With so many brands that claim to have the “best mattress,” it can feel impossible to know where to start your search for a new bed. That’s why we’ve created this guide that breaks down every part of the mattress buying journey to help you find the right mattress for you.
In our mattress buying guide, we’ll go over all the considerations you should make when you’re ready to choose a new mattress.
Mattress 101 | Types of Mattresses | Mattress Performance Factors | Sleeping Position Considerations | Mattress Sizes | Budget and Costs | Where to Buy | When to Buy | Shopping Checklist | Mattress Myths | Mattress Resources
We’ll go over some general mattress knowledge you’ll need before you start shopping.
When Do You Need a New Mattress?
The general rule is that you should change your mattress every 7-10 years. After frequent use from sleeping on it each night, a mattress loses its shape and no longer provides a surface for restorative sleep.
What’s the Average Lifespan of a Mattress?
Most mattresses last between 7-10 years, but this varies by type. Innersprings have the shortest lifespan between 7-8 years, foam mattresses are in the middle lasting up to 10 years, and latex mattresses last the longest at up to 15 years.
|Mattress Type||Average Lifespan||Notes|
Even if you’ve flipped and rotated your innerspring mattress regularly, the core is still made of metal wire, which tends to sag and lose its form over time.
|Foam / Memory Foam||Up to 10 years||
While a memory foam mattress is generally better at holding its shape, it still doesn’t last forever. It can last up to 10 years if you’re diligent about rotating it and keeping it clean.
|Latex||Up to 15 years||
Latex mattresses tend to have the most longevity. A good quality latex mattress can last up to 15 years because of its durable makeup.
How Do You Know You Need a New Mattress?
There are a few warning signs you can look out for to know that it’s time for you to choose a new mattress. These include waking up with pain or numbness in your limbs, waking up groggy or achy regularly, tossing and turning through the night, your mattress is feeling a little saggy or lumpy, you feel like you’re sinking too deeply into your mattress, you’re sleeping better in hotel rooms or somewhere other than your own bed, or you can feel your sleeping partner making even the slightest movement on the other side of the bed.
Now that you’ve decided it’s time for a new, upgraded, less lumpy, better smelling mattress, the next step is figuring out what type of mattress is best for you. There are many different factors to consider such as your sleeping position, budget, and your body type.
There’s endless research out there on different mattress materials and what they’re good for, but we’ve simplified what you really need to know about the most popular types of mattresses available including memory foam, innerspring, latex, and hybrid mattresses.
Read more: Types of mattresses
Foam and memory foam mattresses make up the majority of online mattresses available, which isn’t surprising because memory foam mattresses are known to be one of the more comfortable mattress types.
These are typically a medium on the firmness scale and tend to be better for people with back pain as the layers of memory foam help with lumbar support, comfort in the hips and shoulders and body contouring. It’s also great for motion transfer (if your partner moves around a lot, you won’t feel it).
Learn More: What are Memory Foam Mattresses?
A memory foam mattress will be more contouring, meaning it will hug your body more than other mattresses will and won’t provide as much bounce or freedom of movement. So if you don’t typically move around a lot throughout the night, memory foam might be a good option for you. It’s also worth noting that many of the “foam” mattresses you see today are not purely memory foam but a foam blend made with other materials.
Because of the hug that memory foam provides, this mattress type has been known to sleep hot. However, Helen Sullivan, spokesperson for CertiPUR-US, advises that this issue has largely been alleviated with new foam technology:
“When these foams first became popular, some said they were warmer to sleep on. However, technological advances in foam production have largely eliminated these problems by using different foam formulations, and in some cases, special cool foams, cooling gel foam, etc.”
If you’re shopping for a foam mattress, you’ll want to pay close attention to the particular layers of foam. Look for mattresses that use CertiPUR-US® certified polyurethane foams. This means that the foam is made without formaldehyde, PBDEs, TDCPP or TCEP (“Tris’) flame retardants, ozone depleters, and other harmful chemicals. It also means there is low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) emission for indoor air quality. Essentially, CertiPUR-US® certified foams are better for you and the environment.
You can find brands that offer CertiPUR-US® certified foams here.
When you think of traditional mattresses, innerspring, or coil, is probably what comes to mind. This is one of the most widely used types of mattresses and is made with at least one layer of spring metal coils. Innerspring mattresses have great bounce, strong edge support, and are usually pretty good about keeping you cool.
Learn More: What are Innerspring Mattresses?
Because of the metal coils inside, these types of beds are heavy and may ship full-size (if that’s a factor that will impact your decision). If you’re looking for something that can contour your body well, then an innerspring mattress is probably not for you.
Since there’s a decent amount of empty space in these mattresses, you won’t get as much support in your shoulders and hips as you would with other types of mattresses, but you will have more freedom of movement, which is beneficial if you tend to move around a lot at night.
Russell Whatcott, Director of Innovation at Purple explains it like this:
“The standard springs [in an innerspring mattress] have what is called a spring constant. This means that the harder you push against a spring the harder it pushes back against you. The difficulty with a spring constant is that it can be difficult to get the pressure relief that many people crave while also getting the support (like in the lower back) that most of us need. Usually, you have to make a bit of a compromise in order to get the rest you need.”
Latex mattresses are great for people who want many of the benefits of a foam mattress but don’t want to feel as hugged or “contoured.” These mattresses tend to have great cooling properties, bounce and are still responsive – meaning it will adjust to your body as you move around.
Ron Rudzin, CEO of Saatva, says, “Latex is great because it has the resilience of a spring mattress, but locks you in like memory foam.” As we mentioned earlier, latex mattresses also tend to have the longest lifespan of all mattress types.
The downsides? Latex mattresses tend to be more expensive. They are also very dense, meaning they’re going to be on the heavier side. Depending on the type of latex you get, you may notice some of that synthetic, chemically smell for the first few days.
Learn More: Dunlop vs. Talalay Latex: What’s the Difference?
But if you opt for a natural latex mattress, you won’t need to worry about that. These mattresses will come at a higher price tag, but you really are getting the best of the best when it comes to mattresses.
A hybrid mattress usually refers to a mattress that’s made with a combination of memory foam and springs, but it can include other materials and combinations as well (like latex and memory foam).
Hybrids tend to offer a good balance of support and pressure relief while providing a cooler sleeping surface that pure memory foam. Motion transfer will also be better on a hybrid than innerspring alone with the help of more motion-absorbing layers.
Learn More: What are Hybrid Mattresses?
If you and your significant other want different things in a mattress, then a hybrid might be the best option for you. However, getting the best of both worlds can sometimes mean a higher price point. Hybrid mattresses can also be extremely heavy, making transporting and handling challenging in some cases.
Adam Tishman, co-founder of Helix Sleep, specializes in custom hybrid mattresses. He says:
“A hybrid mattress offers the best of both worlds. You get the bounce and cradling effect of springs balanced with the contouring and cushioning of foam. Traditional all innerspring beds can feel stiff and don’t isolate motion well, while all memory foam beds sleep extremely hot and can feel too dense. It’s all about the right balance!”
Mattress Types Comparison Guides
Mattress Types FAQs
Other Bed Types
If you’ve done any research on mattresses already, you’ve probably noticed that the mattress industry has its very own lingo – with words like “responsiveness” and “motion transfer.” While they might seem like “fluff” words, they’re actually important factors to consider when choosing a mattress that’s going to best meet your needs.
We’ll give you a breakdown of these key mattress features – in plain old English – to help you understand why these are so critical when finding the best mattress. The main factors to look out for when buying a mattress are:
It’s important to note that sometimes you won’t be able to realize how well a mattress performs on these factors until you try it out for a few nights. So if you’re not sure what mattress is best for you, make sure to invest in a mattress with a risk-free trial period.
You can learn more about each of these features and how we score them while we are testing a mattress’s performance in Our Review Process article.
Quick Definition: How well the mattress keeps your spine in its natural alignment.
When you compare mattresses, you want to look for something that will support your body so that your spine can remain in its natural position. A healthy spine position allows your muscles to rest, meaning you’ll wake up feeling more refreshed in the morning.
If you’re a side sleeper, the line from your tailbone to your neck should be straight. If you’re a back sleeper, your spine should retain its natural curve when you’re lying down on a mattress that provides good support. Stomach sleepers will have a bit more trouble maintaining the natural curve just by nature of the position.
As a rule of thumb, a good mattress is one that takes the shape of your spine, while simultaneously supporting your weight so your back is aligned properly, according to Vik Singh, founder of Spine & Vigor.
Quick Definition: How well the mattress relieves pressure, (particularly on the hips, shoulders and thighs) and provides even body weight distribution.
Your body will be best supported by a mattress that evenly distributes your body weight so the heavier parts of your body, like your hips and shoulders, don’t sink in too deeply. If they do, your mattress could be causing strain on your pressure points.
You’ll want to look for a mattress that pushes back when you apply pressure (but not too much). Different mattresses will offer better pressure relief for different body types – so if you’re lighter weight, you won’t need as much pushback, but if you’re a heavier weight, you’ll want to make sure the mattress is proving proper support and you’re not sinking in too much.
Quick Definition: How well the mattress responds to your movement and adjusts to your body position. This is especially important for combination sleepers or those who change positions throughout the night.
Responsiveness just means how well a mattress reacts and adjusts to your body’s movements while you sleep. We all move while we sleep, but this is especially important for people who are restless sleepers or tend to change positions often throughout the night.
Learn More: What Does Responsiveness in a Mattress Mean?
Quick Definition: How well the mattress isolates movement and absorbs motion. Motion transfer is important for couples who don’t want to be disturbed by their partner moving around or getting up in the middle of the night.
Motion transfer refers to how well a mattress absorbs movement. Many people overlook this factor when shopping for a mattress online, but it is an important capability to look for in order to have a good night’s sleep.
For example, if your sleeping partner is tossing, turning or getting up throughout the night and you’d rather not be bothered by it, you’ll want to find a good mattress that isolates motion well.
This also helps if your pets share a bed with you. Memory foam and foam blend mattresses tend to be best for motion transfer.
Quick Definition: How stiff or contouring a mattress feels.
Firmness just means how firm or soft a mattress feels. While all humans are different, the type of sleeper you are usually helps dictate the level of mattress firmness you should look for to make your ideal comfort level.
Firmness is measured on a scale from 1-10 with 10 being the firmest. (But honestly, unless you find comfort in sleeping on a pile of cotton balls or wood floor, we wouldn’t recommend a 1 or 10 – that’s extreme).
Resources on Mattress Firmness
Quick Definition: How well the mattress promotes airflow and breathability, factoring in heat retention and any substantive cooling properties/features.
While you’re sleeping, you want to make sure your mattress is helping to transfer heat away from your body, not keeping it trapped within its layers. (No one wants to wake up in a pile of sweat.)
Mattresses that offer a cool sleeping surface include: breathable, or aerated, layers that promote airflow, materials that help wick heat away (like wool covers), air channels, or materials designed specifically to react to your body’s temperature, like Celliant.
Quick Definition: Quality and durability of materials, structural support, and expected lifespan of the mattress.
When looking for your ideal mattress, you want quality, premium materials that will last (preferably without tons of nasty chemicals). The strength of the material is important – you don’t want sagging or lumps and want your mattress to maintain its elasticity and support for years to come.
Quick Definition: How much edge support the mattress provides, accounting for functional use of the end of the mattress and how comfortable it is to sleep on the edge of the bed.
Edge support is what prevents you from rolling off the mattress in the middle of the night. Innerspring mattresses usually have a separate support layer around the edges that help keep you on it, while foam mattresses typically don’t have a separate edge layer. However, it’s also harder to “roll off” a foam mattress.
This factor is important if you’re a particularly restless sleeper (or have a history of falling off beds…), or if you use the end of your bed to put your socks and shoes on in the morning.
Learn More: What is Edge Support in a Mattress?
Even if a thousand people love a mattress, it doesn’t mean you will too. Everyone’s body is different, therefore you’re going to respond to your mattress differently. Before you buy your mattress, make sure you pay attention to the trial period you have, what’s covered under your mattress warranty, and the return policy. Most of our favorite mattresses come with a very generous trial period, warranty policy and hassle-free returns.
You should also try to give your mattress at least 30 days to “break it in” and see if it’s right for you before you kick it to the curb. (Although we don’t recommend actually kicking it to the curb if you want a refund.) For reference, most online mattress companies offer a trial period of 100 nights or more.
Quick Definition: How the mattress is delivered to your door.
Most of our favorite mattresses ship free and fast, but you should also pay attention to how it ships. If you live in a small or walk-up apartment, then mattresses that ship condensed in a box might be more convenient than mattresses that ship full size.
We know it can be hard to picture something as big as a mattress being shipped in a box that’s a fraction of the size, but it really is possible. Here’s proof!
If you can’t visualize lugging a full-size mattress up a flight of stairs going smoothly, it probably won’t go smoothly. There are also some companies who will come take your old mattress for a small fee (~$40) and set up your new mattress for you.
It’s important to take your sleeping position into consideration when choosing a new mattress so you can find a bed that is well-suited to meet your particular needs.
Side sleepers should look for a medium to medium-firm mattress that strikes a balance between contouring comfort and base support. Memory foam or foam blend mattresses tend to be ideal for side sleepers. These beds do a good job of evenly distributing body weight across the mattress to avoid pain in the pressure points of the shoulders and hips.
Stomach sleepers should sleep on a firm mattress that can support proper body alignment and avoid sinkage. Memory foam mattresses, hybrid mattresses, latex mattresses, or innersprings with a memory foam comfort layer on top work well for stomach sleepers.
Back sleeping is the best sleeping position for you so long as your mattress also supports proper spine alignment. People who sleep on their back need a mattress that balances comfort and support to hug your body in all the right places but provide pushback where needed.
Combination sleepers who move around between positions in the middle of the night will want a mattress that’s firm enough that you don’t sink in and get stuck, but not so firm that you can’t get comfortable when you rotate. Plus, if you sleep with a partner, motion isolation is a key factor so all your rolling around won’t disturb your partner’s sleep.
The best mattress size for you can be determined by considering two important factors: who will be sleeping on it and where will it go?
While this certainly has to do with the size of the people who will be sleeping on it, it also has to do with personal preference.
|Size||Who It’s Good For|
|Twin||Children, teens, single sleepers|
|Twin XL||Children, teens, single sleepers, college students|
|Full||Children, teens, single sleepers, college students|
|King||Couples, pet owners, parents|
|California King||Couples, pet owners, parents, taller people|
If you’re single or shopping for children/teens then a twin size mattress or full size mattress will probably be suitable. The most common size for couples is a queen size mattress because it fits well into most bedrooms and is large enough to give both people the space they need to sleep without disturbing each other. Sheets and other accessories are also cheaper and more available for queen beds than larger sizes.
King size mattresses have crept up in the popularity polls recently because they essentially offer couples as much space in bed with their partner as if they were alone in a twin. If you’re a restless sleeper who needs lots of room, then a king mattress is the way to go. It’s also a popular choice among couples with pets or children who sneak into bed every now and then.
For taller or larger folks, California king mattresses might seem attractive. Buyers of both king sizes should be aware of increased costs for the bed itself and accessories, and more challenging set-up due to the size and weight of the mattress.
Here are the dimensions* for standard bed sizes so you know what to expect:
|Twin||38” x 75”|
|Twin XL||38” x 80”|
|Full||54” x 75”|
|Queen||60” x 80”|
|King||76” x 80”|
|California King||72” x 84”|
*Note: mattresses differ in their height, which is why we are only providing width and length as standard dimensions.
A new mattress can be as inexpensive as a few hundred dollars or as expensive as a couple thousand dollars.
While we’re focusing on high-quality mattresses in this article (that are also affordable) we feel like we need to warn you about prices that are too low and too high. If you find a mattress under $500 (for a queen), it typically means they’re cutting corners or using cheaper materials. Which means you’ll likely end up getting low quality sleep.
This doesn’t mean you can’t find a quality mattress under $500 – in fact, we have! Check out our top picks for the best mattresses under $500.
Many of the online-only brands that cut out the middleman fees can offer a great quality mattress for under $1,000 for a queen size mattress. Certainly, there are mattresses that are more expensive than that, but you’re likely paying for bells and whistles. If that’s what you’re into, we’ve rounded those up too in our best luxury mattress guide.
A mattress can feel like a big investment, but you can also think about price this way: If you buy a $1,000 mattress, only sleep on it for 300 days out of the year, and own it for 7 years, you’re essentially paying $0.48 a day to get a great night’s sleep. (Your latte costs 10x more than that.)
When you’re ready to buy a mattress, you have a lot of places you can go. You can buy a mattress from big box retailers, department stores, furniture stores, mattress specialty stores, and even online from the comfort of your home. We’ll give you the pros and cons of each option so you decide what works best for you.
Need to buy your groceries and your mattress all in one trip? Big box stores like Costco and Ikea make that possible. When you shop with these large retailers, you’ll typically see low prices, but you don’t have the benefit of being able to try all the mattresses (usually only a few are on display if any at all). Plus, you have to be a member of some of these stores to even get in the doors.
Department stores like Sears and Macy’s offer mattresses in stores. While you have the benefit of being able to try out the mattresses and speak with salespeople, the prices are typically high and the salespeople are often not very knowledgeable about mattresses if you need help making a selection.
A mattress is a piece of furniture, after all. At furniture stores, you get the convenience of shopping for multiple pieces of furniture at once and may even be able to score a bundle deal. But the mattress selection is typically smaller and the salespeople often don’t know much about mattresses.
If you’re looking for an expert, a mattress specialty store is where you’ll find one. But because you’re dealing with the middleman, you’re going to end up paying more for your mattress. Get your negotiation skills ready if you’re going to one of these stores. You may be able to score a price match guarantee.
Shopping online is the most convenient way to browse every option available, but it can seem intimidating to buy a mattress that you can’t physically see and touch first. Some brands have a few retail locations or have partnered with larger retailers like Target to distribute their products, so sometimes you actually can see the mattresses.
The largest benefits from online shopping are the money you save and the ease of shopping. You can even buy a mattress on Amazon while you stock up on your household goods.
One question you might be asking yourself is: “Can I really buy a mattress online without trying it out first?” Fair question. But then consider this: You can’t really tell if a mattress is right for you without testing it out for a while. We’re talking like 30 days.
So while you can feel a mattress and wiggle around on it for a few minutes in a mattress store, you’re not really getting the full experience anyway.
Here are some other reasons why buying a mattress online might benefit you:
Buying a new mattress is a big investment, and the best time to buy is obviously when the prices are discounted the most. Luckily, those times come at fairly predictable and frequent times throughout the year for many mattress brands and retail stores.
While not every company will always participate in these major sales, there’s a good chance you can find a great mattress deal around these holidays:
Keep in mind that most mattress sales start up to a week before the holiday and can extend up to a week after the holiday.
You can also expect to save on mattresses around different company events, like grand opening sales, liquidation sales, moving sales and anniversary sales. These aren’t as predictable so it’s something to keep an eye out for.
If you’re in the market for a new mattress, you might want to sign up for a few company newsletters to get alerts about sales and discounts. You can always unsubscribe later!
Hint: We always consolidate the best mattress sales for our readers on our coupons page.
Now that you’ve learned all that factors that should influence your mattress buying decision, we’ll simplify all that information down to the key questions you need to ask while shopping:
There’s a ton of misinformation out in the world about mattresses, and we’re here to debunk those myths. Here are a few common myths about mattresses and the truth behind them.
Myth: You can’t buy a mattress without lying on it first.
The largest difference people point out between buying a mattress online vs. in-stores is that fact that you can’t lie on it first to test it out. In reality most (if not all) online mattress retailers offer a generous risk-free trial period.
If you decide the mattress isn’t right for you in that time window, you can typically return it for a full refund. Lying on a mattress for 10 minutes in a store won’t show you how well you can really sleep on the mattress anyways since it can take up to 30 days to fully break in a mattress.
Myth: The best mattress should accommodate all types of sleepers.
Everyone has individual preferences and needs. It would be impossible for one mattress to be a universal bed to appeal to all types of sleepers. The best mattress is the one that’s best suited to your individual needs.
Myth: Memory foam sleeps hot.
Advanced memory foam is created to be more breathable to allow for better dispersion of body heat. Foams that use gel or copper have especially great cooling properties.
Myth: The more expensive the mattress, the better quality it is.
Be careful in your assumptions that a high cost means higher quality. Often retailers mark up prices to account for the middleman. Shopping online can save you money, and you don’t always have to choose the most expensive bed.
Myth: All mattresses require a box spring.
There are many different types of mattress foundations available besides just a box spring. In fact, some mattresses are even suitable to be placed on the floor. The brand you’re shopping with should give you recommendations on how to find the best foundation to match your bed.
Mattress Shopping Tips and FAQs
Mattress Materials FAQs
Mattress Care and Maintenance
Other Mattress Guides