Everyone needs a good night's sleep! Here is some information to help you before buying a mattress.

Buying a mattress can be rather confusing and overwhelming when shopping and comparing one mattress to another. We put this article together In order to help you make a more informed decision on purchasing a bed. The authors have a combined total of more than 30 years of experience selling bedding, with sales near 1.2 million each year.

Over our life span we have more than 115 years' experience sleeping on beds. :) We want to pass along some information on what to look for in buying a mattress so that you have a more pleasant shopping experience. Remember the reason you want to buy a new mattress set is to get a better night's sleep! Getting a better night's sleep will give you more energy the next day.

When is it time to buy a mattress? If you aren't getting a great night's sleep, it could be due to an old mattress that has provided as many years of sleeping as it can. In that case, it ts old and worn out! A lot of time, people realize they need a new mattress when they go on vacation and sleep better at a hotel or a friend's house than they do in their own bed.

Consider buying a mattress and box springs set if:

  • the mattress is uneven, irregular, sagging, or lumpy;
  • the mattress is 10-12 years old you awaken every morning with body aches, stiff, or feeling unrested;
  • you feel coils poking at you or you see them protruding from the bed;
  • you sleep better when you stay in a motel;
  • you find yourself sleeping on the couch or recliner because it's more comfortable;
  • the mattress makes noises or sways when you lie down;
  • you feel your partner moving or getting in and out of bed;
  • you and your sleeping partner keep rolling in the "hole" in the middle;
  • the mattress has signs of wear, is torn, has stains, or smells like mold or mildew.
Keep in mind that the upholstery on the bed will be covered with mattress pads, sheets and a comforter so no one will ever see if it has flowers or any other design in the fabric. Therefore, the decision on buying your next mattress should be on comfort level not on looks.

Stay away from department stores - they are always higher and sometimes the name-brand companies make mattresses to fit the store's specifications. You might not be getting the mattress you think you are. Look for a mattress warehouse or factory. If you have a factory in your area, it may be worth your while to visit them to see how they manufacture their bedding.

Sale ads are in the newspaper every week but don't be fooled into thinking they are advertising a true reduction in price. If you watch the ads, you will find that they often advertise the same beds and the same prices over and over. Sometimes stores will call their weekly sale a truckload sale, end-of-month sale, Memorial Day sale, etc.; in other words, they use a lot of different excuses to get you to buy. Don't assume that a higher price means a better mattress. Some manufacturers will make the same bed but use a different upholstery and name; the only difference is in the price, which can sometimes be several-hundred dollars more.

When shopping for a mattress, be sure to wear comfortable clothes. Also, wear shoes that you can take off and put back on easily! Test the mattress by lying down full-length out on the bed. Try it out in the various sleeping positions you use and spend quite a bit of time on it to see how it really feels.

Don't let uneasy feelings get in your way when you're out testing mattresses; make yourself at home! The sales person is there to assist you and they are used to talking to people as they lie on beds. Don't make the mistake of feeling bad about testing the beds. It is better to test them and find the one that is best suited for you. Buying the wrong bed is a problem that you will have to live with for a long time.

Note the gauge of the wire as well as the coil count; the lower the number, the heavier the wire.

Always buy box springs at the same time you buy a mattress; they are made to be a set. If you put a new mattress on an old box spring you will ultimately end up having the same problem with the new mattress as you had with the one you're replacing. Your new mattress will take the shape of the bad box springs. There's also the chance you will lose whatever warranty comes with the mattress if you put it on an old box spring.

Use a heavy-duty bed frame with good center support...the more legs on the frame the better the support. Mattresses are now very heavy because of all the extra padding that makes them so plush.

As a general rule, the softer the mattress the more likely it is that you will see body impressions, with latex toppers being the exception. The more layers of soft foam, the more they will compress and leave impressions. Also, the heavier the people are that will be sleeping on the bed, the greater the impressions will be. Remember you can always buy foam toppers to make the bed softer.

We are all creatures of habit. We pretty much sleep in the same place every night. It's usually not the steel coils that cause the body impression, it's the padding compressing and packing over time.

Make sure your mattress has a non-prorated warranty of 10 years or more.
Take your time and shop around, but remember to consider delivery prices and whether or not the store will remove your old mattress for you. At one time, you could drop your old mattress off at the local Goodwill store but now state laws prohibit the reselling of used bedding.

Buy a mattress not by how many coils it has but by the gauge of the wire. The higher the number the thinner the wire, 12-3/4 being the thickest that you will find in a mattress and lasts longer than coils made with 14-gauge wire. Leggett & Platt is the largest manufacturer of bed springs; they manufacture springs for Sealy Posturepedic, Stearns and Foster, Simmons, and Serta, as well as many other popular names you may be familiar with.

Buy a mattress that is padded on both sides, as this will allow you to flip it over. Rotation is most helpful in preventing body impressions from forming so quickly. When flipping your mattress, flip it once, and when its time to flip it again, rotate it so that you end up sleeping on all eight corners. This will help it wear more even and will extend the life of the mattress.

For the bed to be right for you, it should yield just enough for you to sink slightly but not so much you sink into the bed. LIE DOWN on the mattress, preferably with your sleeping partner, before you buy. Sitting on the edge of a bed will not give you an idea of how well you will sleep on it.

A mattress should have an innerspring of at least 6 inches. Don't buy the least expensive set when you're buying a mattress. A good mattress should last you 12 to possibly 14 years or more, and will end up costing only pennies a night even at the high-end prices. Shop smart but don't scrimp.

Ask about the number of springs/coils in the mattress. The higher the number of springs/coils, the better the mattress will conform to your body, while the lower the coil count the firmer it will be. A low number of springs/coils usually means heavier wire and will last longer. Don't be impressed when they explain that some manufacturers use different coils in the bed. The beds should have uniform coils and not use inferior coils on the ends of the bed.

Feel how the mattress supports your body and check for comfort. You should feel the mattress supporting the small of you back, your hips, and your shoulders. Remeber to purchase new pillows at the same time, it will make a difference in how you sleep.

Familiarize yourself with the following terms and phrases before you shop!

Foundation: Absorbs the shock of daily wear and provides support and durability. Mattresses are heavy; make sure that the foundation actually has springs and not just a wooden platform.
Core: Provides support for the body and can be spring, air, foam or water.
Upholstery: Adds comfort and cushioning. Don't be confused with terms like silk, special wools and cashmere. The amount of these exotic-sounding materials only adds to the price of the set. Check the percentage on the law label; it is required to be attached to the set.
Box Spring: This acts as a shock absorber; it supports and cushions the mattress.
Split Box Spring: Consider using a split (two pieces) box spring for convenience/clearance on queen and full sets. Two pieces are standard on all king sets.
Low-Profile Box Spring: Standard box springs are 8 inches; low-profile are 5 inches. Consider them if you want to reduce the total height of your bed. Some manufacturers can even build 10" box springs if you want additional height.
Wooden Slats: Generally not considered to be suitable replacements for a good center support.
Innerspring: The inner support of the mattress composed of hundreds of wire coils held together by wire or cloth. Offset coils are better than bonnell coils. All bedding springs are made of tempered steel, which helps the bed last longer.
Wire Gauge: Thickness of the wire coils. The thicker the wire, the less flexible and longer lasting the coils will be.
Comfort Level: This can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and from person to person, with plush being soft and fluffy, firm being standard cushioning, and pillow top being a mattress with extra layers of cushioning.
Non-Prorated Warranty: A manufacturer's warranty against defects. Usually covers items such as springs and border rods breaking, handles pulling loose, and stitching that comes loose. It will not cover body impressions unless they are deeper than 1 inch. Make sure you understand the warranty and make sure it is in writing; a salesman's promise won't help you fix a problem later.
Prorated Warranty: This type of warranty offers less coverage based on the number of years in the warranty.
Fire Retardant: All bedding must meet fire safety standards as set out by the Sleep Products Safety Council, most manufacturers comply with these standards.

What size mattress should you buy? The size of the mattress is as important as the softness or firmness of the mattress. Twin or single mattresses measure 38" x 75" and will sleep children or one small-to-midsize adult 125-150 lbs. Full or double size mattresses measure 53" x 75", and will sleep two children or two adults--the adults will be against each other all night with very little room to move or turn over. A queen will give you more width and length; they measure 60" x 80" and will give you enough space that you can turn or move without bumping your partner. Queen beds are popular for master bedrooms as well as in guest rooms. King beds measure 76" x 80"; they will give you enough space to be able to move and spread out and not disturb your partner. If your master bedroom has the space a king bed would be recommended; it will give you a better night's sleep.

Odd sizes include the following sizes. A "twin extra long", measures 38" x 80". Two of these side by side will make a king size bed, which is great if one partner wants a real soft feel and the other wants very firm. "Super singles" are 46" x 82". A "full extra long" measures 53" x 80" and will work great for children that are tall but when you don't have a room big enough to accommodate a queen size bed. A "California queen" or "Olympic queen" are 64" x 80". It is important to note that when buying a mattress for an antique bed to have the measurements to make sure that you are able to purchase both a mattress and box springs. Antique beds often require a mattress which measures 48" x 75" or may even require a "short" which will measure 48" x 72".

The thickness of the mattress is also important to know, as many mattresses today are now more than 15" thick and require deep-pocket sheets to provide the most proper fit.

Keep in mind that when you are in a store to buy and a bed, it will not look as big in the showroom as it will once it is in your bedroom. Measure the total height of the bed that you are considering buying (from the floor to the top of the mattress and then go home and measure the old set that you are accustomed to sleeping on for comparison. You want to be sure that bed skirts and duvet covers will fit the bedding.

Be wary of "mattress selling tactics"! Don’t be pressured into buying the bed "right now, today, or you will never get this good of a deal ever again". Most sales people are allowed to make two or three discounts on bedding but they prefer not to because it will cut into their commission. You may find yourself ready to walk out the door and suddenly the salesperson remembers the manager asked him/her to meet their quota and offers to reduce the price. Take your time and shop around before deciding which mattress is right for you, and always get price quotes in writing.

Once you have bought your new mattress, it is important to care for it properly. Follow these tips:

  • Rotate your new mattress according to manufacturer recommendations. Often times, this requires rotating every few months. Also rotate your box springs.
  • Buy and use a good mattress pad. You will be able to wash it and it will help protect the upholstery on the mattress. It will also help prevent dust mites.
  • Mattresses are not designed to be trampolines! Never allow children to jump on beds.
  • Vacuum the mattress regularly.
  • Clean with soap and water to remove most stains. Use very little water; a damp, clean washcloth works best. Use a white washcloth so you don't stain the mattress.
Words of Advice from Mom: "Always make sure that you have comfortable shoes and a comfortable bed, you will be on one or the other most of the day." Thanks Mom!


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