How To Buy A Mattress Online
Every one of us has unique requirements to get our best sleep, including finding the right mattress. And while it’s important to properly research firmness, comfort and support before purchasing a new mattress, it can be overwhelming, due to all the different offerings, varying jargon and technical specs. Some companies intentionally use different names for similar products, to make it even more challenging to compare prices.
When should you get a new mattress? Typically, mattresses with over seven years of consistent wear may start to show visible signs of overuse, like sinking, tears, broken springs, stains, holes or other damage. If you’re waking up with stiffness, numbness, aches or pains — it might be time to get a new mattress.
The two main things to consider once you’ve decided to purchase a new mattress are support and comfort. Let’s cover the different types of mattresses, sizing and how to choose the right mattress when you’re shopping online.
Before we get too in-depth about the differences between mattress types, you’ll need to decide what size mattress you need. The size of mattress you get depends on your space and your personal preferences. There are six standard mattress sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Double, Queen, King and California King.
|39” x 74”
|39” x 80”
|54” x 74”
|60” x 80”
|76” x 80”
|72” x 84”
Mattress typesNow that you’ve decided to buy a new mattress, there are several types of mattress materials for you to choose from: memory foam, latex foam, coil and hybrid. Due to differences in quality and construction, each type of mattress has potential benefits and drawbacks. From two-layer foam mattresses to designs with multiple layers of foams and springs, mattresses come in a wide array of configurations. Some are two-sided (can be flipped over) and some are not.
Foam mattresses allow people to get a lot of good support and pressure relief without the “bouncy” feeling of a coil system. All-foam mattresses are usually made with layers of memory foam, polyfoam and/or latex over a high-density polyfoam base.
When shopping online for a mattress, it’s important to note that foam mattresses are easy to ship because they can be compressed and expand to their original form when unpacked. Most memory foam mattresses are rolled, wrapped in plastic and then shipped inside a box. Once the plastic is cut away, the mattress will fully expand within minutes.
Memory foam is made up of a material called viscoelastic polyurethane foam that naturally conforms to weight. It is actually a blend of polyurethane foam that was developed by a NASA contract in the 1970s to create airplane cushions! This conforming ability of foam may contribute to better spinal alignment, which can be great for those with back pain issues.
Pay close attention to foam density. Foam density is measured in pounds per cubic foot; most mattresses are usually about two to five pounds per cubic foot. The higher the density of the base layer, the more support the mattress may provide overall.
Natural latex is a material derived from the sappy extract of rubber trees, which is processed into liquid latex and then poured into molds. When further processed into a foam for mattress layers, the latex contours gently and feels naturally springy. Latex absorbs a minimal amount of body heat and stays fairly cool, plus the material resists deep body impressions. Latex is comfortable and supportive but generally breathes well (meaning it won’t get too hot) and it bounces back faster than pure memory foam. This means you’ll get less of that “sinking in” feeling compared to memory foam.
Gel foam will help dissipate heat and keep the mattress cooler and more breathable. Mattress retailers use different types of technology to make gel memory foam.
Innerspring mattresses are one of the most common mattress types, with a coil system that’s usually well-padded with a softer material. Innerspring mattresses are more reactive than other mattresses, so you will experience more sounds coming from the mattress.
Innerspring mattresses are very supportive and maintain their shape well over time. An additional benefit of coils is that they will allow for more airflow through the mattress, which may be ideal for hot sleepers.
The relative softness or firmness of an innerspring mattress is influenced by its construction, as well as the total quantity, sizes and types of coils present in the mattress.
The number attributed specifically to a coil gauge refers to its thickness. The higher the number, the thinner the coil. Thinner coils will give the mattress a softer overall feel, thicker coils give the mattress a firmer or more supportive feel.
A hybrid mattress may contain several materials, including latex, coils and foam. A quality hybrid mattress usually combines the benefits of an innerspring mattress with multiple layers of foam, for a harmonious balance of comfort and support. The unique design provides air circulation from the coils and pressure point relief from foam. Hybrid mattresses are available in a variety of firmness levels to customize your sleep experience.
Images Courtesy of Serta Simmons Bedding LLC
Image Courtesy of Serta Simmons Bedding LLC
Tips for buying a mattress online
- Do your research ahead of time
- Recall your best (and worst) sleep experiences
- If you have any medical conditions, check with your providers
- Write up your requirements
- Shop several sales, just like you would at regular stores
- Measure twice
- Look for a mattress with a solid, lengthy return policy
- Unpack it yourself (or enlist help)
- Let it air out and test it to make sure you want to keep it
How to choose the right bed for you
Now that you understand the differences between mattress types, it’s important to know that how you sleep affects how well your mattress will perform and vice versa. Your mattress should support spinal alignment and not cause aches or pains.
Back sleeper: medium-firm mattress
Back sleepers should look for a medium-firm mattress. The mattress should be supportive enough to align the spine but soft enough to keep your lower back, hips and shoulders comfortable. You should be able to draw a straight line from your neck to your lumbar (lower spine) region to your knees.
Side sleeper: medium-soft to medium mattress
Side sleepers need a cushy medium-soft mattress that offers good pressure relief for the hips and shoulders. If you feel like your hips or shoulders are bottoming out, you probably need something less soft.
Stomach sleeper: medium-firm to medium mattress
Stomach sleepers should look for a medium-firm mattress that offers support and cushion for the chest, belly, hips and knees, while still keeping the spine properly aligned. The classic “sink” effect of foam might put too much strain on the lower back, but you don’t want to feel like any other parts of your body are pressing too hard against the mattress, either.
Choose a mattress based on life conditions
If you sleep hot
Look for mattresses with a construction that promotes airflow. Coil systems allow air to pass through, while some gel-infused foams can help draw heat away from your body at night. All-foam beds are known for trapping heat, so look for options that specifically call out coolness or breathability as a feature.
If you are recovering from an injury or have a chronic injury
Look for a supportive mattress that’s not too firm. Seek out mattresses with high-quality foam layers that offer contouring and pressure relief, which may help relieve aches and pains.
If you’re a restless sleeper
Look for a memory foam mattress that offers pressure point relief for the entire body or choose a medium-firm mattress to help isolate motion and reduce bounce.
If you’re pregnant
Pregnant people are usually advised to try sleeping on their sides during the night. It might be worth adding a cushioning foam mattress topper or a body pillow for extra support, to help make things more comfortable.
Mattress myths and Truths
Myth: The more coils, the better
Truth: When it comes to coils, quality is more important than quantity. Innerspring mattress models have between 600 to 1,000 coils. If one mattress has more coils than another, the coils could be made of thinner-gauge metal. You’ll also hear about coil variations such as Bonnell (hourglass type), continuous wire and individually pocketed springs. They all have different benefits and drawbacks.
Myth: Gel provides a cooler sleep
Truth: It’s common for innerspring mattresses to have a layer of gel-infused foam that supposedly provides a cooling effect, though it’s worth noting that mattresses with a gel-infused layer still retain warmth.
New mattresses can give off an unpleasant odor referred to as “off-gassing” when releasing volatile organic compounds (VOCs). For less off-gassing, look for mattresses with foam that has a CertiPUR-US certification. This certification gives you the added assurance that the foam is free of specific chemicals, including PBDEs, TDCPP and TCEP flame retardants.
If you’ve purchased a boxed mattress or mattress that may off-gas, let it air out for a few days in a well-ventilated area before you sleep on it. Keep your windows open and your fans on as much as possible. If you are sensitive to smells, are pregnant, or have asthma, avoid the room until the scent completely dissipates.
If you’re really concerned about VOCs, opt for a mattress that’s delivered and hauled in by delivery people, as the foams have typically done their off gassing in the factory, long before arriving in your home.
Mattress and bedding accessories
Bed frames: All mattresses benefit from having a firm, solid foundation to rest on. A bed frame is an important component of your bedroom that looks good, helps keep your mattress properly supported and is usually necessary to avoid voiding your warranty.
Box spring: Box springs consist of a wooden frame filled with springs or a metal grid wrapped in fabric. It sits directly under the mattress to provide support. Box springs were created to help absorb impact, reducing the wear and tear on the mattress. You’ll need a box spring if you are using a traditional metal rail bed frame, an older innerspring mattress designed for use with a box spring, or a mattress whose manufacturer specifically recommends box springs.
Mattress toppers: Mattress protectors, pads and toppers all rest on the surface of the mattress. Mattress protectors are usually designed to protect the mattress against stains, allergens, dust mites and liquids. Mattress pads are relatively thin layers that add a bit of cushioning to the surface of the bed. Whereas mattress toppers usually measure one to four inches thick and are designed to change the feel of the mattress top (and they’re a cheaper way to improve your sleep).
Sleep is one of the most important activities in our lives, so it’s essential to have a mattress that provides you with the comfort and support you deserve to get a good night’s sleep.