Questions To Ask When Buying A Mattress

Questions To Ask When Buying A Mattress: Complete Mattress Buying Guide For Seniors

By jwilder

Questions To Ask When Buying A Mattress

Buying a new mattress can be intimidating. They cost hundreds of dollars, and if you choose the wrong one, you might be stuck with bad sleep for years!

With that in mind, we put together this comprehensive guide to mattress buying, covering the most important questions to ask when buying a mattress. With our guide, you can learn about the health benefits of various types of mattress brands, typical price ranges and mattress sizes, best places to buy a mattress, and important questions to ask when buying a mattress for a senior.

Let’s get started!

Benefits of Mattresses for Common Seniors’ Health Conditions

Back Pain

Pain in the back, especially the lower back, can be a nightmare to deal with. Even if you sleep through the night, back pain essentially guarantees that it won’t be deep or restful sleep. That leaves seniors who have back pain feeling tired, lethargic, and sore when they wake up. Over time, those nights of poor sleep will add up and have a noticeable effect on your alertness and quality of life.

If you’re one of the millions of people in the US who experiences chronic lower back pain (or a related condition like sciatica), finding a good mattress is essential to finally getting better sleep. Studies have shown that using a medium-firm mattress rather than an ultra-soft mattress can lead to much better sleep for people with back pain.


People who have arthritis know that it often affects far more of a person’s life than they ever thought it would. They also know that arthritis only tends to get worse with age. Seniors can experience arthritis not just in their fingers and wrists but also in their elbows, shoulders, hips, and knees. The stiffness and pain don’t make it easy to sleep, especially not on a stiff, unforgiving mattress.

For people suffering from arthritis in their major joints, comfortable sleep is difficult to achieve, but not impossible. The right mattress can go a long way towards providing much-needed arthritis relief during sleep. If you suffer from arthritis, finding a supportive and pressure-relieving mattress can make a world of difference!


Studies have found that the majority of seniors don’t get enough rest at night. Either they don’t sleep enough, the sleep they do get is light and restless, or both. This leads to fatigue and “fogginess”, and can be exacerbated by conditions like snoring, sleep apnea, and allergies, preventing seniors from being able to make the most of their days.

It’s not just the feeling of tiredness, though. Fatigue is dangerous for seniors, putting them at increased risk for falls and other accidents that could otherwise be avoided. Getting a good night of sleep is essential for alertness, mood, and a general sense of wellbeing. If you’ve been sleeping on the same mattress for more than a decade, it’s high time you upgraded!

Types of Mattresses

For decades, there was only one type of mattress that most people owned. Sure, air and water mattresses had their time in the spotlight during the disco era, but aside from that, every mattress was more or less the same. Not so today- there are actually several types of mattresses that seniors can freely choose from:

Traditional Innerspring Mattress

These are the mattresses you’ve used for most, if not all, of your life. These mattresses are made of foam that surrounds a grid of metal coils. The foam is soft and comfortable, the metal coils are extremely supportive and durable. This makes traditional innerspring mattresses some of the most durable, though not always the softest.

These mattresses are typically very affordable, because the technology used to make them is pretty old-school, as are the materials. You can also get innerspring mattresses in a variety of different “plush” ratings, from extremely soft to extremely firm.


  • Affordable and easy to find
  • Versatile, can be made in extra-firm, extra-plush, or medium variations
  • Long-lasting due to their metal coils


  • Not as comfortable as other mattress types
  • When they wear down, coils can burst through the mattress surface

Memory Foam Mattress

These mattresses became popular almost instantly. They promised superior comfort and sleep and largely delivered. Memory foam mattresses were developed in the late 1960s but was NASA’s property for a few decades. When it became available to the public, people flocked to this new, “space-age” mattress material.

Memory foam has a few unique properties that make it well suited for use as a mattress. It’s a supportive foam that is simultaneously gentle; other foams are much too soft or much too stiff to sleep on. Memory foam is dense enough to support a person’s body weight, but the few inches of the mattress don’t “push back” against the user; they mold around the user instead.

Memory foam mattresses are the most popular type of mattresses today. They’re relatively easy to produce, and the majority of people prefer their mattresses to be softer rather than firmer- which is exactly what a memory foam mattress is. They gently cradle the body and feel more like floating on a very dense liquid than they do laying on a stiff foam mattress.


  • Luxurious and comfortable
  • Easy to find due to high popularity
  • Great for back pain and arthritis


  • Too soft for some people’s preferences
  • More expensive than traditional mattresses
  • Retain body heat and can be uncomfortably warm to sleep in

Hybrid Mattress

These mattresses were developed to address the setbacks of both traditional innerspring mattresses and memory foam mattresses. Innerspring mattresses are too stiff, leaving users sore and tired in the morning. Memory foam mattresses are too soft for some users and tend to be very hot.

Hybrid mattresses are made from memory foam with small, individually wrapped coils on the inside, as opposed to a metal frame. This gives users the comfort and soft feeling where the mattress molds to their body shape, as well as the support and bounce of a traditional innerspring. In addition, because the mattress has more air pockets, body heat is regulated much more efficiently, letting users sleep much cooler.


  • Coolness of traditional mattresses and softness of memory foam
  • Last longer than memory foam because of the coils
  • Effective at temperature regulation


  • Less common, can be harder to find

Hospital Bed Mattress

Some seniors are better off using a hospital bed that accommodates their medical needs. Hospital beds make it easy for seniors who are confined to beds 24/7 to live and receive care, and they require specific mattresses. Hospital bed mattresses are longer than most mattresses, and typically have a water and stain-proof outer layer.

These types of mattresses are pretty easy to find, and some of them can be quite comfortable. In general, however, hospital bed mattresses are more functional than they are luxurious. They are simply the best type of mattress for hospital beds and very valuable to those who need them!


  • Work specifically with hospital beds
  • Usually water and stain-resistant
  • Comfortable for 24/7 use


  • Not always a luxurious sleeping setup
  • Can be very stiff, especially lower-cost models

Quick Guide to Different Sizes of Mattresses

  • Twin: 38” Wide, 75” Long
  • Twin XL: 38” Wide, 80” Long
  • Full: 54” Wide, 80” Long
  • Queen: 60” Wide, 80” Long
  • King: 76” Wide, 80” Long
  • California King: 72” Wide, 84” Long

Best Mattress Brands

Sealy mattresses are known for being exceptionally comfortable and long-lasting. As one of the oldest and largest manufacturers in the world, Sealy has the advantage of experience and large design budgets. This means that Sealy can invest the time and energy into developing mattresses that truly deliver on their promises. Keep in mind, though, that a lot of that innovation is going to be reflected in the price tag!

If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line memory foam mattress, chances are pretty high that Tempur-Pedic will have one for you. Tempur-Pedic has a reputation for pushing sleep technology forward, and they have a large range of mattresses and adjustable bases for you to choose from. 

Tempur-Pedic is another premium brand that charges premium prices. You certainly get what you pay for, though, so these mattresses are well worth it if they’re in your price range!

Relatively new to the market, Avocado Green has carved out its place in the mattress world by providing comfortable, organic mattresses at reasonable prices. Avocado Green ships their mattresses rolled up in a box, making them extremely simple to order and get into your home- no showroom or delivery truck to worry about.

Another relative newcomer, Casper leverages innovative designs and construction to make mattresses that outperform and outlast others. Casper was one of the first companies to capitalize on the “mattress-in-a-box” delivery method, and they made sure that their mattresses were comfortable enough to give them glowing reviews. While they aren’t cheap, Casper mattresses aren’t nearly as expensive as some of the high-end Tempur-Pedic or Sealy models.

Price Ranges: How Much Do Mattresses Cost?

Buying a new mattress is something that many people put off far too long because of the high costs associated. Mattresses aren’t cheap- at least, the ones worth sleeping in aren’t. While you can find a memory foam mattress for as little as $175, a price tag that low is a sort of guarantee that you won’t like it very much! Here are some basic price tiers for new mattresses (listed for the “Queen” size, the most common):

Low-Tier Mattresses: Up to $550

By this, we mean price, not quality. You can find mattresses from wallet-friendly brands like Classic Brands (an online-only company that functions in the mattress world much like the “generic” version of popular grocery store items) or Dynasty Mattress for less than $500. The real trade-off for the lower price is that these mattresses may not last as long or have strong warranties as the premium brands will.

Mid-Tier Mattresses: $550-$1400

For people with slightly higher budgets, this tier of mattress affords a bit more luxury, longer warranties, and finer materials. In this range, you can get some of the lower-priced models from Sealy, Casper, and Avocado Green. However, most mid-tier mattresses will likely still come from more affordable brands like Classic Brands. When you spend this amount on a mattress, you can have reasonably high confidence that you’ll find it delivers on its promises.

High-Tier Mattresses: $1400+

When you pay more than $1,400 for a mattress, you’re paying for the best of the best. At this level, you’re going to find ultra-thick, comfortable mattresses from the world’s top brands. Paying more than $1,400 (combined with good research on your options) is essentially a guarantee of a great night’s sleep- or at least an easy return/warranty process if something goes wrong!

How Much Should You Spend on a Mattress?

If it’s possible to get a high-quality, comfortable mattress for less than $800, why spend more? How much should a person spend on a mattress in the first place? The exact dollar amount will vary from person to person, but a mattress is best looked at as an investment. You are investing in your sleep, which has a massive effect on your quality of life.

Because mattresses last for years and the mattress you choose has a big impact on your health, mood, and wellbeing, you should try to spend as much on your mattress as you can afford. There are many pieces of furniture that you should try to save money on, but a mattress isn’t one of them. Set your budget appropriately and don’t exceed it, but work hard to get the best mattress you possibly can- your body will thank you!

Where to Buy a Mattress: Online and In-Store

Online Mattress Retailers

  • Amazon: A massive marketplace with wide selections of both top-tier and less expensive brands. Amazon also has easy delivery and returns, making it easy to buy a mattress and send it back if it isn’t up to snuff.
  • Wayfair: Similar to Amazon, Wayfair carries thousands of mattresses and is known for solid customer service and a mix of affordable and premium options.
  • Mattress Firm Website: One of America’s largest physical chains also has a large and easy-to-use website. A large advantage of using this website over others is the expertise they bring to the mattress buying process, not to mention the ability to get your mattress delivered and installed- not just left at your front door.

Online Mattress Retailers

  • Mattress Firm Stores: With over 2,600 locations in the United States, Mattress Firm is the largest chain in America. With years of expertise in every part of the mattress buying process and the ability to test every major brand, there’s a reason why Mattress firm has stayed in business so long!
  • Sleep Number: This is a premium brand that makes remote-controlled mattresses, giving users the ability to customize the firmness and shape of the mattress to their body. They are expensive, luxurious, and almost universally loved by those who can afford them!
  • Ashley Furniture Homestores: While not a mattress-specific retail chain, Ashley has hundreds of locations in the US. They have mattresses from all the major brands and are home delivery/setup experts. If you’re having trouble finding the right mattress elsewhere, Ashley Furniture might be able to help!

Questions to Ask When Buying a Mattress

How Much Can I Afford to Spend?

With many purchases, it makes the most sense to set your budget and try to save as much as you can. This isn’t true with mattresses; because you’ll be sleeping on it every night, you should ask yourself how much you can afford, not how much you can save!

What Type of Mattress Should I Get?

There are many different types of mattresses, and we’re not just talking about Twin, Full, and Queen. There are memory foam, pocket coil, orthopedic, and more types of mattresses. Before you settle on a mattress, read up on it a little bit to see what specific features and benefits it offers!

What Type of Bed Base Do I Want/Have?

Different mattresses work better on different bed bases. If you have an adjustable bed, it’s better to get a memory foam or hybrid mattress so that it will bend with the bed base. If you have a traditional bed frame, an innerspring mattress will give you the support and bounce you need. Hospital beds are another category altogether, with many different types of mattresses to choose from!

Wrapping Up: Questions To Ask When Buying A Mattress

That just about does it! We’ve covered the health benefits of mattresses, the different categories, top brands, and gone over some of the best questions to ask when buying a mattress.

The important thing to remember is that your comfort matters the most. Comfort, when it comes to sleep, is the primary indicator of a healthy and beneficial mattress.

Are you ready to upgrade to a new mattress, or do you have more questions for us? Feel free to leave them in the comments

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