So you’re in the market for a new mattress. You think you’ve narrowed down your options from the plethora of choices out there. But are you suffering from analysis paralysis at the last hurdle? Not quite sure which of your shortlist is the one? I’ve devised a handy list of 10 things I think are critical to consider to help you compare mattresses and come ot the right decision for you, and your needs.
When you’re going to compare mattresses, there are two areas you need to be thinking about. These are:
- You and what you need from the mattress
- The mattress, the company, and what they are bringing to the table
I’ve split my 10 critical considerations across these two areas to help make your decision really easy.
Compare Mattresses: All About You
1. What position do you sleep in?
Do you sleep on your back? Your side? Stomach? A combination? How you answer this question can change what you need from a mattress, and could instantly rule in or out a mattress you might have been considering.
The different sleeping positions we can sleep in put pressure on mattresses in different ways, and it’s important for your comfort that you find a mattress that is going to support you adequately.
I’ve written more in-depth articles about the best mattresses for each sleeping position (and why), have a read through of the ones relevant to you if you think sleeping position is going to sway your final mattress choice:
2. Do you sleep hot?
Do you feel like your body traps a lot of heat at night, or perhaps you live in a really hot climate? Maybe you’re a stomach sleeper, which as you will have read in my article linked above, means you’re more likely to get hot as you sleep.
If you’ve answered yes to any of those questions, the mattress that does the best job of drawing heat away from your body is going to be your winner out of the ones you have shortlisted.
If you’re looking at memory foam mattresses, the ones that are best at keeping you comfortable through the night will have technology such as gel particles infused into the foam, breathable holes in the foam, and convoluted layers to allow airflow.
Latex is a material that is naturally good at dispersing body heat, so that can be a great choice for you.
Hybrid mattresses can have the edge here for you, as the coil support system allows for good airflow around the base of the mattress. I think one of the best hybrid mattresses is the Avocado mattress, which has latex as the comfort layer. I’ve written an in-depth review of it which you can check out here.
3. What’s your body weight?
Your body weight should be a critical deciding factor when choosing a mattress: some mattresses are great for heavier people and terrible for lighter people, and vice versa.
In general, if you weigh over around 230lb, you’ll be wanting a firmer mattress to ensure you’re getting adequate support. If you’ve got a mattress rated 6 out of 10 or below on the mattress firmness scale on your comparison list, you’ll probably want to scrub it off now.
Conversely, you’re a lighter person, you’ll need a softer mattress to ensure you can actually get enough pressure relief from the mattress. If you choose one that is too firm, you can feel like you’re sleeping on a plank of wood.
4. What sort of feel do you want?
How the bed feels can be interpreted in three different ways:
- Do you want/need a firmer or softer mattress? A lot of mattresses out there sit at around a 7 out of 10 on the mattress firmness scale, which is designed to please a range of people. There are some mattresses out there that are rated as soft as 2 and some that are as firm as 9, so make sure the mattresses on your shortlist are the right firmness for you.
- Do you want to feel like you’re lying “in” the mattress or “on” the mattress? Some memory foam mattresses (particularly Nectar) are designed to slowly contour around your body, which can be likened to sinking into the mattress. Other foams, and other materials such as latex, respond much more quickly to body weight, and don’t provide that “sink” feeling. It’s a very individual preference, so make sure you know how responsive the foams are in the mattresses you’re comparing.
- Do you like a mattress to feel bouncy, or do you want it to stop any movement dead? Latex is known for having some bounce, as are hybrids with their coil support systems. Memory foams pretty much have no bounce. If you’re after a memory foam mattress but want some bounce, look for a hybrid with a memory foam comfort layer. DreamCloud has the best of all the worlds, incorportating springs, foam, and latex.
5. Do you share the bed?
Whether it be a partner, a child who wiggles their way in, or a furry friend that sits on the end: if you share a bed with someone, some of these characteristics can give one mattress an edge over another:
- Edge support: if you share a bed with someone who hogs it, or if you get pushed out to the sides by your giant dog who jumps on in the morning, a mattress with good edge support will win out over one with poor edge support. Memory foam tends to lack good edge support, while hybrid mattresses tend to have the strongest.
- Motion isolation: do you share a bed with someone who gets up a lot in the night, or tosses and turns in their sleep? A mattress with good motion isolation will win out. Memory foam performs pretty well in this regard, but most hybrid or latex mattresses do an adequate job.
- Removable cover: if a sticky fingered child is going to be jumping on your mattress or if you like to drink coffee in bed, a removable cover might be a feature that is important to you. Not all mattresses have removable covers, and stains can void warranties, so it’s something to think about. However, you can always just put a mattress protector on to do the same job, or I’ve got some helpful tips for cleaning mattresses here.
If you want a mattress that has two different sides and is tailored specifically for couples, you’ll enjoy reading this article about the Helix Dual mattress.
6. What’s your budget?
Mattresses come at such a wide range of price points. Generally, the more expensive the mattress, the better the warranty and trial period you could expect from that mattress. Comparing the qualities of different priced mattresses can be like comparing apples and oranges.
That is not to say you have to put up with any old mattress just because you’re on a budget. There are some excellent budget mattresses out there. You’ll be wanting to get the most bang for your buck, so when comparing mattresses at similar price points, choose the one that has the most positive features. This could be things like:
- Thickness of the comfort layer (I recommend you look for something with 3 inches minimum)
- Materials used e.g. latex is known to be very durable
- Cooling technologies (gel infused memory foam, convoluted foam, latex, etc)
- Best warranty and trial
- Best customer reviews
If you’re in the market for a decent mattress that won’t break the bank, I’ve got a good breakdown of the 10 best hybrids on Amazon under $600 here.
Compare Mattresses: All About The Mattress
7. What is the company like to deal with?
This is something I believe is very important when you are thinking about making a major purchase – such as a mattress – online. For me, if I had two mattresses that were equal in every regard except one had better customer service, I’d choose that one every time. Why?
- A mattress is a big deal. You need to feel confident with your purchase. What if there is something you don’t like about the mattress: what is the company going to do to help you with that? Will they customize the mattress for you for free (Snuggle Pedic actually do this)? Will they send you a topper to try? Will they allow you to exchange? You need to know.
- A mattress can be a pain to return. How does the company handle returns?
- What are other customers saying about the service they have recieved from the company?
I cover customer service in my mattress reviews, and often test them out.
On Amazon, a good sign is if the company is really responsive to customer questions and reviews. Snuggle Pedic and Pure Green smash it out of the park as far as Amazon mattresses are concerned. The companies selling from their own websites tend to have pretty good service because they wouldn’t survive in this cut-throat business if they didn’t.
8. What is the trial period on the mattress?
Buying a mattress without trying it out first can be a big mental hurdle to get over when you’re buying a mattress online. Some mattresses offer only up to 30 days to try out the mattress, while others offer up to a year.
It’s true that cheaper mattresses tend to have shorter trial periods, which makes sense to me. However, if you’re looking at many of the options in the $800-$2000 price range, the trial periods can vary greatly. I would feel better purchasing a mattress with a longer trial period, so I could make absolutely sure it was a good fit for me.
Did you know that you should give a mattress around 30 days to see if it actually works for you? This might rule out some of the cheaper mattresses with the shorter trial periods. From my own experience with purchasing an Ecosa mattress (read about that here), I found it to be quite firm for the first week. We took full advantage of the 100 night sleep trial Ecosa offers, and I did get used to it, and now I find it feels perfect.
So, if you’re stuck comparing mattresses and the difference is that one has a 30 night trial and the other has a 100 night trial, go with the 100 night trial option.
9. What is the warranty of the mattress?
Mattress warranties should be pretty similar, right? Well in some regards, yes. In others, no. It pays to be aware of the fine print.
Most mattresses will have the warranty voided if you rip, stain, or somehow use the mattress incorrectly (e.g. if you don’t put it on a suitable base). There are other similarities too. The two key differences you should be looking out for when comparing mattresses are:
- Warranty period. This can vary from 1 year for a budget mattress, right through to lifetime. I’d suggest that 10 years is a standard warranty that I would be happy with.
- Indentation depth. This is how much “sag” is covered by the warranty. All mattresses will soften over time, but used on the correct base and rotated regularly, a mattress should not sag uncomfortably. If your mattress ends up sagging, companies have different limits for what they consider defective. If it came down to it, I’d choose a mattress that was covered under warranty for a shallower sag (less than 1 inch) than one that only was covered for sagging of 1 inch or greater. I’d imagine sleeping in something that sagged an inch or more would be pretty uncomfortable!
10. What are other people like you saying about the mattress?
Another thing I like to include in my mattress reviews is the opinions of people already using the mattress. I think it’s really important to represent the views of as many people as possible because how a mattress feels is so subjective it’s not that much help having the opinion from one person who has tested it.
It is extremely helpful to find people just like you (side sleeper, hot sleeper, heavier, lighter, etc, etc..) who are enjoying their mattress, or not! For example, if you’re a side sleeper and are comparing two mattresses, you’ll want to know what other side sleepers are experiencing with both of those mattresses to find out which might be the better option.
Be wary of sites that make it hard to find the negative comments people have about the mattress (they should all have some), transparency is important. SleepLikeTheDead is another reliable website where you can find consumer opinions.
Have I missed anything? Tell me in the comments what’s on your mattress comparison list, or how you decided to buy your current mattress.