Choose The Best Mattress in 7 Easy Steps
Is Choosing the Best Mattress
More Difficult Than Rocket Science?
Choosing the best mattress is tougher than rocket science because there is no scientific formula to determine the best bed for you. In comparison, the physics of rocketry is fairly well known. Both Consumer Reports and WebMD state that numerous attempts to scientifically study and quantify mattress comfort have failed.
So should you just give up? Maybe make your choice by throwing a dart at a newspaper, hoping to hit a mattress advertisement (instead of your spouse)?
You're smarter than a rocket scientist. You don't need a formula to tell you what's comfortable. Just trust what your body tells you. Read on for an easy method for choosing the best mattress to buy and then follow the buying guide to get the best deal.
7 Easy Steps To Your Best Mattress
- Decide if you really need a new bed
- Compare types
- Get at least a 30 day no questions asked return guarantee
- Choose a fire-resistant one with no PBDEs
- Don't pay extra for hypoallergenic unless you need it
- Do the 15 minute firmness test
- Shop prices last
1) Do you really need a new bed? - The answer is probably yes if you wake up with aches. Or if you sleep better when you're away from home or in hotels. Also if it's lumpy, bumpy or has bits sticking out and poking you.
How old is your mattress? Beds typically wear out in 10 years. If you're older than 40, replace them every 5-7 years to prevent pressure point problems. Children should not sleep on 'used' beds that do not provide good support to their developing bodies.
Are you changing mattresses because its infested with bugs? Then be sure to check out this helpful site on bed bugs for information on how to treat and keep these awful pests from infecting your new mattress.
2) What kind of sleep system will work for you?. Learn the characteristics of various alternatives to choose the best mattress for you. Pick one:
- Air beds
- Air bed with memory foam top
- Foam rubber mattresses
- Inner spring
- Latex mattresses
- Water beds
Here's more mattress reviews for various types of beds.
Ignore manufacturer's ratings. The whole concept of "mattress rating" is quicksand within a quagmire in a swamp. Don't get sucked in. Every manufacturer and every retailer has a different 'rating' system for each type of bed. And some 'ratings' are simply determined by popularity. Check the compare alternatives section below for some quick basic guidelines for each type of mattress. The only thing that really matters is what feels good to you.
3) Get at least a 30 day no questions asked return guarantee.
4) Find a newer fire resistant mattress - Look for the non-removable label. These comply with the latest fire retardant standards. You want your bed to resist fires, but you don't want it to poison you or your kids. Up until 2007, Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were commonly used as fire retardants in mattresses. These chemicals are similar to PCBs, and there is some evidence that they also cause neurological, developmental and hormonal disruptions. There are still stores which have these older models in stock. Just to be safe, look for non-removable labels and for those made in 2008 and later.
5) Do you have allergies? If allergies are a problem then your best mattress will be labeled as nonallergenic or hypoallergenic. An inner spring model will have special materials, typically located in the padding. Don't pay extra for non-allergenic memory foam and latex mattresses because that's a standard characteristic of the material. There are no spaces between springs to accumulate dust or wear debris.
Generally, if your mattress is too hard, your hips and shoulders will be uncomfortable. A quick test is to lie on your back and try to put your hand underneath the small of your back. If you can put your hand in too easily, the mattress may be too firm for you.
"Comfort" can be costly - Bed salesmen have a much different idea of comfort than you do. Their definition of 'comfort' refers to how much and what kind of padding (and extra commissions) are piled on top of the structure. If you're on a budget, save money by skimping on the 'comfort' layer and get a memory foam or egg crate topper instead.
Too much cushion could make it difficult for you to roll over. However, if you snore, this might be an asset. A deeper layer of memory foam (3 to 5 inches) that helps to keep you on your side might prevent you from waking your partner.
Memory foam mattress firmness (or softness) is measured by "Indentation Load Deflection" with an 8 being very soft and a 20 being very firm.
Support is simple - You want just enough support so that the position of your spine is similar to someone with good standing posture. If you're considering a memory foam model, look for 3 to 6lb density foam. For an inner spring, look for a coil count of over 390 for a queen size. But whatever the mattress support 'numbers', make sure you spend at least 15 minutes lying in your favorite sleep position on your final selection.
7) Look for the best price LAST Choose a mid-priced model then...wait for a sale! The difference between a mid-priced bed and the most expensive one is usually purely cosmetic. Who really needs a silk damask cover copied from the Unicorn tapestries made with threads woven under the full moon from worms that only ate organic mulberry leaves? No one's ever going to see the darn cover because youre going to throw a fitted sheet over it!
So which should you buy?
It's the one that you liked when you tested it, with a return policy that protects you, at a price you can sleep with. Use the procedure in the buying guide to get the best deal. Don't hesitate to walk away from an uncomfortable bed. Remember that the decision that you're making is more complex than rocket science. The best mattress for you can't be reduced to a formula.