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8 Things You Should Know Before Buying a New Mattress

Child bouncing on a bed
Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty

A good night’s sleep has a refreshing and re-energizing effect that is often needed to get you through the next day. That’s why finding the best mattress for your particular sleeping needs is quite an important shopping experience. If you’re not sure what to look for in a mattress, here are a few tips you should know before buying a mattress. 

1. Focus on comfort

The most important thing to consider is your own comfort level. Even if you buy the most expensive mattress, you won’t have the best sleeping experience of your life if you’re not comfortable on it. What to look for in a mattress boils down to several other factors, like the size, firmness, and type of materials used in the mattress.

When you’re buying a new mattress, remember to look for a mattress that’s best for you, not the mattresses that the experts hail as the best ever on the market.

2. Find the right size for your needs

If you feel restricted by a narrow bed, then you need a more spacious double bed. A queen size may be a bit large for an individual person, but it’s great if you like the extra space.

King-sized or California king mattresses are made for master bedrooms and offer plenty of space for couples. Keep in mind that moving a mattress this large can present some challenges if not done the right way.

3. Firmness labels are not accurate 

One brand’s extra firm may be equivalent to another brand’s medium firm option. You can’t trust these labels completely. If you are shopping in-store, make sure you test always test the mattress out yourself. Most mattress and bed shops will allow you to lie down on the mattress so you can test it.

4. Read consumer mattress reviews when buying online

Checking product reviews is a good habit to get into. And with a purchase as important (and expensive) as your mattress, you don’t want to take any risks. Reading reviews gives you a more practical idea of the popular mattresses currently available and allows you to narrow down the huge field of choices when buying a new mattress.

5. Firmer vs. softer

Testing Orthopedic Memory Foam Core Mattress
AndreyPopov / Getty

You need just enough firmness to properly support your spine and other parts of your body. Firmer mattresses are usually preferred by back and stomach sleepers because they tend to provide better spine support. But excess firmness can cause uncomfortable pressure points and prevent your spine from maintaining its natural curve while you sleep.

On the other hand, too much softness will sag under the middle area of the spine, which can cause poor posture and lead to back pain. This is why a softer mattress is usually better for side sleepers.

6. Decide on a budget and stick to it

The prices of mattresses vary greatly, so you need to set a price you are willing to pay and not go over that amount. And remember to take your time when shopping for a mattress – you’ll want to be sure you made the right decision. The last thing you want to do is bring home a bad mattress and then go through all the hassles of returning it.

You should also be on the lookout for a good warranty, especially if you’re buying a more expensive mattress. The longer the warranty, the better.

There’s no denying that innerspring and memory foam mattresses are usually popular (and cheaper) choices but have a few downsides. 

Innerspring beds are prone to sagging and allergens, are noisy, and have a bouncy effect some people find uncomfortable. While memory foam mattresses tend to feel hot, can have an unpleasant chemical smell, and is prone to body indentations. 

There’s always the option for a hybrid mattress as well. If you want to get the benefits of the different types of mattresses, get hybrids like latex and memory foam combination, or an innerspring with memory foam top layer.

8. Consider pricier options 

If your mattress budget is a bit larger, consider adjustable air beds, multi-zoned beds, and waterbeds as potential options. An adjustable air bed may be expensive, but it allows you to adjust your mattress to be as firm or soft as you want. 

If you find adjustable beds too expensive, a multi-zoned bed is a good alternative. These mattresses are designed with different support zone layers. Hunt for a mattress that is softer at the hips and shoulders, but firmer at the mid-spine area.

The bottom line

Knowing what to look for in a mattress will steer you in the right direction when it comes time to make a decision. Remember that you will spend more time on your bed than any other furniture item in your home. A small amount of time spent researching your mattress choices can guarantee your comfort and well-being for years to come.

Frequently asked questions


What do you look for in a bed?


You’ll want to focus on price, size, firmness, and construction of the mattress.


How do I know I need a new mattress?


If you suspect that it is time to get a new mattress due to age, smell, or any number of other factors, there are a few things to take into consideration. And if you decide it’s time, check out our guidelines on what times of year are the best time to buy a new mattress.

Kristina Byas contributed to this report

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