- Buy your mattresses on comfort (see our 2010 mattress survey) and on discount.
- To find a mattress that's comfortable, try lying on as many as possible. From our Mattress Satisfaction Survey, those who tried out their mattresses between 25 and 29 minutes were more likely to be satisfied with their purchases.
- Replace your mattress every 10 years. Using the same one for too long can cause back and neck problems, not to mention hygiene risks.
There’s no scientific consensus on what makes a good mattress. It's highly subjective as we all have different shapes, sizes and weight. People around the world sleep comfortably on all sorts of beds: straw mats, hammocks, futons, waterbeds, airbeds and all types of mattresses. Decide on a budget first and make comfort your key decision-maker. In addition, find out if your retailer allows you to return the mattress if you don't feel comfortable on it. Prevention is definitely better than cure in this case. Most retailers allow returns only when the mattress has defects. It can be a long-drawn process in getting a replacement because the manufacturer will usually be contacted to inspect your mattress. So remember to read the fine print in the warranty.
For more information on Bedding, see Living and bedroom.
When should you replace your mattress?
Manufacturers and chiropractors recommend you replace your mattress around every 10 to 13 years, depending on how it’s treated. If it’s on a sprung base, plan to replace it every 12 or 13 years. A mattress on an unsprung base (including fixed-slat bases) should last about 10 years. See Good foundations for more on bases.
If your mattress is of poor quality or you don’t look after it properly (see Caring for your mattress), it may not last this long. And in any case, it’s recommended you replace your mattress at least every 10 years for hygiene reasons.
Some obvious signs you need a new mattress are annoying peaks, dips or lumps, or if you wake up stiff. If it’s uncomfortable, interferes with your sleep or leaves you with a backache, it’s definitely time to act.
Another reason for regularly renewing your mattress is that your needs change as your body ages. As you get older, your body will appreciate softer padding to support and protect pressure points. But don’t confuse softer padding with a soft, saggy bed — the underlying structure should be firm enough to support your spine as it gradually loses strength and flexibility. Furthermore, you may have difficulty moving around in — and getting out of — a bed that’s too soft.
There’s a variety of mattresses and bed bases on offer these days, and what’s best for you ultimately comes down to personal preference. Most people buy an inner-spring mattress and box base or slatted bedstead, so we’ll concentrate on this set-up. Latex and foam mattresses, futons and waterbeds are discussed in Alternatives. We also take a look at the new kid on the block: viscoelastic mattresses — see Memory foam.
Our Mattress Satisfaction Survey 2010 showed that satisfaction does not depend on what a mattress is made from.