All you need to know about buying a new mattress

People in bed in the morning

Do you know the amazing feeling of finally laying in bed at the end of a long and tiring day? And do you know what could ruin such a pure moment of comfort? You guessed it – an old mattress that doesn’t hug you right away when when you lay on it, but rather pushes you far away.

We spend around a third of our lives in bed, so choosing the right mattress is very important as it needs to have a high level of comfort.

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. Not 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 top 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.

The Natural Sleep silk mattress from Heal’s is topped with a cashmere and silk pad. £1299 for a super-king size.

Look out for brands with extended returns policies on mattresses. These days, it is not uncommon for companies to offer 100-night trials with free returns. Wherever you decide to buy, check if it’s an approved National Bed Federation member, a recognised trade association, for peace of mind when purchasing.

You might also like   Doing a home workout? Turn your spare bedroom into a home gym

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 Savoir No.4 mattress bed promises a five-star experience in your home. Priced £4460.

“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.

You might also like   Ways to have an ensuite: real projects for some inspiration

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.


Harrison Spink’s Pure Performance Free & Easy Elite collection designs are all turn free, so you don’t need to flip them regularly to keep them in good shape. The Santiago, £1749 for a double, features 12200 springs and layers of sustainably-sourced filling – including mohair, wool, and Egyptian cotton.

Choose a base for your mattress

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

Make sure to measure up your bed frame, if you are not replacing that at the same time, to ensure your new mattress will fit. A double size can vary from brand to brand, not to mention UK standard sizes also differ from those common in Europe. While most designs may appear to look fairly similar on the outside, keep an eye out for additional features such as hypoallergenic materials or anti-bacterial and temperature-regulating benefits.

This Button & Sprung mattress can be made in two standard tensions and has a 100-night free trial period. From £545 for a double.

For example, 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. 

Herdysleep mattress

Herdysleep’s mattress is a pocket-sprung ‘bed in a box’ design filled with wool from Herdwick sheep. Priced £849 for a double, it is also available in bespoke sizes.


Most good-quality mattresses range between £500 and £1,500 for a double size. Delivery and the removal of an old mattress are often available services, but keep in mind that they may come at an additional cost.

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.

Post updated on: 29/06/2021

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    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.

  • Reply
    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!

  • Reply
    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.

  • Reply
    21st June 2021 at 7:53 am

    I returned my foam mattress beacause I used to overheat in it. Can you recomend me a new one?

    • Reply
      29th June 2021 at 9:09 am

      Hi Radu, A cooling memory foam mattress could work better for you. This type of mattress usually has a gel-​infused layer of memory foam to draw the excess heat away. There’s also the option of mattresses with moisture-wicking fabrics or with breathable foam. I hope this helps!

Leave a Reply


Need project help?

We’ve gathered a list of suppliers and showrooms to get you going

Click here

Sign up to our newsletter

Want the latest in your inbox?