5 Things to Avoid When Mattress Shopping

Mattress shopping can be tricky. Make sure you know these 5 things to look out for so you can find the mattress of your dreams.

By Nicole Gleichmann

May 10th, 2022

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The time has come. Your trusty old mattress has seen better days, and you deserve a good night’s sleep on a new, comfortable mattress. 

Before you begin your search to find your next mattress, we wanted to provide you with a list of five of the most common mistakes that people make when shopping for a mattress. 

If you fall prey to these common blunders, you might end up with a mattress that isn’t right for you. You may toss and turn at night, wake up with aches and pains, and have to start from scratch to find your best mattress. 

Fortunately, you are already on the right path to find your next mattress. The mattress that you look forward to sleeping in night after night for the next five or ten years. A mattress that provides the ideal balance of comfort and support for you. 

5 Things to Avoid When Mattress Shopping

1. Choosing Based on an In-Store Comfort Test

For many of us, it can seem strange to buy mattresses online without having spent time lying on them. You may want to go to a local mattress store, walking around and lying on each mattress until you find the one that feels the most comfortable to you. And we understand, this is the way that most of us, and our parents, have chosen mattresses for years. 

However, how comfortable a mattress is for a few minutes in-store is not a good indicator of how good it will be for hours on end, night after night. Think of it like this. You sit on a soft, fluffy couch and melt right in. But sit in that couch for eight hours. The lack of support is going to leave your body incredibly sore, even if that couch is perfect for your movie nights and reading time. 

What makes a mattress ideal for rest and recovery is not the same thing that makes it comfortable to lie on for five or ten minutes. Your time is better spent researching what type of mattress and firmness level is best for your needs. How much you weigh, the position you sleep in, whether you sleep alone or with a partner, and more will play a role in finding the right mattress. Check out our best online mattress and best bed in a box guides for some of our favorite recommendations.

2. Basing Your Decision on Price

The cost of a mattress is definitely a factor for most of us who are mattress shopping, but when it comes to quality, it is not as closely tied to price as you might think. 

Some queen size mattresses that cost upwards of $1,000 are truly feats of craftsmanship and technology and are worth every penny. But there are other mattresses at similar price points that are no better than a mattress that’s half the cost. Head over to our best cheap mattress or best mattresses for the money guides for some options.

The lesson here is this: do not judge a mattress by how much it costs. There are plenty of quality mattresses under $500 that have good longevity, amazing customer and third-party reviews, great warranties, and are made from quality materials. There are also plenty of $1,000 mattresses made by shady mattress companies from iffy materials that won’t last with reviews that match. 

Rather than judge a book by its cover, do your due diligence. This means reading third-party reviews from multiple sites, looking over customer reviews, and even asking questions that aren’t answered on the website directly through a company’s customer service. 

3. Buying Your Friend’s Favorite Mattress

Do you have a friend who raves about their mattress? Maybe they swear that it is the most comfortable thing that they’ve ever slept on, or maybe the price is impossible to beat. While tips from our friends and family can be valuable, there is no one mattress that is perfect for everyone. 

The type of mattress that is best for you depends on many factors, some of which you may not share with your friend. What position do you sleep in? Do you prefer a soft or medium-firm mattress? How much do you care about the environmental impact of the materials used? These are just a few questions whose answers may lead you in a completely different direction than your friend’s recommendation would. 

Different types of mattresses tend to be better for different people. Innerspring mattresses are great for those who want a firm mattress with good temperature regulation and bounciness. Memory foam mattresses are ideal for side sleepers and people who struggle with back, neck, or joint pain. Natural latex mattresses fit the bill for those looking for an environmentally-friendly mattress with good responsiveness, which makes them great for people who toss and turn. 

As you can see, there are different types of mattresses for a reason. Simply because one mattress is perfect for someone close to you does not mean that it will be for you. Do your homework before you choose a mattress rather than assuming that someone else’s solution will work for you. 

4. Going Too Firm or Too Soft

There are people who believe the firmer the better when it comes to mattresses. This incorrect assumption can lead people to choosing a mattress that can leave them feeling sore and sleeping poorly. 

Similarly, some people love soft mattresses because they make them feel like they are melting into a cloud. They love the plush feel of the mattress, but often they have not considered whether or not this lack of support is beneficial when it comes to proper alignment or sleeping well. 

When you are choosing mattress firmness, the primary concern should be body alignment and the second comfort. First, figure out what level of firmness is typically recommended for your particular situation. Next, adjust this slightly based on your personal preferences in what you find comfortable. 

These are the general rules that you will want to follow when determining your ideal mattress firmness:

  1. Sleep positions matter: Side sleepers need a mattress with some give, meaning that a firm or extra-firm mattress will not be right for them. Stomach sleepers need just the opposite; to avoid exacerbating poor alignment, those who sleep on their fronts require a very firm mattress. Back sleepers fall somewhere in the middle, and the exact needs can vary based on body weight. 
  2. Think about alignment: You want to sleep in a way that allows your back and neck to be aligned properly. Your weight can be a huge determining factor here. For example, people who weigh under 130 lbs. may find that they do not sink in as easily to memory foam mattresses and may require a pillow top or extra plush comfort layer to achieve proper support. 
  3. Consider your preferences: Once you determine what level of firmness is typically best for your body shape and how you sleep, it is time to consider your personal preference. You do not want to deviate much from what keeps you in the best alignment, but you can find a mattress that fits the bill that you find comfortable. For example, if you prefer a firm mattress but sleep on your side, you should probably look for a latex mattress as it will feel firmer than memory foam but provide more contouring than an innerspring mattress. 

5. Limiting Options to What You Know

Humans are creatures of habit, but the mattress industry continues to evolve. It can be scary to try out a new type of mattress, but if your research tells you that a new type of mattress would be best for you, it may be appropriate to give it a try. 

When trying a new type of mattress, it is particularly important to find a mattress company that offers a free trial period. This can give you the time and financial freedom to try out a new type of mattress while still giving you a way to opt out if you find that it isn’t for you. 


Buying a new mattress is an investment that is going to impact your quality of life for many years to come. Rather than make a rash decision, do your homework to try and find the best mattress for you. And if you are still unsure, buy one with a good trial period so you can return it for a different one if you need to.