8 Things You Need to Know Before You Purchase a Mattress

Don't skimp on the product you spend more than a third of your life in.

photography by PHUONG NGUYEN


Sometimes, you can snooze and win—especially if you put in the time researching your options and invest in a supportive, comfortable mattress. After all, you spend a third of your life sleeping, so making the decision to purchase a new mattress to improve your sleep can be utterly life-changing.

You should not only be flipping yours monthly, but also purchase a new one at least every 10 years. With so many mattress startups delivering quality at incredible prices, it’s never been easier to change up your sleeping game.

We spoke to Tomorrow Sleep founder and president Bryan Murphy, as well as Reverie CEO and co-founder Martin Rawls-Meehan about what to keep in mind while you're shopping around.


Assess your needs.
Do you even need a new mattress? Is yours lumpy or saggy? Do you wake up with back pain, or simply tired in the morning? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re ready for the life-changing effects of a new mattress.

Murphy says, “At Tomorrow, we call it ‘Wake to your full potential.’ Just as diet and exercise are important to overall wellness, sleep is also a crucial element in overall health—and the mattress is a critical factor in the quality of your sleep.”

Consider your body, your partner’s body, and your life state.
“I'll state the obvious: Nobody stays the same over time,” says Rawls-Meehan. “That means the mattress that fits you today might not feel so good if you gain 10 pounds, get injured, or have a baby. Not to mention, your partner probably has different sleep needs than you do.”

Some mattresses provide zoned comfort to give partners different support on each side of the mattress. Others, like Reverie sleep systems, provide support that can be adjusted over time, so that you can stay comfortable without needing to buy a new mattress. “Our adjustable foundations also add comfort in 3D, and are compatible with most mattresses,” Rawls-Meehan notes.  

Do your research.
Rawls-Meehan says it’s important you spend the time learning about the new sleep technology that’s available. “If you haven't purchased a mattress in over 10 years, you may not be familiar with the different comfort options available, including things like adjustable power bases and temperature-regulating mattress materials,” he says.

Talking to your friends and family about their mattresses helps, too. “There are numerous third-party mattress review sites that you can visit to get the skinny on the mattresses you’re considering,” Murphy says—and many offer discount codes as well.

Ask questions.
"Some retailers now have diagnostic systems to align your sleeping position and body type to a pressure map in order to help guide your decision," Rawls-Meehan says. "Let your salesperson know if you have specific pain, if you wake up hot, or if you and your partner have different sleep habits and needs." All of these things help determine the right sleeping surface for you.

Consider materials.
There are pros and cons to materials like memory foam, innersprings, air, and latex. Innersprings, considered the “traditional” bed, are comprised of innersprings and a layer of cushioning. “They have the benefit of being cheaper and providing good support—however, people often complain about lack of pressure relief as they tend to be bouncy,” says Murphy. “One result is that you can disturb your partner’s sleep when you change positions at night.”

Memory foam is another option that’s known for pressure relief—memory foam mattresses have a nice feel as you sink into them. “The major complaint with these is that they tend to sleep hot, and lack support,” says Murphy. “It also takes some effort to change positions, which can disrupt your sleep.”

Last up is the hybrid, which attempts to incorporate the best of both worlds: High-quality pocketed coils provide support and spinal alignment, while memory foam provides pressure relief that keeps you in deep sleep longer. “While hybrid mattresses tend to sleep cooler because of air flow, more premium products add a temperature regulating material to the foam to help you reach—and maintain—the ideal temperature for sleep,” Murphy explains. “Ask your salesperson about each of these types of mattresses, and what standards are used to measure quality,” Rawls-Meehan adds.

Debate between purchasing in-store and online.
"In the older days of mattress buying, you had to simply go to a store and lie down on a few mattresses with a salesperson on overwatch," says Murphy. Now, there are many great online options as well.

The advantage of in-store mattress shopping is that you get to see and test a number of mattresses, but the good news is now, most online options offer 100-day-plus in-home trials and zero-hassle returns. “It stands to reason that sleeping on a mattress at home for 100 days is a much better indicator of performance as compared to lying on one for five minutes,” Murphy points out.

Convenience and value are the two other big advantages of online shopping—many companies offer white-glove delivery and old mattress removal. So, if you’re buying directly from the manufacturer, you’re more likely to get a great value.

Read the fine print.
Murphy advises to make sure you understand the fine print of the trial, return, and warranty associated with whichever mattress you choose. “Keep an eye out for restocking fees and short-term mattress warranties—most typically range from 10 to 25 years,” he says. “Also watch out for prorating, which is when the warranty declines over time.”

Hunt for coupons both online and off, since most brands offer regular promotions. “Look for a brand that has been around for a number of years, or is part of a larger company,” he says. “Today, there are hundreds of companies selling mattresses, so you want to make sure there will be someone to back up your warranty, should you ever need it.”

Give it time.
A new mattress may not feel great the first nights—or even weeks—you sleep on it, especially if you're going from one type of mattress (for example, innersprings) to another kind (for example, natural latex). “If you've been sleeping on a really uncomfortable mattress, your body may have been contorting itself to find a comfortable position,” Rawls-Meehan says. “So even when you upgrade, your body will still need to train itself to adapt to a more supportive surface.”

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Published on October 15, 2017 - 7:30am EDT

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