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Bed Basics
Bed Basics

The New Mattress Buying Guide for 2023

Blue background with mattresses going across the frame.
Brittany Fahres

When it comes to ways you’d like to spend your time, shopping for a new mattress may not occupy the very top spot.

You’re not alone. “There was a study that suggested people placed buying a new mattress up there with dental work and buying tires,” says Elly Williamson, Mattress Firm Sleep Expert® and Senior Store Manager in Amelia Island, Florida.

But there’s a payoff to buying a new bed. When you find the perfect one, you’ll sleep your best—and better sleep will have a positive impact on your health and well-being. When all is said and done, you’ll probably realize the process wasn’t that daunting after all—especially when you’ve got valuable information and the help of some knowledgeable folks on your side.

If you’re not sure what your ideal preferences are when choosing the best mattress, this mattress buying guide will be a helpful starting point to learn the basics of buying a new bed. Discover the different mattress types, mattress marketing myths, mattress lingo and the questions you should answer. We’ll also look at what you can expect to pay, the best times to get the lowest price and other buying considerations.

“At the end of their buying experience with us,” Williamson continues, “guests tell us it was easy! I think that’s because of the connection we make with them, the training we go through, our insights into sleep and knowledge of products we offer to help them sleep their best.”

Don’t worry, you’ve got this!

How to Shop for a Mattress

Buying a new bed is a process. And considering we spend about 30% of our lives in one, it’s an important decision. Plus, how you shop can have a big impact on your overall experience—and the mattress you buy.

The most important thing to know is that you don’t need to shop for your ideal mattress alone. At Mattress Firm, our Sleep Experts® are trained (they have over 200 hours of training, including 20 hours of sleep science training) to know everything there is to know about sleep and how to match you to your ideal sleep surface.

When shopping for a mattress, there are no taboo topics: Feel free to mention your sleep disruptors, your concerns, your aches and pains, and any other needs. We’d be willing to bet that your Sleep Expert® has heard them all before.

Here are some things to think through before you find your perfect mattress.

Most Important Factors in Buying a New Mattress

During the process, you’re likely to come face to face with words and terminology you haven’t encountered before. Let’s take a look at the most important key terms to know when buying a new mattress. Understanding each will help you be more informed, and your buying experience will be easier.


This is all about placing—and keeping—your body in the best position for sleep. “The most important factor when buying a new bed is the support system to keep your back in proper alignment,” according to Williamson. And when your body is aligned correctly, you dramatically improve your chances of sleeping your best and waking up pain-free.


This refers to a bed’s level of firmness. It also indicates how much you sink into the bed when lying down. Certainly, comfort will play a big role when it comes to making your final mattress choice. But if you remember one thing about comfort, it should be this: What feels good to one person might not feel good to another. Why? Because we’re all different. Body weight, shape and sleep position all play a role when determining what’s comfortable to you.

To learn more about mattress feel, check out our helpful guide on firmness levels.

Pressure Relief

Mattresses that evenly distribute weight and prevent parts of your body from becoming sore (think shoulders, hips and back) provide pressure relief. This term is strongly tied to how firm or soft a mattress is. As you lie in your preferred sleep position, you can tell if the mattress is contouring around joints in your body (again, think shoulders, hips and back—even knees). You’ll get the most pressure relief from beds toward the middle of the firmness scale.

Conversely, firm beds provide very little pressure relief—and that’s their purpose. A lot of people, particularly those who are heavier, want to sleep near the bed surface without much (if any) sink. Typically, back and stomach sleepers want to avoid sinking into their beds because if their back and hips drop below the bed surface, their spine won’t be aligned correctly. The result? A painful sleeping experience.

Motion Isolation

It’s no fun when you’re woken up by your bed partner tossing and turning or when they get in or climb out of bed. A bed’s ability to reduce the feeling of these movements is called motion isolation, and it can help with bounces from partners or pets. When you meet with a Mattress Firm Sleep Expert®, tell them if you sleep with a partner and they’ll show you beds that help address the issue.


Why is it important for a mattress to be breathable? Air circulating through the bed keeps the materials inside cooler and drier. If you wake up warm overnight, a breathable, cooling mattress is practically mandatory for you. Breathability also prevents the buildup of mold and bacteria that can shorten the life of your bed. When your mattress is cooler and dryer, so are you. Even if you’re not a hot sleeper, you’ll benefit from good circulation. But some mattresses are better than others at enhancing airflow. We’ll get to that.

What Mattress Type Is Best for You?

Like finding your soulmate, your mattress will be uniquely suited to your tastes and style. This means that your ideal bed is not necessarily the mattress your neighbor, family member or friends love.

If you know your sleep needs and position, one way to help find the perfect bed is right here, 24/7. And it takes less than a minute to use. It’s called MattressMatcher®—and it’s available only at Mattress Firm. By answering a few questions, you’ll get personalized results based on your sleep position, desired comfort level and other key factors.

“It’s not so much that you need a king bed,” Williamson says. “You need the right amount of support based on your sleep position and body type and weight—and MattressMatcher® takes those factors and others into account to come up with strong recommendations.” Plus, you get your customized results in an instant.

A diagram of different types of mattresses
Brittany Fahres

As you take the quiz or research on your own, these are the types of beds you’ll discover:

Innerspring Mattresses

Designed with a system of metal coils and layers of cushioning, these beds are the ones your parents and grandparents grew up on. They’ve stood the test of time—and for good reason. Innerspring beds are comfortable, supportive, and durable, and they allow for airflow. Plus, they don’t weigh as much as memory foam or hybrid beds, so they’re relatively easy to move.

What are the pros and cons of innerspring mattresses?


  • They’re tried and true—and what many know and love when they think “mattress”
  • You’ll sleep on the surface of the bed—without sinking in—and still get pressure relief for joints
  • The open design of the spring system encourages airflow
  • They’re durable
  • Many choices at a wide range of prices


  • The traditional feel might not offer the comprehensive support of newer options
  • Over time, coils have been known to break. It’s rare, but it can happen.
  • Questionable quality of some low-end spring beds; stay with brands you know and trust

Specialty Foam and Memory Foam Mattresses

Originally developed by NASA in the 1960s, memory foam is in everything from beds and pillows to mattress toppers. So what is it?

Memory foam is polyurethane foam that, under pressure and body heat, conforms to your body. When you remove the pressure and heat, it slowly returns to its original shape.

One knock on memory foam: It could make you sleep hot. According to Williamson, “The industry listened and new foam bed technologies emerged to fix the problem. One way they did it is with ‘open-cell memory foam.’ These beds have open pockets that allow air to move freely so you sleep cooler.”

Gel foam is another advancement that has cooling properties. This heat-absorbing gel creates a cool sleep surface. The introduction of phase-change material also helped hot sleepers. This technology helps maintain consistent body temperature by absorbing or releasing heat depending on your body’s needs.

What are the pros and cons of memory foam mattresses?


  • Often described as “sleeping on a cloud.”
  • Exceptional at relieving pressure and pain
  • Best motion separation
  • Materials are frequently hypoallergenic, which is optimal for allergy sufferers
  • Won’t sag or lose density over time


  • Heat can build up, but it’s avoidable—look for the cooler open cell, gel and phase-change material options
  • Hug-like feeling can take getting used to (try before you buy!)
  • Foam can be very heavy and challenging to move
  • Not waterproof, so sweat and spills can take their toll if the mattress is unprotected
  • When new, foam beds can have a distinctive smell—let them air out for a day or two and the problem will go away

Hybrid Mattresses

These feature a combination of innersprings and memory foam. The coil system prevents the sinking feeling some people experience with memory foam. Plus, these beds provide cozy body conformation and comforting pressure relief. Another perk? They’re more breathable, helping you sleep cooler.


  • The support of all-foam mattresses with the stability and comfort of a spring mattress
  • Springs help stimulate airflow for cooler, more comfortable sleep
  • The foam surface helps relieve pressure in joints—especially for side sleepers
  • A good choice for all sleep positions


  • Hybrids are heavy and can be difficult to move
  • Hybrids are a combination of two technologies and can be more expensive
  • Memory foam can be a better option for motion separation

How Much Is Too Much to Spend on a Mattress?

For most, the cost of a new mattress is an important factor when making their final pick. You’ll quickly learn beds are available in a wide range of prices—anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to more than $10,000. And there are good options at every price point. Pick a range that’s affordable to you and feel confident you’ll find a bed that meets your sleep needs.

Williamson goes on to explain, “Buying a new bed is a big investment. And many of our guests are concerned about making a mistake. Our Love Your Mattress Guarantee® makes their decision mistake proof. If the one you buy isn’t right? We’ll exchange it for the one that is.”

Mattress retailers, including Mattress Firm, also offer special financing to help you get the bed you want. According to Williamson, “Your Sleep Expert® will tell you all about zero-interest financing options if that will help you get the bed you’ve fallen in love with—especially if paying for it all at once is outside your financial comfort zone.”

She continues, “Remember—buying a new mattress is a long-term investment in your sleep and health. Get the ideal bed for you—and enjoy!”

Frames & Bases Impact Price and Choice

Once you’ve selected a mattress, the base is another important decision. For a long time, box springs were mandatory, but now adjustable beds have become an excellent addition to your sleep space. “Friends don’t let friends sleep flat,” claims Williamson as she shows a lot of love for adjustable bases.

“What started out as a feature of hospital beds has evolved into adjustable beds for everyone,” Williamson says. “They can help you sleep better—and improve your life. To make them even more attractive as part of a total sleep solution, today they feature USB ports, Bluetooth connections, voice commands, automatic snoring sensors and even nightlights.”

Many people believe watching TV is more comfortable with an adjustable base. And they’d be right. But that’s just one of many benefits of an adjustable base. For example, by slightly raising your head and shoulders, breathing becomes easier. A small increase in elevation can also reduce or even eliminate snoring and help sleep apnea—even acid reflux. A lift to your legs can reduce pressure on your spine. So anyone suffering from back pain might be able to find relief—sometimes, dramatic relief—by sleeping with an adjustable base.

Is There a Best Time to Buy?

When your health and well-being start to become challenged by poor sleep, that’s a big sign. One you shouldn’t ignore. Now, if you’re wondering when you can get the lowest price on your dream bed, there are times of the year when you can purchase beds at discounted prices. For starters, Presidents Day, Labor Day and Black Friday are times when you can expect to find mattress deals. But there’s one way you can find the best price on the mattress you want every day of the year: the Mattress Firm Low Price Guarantee. Your Sleep Expert® will make sure you’re getting the best price—period. And if you find a lower price for up to 120 days after your purchase, Mattress Firm will pay you the difference.

Buying a new bed may never become your favorite thing to do, but it’s not as difficult as you thought, right? Fortunately, better sleep, and a better life, will be the result.

Where Is the Best Place to Buy a Mattress?

Though you may be able to find a quick deal online or at a department store, you and your body will likely benefit from choosing a mattress suited to your specific sleep needs. A dedicated mattress retailer will have a wide selection for you to browse and try.

At Mattress Firm, you can expect our Sleep Experts® to be extremely knowledgeable (they receive over 200 hours of training) about sleep and the wide range of products—beds, pillows, sheets and bedding—they offer.

Our Customers Tell Us That in the Store Is the Best Way

Warehouse and club stores can be viable options for anyone looking for a new bed at a low price. Just don’t expect to get valuable sleep insights and in-depth mattress information from store staff.

Buying beds through online-only retailers became a thing during the COVID-19 pandemic. A big thing. The question for shoppers was: Will you buy a new bed without so much as touching or sitting on it? Turns out, the answer may not be a resounding yes, since many e-retailers are opening their own stores or partnering with brick-and-mortar shops, all with the goal of getting their beds closer to buyers so they can try them before buying.

What should I be aware of when buying a mattress?

Finding the bed that’s the best choice for you—no one else. Your needs are one of a kind and your solution should be, too.

How do I choose the right mattress thickness?

Try out a few beds! Generally speaking, thicker mattress (10” or higher) contain more material as a way to increase support. Also, more height can help larger-bodied sleepers, side sleepers and couples get the comfort and great sleep they’re after. The height of a mattress can also impact how easy it is to get in and out of bed.

How do you tell if you need a firm or medium mattress?

Sleep position can be a major factor when determining the ideal firmness for you. Most often, stomach sleepers can benefit from a firmer feel because of the support it gives to hips. Heavier-weight sleepers can also benefit from a firmer bed because of the increased support it offers. If you sleep on your back or side, or you’re average weight or lighter, a medium-feel mattress can be ideal.

What is the most popular firmness for a mattress?

Most mattresses available today are medium feel since they appeal to the most people and their sleep positions. But there is a range of medium-feel mattresses. That’s why, again, it’s important to try out mattresses to help pick the right one for you.

Is firm or soft better for your back?

If you have back pain, the best mattress for you will keep your spine aligned. As a starting point, check out beds with a medium-firm feel. Make sure to ask about adjustable bases. They can slightly elevate your legs to relieve pressure on your lower back and help you sleep pain free.

What firmness do hotels choose for their mattresses?

Most often, medium to medium-firm mattresses will be found in hotels. Why? Beds with a medium feel appeal to most people and are appropriate for most body types and sleep positions.

Browse some of our sleep expert recommended mattresses