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Five key considerations for choosing the right bed

Choosing the right bed is one of the keys to getting your best sleep

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Life is difficult enough as it is. There’s no sense in making our bed and sleep a tough place to rest, too. Owning the right bed can be the difference between having a good day or a bad one.

Our beds should be a sanctuary for sleep and sex, so we want to ensure we pick the most suitable one for our specific need.

In order to figure out what we should look out for, it helps to look at what can bother us the most. Here are the top 5 complaints bed owners have about their bed:

  • It’s too hot (temperature)
  • It doesn’t support me enough (too soft or too firm)
  • I keep rolling off the sides (lack of edge support)
  • I wake up with aches and pain (overused, poor material quality)
  • It’s difficult to return (trial period)

Mattresses can last anywhere between five to 10 years. More often than not, we tend to keep our beds longer than their useful lifespan.

Good beds aren’t cheap either. It’s difficult to shell out $1,000 in a single day for something we aren’t sure is worth it.

Let’s dive deeper into what we can do to make the most out of the beds we get and buy with greater confidence.

What makes a suitable mattress to buy?

Here is a list of the top five considerations we should make when choosing a mattress:

There is a lengthy trial period available

Although box store sales make up a significantly large portion of the mattress industry, there is a growing consumer trend​ for shopping online.

Shopping online lets us compare different brands and models to understand their differences and to find the one right for us. And with better than amazing return policies coupled with free shipping, it’s no wonder consumers are taking to the web for ordering their mattress.

As a baseline, a large majority of Amazon.com mattress vendors offers a trial period of 30 days. When we look at other brands, we find sleepy trials for 90 to 120 days in length. One mattress brand offering a return policy for an entire YEAR.

Why is such a lengthy trial period important? There are several reasons:

  • It takes time to break in a new mattress. Most companies ship from factories where the mattresses remain compressed for some time. When they are unboxed, decompression takes time and the material also needs time to soften to its appropriate feel.
  • Our body also needs time to adjust to a new sleeping surface. When you come off of a 10-year-old mattress, a new bed can feel like an entirely new experience. Although there is no consensus on how long it might take for our bodies to adapt so we can sleep well, having a lengthy trial period certainly helps. Our recommendation is to try your mattress for at least two to three weeks.
  • It also gives us time to pack away the mattress for return if we find it isn’t the right fit for us.

It is built with a cooler sleep in mind

One of the biggest complaints by far is how hot mattresses can get. Although a lot of other factors might influence the overall temperature (lack of bedroom airflow, no air conditioning, a thick bed cover), the mattress should avoid contributing to heat retention. Higher temperatures that cause nighttime sweat can be common with lower priced mattresses due to their use of a lower quality material.

The foam material is a huge culprit for retaining heat as we sleep. The problem with foam is the lack of ventilation and how well the material absorbs heat. Although foam (we’re talking about memory foam and latex) is the most popular selling mattress type, they might not work great for homeowners who avoid using air conditioning. Memory foam can support the body well with its contouring ‘hugging’ effect. Latex also provides a similar feel but with greater bounce and responsiveness.

So what constitutes as a cool mattress? We wrote a mini-guide on what a great cool mattress​ and it’s worth the glance. In short, we want a mattress with built-in airflow features for breathability, uses material that won’t retain heat, and ingredients that better improve the overall temperature of the bed.

The right firmness and support for you

This one is tricky because of how subjective it can be. We want a mattress that won’t give you aches and pain. It should also feel comfortable and down-right compelling to sleep on.

There is a range of comfort levels to choose from. There is extra plush to extra firm mattresses and everything in between.

A firm bed would provide the most support and prevent your body from having a small awkward curve that causes aches and pain. The problem is firm beds can apply a lot of pressure throughout the body. They can be suitable for those who enjoy sleeping on the floor.

On the other end, a plush feeling bed sleeps like a marshmallow cloud and may be a suitable choice for heavyset individuals that require more ‘give’.

The most popular comfort level is medium-firm as a top seller for many mattress brands. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the most firm, a medium-firm would feel like a 7.

Different materials will have different comfort levels, despite using the comfort rating. So how do we differentiate which is best for us? Our advice is to find mattresses with a track record and a clearly defined return policy to try.

See how it suits you for the next two or three weeks. You can then return if it turns out to not be right for you.

It comes with edge support

A common problem for sleepers is rolling off the side of their bed during sleep. Plush to medium-firm mattresses can be a culprit of such moments. We also found that couples that sleep together also find themselves rolling off the bed (occasionally fighting for the cover).

Some mattresses lack edge support. Other beds use a material that doesn’t require built-in support. The best way is to search for reviews beforehand.

What does edge support look like? Some beds use a “wall” of foam along the sides. They are high-density foams that provide your bed with its shape and support on the edges.

For beds with innerspring, we can find lower-gauge coils for greater firmness. Typical innerspring can have 15-gauge medium-firm coils in the center, with 13-gauge firm coils along the edges.

The mattress is a popular seller and a proven for sleep

Purchasing an unknown or generic mattress from brands no one knows might not be in your best interest.

The problem with most lower-priced mattresses is the source of the materials and their return policies. Warranties also tend to lack true protection for consumers, with no real chance of being honored in the way consumers expect for defective mattresses.

Look for the reviews. On Amazon, we want to find beds with a minimum of 30 to 50 reviews. Most of the popular mattresses can have several hundred or thousands that might offer some peace of mind.

This might not guarantee the quality of the bed as mattresses that cost less would have a greater number of sales and reviews. But it does offer some idea of what is good or bad.

If you do go shopping for lesser-known mattresses, be sure their reviews are from verified purchases so you can know they are legitimate.

Our final thoughts

There are other considerations aside from the above five. Budget, sleeping position, size, thickness, off-gassing (odor), and warranty terms can be important to certain people.

We examine these considerations in greater detail, including when it might be time to replace a mattress and a handful of questions you should ask before purchasing a new bed in our mattress-picking guide.

We hope this mini-guide serves as an insightful introduction for researching the best mattress for your specific need.

Do you have any specific considerations when you purchased your current bed? What pitfalls did you run into and what would you tell others to look out for? Let us know in the comments below!

Author Bio

Brian Ferret is a sleep enthusiast who enjoys a good bedtime story. He is on a mission to create awareness on the best practices for sleep. His goal is to educate others on how they can sleep better so they can live happier, healthier, and better lives. Follow him on Facebook​ and ​Twitter to learn how you can improve on your sleep. You can also visit his website at MySleepyFerret.com​.

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14 comments

  1. It was a pleasure writing for you, Samantha!

    One of the pitfalls I had when I first purchased a mattress is the confusion between what kind of material is best for me. Memory foam felt great. Latex did, too. Innerspring was fun as well.

    Ultimately, I settled to try memory foam first and has worked like a charm for me the past 7 months since I purchased it. 🙂

  2. Thanks Brian for sharing such a detailed and awesome post! I totally need this right now! It’s time for a new one. Happy Tuesday!

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