Guide to Buying A Good Mattress (10 Questions Answered)

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    Here I’m going to talk about how to buy a mattress.

    Instead of covering a single mattress or type of bed, I’m going to count down the top 10 questions I receive from my readers when they’re going through the mattress buying process.

    Hopefully at the end of this article you’ll have a clear idea of what you should be looking for when you’re shopping for your new bed.


    affordable comfortable mattress

    One of the most common questions I receive is how much should I spend on a mattress.

    Obviously everyone’s budget is a bit different, but I do want to give some general guidelines on pricing.

    Prices can vary depending on types of materials used in the mattress construction and the size of the bed you are looking for.

    The most popular mattress size in the US and Canada is the queen and I would say the average price for a queen size mattress online is a thousand dollars.

    That doesn’t mean you have to spend that much as there are less expensive quality options available, but I would say right around a thousand dollars is a pretty standard queen size mattress price.

    Best Time to Buy

    If you’re looking to save a little bit money, what is the best time of year to buy a mattress?

    I’d say there are four big mattress sale weekends. That’s President’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor day and Black Friday.

    That doesn’t mean that’s the only time you can buy one, but there will be the most sales going on at the same time during those weekends.

    Type of Mattress

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    What is the best type of mattress?

    This is the question I get most often when I tell people what I do. The answer may be a little disappointing if you’re looking for a definitive answer.

    The truth is that it depends on a number of factors, such as what position you sleep in, how heavy you are, and if you share your mattress with a partner.

    The most important first step you can take when looking for a new mattress is defining what type of sleeper you are.

    Because sleep is incredibly personal and what one person finds to be the perfect mattress can oftentimes not work for others.

    Mattress Size

    If you’re looking around and wondering what size mattress should I buy, this depends on how much room you have, if you share your bed with a partner and what your budget is.

    Like I said before, the queen-size mattress is the most common size in the US and that’s a pretty nice choice for most.

    Some couples may want to upgrade to the king, which adds 16 inches to the width of the bed. That can be valuable real estate if your partner tends to roll around in their sleep.

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    Back Pain

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    Another big question is what is the best mattress for back pain.

    The most important thing when trying to avoid back pain is proper spinal alignment, which can mean different things for different types of sleepers.

    For back sleepers I would probably recommend a medium firm mattress or one with inner spring support to keep the hips from sinking too far into bed.

    Stomach sleeping isn’t really recommended when it comes to trying to relieve back and neck pain, but if you just can’t help it, I would recommend going with really firm support.

    I’ll cover side sleeping a little more later on, but I did want to mention that one of my favorite features in mattresses for side sleepers is zone support. Basically it’s going to be firmer at the hips, while being softer at the shoulders to allow them to sink in for pressure relief.

    The difference in support levels from the shoulders to the hips means there is better alignment while in that position.

    Heavy People

    What is the best type of mattress for heavy people?

    The name of the game here is going to be strong support. Heavy folks have a bit of a tougher time mattress shopping because many beds just are not built with their needs in mind.

    Many models for heavier people have similarities like firm coil support, strong inner spring builds that can stand up over time. The use of durable materials, like denser foams or latex that won’t break down too quickly when slept on night after night.

    Side Sleepers

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    What is the best mattress for side sleepers?

    I told you I’d come back to the side sleepers and I separated them out because they tend to have more specific needs than back or stomach sleepers.

    Many side sleepers suffer from pressure points at the shoulders or the hips because they’re sleeping on a mattress that’s just too firm for them.

    Because their weight is concentrated over lower surface area, it means you’re going to be pushing further into the mattress.

    What can you do to relieve that pressure?

    Go with a softer mattress.

    I particularly like pillow tops for side sleepers because they give you the space to sink in for softer comfort, without sacrificing too much support, thanks to the coils below.

    Along with pillow top mattresses, I would just mention that zone support mattresses are great choice as well to promote side sleeping spinal alignment.

    Box Spring

    Another big question is do I need a box spring.

    This is an interesting question because the fact is that most mattresses these days are built to not necessarily need a box spring.

    Especially when looking at mattress and a box options, many are designed to work on slotted bed frames.

    If you have a box spring and want to continue using it or just feel more comfortable with a box spring for support, then feel free to use it, but you won’t necessarily need one.

    How Long Do Mattresses Last?

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    This is a tough one to answer broadly because it really depends on the type and quality of materials used in the mattress.

    For example, well-built inner spring mattresses will hold up better over time than inexpensive all foam options.

    Along with that, differences in sleepers will also lead to different wear and tear on the mattress. Kids will outgrow mattresses or need new ones due to accidents.

    Heavier folks will wear down support faster than lighter weight people.

    As a general rule I would say a quality mattress should last five to seven years. That is by no means a hard and fast rule. Some will last longer, others will require replacement sooner.

    When Should I Replace My Mattress?

    How often should you buy a new mattress?

    The main thing you’re going to see from a mattress whose best days are behind it is a sagging, lack of support.

    If your mattress has worn in spots from sleeping in the same place every night, this can eventually lead to an uncomfortable night and even worse pain when you wake up in the morning.

    The right level of support is extremely important when it comes to getting a good night of sleep. Without that support you can wake up with aches and pains in your lower back.

    So the biggest clue that it’s time to start shopping for a new mattress is going to be dips in the cover of the mattress, showing where there is sagging support.

    That’s all for now on tips for buying a new mattress.

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