Buying a new mattress is a big commitment; and not only a big financial commitment. A good mattress should last you at least 7 years and if you buy a latex mattress it will sleep you well for 15 years or more. The pressure is on, therefore, to get it right. After all, if you sleep the recommended 8 hours a night, over the course of your mattresses life that’s at least 20,440 hours you are going to spend in bed together!
With that in mind; here are our top 7 tips to ensure you take home the perfect bedfellow:
1. Take time to consider your current mattress
You may be about to part company but you will, no doubt, have spent many nights sleeping on your current mattress. Take some time to ask yourself some searching questions. Why are you getting a new mattress? Are you getting good sleep at the moment? If not, why not? How does your body feel each morning when you get up? What do you dislike about your current mattress? And just as importantly, what do you like? Armed with the answers (which will be most helpful to you if they are written down) move on and….
2. Do your online homework
Before you step foot in a mattress store do your research. There are an eye-watering array of mattress options out there - spring, foam, memory foam and latex to name but a few. Some materials are used to create types of mattress in their own right; some mattresses are hybrids combining two or more materials. To add confusion to the mix, some mattress retailers make up their own terminology, calling quite different products confusingly similar names or similar products something completely different to their competitors.
Take the time to read up on the different mattress types and to find out what makes a good mattress (link to my 1st article on words “ good mattress”). Learn what mattresses are made of and the pros and cons of the different mattress types. Work out whether it matters to you if your mattress is environmentally friendly or boasts features which make it hypoallergenic.
Armed with a clear idea of what you want and powered with the knowledge to get it you will be ready to go mattress shopping. When in store...
3. Ask lots of questions
Take the time to stop and talk to the salesperson. Armed with your research knowledge ask about the mattresses they are selling. In particular ask about how each mattress is constructed and what materials it is made from. Ask how the mattress provides support and how it relieves pressure. Find out if it can be personalised or configured to provide different comfort levels.
If you don't feel that the salesperson ‘knows their stuff’ go somewhere else. A good mattress store will be proud of their mattress but will want to ensure you find your own ‘best sleep’ rather selling their product to you. Don’t feel pressured to purchase. If you feel harassed, leave before they get you horizontal to…
4. Test the mattress
There’s no way to avoid it. If you are going to make a confident mattress choice you are going to have to test the mattress. Don’t feel embarrassed or silly; this is exactly why mattress stores have showroom models. Go in comfy clothes (if not your pyjamas!) and wearing shoes you can easily slip on and off. If you are keeping your old pillow take it with you.
Take your time. You need to lie on each mattress for at least 10-15 minutes. Research has shown that you need to lie in each of your sleeping postures (on your back, side, tummy) for at least 6 minutes to really understand how the mattress is supporting your body, whether pressure builds up and whether you feel comfortable. Close your eyes and relax.
Once you’ve done the lying still, get active. Move on to different parts of the bed. Climb on and off. Think about how the mattress responds to these movements. If you won’t be sleeping alone make sure your sleeping partner tests the mattress alongside you. Do you roll together? Do you have enough space? If your partner moves, does it disturb you?
Finally, focus on one bed at a time. Whilst you are in store don’t try to compare the feel of one mattress directly with another that you may have tested earlier. The human body has a remarkably flawed ‘feel memory’. If you are comparing and contrasting different mattresses, judge each on an individual basis as you experience it against the same standard criteria and review your comments when you get home (well deserved cup of tea in hand).
Before making any purchase get off the bed and re-engage the salesperson (who you can quite justifiably ask to leave you alone during the ‘test’ period - much more relaxing to lay on a bed if you are not being stared at!). Ask about…
5. Trial periods, comfort guarantees and warranties
A study by independent non-profit research institute RTI suggests that people do not, when testing a mattress in a typical showroom setting, always choose the mattress which will in the long term give them the best night’s sleep. Whether this is because they don’t spend long enough lying on the mattress in the showroom, or because they feel pressurised or are mis-informed or directed by showroom staff, it is not clear.
A good mattress store will, however, have confidence not only in their salespeople (that they will sell you the right mattress) but most importantly in their product. A mattress store with such confidence will offer at least a 30 day no quibble money-back guarantee. The very best guarantees allow you to take home your new mattress and, quite literally, sleep on it for months. Some stores will even collect the mattress from you at the end of the trial period should you find you have not found a match made in sleep-heaven.
As well as finding out about the length of any home trial period, check out the warranty being offered with the mattress. It is an expensive investment so make sure that your new mattress is covered by at least a 10 year warranty, and ideally 15 years. The more confident a store is in the quality of their product the longer they will guarantee it against manufacturing fault.
After all the questioning and testing you are likely to be ready to make that important mattress purchase, but if not…
6. Sleep on it
Unless you are 100% certain, go home. Spend another night on your old mattress. When you wake up in the morning you will, almost certainly, know its time to say good bye. Look for a mattress store that will deliver your new mattress to you and dispose, ethically, of your old one by recycling or donating.
When your new mattress arrives…
7. Take time to fall in love with it
The reason for looking for an extended trial period or comfort guarantee is simple. When you get your new mattress your body will take time to adjust to it. Even if your old mattress had you waking up stiff each morning, this is what your body was used to. We all find comfort in the familiar and it takes us time to adjust to the new. In the same way we might cling to an old relationship, your body may initially mourn your old mattress as it has to re-adjust itself to the feel of the new. Give it time. If you’ve used these tips and taken home the right mattress - in the long run you’ll realise you’ve got the perfect bed.