A mattress is a great investment, let alone vital. It can affect the quality of your sleep, and in the long run, your overall health. So buying a new mattress is as important as getting insurance for your car.
But let’s face it: mattress shopping can be one of the most cringe-y and agonizing experiences you’ll ever have as a consumer. From pushy salespeople to an overwhelming sea of features that makes you wonder what could be the difference of such a straightforward product—it’s so easy to mess up your mattress investment, and because you don’t always buy a new bed, the learning curve can be steep and painful. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Mythbusters from South Carolina-based mattress giant Christeli and New York-based player Restonic debunked these seven common myths about mattresses. So before you head to your mattress retailer or order one online, arm yourself first with information and learn the difference between myth and truth.
1. The longest warranty equals total value
“When most companies say ‘lifetime warranty,’ they’re referring to the materials inside the mattress, which really isn’t a warranty at all,” said Jay Orders, co-owner of Christeli. “It’s saying as soon as this mattress is worn out from normal wear and tear, it’s no longer covered under warranty. It’s very vague and can get very expensive.”
Regardless of warranty, the National Sleep Foundation recommends changing your mattress every 7 to 10 years. And that’s the most important truth you have to keep in mind about mattresses. But that is not necessarily a measure of lifespan; how long your mattress will last depends on several factors like build quality and day-to-day usage. Relatively, however, your mattress got to go after that 10-year mark. Stretching it beyond that will see a noticeable deterioration in support and comfort.
2. The firmer, the better
About the firmness of mattresses, Orders commented, “People think that it’s going to provide the best support, which isn’t necessarily true. Your spine has a natural curvature, so the optimal sleeping position is to have your spine as close to that natural curvature as possible because it creates the least amount of pressure.”
To reduce pain and discomfort during sleep, you need a mattress that supports the shape of your spine, while conforming to your favorite sleeping positions. We list the three types of mattresses according to firmness.
- Soft mattresses–adjust to your spine’s shape but may lack support on the other parts of your body
- Firm mattresses – deliver equal comfort and support; can alleviate pressure points in most people
- Hard mattresses –delivers excellent support but lacks adjustability to your natural body shape, which can lead to more pain rather than ease pressure points
3. Perfect fit on first sleep
The only real way to test out a mattress is to actually sleep on it. No brainer, right?
That’s because most people need at least a month to adjust their bodies to a new mattress, research says. Our muscles and joints have this funny “memory” of how to find the most comfortable position, and considering how long we’ve spent our nights of sleep on our last mattress, it will really take some time to get that perfect fit.
Now, you should take note of this when it comes to shopping for your next mattress. Look for retailers that offer a reasonable trial period and return shipping rates, in case the one you choose initially ends up a messy fit. Try to avoid companies that don’t offer trials at all, or return fees that are unreasonably steep.
4. No law tag is a crime
There really is a warning against removing the law tag of mattresses, and it can be pretty scary. But the truth is, according to the Federal Trade Commission Act which protects the rights of consumers in the United States, once you’ve bought merchandise and it’s in your home, you can do whatever you want with it. However, you might need that warranty claim so your mattress tag should be kept intact with the item. Tags contain critical information that will help the manufacturer process your warranty claim.
5. Pillow-top mattresses are the comfiest beds EVER
Says who? “I always get requests for things that don’t make sense,” said Orders. “For instance, people always ask for a pillow-top mattress, and when I ask why, they say they heard it’s supposed to be a softer, nicer mattress, but none of that is true. I have to explain to them it’s just a marketing gimmick.”
Because market growth has plateaued over the past years, different companies created this common misconception to distinguish their products from the rest of the market. But from a manufacturing standpoint, Orders claims that the same plush and velvety feel can be achieved with a traditional mattress design.
So if you want your bed to give you that Buckingham-level of comfort, there’s nothing wrong with a standard mattress topped off with a cushioned pad of your choice. You’re welcome.
6. One size to rule them all
When choosing a new mattress, it’s still important to factor in a person’s weight (not to profile or anything), natural sleeping position, sleeping disorders or habits, age, and their preferences and experiences from their previous mattress. Manufacturers seem to try and cut out variations that come along with a catalog of mattress models, and emphasize that all mattresses are basically the same.
But alas, they could always try and fail the informed consumer. How in the world could one mattress feel the same, offer similar support and last the same lifespan for a small-framed teenage girl and a bulky, 250-pound boxer? You know the answer—it can’t.
7. Flip it to keep it
Contrary to popular belief, mattresses today are designed and manufactured to be one-sided, which means they should never be flipped. “Most mattresses today do not need to be flipped and are actually one-sided,” says sleep psychologist Michael Breus, Ph.D. “Rotating them, however, may make some sense, depending upon the weight of the person sleeping and the type of mattress purchased.”
So instead of flipping it over, experts agree that you should actually be ‘rotating’ your bed from head-to-toe every six months, or every two weeks if it is new—to make sure that all sides are getting equally tossed-and-turned on.
Try to understand this analogy: your mattress is to your body what a foundation is to your house, and any good one should be able to support what goes on top of it. Debunking these mattress myths should translate to a wiser choice for the next fluffy thing—no more shrieking springs or torn corners. After all, it’s an investment that’s as important as your car insurance, if not more.
Japs Buidon is a researcher from Beddingstock, a company who’s into selling gel memory foam mattress. He likes to do mountain climbing and aquaphonics gardening in his free time.