Four top tips to buying a new mattress

People in bed in the morning

Memory foam, pocket-sprung, mixed materials – with so many different options out there, keeping on top of everything else you need to think about can be a bit tricky.

No to mention there’s more to buying a mattress than simply looking at what it’s made from.

Whether this is entirely new to you or you quickly want to refresh your memory before picking a new design, here are my four easy tips to make sure you find what is right for your sleeping habits.

Try your mattress before you buy (and take your partner, too)

The only way to find out whether a mattress is suitable is to lie down on it.

And with that I don’t mean ‘lie down and get straight back up again’ – you have to commit. Remove your coat and shoes, get into your normal sleeping position (yes, even if it’s a funny one), and lie down for at least five to 10 minutes.

A pile of mattresses on a dark bed frame

Finding the right firmness is key – so don’t be hesitant to try out a range of mattresses. If you order online, you usually get an extended return window so you can really put your chosen design to the test. Pocket-sprung mattresses from Soak & Sleep start from £240 for a medium-to-firm 1000-pocket double.

If you’ll be sharing your bed with your partner, take them along to lie down with you. After all, the mattress has to work for the both of you and this way you’ll guarantee relaxed nights for both of you.

Support versus firmness

While they sound as if they’d be the same thing, they’re actually very different – and they do different things, too.

If you have back pain, for example, you might think a firm mattress will be what you need (even if you might not like it). But Brent Cooper at Simon Horn tells me that’s not actually the case.

“The different tensions (i.e soft, medium, hard) exist to cater to body weights rather than to address medical conditions,” he says.

“Harder mattresses are generally meant for heavier people.”

So don’t be offended if a sales assistant asks you for your weight – they’re simply trying to help you find the right solution that will offer you the support your body needs. Plus, it will also increase your mattress’ longevity.

Caper mattress on grey bed frame

Different materials have different properties – foam, for example, hold their shape (so they won’t sag) and cradle your body to better support it. This Essential mattress from Casper is priced from £400 for a double.

Find your tension

As you are lying down, now is the time to check whether a mattress is the right firmness for your body.

Don’t simply go on feeling, though, as we’ve just learnt. Instead, use this simple test to see if you have found your match: slide your hand between the base of your spine and the mattress surface.

If it goes in too easily, you’re lying on a model that’s too firm; if it doesn’t fit in at all, the mattress is too soft.

Your body should feel entirely supported, too, so if there is any pressure – for example around your shoulders or hips – it’s not the one.

Choose a base for your mattress

Whatever you pick will affect how your mattress feels once it’s in your home.

A slatted bedstead or solid divan will result in a firmer sensation, while a sprung design will give it a bouncier feel.

For an ideal set-up, buy the two together. Not all mattresses are designed to work with all bases, and picking the wrong one would really throw a spanner in the works.

Print these tips out, save this link, or write them down and take them along as you head out as an easy reminder. And don’t forget to let me know if you have any extra advice to guarantee a restful night.

You may also enjoy: How to buy a bed: essential shopping tips

Featured image: When buying a mattress you’ll share with your partner, make sure you try it out with them – after all, it needs to meet everyone’s needs. Emma‘s mattresses are a so-called bed in a box, so are vacuum-wrapped when they are shipped to you and unfold once you open the packaging. Prices start from £649 for an Original mattress in a double size.

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  • Avatar
    Ron Booker
    31st March 2020 at 3:44 pm

    It’s good to know that a medium firmness will probably be best for people who sleep on their sides so that it can support without giving too much pressure. My bride and I want to get a larger mattress for when we get married since we aren’t living together right now, and we both tend to sleep curled on our sides. We’ll have to keep this in mind when we’re shopping for mattresses together next week, so thanks for the help.

  • Avatar
    Kate Hansen
    13th July 2020 at 6:46 pm

    It was really helpful when you said to try and lie down on it for 5 minutes. My fiance and I are going to be moving into our very first apartment together in a couple of weeks, and want to make sure that we can find the right mattress for our bedroom. We’ll make sure to keep this information in mind as we search for a mattress to get for our apartment!

  • Avatar
    Thomas Clarence
    5th January 2021 at 6:31 pm

    Thank you for explaining that you can only know if a mattress is suitable if you lie down on it. My wife and I have been struggling to get a good night’s sleep for the past couple of weeks and we are thinking that it might be time for us to replace our mattress. We will have to find a local mattress store so that we can go to the showroom and test out different ones until we find one that we both like.

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