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How to Buy a Mattress and What to Consider

Woman's hands pressing on white mattress
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Your mattress is an investment in your quality of sleep and overall long-term health. When choosing how to buy a mattress, it’s essential to assess your personal needs. After all, almost half of our life is spent in bed. We have put together a must-read mattress buying guide with important steps and tips to find the best mattress for you.

What is the best mattress?

Buying a mattress can be overwhelming. Brands may promote certain features, benefits, and enhancements to create the ultimate night’s sleep. Even with all that info, the best mattress is subjective, as no two people sleep alike. This is why it’s important to ask yourself: What is the best mattress for my unique needs? Take time to research and read customer reviews, but the ultimate decision comes down to how your body responds to each mattress style.

How to buy a mattress in 5 steps

Step 1: Decide if it’s time for a new mattress

Buying a mattress is a long-term investment. Your body will certainly tell you when it’s time for a new one. Indicators include restless sleep, waking with back or other body pain, and even signs on the mattress itself, like  sagging or unevenness. Another indicator is finding yourself sleeping soundly when not in your own bed.

If you’re buying a mattress now, you’re in for the long haul. The industry now features latex mattresses like Purple that last approximately ten years, or Essentia, who reports their latex mattresses can last up to an impressive 30 years. The durability of latex delivers a longer mattress lifespan. For memory foam mattresses, they last eight to 10 years on average. Innerspring mattresses, including Sealy’s innerspring Response line last about 10 years. While pillow-top mattresses deliver extra cushioning, they offer the shortest lifespan due to sagging, as reported by the Layla mattress brand.

There are quite a few ways to extend the life of your mattress. Add a waterproof mattress protector, especially for memory foam mattresses, as fluids can cause a faster breakdown of memory foam (and by that same token, maybe don’t eat in bed). Rotate your mattress twice a year to avoid an uneven mattress surface. This will help especially if you and your partner vary in height and weight. While some mattresses are flippable, quite a few are not, due to pillow tops or specific mattress layers. Always fully read your mattress manual and warranty before rotating or flipping your mattress.

Mattress Type Average Lifespan
Memory foam 8 to 10 years
Innerspring 10 years
Hybrid 10 years
Latex 10 to 30 years
Pillow top 6 years

Step 2: Determine what your body needs for a good night’s sleep

What position do you sleep in?

Your sleep position plays an important role in your mattress purchase. Proper spine support and alignment during sleep are essential according to the International Chiropractors Association. When preparing your mattress wish list, think about what position you and your partner sleep in throughout the night. For example, if you are prone to snoring, the National Sleep Foundation reports snoring can be alleviated by sleeping on your side. Take time to think about what support your body needs.

What firmness do you prefer?

What is the best mattress for your needs? While mattresses are not one-size-fits-all, there are some types that support your body better than others. For pressure-point relief with a plush feel, both memory foam and pillow-top mattresses deliver comfort in a soft-to-medium firmness. For those who change positions throughout the night, a mattress that supports both sleep positions is important; an innerspring mattress evenly distributes body weight. Avocado Green’s innerspring mattress was rated the #1 innerspring mattress in Consumer Reports Best Mattresses of 2020. Hybrid mattresses, such as Casper’s Wave Hybrid, offer zoned support to maintain proper spine alignment for a restful night’s sleep. Stomach sleepers require medium-firm support to ensure your midsection is in alignment with the rest of your body. Zenhaven’s latex mattress with a support core delivers the support your body needs.

Mattress Type Best for…
Memory foam Side sleepers
Innerspring Combination sleepers
Hybrid Back sleepers
Latex Stomach sleepers
Pillow top Side sleepers

Step 3: Set a mattress budget

While purchasing the same brand of mattress the Queen of England sleeps on sounds wondrously luxurious, the price tag may be out of your range. The challenge can be how to buy a mattress that meets your needs and price point. The good news is you don’t have to sacrifice quality for a low-cost mattress. Mattress price ranges vary widely, with prices as low as $156 for a queen-size memory foam mattress. Once you have decided on the type of mattress, research which mattress fits your budget and lifestyle.

Step 4: Choose a buying method: In-store or online?

Choosing how to buy a mattress is based on personal preference, and there are positives and negatives to both methods. For some, purchasing with ease online and testing a new mattress in the comfort of their home is an ideal scenario. Other mattress shoppers prefer the in-person experience. Being able to see, touch, and test the mattress prior to purchasing is an important factor. You’re in control, so consider which option will be the least stressful in your mattress-buying journey.

Step 5: Take advantage of mattress trials

Mattress companies understand it takes time to adjust to a new mattress. Many offer generous sleep trials so customers can experience and adjust to their purchase. For example, Nectar Sleep and DreamCloud offer a 365-night sleep trial with a 100% full refund. Before making your purchase, research sleep trials, length of trial time, and what type of refund is offered.

The bottom line

Before buying a mattress, it’s essential to consider not only your budget, but your sleep style, desired level of firmness, and health concerns. Take time to shop both online and in-store and make the most of  sales, promotions, and free offers. Armed with the knowledge of your sleep needs, you’ll successfully find a new mattress.

Frequently asked questions

How do I know what firmness of mattress I need? 

The firmness of your mattress is based on both your personal preference, sleep style, and what areas of your body need the most support. A medium-firm mattress is ideal for those who sleep on their  stomachs. A soft to medium-firm pillow top or memory foam mattress is excellent for side sleepers.

Which mattress is best for back pain

A mattress that alleviates painful pressure points and back pain while keeping your spine in alignment is the ideal choice. Mattresses with zoned support help maintain proper spine alignment. Memory foam mattresses contour to your body to relieve joint pain and tender pressure points.

How do I find the right mattress for my back? 

You know your back pain and what relieves it best. Upper back pain can be alleviated with a mattress that contains memory foam, as it molds and contours specifically to your body. Lower back pain and sacroiliac joint pain require different levels and locations of support. Lower or sacroiliac joint pain can be lessened with a zoned-support mattress with support focused in the lower back, waist, and hip area. Taking advantage of a mattress trial will allow you to make certain you purchase the right mattress for your back.


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