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It’s a dilemma many of us have had. We’re starting to experience back pain or we have an old mattress that needs to be replaced and begin the search for a new one. But buying a new mattress can feel like a challenging process, especially if going to a store and trying it personally isn’t possible.

So how do you simplify the process and make the right choice? Here’s how to buy a mattress without trying it first.

Don’t Read The Reviews

While reviews of certain products such as televisions or some pieces of furniture can truly be helpful—when it comes to mattresses, the experience and feeling are so highly personal that reading reviews can be counterproductive.

Denise Chaykun Weaver bought and returned three mattresses she purchased on Amazon during the summer of 2022. “I went with mattresses that had great reviews, both on Amazon and on independent sites. I was buying them for a second home, but they still were so awful that I immediately had a sore back and needed to return them.”

But Weaver is hardly alone in this. Interior designer and HGTV star Shay Holland tells me she read reviews for a certain mattress that’s been highly touted by influencers. She purchased it and regretted it immediately. “They sell a box and then if you want it to be comfortable it’s almost another $1000 for a topper. They blamed the fact that I was a side sleeper. I told them they should be able to sleep in any position and not be in pain in the morning. I’m planning on returning it.”

Start By Knowing The Differences Between Types Of Mattresses

Looking for the best mattress? It doesn’t exist. Rather it’s a highly personal preference. Still, it’s a good idea to know the difference between most of the common types of mattresses, all of which feel different and have different levels of support depending on sleep position.

Innerspring

Innerspring mattresses are the standard and still the most popular type of mattress. These types of mattresses have metal coils wrapped in various soft materials.

Memory Foam

Memory foam mattresses are another popular choice because they have the least amount of motion transfer, making them ideal for couples.

The only issue is that memory foam can potentially sleep hot, but as long as it has cooling gel or graphite, it shouldn’t be too uncomfortable. “Memory foam softens in response to heat and pressure, giving it that characteristic body-hugging feel. It is also good for allergy sufferers because its density keeps dust mites and other allergens from collecting,” explains Byron Golub, Vice President, Product and Merchandising for Saatva.

Latex

Made from the sap of a rubber tree, Latex is one of the longest-lasting types of mattresses and can be used for between ten and twenty years. Golub tells me, “Latex as a mattress material has been around for decades, but it has really taken hold in recent years. Natural latex (as opposed to synthetic latex) is the product of the rubber tree. It’s sustainable, hypoallergenic, breathable, and one of the most durable mattress materials. There are two types of latex used in mattresses, Dunlop and Talalay.”

It’s also a great choice for people with allergies. “Latex is hypoallergenic and dust-mite resistant. It also sleeps cooler than other types of foam. Latex, which is naturally buoyant, is perfect for people who want the contouring ability of memory foam without that locked-in feeling. Natural latex is the most eco-friendly mattress option on the market.”

Just keep in mind that while latex is also one of the most eco-friendly choices, it’s also one of the most expensive.

Know What Type Of Sleeper You Are

While many of us move around at night, knowing how you sleep most comfortably is a great way to determine what mattress is best. For example, hybrid, memory foam, and latex mattresses are great for side sleepers. They should also choose a mattress that is firm enough to cradle the hips and shoulders while also supporting the spine.

On the other hand, back sleepers have a bit more of a choice. They can use traditional innerspring mattresses, hybrid, memory foam, and latex mattresses as long as they are medium firm.

Stomach sleeping can be rough on the back, so stomach sleepers should go with a firm latex mattress, hybrid, or adjustable bed.

How To Share A Bed With Someone Who Sleeps Differently

Having a different sleep preference than a partner can make choosing a mattress even more challenging.

Saatva has found a great solution to this problem with the Solaire Adjustable Firmness Mattress. “Solaire lets each partner adjust according to their own comfort. When paired with an adjustable base, which allows each partner to raise and lower their head and feet, it offers the ultimate in personalized comfort,” says Golub. “Another option for couples with different sleep styles is a split king setup, which consists of two twin XL mattresses side by side. With a Saatva Classic for example, which comes in three firmness options, each partner can have their preferred firmness level.”

Avoid Mattresses With Fiberglass

No matter the brand of mattress being considered, it’s crucial to make sure it doesn’t contain fiberglass, which is a synthetic flame retardant. While fiberglass itself isn’t dangerous, exposure to it is.

Mattresses sold in the United States are required to have a flame retardant such as fiberglass, but there are non-toxic alternatives available including thistle and organic New Zealand wool, which is what Saatva uses.

There are a few ways to become exposed to this hazard including opening up a mattress, which there is never any reason to do. But sometimes pet nails or fiberglass can leak through a poorly-made cover.

If you aren’t sure if your mattress has fiberglass, check the label. Sometimes, it’s listed as “glass wool,” or “glass fibers.” Still unsure? It’s a smart idea to check with the manufacturer and replace it if possible.

Take A Sleep Quiz

Many of the major direct-to-consumer mattress companies, including Saatva offer a sleep quiz on their website. Take advantage of these. These are the same types of questions that associates will often ask in-store, so there is some level of guidance with this major purchase.

If Possible, Visit The Showroom

Keeping all this information in mind, it’s still best to visit the showroom if possible. Saatva currently has eleven locations in major cities including Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, with several more slated to open by 2024.

In addition to mattresses, Saatva’s locations also sell pillows, bedding, and even an assortment of stylish bed frames as well as decor including chic blankets. So, it’s certainly worth the trip to explore multiple bed essentials.

While shopping at the store certainly isn’t as convenient as simply purchasing online, it can save time and energy in the long run.

What If You Choose The Wrong Mattress?

Despite your best efforts, it’s very possible to make the wrong choice. Whether you are buying a made-to-order mattress like Saatva or an inexpensive mattress in a box, it’s crucial to make sure there is a liberal return policy, such as a year, which is what Saatva offers.

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