How To Shop For A Mattress
A mattress is arguably the most important piece of furniture in any house. The quality of life you lead while awake depends on how well you sleep at night. But given that a mattress has an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years, it can be a daunting purchase. While new technologies and accessories like toppers and pads are big considerations, it’s also important to ask the right questions and know how to test a product properly. We turned to Christopher Steyskal, retail channel manager of mattress company Airweave, and Pete Bils, vice president of Sleep Science & Research at Sleep Number, for tips on what to look for when shopping for a mattress.
Ask the right questions. When you arrive at a showroom, know what questions to ask. “If you find a mattress you like, ask how long it’s been on the retail floor,” says Bils. “Many other people will have tested the bed, and a new one will feel much different.” Adds Steyskal, “Ask yourself: How do you feel when you wake up in the morning? Relay that to the salesperson and take the conversation from there.”
Find support. Don’t get hung up on how soft or firm your bed is. “The difference has little to do with the quality of sleep, it’s about support and how your particular body type will react to it,” explains Steyskal. “Comfort is subjective,” says Bils. “A good mattress will distribute your weight evenly. Hips and shoulders support the bulk of your weight and need the most support—if not, you get those pins-and-needles sensations.”
What kind of sleeper are you? Look for a bed with high rebound ability. “No matter what position you fall asleep in, you naturally move around and will need support in all positions,” says Steyskal. Natural body temperature should self-regulate without yourmattress heating you up. “The best style will promote airflow and not insulate heat,” he says.
Put it to the test. When trying out a bed, do more than the sit test. Both experts agree you should spend at minimum 15 to 30 minutes to get a good feel, including lying, getting in and out, and rolling over. “Certain comfort materials like foam need time to react to your body,” says Bils. Pillows need to be changed out, too. “If you make a new mattress purchase, pair it with a new pillow to keep your head, neck, and shoulders in healthy alignment,” he says. “After three to five years, a distinct sag will form.”
Using your mattress at home. Be sure there’s a generous return/exchange policy. “Ultimately, you’ll be making the decision at home, not the showroom,” says Bils. “A mattress needs to be slept on to access the firmness and support you want.” The trial period can take up to two weeks. “If by this time your body doesn’t adjust, it’s not you. The mattress isn’t a match,” says Steyskal.