How to Pick A Mattress – A Step by Step Guide For Choosing The Perfect One

Here’s the first thing you need to know: Picking a new mattress shouldn’t be an impulsive decision. There are quite a few factors that determine which will be the right one. Remember, you’re making a long term decision that will determine your sleep quality and this can determine your overall health.

Firstly you need to know there’s no universal winner in the mattress market. Because you and your sleeping habits are unique you need a mattress that will match your specific list of requirements. Now how do you pick the best one from the list?

Here’s how we’ll help you. This article is designed to make mattress shopping easier. Browse through the information to understand each important factor better. Then use them to vet mattresses and pick the best one for you.

Six Steps to Identifying the Perfect Mattress

Step 1: Consider the Age of Your Current Mattress

Firstly you should gauge whether it’s time for a new mattress, right?

When you look at the warranty periods on mattresses you can see this is a furniture item that’s meant to last you quite a while. Different mattress types also have different lifespans. Pillow tops and innerspring beds are more likely to wear out by the time they’re seven years old. Your memory foam or Latex bed will serve you well for much longer, even up to a decade.

So when do you start shopping for yours?

As a rule of thumb you should start checking your mattress for problems after about eight years:

  • Is it sagging?
  • Is the stitching still in place?
  • Do you get enough support?

Don’t feel forced to purchase a new one however. Each brand is different. A more effective method of gauging when to start shopping is to look for symptoms of low quality sleep. It may not be excess stress that’s keeping you awake at night, but rather your bed that’s worn out:

  • Do you wake with pain that you didn’t have before?
  • Are you restless at night for no apparent reason?
  • How often are you tired when you wake?

You don’t always realize the effect of a mattress on your sleep and health.If these symptoms persist with no other clear cause it could simply be your old lumpy mattress.

So if this is you, let’s help you find the right one to get you back to sleeping soundly.

Step 2: Determine Your Budget

Of course you need to know what you’ll be able to spend. Luckily there are quality mattresses in all price ranges. If you’re shopping on a tight budget it doesn’t mean you’ll have to settle for sub par furniture in the bedroom.

You have a great benefit in shopping for a mattress in the modern world. Why? Because online purchases often lead to better pricing. You don’t have to pay the mark up you’ll have to cover in a brick and mortar store.

Yes, you’re taking a risk shopping online because you can’t test the mattress before you get it. Luckily most companies have consumer friendly return policies and testing periods so it’s usually a safe alternative.

Tips to Consider When Comparing Prices

Of course you’ll find extremely expensive options too. These tips will help you gauge what is value for money:

  • Guess what! A high price tag doesn’t prove it’s the best bed around. You should vet all the other features first. You may find a reasonably priced bed with more or less the same characteristics as high end brands.
  • Prepare yourself mentally for higher prices if you need a King size or a California King. Make sure the extra space is really necessary.
  • Your minimum budget should be higher than $500 in the current 2018 market. If you go lower than that it’s almost guaranteed you’ll face toxicity issues and the mattress won’t last very long. If you need to replace it within two years you’re just wasting money.
  • Make sure you get value for money and that you don’t get stuck with a mattress you hate. Quality brands provide you with at least a few weeks—some as long as 100 days or even a year—to test out the mattress. If you realize it will have a negative impact on your health you may return or exchange it.
  • Read the fine print on the warrantees. Some brands only cover defects caused by the manufacturers. You may only realize problems after a few months or a year so make sure the warranty is valid for a long enough period. Note that even how you use the mattress could invalidate the warranty so make sure which foundation the brand expects you to use.

On average you should budget for $1000, but let’s help you vet the beds on other aspects too.

Here’s a handy tip: Don’t get pulled into more expenses with sales jargon and end up with unwanted accessories. The mattress covers or pillow tops provided as extras won’t necessarily enhance your sleep and perhaps you can get it cheaper elsewhere. Stay focused when you shop.

Step 3: Determine The Mattress Type You Need

Now let’s list all the types you should look out for. New innovations and manufacturing methods empowered brands to move away from the coil mattresses most people grew up with.

Types to Consider

Let’s be clear: There’s no perfect, best option. If there was, everyone would be using that substance, right? All of the options below have their own unique features, pros and cons. You need to figure out which is best for you. This you’ll know after seeing the characteristics of the substances and going through the next steps that follow.

Latex

If you need a bed that responds to your movement and if you often feel hot in bed, Latex is a good option. It’s cooling and comfortable for most consumers. It also has a lot of bounce. Many people switch to Latex after trying foam mattresses and then realizing they don’t want their bed hugging them so close at night as foam tends to do.

Some mattresses may have Latex layers as part of the design which adds comfort while other substances used in the layering offer support.

Latex has a great advantage of not giving off odors, unlike some of the other substances below. There’s also no off gassing.

Memory foam

This is such a popular product used in many items—even shoes—because it’s one of the most comfortable surfaces around. Memory foam mattresses are soft and feel luxurious. It feels like going to bed with a hug at night.

If you’ve tried memory foam in the past and didn’t like it, we suggest you give it another try. There have been many developments over the past few years and today it’s less hot to sleep on than traditional models were.

This substance also provides pressure relief so it’s a wise option if you’re experiencing body pains. Just note that not all memory foam products are alike. Many manufacturers make it, but not all are of high quality.

Memory foam is also a practical option for couples since there’s only limited motion transfer. This means you can move around on one side without your partner feeling anything.

Coils

Coils have been around for years, but don’t judge today’s designs by what you’re used to. Today you’ll find individually wrapped coils to minimize the effect your movement has on your partner. Coils are also cool sleeping options and you’ll have great edge support.

Adjustable Mattresses

But what if you have very unique sleeping requirements? That’s when you should consider adjustable beds that can:

  • Elevate your feet
  • Adjust the angle of the area supporting your back

This is handy:

  • For snorers who need their heads elevated
  • If you have chronic back pain such as lumbar problems
  • When you have certain medical conditions

It’s of course a more expensive option as the base needs to be able to move and you need a unique mattress too.

Tip: Look out for foam mattresses if you need an adjustable bed. Even ordinary foam units are often adjustable so you’ll simply need to pay for an adjustable base.

Do You Want a Pillow Top?

If your shopping is all about getting comfort and luxury into your bedroom you should invest in a pillow top. This is an additional stuffed layer on top of the mattress. You’ll have a super soft surface and it will be like sinking into a cloud while still getting the support you need.

Yes, it sounds like heaven, right? Just be prepared to pay a little more for these mattresses.

A Unique Option: A Waterbed

This is not very common but waterbeds can be advantageous if you need relief from arthritis and back pain. It’s also beneficial to people suffering from allergies. Sometimes it works to go for the unconventional option.

Step 4: Will it Support You?

Each of these mentioned types will give you different levels of support. You need this to ensure your limbs and back don’t simply sag into the bed held in their most natural positions.

Over a long period without proper back support, you can develop medical problems—such as a backache—so it is important to feel like your mattress gives you back support.

Step 5: How Firm Should Your Mattress Be?

We’ve mentioned firmness and support. Important: These are two completely different features.

Firmness is a rating of how soft or hard the mattress is while support relates to whether it will keep your spine aligned because it supports your joints. Firmness closely relates to how comfortable you will find the mattress to be. Just remember that much of mattress shopping is subjective. It’s about what you prefer, so there’s not necessarily a better option.

Firmness plays an important role in whether your mattress will help you get a good night’s sleep. But how do you know which firmness level you should pick?

Firmness Level

You can start to gauge whether you’ll like the firmness by looking at the firmness level rating. Although this isn’t a standardized rating you’ll find this information on most labels and websites. It will be a rating between1 and 10, with 1 being very soft and 10 being very firm.

Hint: To give you an idea of what to compare this with, on a firmness rating of 10 it will be much like sleeping on a floor.

On average most consumers want a mattress in the 4 to 7 firmness range.

If you have specific medical conditions or simply love sinking into a mattress you may opt for a different rating.

The ideal firmness is also determined by factors unique to your situation:

  • Your weight, because it determines how much the mattress will give way when you lie down.
  • How you prefer sleeping, because each position requires a different amount of firmness for optimum comfort.
  • Even your body type determines what firmness level will ensure you get the most sleep at night.

Modern brands also design universal comfort options. The layers in these mattresses provide the firmness some people want while still giving them a soft feel. This is often the best option when couples are mattress shopping. If you have different preferences both should find these acceptably comfortable.

This is also a safe option whether you’re heavy, light and no matter what your preferred sleeping position.

Step 6: Weigh Yourself

While you look through types of mattresses you should keep in mind how much you weigh. Your vetting isn’t only about how the mattress responds in general, but how your body will force the mattress to respond. Your weight can affect:

  • Hug
  • How much you sink in during the night
  • How hot you get at night
  • The level of support the mattress can provide

For this reason you can’t simply pick a mattress because a friend suggests the brand. It has to work for your unique build.

Browsing through these steps you should see how all factors affect each other when you shop for mattresses. A few examples of how weight, mattress firmness and your personal preferences affect one another will make this even clearer:

  • If you weigh less than 150lb but you want your mattress to be relatively firm you’ll ordinarily pick a firmness rating between 5 and 7. However, because you’re lighter than most sleepers you must compensate by picking a lower firmness rating. You won’t sink in as much as some people do.
  • When you weigh 200lb or more you classify as a heavier sleeper and now you need to compensate for how the mattress will respond. If you want an extremely firm feel you should opt for a higher firmness level than most—even as high as 9—to compensate for how the mattress will give way once you lie down.
  • What if you want a unique combination of features? You may be a heavy sleeper weighing more than 200lb but you want a medium feel. You can opt for a higher firmness rating and simply add a comfort layer. Now you have the firm surface but the luxury of the softness too.

One other preference you need to research is your sleeping position. Once again this will affect the firmness you need and the support you require…

Step 7: Do You Know Your Preferred Sleeping Position?

First, let’s describe the three most common sleeping positions. You’ll also see how each of these relate to the firmness you need to pick.

 

The Three Sleeping Positions

Side sleeping

When you sleep on your side you need a unique mixture of two things:

  • Support: Your joints need high levels of support from the mattress otherwise they will move out of their natural positions as you relax and fall asleep. This will lead to joint pain.
  • Softness:You need the mattress moulding around you and hugging your body to feel feel comfortable lying in this position. This group of sleepers can consider a firmness rating as low as 3 to ensure they get the hug they need. They usually pick a maximum rating of 6.

Stomach sleeping

When you’re lying on your stomach you shouldn’t sink into the mattress. This will leave you feeling claustrophobic. For this reason support is essential for stomach sleepers.

You should also ensure the mattress provides the same level of support throughout its entire length so your back doesn’t end up in an unnatural position. This easily happens if a mattress is much softer in the middle than around the edges.

If this is your preferred position you’ll most likely enjoy a firmness rating between 5 and 7.

Back sleeping

Only 15% of people prefer this position. When you sleep on your back you must ensure your spine aligns correctly otherwise it can cause pain or even back problems. Your mattress basically has to be firm enough to push the spine back into place and offer support to keep it there.

For ideal spinal alignment you can consider a mattress with a firmness level between 4 and 7.In many cases memory foam mattresses are ideal as they provide both support and comfort.

Step 8: What Size Do You Need?

Don’t accept the size you have now is ideal. A small adjustment can make all the difference in finding a comfortable position, especially if you’re sharing the bed with someone.

Here’s a list of standard options:

  • Crib mattress: It measures 27”x 52” and fits in standard sized baby beds.
  • Twin mattress: This is also called a single mattress and measures 38”x 75”. Although this is a popular size for most children’s rooms they may feel cramped once they’ve grown. If you know you’ll have to replace it at a later stage it may be a budget friendly option to purchase a larger option of a high quality. It can serve you well until the child moves out of the house and you save money because you only buy once.
  • Twin XL: These are slightly longer than the previous item at 38”x 80”.
  • Full mattress: This measures 54”x 75”. Don’t assume it’s big enough for couples. Even though it’s wide enough so two people can fit in, it doesn’t mean you’ll be comfortable. You’re bound to bother each other when you move at night.
  • Queen mattress: This is the most popular size for main bedrooms and couples. It measures at 60”x 80”. It’s also easy to get the latest in bed linen for this bed since it’s so popular.
  • King: This gives you even more room to move in as it’s wider than the Queen at 76”x 80”. The market realized that people find it difficult to move these beds which is why your foundation will usually be two box springs rather than one solid construction.
  • Cal King: For the ultimate in luxury for tall individuals you can get a 72”x 84”. You have more leg room and it’s still more spacious than a Queen mattress.

Important tip: Make sure the mattress you pick will fit into your room. Standard room designs usually provide enough room for Queen mattresses in main bedrooms. If you think you want something larger, measure out the space before you go shopping. You don’t want your room to feel cramped once your new mattress arrives.

Step 9: Consider Unique Lifestyle Requirements

Consider how your mattress can have a negative impact on unique habits or health problems. Picking the right mattress type from the start will prevent this:

  • Allergies: If you have allergy problems your mattress should be resistant to dust mites and mold. For this your best options are Latex or foam. You can also invest in allergy resistant covers.
  • Rough sleeping: If you know you or your partner is a rough sleeper you must look for a mattress with low motion transfer.
  • Heat: If you know you easily get hot or feel irritable when you’re hot you must look for a cool option. A fiber-fill topper is often very helpful.
  • Differences in opinion: When you and your partner have different requirements you can look for brands that manufacture custom made beds. You can have a bed that has different firmness and support ratings on either side. An air filled mattress with separate chambers or adding a soft topper to a firmer mattress can also be solutions.

Let’s Put it All Together

If that’s all a bit too much to take in, we’ll put it all together in a quick checklist for you:

  • Is it time for a new bed?
  • Decide on your budget.
  • Pick a type of bed.
  • Make sure you get support.
  • What firmness level do you need?
  • What do you weigh?
  • What sleeping position do you prefer?
  • What size will be best?
  • Should you compensate for unique lifestyle features?

Conclusion

Soon you can lie down at night with the benefit of enough support and ultimate comfort according to your personal preferences. Use this guide to make sure you feel rested and have a smile each morning when you wake.

If you’re still unsure about your choice we’re happy to help. Contact us to read our blog or watch some informative videos to help you decide.

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