How To Choose The Right Mattress – In-Depth Buying Guide 2021

How To Choose The Right Mattress
How To Choose The Right Mattress

Coming home from a long day at work and dropping in your bed is one of those feelings that will never get old; unless you have a bad mattress and need to replace it!

Do you even remember when was the last time you bought a mattress? These things can last a long time. Don’t worry. We are here to help you navigate the world of mattresses and give you a refresher.

This will be an in-depth buying guide on how to choose the right mattress. Other guides might just tell you some surface level and vague stuff on what to look for.

Not us, though. We are going to go deep into it. So, let’s get started first with do you even need a new mattress?

Do You Need a New Mattress?

Since this is going to be a complete and in-depth buying guide, we might as well start by asking if you even need a new mattress in the first place. Knowing when to replace your mattress is crucial since you don’t want to keep using an old torn-down mattress.

It will hamper your sleep. Besides, it isn’t that hygienic to be sleeping on a very old mattress either.

You will hear us say this a couple of times – a high-quality mattress will last you longer. Expect anywhere from 7 to 10 years of use. A poorer quality mattress will, of course, need to be replaced faster.

Although that is the guideline, there are still some telltale signs you can look out for when you need to figure out whether you need a new mattress or not.

Signs You Need a New Mattress

So, what are some signs you need to check to see if it’s finally time for another mattress?

How Long Have You Been Using the Mattress?

This is probably one of the major ones. If your mattress has been undergoing some significant and constant wear and tear over a couple of years, it might be time to look for a replacement.

7 years of constant use should be enough to warrant a replacement, but if you have taken good care of it, a high-quality mattress will last you about 10 years too.

  • Any Visual Damage

If you notice any major visual damage, then it’s also time to get a new one. You’re looking for tears or a significant amount of sag. Any of these signs means you need to change it.

  • Waking Up Not Feeling Rested

You slept on time and woke up at a good time as well. Let’s take it a bit further, you even slept 8 hours. But whenever you wake up, you feel sore, numb, or are even aching.

This means your mattress isn’t doing its job. It isn’t providing you the comfortable surface you should have in the first place, and the materials inside are damaged. Guess what? Yep, it’s time to change it.

On this note, if you have slept better in other places, say a hotel or at someone else’s house, then the problem could be your mattress. Basically, if you aren’t getting a good night’s sleep, you need to change your mattress.

  • Your Mattress Isn’t as Comfortable as It Used to Be

Another sign is if your mattress isn’t as comfortable as it used to be when you first got it. The wear is significant enough at this point that it isn’t doing its job right.

These signs are a good reason to start looking for a new mattress. You don’t have to face all these issues at once. Even if you have encountered one of them, we would say it’s time to get a new one.

Well, which one should you get? There isn’t just one type of mattress, you know. This brings us to our next point. What types of mattresses are there?

The Types of Mattresses

If you do a bit of digging, you will see that there are actually quite a lot of types of mattresses you can choose from. Each of these will give you a different experience.

We are here to give you a complete and easy-to-understand breakdown of all the types to make your decision of choosing one easier. Once you know the characteristics of each mattress type, choosing will be a piece of cake.

Of course, there is a complete buyers guide including the important factors you need to take into consideration when making the final purchase. Let’s start with the types for now, and then we will dive into the in-depth buying guide.

There are mainly 4 different types of mattresses. We have a wildcard one -waterbed. That’s kind of cool too.

  • Foam Mattress

Foam mattresses are one of the more common mattresses you will find in homes and also in some hotels as well. The materials used in foam mattresses are perfect for avoiding the sort of ‘bounce’ you get when sleeping on an innerspring coil mattress.

They are also very good for support and relieving pressure. There are actually different types of foam mattresses you can choose from. You have Gel and Memory foam.

  • Gel

The whole idea behind getting a gel memory foam mattress is that it helps keep you cool and makes it more breathable. This type of mattress is getting more and more popular.

Different brands will use all sorts of different techniques to make these mattresses. But as far as the scientific data is concerned, there is no solid proof that gel actually makes things cooler.

Speaking of different brands, each brand can sometimes have its own blend of gel and foam. And they give them different names as well. Each will have different characteristics and will have a slightly different impact on your sleep.

When you’re shopping for one, ask the salesperson to elaborate on how it’s like sleeping on it and what other benefits does it have.

  • Memory Foam

Memory foam mattresses are the go-to when people say foam mattresses. They are made from different foam materials that are soft and cushiony.

Their defining characteristic is they are squishy when you apply pressure on them and also bounces back slowly. This is what makes them great for pressure relief and works great for your shoulders, lower back, and hips.

The softness might not be everyone’s cup of tea, though. People who like sleeping on firmer mattresses especially will not like the ‘sinking’ feeling. Also, if you’re a stomach sleeper, you might not appreciate a memory foam mattress.

Memory foam mattresses use a viscoelastic polyurethane foam material. That’s what gets you the distinct characteristics.

Density is a major factor as well. Low-density ones are below 3.5 lbs./cubic ft. Medium-density ones are between 3.5 lbs./cubic ft. and 5 lbs./cubic ft. Then you have high-density foam. These are generally above 5 lbs./cubic ft.

A lot of new buyers often mistake density for firmness. These two aren’t the same thing, though. Density is just how much foam there is per cubic foot. It goes without saying that the denser your mattress is, the more expensive it is.

But that isn’t all bad, actually. Because higher-density memory mattresses are more durable, and the extra price is worth it in some cases.

The problem with memory foam mattresses is they can be hot to sleep on. Also, as we mentioned, this isn’t great for people who like a very firm surface to sleep on.

If you sleep on your side, you might like how it feels since the mattress will sort of ‘hug’ you. There are other medical benefits as well. Memory foam mattresses are great for spine alignment, for example.

  • Latex Foam Mattresses

Latex is somewhat of a best of both worlds’ situation. They provide many benefits you get with memory foam but are also breathable and keeps cool.

And since they are a natural material, eco-friendly buyers will also like them. They have a faster response to pressure and will ‘recover’ faster. Memory foam can give you a sinking feeling.

That isn’t the case with latex, though. It’s bouncier and is livelier too. Latex mattresses work great due to their versatility since they can cater to different types of sleepers.

If you move around a lot when sleeping and like to change positions ever so often, latex is great for that. For someone who is looking for that deep pressure feeling, latex won’t quite cut it.

  • Innerspring

Innerspring mattresses are more traditional and have been around for a long time. In fact, this is the highest-selling mattress type. You will find these with different types of coils.

But basically, the construction consists of some form of coiled support, and at the top, there will be some soft upholstery. The top is usually fiber or foam.

These are firm. If you think the softness of memory foam mattresses is a no-go for you, these will fit your needs perfectly. They are also supportive and give you a distinct bounce.

But not everyone will like that bounce, though. But if you like those old-school mattresses, innerspring ones are the ones to get. Innerspring mattresses are cost-effective since they tend to be less costly compared to other options in the market.

However, that doesn’t mean that they are bad though. These will last you for a long time. With proper care, it isn’t surprising to see them last decades. Since these are also more breathable, you will notice that you sleep a lot cooler as well.

As we mentioned, there are different spring or coil types to choose from:

  • Offset Coils

These come in high-end ones. The benefit of these ones is they make less noise and are also more durable.

  • Bonnell Coils

This is the most common type of coil you will find in innerspring mattresses. These are hourglass-shaped with ends wrapped around a circular top and also bottom. This is mainly to make it more comfortable to sleep on.

If you want stability, you can’t go wrong with these. They offer tons of stability and gives you good body support as well.

  • Continuous Wire

With this one, a large network of coils is basically woven throughout the mattress.  For good back support, a continuous wire system is great since the center third offers great support.

  • Marshall Coils

Marshall coils are also sometimes called pocketed coils. They come in a barrel shape that is wrapped in a fabric casing. You will see some will have the coils wrapped individually. Although wrapping together isn’t uncommon either.

These do a good job of conforming to your body thanks to better motion transfer. When buying an innerspring mattress, keep in mind the number of coils. The higher the coil count, the more durable the mattress will be and the better the quality.

Typical coil counts range from 250 to 1000 coils. But coil count isn’t the only factor. You also need to keep in mind the gauge. What is gauge, then?

Well, the gauge is basically the thickness, and this will dictate how soft or thick the mattress feels to sleep on. The higher the number, the thinner the gauge is, which will result in a softer feel.

So, if you want a firmer mattress, you need to look for a lower gauge that will have thicker coils. If you like sleeping on a firmer mattress, you already know which one you should go with.

Note: Here is something you should note – just because one mattress has a high number of springs doesn’t make it instantly better. It may have lots of coils, but they can be of a higher gauge which will make them softer. Keep in mind these things when you’re buying.

  • Flappable Innerspring Mattresses

You might be wondering why do I need to flip my mattress. Well, glad you asked. Flipping your mattress is actually a great way to even out the wear and tear. But more on that a bit later. We have a complete section dedicated to taking care of your mattress.

Some are made in a way that you can use both sides just perfectly. At the same time, others cannot be flipped and can only be rotated.

The ones you can flip, the comfort layers will be on both sides. Others will only have it on a single side, with the opposite being only for support. If you flip these, you need to give your mattress some support in other ways.

That can be done by foundations or using box springs.

  • Hybrids

Hybrids are just that, hybrids. They have a foam top layer and also coils/springs as well. These are actually the newest type of mattresses in the market, and some love the combination of foam and coils.

As you can imagine, these give you good pressure relief and also ample support, and a springy feeling. If you sleep on your back, these will be great for that. Make sure you buy one with the right type of foam on the top.

  • Waterbeds

Ah, waterbeds. They were some of the most popular mattresses in the mid-’80s. But they have died down in popularity a bit. You can still find them, but, of course, they aren’t as common.

From the name, you can tell these don’t use any kind of springs or foam for support. The main support comes from a water chamber inside them.

There are two distinct styles – hard-sided and soft-sided. Hard-sided waterbeds use a wooden frame, and the water is placed inside of that.

Soft-sided has a water chamber inside the rigid foam. You won’t sleep directly on the foam, though. A layer of foam will separate you from the platform.

  • Smart Mattresses

Technology has touched every aspect of our lives, and it makes all the sense in the world that it also made our mattresses better. Smart mattresses are a new wave of products that feature all the same features of traditional foam and innerspring mattresses but will also come with advanced technologies like vital monitoring.

These can keep track of how you sleep and also identify any sleep issues you may have. With the data they provide, you can then alter your sleeping habits and possibly get better sleep. That’s the idea, at least.

What Factors You Need To Look Out for When Buying a New Mattress?

You know the types of mattresses there are and also when you need to replace them. So, let’s just get on with it. When buying a mattress, what are the things you need to look out for to make sure you spend your money wisely?

Knowing these factors will help you make a more educated choice. You will be able to purchase one that will fit your exact needs. As the old saying goes, give a man a fish, he eats once, butteach him how to fish, and he eats for a lifetime.

Here are the factors you need to consider:

Size

You need to fit the mattress in your bed – it doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. Not only that, but you also need to consider what size will be right for you and also the room you’re in.

If you’re just a single person with a small bedroom, you probably don’t need a large mattress.

Then there is also the consideration of how much room you and your partner need if you’re going to share the bed. Smaller rooms will work well with smaller mattresses, and bigger rooms can accommodate bigger mattresses.

There are 6 different mattress sizes:

  • Twin
  • Twin XL
  • Full
  • Queen
  • King and
  •  California King

Let’s get to know them one by one.

  • Twin

Twin mattresses are the smallest ones. They are great if you have very little space to work with. If you need to pick one for a teenager or a young adult, Twin will do just fine.

They measure 39” x 74”. But it can also go up to 39″ x 75″.

  • Twin XL

Twin XL is a step up from Twins. These are great for someone taller. They have the same width but are longer. So, that means the measurement is 39″ x 80″.

  • Full

Full-sized mattresses are also called double mattresses. They measure 54″ x 74″. They have the same height as the Twin but are wider. If you want more room on your bed, this size is great.

Smaller couples can also enjoy a full mattress.

  • Queen

If you’re a couple, this will be a great size. It can also work for someone who is single but loves the extra space to move around when sleeping.

When buying a queen, though, you need to also think of your bedroom size. Plus, will it be able to fit inside it nicely? And will you have enough space to roam around the room after you place it?Queen mattresses come in 60″ x 80″ dimensions.

  • King

King-sized mattresses are the second-largest ones you can buy. The dimension is 76″ x 80″. So, the same length as the Queen mattress but is much wider. These are a great option for a luxurious bedroom with plenty of space.

If you share your bed with a partner and kids, this can also work just fine. Do remember, though, that king-sized beds are also more expensive and require much more room to fit.

  • California King

If you want to live large, then a California King size mattress is for you. These are big, very big. The dimensions of these mattresses are 72” x 84”. The keen-eyed among you may have noticed that it’s longer length-wise but is actually narrower than the King.

California King mattresses are great for someone who needs a very large mattress but is also taller. The extra length will be great in that case.

Picking out the right size will very much depend on you at the end of the day. You need to take into account all the things we mentioned, like what size room do you have, will you share the bed with someone, etc.

Comfort

Okay, this is probably a no-brainer. What do you use a mattress for mainly? Sleeping, right? Then, you want your mattress to be as comfortable as possible. What point is there in getting a very high-quality mattress with all the latest technology and features, but it isn’t comfortable?

That’s a rhetorical question. The answer is there is no point. Make sure the mattress you get is actually comfortable for you. That’s consideration number 1.

A comfortable mattress will also help you sleep better and make you feel more energized in the morning.

Cooling

The last thing you want is a mattress that makes you sweat. Waking up drenched because your mattress is super-hot is not the best feeling in the world. So, try getting one that is breathable and also keeps you cool.

Note that mattresses might be warmer just because of the materials they use. But if you find another aspect of those appealing, then you might need to sacrifice some cooling in that case.

It’s a balancing act, to be honest.

Durability

A mattress is an investment. You will be using it for years to come. While taking proper care of the mattress is necessary for a longer lifespan of it, getting one that is durable in the first place is better.

That way, you set yourself up for success from the start. So, if you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars after 2/3 years or so, it’s better to get one that will last you for 7 to 10 years.

As we already said, high-quality mattresses can also last for decades. The type of mattress also plays a role here. Innerspring mattresses can last a long time, for example.

Edge Support

Edge support is how much support you have at the far edges of the bed or mattress. The level of edge support will vary depending on which brand you go with. That means different mattresses will have a different level of edge support.

This is an important factor to consider because you don’t want one that is all soft and mushy at the edges.

Good edge support gives you more room to work with. You don’t always have to be around the center to be comfortable. When you sleep on a mattress that doesn’t have the desired amount of edge support, you will notice it immediately.

The moment you come near the edge; you will feel like you’re rolling off the bed. Needless to say, that isn’t a feeling you want to have.

Safety

What safety considerations are there for mattresses? Well, glad you asked. By safety, we mean the brand or specifically the reputation of the brand you’re buying.

You need to make sure you purchase the mattress from a reputable company that uses non-toxic materials to manufacture. The more transparent and open a brand is about the materials they use, the more trustworthy they are.

It’s as simple as that. If you’re buying a mattress for a baby bed, you want to be even more diligent. You certainly don’t want the toddler to sleep on a toxic mattress.

Motion Transfer

Motion transfer is basically how noticeable it is when someone moves on the mattress. If you share the bed with someone, you want a mattress with good motion transfer.

Otherwise, when you move and toss around in your sleep, you can end up disturbing your partner, or vice versa. You want one that will handle motion transfer well.

That way, you won’t disturb your partner. Memory foam mattresses are great for this.

Sleeping Position

Not all mattresses are good for all sleeping positions. The different firmness of different mattresses will come into play here. It’s worth taking the way you sleep into consideration.

Not everybody will remain in the same position when they sleep. Sometimes people will start sleeping on their back and end up rolling on their stomachs.

Other times you might turn to your side and spend the night that way. If you aren’t aware of your natural sleeping position, pay close attention next time. It will come in handy.

There are mainly three sleeping positions – stomach sleepers, back sleepers, and side sleepers.

  • Stomach Sleepers

If you sleep on your stomach, a very firm mattress is what you’re looking for. A firm mattress will help keep your hips level with your shoulders which can make for a comfortable night’s sleep.

Good support is crucial for stomach sleepers. If you’re one of them, hybrid or innerspring ones are perfect for you.

Also, just because we are saying you want a very firm mattress, doesn’t mean you need to get a rock-hard one. It still should be a little soft and have some comfort layers. A good balance between support and comfort is the key here.

  • Side Sleepers

Side sleepers will enjoy a soft mattress that gives them that ‘sinking’ feeling. You need to have good pressure relief if you’re a side sleeper, especially for the hips and shoulder areas.

Your mattress should naturally and easily contour to your body which will help you avoid discomfort during the night.

If you can guess which one we will recommend here, then you have been paying attention. Memory foam mattresses are great for side sleepers due to their softness.

  • Back Sleepers

Back sleepers need something in the middle of the firmness to softness scale. If you’re a back sleeper and your mattress is too firm, then you will experience tension in your shoulder and lower back region.

Too soft of a mattress will cause your hips to be out of alignment. A hybrid mattress will work well for back sleepers in this case since they give you the benefits of both.

You want one that isn’t too soft but also isn’t too firm either. Actually, you don’t only need to get a hybrid mattress either. Back sleepers can be comfortable on a wide range of different mattresses.

Does Your Weight Matter?

It does, actually. How much you weigh will also impact what kind of experience you get with different mattresses.

  • 150 lbs. or Below

People who weigh below 150 lbs. will have no problem sleeping on a soft mattress.

There is no chance of them sinking in. If the mattress is too firm, then it might actually get a bit uncomfortable for you. And if you do prefer a firmer mattress, then make sure you have a comfort layer on top of it.

That way, you can have your cake and eat it too. You will get a firmer mattress but also won’t be uncomfortable either.

  • 150 lbs. to 200 lbs.

This is sometimes categorized as the average. If this is your weight, then you want a mattress, depending on where you’re on the spectrum. So, that would mean that if you’re close to the 150 lbs. mark, a softer mattress will do.

But remember, if you prefer a firm mattress, you can get a thin comfort layer. However, if you happen to be closer to the 200 lbs. mark, then one with top foam layers will work great. They will be comfortable to sleep on and will also give you some structural support and cushioning.

For the average weighing person, if you prefer a firmer mattress, consider increasing the thickness of the support layer and lowering the thickness of the comfort layers.

  • Over 200 lbs.

Alright, those who weigh over 200 lbs. will want a thick top layer if you’re after a softer mattress.

Since they are more likely to sink in deeper, having thicker foam to sink in will help. 4-5 inches should be enough. Those who are after medium firmness will appreciate reducing the top foam layers by an inch.

For a firm feel, innerspring mattresses will be great in this case. These are fantastic and will give you exactly the feeling you want.

Where To Buy: Online or Offline?

That was pretty much all there was to know on how to choose the right mattress. Now the question is, where do you buy it from. There are two options. You can either go the old-fashioned route and buy it from a Brick-and-Mortar store.

Alternatively, you can also just get it online. Which one should you do, though? The answer isn’t as easy as you think it might be.

  • Buying from a Brick-and-Mortar Store

Buying offline gives you one huge perk. You can test the mattress. This is great since you can get an exact feel for how the mattress is and do you like it or not.

Here is another thing, most companies that operate an offline store know that they are competing with online competition. So, there might be chances that there will be other perks as well. Plus, you also get to talk to an expert who can give you further advice.

Of course, there are some disadvantages as well. The major one is not being able to quickly compare options. When you’re shopping online, you can switch to a different browser tab. Not so much when you’re at a store in person. Besides, shopping in-store isn’t as convenient either.

  • Buying Online

Some fantastic online mattress brands are absolutely dominating the market these days. The online market now is better than ever.

Nothing beats the convenience of sitting in the comfort of your home (or even lying on your old bed) and shopping for a new one.

So, convenience is one major factor in shopping online. Then, there is the ability to easily compare options and also check which one is giving you the better deal. This process isn’t as easywhen you’re in the store itself.

However, the major drawback here is you can’t test the mattress on the spot. But this isn’t as big of a problem you might think at first. Almost all brands worth their salt will give you a generous try-out period.

When you get one, you can use it for a certain period and decide whether you like it or not. If you don’t, then you can return it, and if you do, then you can keep it (duh). But make sure to double-check on the policy and be sure you know what the return period is.

Another thing you need to consider is the shipping costs/fees. This is especially important if you reside outside the USA.

Taking Care of Your Mattress

So, you have bought the mattress you want and when you sleep on it, it just feels serene. Now, you want to keep that feeling for longer. There are a few simple things you can do to make sure your brand-new mattress lasts longer.

  • Wash Bed Linens

When you use your bed, the sweat, skin cells, hair, and everything left on the bed linens can get inside the mattress. Cleaning the linens regularly will prevent that.

  • Rotate the Mattress

It’s good practice to rotate the mattress once every 3 months. When you do this, you even out the wear and tear and don’t overstress one particular portion of the mattress.

  • Give Your Mattress Proper Support

When you bought your mattress, it should have come with your manufacturer’s recommended way of supporting your mattress. Follow that to make sure you get the most out of it.

  • Keep It Away from the Direct Heat Source

Making sure your mattress is away from a direct heat source will help you keep the mattress for longer and avoid unnecessary damage to it.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What time should I buy a mattress?

Manufacturers will often offer big discounts on occasions like Labor Day, Fourth of July, and during the holiday season. You can also find good deals on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. These are pretty great times to buy one and save some money in the process too.

  1. How long will my mattress last?

A good-quality mattress, if taken proper care of, will last you at least 6 to 7 years. Some can even last you 10 years.

  1. How is mattress firmness scale measured?

Fortunately for you, the firmness scale for measuring mattresses ranges from 1 to 10. 1 to 2 is soft, 3 to 4 is medium soft, 5 to 7 is medium-firm, and 8 to 10 is firm.

Wrapping Up

Hopefully, now you know how to choose the right mattress that will match your needs and help you get a good night’s sleep. Remember that comfort and size are some of the most important things, but durability shouldn’t be ignored either.

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