with enough support for the size and weight of the mattress.
What is a good mattress without a comfortable pillow? Pick one or two designed for your favorite sleeping position and do try it out in a store prior to buying.
You may have to experiment as you should use enough pillows to properly support your head and remove the angle between your shoulder and head.
Now that you have a comfy bed and pillow, just finish off your sleep experience with sheets and a blanket. You’ll want to buy a sheet set with a fitted sheet and a top sheet, a blanket, and a bed spread or comforter.
Your bedding purchase should factor in your climate and comfort. You want breathable, lightweight bedding in warmer climates, and heavier bedding in cooler areas.
Also consider the thread count and the material the sheets and blankets are made from.
Generally the higher the thread count is, the softer and more luxurious the bedding is. Premium fabrics like bamboo and silk offer a different feel from cotton or polyester bedding.
Choose whatever feels the most comfortable for you.
Mattress Buying Conclusions
To sum it up, buying a mattress is a big decision for your health and well being.
You are not just purchasing your next mattress, you are investing in your next mattress and your overall health and well being since your mattress directly impacts the quality of sleep you will get.
Remember, the relationship with your mattress is a long-term relationship. It is important to consider why you are buying your next mattress and consider issues related to your health and what you find comfortable.
Keep in mind, no matter how good or bad a mattress may be depends a lot on you and your opinion.
However, keeping in mind what a mattress is designed for and what to look for in terms of quality, support, and comfort will help make your next mattress purchasing decision a much easier one.