12 Need-to-Know Tips for Buying a New Mattress

Amy Pawlukiewicz
Written by Amy Pawlukiewicz
Updated March 28, 2022
A relaxed woman waking up after a good sleep
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If you're losing sleep over buying a new mattress, consider these tips

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The search to find the best mattress is more complex than choosing between a queen or king. Mattresses are an investment that should last you anywhere from seven to 10 years, so it's crucial to put the work in to find the best one. Here are some need-to-know tips for buying a new mattress you'll be happy with.

1. Consider Your Sleep Position

Different mattresses are better for different types of sleep positions. Generally, there are four sleep positions: back, side, stomach, and combination (aka, you move around to different positions throughout the night). Generally speaking:

  • Back sleepers need a firmer mattress.

  • Stomach sleepers may do better with a medium-to-firm mattress. 

  • Side sleepers need a supportive mattress to avoid hip pain. 

  • Combination sleepers should have a medium-firmness mattress.

2. Find the Right Size

If you like to spread out and share a bed, you'll do better with a king mattress than a full or a queen. House full of kids and pets that like to jump in bed with you? A California king might be the best bet for you. You'll also need to take measurements in your room to see what bed will fit best in the square footage.

3. Understand Firmness

A man testing a mattress’ firmness
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When you buy from a local mattress store, you'll hear a lot about firmness. Different mattress manufacturers have different definitions of soft, medium, and firm, and many manufacturers have guides you can read through online to understand how they define firmness. 

While they may envelop you like a pillow, soft mattresses can cause back and hip pain over time and are more likely to sag. Firm mattresses are stable but may be less comfortable than medium or soft ones. A medium mattress is usually the best choice for couples since it's a balance of both soft and firm.

4. Learn About Mattress Materials

You'll have a few different options when it comes to mattress shopping.

  • Foam mattresses have no coils and are made entirely of—you guessed it—foam. They are suitable for people with joint problems and offer motion isolation so you won't be disturbed by your partner in the middle of the night.

  • Latex mattresses have the most extended lifespan. For this type of mattress, manufacturers layer latex rubber sheets together to form a block. 

  • Innerspring mattresses are made up of coiled springs and are bouncier than some other types. The coils are supportive, but these mattresses aren't great for pressure relief on joints.

  • Hybrid mattresses are a combination of innerspring and foam materials. These mattresses stay cooler than others and can be bouncy or firm, depending on the makeup of foam versus springs.

5. Test It Out

While buying a mattress online and having it shipped out may seem like a convenient option, your best bet before you order is to go to a showroom and actually lie on the mattresses. Take your time to determine what material and firmness feel best. 

6. Talk to Your Doctor

Talk to your doctor before purchasing a mattress, especially if you have back, neck, hip, or joint conditions. They'll be able to give you some insight about what type of mattress will be best for your health, even if they're not an expert in the field.

7. Read Reviews

You can often find out a lot about mattresses by reading the reviews posted by customers. While your specific needs may not line up with another person's, reviews will tell you what the company is like, the quality of the mattresses, and the general buying experience.

8. Keep It Cool

A couple buying a new mattress
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Heat is a good night's sleep's worst enemy. Because mattresses absorb our body heat when we sleep, you'll get hot, restless, and sweaty if your mattress isn't made of cooling materials. Look for materials labeled as cool or cooling that will help dissipate heat as you sleep.

9. Set a Budget

Your mattress is a significant investment that you'll have to live with for almost a decade, and figuring out your budget before you begin your search is essential. Mattresses range in price from a couple hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, and knowing how much you want to spend will save you time.

10. Think About Your Base

When you consider your mattress choices, also look at the base of your bed. Do you need a box spring? Will your mattress lay on slats? Do you have a platform bed? Some mattresses require a specific base, so it's important to know what you're working with before you start shopping around.

11. Protect Your Investment

Your new mattress should last a minimum of five years, and having a warranty for at least that long could save you a headache if it breaks or gets damaged. Maintaining your mattress by protecting it with a cover, rotating it regularly, and vacuuming it monthly to ensure that you get the maximum life out of it.

12. Don't Rush

Your mattress is a big purchase you'll be living with for a long time—don't rush yourself. Visit stores, do your research, and figure out precisely what you need before taking the plunge.

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