5 Steps to Getting the Best Mattress

Buying a mattress can be an overwhelming experience, but having a handy shopping guide can reduce the stress and headache associated with choosing the perfect mattress.  There are actually a number of choices to make when buying a bed, many before you even test out any mattress! Here, we offer a step-by-step guide to researching and purchasing the best bed for you.

How to Choose the Best Mattress

Step 1: Determine Mattress Type

There are a number of mattress types out there to choose from. The very first thing you should consider before beginning your shopping adventure is to choose the mattress type that fits into your lifestyle. You should consider what health concerns you may have such as back pain or allergies and how your mattress choice could influence those problems.

Remember, there are several mattress types to choose from such as: memory foam, innerspring, water, and latex — as well as hybrids that mix multiple materials.  You may want to physically lay on several varieties of the different mattress types in order to find the best one for you. At this stage, you just want to try beds out to get a feel for what you like – don’t commit to buying yet. You can also research online to learn about the specifications and pros and cons of each type to get a sense of what might work for you.

It is also important to keep in mind that a showroom test drive isn’t as important as mattress companies make it seem. In fact, research shows that most people do not ultimately select the most comfortable mattress for their bodies in a showroom setting (Hogan etal., 2011) and that 40% of shoppers overall experience buyer’s remorse (Consumer Reports, 2013), despite a majority having tried their beds before buying.

Below is a chart borrowed from What’s The Best Bed’s article on mattress types, offering a comparative overview of major mattress types.

 SpringMemory FoamLatexWater
TypesBonnell, Pocketed Spring, Continous Coil, etcTradiitonal, Gel, Plant-BasedTalalay/Dunlop, Natural/SyntheticHardside/ Softside, Freeflow/Waveless
Pain ReliefAverageExcellentExcellentAverage
Heat ComplaintsLowLow to MedLowLow
Odor ComplaintsLowLow to MedLowLow

In our own research and according to large-scale consumer surveys, memory foam and latex beds tend receive the highest overall owner satisfaction ratings, between 78-85%, compared to around 65% or less for innerspring beds.  In previous articles, we compared memory foam mattress technologies and latex mattress brands. The standouts from these comparisons proved Amerisleep’s plant-based memory foam mattresses and Astrabeds’ 100% natural latex mattresses with organic latex and covers. In both studies, our results were based on features, review, and overall value.

Step 2: Choose the Best Mattress Size

The right mattress size will definitely play a role in how comfortable you are when you sleep. You may have to consider your bedroom size to determine if what size mattress can comfortably fit in the amount of space that you have.  However, you should always consider your body mass and whether or not you will be sleeping with another person.  You should always make sure that you can comfortably fit in the mattress size that you choose because this will determine how well you sleep at night. Couples should almost always opt for king size beds when space allows. For single adults, full and queen offer additional space over twins. Taller individuals may prefer XXL and Cal King models for added length, which is typically 84 inches. See the chart below for an overview of standard mattress sizes.

mattress sizes

Step 3: Read Reviews

Mattress reviews will help you narrow down which bed is the right one for you. In today’s social-centric environment, reviews are easy to find online for most products. While not every review will pertain to your lifestyle, there is always information in reviews that you will not be able to get from any other source.  Typically, a good review will include the pros and cons of a particular mattress and their experience with the brand or retailer. Look for mentions of specific issues that pertain to you, like back pain, heat, etc. Keep in mind that comfort is highly subjective however, so what one person finds too firm the next may find just right.

As far as review sources, one of the first places to check is the retailer and brand websites. Most reputable companies allow consumers to leave reviews. Those that are third-party verified and can be uploaded by consumers are preferable to “testimonial” style pages. Third party forums and consumer review websites can also offer good insight, but do remember that statistically people who have an unsatisfactory experience are more likely to speak out than those who are satisfied or had an average experience. When assessing reviews, look for objective complaints and patterns across reviews to get the best sense of the product.

Step 4: Don’t Forget Warranties!

No matter the type or size of mattress that you choose always be aware of the warranties. The warranty can certainly be a game changer for most consumers. Some mattresses only offer a few years of warranty while others offer 20 or 25 years.  Also, you should always ask what the warranty includes and if there is any restrictions (like requiring mattress covers or specific foundations) because this could be valuable information if something ever goes wrong with your mattress.  Today, most mattress warranties are also limited and prorated, meaning the cover only specific components and only offer full coverage for a portion of the warranty.

You should also be able to try out the mattress for at least 30 days to ensure it is a good fit. This is often referred to as a sleep trial or a comfort guarantee.  Ask and understand the terms, like what you would owe if you return or exchange the bed, and how the process works.

Step 5: Find a Good Deal

Once you’ve narrowed your options down to one or two models, then it is time to start scouting for the best deal.  Be aware of upcoming holidays or sales events that could drastically reduce how much you have to pay. In the mattress industry, all holidays often bring sales, from Easter to July 4th to Black Friday. Many online retailers also post coupons on their own websites or on coupon sites, and may send out exclusive deals via email newsletters. Pro tip: never be afraid to contact the a mattress company and ask about sales or how they can sweeten the deal to earn your business. Afterall, you are the customer and “No” is the worst that can happen.


Buying a mattress is something that deserves considerable research, as it is a purchase many hope to keep for several years and one that impacts how you feel every day. Utilize resources available online so that can be informed on benefits and drawbacks of the various materials. This will make it easier for you to determine the best type of bed for your needs and also help ensure you get a mattress of good quality. By following our five steps, you will be on your way to selecting the best mattress and coming away satisfied with your purchase.

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