It's hard to find the right fit for you and your significant other.

I was watching TV last night and saw something amazing. It was a bed that had a warmer at the bottom to heat up cold feet. I felt like this had to have been the invention of a man who was tired of his wife tucking her ice-cold toes under his calf at night, as my husband can attest. (Or any significant other that is often faced with this situation.)

Now this is a great idea, in theory, but do I really want to have to plug in my bed? Not really. But with all the new mattresses out there nowadays, how do you decide on which one is best for you — or if you are part of a couple — for both of you?

Flashback to 10 years ago when my husband and I decided to go mattress shopping. It was on a whim after we’d had one restless night too many. I said to him: “We should wait for a sale.” His reply: “Mattresses are always on sale.” I didn’t believe him until we started really looking.

A mattress shopping dilemma

Everywhere we looked mattresses were on sale. It depended on the brand, the size, and really, what the store had in stock, but for the most part, there were deals to be had, we just had to agree on the mattress itself.

If you are single, or if you happen to sleep alone most of the time, finding a mattress that suits you should be pretty easy. Test a few out, find the best deal and sleep soundly. The problem with being a part of a couple is that when it comes to beds, you might have vastly different tastes. Personally, I like my bed to feel like a pillow. My significant other prefers to sleep on what I’d like to call a stiff board. These kinds of differences lead to the dreaded “compromise.” While compromise works well in the vast majority of cases, it is really hard to do when it comes to a mattress. Mattress companies realize this and have marketed their products accordingly.

We sampled plush mattresses, firm mattresses and in-between mattresses. Mattresses with “his and hers” sides (one soft side and one firm side) and Tempurpedic ones that fit the contour of your body. We even tried beds that could be programmed to specific numbers to no avail.

Which mattress do you prefer?

I talked to friends to see which mattresses they’d purchased in the past and what they liked. Again, it was subjective. I had one friend who purchased her Sleep Number bed after staying at a Wyndham and having what she called: “The best night’s sleep I ever had in a hotel.” I had another friend who splurged on their first king size bed in a Sleep Number and hated it so much they returned it after 4 days.

It was the same situation for Tempurpedic. We have two different people we know who swear by theirs. One person who said they bought one and said it smelled “like chemicals” for a few weeks after they got it, and yet another who said: “You couldn’t pay me to sleep on one of those. We bought one and it gave me, and anyone else who’s slept on it, a terrible backache.”

Part of the reason we were going to get a new mattress was the sagging in the middle. I was up for flipping our mattress to keep it “fresh.” But in all our searching, it seems that most mattresses nowadays are either pillow-top or “no-flip” mattresses that are only meant to be slept on one side.

The other tricky thing about mattress buying is that you can’t comparison shop. Each company has specific names for its mattresses depending on which store you are shopping in. So for example, you can try out a Serta “Snuggle Up” in Macy’s that might be $1,000, but if you wanted to go to Beds R Us and see if they have a Serta Snuggle Up for cheaper in their store, they won’t be able to because they only sell the Serta “Sleep In” version of mattresses. Now, for all we know they might be the same mattress, but the specs of each are changed ever so slightly so you can’t provide a direct mattress to mattress comparison.

In the research I did for this article, it seems there are all sorts of special specifications that can up the price of a mattress. Some of these things can make for a better mattress, but others are just preference.

Mattress shopping preferences

  • What the mattress is made of. There is great variation here. The mattress can be an “innerspring mattress,” a memory foam mattress, a latex foam mattress, a combination of springs and foam, a horsehair mattress, an air-filled mattress, mattresses made of organic materials and more. This is a personal preference and doesn’t really matter in terms of what you get. There are some that are reported to resist bacteria more, and thus cost more because they supposedly last longer.
  • How many springs are in the mattress. This also doesn’t matter too much. Most mattresses will have between 600 and 1,000 coils, but it depends more upon what they are made of and not how many there are.
  • What the springs are made of/how they are constructed. What the springs are made of will matter if you are getting an innerspring mattress. If the springs are made of a cheap metal, they will be more likely to contract and sag upon repeated sleeping on. However, how they are constructed doesn’t matter as much, as tests done by companies such as Consumer Reports point out that no matter the style, a spring is a spring.
  • How the mattress was sewn together. This is more for aesthetic value than for actual sleeping. If you don’t use a mattress cover (which you should) then you may have more of a priority here because the mattress could be more quilted in feel.
  • The thickness of a mattress. This again doesn’t really matter in terms of better or worse. Because most mattresses aren’t flippable anymore, companies will build a mattress in layers for the best comfort. If a company is adding more bells and whistles, like gel foam for coolness, an air system, the bed will likely be thicker.
  • The size of the mattress. Obviously a bigger mattress will cost more, but it’s also a preference. This was the one thing we could agree on. We wanted a king-size bed. It sounded silly to some, who felt that two people could easily fit comfortably on a queen, but for us it gave us individually enough space, while also providing room for the cat. Make sure you measure your bedroom if you want a larger bed so it will actually fit.

We eventually settled on a mattress on the firmer side but with a pillow top. It had the bounce I liked while still providing the significant other with enough of a “board-like” feel. Choosing a king-sized bed was probably the best decision we could have made, especially since starting a family, as now our bed does double-duty as a wrestling mat and trampoline for the kids.

Mattress shopping tips

  • Look at the average price of mattresses. A good quality queen mattress (the most popular size) can usually be purchased for around $1,000. Find out what the average going price is on your mattress size, and go from there. Remember, you won’t be able to directly comparison shop.
  • Find the sales, and haggle on prices. Mattress sales are everywhere, and in the research I even did for this article, experts advise haggling on the price or for extras (such as free mattress removal, box springs, pillows, etc.) Specialty stores will often have more room to haggle than a warehouse store, such as Costco or Sam’s Club.
  • Try out the mattress beforehand. While online mattress companies are everywhere, you are going to be sleeping on this thing every night. Don’t you want to feel what that’s like before you get it home and throw away your old mattress?
  • Check the return policy. Some stores offer exchanges or refunds within a specified time frame. Others will charge you a restocking fee.
  • You may not need a box spring. Some mattresses don’t need box springs, but others are required to be purchased together with the mattress in order to get the warranty. See if you can keep your old box spring, or get rid of it all together if it makes your bed too high or isn’t your style.
  • A bed that plugs in may make noise. If you have a Sleep-Number-type bed, keep in mind that inflating it once your significant other is asleep could wake them because the pump makes noise.
  • Get new sheets and pillows. If you decide to get a new mattress, get some new sheets and pillows to go with it. Chances are your pillow is as old as your mattress, and some nice sheets will just enhance that experience that you are getting into a brand new bed.
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Meet the Author

Jessica Patel

Jessica Patel


Jessica Patel is an award-winning editor and writer living in Los Angeles. She previously served as deputy editorial director of T Brand Studio at The New York Times and as Senior Editor and Analyst of

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Article last modified on December 19, 2018 Published by, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: How to Find the Perfect Mattress For Your Money - AMP.