Purchasing a mattress is the most important furniture purchase you’ll make because you spend more time on a mattress than on any other piece of furniture you own, unless you have a tendency to fall asleep every night in a recliner like my husband does.
The seven items below are things you should be aware of and to consider before you purchase a mattress since that mattress will be a huge factor in the quality of sleep you receive each evening.
1) Decide on a budget. The prices of mattresses vary a great deal. If price is your number one consideration you can find an inexpensive mattress and box spring set for a few hundred dollars. But I recommend buying the best mattress and box spring you can afford. When you buy a mattress you get what you pay for. My first two mattress purchases were based on price and I never really got a good night’s sleep. I saved and bought a high quality mattress a few years ago. It was a great buying decision. I now wake up feeling rested and refreshed, not tired and sore like I used to.
2) Decide what size mattress you are going to buy. If you are buying a mattress for a child a twin size mattress is fine, but if you are an adult and there are two people sleeping in your bed I don’t recommend going with anything smaller than a queen size bed. If you can afford a king-size bed and you have the room for it, I recommend it.
I now own a king size bed and it’s nice having enough space in bed to move around a little without disturbing my partner like I used to. In our old bed (a full size) I once accidentally hit my husband in the mouth in the middle of the night when I rolled over and flung my arm out. He was not a happy person! If you think a full-size mattress is big enough for two people consider this: a full size mattress gives each person the same amount of bed width as in a baby crib. Queen size mattresses are the most popular size but if two people are sleeping in a queen size bed each person still has 10 ½ inches less bed width than if they were sleeping by themselves in a twin bed.
The standard sizes of mattresses are: TWIN: 39” wide, 75” long; TWIN EXTRA LONG: 38” wide; 80” long; DOUBLE/FULL: 54” wide, 75” long; QUEEN: 60” wide, 80” long; KING: 76” wide, 80” long; CALIFORNIA KING: 72” wide, 84” long.
3) Test. Test. Test. Try out mattresses. Go to several stores and lay down on different mattresses. See what you find comfortable. A firm mattress isn’t always the best mattress. It depends on the individual. If you and your partner prefer different firmness levels look for a mattress that can have different firmness levels on each side. For example, I prefer a firmer mattress than my husband does so his side of the bed is less firm than mine. Comfort (as long as you are in your within the range of your budget) should be your number one consideration.
4) Don’t be too concerned about the words, firm, extra firm, etc. especially when looking at mattresses from different manufacturers. Firmness is not standardized in the mattress industry. One manufacturer’s “firm” mattress may actually be firmer than another manufacturer’s “extra firm” mattress. Look for comfort and support. You want to feel cradled and supported when you lay on a mattress. And don’t feel self-conscious about going into stores and lying on as many mattresses as you want. It’s the best way to tell if a mattress is or isn’t right for you. The best way to check out the mattress is to take off your shoes and your coat if you’re wearing on. Lying on a mattress with your coat and shoes on is not going to help you determine what mattress is right for you unless you plan on sleeping in your coat and shoes every night.
5) Warranty is important but not as important as you might think. A mattress with a 25 year warranty is great, but the life expectancy of a great quality mattress is only about 10 years. You want a warranty to protect you from defects and problems. To me a sleep guarantee is more important than a long warranty. What I mean by a sleep guarantee is that you are given a period of time to try out your mattress. For example, some stores and manufacturers give sleep guarantees of up to 90 days although 30 days is the most common. If during that time you decide the mattress you purchased is not right for you, you are able to either exchange it or return it for a refund.
For example, when I purchased my last mattress from a sleep specialty store that custom builds each mattress (Verlo), it came with a 60 day sleep guarantee or trial period. If we didn’t like the mattress the store would come to our house, pick up the mattress, take it back to their factory and rebuild it for us. I liked that peace of mind. After sleeping on our mattress for a few weeks I decided my side was a little too firm. We called the store where we bought it and made an appointment for them to come and pick it up. The store picked up our mattress in the morning, took it to their store/factory, rebuilt it, and returned it late the same day. They did this so we wouldn’t be without a mattress to sleep on.
6) Get familiar with the following terms: innerspring and box spring (also called the foundation). Innerspring mattresses are, by far, the most common type of mattress purchased. An innerspring mattress is made with tempered steel coils encased in layers of cushioning and upholstery. The box spring or foundation is what the mattress sits on. It’s generally not considered a good idea to put a new mattress on an old box spring. A manufacturer’s box spring and mattress are designed to work together to give you the best product. In addition, many manufacturers will void their warranty if a mattress is not placed on the box spring that is designed to go with it.
7) Know what choices you have besides the traditional innerspring and box spring sets. There are other viable options depending on what you are looking for. Those options include foam mattresses, futons, airbeds, adjustable beds, and waterbeds.
Foam mattresses – a foam mattress can be made of solid foam piece or may be composed of several layers of different types of foam. Some foam mattresses have a top layer that is composed of memory foam that remembers the shape of your body and conforms to it.
Futons – futon beds are basically a frame with a folding mattress on it. A futon can function as both a sofa and a bed. Most futons come with a standard 6 inch foam mattress, which isn’t very comfortable if the futon is going to be a person’s primary bed. If the futon is going to be a primary bed a better option is to purchase an innerspring mattress for the bed. Several manufacturers make innerspring mattresses for futons. The innerspring mattresses are more expensive but are also a whole lot more comfortable. If an innerspring mattress is out of your price range, try to at least upgrade to an 8 inch foam mattress.
Airbed – an airbed is just what it sounds like – a bed full of air. Most airbeds are touted as being portable, easy to set-up, and easy to store after use. I have an airbed at my house for use as an extra mattress during the holidays when we always seem to have more overnight guests than beds. Today’s airbeds are a lot more than inflatable pieces of plastic. Our airbed has a pillow top mattress which makes it surprisingly comfortable. Some airbeds have adjustable firmness levels and/or a heated top to make them more comfortable.
Adjustable beds – an adjustable bed is a lot like a hospital bed because it allows you to adjust the head and foot of the bed to your liking. Adjustable beds come in all sizes and the larger sizes have separate controls for each side of the bed.
Waterbeds – today’s waterbeds are more sturdy than the wobbly water-filled mattresses from the 70’s that you could get seasick on. The latest designs are built to look like an innerspring/box spring set. The interior of the mattress has layers of baffling and upholstery to provide support and comfort (http://www.mattressespro.com/watermattress).
There are a lot of choices in mattresses today. If you do a little research and become familiar with the different types of mattresses available to you before you start to shop, the task of finding the right mattress for you will be easier.