GhostBed's Ultimate Guide to Buying a Mattress
Thinking about buying a new mattress, but not sure where to start?
You’re in the right place!
These days, there are so many different mattress types and brands to choose from. The “right” mattress usually comes down to personal preferences, and there are a lot of factors that play into this. As the saying goes, you’ll know it when you see it — or should we say, sleep on it!
In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to buy a mattress that’s a perfect fit for you and your individual needs, plus shopping tips to make the experience stress-free.
Let’s dive right into it!
Why Choosing the Right Mattress is So Important
We all know how important sleep is. Most of us have experienced a poor night of sleep now and then, and the effects it can have on your day are huge. Plus, if you average 8 hours of sleep per night, that adds up to about one-third of your life that you spend sleeping. Pretty crazy, right?
So think about it this way: let’s say you’re planning a cross-country road trip. Sure, you could probably make do with an old beater car. But to really make the trip comfortable and stress-free, a reliable car that you love is a much better choice. The same goes for your mattress. Why settle for anything less?
The tricky part, of course, is finding that perfect mattress. There’s no one miracle or best mattress out there. The right mattress will be different for everyone, based on factors like your sleeping style, weight and more.
While reading through the following sections can help, a sleep trial will be the most informative (more on this later). Take a look at the box below for the 7 questions to ask yourself as you begin shopping.
How to Buy a Mattress: 7 Questions to Guide You
1. What's your budget?
2. What size do you need?
3. Do you have a preferred mattress type?
4. What level of firmness, bounce and contouring do you prefer?
5. What’s your sleeping style?
6. How much do you weigh?
7. Are there other health or lifestyle factors that might impact your mattress selection?
How to Know When It's Time to Get a New Mattress
Buying a mattress not only takes time, but it’s an investment! With high-quality mattresses starting at $800+, it’s not something you buy on a whim.
So, how do you know when it’s the right time for a new mattress?
As a general rule, mattresses last 7 to 10 years. Certain types like latex and memory foam tend to last longer, so it can be helpful to know what type of mattress you currently have. Your weight and lifestyle, as well as how well you cared for the mattress, can also impact its longevity.
The easier way to make the decision is to consider the following:
How Much Should You Spend?
The cost of a new mattress can vary greatly, depending on the size, materials used, brand and overall quality. For a queen size mattress, expect a range of $1,000-$2,000. Bigger sizes will be more expensive, of course. But keep in mind that a higher price doesn’t always mean higher quality. It’s up to you to research the size and type of mattress that will work best for you, and look for signs of quality and durability (we’ll get into this more later).
And just remember — you can’t put a price on good sleep! A high-quality mattress may cost more upfront, but will pay you back in dividends with great sleep night after night.
Choosing Your Mattress Size
Once you know you need a new mattress, start by figuring out what size you’d like.
Our guide to mattress sizes gets into the specifics of each, but here’s a general overview:
If you're looking for a simple, no-frills option and you don't need a ton of room, go for a twin size.
Slightly longer than a twin, the twin XL is perfect for taller people (or if you want some extra space at your feet for a furry friend!).
Great for medium-sized rooms, single sleepers and guest rooms, a full size mattress is a good middle-of-the-road choice.
The most common choice for couples, a queen mattress offers plenty of room for two.
Like to stretch? A king size mattress is a top choice for couples who want the option to snuggle OR spread out.
Slightly taller than a regular king, a California king mattress is the longest size, but keep in mind it’s also a bit shorter in width.
A split king mattress is actually two separate mattresses set up next to each other; this allows for easier customization if you have an adjustable base.
Choosing a Mattress Type
Next, you’ll need to figure out what type of mattress you want. This usually refers to the materials used, as well as the firmness of the mattress. Materials include:
- Known for great bounce and excellent edge support
- Naturally cooling, as air can circulate between the springs
- Can be made with interconnected coils or individual “pocketed” coils—the latter helps reduce motion transfer
- Known for comfort, bounce and responsiveness
- Promotes cooling with its open-cell structure
- Can be made with synthetic or natural latex
- Known for uniquely conforming to the body
- Provides excellent motion isolation
- Can be made with traditional, plant-based or gel foam—opt for the latter if you sleep warm, as traditional foam tends to retain heat
- Combines two or more of the materials above for an ideal balance of support, responsiveness, contouring and cooling
- Available in a variety of firmness levels
- Construction blends can vary, so you’ll need to look around to find the perfect mattress for your needs
What to Know About Soft vs. Firm Mattresses
The other common differentiator you’ll hear about is how firm or soft a mattress is. The mattress comfort scale is a rating from 1 (very soft) to 10 (very firm/hard). It’s pretty self-explanatory; it refers to how the mattress feels when you lay down on it. A soft mattress, for example, will make you feel like you’re sinking into a cloud, while a firm mattress will have more push-back and keep your body straight and aligned. For mattresses that use a few different materials (like a spring and memory foam hybrid), the feel is heavily influenced by the top few layers.
A score between 5-7 is the universal comfort score, as it will offer a good balance of softness and support.
However, here’s the thing about firmness: it can be subjective! What feels firm to a 100-pound teenager might seem way too soft for a 200-pound man. The best way to choose between a firm or a soft mattress is to try it out… you’ll likely know right away what feels the most comfortable, and a few nights of sleep on it will also be very telling.
Other terms to Know
This refers to how a mattress conforms and reacts to the shape of your body. You may feel like you’re sinking a bit into the mattress. A contouring mattress will cradle your body’s pressure points, making it a comfortable choice for side sleepers especially.
Think back to when you were a kid—remember jumping on the bed? A spring mattress with a lot of bounce will give you the kick-back you always dreamed of, while a memory foam mattress will absorb motion. If you’re heavier or a combo sleeper, consider a mattress with more bounce for easier movement.
Often used interchangeably with firmness, support refers to how well a mattress keeps your spine in perfect alignment, and usually comes down to the inner construction of the mattress. Look for a high-density core alongside individually-wrapped coils for the best support.
3 Factors to Consider
A few other factors can influence your mattress selection. We’ll review those below!
1. Your Preferred Sleeping Position
Do you usually sleep on your back, your stomach or your side? The way you sleep adds pressure on different areas of your body and can affect the alignment of your spine, so you’ll want to select a mattress that caters to your style and keeps you comfortable.
If you sleep on your back, you’ll need head-to-toe support to keep your neck, shoulders and torso aligned. Look for a medium to medium-firm mattress with light contouring.
As a stomach sleeper, you’ll need medium to firm support. If your mattress is too soft, your stomach (the heaviest part of your body) will sink in, misaligning your spine.
Most side sleepers will appreciate a soft to medium mattress, with a good balance of contouring and support to keep the spine aligned.
If you shift between positions throughout the night, look for a responsive, well-balanced mattress that works for every sleeping style.
2. Your Weight
As we mentioned earlier, your weight can definitely factor into finding the right mattress. If you’re on the lighter side (under 150 pounds), you’ll likely sleep best on a medium-firm bed—around 5 to 6 on the firmness scale. If you’re heavier (200 pounds or more), a firmer option is your best bet so you don’t end up sinking into the mattress too much.
3. Other Health & Lifestyle Considerations
Other health and lifestyle considerations may also factor into your decision. For example, if you and your partner have different sleeping schedules, a memory foam mattress with little motion transfer might be your first priority. If you’re a hot sleeper, finding a mattress with cooling properties will likely top your list.
What's the Best Time to Buy a Mattress?
We hope the sections above have helped you understand how to choose a mattress that will work best for your individual needs. But you still might be wondering… is there a best time of year to buy a mattress?
Some financial experts recommend shopping for mattresses on major American holidays, such as Presidents Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day. Early spring is also popular, as some showrooms release newer mattress models around that time.
If you’re shopping for a mattress online, however, pretty much anytime works. And of course, if your mattress is showing major signs of wear, the best time to buy a mattress is sooner rather than later. A new mattress will help you sleep better right away!
What's the Best Place to Buy a Mattress?
With so many brands and stores to choose from, is there a best place to buy a mattress?
While the “traditional” shopping options are still around—standalone mattress stores, furniture stores and department stores—the online mattress industry is booming.
We’re partial at GhostBed, of course, but there are several perks to buying a mattress online:
You’ll likely get a better deal.
Without the overhead costs of a physical retail space or paying sales commissions, you’ll get a high-quality mattress at an affordable price.
Shipping is free - always.
With GhostBed, we make shopping a no-brainer with free nationwide shipping. If you’d like help with setup or if you’d like us to remove your old mattress, we also offer White Glove Setup for an added fee.
You’ll get to try the mattress out in real-life.
Laying on a mattress for 15 minutes in a store isn’t just awkward—it simply isn’t enough! Take 3+ months to decide in the comfort of your home with our 101-Night Sleep Trial.
It's just plain convenient.
It’s just plain convenient. Online shopping makes it easy to compare mattresses, look at prices, read customer reviews and take the time you need to do your research.
Tip: GhostBed mattresses are also available at select retailers. If you’d prefer to test (or buy) a mattress in-person, we can help. Contact us and we’ll help you find the nearest retailer to you.
How to Buy a Mattress You'll Truly Love
Even with a Sleep Trial available, it can still be daunting to buy a mattress-in-a-box. Here are a few shopping tips to keep in mind as you select a mattress:
Read the descriptions. Heavier mattresses don’t necessarily mean quality, and neither does a higher price tag. Instead, examine the description and materials list, and look for key elements, such as:
○ High-density foam for support and durability
○ Individually-wrapped and reinforced springs (the taller, the better)
○ Plush and soothing fabrics on the top layer of the mattress
○ Reinforced edge support
Feeling a little less overwhelmed? We hope so! There are tons of options when it comes to buying a mattress, but finding the right one for you doesn’t have to be difficult. And once you have it, you’ll find yourself waking up refreshed and ready to take on the day every single morning. Sweet dreams!
And if you really want to upgrade your bedroom, don’t forget about all the extras. From luxurious new sheets to the perfect pillow, we’ve got everything you need for amazing sleep.
As always, let us know if you have any questions!