Mattress Trial Periods: What They Are and How to Use Them
Know what to look for during your mattress trial, and when (or how) to call it quits
Jun 15th, 2023 •
One of the many perks of buying a mattress online is getting a chance to test out the mattress before you commit to keeping it. This is called a mattress trial period. Online mattress retailers are generous about the amount of time they give during the trial period – most offer 100 nights or more for you to decide if the mattress is a keeper.
If you’ve recently purchased a mattress online, or are considering purchasing one, there are some things you should know to help you make the most of this mattress trial period, like how to tell if you’re actually sleeping better or if you’re waking up feeling more refreshed. If you decide the mattress is not for you, we’ll also help you navigate the exchange or return process with ease.
First Mattress Impressions
Say you unbox your beautiful new mattress you’ve so diligently researched and spent a sizable sum of money on. You’re excited to crawl into a heavenly cocoon of comfort and say “see ya” to the neck aches and lower back pain that you became accustomed to with your old mattress (Side note: if you do have pain there, check out our recommendations for the best mattress for lower back pain).
As you set your Sleepy Time tea on your nightstand, turn your Himalayan salt lamp to low, and prepare to be transported to the land of nod, you release a long sigh of contentment. “Ahhh,” you whisper to no one in particular. Then, finally, you crawl into bed and pull your comforter up to your very warm and cozy chin. That’s when you notice one small problem.
Your brand-spanking-new mattress feels like s***.
What is a Mattress Trial Period?
A mattress trial period allows you to test a mattress for a certain number of nights. This is essentially a free period that gives you a chance to decide if the mattress works for you.
Let’s say the trial period for your new mattress is 100 nights. If you decide within that time frame that you want a different mattress, the company will typically accept the return and adhere to the terms of the trial period agreement, as long as no excessive damage has been done to the mattress (for example, rips, burns, or spills),. Once the mattress is returned, the mattress company will handle the recycling or disposal of the mattress for you. While some mattress companies handle this for free, some companies do charge a return shipping fee.
Mattress trial periods give shoppers an opportunity to try a mattress and change their minds if necessary. As online mattress shopping has become more popular, mattress trial periods have as well, with some trials going up to 365 nights.
You may see some variety across mattress brands as far as what a mattress trial period is known as, including:
- Mattress trial
- Sleep trial
- At-home trial
Mattress Trial Period Details
The specifics of mattress trial periods can vary by mattress brand. We’ve outlined the different components of mattress trial periods and what to consider down below:
Mattress brands are typically very transparent about the length of their mattress trial. Sleep trials can range from 30 to 365 nights. On average, you’ll see 90 to 120 nights.
Many mattress trial periods require that you utilize a specific break-in period. A break-in period is the minimum amount of time you must sleep on the mattress before you can request a return. Because it can take 30 or more nights to get accustomed to a new mattress, this break-in period allows you to more effectively evaluate if a bed is right for you.
If you decide to return your mattress, brands ask you to either email or call them to begin the process. In order to return the mattress, many companies require that the mattress is free from damage such as burns, stains, or tears. Some brands will ask you to coordinate the pick up of the mattress or ask for help in finding a local charity to which to donate it.
Some mattress trial periods state that you’ll be responsible for any shipping fees to return the mattress, while other companies will give you a full refund and cover return costs. If you live in a remote area, it’s important to consider the costs associated with returns.
Breaking In Your Mattress During a Trial Period
Like all good things, a mattress needs to be broken in to reach peak performance. The breaking in process can be disparagingly long, more than a month or two in many cases.
We recommend sleeping on the mattress every night during your trial period. If you’ll be sharing the mattress with your partner, make sure that they’re sleeping in the mattress as well.
During your first night, you might feel like you’ve made a huge mistake. You could find yourself tossing and turning, waking up with aches and pains, or even kept awake by a mysterious chemical-y odor seeping out of the bed.
This is normal.
Whether it’s a firm innerspring, a pillowy-soft memory foam mattress, a middle-ground latex or hybrid, all these mattress types need to take their sweet time breaking in.
What to Look During Your Mattress Trial Period
While your first nights (or weeks) with your new mattress might have you flipping around like a flounder all night, you should be seeing a steady crawl back toward your usual amount of sleep over time. A new mattress is going to feel extraordinary different than your old one, and it could take some time to get used to how your body feels on top of it.
We recommend using a sleep tracker, which allows you to track your sleep quality, duration, and pain levels.
Aches and Pains
Switching from one mattress type to another can be especially hard on your body. Memory foam and innerspring mattresses have two completely different feels and functions. However, some mattresses just aren’t made for certain types of people. More on which mattresses like what bodies (and vice versa) in our article here on the different types of mattresses.
Many mattresses need to go through a period of “off-gassing” – where they expel smelly Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), or the smells of glues, foams and packaging that came along with your mattress. Memory foam is the big offender here, but some latex and hybrid mattresses have seen similar complaints.
One problem here that time may not fix is that of heat retention. Because memory foam mattresses tend to “hug” sleepers and trap their body heat, about 9% of owners “report sleeping hot to an uncomfortable extent,” with 12% of hybrid mattress owners sharing the same complaint. The heat problem is even worse for larger people who tend to sink further into the mattress than their more petite counterparts.
If you immediately note the mattress sleeps hot but you’re not eligible for a return for 30 days, you could be in for a long month, so for people who tend to be naturally warm or are heavier, it might be a good idea to do some serious research on the top memory foam mattresses, best hybrid mattresses, or best mattresses for hot sleepers before buying.
Need to Return Your Mattress During a Trial Period?
It’s been two months (or one very sweaty week). You’ve been trying and trying to make it work between you two, but it looks like you and your new mattress just weren’t meant to be. What happens now?
It’s a bit different for each manufacturer, but most of the big ones have fairly consumer-friendly return or exchange policies. Unfortunately, some of them aren’t exactly hassle free (or just like, free). It is, however, important to note that most companies have some sort of minimum trial period before you can refund the mattress, so keep that in mind.
While many of the companies discussed here donate beds returned after a trial period to the needy, not all require as much effort on your part.
Novosbed is a stand-out in the return-o-sphere. Instead of jumping to refunds or exchanging the mattress, their first step in acquiescing aggravated customers is sending them a Comfort+ Kit. The company will deliver specialized foam layers designed to either harden or soften the feel of the bed, helping customers fine-tune their feel (and cut down on waste due to returned mattresses).
If you still have questions about refund or exchange policies, many digital retailers offer real-time online chat with representatives who can answer your questions all without having to pick up the phone.
Buying a mattress online is a cheaper and simpler way to find a mattress, but navigating the finer points of trial periods and returns in a crowded landscape of companies can be a bear.
The key takeaways here are fairly simple.
- Do your research on what mattress would work for you.
- Treat your trial period like a science experiment and talk to people (both customers and companies) about what the exchange and return process looks like.
It might seem like a daunting process, but it’s doable.
At a minimum, it’s probably better than lying in a showroom bed with your partner for fifteen minutes while an over-eager salesman just kind of stands there and smiles at you.
Still have questions? Leave us a comment and we’ll do our best to help you out.