The Complete Online Mattress Buying Guide
(Based on 5 years of data collected from thousands of sleepers)
If you are serious about sleep, then you need a guide that is actually based on user experience rather than just opinion. Why?
Opinions are not as accurate as experiences and in this case, we used thousands of buyer experiences to bring you the guide that will hopefully ease your mattress shopping.
Do You Need a New Mattress?
A lot of times we just know it’s time to get a new bed, but sometimes it’s not apparent at all. Loosing fat and gaining muscle, repairing cells, filtering body toxins, storing what we learned during the day, are just a few things done during sleep. If you don’t have enough deep sleep you simply cannot rejuvenate and continue properly.
What to do?
I’ve created a few simple questions you ask yourself to know if you need a new mattress.
1- Do you have energy in the morning?
If you are yawning in the morning and have low energy despite having 6-8 hours of sleep, then your mattress could be responsible.
You can get a device or a watch that tracks how many hours of deep sleep you’re getting every night. If you’re getting only very little of Deep sleep, then your mattress might need changing.
2- Do you fall asleep fast when it’s bedtime?
Comforted is what puts you to sleep quickly, so if your mattress is not comfortable and you keep tossing and turning for 20 minutes before sleep then one of the main reasons could be your mattress.
If you keep a persistent sleep schedule and eat light at night and still have problems falling asleep fast, then your mattress is almost certainly the problem.
3- Do you wake up with back or shoulder pain?
Support is how you feel when you wake up, so if your mattress doesn’t have good enough support then you’ll probably wake up with back or shoulder pain.
So many of us wake up with a slight back pain that we ignore for a long time till the pain gradually becomes unavoidable then we look for solutions. I know mattress shopping can be boring but it’s better to fix the problem early.
4- Do you have a lot of allergies? Do your allergies increase during sleep?
If your nose starts running especially bad in bed, then your mattress could be causing it.
There are two types of allergies that come from mattresses. The first is allergies to dust mites that increase as the life of the mattress increases.
Dust mites come to feed from all the dead skin and sweat that we lose during sleep so using a mattress protector can help.
The second type is allergies to the type of materials used inside the mattress. Some people get skin problems after using a new mattress for a long period of time not knowing that the mattresses is the main cause.
Getting an eco-friendly mattress can help avoid this issue.
How much should you spend on a new mattress?
There was a time when mattresses had unreasonable mark ups. That was before the bed in a box disruption that made customers way less oblivious to this industry. Now prices are so competitive most bed in a box brands can’t afford to give large discounts and so you’ll usually get what you pay for, usually! Not all bed in a box brands have fair prices, so I’ll tell you what to expect depending on your budget to make sure you get the best value.
1- Mattress Budget $600 or less (Queen size)
This is where you’ll find most poly foam and Chinese beds. Both use cheaper materials that make it possible to stay in this price range.
Poly foam is not as good as the rest of the foams like memory foam or latex but can have a really low price. Chinese beds can look very glamorous where you’ll pay something like $400 for a 12” gel mattress but the truth is they use such a low quality and low cost materials that you’ll end with a mattress that lasts less than a year or worst, cause you allergies. According to our data, most customers replacing their Chinese beds say, “it lasted less than a year” or “we had to replace it because of skin irritations”.
We don’t have a lot of data on poly foam mattresses as they are new, but their customers are much happier with them then Chinese made beds.
I recommend two options in this budget: if you have no specific needs you can get a poly foam bed. You can check if poly foam mattresses will work for you in chapter 3 where we talk more about each mattress type.
If you think poly foam will not work for you then go with a brand that offers flexible financing, so you can increase your budget.
2- Mattress Budget $600 to $1200 (Queen size)
This is where the average national spending is on a mattress and for a good reason. From our data we found that people who spent less than $600 complain about the mattress’s poor quality and those who spent more thousands are just as happy with their mattresses as the ones that spend $1000. Why?
Mattress manufacturers can build a good mattress with 4 lb memory foam density at 10” thickness that sells for $700 and gets the job done with less than noteworthy complains.
They also can build an amazing mattress with 5lb density and 12” thickness that sells for $1200 and works with almost any shopper that has a number of problems like back and shoulder pain.
To put it simply, the budget $600 to $1200 for a queen is a very reasonable budget that can get you a good mattress closer to $600 and an excellent one closer to $1200.
3- Mattress Budget more than $1200 (Queen size)
This is where you’ll probably start over spending for a mattress. Let me explain why.
Famous mattress brands start with a well-priced mattress, then they want more after a couple of years, so they build a new mattress that is supposedly much better and ask for twice the amount of money for it.
This is where you’ll probably start over spending for a mattress. Let me explain why.
People that are already happy with the old model might buy a new (supposedly better) mattress but if you look at the reviews, you’ll see that people are just as happy with both models.
Basically, after $1200 you will most likely pay for a name, not added quality.
At this budget only 100% natural latex mattresses are worth it as they are actually expensive but offer good quality.
The Right Firmness For My Sleep Position
(All Sleep Positions Included)
By far the most important thing in mattress shopping online is the firmness. If you get a bed that’s too firm or too soft for your needs then no matter what advanced alien technology they use, it simply won’t work.
Here is a visual explanation. After viewing you can skip ahead to what’s specific to you:
I Sleep on My Side:
The right firmness; - Plush to medium depending on your preference (4 to 6.5 according to our data)
Why this firmness; - Side sleepers put most of their body weight on their shoulders and hip so the best way to go is plush or maybe a little firmer depending on your personal preference or if you are sharing a bed with a back sleeper.
The good news; - Side sleeping is by far the best positions for reduced snoring. Also helps a lot when it comes to acid reflux. For pregnant women this position is very recommended for the good of both the baby and the mother.
The bad news; - Arm-numbness if you sleep on your arm (can be fixed with the right pillow). Common shoulders and hip pressure points (can be fixed with the right mattress)
The right firmness; - Medium to firm depending on your preference (5 to 7.5 according to our data)
Why this firmness; - For back sleepers the pressure is on the back area and for your back to be supported the bed must have a firmer feel than for a side sleeper. Too soft and you’ll sink in too much, too firm and you’ll have a lot of pressure on your back, both situations will cause an uncomfortable sleep.
The good news; -This sleep position is favored by both your back and your mattress. Your back is in its most natural shape and the mattress has a body that is distributed evenly on it. Also, back sleepers are the best partners as they can easily sleep with a stomach or a side sleeper for being in the middle
The bad news; - Snoring caused by the position of our tongue during back sleeping (can sometimes be fixed by adjustable bases).
The right firmness; -Medium firm to firm depending on your preference (6 to 8 according to our data)
Why this firmness; - Soft mattresses will make it hard to breath if you sleep on your stomach.
The good news; - Second best position for less snoring (side being best).
More lower back pain due to the unnatural curve of the back (can sometimes be fixed by placing a thin pillow under the stomach). A lot of stomach sleepers report hard breathing and neck problems. We recommend this position the least (has the #1 amount of reported issues in our collected data)
The right firmness; -Right in the middle of side and back sleeper to accommodate both (4.5 to 6.5 according to our data)
Why this firmness; - We found that people in this group are happiest with a medium mattress. They usually report that when they go with a soft bed, their backs hurts and when they go with a firm bed, their shoulders and hips hurt so medium is just right for this group.
The good news; -This is the happiest group because most mattresses are made for them. Both back and side positions are healthy which is a plus.
The bad news; -switching positions doesn’t make for a good partner as they keep disturbing them (can be fixed with the right mattress like memory foam but more on that in chapter 4)
The right firmness; - luxury firm works best here. (6.5 to 7.5 according to our data)
Why this firmness; -Not too firm for the back position or too soft for the stomach one.
The good news; - stomach sleeping reduces snoring while back sleeping helps with breathing.
The bad news; - switching positions doesn’t make for a good partner as they keep disturbing them (can be fixed with the right mattress like memory foam but more on that in chapter 4). Stomach sleeping is not very recommended as it may cause neck and back issues.
The right firmness; -Medium. (5.5 to 6.5 according to our data)
Why this firmness; - to be safe you should just go with a medium mattress that works well with all positions.
The good news; - hmmm.
The bad news; - Most of the times we find that people in this category actually stop switching between all positions when they find the right bed for them meaning that the often tossing and turning can be caused by your mattress so if you are in this category maybe a new mattress is in order:)
What is The Right Type of Mattress for You?
(Memory Foam, Hybrid, Poly Foam, or Latex)
The second most important thing in choosing your bed is its type. We are going to focus on the main ones which are, memory foam, hybrid, poly foam, and finally the latex.
Through the data we collected, we learned that each type has its pros and cons so depending on your needs you can go with the type that better serve you needs. Before we dive in details for each one, here is a visual summery for the four horsemen.
Memory Foam Mattresses
The Good; - Memory foam is the most popular choice for a good reason. It’s by far the number one type of mattress when it comes to comfort and pressure relief. More people report that their back, neck, or shoulder pain is gone from memory foam than all the other types of beds put together. Memory foam is very couple friendly as it is noiseless and transfers no motion between partners. Also, it lasts for a long time before it losses shape.
The Bad; -Heat retention is memory foam’s main issue. (this can be fixed by finding the right brand that offers a technology to keep their bed cool like open-cell)
Is Memory Foam Right for you? Who Is Memory Foam For?
- If you are a side sleeper as it takes the pressure away from your shoulders and hip. - If you have back, neck, or shoulders pain then absolutely consider memory foam for its pressure relieving ability. - Couples will find memory foam helpful since it has no motion transfer and makes no noise. - If you like the body contouring feel of memory foam. - If you want a mattress that will last a long time. - If you don’t want to pay thousands for a bed since memory foam is usually well priced.
How Do I Know What Memory Foam Mattress is Good? (+)
Density: Cheap mattresses use lower density foam. For example, a lot of the cheap Amazon beds use a 1.8lb density foam while a good bed uses a 4lb or 5lb density foam. This means that there is almost 3 times more foam in a good bed even if they have the same dimensions.
Process: Factories that want to make a lot of mattresses fast (thousands a day) focus only on speed. This makes for a poorly made bed. On the other hand, a good factory takes 3 days to make the bed because of the number of times it refines the materials. Longer time means less products made means more money but better quality.
Healthy materials:I think it goes without saying that healthy products are more expensive. cheap mattresses use a lot of chemicals to speed the process of building and reducing the price. Healthy mattresses use only healthy martials. Check and see if the mattress has any health certifications.
Origin: American made mattress are almost always better because they are usually made to order unlike overseas mattress that stay in the box for months before they are sold as they are brought in large quantities. A lot of overseas mattress brands also suffer from constant backordering.
Please Note:Not all the above will be mentioned by the brands so if you come across a brand that is not transparent about their quality then stay away because that usually means they have something to hide!
Common Customer Comments on Memory Foam: (+)
Good:“my back is much better now” “I love how my memory foam bed feels” “we’re really enjoying our memory foam bed” “so soft and comfortable”.
Bad:“I didn’t like the memory foam feel” “I sleep hot with memory foam” “I feel like I’m sinking in too much”
Poly Foam Mattresses
The Good; -Poly foam is the most inexpensive of the four. If you don’t have a particular need and simply need a mattress for the guest room, then this could be a good option for the price. Poly foam mattress are also known to stay cool due to the openness of pores. Poly foam transfers little motion, that and being completely noiseless makes it a good choice for couples.
The Bad; - Lack of proper comfort and support. Most complains come from side sleepers saying that the bed pushes on their pressure points.
Light people find poly foam beds to be especially bad because the foam has very little give so it feels to them like sleeping on the floor and since poly foam beds have very little contouring, making the bed soft doesn’t fix the problem. It’s also worth mentioning that these beds last the least out of the four
Is Poly Foam Right for Me? Who is poly foam for?
- If you are on a budget and have no specific needs. - If sleeping hot is your only problem and want something cooler than memory foam. - If you don’t like the memory foam feel and want a more responsive mattress. - Age group 5-16 years seemed to be satisfied with poly foam.
Common Customer Comments on Poly Foam:(+)
Good: “good for the price” “great value” “my son (or daughter) likes the bed” “no hassle getting it”.
Bad: “didn’t have enough support for me” “I woke up with back pain” “it just doesn’t have enough give”.
When Are Hybrids Mattresses Right for Me?
- If you like the traditional feel of spring mattresses. - If sleeping hot and still want quality sleep. - If you don’t like the memory foam feel and want a more responsive mattress. - If you are a couple and don’t like how memory foam feels during romance. - If you want the bounce that spring offer.
Common Customer Comments on Hybrid Mattresses:(+)
Good: “I like how bouncy it is” “I only sleep on coil beds” “I like how its half and half” “we really like our bed”
Bad: “I paid a lot for my (brand name) hybrid” “my spring mattress wore out in (1, 2, or 3) years ” “I started feeling the spring after a few years”.
The Good; - The more natural out of the four. bouncier and more responsive feel than memory foam. Latex offers a great sold support especially for back and stomach sleepers. Very few complains about latex sleeping hot, the least out of all four. Last for a very long time. Many report that their latex bed lasted over 20 years. Heavy people (250+ lb) seem to be happiest with latex because of it’s solid support.
The Bad; -The most expensive type of bed. Latex offer less pressure relief than memory foam. Latex is the heaviest foam so moving a latex bed can be challenging.
When is Latex Right for Me?
- If you like a more responsive feel and like to sleep on the mattress, not in. - If you sleep hot and still want quality sleep. - If you want to sleep on a more natural mattress. - If you are a couple and don’t like how memory foam feels during romance. - If you want the bounce that latex offers.
Is it absolutely necessary for my mattress to be natural?(+)
The short answer, NO. It’s not necessary but a nice add-on. Let me explain. If you come across a mattress that say’s eco-friendly and has the right certifications to prove it, (like sertiPUR-US Certified) then it means that this mattress contains no harmful materials that might be a health risk. From our experience the only people that had health issues because of their mattress were those who purchased used, recycled, or imported mattresses that had no certifications. You should absolutely avoid these kinds of beds but other than that just look for the sertiPUR-US Certified logo.
Common Customer Comments on Latex Mattresses:(+)
The Good; -“my last latex bed lasted 20 some years” “I love the support” “I like how it’s natural” “we really like our bed”.
Bad: “I paid a lot for my healthy natural bed” “it’s so heavy to move” “I didn’t like the feel; memory foam is better”.
What to Watch For in Mattress Brands?
(Must Have Brand Features)
By now (hopefully) you know your firmness level and the type of mattress you need. You’re probably debating between a few mattresses and can’t decide. In this case make go with the brand that you are most comfortable with. All companies look glamorous when they talk about themselves so hopefully you won’t be tricked after this.
1- Good Company Reputation:
Any company will show itself as the symbol of customer service so you’re going to have to search them outside. A simple search of “brand name mattress complains” or “brand name mattress reviews” will do the trick most of the times.
Also, if they have showrooms, check and see if their reviews are good as they have no control over those reviews. Check if they have complains on BBB.
2- Good Product Value:
There are a few tricks to knowing if the pricing of a company is fair or not.
First, how much marketing they do. Bigger companies spend millions of dollars on advertising that needs to be paid by their customers. This increases the price without adding value to customers so maybe go with a mid-size brand.
Second, where the product is sold. Amazon charges 15% commission on mattresses so if a brand can afford the Amazon fee then they are simply adding the 15% to there price. eBay and other online markets are similar. Buy from a brand that sells mainly on their website.
Third, where the product is built. Mattresses made overseas are cheaper in both quality and price. Because of how quickly and cheaply overseas mattresses are built, they are generally not worth more than $500.
Lastly, and most importantly, how good is the materials used. Naturally, all things that improve the quality also increase the price. Things like higher density foam, 12” profile instead of 10”, natural materials like cotton and latex, and so on.
3- Shipping Cost & Delay:
Most online mattress companies nowadays will do free shipping, but some still charge and they do that instead of just imbedding it in the price so in case of a return the customer will pay for at least the shipping.
As far as delay, less than 12 day shipping is acceptable and common, but watch out for imported mattresses as they can go out of stock which will push your delivery way out of the promised window. Many customers report that they cancelled their chines mattress because the company kept pushing the delivery day over and over again.
4- Warranty Details:
As far as the length of the warranty, it’s shouldn’t be less than 10 years. Anymore than that is a good thing as it shows the company is ready to stand by its product.
Watch out for the term “pro-rated warranty”. Pro-rated means that you will be paid depending on number of years you used the bed. For example if the bed with a 10 year pro-rated warranty is used for 7 years then the warranty payout will be only 30% of the original price.
Other than that, just protect your mattress from any stains or damages so the warranty is not voided and you should be fine.
5- Country of Origin:
Too many customers reported health issue from their imported mattresses, so I cannot say this enough, buy US made mattresses.
Also imported mattresses stay in their boxes for a long time before they are opened by the consumer. This causes strong odors and maybe even health issues.
Look for a US made mattress that is made to order so you know it was made recently.
6- Financing Option:
Mattresses are by no means a small purchase so paying for them over time could be a good convenience for you.
Just make sure that when financing is offered, it is at 0%APR and the term is at least 6 months. You shouldn’t pay interest
7- Sleep Trial:
Even though this is absolutely a must in a brand, I mentioned it last because almost all online brands offer a sleep trial now.
95% of returns are made within 45 days of sleep, so 100-day trial is more than enough, if a company offers more than 100 days, it’s nice but they usually want to use it for marketing purposes.