Updated: Mar 27, 2019
Expert Advice on how to find the right bed for you...
3 zone, 5 zone, 7 zone, vertical zoning, temperature control, Gel Infused Memory Foam, Latex blah blah blah...
It seems that these days you need to be an expert in every component that goes into a bed to know what you are actually shopping for. For instance, what is the difference between Gel Infused Memory Foam and Graphene Infused Memory Foam? And who cares?
To be honest, when you are sleeping on the right bed for you, you actually don't care what it is made from, all you know is that you are comfortable and you wake up feeling better than you did when you went to sleep.
So let's set some priorities to help you to find the perfect bed.
Priority #1 - Support
The most important feature in a mattress is its ability to support your weight - we've all experienced sleeping on a deflated air-mattress. If a mattress can't support your weight, then it is essentially useless as the support system will compress beyond the point of suspension and you will essentially be sleeping on your wooden bed base.
Supporting your weight is achieved in various ways - Using springs, layers of thick foam or latex and in the old days even water!
Question - Does this mattress support your weight or does it feel like it is caving in?
Priority #2 - Alignment
You may think that if you are well supported then you will be comfortable. This isn't always the case, for instance a hard floor can support your weight, but if you have ever slept on the floor you know it isn't comfortable. An essential part of being comfortable and waking up pain free is the alignment of your spine. If your spine is correctly aligned, then it minimizes the weight on your pressure points (Head, Shoulders, Hips and Feet) thereby preventing loss of circulation and pressure related pain.
Question - Does your spine look like it is evenly supported or are you sagging or raised in the middle of your body? (Ask someone to observe this for you)
Priority #3 - Comfort
Once you are well supported and your spine is correctly aligned, you need to be comfortable in order to fall asleep and stay asleep. Different comfort feels are achieved by combining different layers of high density foam, memory foam, latex, wool and other materials.
Questions - Do you feel like you could easily fall asleep on this bed? Does it feel comfortable after more than a few minutes? Does it feel comfortable for you in the position you normally sleep?
Priority #4 - Movement
Movement is the key reason why waterbeds are pretty much extinct. While they perfectly aligned your spine and supported you, every time your partner moved it felt like you were riding a wave.
Translation of movement is an important factor if you share your bed with someone. The most common ways to minimize this are Pocket Spring support systems or Solid Foam Mattresses.
Pocket Spring Mattresses are by far the most popular as they provide minimal transfer of movement while still giving the traditional feel of an inner sprung mattress that most of us are used to.
Questions - Am I going to be sharing this bed with someone else? When they move do I feel any movement on my side of the bed? Am I a Light or Heavy Sleeper? (Light sleepers are especially susceptible to interrupted sleep due to movement)
Priority #5 - Temperature
A big part of comfort is not just the softness of the comfort layers, but also the temperature of the mattress surface when you are sleeping on it. Usually Pure Wool, Ventilated Latex and Visco Gel are used to prevent overheating or cooling.
Question - Do I feel unusually Hot or Cold while lying on this mattress?
Priority #6 - Quality
Sometimes a mattress may feel perfect when you first purchase it but in just a matter of months it has stopped performing at its optimum level. If a mattress manufacturer doesn't use quality materials or doesn't use enough of a particular material, the feel of the bed can change due to the comfort layers compressing. This can cause you to feel the support system through the layers thereby reducing the comfort. Unfortunately, some manufacturers and retailers don't list what materials or how much of each material they use in each mattress.
Question - Do I know what exactly is in this mattress and how much of it is in there? How heavy does it feel when I lift up a corner? (Weight of a mattress can indicate the density and quality of the materials used within the mattress) What guarantee/warranty does the retailer offer?
Yes - Buying a new bed can be a time consuming exercise, but it is worth the effort.
After all, nothing else you buy will be used by you as often or for the same amount of time. And nothing else you buy will have such a profound effect on your quality of life. So here are some rules for buying a bed:
1) Take your time.
Shop around, try a few beds in each store. Lie on each bed for at least 5 minutes, and lie on both your back and your side. Try to think about whether your spine feels like it is aligned. If you will be sharing your bed, take your partner shopping with you.
2) Know what you are really buying.
Don't be taken in by fancy names, buzz words, or pretty looking beds (which you will just end up covering with a sheet anyway!). Find out exactly what is in each mattress and how that will help you achieve a good nights sleep. Look for product information sheets, lift the corner of the mattress - does it feel super light or heavy?
3) Price isn't everything
Don't buy a bed based solely on budget, after all, the cheapest bed is the one you already own!
If a bed is super cheap, then there's probably a reason for that. Some mattresses feel comfortable in-store but quickly decrease in comfort and durability after only a short period of time.
On the flip side, you don't need to spend tens of thousands of dollars to find a good quality bed. Some manufacturers inflate prices to give the impression that their beds are superior or more luxurious than others, when they really have similar or in some cases inferior materials inside.
They key is to find the right bed for your needs and view it as an investment in your health and well-being.
4) Deal with Experts
When talking to the sales staff, ask them about what is inside the mattress and ask them how this will help you to achieve an improved sleep. If something sounds fishy or they just use buzzwords or use generic terms that don't really mean anything, they might actually just be a salesperson who wants to move a product, rather than an expert who wants to help you to improve your quality of life by finding the perfect bed for your needs.
Good luck, your perfect nights sleep is waiting out there for you!