Lay it down: 6 tips on making a smooth mattress purchase


Between the high prices and the huge impact good sleep has on physical and mental health, choosing a mattress is a big decision.

"If your mattress is uncomfortable, it could disturb your sleep, exacerbate orthopedic problems or possibly have a negative impact on your long-term health," Michael H. Bonnet, Ph.D., a neurology professor and sleep expert at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine told Consumer Reports.

RELATED: 5 cheap purchases that cost you more in the long run

Make the best choice by following these tips from financial and health experts:

Shop every 8 to 10 years

After that much time, your mattress is probably worn thin in places and has lumps in others, Joyce Walsleben, PhD, associate professor at New York University School of Medicine, told Health.com. Other tell-tale signs that you need a new mattress include rips, divots, sinking hips and shoulders and allergy triggers (indicated by going to bed breathing fine and waking up with the sniffles), according to Consumer Reports.

Check out the ratings

In a survey of 62,000 subscribers, Consumer Reports found the highest satisfaction rating among those who opted for adustable-air mattresses, with 80 percent saying they were highly satisfied with their purchase. "Adjustable air mattresses, such as those sold at Sleep Number stores, rate very well in both our mattress tests and reader survey, especially among those who report neck pain, back pain, sleep apnea, and other health problems." In comparison, 75 percent of memory foam owners and 65 percent of innerspring mattress owners said they were highly satisfied with their purchases. 

Try before you buy

Sure, it's awkward. But Consumer Reports stands by its long-standing advice to take off your shoes and lie down on each mattress for a full 15 minutes. If you'll be sharing a bed with a partner, bring them, too. 

Consider couple's mattresses extra carefully

Look for a mattress with adustable firmness for either side of the bed. The size of the bed also matters. "If you have a small bed, you can't get away from one another," Dr. William C. Dement, professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, told Health.com. "If they're restless, kicking you all night, or a loud snorer, that's awful."

Haggle, selectively

Not everywhere that sells mattresses is open to price negotiation, but a separate 2016 Consumer Reports survey of 20,000 subscribers found that sometimes even online sellers will bargain with shoppers. "Shoppers we surveyed met the most success at mattress-specialty stores such as Mattress Firm, Mattress Warehouse, Mattress King, Sleep Train and Sleepy's. Most shoppers who did try to haggle were successful, saving a median of $205 on their purchases."

Search like a ferret for the freebies

Consumer Reports also describes how their surveyed subscribers tended to get something free along with their mattress purchase. The key is asking. Delivery or haul-away services were common, but free mattress protectors or a bed frame were also possibilities. The consumer watchdog publication did note that retailers who offer extras with a mattress purchase usually charge more for the mattress purchase. They advise balancing the total price of the mattress purchase and the freebies in the decision-making process and evaluating whether the freebie was something you'd purchase anyhow before allowing a giveaway to influence your purchase.


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