Buying a new mattress can be a real headache. How can something that is supposed to help you relax bring so much stress?
Between types of mattresses, sleeping styles, and added features, it can be difficult to even know where to begin. Mattress manufacturers will confuse things further, as they all claim they have the best mattress.
The truth is, everyone’s mattress needs are different.
Luckily, we’ve spent decades in the industry, helping countless people find their ideal mattress.
We’ve compiled those years of experience into this simple, straightforward guide, to help you rest easy as soon as possible! With that said, here is Mattress King’s ultimate guide to finding a new mattress in 2020 and beyond.
There are seven simple questions you’ll need to answer to find your ideal mattress.
First and foremost you should understand if you even need a new mattress.
This question alone can divide the average mattress buyer. There are typically two groups of people: those who replace mattresses too early, and those who are still sleeping on a mattress from the 1980’s.
Obviously both extremes have their own problems. Luckily the solution to both is understanding the signs your mattress is ready to be replaced.
In general, the rule of thumb is to replace your mattress every 7–10 years. However, this timeline varies based on a number of factors, and mattresses don’t have internal timers.
The best way to know when it is time for a change is to pay attention to the signs of an aging mattress.
If your mattress is over 5 years old, start to take note of how you are sleeping. For instance, are you noticing back pain that wasn’t there a few years ago? Maybe you are waking up groggy, or notice you toss and turn in your sleep.
These can be signs of a number of issues, including a sad, tired mattress.
It is also important to understand the average lifespan of your mattress. If you have a newer mattress based on your type, other issues may be at the root of your sleeping problems, such as incorrect pillows or too much light in the room.
|Mattress Type||Average Lifespan|
|Innerspring Mattresses||7-8 years|
Innerspring mattresses – The “classic” mattress style. While innerspring mattresses are affordable, the foam within them starts to stick to the springs over time, making for an uncomfortable sleeping experience sooner than other mattress types.
|Memory Foam Mattresses||7-10 years|
Memory Foam Mattresses – Memory foam mattresses ditch springs for a responsive foam that supports the body. The foam holds its shape better than springs, leading to a longer lifespan. However, the foam gets softer with time and will have a harder time keeping its shape.
Latex Mattresses – Latex mattresses also ditch springs altogether, using a highly resilient latex as the core of the bed instead. These are the ultimate mattresses when it comes to longevity, and can easily last over a decade with good care.
|Individual Pocketed Coil Mattress||8-12 years|
Individual pocketed coil mattresses – Pocketed coil mattresses take the original spring mattress design and greatly improve it by encasing individual springs in their own pockets of foam. This leads to a longer lifespan and often much more comfortable sleep. Back pain sufferers can also be better accommodated with a zoned pocketed coil that provides extra support for the lower back and hip.
|Hybrid Mattresses||8-12 years|
Hybrid mattresses – Hybrid mattresses are a mix of individual pocketed coils and a topper such as memory foam. Many consider the Hybrid to be the best of both worlds. They provide the desired comfort of rich memory foam with the individualized personal comfort of the pocketed coil and sleep much cooler than all foam mattresses. They can last longer than both spring mattresses and memory foam mattresses, as using both pocketed coils and foam helps compensate for the weaknesses of each.
There are other factors that affect the lifespan of your individual mattress as well.
Other factors that may reduce the lifespan of your mattress include:
The other thing to consider is the health of the mattress. Any mattress over 5 years old is full of a number of unwanted guests, such as:
It doesn’t matter how clean you think you are – these things will get into your mattress with time.
While sometimes it may be time to say goodbye to your mattress, there are simple ways to extend its lifespan as well. These are best to use with a new mattress from the beginning, but they may also help you squeeze some extra life out of your old mattress before buying a new one.
Buy a mattress protector
Keep those dead skin cells and oils out of your mattress with a washable protector
Use a good foundation
Foundations help promote airflow and reduce impact and wear on the mattress
Rotate the mattress
Rotate your mattress about once every three months to keep it from getting lumpy or wearing down in one area
Wash your bed sheets regularly
Regular washing helps keep extra oils, dust, and skin cells from seeping into the mattress
Keep the pets away
No pets on a mattress means no accidents, and keeps their dirt from getting onto your bedding
Kids jumping on the bed puts stress on the mattress, and can age the bed very quickly
Air out the mattress
Once a month, let the mattress get some sunlight, as UV rays can help kill bacteria and evaporate any lingering humidity in the bed
With all of these variables to consider, it is easy to see how a simple question such as “Do you need a new mattress?” – is anything but simple.
So here are some strong signs you need a new mattress:
If this sounds like you – the answer is yes, it’s time for a new mattress.
Once you know you need a new mattress, its time to explore your options. Understanding the mattress types available to you and how they differ is going to help narrow down your search in a big way, and is a huge step towards buying a new mattress.
We’ve condensed the research here for you to make it both comprehensive and easy to understand.
Made of: metal springs lined with foam
Average price: $300 –$700
Easy to ship: No
Satisfaction rating: 7/10
An innerspring mattress is what most people think of when they think of a mattress. It has been the standard for sleep for decades, and is only very recently losing its tight grip on the world of sleep.
With that said, it is still by far the most common type of mattress, as it provides relatively good customer satisfaction at a great price.
The core of the mattress is a series of sturdy, intertwined steel springs, supported from the outside by more steel for strong edge support.
Foam is packed all around these springs to provide the cushion to the mattress. The overall mattress weight is generally high due to the steel springs, and they have to be shipped full size.
Innerspring mattresses are cooler because they do not hug the body. However this also means they do not contour to the body much and may be less comfortable. Overall they still provide stronger support at a good cost. However, they do break down faster than other options.
Made of: Layers of foam with varying densities
Average price: $600 –$1,000
Easy to ship: Yes
Satisfaction rating: 8/10
Memory foam mattresses are more popular than ever, especially with people who look to move away from innerspring mattresses.
The entire structure of a memory foam mattress is made from specific low-resistance foam. This foam has a good response to pressure, and helps contour the body much better than spring mattresses, thus reducing pressure points.
The mattresses tend to be medium-firm to firm, and may provide the ideal comfort and support for people with aches and pains during sleep.
As the now-famous commercials show us, memory foam mattresses do not transfer motion from one part of the bed to another. This is great for partners who work different hours or those who move throughout the night. Movements on a foam mattress are much less likely to disturb someone sleeping next to you.
However, foam mattresses have a reputation for being much hotter than other options. Luckily, technology has also helped the mattress world evolve. Now there are a number of cooler foam options to choose from, including specific cooling gel foams or foams which allow more air to circulate to the body. They can be packed and shipped much easier than spring or hybrid models as well.
The type of foam is important to note here, as most models are not made of 100% memory foam. Some may contain other harmful ingredients, such as formaldehyde or flame retardants. Look for CertiPUR-US certified mattress foams to avoid these issues.
Made of: Natural or synthetic latex
Average price: $1,200 –$4,500
Easy to ship: Yes
Satisfaction rating: 7.5/10
Latex mattresses are often marketed as an alternative to memory foam. They provide sturdy support, but do not give as much as you lay on them. This means you are less likely to feel swallowed up by a latex mattress compared to a memory foam mattress.
Additionally, latex mattresses are cooler than memory foam – even with the advanced cooling foams on the market. Latex mattresses are much more responsive to motion than memory foam. The more you push on them, the more they push back.
They also have a much higher lifespan than other mattress options, as they are extremely durable.
However, latex mattresses are very expensive compared to other options. They are also very heavy.
They can also give off a chemical smell for the first few days that can make it difficult or impossible to sleep on, though this goes away with time.
Made of: a bed of Individual springs wrapped in foam and topped with more foam for added comfort
Average price: $450 –$1,600
Easy to ship: No
Satisfaction rating: 8.9/10
Individual pocketed coil mattresses make a good choice for many people. They take the strong support of a spring mattress and add new levels of comfort to it.
They can have a lower price than many more “luxurious” options such as latex and foam, but may offer comparable features.
In many areas, pocketed coil mattresses are taking over the “industry standard” slot from innerspring mattresses.
The main reason for this is that the mattress is made up of hundreds of individual springs. These individual springs allow for new levels of comfort and responsiveness in the mattress that the design of an innerspring could never achieve.
Because these springs move independently, they can also contour to the body better than intertwined springs. The added foam on top of these mattresses helps provide more comfortable support as well. Together, these features mean these mattresses also have less motion transfer than innerspring mattresses.
At the same time, pocketed coils are more sturdy than foam mattresses, and provide stronger support for those who need it. The spring strength also means they tend to last much longer than a foam core.
However, these mattresses can also be very heavy, and they have to be shipped full size. Additionally,foam quality can really make or break these mattresses. Low quality foam can make for a very uncomfortable sleeping experience down the road.
Made of: A blend of one or more mattress types, typically an innerspring mattress with a memory foam top
Average price: $850 –$1,600
Easy to ship: No
Satisfaction rating: 9.2/10
A hybrid mattress may refer to a blend of one or more mattress types, though it initially meant a blend between an innerspring mattress and a memory foam mattress.
Hybrids aim to make up for the ways mattress types are lacking by combining them with other supportive mattress types. For instance, the inner springs in a hybrid mattress provide strong support, but the memory foam top provides the needed comfort the springs may lack.
Because of this, hybrids tend to be good for many sleepers, and provide a nice mix of comfort and support. They also tend to be cooler then memory foam, but not as pricey as latex.
The memory foam on these mattresses will make for better motion transfer, while the inner springs will help keep you from feeling swallowed by the foam.
However, hybrids are very heavy, which makes shipping and delivery a chore. They can also be much more expensive than simple spring or foam options. With that said, people who are willing to spend the money may be much more satisfied with their purchase. Hybrids are a great choice for someone that wants to dial in their comfort and maximize support.
Now that you understand the different beds on the market and have an idea for your price range, it’s time to understand which mattresses will work for you in particular. This has a lot to do with how you sleep.
In general, people either sleep on their side, back, or stomach. The way you sleep will determine the kind of support you need. Finding your match is a huge part of buying a new mattress.
Most people are side sleepers. Side sleepers have to consider a few things when buying a mattress. Most importantly, side sleepers do not distribute their weight evenly on the bed. This can create pressure points. The best mattresses for them will be mattresses that relieve these pressure points to reduce pain and discomfort.
Aim for a mattress on the softer side, usually including a blend of :
Memory foam is the go-to here, as it is very contouring and relieves pressure points very well. Some people may also benefit from the support of hybrid mattresses or innerspring mattresses topped with memory foam. A hybrid is generally the best all around option for a side sleeper because of the added support and ability to sleep cooler.
Back sleepers are not as common as side sleepers. They distribute their weight better while sleeping, but laying on the back does not support the spine’s natural position.
Back sleepers need both strong support and contouring. The mix of these two helps keep the spine in a neutral position without putting too much pressure on the back and neck.
Back sleepers need medium-firm to firm mattresses, which come in a variety of options. Many brands also offer targeted lumbar support, which is an added benefit for a back sleeper
Stomach sleepers are the rarest form of sleeper, and for good reason. Stomach sleeping can be very bad for your body.
Stomach sleeping puts pressure on the spine, neck, and chest, and can lead to:
Most sleep experts will recommend you simply find a new sleep position.
With that said, some people cannot sleep without being on their stomach, or use the position for pain relief or support.
Stomach sleepers need to reduce pressure however possible, and need a strong, firm mattress. They should look for a firm memory foam mattress or individual pocketed coil mattress with thick memory foam top.
While this is not a type of sleeper, people with lower back pain have different sleep needs than others. In general, they need the right kind of support and alignment for their spine to help keep them from waking up with an aggravated back.
Some state that the best mattress for a person with back pain is the floor – that is to say, a strong, unforgiving mattress. It sounds uncomfortable because it is..it is also generally untrue. You need comfort to ease back pain. While support is going to help this, too much support is just as harmful.
With that said, the best mattresses for back pain sufferers tend to be:
Again, buying a mattress is an individual process. If someone tells you a firmer mattress will help, but your back feels better with a medium or softer mattress – go with what your body is telling you.
No matter what type of sleeper you are, you will still have a unique experience when it comes to sleep and the type of mattress you need. With that said, you should aim to look for a few important mattress features, and match them to your individual needs.
Keep in mind that you won’t really know how well a mattress performs in some ways unless you try it out for a while. Whenever possible, look for a mattress that has a trial period, allowing you to return the mattress if it does not meet your needs.
Understanding the size of the mattress you need is simple. It is a matter of who is sleeping on the mattress and how much space they need.
This is intuitive enough. For instance, a 6 year old child probably doesn’t need a California king mattress.
Most adults are comfortable on a Twin XL, but most opt for at least a full size mattress, which can fit either one or two people. Queen mattresses are also more common for partners, as they add extra space for both people to move comfortably.
King or California king mattresses are more a matter of extravagance than comfort most of the time. And there is nothing wrong with that! If you want to feel luxurious every time you settle in for bed, a king mattress will literally have you feeling like royalty.
Here is a simple reference for mattress sizes:
|Mattress size||Measurement (inches)|
|Twin||38″ x 74″|
|Twin XL||38″ x 80″|
|Full||54″ x 74″|
|Queen||60″ x 80″|
|King||76″ x 80″|
|California King||72″ x 84″|
Firmness is another straightforward term, referring to how soft or firm a mattress feels. Firmness is measured on a 1 to 10 scale.
A 1 would be like sleeping on a pile of feathers, and a 10 would be like sleeping on the floor. Most people are somewhere in the middle, and 1 and 10 are more reference points than actual firmness levels.
Firmness tends to vary by the type of sleeper:
While support and firmness are related, they are not the same thing. Firmness is how dense a mattress feels when you push on it, where support is how much weight it can hold and still keep its shape to support your body.
Couples or people who are overweight should look for high support mattresses that can still maintain their properties with extra weight on them.
Responsiveness is another term people tend to get confused about. It simply means how well a mattress responds to your body and motion as you sleep.
Everyone moves when they sleep. From people who make small adjustments to get more comfortable to those who flail their arms and roll across the bed.
A responsive mattress will adjust to these motions automatically and make it much less likely for a person to wake up. Responsive mattresses may be more important for light sleepers.
Durability is a straightforward term that indicates how resilient a mattress is and how long it will last. Stronger materials will last a longer time and be less likely to sag or wear thin. High durability mattresses such as latex can last much longer than non-durable alternatives.
Edge support is the strength of the very edges of a mattress. It is what keeps you from rolling off the mattress when sleeping near the edge.
Innerspring mattresses are the best example of high edge support, as they have an outer steel frame that keeps you on top of the mattress and towards the center. Edge support is most important for restless sleepers who move a lot as they sleep.
Pressure relief is a term that means how well a mattress helps relive tension in the body to allow it to relax – without creating additional pressure points.
Pressure relief is determined by a mixture of other factors such as support and firmness, but is also a matter of weight distribution. A mattress that allows you to evenly distribute your weight may relieve pressure with ease.
Here again is an industry term that is determined by other mattress factors, but is still very important. A mattress with good spine alignment will allow the spine to rest in the most neutral position possible. The type of mattress this is will vary based on what kind of sleeper you are.
Spine neutral positions for each sleeper:
Heat transfer or temperature control is how well the mattress can pull heat away from the body to keep you from overheating. This is important for everyone, and a good mattress will help pull heat away from the body and keep it insulated in the mattress itself.
With that said, heat transfer is most important for warm sleepers who tend to wake up hot or sweaty.
It may seem like an afterthought, but a good mattress should have some sort of trial period or return policy. You are never guaranteed to like a mattress, even if it looks great on paper.
Make sure to pay attention to the trial period a company is offering, as well as any warranty info and their overall return policy.
While it may seem like an added expense, having a delivery service drop your mattress off and take away your old mattress is worth every penny.
Shipping is especially important with internet purchases, though many brick-and-mortar stores include the service and take the mattress to your house.
Factor in this cost as a necessary expense. Otherwise you’ll be stuck with a very heavy mattress box and a difficult time getting upstairs.
By now we understand the basics of what we need in a mattress, but what many people forget to consider is the importance of a good foundation!
No, they are not simple “boxes” retailers use to make an extra buck – that is a common myth in the mattress world. A good mattress foundation can actually amplify the benefits of your new mattress in a few ways.
All of these factors lead to one simple fact – a good foundation helps your mattress last longer. A longer lifespan saves you money, and ensures you are happy with your bed for years to come.
Mattress foundations also come in many forms, such as the basic box spring, foundation, slats, or metal platform frames.
There is one thing to keep in mind, however. A foundation can wear in just like a mattress does over time. Putting a brand new mattress on an old foundation may cause the mattress to wear down faster into the same position the foundation has. This can affect the lifespan of your mattress.
The general rule is to buy a new foundation every time you buy a new mattress.
Now that we know the basics of what to look for in a mattress, there is another very important factor to consider – namely, what you don’t want in a mattress.
Here are some common issues we see that people should avoid when buying a mattress:
Many people think like a very firm mattress, but anyone who has felt a mattress with a firmness of 10 can tell you there is such a thing as too firm. The same goes for too soft. Most people need a mattress somewhere in the middle, and the ends of the spectrum are more there for reference.
Another extreme to avoid is the cost. While it is true that you pay for quality, it is also true that some companies will take advantage of this fact.
A mattress that is much more expensive than similar brands of its type is not necessarily better – it may simply be expensive.
Likewise a discount mattress that is far too cheap is likely just that: cheap. What you save now you are guaranteed to spend later when you need to buy a new mattress much faster than if you were to buy a quality mattress.
Realistically, you should be ready to spend anywhere from $400 to $1800 and up, depending on what your specific needs are and how long the mattress will last.
A typical mattress is about 10 to 16 inches thick, with some pillow-top mattresses being a bit thicker. With this said, this range is pretty standard, and anything smaller than this may be suspect. A very thin mattress may not be able to provide the comfort a normal bed can – no matter what it is made of.
Thin mattresses are also severely lacking in areas such as circulation, responsiveness, and support. So if those 4 inch mattresses seem too good to be true – it’s because they are.
A poor return policy is a big red flag. Good mattress sellers and manufacturers understand how individual the sleep process is. No matter how good a mattress looks on paper, it may simply be the wrong one for you.
This is why quality retailers include a free trial period and have a very graceful return policy. Your satisfaction keeps mattress sellers in business – and the good ones know it.
This is especially important if you buy online. If an online seller does not offer a free trial or return period – move on, plain and simple.
This falls in line with a poor return policy. A mattress that does not have protection under warranty may be a sign of a poorly-made mattress. The company may know this and avoid warranties to keep them from losing money. Always look for a non-prorated warranty, meaning the company backs the product fully and also meaning the mattress is well built. A prorated warranty is another sign of a poorly-made mattress and the warranty value quickly diminishes in value.
The truth is, there is always the chance of a manufacturer defect or design flaw in a mattress. A good warranty protects you from these issues, and a good manufacturer offers a warranty as a sign of trust in their quality.
Customer reviews can be a bit hit or miss. Firstly because mattresses are so individual, and everyone’s needs are different. With that said, consistently poor reviews are a sign the mattress is no good.
Also look at why the reviews are poor. Do people complain the mattress is too soft, even though the seller says it is a very firm mattress? Inconsistencies such as this may be a sign of poor quality.
The same goes for mattress retailers. Everyone can have a bad day, and a one-off poor experience from a customer shouldn’t sway your opinion on a seller. With that said, any seller that gets consistently poor reviews should be avoided.
While customer reviews can help guide your purchase, buying without understanding your personal needs is a big issue to avoid. No matter how highly another person recommends a mattress, you shouldn’t make purchases for yourself based off their experience. Try out the mattress however possible, and get to know what you like and don’t like.
Knowing all we know now, we head towards the big question – Where do you actually buy your new mattress?
There are two options here: either buying the mattress online or buying it in a standard brick-and-mortar mattress store. The truth is, there are pros and cons to both. Let’s break this down in the simplest way possible.
|Pros to buying a mattress online||Cons to buying a mattress online|
|Easy to buy and ship||Impossible to try the mattress before purchase|
|You can shop many brands at once||Full service delivery not likely included|
|Compare prices through different websites||Slow delivery speed|
|Possible savings compared to stores||They do not take the old mattresses away|
|No pressure to make a sale||A bit more difficult to return|
|Generally good customer service||Little to no buyer’s assistance|
|Pros to buying a mattress in store||Cons to buying a mattress in store|
|You can typically shop many brands at once||Finding a mattress store may take time and travel|
|You can try out any mattress in the store||Tend to be slightly more expensive than online|
|Great personal shopping assistance based on your needs||Return fees may be more costly than online in some cases|
|Full service delivery||You may feel pressure form the person trying to make the sale|
|Next day delivery|
|Old mattress takeaway|
As you can see, buying a new mattress in store may give you more insight into what you need, thanks to being able to try the mattress, as well as the help a knowledgeable salesperson can give. On top of that, the delivery and old mattress takeaway system can’t be beat.
With that said, shopping online is the master of convenience when it comes to comparing brands and making the initial purchase.
Many brick-and-mortar stores know this, and now offer online services as well, making it just as easy to try before you buy, while also getting the ease of online shopping.
No matter which way you go, you’ll want a secure, flexible sales experience.
This guide will take you all the way to the door of a good night’s sleep – but you have to take the action!
The important thing to understand here is to not rush the purchase. Buying a new mattress can take time, and you should be able to have the patience to find what you need. After all, you’ll be spending one third of your life on your bed!
Our ultimate mattress buying guide can give you all the information you need to make a purchase, but in the end, it is only a guide. The true measure of a mattress is how you feel when you lie down at night!