A Buyer’s Guide To Picking a Great Mattress

By Emily Alford

“How to Shop for a ” Series

My first job out of college was selling furniture at a moderately priced home outfitting chain. I found I could easily upsell shoppers in the market for things like tables–shifting their preferences from pressed-wood, throwaway side tables to heavier, more long-lasting stuff–by explaining the benefits of better quality pieces. But there was one section where I consistently ran into trouble: the mattress section.

Buyers simply didn’t understand the importance of mattress quality to a sound night’s . Oftentimes, they came in, pointed to the cheapest option we offered, and without so much as lying down said, “That one.” No amount of earnest explanation about coil strength, no number of speeches importuning them to just try a few better options, could convince customers that all mattresses aren’t created equal.

I, on the other hand, became something of a mattress aficionado, sneaking in cat naps when the store was slow and my manager slipped off for a two hour lunch (the somewhat rural store didn’t precisely adhere to the employee handbook). During my stolen naps, I began to realize the importance of a supportive bed. In these stolen moments where the entire world of sleep products were available to me for zero money down, I developed a strong preference for pillow tops and memory foam.

Of course, my entire education in sleep products didn’t happen while asleep. When I was awake, I learned about the inner workings of a mattress from quarterly training courses, conversations with manufactures, and the work of helping dozens of people find the bed that suited them best.

By the end of my year-long tenure as a furniture salesperson, I could feel the difference between a worn out mattress and a quality bed. And the difference was painful. I began to notice that my hand-me-down mattress was probably responsible for the cricks in my neck and the fact that I often woke multiple times during the night and found it difficult to get back to sleep. Since then, I’ve never skimped on a mattress, and after all my power naps on each and every mattress we sold, I can share a few of the lessons I’ve learned for getting better shut eye by choosing your bed with care.

The mattress section can be a pretty scary place, but picking the right mattress doesn’t have to be a nightmare if you follow a few basic tips.

Try Before You Buy

According to Consumer Reports you should never buy a mattress online. It’s better to shop in a brick and mortar store where experts can explain different features to help you find the perfect bed. And once you’re in store, don’t be shy! Lie down, roll around, and make sure you’re comfortable. It’s better to risk looking a little silly than be stuck with a mattress that makes you uncomfortable.

Find Your Firmness

Contrary to popular belief, a mattress doesn’t have to be rock hard to provide support, says Craig McAndrews, chief learning officer for Mattress Firm. It just needs to be firm enough to allow you to sleep in the correct position. “Paying attention to your body’s resting position before you fall asleep and when you wake will help pinpoint specific health implications associated with your nighttime posture,” McAndrews says. And once you know the position that makes for the best rest, try that position in the store to make sure your new mattress supports you in your natural sleep posture.

Good Beds Have Good Foundations

80 percent of buyers get better sleep by simply replacing their mattresses, worn box springs. It’s not surprising–faulty foundations have been known to make beds uncomfortable. If your old box spring feels bouncy rather than stiff, it’s probably time for a new one.

Adjustable Beds are for Everyone

When many people think of adjustable beds, they think of the hospital, but they’re actually a smart choice for the home, according to McAndrews. “Whether you need an adjustable base to ease discomfort and body aches from a long day or you want to be able to sit up while you watch a movie, this option is for anyone wanting an upgrade from a traditional mattress,” he says. So if you’re the kind of person who uses your bed as a library, movie theater, and home office, in addition to a sleeping space, consider going adjustable.

The right mattress could last you for the next ten years, so don’t settle. Try them all until you find the perfect fit! 

Tags:  Mattress Sleep

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