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Mattress Buying Tips

How to get the best mattress for your needs.

by Emily Choulasco

If you are in the market for a new mattress, then you are probably aware of the expense that they can entail. Therefore, it is best to ensure that you are choosing the correct mattress for yourself so that your investment pays off. Also, experts report that the wrong type of mattress can impair your health and well-being. The following tips on mattress buying will help you make an informed purchase.

Comfort & Support

These characteristics are not mutually exclusive when considering a mattress. You cannot have true comfort unless the mattress you are using provides the support that is needed for a good nights sleep. It is key that you choose a mattress that provides you with the best support and spine alignment possible. This will prevent future health problems, such as stiff muscles and back problems. However you also need to find a suitable model that is comfortable. 

Many people associate comfort with softness. This is a misconception where mattresses are concerned. It is understandable however because when you first lay down on a nice soft mattress you often feel very comfortable.

The lack of support from a mattress that is too soft, however, will become apparent over the course of your evening's sleep when your body's joints and spine are not properly supported. 

Your muscles will try and compensate for the spine deformation and this can cause muscle soreness in the morning as well as a possible sore back. 

In the morning your "comfortable" mattress may have proven to be a poor purchase.

lady sleeping on the floor

Finding the best mattress firmness for your body can be a bit tricky and while a mattress that is too soft may not provide the support that is needed for your spine and joints, a mattress that is too hard can cause much the same problems. There is no "correct" in-between here - each person is built differently and may require a different ratio of firmness/comfort than someone else. 

It comes down to testing mattresses carefully before making a purchase. Try to ensure that your spine is as straight as possible when you are lying on the mattress on your side. This is often a sign that the mattress is providing a good ratio of firmness/comfort. Most mattress stores will allow you to "test" a mattress in the store so take advantage of it! Also, put your inhibitions aside and lay on the mattress for several minutes, this will help you get a better idea if this is the right mattress for you.


couple cuddling in bed If you will be sharing the mattress with another person the mattress firmness/comfort level you prefer (or need) may be different from that preferred by your partner. 

If so, there are mattresses on the market that have two separate chambers. Each chamber can be adjusted to match a person's desired level of comfort and support. These models can be somewhat costly however. 

A less expensive option here is for each partner to pick out a twin mattress that meets their criteria, and then fit them together to make one large mattress - this approach is not ideal but can be much less expensive. 


Mattresses range in price from inexpensive generic models to the more expensive top brands. Pricing is predominantly a function of the manufacturer, as well as the materials and technology included in the mattress design. 

For example, there are some brands/models that have patented concepts such as dual coil springs and other brands are not allowed to use this approach; therefore, these can be more costly. 

With respect to getting a good quality mattress it is best to shop around. Find out which dealers have the best prices (much of this can be done online) and consider the warranty options. Good mattress warranties can range from 10 years up to 30 years and you also want to pay attention to the "type" of warranty. Is it pro-rated or non-prorated? A non-prorated warranty will cover the full replacement cost of the mattress over the entire warranty term, while a non-prorated warranty will not cover the full cost of the mattress (typically only a percentage) and the percentage covered decreases over time.

A few other considerations when finding the right shop or dealer include delivery and removal. Some dealers offer free delivery with a minimum purchase and others will also haul away your old mattress for you. These are nice options to have so ask about them.

Types of Mattresses 

There are many different kind of mattresses on the market today but broadly speaking they can be broken down into Spring, Latex and Memory Foam. 

Spring Mattresses

This is the "traditional" style of mattress that most people picture in their head with they think of a mattress.

These use coils for support, which can often include dual coils, both on the bottom and top. The cushioning layers help to provide support for the spine as well as comfort. The overall quality of the coil as well as the amount of coils present and the material used for cushioning will play a large role in how successful the mattress will be (and often how expensive).  double bed

Spring mattresses range from very cheap to very expensive - some of the more expensive units use the "pocketed coil" concept where each spring is individually wrapped in material (this is supposed to limit motion transfer).

Latex Mattresses

Latex has grown more popular over the past few years. Latex is actually a rubber substance that is suspended in water. It has similar support characteristics to memory foam. An added benefit of latex is that it does not cause you to perspire as much as memory foam mattress will. Mattresses made of latex are also resistant to dust-mites and certain bacteria, which makes them great for those with allergies. They are also widely marketed as being effective at limiting motion transfer - meaning if you move on your side of the mattress, your partner will not feel it on their side.

Memory Foam Mattresses

Memory foam is popular among those with sensitive pressure points, body aches, and problems sleeping. The hefty price tag that often accompanies memory foam mattresses can be a cause for some consumer hesitation, however they are great mattresses and can last a lifetime if taken care of properly. 

Some folks complain that memory foam mattresses can get too hot and a number of manufacturers now create them with special air-flow channels that help reduce heat - check for this. 

Memory foam mattresses also use many different densities of foam - typically the higher the density the better. If you are unable to afford a memory foam mattress, there are memory foam toppers that you can purchase to place on top of your old mattress. It does not provide the same support, but will have similar comfort characteristics. 

Last Words

When deciding on the best mattress to buy don't be too frugal. This is a product that you will likely have for about 10 years and you will spend a full 3 of those sleeping on it. That is not to say that you should buy the most expensive mattress but rather something of decent quality that provides you with the support and comfort necessary for a healthy and uninterrupted nights sleep.

Mattress-advisor.com provides comprehensive mattress reviews and mattress ratings. We review many best-selling mattresses including Simmons, Serta, Sealy, Kingsdown, and more. 




More information on choosing the right mattress.



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