Choosing the Best Mattress

Choosing the best mattress can be a daunting task regardless of where you live or how you shop. Mattresses are an important purchase because they are often pricey and because they impact sleep, which plays an important role in everyone’s life. If you are unsure where to start or fed up with disappointing selections, reforming your approach can prove helpful in obtaining the best mattress. Detailed comparison shopping, a strategic approach, and using the internet to your advantage can all help you get a better bed, and one that will provide lasting comfort and satisfaction.

How to Get the Best Mattress

The following recommendations may be helpful when choosing the best mattress. Don’t become discouraged, by following these steps one by one you will be able to sort through many of the issues and learn what is best for your individual needs.

Decide What You Can Spend

Set a realistic budget before you begin.  Queen-sized mattresses can range from $300 – $35,000. The cheapest mattresses, as you might guess, often prove uncomfortable and are not built to stand up to nightly wear. At the upper end, these luxury beds often last no longer and provide similar comfort to good quality mid-range beds.  A quality queen sized mattress often runs in the $1000 to $2000 range, though you may be able to find good-quality beds under $1000 during sales and online. Specialty beds like all-natural latex and high-end name brands beds will often run closer to the $2000-$4000 range. Remember that a good mattress is something you will use nightly for 5-10 years, so spending a little more to get a more durable product can make sense if it is within your budget.

Learn About Your Options

The most common mainstream mattress choices are innerspring/coils, memory foam, latex, airbeds, and waterbeds. Overall, these mattresses tend to score in the following order regarding owner satisfaction (from best to worst):

  1. Memory Foam
  2. Latex
  3. Waterbeds
  4. Airbeds
  5. Innerspring Beds

While only about 6 in 10 innerspring owners are satisfied with their beds, more than 8 in 10 owners of memory foam and all-latex mattresses report satisfaction. While individual brands and types may perform better or worse, these differences in satisfaction are large and consistent enough to mention. Memory foam and latex may not be the best mattress for everyone, but if you’ve been less than happy with spring beds they are certainly worth considering.

Find the Best Mattress Firmness

Firmness levels are one of the most important factors when choosing the best mattress, and the most difficult to determine. Each composition features attributes that may affect how firm it feels, regardless of how it is rated. Plush from one company can feel comparable to another’s medium, as firmness levels tends to be subjective. If you are shopping for latex or foam beds, you may be able to use ILD ratings which offer a more consistent measure of firmness.

If you aren’t quite sure whether plush, medium-firm, ultra-firm or the myriad of levels in between is right for you, first consider the firmness level of your existing mattress and whether it initially provided the correct level of support.  If you are buying a new type of mattress it can be challenging as a firm memory foam bed feels different from firm latex, which both feel different from a firm spring mattress. As far as professional reccomendations go, medium firm or firm are typically identified as the best mattress options, so that might be  good starting point. Regardless, look for a retailer with a trial period just in case you need to exchange.

Are Natural Materials Important to You?

After determining which type of mattress you prefer, it is time to get into the nitty-gritty of how they are constructed. Not everyone is particularly concerned about chemicals or the environmental impact of products, but many consumers are turning to options that are eco-friendly and free of dangerous chemicals. We spend one-third of our lives in direct contact with bedding items, so this is one area of the home that can have a big impact on health.

Memory foam, latex, foams in spring beds, and textiles used in covers can be made of either natural or chemically-based materials. 100% natural latex comes from renewable rubber trees. For those who prefer memory foam or springs, soy and castor oil based foams are growing in popularity, and materials like wool, cotton and rayon offer alternatives to synthetic petroleum-derived options.

Recent fire legislation requires all mattresses to withstand an open flame, and many producers use additional chemical additives to achieve this. Mattresses with adhesives and glues (nearly all innerspring and a majority of foam beds) introduce additional chemicals in the forms of solvents and volatile organic compounds, responsible for the “new” odor that may prove overwhelming to some. If you are sensitive to odors or chemicals and concerned about indoor air quality or your impact on the earth, these are all considerations to address when selecting the best mattress.

Don’t Overlook Research Tools

When shopping for the best mattress, remember that the internet affords you many resources and tools. Take time to learn about materials and brands, and always double check facts and information for yourself.

  • Conduct research on the brands available for the type of mattress you have chosen. There are many national name brands that customers are familiar with, but these major lines may not always offer the best value so take time to explore all options. Consider the actual materials and quality beneath the cover and not the name on the tag when determining value.
  • Read consumer reviews on products. The internet is an excellent source for reviews via brand websites, retailer websites, third party forums, and social media. See what people say and if any consistent issues come up, or if positive reviews outnumber the bad.
  • Compare warranties when determining which mattress will be the best choice. Most companies have specific sag levels they use to decide if the warranty will go into effect. Make certain you understand the fine print, which should be available in full on the brand/retailer website.

A Word About Online Shopping

Lastly, don’t be afraid to buy a mattress online. Traditional publications and local showroom brands often try to drive the myth that you MUST lay on a bed for 5 to 15 minutes.  But, a mattress study by research firm RTI indicated that people have difficulty choosing a comfortable mattress in showroom settings, and Consumer Reports found 40% of all mattress buyers experience buyer’s remorse. Online, you have a better selection, more access to research the product, and will likely save significantly over local showrooms. Your chances of getting the best mattress online are just as good if not better than shopping in stores – just make sure you research before you buy and get a bed with a good and fair return policy. We will cover buying a mattress online in greater detail in an upcoming article, but here are a few helpful tips for now:

  • Look for reviews.
  • Call the company.
  • Check return policy and costs.
  • Keep receipts.

We recently compared seven brands and types of mattresses from the big S brands to online retailers. In that comparison, we selected Amerisleep, a online plant-based memory foam mattress retailer, as the best value. This was based on the Revere model’s highest average consumer rating, affordable pricing, and good performance when compared on materials, quality and durability.

When you start shopping for the best mattress, choose companies that provide transparent pricing, product information, as well as warranty and trial information for the best overall experience. As with any major purchase, you must consider how your needs and preferences compare to the available options. In order to get the best mattress and reduce the chance of regret, take the time to research and conduct thorough comparisons rather than relying on name recognition and marketing claims.