Mattress Buying Guide: How to Buy a Mattress

Photo of women on bed


How to choose a mattress? What is the best mattress? We know choosing a mattress can be daunting – especially since it’s probably been a while since your last trip to the mattress store. We’re here to help make sense of it all and provide you with everything you need to know so you can find the best mattress to buy for your lifestyle and budget. Let’s get started! 

It’s time to buy a new mattress if:

  • You wake up with aches and pains that dissipate throughout the day.
  • Your arms or shoulders fall asleep throughout the night, or you wake up tossing and turning.
  • Your mattress shows visible signs of wear and tear, such as sagging or the sides breaking down.
  • You feel the coils when lying on your bed.
  • You hear noises/creaks on your mattress when moving around.
  • You roll toward the middle of the bed at night, or you easily roll off the edge of the bed.
  • No matter what the temperature in your bedroom, you always seem to feel too hot in bed.
  • Your mattress is more than eight years old – check the tag to determine the age of your mattress.
  • You’ve outgrown your current mattress size or are in need of a larger one. (Tip: If you’re an expecting parent, check out these tips to sleep for pregnant mothers!).

Mattress Shopping Checklist

Get the checklist - Click to download

Complete this checklist before your visit to the mattress store and bring it with you to help narrow your search. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – that’s what the sales representatives, known as sleep consultants at Mattress Firm, are there for!

  • SIZE: To identify the correct mattress size for your space, consider the following:
    • The mattress should be longer than the tallest person sleeping on it.
    • The bed width should allow enough space to fold your arms behind your head without going beyond the mattress edge or touching your partner’s elbows (for two adults, we recommend either a queen or a king).

      Mattress Dimensions Chart

      Twin mattress

      39" wide x 75" long

      Twin extra-long mattress

      39" wide x 80" long

      Full size bed / Double mattress

      54" wide x 75" long

      Queen mattress

      60" wide x 80" long

      King mattress

      76" wide x 80" long

      California King mattress

      72" wide x 84" long

      Not sure which size is right for you? Click here for a little more info on choosing the right mattress size.
    • Do you need a box spring or foundation for your mattress? ☐ Yes ☐ No
  • BUDGET: Determine a budget you’re comfortable with and let your salesperson know so he or she can direct you to the best mattress options in your price range. Not sure how much you should spend for a good quality mattress? As a general rule with mattresses, you get what you pay for – the higher the quality, the better the comfort, support and durability. However, it’s important to choose a model that suits your needs and your pocketbook. We recommend the “eight days of pay for eight years” model: Take one day’s pay and multiply it by eight. That’s how much you should spend on a mattress that will last eight years. If you don’t plan on keeping your mattress that long, or it’s going to be a guest mattress that will be used less often, you may consider spending less, but consider using this equation to find your ballpark price range.
    • The least I will spend is $___________
    • The most I can spend is $__________
    • I [am / am not] willing to consider floor models and and other clearance options.
  • TEST-DRIVE: Once your salesperson has shown you some different mattress brands within your size/budget range, test out your mattress options by laying on each side (back, stomach, left side, right side) for about five minutes per side (20 minutes total). We know what you’re thinking, “I don’t want to lay on a bed in front of my fellow shoppers?” Don’t worry – we see it all the time, and it’s an important step in the shopping process. Some questions to ask yourself as you test drive each mattress include:
    • Do I prefer a firm or soft mattress? Refer to this five levels of comfort guide if you’re not sure.
    • Which mattress brand do I trust the most? Check out this list of our most trusted mattress brands if you need more information.
    • What features can I live without? What features can I NOT live without? (For example: hybrid mattress only, must be memory foam, etc.) Take any relevant notes about what you liked/didn’t like about each one here: _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    • Is shipping and/or delivery included? ☐ Yes ☐ No, it costs $________
    • Will they dispose of my old mattress for me when they bring the new one? Is there a charge for that? ☐ No ☐ Yes, it costs $________
    • Is recycling my old mattress an option and can they recycle it for me?
    • How long will it take to get my new mattress delivered to me? _________ days/weeks
    • o What is the return policy? Is there a return fee, restocking fee or any penalty fees? ☐ No ☐ Yes, it will cost $________
    • What does the warranty cover? Will it be voided due to stains or tears caused by use? (Tip: To protect against regular wear and tear and extend the life of your mattress you may consider purchasing a quality mattress cover.) Make sure you understand what your warranty covers and take any relevant notes here:____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Perfect Sleep Environment

Once you have found the perfect mattress you are more than half way there! Here are some essential bedding accessories to help complete your sleep sanctuary.

  • Pillows: The wrong pillow can cause neck pain and aggravate allergies if you let dust mites accumulate. Replace your pillow every two to five years and consider washing it every three to six months in hot water with liquid detergent. Click here for more information on finding the right pillow.
  • Frames: Mattresses held in place by a bed frame often take less space than bed rails with headboards and foot boards. Low-profile frames sit closer to the floor than those of normal height, which makes getting in and out easier for some owners, while supporting the mattress properly for a comfortable night's sleep.
  • Mattress Protectors: A quality mattress protector keeps the exterior and interior of your mattress as clean as possible, protecting it from stains and general wear and tear. If you have a young child who is potty training, a mattress protector can really help when it comes to nighttime accidents. If you’re a parent looking for the best mattress and accessories for a child, check out our mattress buying guide for parents here.
  • Mattress Topper: Add an extra layer of comfort and support with a mattress topper. Mattress toppers come in various materials from high tech gel memory foam to organic cotton and wool.

High-Tech Mattress Guide

If you find you’re too hot at night, or your partner wakes you up with his or her tossing and turning, check out today’s high tech sleep products that have set out to solve these common issues:

  • Temperature Control: Right before we fall asleep, our body temperature starts to drop, and when we’re sleeping soundly, our bodies are at their coolest. Because of this sleep-temperature connection, cooler temperatures cause sleepiness and help us sleep better. Atmos™ beds, and mattresses made with phase change materials (PCMs), are designed to help you regulate your temperature while you sleep. Available in select markets and online here.
  • Comfort Control: A mattress with an adjustable base (also referred to as a “power base”) allows you and your partner to adjust the height of the head and feet of your mattress. This is great for reading, working on a laptop or watching TV in bed. Sleeping with your head elevated can also help with common sleep problems, such as snoring, acid reflux and sleep apnea. Elevating your feet takes pressure off the lower back and improves circulation. Some adjustable bases even offer massage settings.
  • Hybrids: Hybrid mattresses combine the individually pocketed innersprings with memory foam layers to provide a dreamy blend of support and bounciness for people who want the best of both worlds.





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