A Guide to Choosing the Right Mattress

Shopping and finding a new mattress can be exhausting and frustrating – but don’t worry, Counting Sheep is here to help you! Check out our mattress buying guide, and things you need to focus on when shopping for a new bed.

Shopping and finding a new mattress can be exhausting and frustrating. In order to find the right model, you need to take into consideration factors such as the price, comfort, firmness, material composition, durability and many other.  You need to consider hundreds or thousands of models, brands, retailers, online stores and brick-and-mortar stores. This situation requires a lot of research, time and dedication. It’s no wonder so many shoppers end up feeling frustrated. With this guide, you will finally be able to say bye-bye to frustration. We will explore all mattress types, their differences and similarities, as well as other key factors regarding mattress performance and comfort.

When and Why Do You Need to Buy a Mattress?

There are many reasons why you would need to buy a new mattress. If your current model is more than seven years old, you should consider replacing it. Many factors can impact the lifespan of a bed. Generally speaking, all mattresses are prone to sagging after a period of use. They can also get indentations from excessive weight or higher concentrations of mass. Both of these can undermine the support of the bed.

Certain types of beds are also more or less durable than others. For example, airbeds and latex models are less susceptible to tear and wear, and because of that, they are much more durable than other models you can find. Your sleep habits and how much you use the bed can also influence the deterioration of the mattress. Nonetheless, the general rule is that mattresses need to be replaced after seven years, no matter how much you use it or how long the warranty lasts. Although some models give great support no matter how old they are, they still need to be replaced.

If you experience pain and aches or start to have pressure points that have never bothered you, you need to look for a new mattress. The same goes if you suddenly start tossing and turning because the bed doesn’t fit you. Additionally, when your body changes, you need to change your bed. Your weight can influence how your mattress feels, and it can impact your support and firmness needs that tend to change as you gain or lose weight, or as you age. An inadequate mattress can contribute to many medical conditions, while a suitable one can help ease some conditions and their symptoms.

Lastly, if you are looking to replace your bed for a better one, even if it is not necessary, that is completely fine. If you can afford an upgrade and believe you need one, go for it. Many owners had stated that they had higher satisfaction when they replaced their old bed for a more expensive model.

Important Factors for Choosing a New Mattress

Many factors influence the performance and support of the bed, and you need to keep them in mind when purchasing a new mattress and comparing brands and models.


As we discussed previously, an average mattress will last for seven years before you need to replace it, but ultimately, the lifespan depends on the material composition. A memory foam model will perform for seven years, while airbeds and latex models show above-average longevity and hybrids and innersprings have much shorter lifespans. However, this all depends if the bed has excessive deterioration like sagging or indentations.


Another critical factor is the firmness of the mattress that shows how firm or soft the bed feels for the sleeper. Firmness depends on the materials used in the comfort layers, and it is measured on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the least firm level and 10 being the firmest level. There are three kinds of firmness you can find on the market – Soft(1-3), Medium (4-7) and Firm (8-10). Soft is the preferred firmness for lightweight people who have less than 130 pounds. Anybody with more than 130 pounds might experience excessive sinking in the bed and get reduced support because of that. For anyone below 130 pounds, soft beds conform closely to the sleeper’s body and feel very comfortable. Medium firmness has great support for most weight groups, although those with more than 230 pounds might still sink deeply into the mattress and experience discomfort and pain. The ideal firmness level for heavyweight sleepers would be firm. People with less than 130 pounds will not like firm models because they will not get conforming and experience pain. Individuals that have more than 230 pounds will enjoy this firmness level because they will not sink into the bed and they would get the appropriate conforming.

As you can see, the weight of the sleeper is directly linked to the firmness level. Apart from that, your sleeping position can also impact your firmness preference. Sleeping on the side requires proper spinal alignment that you can find in softer or medium mattresses. Back sleepers do not need any spinal alignment, and they won’t need a soft model because their position already provides good comfort for the spine. Instead, they will feel more comfortable on firmer beds. Stomach sleepers might also prefer firmer mattresses because they won’t have problems with sinking that they have on softer models because of the additional weight that is applied to the stomach area. Heavier stomach sleepers will especially require firm models.

Keep in mind that this might not apply to your needs because every person has different sleeping preferences. You should test out different firmness levels and see which one you prefer. Some brands also have flippable mattresses, which have different firmness settings in one bed, and are great for those with oscillating sleeping preferences. Usually, one side of the bed is soft and the other is firm, but some models can have two soft sides or two firm sides. Flippable mattresses are an excellent option for people who want to get a customizable model to match their oscillating firmness needs.


The thickness of a bed is also something to consider. The size or the depth of mattresses is somewhere between less than five inches to more than fifteen inches, but the majority of models today have at least ten inches in height. Also, it depends on the mattress type. Foam models are much thinner than innersprings and hybrids. This consideration is vital for heavier individuals because your weight has a significant impact on the thickness you need. People with more than 230 pounds add more pressure to the bed, so thicker models that provide better compression support would feel more comfortable for them. Thinner models may cause excessive sinking which can hurt the sleeper. The best thickness that will adequately support larger individuals would be from twelve to thirteen inches.

Support and conforming

The conforming ability of the mattress helps with spinal alignment and prevents the development of pressure points. It is linked to the comfort layers of the bed, specifically the top layers. Mattresses that don’t conform closely can cause increased pain and pressure to your body, and because of that, you should opt for those with excellent conforming abilities. Models with thicker comfort layers that are made from latex, memory foam or both provide optimal conforming.

The support of the bed determines the amount of evenness you feel under your body. Mattresses need to provide proper and equal support for people of different weights and body types. An even surface contributes to spinal and pelvis alignment and will not cause sinkage under areas of the body that apply more pressure on the bed. If the model has excessive softness or firmness, it will have less support and can cause discomfort and pain.

A good mattress also needs the appropriate edge support. Even though this does not seem important, it plays a significant role in the overall support. In general, all models are prone to sinkage around the edges because people tend to sit there when getting up or before going to sleep. Models with reinforced corners provide excellent support because they prevent the sinkage in these areas. Typically, models with coil-based support cores and high-density foam give the best edge support.

When thinking about support, you also need to consider the motion isolation. Movement creates a motion transfer that you can feel in the entire bed. It can be problematic for couples because it might cause sleep disruptions from any action – from getting in and out of bed to just changing positions. To prevent this, you need to look for a model that has softer and adaptive comfort layers that minimize the motion transfer and limit them to smaller areas in the bed’s surface. Also, watch out if the bed itself makes noise. Airbed mattresses have the highest noise potential because of their electrical components and air chambers, while latex and foam models are silent when weight is applied.

Sleep Trials and Warranties

When buying a new mattress, you need to consider warranties. Many brands offer different sleep trials and warranty coverages. First, let’s start with the sleep trial. A sleep trial is a period in which you can test out the new mattress in your own home. Most models have sleep trials that last typically 90 to 120 days because the majority of mattresses require at least 30 days of using to be properly broken in before you can fully enjoy them. During the trial period, if you are not satisfied with the product, you can either return it for a full or partial refund or change it for a different model. This is the best way to find a model that will meet your needs and preferences.

Apart from sleep trials, mattresses also have warranties. A warranty is a guarantee stating that a product will be of high quality during a certain predefined period. The warranties can declare a defect if the bed has indentations and sagging to a certain degree. If the indentations and sagging are more than one inch, you can experience additional pressure and even pain. The average lifespan of a mattress is six years, but many can last eight or nine before they need to be replaced, but some specific models can start to sag and get indentations after a few years.

Not all warranties are the same, and they do not give the same amount of coverage. There are two types of warranties – non-prorated and prorated. Non-prorated means that you don’t have to pay extra costs to repair or replace the defective model. With prorated warranties, you have to pay a certain percentage of what you originally paid for the mattress if you want it repaired or replaced. On top of that, these prorated charges can increase with every year of ownership. Because of that, repairing or replacing a defective model could cost you a significant amount of money. Keep in mind that the average models can last for at least six years, so the warranty must cover that, but some models last for up to eight or nine years before showing any signs of deterioration, and some get indentations or start sagging in four or five years. The general rule is that the average performance and lifespan of a mattress are seven to eight years maximum, so the ideal and universal warranty would be ten years of non-prorated coverage.

Sleep Related

Was this post helpful?

Leave a Comment