How to Choose a New Mattress

Ever have a night when you slept off and on for ten hours and found yourself dragging through the rest of the day? Ever had a night when you only got in about five hours of really good sleep and were full of pith and vinegar the next day? It’s all about the quality, not quantity. If you’ve got a good bed that allows you to sleep deeply when you slumber, it’s almost a guarantee of a better day.

Choosing a mattress is the key to both good sleep and good waking. First things first: size. Does size matter? Is a king worth the price? Is a queen really any better than a double? If you’re planning on sleeping single in a double bed, you’re probably okay. But if you’re planning on sleeping with someone else in that double bed, you should be aware that when two people of average size share a double mattress, they typically have only about 25 inches of space apiece. If that sounds acceptable, then consider this: The average baby crib is the same width. So if you’re sleeping on a double mattress with someone else, it’s kind of like crawling into the crib and attempting to return to the womb. On the other hand, a queen size mattress not only gives you seven more inches of space to share, but is also five inches longer. If you go up to a king size mattress, you get sixteen inches more to share.

When shopping for a new mattress, don’t be fooled by cost. The price of a mattress is dependent upon a large number of factors including store overhead, size, quality of construction and materials, etc. You can save significantly depending on where you shop. For instance, buying the same mattress at a mattress warehouse can be anywhere from 10 to 50 percent cheaper than buying it at a fancy store. Quality does affect price, but not nearly as much as profit affects price.

Choosing a mattress today is a bit more complicated than it was a decade or so ago. New improvements in construction have been made, but basically it still comes down to some basic things to look for when shopping for a mattress. Obviously, the first thing you should always do is test it out. When you find a mattress that catches your eye, make sure it catches your rear; sit down on the edge. Ideally-and, of course, everybody has their preference when it comes to soft and firm-you should feel strong support beneath you. If the mattress has a squishy feeling to it then it’s probably not very high quality. Additionally, take a look behind you when you stand up; make sure the mattress promptly springs into shape and doesn’t slowly morph back to normal.

Next, go ahead and lie down on the mattress. Choosing a mattress is about choosing the place where you will be spending at least a third of your life while you have it. (And hopefully even more, wink-wink, nudge-nudge.) If the store won’t let you lie down on it, leave. Would you buy a car without testing driving it? And you don’t spend nearly as much time inside your car. If you’re buying the mattress for two, both of you should lie down on it together. And really test it out. Recreate a typical night’s sleep for the both of you. If you start out on your back and wind up on your side, then try it both ways. If you’re the type who is all over the bed-one of those people who often winds up with your head at the foot and vice versa-then try it out in every position. Then try rolling back and forth across the bed. In this way you can test whether it’s prone to sagging in the middle.

One word of advice: Don’t test-drive the mattress for all your mattress needs. There may be stores that allow that kind of behavior, but make sure first. Seriously, though, we all know that mattresses aren’t just for sleeping. If you can find a mattress in the store that’s up against the wall, and you spend a lot of time in bed with your back against the wall watching TV, test it out that way. Obviously, you probably aren’t going to want to test the mattress out in the store for the other main use, but consider what kind of sex life you do have. If you’ve got a firm mattress at home that has withstood some legendary adventures, you certainly don’t want to take a chance on buying a new mattress that feels less sturdy. It may sound silly, but do keep in mind that you aren’t purchasing a mattress simply for sleep. And one last comment on this topic: If you live with kids or other family members, or live in apartment on top of another apartment, you might want to keep on looking if your test-drive reveals a propensity for squeaky springs. What happens in your bedroom should stay in your bedroom. Unless you like advertising it, of course.

No matter how terrific a mattress you find, however, it means nothing unless you’ve got a good box spring beneath it. Did you know that the box spring bears up to 80% of your weight when sleeping? A worn or shoddily constructed box spring can effectively undo the benefits of a perfect mattress, so before shopping for a new mattress be sure to examine your box spring and see if it’s up to snuff.

A good mattress should last at least ten years and a high quality mattress can often keep giving you a good night’s rest for up to twenty years. Since your body isn’t going to spend anywhere near as much time in any other one place, it only makes sense to spend quality time looking for a quality mattress. If you aren’t sleeping good, chances are you are enjoying life to the fullest extent.

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