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Buying Your New Mattress

by David Keam

Many of my competitors customers shop for their new mattress by focusing solely on a sales technique called feel and deal. The advice in this blog will help you in shop better and ultimately purchase the right mattress (hint: focus on quality of materials and comfort). My recommendations, as always, are based on thousands of hours of personal research and over 30 years of experience selling comfort and quality to people that weigh between 45 and 445 lbs.

When should you buy a new mattress?

If you’re not getting a good night’s sleep, if you’re waking up with a lot of aches and pains, or if you are simply no longer comfortable, it’s probably time for a new mattress. Check out this blog If your mattress is over 8 years old, it’s time to consider a new one! If you are waking up with shoulder, back, hip, knee, or other joint and body pain, your mattress is probably not providing enough support.

Once you have decided it is time for a new mattress, you will need to consider which type of mattress is best suited for you. When you’re shopping for a mattress, you can choose from three primary types: foam (memory foam, polyfoam, latex foam, or a combination), innerspring, and hybrid (a mix of foam and springs). Given that comfort is highly subjective - and no single mattress will work for everyone, buying online is silly. As an example, would you let me pick the toppings on your hamburger; without knowing you? If you would not for a 5-to-20-dollar purchase, surely you would not let me tell you what’s the right mattress for you simply because it was right for someone else and more importantly to the online seller; it’s the only one they must sell. It MUST be the right one!

How to choose a mattress

Technically, a mattress is a fabric encasement filled with materials that provide some give when you lie down. The oldest known mattress was stuffed with layers of grassy, leafy plants and topped with aromatic leaves to ward off pests. Although today’s mattresses have more complicated fillings, they follow the same layering concept. The different mattress types all have strengths and weaknesses, so don’t be swayed by what’s fashionable, what you see advertised, or even the price tag. Your primary consideration should be the quality of what is inside your purchase after you find what is comfortable for you. Well-made mattresses do NOT break in. They stay the way they start in the store. That said, it may take a month or more of sleeping on a mattress to figure out whether it’s the one for you long term. This is one of reasons we recommend all customers take time to lay around and truly take a potential mattress for a proper ‘rest drive’ in the store. Buying online is a failing concept as 40 percent of all mattresses purchased are returned outright in the trial period and many others are replaced for poor quality in the next 2 or 3 years. If you end up ordering a mattress that you don’t find comfortable or supportive enough, Best Sleep offers a 120-night comfort guarantee*.

Watch Dave’s video: The Best Mattress for Your Sleep Position

Some good questions to ask a salesperson and yourself when choosing a new mattress.

Is the mattress as firm or as soft as I want?

The only way to know what a 'firm' or 'soft' mattress really means is to lie down on it. Like clothing sizes, with mattresses there are no standardization's for feel and firmness is not hardness: Its quality, its the denseness of the foam at any feel, and if you spend real money on a mattress its firm enough to support 400 lbs but feels like a cloud. Firmness is incorrectly described by many a salesperson by simply how hard a mattress is and my customers simply know that is wrong. Quality is both supportive and lacks pressure.

Should my mattress cradle or cushion me the way I want it to?

If you like a mattress top to conform to your body, you’ll prefer a memory-foam mattress or a foam-forward hybrid. If you want to feel more held or stiffness up (as opposed to enveloped) by the mattress, go for an innerspring. These can feel quite plush with a pillow top or euro top and still let you move more freely. Many innerspring mattresses also have just enough foam in the upper layers to provide cushioning without dampening the effect of the coils too much. A mattress made of latex—a springier type of natural foam formulated from the sap of a rubber tree—can feel somewhere in between a memory-foam and an innerspring mattress. Both coils and latex may feel more comfortable if you shift positions a lot as you’re falling asleep or otherwise moving around in bed, alone or with a partner.

Will it keep me cool or warm enough?

If you sleep hot or there are materials from the Nasa Space program that work to solve this growing problem too. Innerspring mattresses are typically constructed with a high-density foam encasement or stiffer coils around the perimeter. Even though some people may prefer the feel of the foam encasement, it could soften slightly over time. If you sit on the side of your bed a lot, you may want to consider a mattress that uses stiffer coils around the edge, which will probably prove to be more durable. The edge support in foam-forward hybrids and foam mattresses typically depends on the density of the foam in the support layers. So, you can’t assume a mattress will have good edge support without trying it out for yourself. But as a rule, most people only sit on their mattress for a minute or two a day to put on their socks. Picking a mattress via edge support when you sleep 8 hours and sit 3 minutes is something we will try to talk you out of at Best Sleep. The edge whatever type it is will last for the life of the warranty or it will be fixed or replaced.

Is it well made?

At first glance, all mattresses look similar (just a fabric-covered box!). But once you know what to look for, narrow your search to models that may last longer than others. Lift and shift the mattress around to make sure it doesn’t feel light and flimsy. If it’s a foam or hybrid mattress, ask about the foam density. Most adults who weigh more than 200 lbs. should look for at least three pounds per cubic foot of density in a memory-foam mattress, and heavier clients should look at Latex.

Watch David’s video: The Most Important Question

If you’re trying out beds with non-memory-foam polyfoam and you weigh less than 200 lbs, you’re better off looking for something with a foam density of at least 1.8 pounds per cubic foot (such as the Tuft & Needle Original). If you’re heavier than 200 pounds, you’re probably better off looking at denser foam options in the range of two pounds per cubic foot or higher. If a brand doesn’t provide foam-density specs on its site, try to find out from a customer service rep online or a knowledgeable staff member at a store. If you prioritize durability, it’s worth seeking out a brand that’s transparent about materials. Pocket coils offer the best motion isolation and curve-conforming comfort. The lower the gauge, the thicker the coil and the firmer the feel. The biggest mistake people make in a mattress purchase is to assume more coils is a better mattress. The foam quality in your purchase is far more important than the number of coils. If you get 3000 coils and 4 lb foam, you have a great mattress. If you get 3000 coils and 1.35 lb foam, you have a cheaper mattress. What is the comfort guarantee policy? Best Sleep we offer 120 nights. We do recommend all customers try a mattress for 30 days before potentially exchanging their first choice.

Other helpful & informative blogs:

Reclaim your health with a new mattress

Hot Tips For Sleeping Cooler

Do I need a new box spring for my mattress?

Rotating your mattress

The Most Important Question

Foam Density and why you should care about it

Mattress Feels