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How to Choose a Mattress in 5 Easy Steps

how to choose a mattress

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It’s easy to get stuck in the same old sleeping routine, not realizing when you need to change things up. It seems like one day, you wake up and you realize your back is stiff and you haven’t been sleeping well for weeks. Turns out, your old mattress could be the likely culprit. But mattress shopping can be a daunting task sometimes. After all, there is so much to consider when you’re thinking of taking the leap and purchasing a new bed. Don’t give up! Broken down into parts, mattress shopping can actually be a simple (and dare we say, enjoyable) task. That’s why we’re dividing it into five easy steps for you, so you’ll know exactly how to choose a mattress that fits your needs.

We spoke to sleep expert Julia Rosien at Restonic to give us the inside scoop on mattress buying best practices. And she broke down some sleep facts for us that you might find surprising. There’s a lot to consider, because it’s not just about finding the right mattress for you. When you think of all the bedrooms in your house—your guest room, the kids’ rooms, the primary bedroom—there are different needs that each room must accommodate. For example, your kids will probably need a smaller, softer mattress, while your guest room would probably benefit from a crowd-pleasing, neutral option like a medium-firm queen. Whatever your needs and wants, consulting our tips will help make sure you’re making the right choice.

1. Know the Best Time to Buy a Mattress

Since a mattress is a big investment, you can save a pretty penny if you can purchase one during a sale. Some of the best deals on mattresses will happen around holidays like Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, and the Fourth of July. And although these are popular times to buy discount mattresses, you should also consider looking for discontinued models, as those can go on sale anytime of the year. 

2. Decide Your Budget

Even when you can take advantage of a great discount, determining how much to spend on a mattress can be tricky. Depending on the brand, prices can vary wildly, so it’s better to go in with a solid idea of your budget. You don’t need to shell out a fortune to get a good mattress, but you should be treating the purchase as an investment. Of course, there are also aspects even more important than cost. Julia Rosien says, “When it comes to buying a new mattress, the better question is: What does your body (and your partner’s body, if you share a bed) need for consistently healthy, restful sleep?” Ultimately, this is a purchase that is meant to last anywhere from 7-10 years, so it’s important to spend wisely.

3. Figure Out What Your Needs Are

Although both comfortability and support are important qualities for minimizing back pain, everyone has different needs. Be prepared to test a variety of mattresses so you can find your Goldilocks. Between soft, medium-firm, and firm mattresses, there are a lot of options out there. Overall, Rosien suggests that “hot sleepers should focus on mattresses (and bedding) that employ cooling technology. If you have a bad back, you’ll need a mattress with more support in the center third of the mattress. You’ll also want to look at the construction of the mattress. Find out if latex, memory foam, or a coil system is better for you—or maybe a combination of all three, known as a hybrid mattress.”

4. Determine Your Best Bed Size

When looking for the right mattress, a common struggle couples face is finding one that allows them to feel close without feeling cramped. A simple way to check if the mattress you’re looking at can accommodate both you and your partner is to lie beside them with your hands under your head and your elbows pointing out. If your elbows barely graze each other or don’t touch at all, you’re looking at the right-sized mattress.

5. Consider All Your Options

When you find a mattress that meets your criteria, it’s easy to get swept up in excitement and want to take it home right away. But don’t be afraid to take your time, ask sales reps more questions, and do your own research online as well. And don’t disregard bed-in-a-box mattresses either! Rosien says, “A bed-in-a-box is simply a mattress that’s flat-rolled and shipped to a retailer or consumer in a box. All mattresses are definitely not created equal, but how your mattress is delivered to you has very little to do with quality or satisfaction.” If your research is pointing you in the direction of a bed-in-a-box mattress, trust your instincts. After all, some of the most top-rated mattresses on the market right now are those that ship right to your door.

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