You know it’s time for a new bed when…
1. You wake up feeling stiff, tired, achy, groggy, or in pain.
2. Dark circles develop under your eyes, and it has nothing to do with staying out late or not getting “enough” sleep.
3. Your mattress isn’t young anymore. It sags, droops, or the fabric is falling apart.
4. You bought your mattress in a previous decade.
You see, like people, mattresses have a specific lifetime. After 5 years, an innerspring mattress just isn’t as supportive and clean as it used to be. It sags and fills up with bacteria and dust mites over time, which we think is pretty gross.
Shopping for a new mattress doesn’t have to be a pain. With the right knowledge and shopping smarts, it doesn’t even have to be overwhelming. For a few simple shopping tips that will make you an expert mattress buyer in no time, finding the perfect mattress for your needs with less than a modicum of fuss, keep on reading!
The first question you need to ask is: which mattress is best for you?
With so many mattress types to choose from, selecting a mattress can be a confusing process. Use this guide to select the type best for you.
memory foam beds: Made from NASA technology, these allergy-resistant beds conform to your body’s shape.
Pros: memory foam beds are hypoallergenic and conform to support every curve of your body. They alleviate pressure points – such as the hips – and the average memory foam bed has an extra-long lifetime: upwards of 20 years.
Cons: memory foam beds are known to be warmer than other types. Sometimes, these mattresses have a mild chemical odor, depending on the factory and country of origin and the quality control regulations they were manufactured under.
Innerspring mattresses: these are your “classic” mattresses, the traditional ones that support your body on a bed of wire coils.
Pros: Dependable and the most popular style, the innerspring mattress is time-tested.
Cons: These mattresses are incapable of evenly distributing body weight, which may lead to restless nights (especially when sleeping with a partner). They are hollow inside, save for the coils, so they are absolutely ideal living quarters for various bacteria, allergens, and dust mites (the infamous “bed bugs”).
Air Mattresses: These beds are highly affordable, lightweight, and portable. They can be inflated or deflated whenever you wish, making storage and space-saving a breeze.
Pros: Lightweight and storable, air mattresses are great for campers and singletons. They often include electronically controlled air pockets for adjustable firmness.
Cons: Don’t let your cat near this bed, as it easily punctures. Additionally, these beds do not give you even support while you sleep.
Water Mattresses: Full of water, this blast from the past is super soft.
Pros: exceedingly soft, these beds also have built in “rocking” action. Modern water beds tend to be much more stable and supportive than those of the 70s.
Cons: unfortunately, these beds weigh a ton, and they can get very cold; they should be avoided by persons who suffer from motion sickness or chronic back pain. If your partner tosses and turns in his sleep, it’s “surf’s up dude!”
Second: be comfortable.
If you get enough sleep, you’ll spend a third of your life in bed – so you’ll need a comfortable, supportive mattress. Every mattress offers something different in terms of layers and firmness, and out of the wide variety of mattresses available today, most all of them will feel different.
The ideal mattress will keep your spine in the same alignment as a standing person with good posture. Choosing the wrong mattress or practicing improper sleeping posture will likely lead to back pain, particularly in your lumbar region. Mattresses that are too soft do not properly support the back, while mattresses that are too firm cause uncomfortable pressure points. You may have heard that a firm mattress is best for your back, but the truth is that firmness is less important than even support. As long as a mattress distributes your weight evenly, you can use any firmness level you like.
For best results, test out some floor model mattresses at your local warehouse or hotel and find the perfect soft/firm ratio for you. Then get online and shop around for the best deals. Online shopping has a much wider selection than brick and mortar stores. If you’re having trouble finding the perfect firmness level for your body, consider buying a memory foam mattress with removable softness layers.
The third question you need to ask is: what’s my size?
Each and every unique mattress size will suit a unique need.
Your standard twin mattress (a “single”) is perfect for kids, dorm rooms, guest bedrooms, or bunk beds. They measure 39” wide by 75” long, which probably won’t cut it for tall women and couples.
You might also consider the twin “extra long” mattress, which retains the same regular twin width but adds 5” to the bed’s total length. These are the beds commonly found in college dorms. Sheets may be a little more difficult to find, but should be readily available online.
Double, also known as full, mattresses allow more room for movement and stretching. The average full mattress clocks in at about 54” in width by about 75” in height, which may prove (once again) a little short for some people. They are a great alternative for singles who find twin beds too cramped.
If you anticipate sharing your mattress with someone now or in the future, a queen is the smallest size recommended. At 60” wide by 80” long, they are great for those with extra height and couples who like to get close.
A king mattress may be the most expensive, but it allows the most room for anyone who really likes their space. King beds are different from other beds in their measurement variations, so you’ll need to consider whether you’re more interested in a long bed or a wide bed. There are two types of king mattresses:
The standard king, or eastern king, mattress is 76” wide by 80” long, making it 4” wider than its counterpart.
The famous California king bed (the “western king”) is about 72” in width by 84” in height, a whole 4” taller than its king sized counterpart.
The fourth question you need to ask is: how do I shop smart?
When testing out a memory foam bed, wear comfortable clothing. Lie in the position in which you normally sleep for several minutes. Pay particular attention to the effects of the mattress on the heavier parts of your body: is the mattress giving your hips, shoulders, and lower back the support they need? See how well the bed absorbs your movement.
Here are a few crucial points to consider while you shop:
1. Where is your mattress manufactured, and which company makes it? Are they reputable?
2. Will it aggravate my allergies?
3. Is it cost-efficient?
4. Just how confident am I in this mattress? Can I rely on it to deliver comfortable sleep for the years ahead?
5. Does the mattress give me good, full support?
6. What is the warranty policy?
7. Will I be sharing this bed with someone, and what are this person’s needs?
8. How much space will I need to accommodate my movement and size?
Remember, any sales person you talk to should be friendly, knowledgeable, and competent. If they can’t answer your questions, find someone who can.
The fifth question you need to ask is: how can I further enhance the quality of my sleep?
Aside from sleeping on an orthopedically supportive memory foam bed, you can also practice these nightly exercises to help improve your sleep:
1. Sip on chamomile tea before bedtime.
2. Exercise regularly at least four hours before bedtime.
3. Develop sleep rituals before bedtime, such as listening to relaxing music or stretching. These exercises will tell your body that it’s time to relax and go to bed.
4. Consider eating a very light snack before going to bed to avoid mid-slumber hunger pangs. Dairy products contain tryptophan, which induces sleep.
5. Go to sleep in a cool (NOT cold) room on a room-temperature mattress, and be sure to wear as many blankets as you need to keep warm. If you have a memory foam bed, consider using fewer blankets or sleeping in a cooler room.
6. Keep a nightstand near your bed where you can place books, water, or perhaps a music player; anything you may need to access easily before drifting off to sleep. This will keep you from getting up and feeling active.
7. If you do feel the need to get up late at night, use a nightlight rather than the standard room lights so your body doesn’t set itself to “daytime” mode.
8. Take a hot bath 90 minutes before bedtime. The drop in body temperature you experience afterwards will make you sleepy.
9. Write your thoughts in a journal before bedtime. This will relieve you of worries and keep your mind still.
10. Breathe deeply and slowly while counting your breaths.
With these considerations in mind, you will surely find the perfect mattress for you!