Choose your size
If you and your kids are tall, you might appreciate the extra length of twin xl and California king mattresses. If you’re sharing a bed, go for a queen, king or California king size. A queen mattress doesn’t take up much more floor space than a full mattress, yet the extra six inches of width make a huge difference in comfort when two people share a bed.
Do you prefer to sleep on a soft, super-soft or firm mattress? Even if two different mattresses have the same innerspring coil system, they’ll feel totally different to you because of the layers of padding above the coils.
Your mattress should be both supportive and comfortable. It should contour to your body, keeping your neck and spine in neutral alignment.
Firm mattresses have thinner, stiffer layers of foam on the top and are ideal for people who sleep on their stomachs. Cushion firm and plush mattresses, which have extra layers of soft padding, are better for those who sleep on their back or side or change positions during the night.
If you want an even softer mattress, add a topper or lofty mattress pad. Some are even heated, a pampering treat on chilly winter nights.
Individually wrapped innerspring coils give support and help eliminate pressure points that can cause tossing and turning. For an everyday mattress, look for a coil count above 420. For a guest room that’s rarely used, a 420 coil-count might be sufficient.
But you can’t judge only by coil count, since the design of the coil system and the amount and gauge of the steel also are important. A low gauge means the coil is thicker, so it might have fewer coils than a mattress with a higher gauge and thinner coils.
Are you a light sleeper? If you don’t want to feel the mattress shift when your partner gets in and out of bed, look for a mattress with a motion-transfer feature.
Do you toss and turn a lot, or sleep with someone who does? A mattress with edge support will help keep you from rolling out of bed.
You know that tag that says it can’t be removed under penalty of law? If you cut it off, the police won’t show up, but it very well could void your mattress warranty. Similar to a major appliance serial number, that tag is the proof of purchase most manufacturers require for a warranty claim.
Stains could also void your warranty, so cover your new mattress with a mattress protector as soon as you get it home before adding sheets.
Lack of proper support is another reason manufacturers sometimes deny warranty claims. Your best bet is to buy both the mattress and matching box spring at the same time. They are designed to work together. Use a sturdy metal bed frame with a center support bar.
A box spring isn’t necessary if you have a platform bed, where your mattress rests on a solid surface.
If you’re buying a mattress online, buy from a well-established manufacturer such as Sealy, Serta or Stearns & Foster. Sealy and Stearns & Foster have been making mattresses since the 1800s, while Serta has been helping people get their beauty sleep for more than 80 years. Read all the product features, and compare your favorites.
If you’re shopping in store, don’t be shy about lying down on the mattress. Get your partner to lie down with you, facing opposite directions, to see if shifting positions disturbs the other person.
And if you’ve narrowed it down to two choices of mattresses, lie down on the first for five minutes and then the second for five minutes to see which feels most comfortable.
Then rest easy, knowing you’ve done all your homework and found the best mattress for you.