Don't get into bed with the wrong mattress -

Is your mattress too old?

How old are the mattresses in your home?

The International Sleep Products Association recommends you reassess the condition of your mattress every seven years, or after any major life change like getting married or if you're getting older.

If you can't remember the last time you experienced a really good night's sleep, there are some things you need to consider before shopping for a new mattress.

First of all, there are numerous mattress options including pillow top, memory foam, latex foam, open coil, off-set coil, individually wrapped coil, tempered steel, non-tempered steel, and twice-tempered steel.

A mattress will cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

Brad Feichter works for America's Mattress, a retail store located in Charlotte, North Carolina.

He says there are a number of mattress specifications, but when most customers walk into his showroom, "they see a room of puffy, white rectangles."

If you are ready to replace the sagging white rectangle in your bedroom, here are the tried-and-true testing tips to jumble through all the mattress-shopping jargon and a few pointers about the fine print.  

For starters, the average price of a quality queen mattress will run you between $500 and $1,000.

"When it comes to mattresses, you get what you pay for," warns Karin Mahoney, a spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council located in Alexandria, Virginia.

You should never be afraid to negotiate for the deal you deserve.  

Since you are paying for a combination of support and comfort on every body part, which should last about 10 years, you shouldn't be shy when selecting your mattress.

Picking the right mattress for your body type shouldn't be a hastily-made decision.   

The Better Sleep Council recommends lying in your typical sleep position for no less than 15 minutes before giving a mattress a thumbs up or down. 

That's how long it takes for your body to tell you if it feels right or not.

If the mattress is hard to roll over, it may be too soft.

If you feel pressure on your back and hips, the mattress may be too firm.

Most retailers will have models showing cross sections of a mattress to educate shoppers about how they are constructed, but this is where it gets confusing.

Gauge numbers, materials and coil counts determine the suspension and support of a mattress, but largely buying a mattress is subjective to your sense of touch.

"What it really comes down to is what feels best to you," Mahoney says.

Some stores offer a comfort guarantee to ensure you select the mattress of your dreams.

It's usually a trial period of a few weeks and there's usually a few fine print paragraphs in the contract including return, exchange or re-stocking fees.

Be aware that stipulations written in the contract could wipe out your warranty.  

Even a speck of a stain can void your mattress warranty with most companies. Some even use a black light to search for stains.

In that case, buy a waterproof mattress cover. For $20 or less, a mattress cover is insurance for your bed and your hygiene. 

"That's literally the first line of defense for your mattress in keeping it fresh and clean," Mahoney advises.

Be sure to keep your mattress right-side up. Unlike older mattresses, newer ones don't require flipping, but they should be rotated.

For a one-side mattresses, you should turn them every week or so for the first three months.

We spend a third of our life sleeping and the rest of the time wishing we were still in bed.

Take your time and try out everything a retailer has to offer so you can rest assured your new mattress is just right.

Additional Information:

  • Some mattresses offer extra support at the head, center or ends or "zoned" support for different areas of the body. If you have difficulty rolling over, the bed may bee too soft. If its too firm, you may feel pressure against your hips and shoulders. If you lie on your back and can easily slide your hand behind the small of your back, the mattress may be too firm. For a firm mattress, look for a lower-gauge number (i.e. thicker spring wire). A quality mattress can have a gauge ranging between 12.75 and 15 (softer). If you're buying an innerspring mattress, consider a matching box spring. It may be necessary to buy the two as a set to preserve the warranty on the mattress. Sources disagree as to whether the box spring should always be replaced along with the mattress, but they all say it's a good idea if your old box spring is in poor condition. If you decide to keep your existing box spring or bed base, make sure it's the right size for the mattress. Standard mattress dimensions in the U.S. are: twin, 38 inches by 75 inches; double, 53 inches by 75 inches; queen, 60 inches by 80 inches; standard king, 76 inches by 80 inches; and California king, 72 inches by 84 inches. Ask about disposal of your old mattress. Some stores offer free disposal, while some will charge a fee for this service. Keep your mattress clean, and throw back the covers for 20 minutes or so each morning to let sweat evaporate. Experts recommend wrapping the mattress in a washable cover to protect it from stains; if you suffer from allergies, choosing a special hypoallergenic cover may help shield you from dust. Handle your mattress with care; avoid bending or folding it, and don't pick it up by the handles, which are only meant for adjusting its position and can't support its full weight. If you regularly sit on the edge of the bed, try to sit in a different spot each time. And lastly, leave the tag on. Although the "do not remove under penalty of law" warning is aimed at sellers rather than buyers, having the tag in place can be crucial if you ever need to file a warranty claim. (Source:
  • Check your pillow for replacement as well. Do the "book test." If you fold your pillow in half and put a medium-sized book on should spring back and knock off the book. If it stays folded....time to replace. (Source: America's Mattress)

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