Before buying a new mattress, it is best to try sleeping on it. People may try different beds in hotels or at other people’s houses, and buy the same model if the bed is comfortable and supportive.

See How to Evaluate a Mattress

It is also advised to purchase a mattress with a hassle-free return policy. This is because a mattress may feel comfortable for one night, but over time it can provoke unforeseen aches and pains.

Individual Mattress Needs to Consider

As more types of mattresses and new features are introduced, purchasing a mattress can feel like a daunting process. The following considerations can help individuals sort through their options to find an appropriate match for their body type and specific situation:

  • A mattress needs to match with a person’s weight. Individual weight and build are considerations when purchasing a new mattress. An individual who is overweight or obese is likely to benefit from a mattress offering extra support. Standard mattresses often wear out quickly for heavier individuals, but manufacturers now offer sturdier mattresses and frames than in the past. Lighter, thinner people still require a supportive bed, but may feel more comfortable on latex or memory foam mattresses.
  • The height of the bed. Mattresses have grown thicker in recent years. When combined with a standard foundation, the bed can be quite tall. A high bed may be uncomfortable—or even unsafe—for an older adult, a person with physical limitations, or a shorter person. If a new mattress is extra thick, choosing a "low-profile" foundation can limit the bed’s height. Low-profile foundations are typically 4 to 6 inches tall.
  • Softer surfaces are typically better for fibromyalgia. Sleep is often difficult for people with fibromyalgia, making a mattress purchase especially important. Sensitive areas of the body, known as pressure points, may feel better if a softer surface is selected. Some people with fibromyalgia also find an adjustable bed helpful. Since fibromyalgia symptoms fluctuate, it may be helpful to test beds more than once; on a day when symptoms are intense, and on a day with minimal symptoms.

See Considerations When Buying a New Mattress

With the array of options now available, it may be helpful to discuss any special sleeping considerations with the mattress salesperson. Some beds are marketed for people with certain conditions, such as fibromyalgia, but this information may not be posted in the store.


Making a Mattress Purchase

A new mattress is a major purchase, and it is important to learn about store policies on returns and warranties, delivery costs, and any other expenses related to the purchase.

  • Know what the warranty covers. As mattress systems become more complex, so often do warranties. Warranties do not always cover motors on adjustable beds, for instance. Defects, rather than lack of comfort, are more likely to be covered. Those hoping to save by buying a less-expensive foundation than the one included with the mattress, or by using their existing foundation at home, are advised to check with the retailer to see if this will affect the warranty.
  • Review online sales policies. Online mattress sales are becoming more common. Since there is usually no opportunity to try out the mattress in advance, it is important to know the policy on returning a mattress that is not satisfactory. The buyer may be required to pay the shipping cost—which can be substantial—to return the mattress.
  • Read the fine print. Retailers may make special offers, such as a 100-night free trial. It is recommended to check the fine print for unexpected fees associated with these offers.

Once the mattress is set up, it is advised to follow the directions on how to best care for it; this often includes periodically rotating the mattress, keeping it supportive and comfortable for a longer time.

Dr. Richard Staehler is a physiatrist at the NeuroSpine Center of Wisconsin. He has more than 20 years of experience providing non-surgical treatment for spine pain.