Mattress Buying Guide

How to find the best mattress for you in a few simple steps.

By Alesandra Woolley

With so many brands that claim to have the “best mattress,” it can feel impossible to know where to start your search for a new bed. That’s why we’ve created this step-by-step guide to help you find the perfect mattress without having to compromise. So take a deep breath and close all those other browser tabs that are taking your mattress-buying anxiety to the next level.

In this guide, you’ll learn about all the things you should consider when shopping for your next mattress including:

This how-to guide will save you time, money and frustration – but most importantly, it will help you get your best sleep ever!

The results are in! See the top-rated mattresses of 2019

When Do You Need a New Mattress?

The general rule is that you should change your mattress every 7-10 years. After frequent use from sleeping on it each night, a mattress loses its shape and no longer provides a surface for restorative sleep. 

There’s actually an important reason behind why you should change your mattress this often. After about seven years, the coils or foam in a mattress experience a lot of compression and lose their support. 

Unfortunately, there’s not an alarm that goes off letting you know it’s time for an upgrade, but if you’re not sleeping well and haven’t hit the seven-year mark, it’s time to start shopping.

If you’ve had your mattress for more than five years, it’s a good idea to pay closer attention to its overall condition. Take note of how well you’re sleeping, if you’re waking up feeling groggy or achy or if you feel like you’re sinking into the mattress too much. These could be indications that your mattress is losing its shape.

Here’s some information to help you decide if it’s time for a new mattress depending on the type of mattress you have.

The Average Lifespan of a Mattress (By Type)

Most mattresses last between 7-10 years, but this varies by type. Innerspring have the shortest lifespan between 7-8 years, foam mattresses are in the middle lasting up to 10 years, and latex mattresses last the longest at up to 15 years.

Mattress Type Average Lifespan Notes
Innerspring 7-8 years

Even if you’ve flipped and rotated your innerspring mattress regularly, the core is still made of metal wire, which tends to sag and lose its form over time.

Foam / Memory Foam Up to 10 years

While a memory foam mattress is generally better at holding its shape, it still doesn’t last forever. It can last up to 10 years if you’re diligent about rotating it and keeping it clean.

Latex Up to 15 years

Latex mattresses tend to have the most longevity. A good quality latex mattress can last up to 15 years because of its durable makeup.

Of course, the average lifespan of a mattress depends on factors beyond just the type of mattress you have – like how often you use it, the type of sleeper you are, your body weight, if you have children jumping around on it often and if you share your bed with your pets.

We hate to break it to you, but if you’ve had your mattress for more than five years, there are most definitely dust mites, bacteria, and other microorganisms that have crept their way into your mattress layers – no matter how clean you think you are. 

(Fun fact: the average person sweats out half a pint of perspiration every night. Gross, we know.)

Signs that it’s Time for a New Mattress:

  • You wake up in pain or with numbness in your limbs
  • You regularly wake up feeling groggy or achy
  • You find yourself tossing and turning in the middle of the night
  • You tend to sleep better in a hotel room or somewhere other than your own bed
  • Your mattress is feeling a little saggy or lumpy
  • You feel like you’re sinking too deeply into your mattress
  • You can feel when your sleeping partner makes even the slightest movement on the other side of the bed

Even though a new mattress might seem like a significant investment, getting a good night’s sleep is critical to your health and success. And in some cases, you’ve simply outgrown your bed. David Brummett, VP of Merchandising for Mattress Firm puts it like this:

“Over the course of 8 years, a lot of life moments can happen. Just because your bed was perfect at the start of college does not mean it will still be the right bed for you 8 years later. While a mattress can be a lofty investment, your sleep and health are definitely worth the spend in the long run.”

What Type of Mattress Should I Get?

Now that you’ve decided it’s time for a new, upgraded, less lumpy, better smelling mattress, the next step is figuring out what type of mattress is best for you. There are many different factors to consider such as your sleeping position, budget, and your body type.

There’s endless research out there on different mattress materials and what they’re good for, but we’ve simplified what you really need to know about the most popular types of mattresses available including memory foam, innerspring, latex, and hybrid mattresses.

Foam / Memory Foam

Pros and cons of memory foam

Pros Cons
  • Affordable
  • Good at keeping motion transfer at a minimum (you won’t feel your sleeping partner moving)
  • Good for alleviating back pain
  • Good for relieving pain at pressure points
  • Contours and conforms to your body
  • Won’t provide as much freedom of movement
  • Certain models can trap body heat causing you to sleep hot
  • Tend to be thinner than traditional innerspring mattresses
  • If foams are not labeled as CertiPUR-US certified, they could be harmful to the environment and air quality in your bedroom
  • Not always ideal for stomach sleepers, as this can cause misalignment that leads to back pain

Foam and memory foam mattresses make up the majority of online mattresses available, which isn’t surprising because memory foam mattresses are known to be one of the more comfortable mattress types. 

These are typically a medium on the firmness scale and tend to be better for people with back pain as the layers of memory foam help with lumbar support, comfort in the hips and shoulders and body contouring. It’s also great for motion transfer (if your partner moves around a lot, you won’t feel it).

Learn More: What are Memory Foam Mattresses?

A memory foam mattress will be more contouring, meaning it will hug your body more than other mattresses will and won’t provide as much bounce or freedom of movement. So if don’t typically move around a lot throughout the night, memory foam might be a good option for you. It’s also worth noting that many of the “foam” mattresses you see today are not purely memory foam but a foam blend made with other materials.

Because of the hug that memory foam provides, this mattress type has been known to sleep hot. However, Helen Sullivan, spokesperson for CertiPUR-US, advises that this issue has largely been alleviated with new foam technology:

“When these foams first became popular, some said they were warmer to sleep on. However, technological advances in foam production have largely eliminated these problems by using different foam formulations, and in some cases, special cool foams, cooling gel foam, etc.”

If you’re shopping for a foam mattress, you’ll want to pay close attention to the particular layers of foam. Look for mattresses that use CertiPUR-US® certified polyurethane foams. This means that the foam is made without formaldehyde, PBDEs, TDCPP or TCEP (“Tris’) flame retardants, ozone depleters, and other harmful chemicals. It also means there is low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) emission for indoor air quality. Essentially, CertiPUR-US® certified foams are better for you and the environment.

You can find brands that offer CertiPUR-US® certified foams here.


Pros and cons of innerspring

Pros Cons
  • Responsive (good if you tend to change positions throughout the night)
  • Strong edge support
  • Good airflow (helps keep you cool)
  • Can be expensive
  • Heavy/difficult to maneuver
  • Will not contour your body or provide as much comforting support in pain points

When you think of traditional mattresses, innerspring, or coil, is probably what comes to mind. This is one of the most widely used types of mattresses and is made with at least one layer of spring metal coils. Innerspring mattresses have great bounce, strong edge support, and are usually pretty good about keeping you cool.

Learn More: What are Innerspring Mattresses?

Because of the metal coils inside, these types of beds are heavy and may ship full-size (if that’s a factor that will impact your decision). If you’re looking for something that can contour your body well, then an innerspring mattress is probably not for you. 

Since there’s a decent amount of empty space in these mattresses, you won’t get as much support in your shoulders and hips as you would with other types of mattresses, but you will have more freedom of movement, which is beneficial if you tend to move around a lot at night.

Russell Whatcott, Director of Innovation at Purple explains it like this:

“The standard springs [in an innerspring mattress] have what is called a spring constant. This means that the harder you push against a spring the harder it pushes back against you. The difficulty with a spring constant is that it can be difficult to get the pressure relief that many people crave while also getting the support (like in the lower back) that most of us need. Usually, you have to make a bit of a compromise in order to get the rest you need.”


Pros and cons of latex

Pros Cons
  • Provides pressure relief + freedom of movement
  • Durable and will last a long time (up to 15 years)
  • Sleeps cool
  • Expensive
  • Very heavy/difficult to maneuver
  • Can contain harmful chemicals if not organic

Latex mattresses are great for people who want many of the benefits of a foam mattress but don’t want to feel as hugged or “contoured.” These mattresses tend to have great cooling properties, bounce and are still responsive – meaning it will adjust to your body as you move around. 

Ron Rudzin, CEO of Saatva, says, “Latex is great because it has the resiliency of a spring mattress, but locks you in like memory foam.” As we mentioned earlier, latex mattresses also tend to have the longest lifespan of all mattress types.

The downsides? Latex mattresses tend to be more expensive. They are also very dense, meaning they’re going to be on the heavier side. Depending on the type of latex you get, you may notice some of that synthetic, chemically smell for the first few days. 

Learn More: Dunlop vs. Talalay Latex: What’s the Difference?

But if you opt for a natural latex mattress, you won’t need to worry about that. These mattresses will come at a higher price tag, but you really are getting the best of the best when it comes to mattresses.


inside layers of eLuxury Hybrid mattress

A hybrid mattress usually refers to a mattress that’s made with a combination of memory foam and springs, but it can include other materials and combinations as well (like latex and memory foam). 

Hybrids tend to offer a good balance of support and pressure relief while providing a cooler sleeping surface that pure memory foam. Motion transfer will also be better on a hybrid than innerspring alone with the help of more motion-absorbing layers.

Learn More: What are Hybrid Mattresses?

If you and your significant other want different things in a mattress, then a hybrid might be the best option for you. However, getting the best of both worlds can sometimes mean a higher price point. Hybrid mattresses can also be extremely heavy, making transporting and handling challenging in some cases.

Adam Tishman, co-founder of Helix Sleep, specializes in custom hybrid mattresses. He says:

“A hybrid mattress offers the best of both worlds. You get the bounce and cradling effect of springs balanced with the contouring and cushioning of foam. Traditional all innerspring beds can feel stiff and don’t isolate motion well, while all memory foam beds sleep extremely hot and can feel too dense. It’s all about the right balance!”


In a recent Mattress Advisor study, we found that 45% of respondents are currently sleeping on an innerspring mattress, but only 12.6% prefer this mattress type. Memory foam was the most preferred choice at 34.5%.

Preferred mattress types (Survey of 2,000 people)

Compare Mattress Types

We know you encounter a ton of options when mattress shopping, so we’ve curated some helpful comparison guides to help you determine which mattress material is best for you.

What You Should Look For When Buying a New Mattress

If you’ve done any research on mattresses already, you’ve probably noticed that the mattress industry has its very own lingo – with words like “responsiveness” and “motion transfer.” While they might seem like “fluff” words, they’re actually important factors to consider when choosing a mattress that’s going to best meet your needs.

We’ll give you a breakdown of these key mattress features – in plain old English – to help you understand why these are so critical when finding the best mattress. The main factors to look out for when buying a mattress are: 

  • Spine alignment 
  • Pressure relief
  • Responsiveness
  • Motion transfer
  • Firmness
  • Temperature control/heat transfer
  • Durability
  • Edge support
  • Trial, warranty, and return policy
  • Shipping 

It’s important to note that sometimes you won’t be able to realize how well a mattress performs on these factors until you try it out for a few nights. So if you’re not sure what mattress is best for you, make sure to invest in a mattress with a risk-free trial period.

You can learn more about each of these features and how we score them while we are testing a mattress’s performance in Our Review Process article.

Spine Alignment

Quick Definition: How well the mattress keeps your spine in its natural alignment.

When you compare mattresses, you want to look for something that will support your body so that your spine can remain in its natural position. A healthy spine position allows your muscles to rest, meaning you’ll wake up feeling more refreshed in the morning.

Mattress spine alignment test

Mattress Advisor spine alignment test

If you’re a side sleeper, the line from your tailbone to your neck should be straight. If you’re a back sleeper, your spine should retain its natural curve when you’re lying down on a mattress that provides good support. Stomach sleepers will have a bit more trouble maintaining the natural curve just by nature of the position.

As a rule of thumb, a good mattress is one that takes the shape of your spine, while simultaneously supporting your weight so your back is aligned properly, according to Vik Singh, founder of Spine & Vigor.

Chiropractor Dr. Michael McGovern, D.C. of Chiro One Wellness Centers explains:

“The impact your bed has on spinal alignment is dependent on the individual’s anatomy. Does a pear-shaped side sleeper need a softer mattress to accommodate the curviness of their anatomy? Does a back sleeper with a hyper- or hypo-lordotic lumbar curve also require a softer mattress to support their lumbar region?

The answer is not straightforward and as always the best advice I can recommend is to spend hours on the bed you’re considering buying before making your final decision. We all have different sizes and shapes and will respond better to certain mattress types.”

Learn More: Why Spine Alignment is Important for Choosing a Mattress

Pressure Relief

Quick Definition: How well the mattress relieves pressure, (particularly on the hips, shoulders and thighs) and provides even body weight distribution.

Your body will be best supported by a mattress that evenly distributes your body weight so the heavier parts of your body, like your hips and shoulders, don’t sink in too deeply. If they do, your mattress could be causing strain on your pressure points.

Mattress Advisor pressure relief test

Mattress Advisor pressure relief test

You’ll want to look for a mattress that pushes back when you apply pressure (but not too much). Different mattresses will offer better pressure relief for different body types – so if you’re lighter weight, you won’t need as much pushback, but if you’re a heavier weight, you’ll want to make sure the mattress is proving proper support and you’re not sinking in too much.

Learn More: Why Pressure Relief is Important When Choosing the Right Mattress


Quick Definition: How well the mattress responds to your movement and adjusts to your body position. This is especially important for combination sleepers or those who change positions throughout the night.

Responsiveness just means how well a mattress reacts and adjusts to your body’s movements while you sleep. We all move while we sleep, but this is especially important for people who are restless sleepers or tend to change positions often throughout the night.

Learn More: What Does Responsiveness in a Mattress Mean? 

Motion Transfer

Quick Definition: How well the mattress isolates movement and absorbs motion. Motion transfer is important for couples who don’t want to be disturbed by their partner moving around or getting up in the middle of the night.

Motion transfer refers to how well a mattress absorbs movement. Many people overlook this factor when shopping for a mattress online, but it is an important capability to look for in order to have a good night’s sleep. 

For example, if your sleeping partner is tossing, turning or getting up throughout the night and you’d rather not be bothered by it, you’ll want to find a good mattress that isolates motion well. This also helps if your pets share a bed with you. Memory foam and foam blend mattresses tend to be best for motion transfer.

Learn More: What is Motion Transfer and Why Does it Matter for Your Mattress? 


Quick Definition: How stiff or contouring a mattress feels. 

Firmness just means how firm or soft a mattress feels. While all humans are different, the type of sleeper you are usually helps dictate the level of mattress firmness you should look for to make your ideal comfort level. 

Firmness is measured on a scale from 1-10 with 10 being the firmest. (But honestly, unless you find comfort in sleeping on a pile of cotton balls or wood floor, we wouldn’t recommend a 1 or 10 – that’s extreme).

  • Side sleepers tend to prefer softer mattresses (3-6) that contour their body well and provides comforting support around the hips and shoulders. Typically foam mattresses are better for side sleepers although adding a pillow top to your mattress can also help make this position more comfortable.
  • Stomach sleepers usually prefer a slightly firmer mattress (4-7) for better support since they tend to put more stress on the lower back when sleeping in this position. Medium firmness foam mattresses are usually a preferred choice for stomach sleepers but you can also find middle-ground firmness on innerspring and hybrid.
  • Back sleepers need good support on their lower back especially and tend to prefer firmer mattresses (6-8). Most types of mattresses (even memory foam) offer some degree of higher firmness, but you probably want to stay away from mattresses that are on the softer side.

Dr. McGovern, D.C., will usually recommend a mattress on the firmer side to his patients as mattresses tend to get softer over time.

Contrary to popular belief, firmness and support are two different things. Vik from Spine & Vigor explains it like this: “Firmness is the pushback you feel from your mattress at certain pressure points. Support [on the other hand], is the weight your mattress foundation can hold to support your body properly.”

36% of people who sleep with a partner claim that they prefer a different firmness level than their partner does.

Temperature Control/Heat Transfer

Quick Definition: How well the mattress promotes airflow and breathability, factoring in heat retention and any substantive cooling properties/features.

While you’re sleeping, you want to make sure your mattress is helping to transfer heat away from your body, not keeping it trapped within its layers. (No one wants to wake up in a pile of sweat.)

Mattresses that offer a cool sleeping surface include: breathable, or aerated, layers that promote airflow, materials that help wick heat away (like wool covers), air channels, or materials designed specifically to react to your body’s temperature, like Celliant.

“The reason temperature impacts sleep so much is that we have to have a decrease in our core body temperature in order to fall asleep. If you have ever had a fever, you know what that feels like – you don’t sleep very well! We have very fragmented sleep when we have a fever and that’s because our core body temp can’t decrease. The ideal temp for sleeping is 65 – 68 degrees. If that’s too cold for you, just pile on more blankets. As long as your head is exposed to that cold air, you will decrease your core body temp.”

– Dr. Robert Oexman, Director of the Sleep to Live Institute


Quick Definition: Quality and durability of materials, structural support, and expected lifespan of the mattress.

When looking for your ideal mattress, you want quality, premium materials that will last (preferably without tons of nasty chemicals). The strength of the material is important – you don’t want sagging or lumps and want your mattress to maintain its elasticity and support for years to come.

Edge Support

Quick Definition: How much edge support the mattress provides, accounting for functional use of the end of the mattress and how comfortable it is to sleep on the edge of the bed.

Edge support is what prevents you from rolling off the mattress in the middle of the night. Innerspring mattresses usually have a separate support layer around the edges that help keep you on it, while foam mattresses typically don’t have a separate edge layer. However, it’s also harder to “roll off” of a foam mattress.

This factor is important if you’re a particularly restless sleeper (or have a history of falling off beds…), or if you use the end of your bed to put your socks and shoes on in the morning.

Learn More: What is Edge Support in a Mattress?

Trial, Warranty and Return Policy

Even if a thousand people love a mattress, it doesn’t mean you will too. Everyone’s body is different, therefore you’re going to respond to your mattress differently. Before you buy your mattress, make sure you pay attention to the trial period you have, what’s covered under your mattress warranty, and the return policy. Most of our favorite mattresses come with a very generous trial period, warranty policy and hassle-free returns.

You should also try to give your mattress at least 30 days to “break it in” and see if it’s right for you before you kick it to the curb. (Although we don’t recommend actually kicking it to the curb if you want a refund.)

“You have to give your body time to adjust. Maybe you have a “wow” moment the first time you try out a new mattress, but your body is in a different state when you’re sleeping. You have got to give yourself time. That’s why we say 30 days. You have to give your body a chance to adjust and adapt. It doesn’t matter whose product it is, you can’t make a judgment really quickly.”

– Jamie Diamonstein, Co-founder of Leesa

For reference, most online mattress companies offer a trial period of 100 nights or more.


Quick Definition: How the mattress is delivered to your door.

Most of our favorite mattresses ship free and fast, but you should also pay attention to how it ships. If you live in a small or walk-up apartment, then mattresses that ship condensed in a box might be more convenient than mattresses that ship full size.

We know it can be hard to picture something as big as a mattress being shipped in a box that’s a fraction of the size, but it really is possible. Here’s proof!

If you can’t visualize lugging a full-size mattress up a flight of stairs going smoothly, it probably won’t go smoothly. There are also some companies who will come take your old mattress for a small fee (~$40) and set up your new mattress for you.

What Size Mattress Do I Need? 

The best mattress size for you can be determined by considering two important factors: who will be sleeping on it and where will it go?

Who is Sleeping on the Bed?

While this certainly has to do with the size of the people who will be sleeping on it, it also has to do with personal preference.

Size Who It’s Good For
Twin Children, teens, single sleepers
Twin XL Children, teens, single sleepers, college students
Full Children, teens, single sleepers, college students
Queen Couples
King Couples, pet owners, parents
California King Couples, pet owners, parents, taller people

If you’re single or shopping for children/teens then a twin or full size mattress will probably be suitable. The most common size for couples is a queen size mattress because it fits well into most bedrooms and is large enough to give both people the space they need to sleep without disturbing each other. Sheets and other accessories are also cheaper and more available for queen beds than larger sizes.

King size mattresses have crept up in the popularity polls recently because they essentially offer couples as much space in bed with their partner as if they were alone in a twin. If you’re a restless sleeper who needs lots of room, then a king mattress is the way to go. It’s also a popular choice among couples with pets or children who sneak into bed every now and then.

For taller or larger folks, California king might seem attractive. Buyers of both king sizes should be aware of increased costs for the bed itself and accessories, and more challenging set-up due to the size and weight of the mattress.

In a recent Mattress Advisor study among couples who share a bed, 46% sleep on a queen, 44% sleep on a king and 9% sleep on a California king.

Here are the dimensions* for standard bed sizes so you know what to expect: 

In a recent Mattress Advisor study among couples who share a bed, 46% sleep on a queen, 44% sleep on a king and 9% sleep on a California king.

Here are the dimensions* for standard bed sizes so you know what to expect: 

Size Dimensions
Twin 38” x 75”
Twin XL 38” x 80”
Full 54” x 75”
Queen 60” x 80”
King 76” x 80”
California King 72” x 84”

*Note: mattresses differ in their height, which is why we are only providing width and length as standard dimensions.

Where Will the Mattress Go? 

If you’re moving into a new space or looking to change the size of your mattress, be sure to plan ahead by measuring how your new mattress will fit into your sleeping area. Knowing that your new mattress will fit in your room (along with any other furniture) ahead of time can save you a major headache later on. 

One member of our team had to cut a custom-made “extra long” double bed back down to standard size so that the bedroom door of his tiny 400 square foot Boston apartment would actually open and close.

If you are planning to change things up, there are a number of free room planning tools available that will allow you to see what your new setup might look like before you pull the trigger. We like Roomstyler 3D Home Planner which allows you to customize your room layout and already has different bed sizes and standard furniture pieces pre-loaded.

Compare Mattress Sizes

Choosing a size seems like one of the more simple decisions you make while mattress shopping, but it can be tricky. We’ll compiled comprehensive comparison guides that will help you if you’re stuck between two sizes. 

How Much Should You Spend on a New Mattress?

A new mattress can be as inexpensive as a few hundred dollars or as expensive as a couple thousand dollars. 

While we’re focusing on high-quality mattresses in this article (that are also affordable) we feel like we need to warn you about prices that are too low and too high. If you find a mattress under $500 (for a queen), it typically means they’re cutting corners or using cheaper materials. Which means you’ll likely end up getting low quality sleep. 

This doesn’t mean you can’t find a quality mattress under $500 – in fact, we have! Check out our top picks for the best mattresses under $500.

Many of the online-only brands that cut out the middleman fees can offer a great quality mattress for under $1,000 for a queen size mattress. Certainly, there are mattresses that are more expensive than that, but you’re likely paying for bells and whistles, or hidden markups at that point.

A mattress can feel like a big investment, but you can also think about price this way: If you buy a $1,000 mattress, only sleep on it for 300 days out of the year, and own it for 7 years, you’re essentially paying $0.48 a day to get a great night’s sleep. (Your latte costs 10x more than that.)


Mattress Advisor surveyed 2,000 people to see which factors were most important to them when shopping for a mattress. The factors they considered “very important” were comfort (91.41%), support (81.37%), durability (77.06%) and price (76.58%).

Factor Very important Not at all important Moderately important
Comfort 91.41% 1.23% 7.37%
Support 81.37% 1.58% 17.05%
Durability 77.06% 1.94% 21%
Price 76.58% 2.09% 21.33%
Firmness 56.17% 4.23% 39.60%
Pressure relief 53.31% 5.91% 40.77%
Return policy 35.26% 17.24% 47.50%
Responsiveness 34.80% 13.32%  51.89%
Motion transfer  30.26%  25.52%  44.22%
Edge support  29.83%  25.85%  44.31%

Where to Buy a Mattress

Buying a mattress online may seem like a scary purchase, but this shopping scene offers some serious rewards when compared to shopping in traditional stores.

Online vs. In Stores

One question you might be asking yourself is: “Can I really buy a mattress online without trying it out first?” Fair question. But then consider this: You can’t really tell if a mattress is right for you without testing it out for a while. We’re talking like 30 days. 

So while you can feel a mattress and wiggle around on it for a few minutes in a mattress store, you’re not really getting the full experience anyway.

Here are some other reasons why buying a mattress online might benefit you:

Lower cost 

Buying from online-only mattress companies cuts out most of those “middleman” fees that retail stores rack on, so you can get a great quality mattress for a fraction of the cost. A premium mattress in a store can cost anywhere from $3,000 – $5,000 – which includes retail markups, wholesale markups, showroom fees, commission-based sales representatives, multiple delivery patterns, and somewhere in there, the mattress itself. 

The price is inflated at every step so all the players can make cash money off the deal. Online retailers ship directly to their customers so they’re cutting all the “extra” stuff out and therefore can offer a quality mattress for under $1,000.

Easy delivery and setup 

Typically, purchasing a mattress online means it will be shipped in a box or package that’s much smaller than the actual mattress. This means the entire delivery and setup process is easier. It can be left right at your doorstep or mailroom and carrying it to your bedroom is way less of a hassle – especially if you live on a 5th-floor walkup. 

Most online mattress companies will ship your mattress at no cost and some will even remove your old mattress for a small fee of around $40 or so.

Generous trial period

Online mattress companies offer a generous trial period (usually 100+ days) for you to determine if the mattress is a keeper or if your search for the perfect mattress will go on. These are typically risk-free trials so you should take advantage of them and be sure not to settle if it doesn’t end up working for you. 

Most online companies also offer free returns where they will pick up the mattress right from your home at no extra charge. Many of them will donate your unwanted mattress to local charities. So you don’t need to feel guilty for returning your mattress.

“People buy a mattress based on comfort. No one buys a mattress that sucks. But there is something that happens at home after a period of time that causes customers to call and say I can’t sleep on this thing. So it’s not a comfort thing. It’s a support thing.”

– Dr. Robert Oexman, Director of the Sleep to Live Institute

Time savings

There’s also the obvious fact that buying online saves you a trip to the mattress store. You can do your research in the comfort of your own home and with the click of a button, it’s on its way to your doorstep. You can avoid the awkward interaction with salespeople in the mattress store who are working on commission and might make you feel pressured to buy.

Better Performance

Buying a mattress that comes compressed in a box that’s a fraction of the size might seem like a strange idea, but believe it or not, it can actually improve the performance of your mattress. A study conducted by Leesa showed that compressed beds performed better than an uncompressed bed. Why? A technical reason is that compressed beds are built with very high-quality foams.

“It’s like wearing a pair of washed jeans,” Jamie Diamonstein, Co-founder of Leesa told us. “You get a brand new pair of jeans, but if you wash them they kind of get broken in. They feel better.” Turns out compressing can help break in a mattress just the same!

That being said, if you’re old school and feel like you need to see/feel/touch your mattress before you buy it, there are certainly great mattress options available at retail stores, you should just be prepared to pay top dollar (and not necessarily because you’re getting a better

When is the Best Time to Buy a Mattress?

Buying a new mattress is a big investment, and the best time to buy is obviously when the prices are discounted the most. Luckily, those times come at fairly predictable and frequent times throughout the year for many mattress brands and retail stores.

While not every company will always participate in these major sales, there’s a good chance you can find a great mattress deal around these holidays:

  • Black Friday
  • President’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • New Years

Keep in mind that most mattress sales start up to a week before the holiday and can extend up to a week after the holiday.

You can also expect to save on mattresses around different company events, like grand opening sales, liquidation sales, moving sales and anniversary sales. These aren’t as predictable so it’s something to keep an eye out for. 

If you’re in the market for a new mattress, you might want to sign up for a few company newsletters to get alerts about sales and discounts. You can always unsubscribe later!

Hint: We always consolidate the best mattress sales for our readers on our coupons page.

How Much Can You Expect to Save?

If you’re shopping for a mattress online, you can expect to always pay less than in-store. You can save as much as 40% on some mattresses if you are willing and able to wait for a sale online. The other benefit of buying a mattress online is that you don’t have to go mattress shopping on your day off!

At bricks & mortar stores, you can expect to save up to 60% on mattresses during sale periods, but remember that the overall price is going to be higher since you’re also paying for many of the mark-up fees.

Things to Avoid When Mattress Shopping

Now you know all the good qualities you should look for in a mattress, but there are some red flags to watch out for as well. The broad theme we can conclude is to avoid the extremes. Take a look at how we’ve outlined these below.

Too Soft or Too Firm

Be careful making assumptions about firmness. You may think you prefer something that’s very soft or very firm, but it’s best to stay away from the far extremes on the firmness scales (the 1s or 10s). It’s difficult to find long-term comfort on these types of beds.

Very Cheap or Very Expensive 

A good quality mattress typically costs around $1,000 for a queen. Anything that is far above or far below this could be a sign that it’s too low quality or extremely overpriced. 

Now, we’ve seen quality mattresses that we would recommend priced around $2,000-$3,000 for a queen. These beds will typically have all the bells and whistles. By extremely expensive, we mean if it’s upwards of $10,000 or even $20,000 (yes we’ve actually seen this price point) then it’s most likely not worth it.

Dr. Travis Russell of Chiro One Wellness said it the best:

“Don’t be cheap. Pay for quality, it will serve you in the long run. Life is too short to get a poor night’s sleep. For easy math, let’s assume you spend 8 hours a night sleeping. That’s 1/3 or your life you spend sleeping. Over the course of your life, there is nothing else you’ll do more than that. Sleep is when your body does the vast majority of its healing. Make an investment in your health and pony up for a high-quality mattress that supports you properly. Your body will thank you for it.”

No Trial Period or Return Policy

Buying a mattress online is a risky decision. Mattress companies understand that, which is why most offer trial periods between 3-12 months with a full refund upon returns. If this isn’t an option, it may be time to start looking at another brand.

Even if you’re buying a mattress in-store, you should still expect a fair trial period and return policy. Lying on a mattress for 10 minutes in a store isn’t a good enough indication of what your sleep experience will be like long-term.

No Warranty

As with any large purchase, it’s important that your mattress purchase comes with a warranty. A warranty helps protect your purchase in the rare case that there was a manufacturing flaw. 

Most warranties are around 10-20 years (some companies even offer generous lifetime warranties). This is a good trust signal to look for from the brand you’re shopping with. If a warranty is not offered, you may question the quality standards of their products.

Poor Customer Reviews

There are always a few begrudged customers looking to destroy a brand over small concerns who you should typically disregard. But if you find a flood of negative reviews from customers that’s a good sign to stay away.

Too Thin

Most mattresses are between 9-12″ thick. Anything much thinner than 6-8″ will likely not hold up very long and will fail to provide the comfort and support you should have from a bed.

Shopping Tips from the Experts

Dr. Scott Bautch, President of the American Chiropractic Association’s Council on Occupational Health, told us: “I’ve practiced for 30 years and have had 25,000 patients. I’d say at least 50% of patients have not matched their mattress to their body type or have received advice on how to do that best.”

That’s pretty sad news if you ask us. So we’ve gathered the best advice for finding the perfect mattress from the experts themselves.

Joe Alexander – Founder of Nest Bedding

“Research, research, research! Don’t think you’re crazy because you’ve searched a bunch of sites and reviews. Don’t pull the trigger until you’re confident. Choosing a bed online isn’t as hard as some think, but get to know the policies and see what other people have experienced with the companies you’re considering.

And always toss out the bottom and top reviews from customers, see what the majority of consumers are saying.”

Ron Rudzin - CEO of Saatva

“Once you know the type of mattress you want [memory foam, innerspring, latex], I would always make sure that the foams are American foams. Foams that come from overseas have less health and safety standards. America by far has the highest levels of health and safety standards in the world.

You also want to make sure that the bed breathes and has airflow, and is made with natural fabrics. No matter what, even if it’s really cold in the winter, you don’t want a warm bed.”


Adam Tishman – Co-Founder of Helix

“Finding the perfect mattress takes time. Lying on a mattress for 2 minutes in a store has no statistical correlation with whether or not you’ll actually like that mattress. Similarly, it can take weeks to get used to your new mattress. It’s important to know that going in otherwise it will be hard to match your expectation to reality.”

Carly Griffin - Co-Founder of Zonkd

“Really think about what your personal preferences and budget are. There’s still some skepticism around shopping for a mattress online but it’s so easy to compare different products and do research in the comfort of your own home. Plus, the trial periods allow you to see for yourself if you like the mattress, or you get your money back – it’s a win-win!”

Russell Whatcott - Director of Innovation at Purple

“You should look for something that attempts to address either the largest majority of your health concerns the best or that addresses the highest priority on your list of ailments. If you don’t worry as much about constant pain or discomfort and you just want to have a better night’s sleep, think of those things that cross your mind as you first get up in the morning or those things that come to mind when you visit a hotel or sleep in a different bed than you are used to. What is it that stands out to you – good or bad – from that?

Your body can go through some adjustments as you get used to a new mattress. That process can take more than one night so it can’t be taken entirely at face value, but those impressions can be considered as you contemplate a mattress purchase.”

Martin Rawls-Meehan - CEO of Reverie

“Eco-friendly mattress materials are many, but here are some you’ll want to keep an eye out for: plant-based oils, bamboo, aloe vera, soy, organic cotton, and natural latex, which comes from the sap of a rubber tree plant like the one shown above. Organic wool is also a smart option, as it contains natural fire retardant properties that allow manufacturers to avoid treating their mattresses with toxic chemicals (mattresses are required by law to be fire-retardant).

If you want to go fully green, you’ll need to make a few concessions. Your mattress may have some wrinkles, as chemical treatments are used to make materials wrinkle-free. You also may need to opt for a lower thread count, since the thin threads required for high-thread-count sheets are often strengthened with chemicals.”

Terry Pearce – Co-Founder of Purple

“Look at the ingredients. Unfortunately, it can be hard to find quality products when you’re shopping for a mattress, but that can be the difference between a mattress that lasts for one year or 20 years.”

John Merwin – Co-Founder of Brooklyn Bedding

“You spend a third of your life on your mattress. Make sure you invest in a quality mattress that meets your sleep needs.”

JT Marino – Co-Founder of Tuft & Needle

Skip the mattress stores and go with an online company where you can return it if you don’t like it.”

Daniel Galle – Founder of Nolah

“My advice would be to choose your mattress based on your preference for firmness. Incorrect firmness is typically the common cause for a poor sleep experience.”

Common Myths About Mattresses

There’s a ton of misinformation out in the world about mattresses, and we’re here to debunk those myths. Here are a few common myths about mattresses and the truth behind them. 

Myth: You can’t buy a mattress without lying on it first. 

The largest difference people point out between buying a mattress online vs. in-stores is that fact that you can’t lie on it first to test it out. In reality most (if not all) online mattress retailers offer a generous risk-free trial period. 

If you decide the mattress isn’t right for you in that time window, you can typically return it for a full refund. Lying on a mattress for 10 minutes in a store won’t show you how well you can really sleep on the mattress anyways since it can take up to 30 days to fully break in a mattress.

Myth: The best mattress should accommodate all types of sleepers. 

Everyone has individual preferences and needs. It would be impossible for one mattress to be a universal bed to appeal to all types of sleepers. The best mattress is the one that’s best suited to your individual needs.

Myth: Memory foam sleeps hot. 

Advanced memory foam is created to be more breathable to allow for better dispersion of body heat. Foams that use gel or copper have especially great cooling properties. 

Myth: The more expensive the mattress, the better quality it is. 

Be careful in your assumptions that a high cost means higher quality. Often retailers mark up prices to account for the middleman. Shopping online can save you money, and you don’t always have to choose the most expensive bed. 

Myth: All mattresses require a box spring. 

There are many different types of mattress foundations available besides just a box spring. In fact, some mattresses are even suitable to be placed on the floor. The brand you’re shopping with should give you recommendations on how to find the best foundation to match your bed.

Final Shopping Checklist

Now that you’ve learned all that factors that should influence your mattress buying decision, we’ll simplify all that information down to the key questions you need to ask while shopping: 

  • Am I ready for a new mattress? 
  • What size mattress do I need?
  • How much can I spend on a mattress?
  • Which material is best for me?
  • Does this mattress accomodate my sleeping position?
  • Is this mattress high quality in all the right areas (spine alignment, pressure relief, temperature control, etc.)?
  • What type of firmness do I need?
  • Where should I buy my mattress from? 
  • How can I get the best deal on my mattress? 
  • Are there any red flags I should avoid (too soft/firm, too cheap/expensive, no trial period, etc.)?

We hope we’ve helped make your mattress buying journey a breeze and led you to better nights of sleep. Be sure to check out more of our resources to help you along the way:

Comments (2)

  1. I’ve been wanting to replace my mattress with a new one, but I don’t know how to find a mattress that would provide me comfort. Surprisingly, a foam mattress is more of contouring, in which my body will be hugged, and I’ll be able to move freely. I hope I will be able to find a mattress store that sells different varieties of mattresses that I can freely choose from.

  2. I loved the tip that you gave to choose a mattress that has a return policy that you are comfortable with. We want to get a new mattress because our old one is creaky, and it will be important for us to know that we could bring it back if we change our mind. When we start looking, I will pay special attention to their return policy.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *