Buying a mattress is a scary task. The number of options seems endless- materials, features, springs, foam, and bases. It can be challenging to determine the right mattress for you. Considering the average adult sleeps for eight hours a night, we’re looking at where you may spend a third of your life. This purchase is essential, that’s why our guide broke down some questions to ask yourself before purchasing a new mattress.
Do I need a new mattress?
The average lifespan of a mattress can range from 5-10 years, despite many manufacturers boasting warranties that extend well beyond the 10-year range. For most mattresses, 8-years is an excellent mark to look at replacing the bed.
However, if you wake up daily feeling sore or with back pain that tends to resolve within 15-30 minutes of being awake, this could indicate that you should be looking to replace your current mattress.
Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all for mattresses. Each of us has a different body type, a different way to sleep, and rate comfort differently. Some people will require a softer mattress, and others will prefer a firmer mattress. In the end, this is a personal preference and very subjective. We will provide you with some general guidelines to consider for your purchase, but there is no replacement for going to the store and testing out different options yourself.
We recommend lying on the mattress for at least 10-minutes when testing it. In-person tests are the best indicator of how your body will respond.
Is there a “Comfort Guarantee?”
Another factor to consider when purchasing a mattress is whether your purchase has a comfort guarantee. Even those who have done the highest level of testing can notice mattress imperfections after a few night’s sleep. Some companies offer a Comfort Guarantee if you decide you are not satisfied with your mattress. These are often 30-90 days. Every guarantee is different, and some have fees associated with the return. Make sure you understand the fine print associated before making a purchase.
What can I Afford?
It is also important to understand the cost associated with mattresses. Prices vary widely, ranging from $200 to $5,000 +. Unfortunately, cost does not always correlate with quality or the right mattress for you. You should budget at least $800-1000 for your new mattress. This amount will allow enough to purchase a quality mattress that fits your needs but also one that will last 8-10 years.
The innerspring mattress is also known as a coil mattress. It is the most traditional style of the bed and the most common on the market. These usually come as a firmer mattress style, and the individual coils can offer quality support for your back. The “coil counts” on innerspring mattresses tend to indicate better comfort and support as the number increases. However, once you reach a coil count of 400, the higher count mattresses are generally indecipherable.
Memory Foam Mattress
Memory foam mattresses mold to the contour of your body better than any other type of mattress. The foam results in fewer pressure points while sleeping. These mattresses are overall softer, though some brands can make more firm models. These beds can also serve to absorb movement, decreasing the disturbance of sleeping with a partner. One of the main drawbacks of a memory foam mattress is that it tends to absorb heat, making it a hot night’s sleep.
Latex mattresses tend to be firmer, with bouncy support throughout its canvas. One of the main features of a latex mattress is that the material remains cooler since the latex does not absorb heat the same way that memory foam does. Consider latex mattresses for a patient suffering from low back pain due to their combination of softness and support. Latex mattresses also provide the feeling of a foam surface, similar to the memory foam. Another difference between the two is that latex has more bounce, returning to its shape sooner.
A pillow top mattresses do not indicate a type of mattress; instead, it describes the addition of soft layer sewn on top of the bed. They can be any one of innerspring, latex, or memory foam mattresses underneath the pillow top layer. This option allows a softer, more cushioned top surface with a firmer base of support.
Adjustable mattresses can change the firmness from firm to soft at the touch of a button. These options provide you with the ability to try different levels of stability until you find the right amount for you. Many of these beds also have adjustable bed angles, which can further customize your sleep experience.
Soft or Firm?
Everyone’s preference is different however, there are several factors that we can look at to help guide our decision.
The size of the individual sleeping on the mattress is the most important factor. If you are a lighter person, a pillow-top bed is not a good fit. To maximize the pillow top, you must be heavy enough to compress the top layer to be supported by the underlying material of the mattress.
If you are a lighter individual, you will look for a softer top layer. This allows you to benefit from the lower supportive layer of the mattress. Typically, the denser the top layer, the more uncomfortable a lighter person will be.
If you are a heavier individual, you will prefer a denser top layer and a firmer mattress. This is the case where a pillow top mattress may be a good option. For heavier people who are still looking for that soft feel while they sleep, look for a pillow top mattress. These will offer the soft cushion with a firmer coil support under the top layer.
The next important factor in choosing your mattress style is your sleeping style. Everyone varies from side sleepers, to back sleepers, to stomach sleepers (although this is not recommended for the health of your back).
Side Sleepers – recommendations include soft to the medium mattress. The mattress must be soft enough for you to sink in but offer enough support to prevent pressure points in the back and neck. Your body has curves, and you want your new mattress to support all of those curves while you’re on it.
Back Sleepers – recommendations often include a medium to a firm mattress. When sleeping on your back, the bed must offer an adequate amount of support and firmness, or you will run the risk of sinking in. This “sunk in” feeling will flex the spine to increase the likelihood of waking up with back pain.
Stomach Sleepers – these individuals require the most support. Too soft of a mattress will cause the napper to sink in and create sleep-associated back pain. If you are a stomach sleeper that regularly wakes up with back pain, we recommend trying to slowly change your sleep posture to your side or back sleeping. We understand it’s not going to be easy to make a change like this, but it’s the best option for the long-term health of your spine.
These are simple guidelines that help you navigate your next mattress purchase. These are NOT a replacement for physically trying out the mattress yourself. Comfort is always subjective. You won’t know what your style preference until you try one for yourself. Remember to take your time when testing. Purchasing the perfect mattress is not only a financial investment, but it is also an investment in your long-term health and well-being.