Mattress shopping can be a stressful process. There are so many options, with lists of features… but after laying on countless mattresses, you end up more confused than you were when you started. Most people don’t know a lot about mattresses and will default to picking either the cheapest option or the one that feels the most comfortable on the show floor. Many mattress salesmen count on this and use it to their advantage to score commissions on their sales. Never fear… with a little research and these handy tips, you can start your search for a new mattress with confidence.

What Do You Want?

The first thing you should know when you begin mattress shopping is what you ultimately need from your new bed, and it often starts with the reason you are shopping. Do you roll into body impressions? Are you experiencing low back pain? Or are you looking to change the size of your bed? Do you sleep hot and often wake up sweaty? Do you know if you have a preference for a soft feeling or do you like a bed to be firm? And finally, do you have a preference for coil springs over foam? Doing a little bit of research before you shop can save you money and a lot of hassle.

What You Want to Avoid:

Overly Plush Quilting

So you’re on the showroom floor and every mattress is starting to look and feel exactly the same. What now? You can start by eliminating the mattresses with puffy quilting and divots as this quilting is often filled with fiberfill or cheap low-density polyurethane foam. These are two of the lowest quality substances in mattresses, and while they feel great on the showroom floor, both will begin to fail after minimal use and the mattress can have a drastically different feel within as little as a year.

Bed Construction

Next, take a look at the specs of the bed and focus on the components of the mattress. This is where knowing what you want becomes really important. Avoid anything with conventional polyurethane foam listed. Since convention polyurethane will fail quickly due to the low density. Latex foam is better for support than both gel foam and memory foam. Memory foam sleeps warmer than both latex and gel foam. Gel foam responds quicker (goes back to its original state) faster than memory foam. Most beds will have a base made of either dense foam or coil springs. Having a basic understanding of these components can help you find the right bed for your needs.

Pushy Sales Tactics

Mattress salespeople often make their money on commission, and understanding this can make a huge difference in your experience. Start by telling the salesperson what you want from the mattress, and they should lead you to a bed that will answer those needs. Don’t feel pressured to make a decision right away. Take your time, and you can always come back at a different time. If a salesman is pushing one product really hard, they may have the commission in mind instead of your needs and price range. If you feel uncomfortable, it is completely within your rights to politely ask for a different salesperson, or simply come back to that store on a different day. Don’t let sale prices or bonus perks (such as extra pillows) sway you one way or the other. Your sleep is the most important factor, and these tactics can be used to get you to make a speedy decision to avoid missing out on these so-called “deals.”

Take your time

Laying down on a mattress for 1-2 minutes is often not a long enough trial to really get a good idea if this mattress will work for you. In an article in Success Magazine, Michael Breus, Ph.D., a sleep specialist in Manhattan Beach, California, and author of The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan, recommends bringing your own pillow and wearing loose, comfortable clothing. Find a bed that you think could be the one, then lay on it for around 8 minutes.  It may feel strange to lay there, but your body takes about 8 minutes or so to adjust heart rate and blood flow to a horizontal position. Start in the same position you usually do when falling asleep. Then switch to different positions every few minutes. After about 8 minutes, you will have a much better idea if this bed is going to work for you long term. Still, the real test is time to make sure the bed your trying has a great return policy with no restocking fee.

Review return policies Many companies have fuzzy terms in regards to return policies on their mattresses. Make sure you have an adequate trial period for your mattress so you don’t get stuck with something that ultimately doesn’t work. Keep these tips in mind, and you should be well on your way to a great night’s sleep.