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Find the Perfect Mattress: What to Know Before You Go

Not sleeping well? Maybe its time for a mattress upgrade

3 Things to Remember

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1. Try to get a handle on it. A queen-size can weigh 75 pounds or more. Four comfy handles will help you reposition the mattress or even move it one day.

2. Carry a ruler. Measure the height of the frame, the mattress, and any base or foundation, lest you literally have to climb into bed. Make sure your sheets still fit, too.

3. Give it a month. It can take 30 days or more to adjust to a new mattress. Many comfort guarantees allow you to live with it for 60 to 90 days.

What Should a Mattress Cost?

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The range for a quality queen-size runs from $700 to $1,600. Yes, you can pay more, especially if you crave long-lasting hand-tufted cotton, wool, and, say, hog hair, but experts aren't convinced this will help you sleep. Remember, if you need a new foundation it could double the cost.

Mattress Store Smarts

It's always a good idea to try before you buy. But forget speed dating around the showroom. This is a once-every-10-years purchase, so take your time.

Ignore the hype: Retail-store sales are so common that the list price is often meaningless. Don't be afraid to haggle. Another challenge: The same mattress may be tweaked and sold under a different name in a different store. Yes, this is done to stymie comparison shopping.

Feel them out: Get a sense of the sales staff, advises The Mattress Underground, a consumer watchdog group. Salespeople should be ready to talk specifics, from the density of the foam and the nature of the springs to the fiber content of the topping and ticking.

Pack your own pillow—and a timer: Wear a comfy outfit, like workout clothes, kick off your shoes, relax in sleep mode, and give yourself at least 15 minutes on the mattress, shifting positions. Are your hips and shoulders aligned and well cushioned? You should feel like you're floating.

Two more tests: Pressure points like shoulders should sink in while being supported by the core layer, keeping your spine straight. Place one hand under your waist; it should be tough to slide it out. If you jump when your partner plops down on the edge, ask to see a more stable mattress.

Online Options

Photo by Courtesy of Tuft & Needle

Web-based companies like Leesa and Casper offer one-style-fits-all mattresses made with foam or latex and foam. You save money because there's no store overhead, and because a no-springs slab can be vacuum-packed, rolled up like a rug, and delivered in a box, like Tuft & Needle's, above. If you don't like it, you get a full refund. Online dealer Saatva has risen to the challenge with discounted innersprings and more choices, plus a 75-day comfort guarantee and classic "white glove delivery," which entails a nonrefundable fee of about $100.

Read the Fine Print

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Before you commit, pin down any delivery costs, and ask if the dealer will also whisk away your old mattress. Most mattresses come with a friendly-sounding policy on returns, or a so-called comfort guarantee. But read carefully: You may have only one month to exercise this option, and you may have to pay for shipping or a restocking fee even if you do return the mattress within the set time.

Long-term warranties (typically 10 to 20 years) guard against lumps, sags, and trenches—but with certain conditions.

• The warranty may apply only if you use a certain foundation.

• You may not get a full refund. And a lump or other problem may not qualify as a defect if it's deemed too small.

• You may need your original receipt—and the "Do Not Remove" tag that comes with the mattress, which could contain key product information. For instance, to exercise IKEA's generous 25-year warranty, you have to bring the receipt—and the mattress—back to the store.

This originally appeared in Read This Before You Buy a New Mattress, the comprehensive buying guide.

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