When choosing one of many well reviewed and top-rated mattresses, knowing how to test out a mattress in a store can help you narrow down your options. By taking the time to try out a mattress correctly before you buy, you can walk out of any mattress sale with confidence in your shopping decision. Using six simple shopping steps, you can find the perfect mattress at the perfect price.
1 – Know your options
Before you walk into a store, do a little research. Consumer reviews can help you decide what type of mattress you’re looking for. “When you’re shopping for a mattress, focus on comfort – not brand or price,” says Chris Marsh, VP of Merchandising at Mattress Firm, a national mattress retailer. “Once you determine the feel that is best for you, it will help narrow down the choices.” Not sure where to start? Try looking at the top-rated mattresses that suit your typical sleep position. Marsh recommends pillow top mattresses for side-sleepers, firm mattresses for stomach-sleepers, and plush mattresses for back-sleepers.
2 – Bring along your sleep essentials
Make sure you enter a mattress store armed with knowledge and your sleep essentials. Dr. Nitun Verma, Medical Director at the Washington Township Center for Sleep Disorders, suggests bringing along a pillow, eye-mask, and earplugs or headphones so that you can “zone out and pay attention to the bed.” If you sleep with a partner, try your best to mattress shop together as a second sleeper can seriously affect the feel of a mattress.
3 – Follow the 15-minute rule
Experts agree that a good mattress test drive takes a minimum of 15 minutes spent lying in your typical sleep position. “The next best thing to actually getting to spend a full night on a mattress is to really take your time, lie down in your typical sleep position and pay attention to the comfort and support,” says Karin Mahoney, Director of Communications at the Better Sleep Council, a consumer education organization funded by the mattress industry.
4 – Remember that mattress comfort is key
Pay attention to your body’s comfort level on the mattress, especially your pressure points: the spine, shoulders, and hips. According to Mahoney, “a good mattress is one that supports you as though you were standing upright with the correct posture. If your hips or back twist, you should keep looking.” An arched spine, slouched shoulders, or tension in your neck are also major red flags. Mahoney advises that “if you can fit two to three fingers between you and the mattress, chances are the mattress isn’t a good fit because it’s not offering the right amount of support.”
5 – Shop smart during mattress sales
Brent Shelton, editorial coordinator for FatWallet.com, suggests hitting mattress stores after the big sales, “in order to beat crowds to make sure you dedicate enough time to your research. Often the prices are even better after the sale during “clearance” and mattress prices are always negotiable.” Julie Fruitman, a mattress store owner with 27 years of industry experience, recommends keeping an eye out for misleading marketing, “One of the most important things a mattress shopper should remember is that they are looking for the right mattress for them, not the mattress a salesperson wants to sell them.”
6 – Look for customer care
Make sure to ask about mattress warranties and return policies. Reputable mattress stores often offer shipping, assembly, replacements, and mattress repairs in warranties. For one Viewpoints reviewer, a great return policy made a world of difference:
“We bought our King Mattress from Original Mattress Factory, got it home and discovered it was too soft. They have a wonderful policy on returns. We took it back to them and they made us a new one. No additional cost for the replacement. If we find a problem with the new mattress they will replace it again.” - Jaxygirl, Reviewer since 2008
By following these six simple steps, you can walk out of any mattress store with peace of mind and the perfect mattress.
PROMOTIONAL VIDEO: The Better Sleep Council, an education arm of the mattress industry, has produced this video to help consumers make the most of their trip to the mattress store.
Editor’s note: If you have professional experience with mattresses, Viewpoints is recruiting experts in priority product categories to write for our blog. Check out this overview of the Viewpoints Category Expert Program, including qualifications, compensation and how to apply.