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Seven Mistakes to Avoid when Buying a Mattress

We all know the value of good sleep - greater energy, sharper cognition, quicker response times, lower stress. Plus, we just look and feel a heck of a lot better after a solid night’s rest. The trouble with too little sleep is also well recognized - higher cortisol levels, overeating, less stamina, and increased susceptibility to injury and disease. One factor commonly overlooked in the pursuit of satisfying sleep is also (fortunately!) one of the most accessible - a quality mattress.

So, how to land on said mattress? It’s as much about what you shouldn’t do as you should. To that end, we’ve drummed up seven prevailing missteps you’ll want to avoid.


Going straight for the cheapest. We’re all suckers for a great deal. But use caution with this approach. Inexpensive mattresses tend to be made of a single piece of foam, offering very little support, making the holy grail of good sleep hard to attain. Cheap mattresses offer “false economy” since they’re not built to last, and need replacing more often. 

Solution: Plenty of top-rated brands make affordable mattresses for only a few hundred more than the lowest priced ones on the market. It’s better to wait for a sale on a quality mattress than rushing to purchase a sub-par one.

Buying without a trial period. Trial periods are becoming standard in today’s bedding market, so there’s no need to forego this perk. It can take three weeks of sleeping on a mattress to know if it’ll suit your body. Solution: Take advantage of risk-free trials where you can test out a new mattress at home. If it isn’t what you expected, the mattress can be returned for a refund.


Ignoring advice about sleep positions. We all move about to some degree when sleeping, but most of us land on one or two sleeping positions that provide us the best comfort. The most common are stomach, back, side, and combination. Buying a mattress not suited to your dominant sleep position will impede your ability to rest fully and well. Solution: Back sleepers: opt for hybrid model with medium to firm cushioning to keep spine in alignment.

Stomach: choose an innerspring or hybrid with tall coils that offer firm support to keep shoulders and hips aligned. Side: look for softer memory foam to provide snug comfort and much needed pressure relief on joints. A mattress topper will provide added contouring.

Combo: consider a medium to firm latex or hybrid that’ll be soft enough to provide pressure relief to shoulders but firm enough to support hips. Neglecting firmness levels. If a mattress is too soft, it won’t support the body properly. If it’s too firm, you’ll have difficulty sleeping through the night or will wake up in discomfort.

Solution: If you’re less than 150 pounds, try a softer mattress or medium to firm model with a thick comfort layer and pillow top. If you’re between 150 and 200 pounds, a medium to firm mattress should offer the right support. If you’re over 200 pounds, a firmer mattress with coils and springs combined with thick layers of foam and a pillow top is recommended.

Uninformed about choices. There are four main types of mattresses that are worth becoming familiar with before settling on one to purchase.

They are:

Memory Foam: comforting, cradling effect, all-over pressure relief, and good motion isolation. One of the less expensive options.

Traditional Innerspring: combines coils with soft padding. Typically the cheapest, but doesn’t last as long as others. Latex: naturally cool, bouncy, and durable, but not as effective with motion isolation. Some of the best organic mattresses are latex, and last longer than average.

Hybrid: pocket springs are combined with a variety of materials - memory foam, latex, gel - to deliver high levels of support and pressure relief. Breathable and ideal for hot sleepers.


Skipping the small print. Read the details, even for established brands. Some offer free shipping but charge for returns. Be clear on the warranty - what is and isn’t covered during the trial. Most brands require the mattress to be in pristine condition to consider for return. Disregarding user reviews. Reading consumer feedback along with expert mattress reviews can help shed light on the experience of sleeping on the mattress. You’ll likely also hear about customers’ experiences re: courtesy and returns. Rejuvenating sleep - the kind that optimizes your health and provides energy to tackle each day - is achievable. The right mattress is an important step in reaching that goal.