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Is your mattress conducive to a good night’s sleep, or do you toss and turn every night?
Finding a mattress that’s comfortable, durable, and affordable can be somewhat of a balancing act. What’s more, mattress manufacturers routinely introduce new technologies to lure customers away from the competition. It can be tough to separate the hype from reality.
Before you jump into a new investment, let our handy shopping guide help you answer your most pressing questions about buying a new mattress.
Mattresses don’t last forever. If yours is over 10 years old, consider buying a new one.
Mattresses collect dust, human skin cells, and body fluids over time. Some people try to revive their old mattress with a professional deep cleaning or a new mattress topper. These temporary solutions are stop-gap measures at best.
Here are some situations in which it’s definitely time to replace a mattress:
The top is so worn that the inner springs are exposed. As mentioned above, a topper only masks this problem. Exposed springs threaten your comfort and support, and they’re definitely a safety hazard.
The mattress has developed structural problems. Older mattresses may sag in the middle or collapse on the sides. Some people try to adapt to these inconveniences, but the fact is, an unsupported mattress puts unnatural stress on the body.
Other warning signs that you may need to consider a new mattress include the following:
You’re experiencing chronic stiffness or back pain, especially in the morning.
You’re experiencing increased nighttime allergy symptoms.
If you've been complaining of back problems, your mattress may be to blame. If you don't address the issue you could be setting yourself up for a longterm issue.
Hundreds of internal metal coils support the sleeper on an innerspring mattress. The ideal innerspring perfectly aligns the spine and fully supports the extremities.
But since different parts of the body exert different amounts of pressure on the springs, this type of mattress may or may not provide adequate support. Your comfort depends heavily on the total number of coils your mattress has.
A cheap mattress with 400 coils might not feel very comfortable, whereas a pricier model with 900 coils might feel so fantastic that you have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning.
That said, the total number of coils is not always an indicator of mattress quality. A mattress with 800 coils might use an inferior grade of metal, whereas a 500-coil mattress might incorporate coils of top-quality steel.
Be sure to rotate or flip an innerspring mattress periodically to prevent the formation of pressure points and sags.
Memory foam mattresses are made of dense foam with heavy viscosity. These models incorporate a solid foam support system rather than a failure-prone set of internal coils.
Memory foam conforms to your body contours, creating the appropriate highs and lows for ideal comfort and support. For many people, the urge to assume to new sleep positions throughout the night is greatly reduced with a memory foam mattress.
However, there are some drawbacks to this type of bedding. Memory foam mattresses are expensive, and they’re typically available only in specialized bedding stores and online. Furthermore, because the thick foam provides little ventilation, they tend to retain heat. Some memory foam mattresses include a gel layer that adds a bit of cooling comfort, but the gel is often buried too deeply within the mattress to be of much use.
Chemical off-gassing can be a problem with brand new foam mattresses. Allow your new purchase some time to air out before sleeping on it.
A recent development in mattress technology is the adjustable air/memory gel hybrid. With this type of mattress, you dial in your desired level of support, and air bladders inside the mattress inflate or deflate to match your command. (Note: the pumps that control each air bladder can be noisy, so middle-of-the-night adjustments are not advisable!)
The obvious benefit is that two sleepers with different firmness preferences can share a bed comfortably. These mattresses tend to be quite pricey, but satisfied users say the cost is worth it.
A bit of advice about sleep number beds: while firmness level plays a role in your overall comfort, it’s wise to avoid extremely high or low settings. A too-soft mattress could cause problems over time because it doesn’t support the spine enough; an ultra-firm mattress that holds the body in rigid suspension all night could also cause problems.
When it comes to mattresses, size matters.
The smallest size available for adult sleepers is the twin, although it is barely large enough to support one average adult. Twin beds work best in a child’s room or a spare guest room. Two adults would likely not feel comfortable sharing a twin bed for long!
The next size up is the full mattress. It’s the smallest size that can reasonably accommodate two average adults. Because of its relatively narrow width, there can be a lot of transferred motion if one sleeper leaves the bed or climbs back in.
Full mattress are available in an extended length for tall sleepers. Sheets, blankets, and pillow cases for the full-size bed are easy to find.
Many people find contentment with the next largest size, the queen. Two adults can sleep comfortably on a queen-size bed without making incidental contact. If you prefer a few inches of separation between you and your partner, this could be the size for you. Transfer of motion is also less of an issue with this size than it is with a full.
The ultimate mattress size is the spacious king. Size variations exist among king-size mattresses, such as the California King and the Split King. It’s a popular size in the hotel industry, because sleepers can maintain a comfortable distance if necessary. People who prefer a lot of independence while sleeping enjoy the benefits of a king.
Notably, a king-size bed’s sheets, blankets, and pillowcases are larger and tend to cost more. If you’re considering a king-size mattress, be aware of this additional investment. Before buying, it’s also wise to make sure your room’s dimensions will accommodate this larger bed.
Routinely vacuum or steam clean your mattress to keep it in good condition.
Innerspring mattresses with decent coil counts, independent spring designs, and thick padding should not cost more than about $1000. Pricier innerspring models do exist, but the difference in quality is often negligible.
Memory foam/gel mattresses are generally promoted as high-end models, so customers should expect to see price tags of $1500 or more. Manufacturer financing is sometimes available, but the interest rates can be considerably higher than average.
Adjustable air mattresses with memory foam or gel can also cost a lot. A price tag of $2000 to $2500 is not unusual for such a bed. People with health issues related to poor sleep may want to make the leap to an adjustable sleep number mattress, but others may conclude that the adjustable nature of this mattress doesn’t outweigh the initial investment.
If you’re currently experiencing aches, pains, stiffness, or difficulty sleeping, a new mattress may help. While it may be tempting to save money and buy a used mattress, you just might inherit someone else’s problems by doing so. A new mattress can provide the structure and support you need to get a good night’s rest and enjoy better overall health.
Best of the Best
Sleep Innovations 12-Inch Shiloh
Thanks to two levels of comfort and pressure point relief, we found the Sleep Innovations 12-Inch Shiloh to provide the best night's sleep, and it doesn't come close to breaking the bank. And with the additional perks of a 20-year limited warranty and made in the USA tag, we don't think anyone will regret buying this mattress.
Best Bang for your Buck
Signature Sleep Contour 8-Inch
Our Best Bang for your Buck also features a dual-layer system, but this time with foam and coils. You can't get a better mattress for under $200, and we think the Signature Sleep outperforms many competitors with a much higher price tag. A great option for day beds and guest rooms, but you might find yourself picking this mattress over your own.