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7 Costly Mistakes You're Making When Buying a Mattress, Experts Say

Make sure you're not setting yourself up for restless nights with this helpful info.

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Out of all the items in your home that constitute a big purchase, buying a new mattress is arguably one of the most complicated decisions you can make. Unlike electronics, furnishings, or even kitchen appliances, it's the only item you're guaranteed to spend at least a few hours on every single night. While some might assume that the process is as easy as stopping by a store to quickly test drive a few models, taking a whirl around the showroom might not be enough to help you find the best option. Read on to discover the mistakes experts say you're making when buying a mattress.

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You're probably paying too much for what you're getting.

Hands touching paper money

Mattresses are the type of home item purchased so rarely that it's next to impossible for anyone to become an expert. For many, this can make it easy to slip into the belief that the best options will always cost significantly more than the base models. But experts warn that you don't necessarily have to break the bank to get the right style for you.

"The first thing to know is that you don't have to spend a fortune to get a good quality mattress," Laura Goldstein, vice president of content & communications at mattress company Saatva, tells Best Life. "You should be able to get a quality product for $1,000 to around $3,000. Much more and you're probably paying for a lot of unnecessary store overhead and commissions. Much less and you may be compromising on materials or longevity, especially if you're buying a compressed foam mattress in a box."

You're not considering the needs of your sleep partner.

A couple testing out mattresses in a store
Shutterstock / Ihor Bulyhin

Trying to find the right mattress is a big enough decision as it is when it involves one person. But if you have a sleep partner, you'll have to ask a few more questions before you commit to a bed that might not suit their needs.

"If you share your bed with another person, it's important to talk through what each of you needs to support your sleep and what qualities you do or don't like in a mattress. If you choose a mattress with just your preferences in mind, you may end up with something totally out of line with your partner's sleep position, body type, and comfort needs," says Stephen Light, CEO and co-owner of Nolah Mattress.

Fortunately, there's a simple plan of action for anyone couple in the market for a new bed. "Before you start browsing, discuss mattress type and material options—such as all-foam, hybrids, latex, or smart mattresses—firmness level, and mattress size. You should also agree on which qualities are most important for you, like cooling, motion isolation, edge support, etc. Then, you can narrow your search based on these parameters," Light suggests.

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You're shopping at the wrong time of year.

sale flags in store window

In many cases, getting the best price on a mattress can come down to shopping around and doing your research on what's available. But experts point out that waiting to make your purchase until certain holidays can be an even easier way to save some serious cash.

"There are a few times of year when mattresses see really great sales, and shopping outside of those times can mean you end up spending more than you have to," Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with, tells Best Life. "In general, watch for discounts to pop up around Presidents' Day in February, Memorial Day in May, Independence Day in July, and Labor Day in September. Other sales will occur, but these will likely be the biggest events and best opportunities to find deals."

You're asking the wrong questions about firmness.

Man shopping for a new mattress

Mattresses are one of the few big-ticket purchases that rely on sensory lingo to guide customers to the right item. This allows people to specify if they're looking for something super plush or a little on the harder side—especially if they're worried about aches and pains. Unfortunately, according to experts, you might be making a big mistake by asking the wrong questions and using the wrong terms when describing your preferences.

"You shouldn't confuse mattress firmness with support," cautions Goldstein. "You don't have to sleep on a rock for back health. A soft mattress can be perfectly supportive, as long as it is constructed with a support core of springs or foam that keeps your spine in neutral alignment."

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You're giving yourself too few nights to try out your mattress at home.

couple in bed / Shutterstock

Shopping for a mattress often involves heading into the store to get a feel for what's out there. But while kicking back in a showroom might feel like it's giving you enough information to make the best purchase, you're still going to want to be able to see how well it functions in the real world before you're stuck with something you don't love.

"Whatever you buy, make sure it comes with a generous home trial," says Goldstein. "Even if you've tested it out in person, you don't really know if a mattress is right for you until you sleep on it for a while. And be aware that, like a new pair of shoes, a new mattress may also have a break-in period, as the springs and foam adapt to your body–and vice versa. That's especially true if you've been sleeping on an old, unsupportive mattress for a while. "

You're not considering customer reviews before you buy.

A man and woman couple sitting at the kitchen table looking at a laptop
iStock / monkeybusinessimages

As if the technical aspects of shopping for a bed weren't already complicated enough, the sheer amount of mattress options on the market can make the decision-making process feel overwhelming from the jump. Experts say one of the best ways to cut through the noise is to do a little research and see what other customers have to say about the products.

"Like any other purchase, you'll want to read reviews before buying a mattress," suggests Ramhold. "All the specifications may sound appealing and exactly what you're looking for, but without reading reviews, you won't know how the product really is in person. Be sure to take the time to read the reviews and see if there are any common complaints—or even multiple people praising certain aspects of the mattress—which will give you a good idea of what to expect if you decide to purchase a certain model."

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You're not giving online mattress companies a chance.

boxed mattress on the floor

Buying a mattress without being able to sit or lie down on it first can feel wrong, like ordering clothing through a website without knowing how it fits or putting money down on a car without driving it around the block first. But while it's natural to feel concerned you're missing out on the in-store experience, experts say the benefits of considering a web-based store can often outweigh the risks.

"I understand why someone may be hesitant to order a mattress online—it's a big investment. But nowadays, direct-to-consumer mattress brands offer so many more perks than brick-and-mortar retailers," explains Light. "Most offer free delivery and a sleep trial that lets you try the mattress at home for weeks, if not months. This gives you time to break in the mattress and adjust to the change so you can really make an informed decision about keeping or returning it."

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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