Updated October 22, 2019

How to Choose a Mattress

How do you choose a good mattress? And how much should you spend? Don't get ripped off. We'll show you how to find a quality mattress for the best price.

Many mattresses claim to last 8–10 years. However, it may be time to shop for a new one if:

  • Your mattress has a dent or sinking area
  • You don't feel fully rested when waking up
  • You wake up with aches and pains

Here are a few factors to consider before you start shopping:

Sleeping Position
Do you sleep on your side, back, stomach, or a combination of all three? Each sleeping position requires a different type of mattress.

For instance, side sleepers need a soft mattress that provides support to pressure points, while back and stomach sleepers need a firm mattress to support the body.

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The mattress industry uses a firmness scale of 1–10.

  • 1–2 are very soft
  • 3–4 offer a little more firmness (ideal for side sleepers)
  • 5–7 are medium-firm and good for combination sleepers
  • 8–10 are best for stomach and back sleepers

If you tend to freeze or sweat at night, you'll need a mattress that caters to your need for a cooler or warmer surface.

Health Concerns
If you have allergies or asthma, you may need a mattress made of a specific material. For physical ailments, you may require a mattress that offers support on specific pressure points.

The best mattress for you will depend on your needs.
  • If you like a bed with bounce, choose innerspring.
  • If you're a side sleeper, choose memory foam.
  • If you sleep hot, choose gel.
  • If you have back pain, choose memory foam.

How Much Should You Pay for a New Mattress?

Setting a budget for a mattress can be difficult, especially with all the options at your disposal.

$1,000 is a Benchmark
If you know $1,000 is way outside your budget, stick to foam or innerspring mattresses. If you can comfortably afford $1,000 or more, consider options like latex, hybrids, and airbeds.

Expensive Doesn't Equal Quality
Price alone is not a measure of the quality, durability, or longevity of any mattress. Research your options in stores and also read brand reviews online.

Budget for Applicable Fees
Most stores will charge fees for delivery, set up, and removal of the old mattress. Some stores include the fees in the price of the mattress, while others charge separately.

What mattress is used in 5-star hotels?
Pillowtop mattresses with innersprings are popular choices in luxury hotels though some now favor memory foam.

Which Type of Mattress is Best?

Before you shop for a mattress, familiarize yourself with the different types available. You can choose the best fit based on your preferred sleeping position and preferences.

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Best for firm support (with a little bounce)
You can choose from a variety of types, each with a different feel. Typically, the more coils, the firmer the mattress.

  • Continuous Coil have one big coil throughout the mattress. They tend to have a longer life span but remain affordable.

  • Pocket Coils are individually "pocketed," which helps reduce motion when two people share a bed.

  • Offset Coils provide extra support with no squeaking.

Do More Coils Mean a Better Mattress?
Mattresses with more coils should have more support, but the coil material matters. If they are made from thin material, it may not matter how many coils are in the mattress—the level of support will not be adequate.

Memory Foam
Best for back pain and side sleeping
Memory foam provides an extra layer of cushion designed to make you feel like you are sinking into the bed. Once you get up, the foam expands back to its original position.

Best for hot sleepers
Memory foam mattresses tend to be dense, which means there is little airflow throughout the mattress. Gel infused into memory foam, however, helps to dissipate the heat, keeping you cooler and comfortable.

Best for those with allergies
Latex is a natural, allergen-resistant material. It offers a similar amount of pressure relief as memory foam, but with less cushion.

Best for those want the best of both worlds
A hybrid mattress combines coils with memory foam for a comfortable middle ground. If you have a hard time choosing between the firmness of an innerspring and the cushiony feeling of a memory foam mattress, a hybrid may be a good option.

Best for those who love comfort
A pillow top mattress is a good option for those looking for extra cushion. You can choose from a variety of materials to suit your needs, such as a cooling or a latex pillow top.

Adjustable Bed
Best for the elderly and those with physical ailments
This type is an innerspring or memory foam mattress that adjusts its position to your needs.

Edge Support Matters, too
If your mattress doesn't have proper edge support, you may have difficulty getting out of bed. Edge support can also keep you on the mattress when you sleep. When choosing a mattress, sit on the edge to ensure that it has proper support.

What Size Mattress Do You Need?

A mattress should fit comfortably in the room and be a good length for your body. If you share your mattress, consider the room you'll both need to feel comfortable.

The following sizes are standard for each mattress type:

Twin38" x 75"
Twin XL38" x 80"
Full53" x 75"
Full XL54" x 80"
Queen60" x 80"
Cal King72" x 84"
King76" x 80"

Does Your Weight Play a Role in Choosing a Mattress?
Typically, the more you weigh, the thicker or firmer the mattress should be to feel comfortable and for the mattress to last. Choose a mattress that supports your body weight rather than allows it to sink in.

Shopping for a Mattress

You can shop for a mattress in-store or online. Shopping in the store allows you to:

  • Test Out the Mattress
    Take your time testing out each mattress. Make sure you lie down the way that you sleep and spend a few minutes in that position. Don't feel pressured to get up.

  • Discuss the Price
    The price you see on a mattress isn't necessarily the price you have to pay. Mattress retailers often have as much as 50% wiggle room in the price.

  • Know the Warranty
    Make sure there's a warranty in place for manufacturer's defects, such as coil defects, so that you can get a new mattress should you end up with a lemon. Most warranties are much longer than the actual life of the mattress, so there is no need to pay extra for a 25-year warranty.

  • Consider Shopping Online
    Online retailers have less overhead than brick and mortar stores. That money often gets passed onto the customer in the form of cheaper prices.

Ask about trial periods or return policies. Is it a full refund, an even exchange, or something else? Many stores give you up to 120 days to change your mind.

How to Make Your Mattress Last Longer

Buying a mattress is an investment. Read on for some tips to protect yours.

Rotating your mattress at least every three months puts less stress on one side of the mattress. If you rotate it four times a year, each area will have time to restore itself.

Change Your Bedding Weekly
Cleaning your bedding weekly can prevent sweat and oil released from the body to leak into the mattress, causing the fibers to wear down faster.

Add a Mattress Pad
To protect your mattress even further from body sweat, oils and even spills, consider adding a mattress pad. Some mattress pads add an extra layer of cushion and comfort to the mattress.

Don't Jump
If you have kids or pets, allowing them to jump on the bed can damage the mattress.

Bottom Line

Choosing a mattress is a big decision. To find the best one for you, try different types in person and research online before making a purchase.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone. Please support CreditDonkey on our mission to help you make savvy decisions. Our free online service is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content.

More from CreditDonkey:

How Long Does a Mattress Last

How to Get Stains Out of Mattress

How to Buy a Mattress


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