Making a Mattress Maven

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Posted by Sarah Bain on Dec. 26, 2018, midnight

One of the healthiest things you can do for your body is get a good night's sleep. In addition to helping you feel less tired, good sleep hygiene can make it easier to maintain a healthy weight, lower your risk for a host of serious health problems such as diabetes and heart disease, reduce stress and improve your overall mood, think more clearly and do better in school or work, and avoid injuries caused by making bad, sleep-deprived decisions.

Assuming you don't have sleep-apnea or some other sleep disorder, one way to improve your sleep hygiene is to make sure you are sleeping on the right mattress. Industry professionals say you should get a new mattress every 7-10 years (at least), but it really depends on your use and comfort. Is your mattress sagging in the middle? That’s a good sign it’s time for an update.

For health-related sleeping issues, you should talk to your doctor. But if it's just a matter of your mattress getting old or being uncomfortable, then it's likely time to go shopping. Remember, you spend roughly one third of your life in bed. A comfortable mattress is one of the best investments you can make, and even a top-of-the line expensive mattress might be worth every penny if it gets you a good night's sleep.

Girl jumping on a mattress

Shopping for a new mattress can be an overwhelming experience, especially with all the new styles and brands available both in-store and on the internet. Whether you prefer a mattress in a box or try-before-you-buy in the store, it helps to be prepared with some knowledge of the details of modern mattress construction.

Unless you insist that the most comfortable mattress in the world is on a waterbed (yes, you can still buy them – try Furniture Row in Spokane Valley), most mattresses can be divided into a few major types with some variations to suit as many bodies as possible.


People who suffer from back and joint pain often choose a foam mattress. Foam layers are generally made from polyurethane, though some might use latex, or a combination of the two.

The advantage of foam is that it softens as you lie on it, so it molds to the shape of your body. Some people say it's like getting a "hug" from your mattress. Of course, if you're the sort of person who tends to sleep hot, the foam hug may not seem like much of an advantage, as many foam mattresses tend to retain a great deal of your body heat.

Another disadvantage of a foam mattress is that it sometimes require more effort to change positions. If this sounds like an inconvenience, you might try a different mattress construction.


If you're of a certain age, chances are good you've slept on an innerspring, or "traditional" mattress. The fact is that even today, 60 percent of mattresses sold are innerspring mattresses.

These mattresses are made of steel coils in a variety of arrangements along with some arrangement of layers of cushioning, possibly a pillowtop layer, and some even including infused gel. Hybrids mattresses include one or more layers of foam over the springs.

Changing positions on an innerspring tends to be easier, though they also tend to bounce a little more, possibly causing a sleep interruption for a partner. Some innersprings also may sleep a bit cooler, so take that into consideration when trying them out.

Adjustable Air

This type of mattress allows you to inflate the mattress to your desired firmness with an electric air pump. These usually include additional layers, such as foam, and usually allow you inflate individual halves of the bed to different firmnesses. Unfortunately the pumps are noisy, so make sure you're dialed in before your partner falls asleep.


Though not as widely available as some of the other options here, you can expect one of the next big movement in mattresses to be the smart mattress. The idea is that the more you know about how you sleep – the way you breathe, regulate your body temperature, etc. – the more optimized your sleep can be. Some smart mattresses can even adjust your bed’s temperature based on your sleep patterns or inform the coffee pot that it's time to make java in the morning.

How to Shop

Many mattresses sold in the major stores are exclusive to those retailers, so if you find a mattress you like at Macy's, don't expect to be able to find the exact same model at MattressFirm or Northwest Sleep Center, even if they carry the same brand.

If you're in-store shopping, be sure to wear loose-fitting clothes (if possible, something you would be comfortable sleeping in). And wear shoes that you can easily slip off and on.

As you're probably aware, the mattress purchasing trend has been moving toward the mattress in a box, shipped to your front door. These are foam mattresses and one of the great pleasures in ordering one is opening the box and watching your mattress spring to life out of its rolled-up form. (Make sure you open it where you plan to place it... another feature of the foam mattress is that they can be floppy and difficult to move).

Online ordering from brands like Casper and Purple often comes with a sleep-on-it guarantee since you can’t test out their products in store. These companies also often give you at least 100 days to try it out before making your final decision.

Many store-front mattress sellers also offer satisfaction guarantees, so make sure you ask your salesperson what they'll do if you find yourself with sleeper’s remorse. Ultimately it’s a personal choice, and it’s difficult to know until you’ve slept on your new mattress for a few nights if it’s going to be the best one for you, but with so many choices out there, you’re bound to find one that you can sink yourself into for the night.