How to Make Mattress Shopping Easier

Originally published December 28th 2013; updated and REFRESHED October 1, 2018

It’s prime time for mattress shopping! Big sales are coming, timed to coincide with when most consumers buy: right after they come back from a vacation. (After sleeping on a really good mattress, they realize how shot theirs is!) After many years of retail, this Westchester County Decorator found easy ways to make mattress shopping less stressful, and your decision

First, acknowledge its an uncomfortable process!! You’re laying down, in front of a stranger….who wants to sell you something.  Second-understand you’re trying to relax, while your brain is obsessing about coil counts, or hissing ‘pay attention, so you don’t overspend’.

Don’t underestimate being physically and mentally ready for this. Fitting some shopping in when you’re tethered to children, or at the end of the work day, hungry and in uncomfortable clothes is not conducive to making good choices.

When you go:

  • Show up not hungry and dressed lightly in comfy clothes. Shoes that slip off, and socks are good ideas.
  • Leave bags and bulky coats in the car, and find a baby-sitter if there are kids.
  • If there are two of you who’ll be sleeping on this, shop together. First because one person’s weight and movement will affect the others’ comfort, but also there are things you will just want to discuss in real time, face to face.

When You’re There

  • If you have any allergies (latex, down), any other needs-like a low profile or split box spring-let the salesperson know that first.
  • Simply, lay down as you normally would, and relax. Most showrooms are broken into smaller areas with dimmed lights and softer music to put customers at ease.
  • Don’t pay attention to labels. Brand X might have served you well for many years, or Aunt Sophie might have hated her Brand Y mattress, but most manufacturers change their product almost every year. Just focus on if you like the mattress in front of you.
  • Don’t flood your mind with jargon or manufacturing specs until you’ve narrowed it down to a few that you like. THEN ask questions about the differences between the ones you like.


  • It matters, but if it’s been a few years, start with a range, gather info and compare. Most showrooms are set up accordingly, so you’re not racing from one end to the other to try mattresses.
  • Ask if there is stock on any new but discontinued models.

And Remember

  • Mattresses degrade a teeny tiny bit, every night. You just don’t notice it, attributing sleeplessness or your aching back to other things.
  • Average lifespan of a mattress used most every night hovers around 10 years, and that time goes by fast.
  • A ‘hard’ mattress won’t take the place of a good chiropractor, or last longer. If you like the feel of a firmer mattress, that’s fine, but it’s not inherently better.
  • A lot is riding on your making a good decision, if you’re unsure, making a return visit to try it again, on another day is not a bad idea.